A huge hall filled with stalactites and stalagmites of thousands different forms, strewn with tiny shiny water droplets, is hiding a great secret in its pale light A lazy brooklet quietly curves along the whole cave, until it finally sinks into complete darkness.
Not far away from the brook there is a magnificent stalagmite. It reached the top of the cave many years ago, and since then, it has been only gaining on its size. Judging by its outside, this is just an average stalagmite, very much alike to others that grow next to it, only its topmost part is heavily thickened. At a closer inspection, we find out that it is completely hollow, and there are four teeny openings. Under each of these windows there is a shallow bed no bigger than a fingernail, covered in soft, bright green moss. These are four small cots for four small sprites of the four seasons.
So if it is Winter Sprite’s turn, a cold and white winter covers the earth. With Spring Sprite on his journey, plants burst into leaf all over and the sun is getting stronger every day. The task of Summer Sprite is to warm up the seas and the rivers and the earth and sometimes he is so keen on it they become far too dry. Autumn Sprite merrily knocks colorful leaves off the trees day after day, and sprinkles water everywhere to his heart’s content. One of the little beds in the cave is thus always empty, for every day and every week and naturally, every single month in a year must belong to a certain season.
Grandfather Followtime who minds the four seasons sprites is a very old and sweet-tempered sprite. He is sitting at a small table in the middle of the hollow stalagmite, tired but dares not to fall asleep. All day and all night long, he has to follow the slippery time, and it has been passing him in fleeting hours, weeks and months for years now. Most of all, Grandfather Followtime has to mind the puckish sprites and make sure that at the right time, the right sprite wakes up. The next thing he does then is to whistle at the huge pipe and summon the sprite whose little bed has been left unoccupied for so long. The pipe he uses is made of a long hollow stalactite, and its sound is only audible to the ears of the goblin who is awake at the moment. This way, he knows it is time to return home. Grandfather Followtime worries constantly that he might fall asleep exactly when the time comes to wake up the next sprite. So he never sleeps and is trying to keep awake at all times.
The old sprite knows exactly when to wake up the sprite in turn. Four times a year the stalagmite, at the top of which the four season sprites set up their home, mysteriously glows up in most exquisite colors and throws light upon the entire cave. Tiny droplets of water, which dampen the stalactites and stalagmites and sometimes land on huge cobwebs of thousands different forms act as minute looking glasses, throwing little reflections of colour all over the underground cave. The magic light always appears very suddenly, and it also disappears most mysteriously, in a flash, and along with it also the most appropriate moment for the change of the seasons. Grandfather Followtime must be very careful to wake up one of his sprites fast enough while the stalagmite is all alight; the sprite can then set off on his journey on time for the arrival of the proper season. What Grandfather does next is whistle his big stalactite pipe to reach the tired little sprite whose turn is now running out, and finally, he can rest himself in peace at his little table, follow the passing time and wait for the next time mysterious light shines again.