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Description of this motif: Consecrated water in fonts at the entrance of catholic churches. People use holy water to cross themselves, when they enter the church.
The sun shone down on the Champ de Mars' Fata Morgana, shone over mighty Paris, over the little square with its trees and its rippling fountain, and between the high houses, where the chestnut tree stood, its branches now drooping, its leaves withered, the tree that only yesterday had stood as erect and fresh as spring itself. It was dead now, said the people, for the Dryad had left it, had passed away like the clouds – where, no one knew. On the ground there lay a withered, crumpled chestnut blossom. All the holy water of the church could not recall it to life. Human feet soon stepped on it and crushed it into the dust.
All this has happened and been experienced. We ourselves have seen it, at the Paris Exposition in 1867, in our time, the great and wonderful time of fairy tales.
Comment on this quote: The dryad, the fairytale character in this tale of the world exhibition in the city, is dead. It has passed away, as its chestnut tree, that couldn't survive in the city. Nevertheless the tale says, paradoxically, that the destroying present, the time of the city and of machinery, is the time of fairy tales. This may be understood in several ways. It may, of course, be seen as sad irony. But it may also be interpreted in the sense that the fairytale lives on despite reason, and despite its extermination – the tale rises as a soul from its dead body. It actually does, as a text, anyway. The tale remains. And this tale is a praise of the present. Gone are the fairytale formula "Once upon a time" and all thoughts of the good old, enchanted days. Enchantment and wonders are before the eyes of those who see, and such a seer in the modern world is the narrator of "The Dryad", the traveller, who has seen the chestnut tree wither under his stay in Paris.