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    Ch. 25 - The Swine

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    Chapter 25
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    That capital fellow, Charles Dickens, has told us about the swine, and
    since then it puts us into a good humour whenever we hear even the
    grunt of one. Saint Anthony has taken them under his patronage, and if
    we think of the "prodigal son," we are at once in the midst of the
    sty, and it was just before such a one that our carriage stopped in
    Sweden. By the high road, closely adjoining his house, the peasant had
    his sty, and that such a one as there is probably scarcely its like in
    the world. It was an old state-carriage, the seats were taken out of
    it, the wheels taken off, and thus it stood, without further ceremony,
    on its own bottom, and four swine were shut in there. If these were
    the first that had been in it one could not determine; but that it was
    once a state-carriage everything about it bore witness, even to the
    strip of morocco that hung from the roof inside, all bore witness of
    better days. It is true, every word of it.

    "Uff," said the occupiers within, and the carriage creaked and
    complained--it was a sorrowful end it had come to.

    "The beautiful is past!" so it sighed; so it said, or it might have
    said so.

    We returned here in the autumn. The carriage, or rather the body of
    the carriage, stood in its old place, but the swine were gone: they
    were lords in the forests; rain and drizzle reigned there; the wind
    tore the leaves off all the trees, and allowed them neither rest nor
    quiet: the birds of passage were gone.

    "The beautiful is past!" said the carriage, and the same sigh passed
    through the whole of nature, and from the human heart it sounded: "The
    beautiful is past! with the delightful green forest, with the warm
    sunshine, and the song of birds--past! past!" So it said, and so it
    creaked in the trunks of the tall trees, and there was heard a sigh,
    so inwardly deep, a sigh direct from the heart of the wild rose-bush,
    and he who sat there was the rose-king. Do you know him! he is of a
    pure breed, the finest red-green breed: he is easily known. Go to the
    wild rose hedges, and in autumn, when all the flowers are gone, and
    the red hips alone remain, one often sees amongst these a large
    red-green moss-flower: that is the rose-king. A little green leaf
    grows out of his head--that is his feather: he is the only male person
    of his kind on the rose-bush, and he it was who sighed.

    "Past! past! the beautiful is past! The roses are gone; the leaves of
    the trees fall off!--it is wet here, and it is cold and raw!--The
    birds that sang here are now silent; the swine live on acorns; the
    swine are lords in the forest!"

    They were cold nights, they were gloomy days; but the raven sat on the
    bough and croaked nevertheless: "brah, brah!" The raven and the crow
    sat on the topmost bough: they have a large family, and they all said:
    "brah, brah! caw, caw!" and the majority is always right.

    There was a great miry pool under the tall trees in the hollow, and
    here lay the whole herd of swine, great and small--they found the
    place so excellent. "Oui! oui!" said they, for they knew no more
    French, but that, however, was something. They were so wise, and so
    fat, and altogether lords in the forest.

    The old ones lay still, for they thought; the young ones, on the
    contrary, were so brisk--busy, but apparently uneasy. One little pig
    had a curly tail--that curl was the mother's delight. She thought that
    they all looked at the curl, and thought only of the curl; but that
    they did not. They thought of themselves, and of what was useful, and
    of what the forest was for. They had always heard that the acorns they
    ate grew on the roots of the trees, and therefore they had always
    rooted there; but now there came a little one--for it is always the
    young ones that come with news--and he asserted that the acorns fell
    down from the branches: he himself had felt one fall right on his
    head, and that had given him the idea, so he had made observations,
    and now he was quite sure of what he asserted. The old ones laid their
    heads together. "Uff," said the swine, "uff! the finery is past! the
    twittering of the birds is past! we will have fruit! whatever can be
    eaten is good, and we eat everything!"

    "Oui! oui!" said they altogether.

    But the mother sow looked at her little pig with the curly tail.

    "One must not, however, forget the beautiful!" said she.

    "Caw! caw!" screamed the crow, and flew down, in order to be appointed
    nightingale: one there should be--and so the crow was directly

    "Past! past!" sighed the Rose King, "all the beautiful is past!"

    It was wet; it was gloomy; there was cold and wind, and the rain
    pelted down over the fields, and through the forest, like long water
    jets. Where are the birds that sang? where are the flowers in the
    meadows, and the sweet berries in the wood?--past! past!

    A light shone from the forester's house: it twinkled like a star, and
    shed its long rays out between the trees. A song was heard from
    within; pretty children played around their old grandfather, who sat
    with the Bible on his lap and read about God, and eternal life, and
    spoke of the spring that would come again: he spoke of the forest that
    would renew its green leaves, of the roses that would flower, of the
    nightingales that would sing, and of the beautiful that would again be

    But the Rose King did not hear it; he sat in the raw, cold weather,
    and sighed:

    "Past! past!"

    And the swine were lords in the forest, and the mother sow looked at
    her little pig, and his curly tail.

    "There will always be some, who have a sense for the beautiful!" said
    the mother sow.
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