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    Ch. 4 - Grandmother

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    Chapter 4
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    Grandmother is so old, she has so many wrinkles, and her hair is quite
    white; but her eyes! they shine like two stars, nay, they are much
    finer--they are so mild, so blissful to look into. And then she knows
    the most amusing stories, and she has a gown with large, large flowers
    on it, and it is of such thick silk that it actually rustles.
    Grandmother knows so much, for she has lived long before father and
    mother--that is quite sure.

    Grandmother has a psalm-book with thick silver clasps, and in that
    book she often reads. In the middle of it lies a rose, which is quite
    flat and dry; but it is not so pretty as the roses she has in the
    glass, yet she smiles the kindliest to it, nay, even tears come into
    her eyes!

    Why does Grandmother look thus on the withered flower in the old book?
    Do you know why?

    Every time that Grandmother's tears fall on the withered flower the
    colours become fresher; the rose then swells and the whole room is
    filled with fragrance; the walls sink as if they were but mists; and
    round about, it is the green, the delightful grove, where the sun
    shines between the leaves. And Grandmother--yes, she is quite young;
    she is a beautiful girl, with yellow hair, with round red cheeks,
    pretty and charming--no rose is fresher. Yet the eyes, the mild,
    blissful eyes,--yes, they are still Grandmother's! By her side sits a
    man, young and strong: he presents the rose to her and she smiles. Yet
    grandmother does not smile so,--yes; the smile comes,--he is
    gone.--Many thoughts and many forms go past! That handsome man is
    gone; the rose lies in the psalm-book, and grandmother,--yes, she
    again sits like an old woman, and looks on the withered rose that lies
    in the book.

    Now grandmother is dead!

    She sat in the arm-chair, and told a long, long, sweet story. "And now
    it is ended!" said she, "and I am quite tired: let me now sleep a
    little!" And so she laid her head back to rest. She drew her breath,
    she slept, but it became more and more still; and her face was so full
    of peace and happiness--it was as if the sun's rays passed over it.
    She smiled, and then they said that she was dead.

    She was laid in the black coffin; she lay swathed in the white linen:
    she was so pretty, and yet the eyes were closed--but all the wrinkles
    were gone. She lay with a smile around her mouth: her hair was so
    silvery white, so venerable, one was not at all afraid to look on the
    dead, for it was the sweet, benign grandmother. And the psalm-book was
    laid in the coffin under her head (she herself had requested it), and
    the rose lay in the old book--and then they buried grandmother.

    On the grave, close under the church-wall, they planted a rose-tree,
    and it became full of roses, and the nightingale sang over it, and the
    organ in the church played the finest psalms that were in the book
    under the dead one's head. And the moon shone straight down on the
    grave--but the dead was not there: every child could go quietly in the
    night-time and pluck a rose there by the churchyard-wall. The dead
    know more than all we living know--the dead know the awe we should
    feel at something so strange as their coming to us. The dead are
    better than us all, and therefore they do not come.

    There is earth over the coffin, there is earth within it; the
    psalm-book with its leaves is dust the rose with all its recollections
    has gone to dust. But above it bloom new roses, above is sings the
    nightingale, and the organ plays:--we think of the old grandmother
    with the mild, eternally young eyes. Eyes can never die! Ours shall
    once again see her young, and beautiful, as when she for the first
    time kissed the fresh red rose which is now dust in the grave.
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