Flemish Legend The Three Sisters by Charles de Coster Chapter 8

How the three ladies saw a green island, with sweet flowers and birds thereon

At that time it was thirteen days past the feast of the Kings; snow had fallen heavily and set hard in frost after, by reason of a north wind which was blowing.

And the three ladies saw before them, among the snow, as it were a green island.

And this island was girt about with a cord of purple silk.

And upon the island the air was fresh as in spring, and roses were blowing, with violets and jessamine, whose smell is like balm.

But outside was naught but storm, north wind, and terrible cold.

Towards the middle, where now stands the grand altar, was a holm-oak, covered with blossom as if it had been a Persian jessamine.

In the branches, warblers, finches and nightingales sang to their hearts’ content the sweetest songs of Paradise.

For these were angels, who had put on feathered guise, carolling in this fashion in God’s honour.

One fair nightingale, the sweetest singer of them all, held in his right claw a roll of parchment, whereon was written in letters of gold:

“This is the place chosen by God and shown by him to the three maidens for the building of a church to the glory of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”

Great was the joy of the ladies at that sight, and the youngest said to the angel:

“We see certainly that God loves us somewhat; what must we do now, My Lord Angel?”

“Thou must build the church here, little one,” answered the messenger, “and choose for this work twelve of the most skilled workmen, neither more nor less; God himself will be the thirteenth.”

And having said so much he returned to high heaven.