There was once a king's son, no one had so many beautiful books as he. In them he could read of everything that had ever happened in this world, and he could see it all pictured in fine illustrations. He could find out about every race of people and every country, but there was not a single word about where to find the Garden of Paradise, and this, just this, was the very thing that he thought most about.
When he was still very young and was about to start his schooling, his grandmother had told him that each flower in the Garden of Paradise was made of the sweetest cake, and that the pistils were bottles full of finest wine. On one sort of flower, she told, history was written, on another geography, or multiplication tables, so that one only had to eat cake to know one's lesson, and the more one ate, the more history, geography, or arithmetic one would know.
At the time he believed her, but when the boy grew older and more learned and much wiser, he knew that the glories of the Garden of Paradise must be of a very different sort.
"Oh, why did Eve have to pick fruit from the tree of knowledge, and why did Adam eat what was forbidden him? Now if it had only been I, that would never have happened, and sin would never have come into the world." He said it then, and when he was seventeen he said it still. The Garden of Paradise was always in his thoughts.
He went walking in the woods one day. He walked alone, for this was his favorite amusement. Evening came on, the clouds gathered, and the rain poured down as if the sky were all one big floodgate from which the water plunged. It was as dark as it would be at night in the deepest well. He kept slipping on the wet grass, and tripping over the stones that stuck out of the rocky soil. Everything was soaking wet, and at length the poor Prince didn't have a dry stitch to his back. He had to scramble over great boulders where the water trickled from the wet moss. He had almost fainted, when he heard a strange puffing and saw a huge cave ahead of him. It was brightly lit, for inside the cave burned a fire so large that it could have roasted a stag. And this was actually being done. A magnificent deer, antlers and all, had been stuck on a spit, and was being slowly turned between the rough-hewn trunks of two pine trees. An elderly woman, so burly and strong that she might have been taken for a man in disguise, sat by the fire and threw log after log upon it.
"You can come nearer," she said. "Sit down by the fire and let your clothes dry."
"There's an awful draft here," the Prince remarked, as he seated himself on the ground.
"It will be still worse when my sons get home," the woman told him. "You are in the cave of the winds, and my sons are the four winds of the world. Do I make myself clear?"
"Where are your sons?" the Prince asked.
"Such a stupid question is hard to answer," the woman told him. "My sons go their own ways, playing ball with the clouds in that great hall. "And she pointed up toward the sky.
"Really!" said the Prince. "I notice that you have a rather forceful way of speaking, and are not as gentle as the women I usually see around me."
"I suppose they have nothing better to do. I have to be harsh to control those sons of mine. I manage to do it, for all that they are an obstinate lot. See the four sacks that hang there on the wall! They dread those as much as you used to dread the switch that was kept behind the mirror for you. I can fold the boys right up, let me tell you, and pop them straight into the bag. We don't mince matters. There they stay. They aren't allowed to roam around again until I see fit to let them. But here comes one of them."
It was the North Wind who came hurtling in, with a cold blast of snowflakes that swirled about him and great hailstones that rattled on the floor. He was wearing a bear-skin coat and trousers; a seal-skin cap was pulled over his ears; long icicles hung from his beard; and hailstone after hailstone fell from the collar of his coat.