Yes, they called him Little Tuk, but it was
not his real name; he had called himself so before he could speak plainly, and
he meant it for Charles. It was all very well for those who knew him, but not
Little Tuk was left at home to take care of his little
sister, Gustava, who was much younger than himself, and he had to learn his
lessons at the same time, and the two things could not very well be performed
together. The poor boy sat there with his sister on his lap, and sung to her
all the songs he knew, and now and then he looked into his geography lesson
that lay open before him. By the next morning he had to learn by heart all the
towns in Zealand, and all that could be described of them.
His mother came home at last, and took little Gustava in her
arms. Then Tuk ran to the window, and read so eagerly that he nearly read his
eyes out; for it had become darker and darker every minute, and his mother had
no money to buy a light.
“There goes the old washerwoman up the lane,”
said the mother, as she looked out of the window; “the poor woman can
hardly drag herself along, and now she had to drag a pail of water from the
well. Be a good boy, Tuk, and run across and help the old woman, won’t
So Tuk ran across quickly, and helped her, but when he came
back into the room it was quite dark, and there was not a word said about a
light, so he was obliged to go to bed on his little truckle bedstead, and there
he lay and thought of his geography lesson, and of Zealand, and of all the
master had told him. He ought really to have read it over again, but he could
not for want of light. So he put the geography book under his pillow, for he
had heard that this was a great help towards learning a lesson, but not always
to be depended upon. He still lay thinking and thinking, when all at once it
seemed as if some one kissed him on his eyes and mouth. He slept and yet he did
not sleep; and it appeared as if the old washerwoman looked at him with kind
eyes and said, “It would be a great pity if you did not know your lesson
to-morrow morning; you helped me, and now I will help you, and Providence will
always keep those who help themselves;” and at the same time the book
under Tuk’s pillow began to move about. “Cluck, cluck, cluck,”
cried a hen as she crept towards him. “I am a hen from
Kjøge,”1 and then she told
him how many inhabitants the town contained, and about a battle that had been
fought there, which really was not worth speaking of.
“Crack, crack,” down fell something. It was a
wooden bird, the parrot which is used as a target as
Præstø.2 He said there were
as many inhabitants in that town as he had nails in his body. He was very
proud, and said, “Thorwalsden lived close to me,3 and here I am now, quite comfortable.”
But now little Tuk was no longer in bed; all in a moment he
found himself on horseback. Gallop, gallop, away he went, seated in front of a
richly-attired knight, with a waving plume, who held him on the saddle, and so
they rode through the wood by the old town of Wordingburg, which was very large
and busy. The king’s castle was surrounded by lofty towers, and radiant light
streamed from all the windows. Within there were songs and dancing; King
Waldemar and the young gayly-dressed ladies of the court were dancing together.
Morning dawned, and as the sun rose, the whole city and the king’s castle sank
suddenly down together. One tower after another fell, till at last only one
remained standing on the hill where the castle had formerly been.4
The town now appeared small and poor, and the school-boys
read in their books, which they carried under their arms, that it contained two
thousand inhabitants; but this was a mere boast, for it did not contain so
And again little Tuk lay in his bed, scarcely knowing
whether he was dreaming or not, for some one stood by him.
“Tuk! little Tuk!” said a voice. It was a very
little person who spoke. He was dressed as a sailor, and looked small enough to
be a middy, but he was not one. “I bring you many greetings from
Corsøe.5 It is a rising town,
full of life. It has steamships and mail-coaches. In times past they used to
call it ugly, but that is no longer true. I lie on the sea-shore,” said
Corsøe; “I have high-roads and pleasure-gardens; I have given birth
to a poet who was witty and entertaining, which they are not all. I once wanted
to fit out a ship to sail round the world, but I did not accomplish it, though
most likely I might have done so. But I am fragrant with perfume, for close to
my gates most lovely roses bloom.”
Then before the eyes of little Tuk appeared a confusion of
colors, red and green; but it cleared off, and he could distinguish a cliff
close to the bay, the slopes of which were quite overgrown with verdure, and on
its summit stood a fine old church with pointed towers. Springs of water flowed
out of the cliff in thick waterspouts, so that there was a continual splashing.
Close by sat an old king with a golden crown on his white head. This was King
Hroar of the Springs6 and near the
springs stood the town of Roeskilde, as it is called. Then all the kings and
queens of Denmark went up the ascent to the old church, hand in hand, with
golden crowns on their heads, while the organ played and the fountains sent
forth jets of water.
Little Tuk saw and heard it all. “Don’t forget the
names of these towns,” said King Hroar.
All at once everything vanished; but where! It seemed to him
like turning over the leaves of a book. And now there stood before him an old
peasant woman, who had come from Sorø7 where the grass grows in the market-place. She had
a green linen apron thrown over her head and shoulders, and it was quite wet,
as if it had been raining heavily. “Yes, that it has,” said she,
and then, just as she was going to tell him a great many pretty stories from
Holberg’s comedies, and about Waldemar and Absalom, she suddenly shrunk up
together, and wagged her head as if she were a frog about to spring.
“Croak,” she cried; “it is always wet, and as quiet as death
in Sorø.” Then little Tuk saw she was changed into a frog.
“Croak,” and again she was an old woman. “One must dress
according to the weather,” said she. “It is wet, and my town is
just like a bottle. By the cork we must go in, and by the cork we must come out
again. In olden times I had beautiful fish, and now I have fresh, rosy-cheeked
boys in the bottom of the bottle, and they learn wisdom, Hebrew and
“Croak.” How it sounded like the cry of the
frogs on the moor, or like the creaking of great boots when some one is
marching,—always the same tone, so monotonous and wearing, that little
Tuk at length fell fast asleep, and then the sound could not annoy him. But
even in this sleep came a dream or something like it. His little sister
Gustava, with her blue eyes, and fair curly hair, had grown up a beautiful
maiden all at once, and without having wings she could fly. And they flew
together over Zealand, over green forests and blue lakes.
“Hark, so you hear the cock crow, little Tuk.
‘Cock-a-doodle-doo.’ The fowls are flying out of Kjøge. You
shall have a large farm-yard. You shall never suffer hunger or want. The bird
of good omen shall be yours, and you shall become a rich and happy man; your
house shall rise up like King Waldemar’s towers, and shall be richly adorned
with marble statues, like those at Præstø. Understand me well; your name shall
travel with fame round the world like the ship that was to sail from
Corsøe, and at Roeskilde,—Don’t forget the names of the towns, as
King Hroar said,—you shall speak well and clearly little Tuk, and when at
last you lie in your grave you shall sleep peacefully, as—”
“As if I lay in Sorø,” said little Tuk
awaking. It was bright daylight, and he could not remember his dream, but that
was not necessary, for we are not to know what will happen to us in the future.
Then he sprang out of bed quickly, and read over his lesson in the book, and
knew it all at once quite correctly. The old washerwoman put her head in at the
door, and nodded to him quite kindly, and said, “Many thanks, you good
child, for your help yesterday. I hope all your beautiful dreams will come
Little Tuk did not at all know what he had dreamt, but One
children by placing the hands on each side of their heads, is called
“showing them Kjøge hens.”
estate of Nysø, where Thorswaldsen usually resided while in Denmark, and
where he executed many memorable works.
importance; now it is a very insignificant town: only a lonely tower and the
remains of a well show where the castle once stood.
tiresome town in Denmark before the establishment of steamers. Travellars had
to wait for a favorable wind. The title “tiresome” was ingeniously
added to the Danish escutcheon by a witticism of Vaudeville Heibergs. The poet
Baddesen was born here.
Rothschild), once the capital of Denmark. The town took its name from King
Hroar, and from the numerous springs in the neighborhood. In its beautiful
cathedral most of the kings and queens of Denmark are buried. In Roeskilde the
Danish States used to assemble.
situation, surrounded by forests and lakes. Holberg, the Molière of
Denmark, founded a noble academy here. The poets Hanck and Jugeman were
professors here. Letztern lives there still.