A tiny pool lay looking up at the cloud-flecked sky. His water-spiders
and insect-babies went about their eager businesses beneath his
surface, but he took very little notice of them. His thoughts were
busy with the clouds so far above him; all day he was longing to be
with them. The evening came and the clouds flocked round the setting
sun, turning gold and crimson in the wonderful light; then the little
pool longed more than ever to be with them. "If that could only be my
life!" he sighed. "To live in the blue sky and to be made beautiful!"
A passing wind heard his words and repeated them to the clouds. They
told the kindly sun, and he sent a message by his sunbeams to comfort
the little pool. "You shall come up here some day," he bade them say;
"but you have many duties to perform before you can be a sunset cloud.
Do well your present work, and wait with patience."
Then the pool rejoiced. Day after day he did his lowly work with
infinite care, nourishing his flowers and rushes and tiny
water-creatures, and turning a bright and patient face to the sky and
his loved clouds.
One hot day the wonderful change came. The sun looked down, saw the
work so well done, and gently lifted him through the air to the sky.
This was glorious. He was now a fluffy white cloud, sailing over the
sky and joining the other clouds in their games and dances. In the
morning they played shadow-flight across the hills of the earth; in the
afternoon they danced slow dances high above the sea.
The time of sunset came, and the new cloud wished to go with the others
to be made beautiful. But they said: "No, little brother; that is not
possible till you have done cloud work." So he was left lonely and
white in the east, untouched by the sun's lovely light.
In the night came his old friend the wind. "You are to go down again
to the earth," was the message it brought. It blew coldly on the
little cloud till he shivered and fell in a thousand drops of rain upon
the earth. There the drops lay till morning amongst the grateful
flowers and grasses, giving them fresh life, and bearing bravely the
disappointment of being sent to earth again. The sun looked down in
the afternoon and raised him up, and once more he floated joyfully
across the sky.
Then the fierce storm wind came and froze him with its icy breath.
Down he fell again upon the earth, this time as clattering hailstones.
"This is all very trying," he said; "but it seems to be my work, so I
must not grumble."
Again he was drawn up. Then the snow-wind came and silently froze him
into feathery snowflakes, and drove him down upon a mountain side.
Here he lay for many days, till at last he was drawn up once more. And
now the sun said: "You have done well and waited patiently, little
cloud. To-night you shall have your reward."
So when the time of sunset came the little cloud sailed into the west
with the others. There the sun smiled at him and shone so gloriously
on him that he turned golden and red, and glowed more brightly than any