[Adapted from the German of Robert Reinick's Maarchen,
Lieder-und Geschichtenbuch (Velhagen und Klasing, Bielefeld
One hot summer morning a little Cloud
rose out of the sea and floated lightly
and happily across the blue sky. Far
below lay the earth, brown, dry, and
desolate, from drought. The little Cloud
could see the poor people of the earth
working and suffering in the hot fields,
while she herself floated on the morning
breeze, hither and thither, without a care.
"Oh, if I could only help the poor
people down there!" she thought. "If I could
but make their work easier, or give the
hungry ones food, or the thirsty a drink!"
And as the day passed, and the Cloud
became larger, this wish to do something
for the people of earth was ever greater in
On earth it grew hotter and hotter; the
sun burned down so fiercely that the people
were fainting in its rays; it seemed as if
they must die of heat, and yet they were
obliged to go on with their work, for they
were very poor. Sometimes they stood and
looked up at the Cloud, as if they were
praying, and saying, "Ah, if you could
"I will help you; I will!" said the Cloud.
And she began to sink softly down toward
But suddenly, as she floated down, she
remembered something which had been
told her when she was a tiny Cloud-child,
in the lap of Mother Ocean: it had been
whispered that if the Clouds go too near
the earth they die. When she remembered
this she held herself from sinking, and
swayed here and there on the breeze,
thinking,--thinking. But at last she stood
quite still, and spoke boldly and proudly.
She said, "Men of earth, I will help you,
come what may!"
The thought made her suddenly marvelously
big and strong and powerful. Never
had she dreamed that she could be so big.
Like a mighty angel of blessing she stood
above the earth, and lifted her head and
spread her wings far over the fields and
woods. She was so great, so majestic, that
men and animals were awe-struck at the
sight; the trees and the grasses bowed
before her; yet all the earth-creatures felt that
she meant them well.
"Yes, I will help you," cried the Cloud
once more. "Take me to yourselves; I will
give my life for you!"
As she said the words a wonderful light
glowed from her heart, the sound of thunder
rolled through the sky, and a love greater
than words can tell filled the Cloud; down,
down, close to the earth she swept, and gave
up her life in a blessed, healing shower of
That rain was the Cloud's great deed;
it was her death, too; but it was also her
glory. Over the whole country-side, as far
as the rain fell, a lovely rainbow sprang its
arch, and all the brightest rays of heaven
made its colors; it was the last greeting of
a love so great that it sacrificed itself.
Soon that, too, was gone, but long, long
afterward the men and animals who were
saved by the Cloud kept her blessing in