The Story of the Year
And the sparrows flew up into the storks' nests, to take possession.
"Peep! What happened to the stork family?" one of them asked. "I suppose they can't bear it when the wind blows on them, so they've left the country. I wish them a happy journey!"
Gradually the forest leaves became more and more yellow, and leaf after leaf drifted down to earth; and the stormy winds of autumn howled; harvesttime was over. The Queen lay on the fallen yellow leaves and looked with lovely mild eyes at the glittering stars above, while her husband stood beside her. Suddenly a gust of wind whirled through the leaves, a shower of them fell again, and the Queen was gone! Only a butterfly, the last of the season, fluttered through the chilly air.
The wet fogs came, the icy winds blew, and the nights became darker and longer. Now the Ruler of the year stood there with snow-white hair, but he was not aware of it. He thought it was the snowflakes that were falling from the sky.
A thin layer of snow covered the green field, and then the church bells rang for the glad Christmas season.
"The birthday bells are ringing," said the Ruler of the year slowly. "Soon the new King and Queen will be born, and I shall go to my rest as my wife has done; my rest in the gleaming star."
And in the green fir wood, where the white snow lay, there stood the Angel of Christmas, and consecrated the young trees that would adorn the feast.
In a few weeks the Ruler of the year had become a very old man, white as snow. "May there be joy in the room and under the green branches," he said. "My time for rest draws nigh, and the young pair of the new year shall receive my crown and scepter."
"But you are still in power," said the Angel of Christmas, "and not yet shall you be granted rest. Let the snow lie close and warm upon the young seed. Learn to endure that another receive homage while you are still the Ruler. Learn to be forgotten and yet to live. The hour of your release shall come when spring appears!"
"And when will spring come?