Death, graveyard, cross
The stork had given her shelter to the day of her death. I sang at her funeral," said the Wind, "as I had sung at her father's; I know where his grave is, and her grave, but no one else knows.
Now there are new times, changed times. The old highway is lost in the fields, old cemeteries have been made into new roads, and soon the steam engine, with its row of cars, will come to rush over the forgotten graves of unknown ancestors. Whew, whew, whew! On, on!
The following week the dead man was buried. John walked close behind the coffin; he could no longer see his kind father, who had loved him so. He heard how they threw the earth down upon the coffin, and watched the last corner of it until a shovel of earth hid even that. He was so sad that he felt as if his heart were breaking in pieces. Then those around him sang a psalm which sounded so lovely that tears came to his eyes. He cried, and that did him good in his grief. The sun shone in its splendor down on the green trees, as if to say, "John, you must not be so unhappy. Look up and see how fair and blue the sky is. Your father is there, praying to the good Lord that things will always go well with you."
"I'll always be good," John said. "Then I shall go to join my father in heaven. How happy we shall be to see each other again! How much I shall have to tell him, and how much he will have to show me and to teach me about the joys of heaven, just as he used to teach me here on earth. Oh, what joy that will be!"
He could see it all so clearly that he smiled, even though tears were rolling down his cheeks. The little birds up in the chestnut trees twittered, "Chirp, chirp! Chirp, chirp!" They were so happy and gay, for although they had attended a funeral they knew very well that the dead man had gone to heaven, where he now wore wings even larger and lovelier than theirs. They knew that he was happy now, because here on earth he had been a good man, and this made them glad.
John saw them fly from the green trees far out into the world, and he felt a great desire to follow them. But first he carved a large wooden cross to mark his father's grave. When he took it there in the evening he found the grave neatly covered with sand and flowers. Strangers had done this, for they had loved the good man who now was dead.
Early the next morning, John packed his little bundle and tucked his whole inheritance into a money belt. All that he had was fifty dollars and a few pieces of silver, but with this he meant to set off into the world. But first he went to the churchyard, where he knelt and repeated the Lord's Prayer over his father's grave. Then he said, "Farewell, father dear! Ill always be good, so you may safely pray to our Lord that things will go well with me."
The church bells rang, for it was Sunday. People went to hear the preacher, and John went with them. As he sang a hymn and listened to God's Word, he felt just as if he were in the same old church where he had been baptised, and where he had sung the hymns with his father.
There were many, many graves in the churchyard, and some were overgrown with high grass. Then John thought of his own father's grave and of how it too would come to look like these, now that he could no longer weed and tend it. So he knelt down to weed out the high grass. He straightened the wooden crosses that had fallen, and replaced the wreaths that the wind had blown from the graves. "Perhaps," he thought, "someone will do the same for my fathers grave, now that I cannot take care of it."