Little Ida’s Flowers

My poor flowers are quite dead,” said little Ida, “they were so pretty yesterday
evening, and now all the leaves are hanging down quite withered. What do they
do that for,” she asked, of the student who sat on the sofa; she liked him very
much, he could tell the most amusing stories, and cut out the prettiest pictures;
hearts, and ladies dancing, castles with doors that opened, as well as flowers;
he was a delightful student. “Why do the flowers look so faded to-day?” she asked
again, and pointed to her nosegay, which was quite withered.

“Don’t you know what is the matter with them?” said the student. “The flowers
were at a ball last night, and therefore, it is no wonder they hang their heads.”

“But flowers cannot dance?” cried little Ida.

“Yes indeed, they can,” replied the student. “When it grows dark, and everybody
is asleep, they jump about quite merrily. They have a ball almost every night.”

“Can children go to these balls?”

“Yes,” said the student, “little daisies and lilies of the valley.”

“Where do the beautiful flowers dance?” asked little Ida.

“Have you not often seen the large castle outside the gates of the town, where
the king lives in summer, and where the beautiful garden is full of flowers?
And have you not fed the swans with bread when they swam towards you? Well,
the flowers have capital balls there, believe me.”

“I was in the garden out there yesterday with my mother,” said Ida, “but all
the leaves were off the trees, and there was not a single flower left. Where
are they? I used to see so many in the summer.”

“They are in the castle,” replied the student. “You must know that as soon
as the king and all the court are gone into the town, the flowers run out of
the garden into the castle, and you should see how merry they are. The two most
beautiful roses seat themselves on the throne, and are called the king and queen,
then all the red cockscombs range themselves on each side, and bow, these are
the lords-in-waiting. After that the pretty flowers come in, and there is a
grand ball. The blue violets represent little naval cadets, and dance with hyacinths
and crocuses which they call young ladies. The tulips and tiger-lilies are the
old ladies who sit and watch the dancing, so that everything may be conducted
with order and propriety.”

“But,” said little Ida, “is there no one there to hurt the flowers for dancing
in the king’s castle?”

“No one knows anything about it,” said the student. “The old steward of the
castle, who has to watch there at night, sometimes comes in; but he carries
a great bunch of keys, and as soon as the flowers hear the keys rattle, they
run and hide themselves behind the long curtains, and stand quite still, just
peeping their heads out. Then the old steward says, ‘I smell flowers here,’
but he cannot see them.”

“Oh how capital,” said little Ida, clapping her hands. “Should I be able to
see these flowers?”

“Yes,” said the student, “mind you think of it the next time you go out, no
doubt you will see them, if you peep through the window. I did so to-day, and
I saw a long yellow lily lying stretched out on the sofa. She was a court lady.”

“Can the flowers from the Botanical Gardens go to these balls?” asked Ida.
“It is such a distance!”

“Oh yes,” said the student “whenever they like, for they can fly. Have you
not seen those beautiful red, white. and yellow butterflies, that look like
flowers? They were flowers once. They have flown off their stalks into the air,
and flap their leaves as if they were little wings to make them fly. Then, if
they behave well, they obtain permission to fly about during the day, instead
of being obliged to sit still on their stems at home, and so in time their leaves
become real wings. It may be, however, that the flowers in the Botanical Gardens
have never been to the king’s palace, and, therefore, they know nothing of the
merry doings at night, which take place there. I will tell you what to do, and
the botanical professor, who lives close by here, will be so surprised. You
know him very well, do you not? Well, next time you go into his garden, you
must tell one of the flowers that there is going to be a grand ball at the castle,
then that flower will tell all the others, and they will fly away to the castle
as soon as possible. And when the professor walks into his garden, there will
not be a single flower left. How he will wonder what has become of them!”

“But how can one flower tell another? Flowers cannot speak?”

“No, certainly not,” replied the student; “but they can make signs. Have you
not often seen that when the wind blows they nod at one another, and rustle
all their green leaves?”

“Can the professor understand the signs?” asked Ida.

“Yes, to be sure he can. He went one morning into his garden, and saw a stinging
nettle making signs with its leaves to a beautiful red carnation. It was saying,
‘You are so pretty, I like you very much.’ But the professor did not approve
of such nonsense, so he clapped his hands on the nettle to stop it. Then the
leaves, which are its fingers, stung him so sharply that he has never ventured
to touch a nettle since.”

“Oh how funny!” said Ida, and she laughed.

“How can anyone put such notions into a child’s head?” said a tiresome lawyer,
who had come to pay a visit, and sat on the sofa. He did not like the student,
and would grumble when he saw him cutting out droll or amusing pictures. Sometimes
it would be a man hanging on a gibbet and holding a heart in his hand as if
he had been stealing hearts. Sometimes it was an old witch riding through the
air on a broom and carrying her husband on her nose. But the lawyer did not
like such jokes, and he would say as he had just said, “How can anyone put such
nonsense into a child’s head! what absurd fancies there are!”

But to little Ida, all these stories which the student told her about the flowers,
seemed very droll, and she thought over them a great deal. The flowers did hang
their heads, because they had been dancing all night, and were very tired, and
most likely they were ill. Then she took them into the room where a number of
toys lay on a pretty little table, and the whole of the table drawer besides
was full of beautiful things. Her doll Sophy lay in the doll’s bed asleep, and
little Ida said to her, “You must really get up Sophy, and be content to lie
in the drawer to-night; the poor flowers are ill, and they must lie in your
bed, then perhaps they will get well again.” So she took the doll out, who looked
quite cross, and said not a single word, for she was angry at being turned out
of her bed. Ida placed the flowers in the doll’s bed, and drew the quilt over
them. Then she told them to lie quite still and be good, while she made some
tea for them, so that they might be quite well and able to get up the next morning.
And she drew the curtains close round the little bed, so that the sun might
not shine in their eyes. During the whole evening she could not help thinking
of what the student had told her. And before she went to bed herself, she was
obliged to peep behind the curtains into the garden where all her mother’s beautiful
flowers grew, hyacinths and tulips, and many others. Then she whispered to them
quite softly, “I know you are going to a ball to-night.” But the flowers appeared
as if they did not understand, and not a leaf moved; still Ida felt quite sure
she knew all about it. She lay awake a long time after she was in bed, thinking
how pretty it must be to see all the beautiful flowers dancing in the king’s
garden. “I wonder if my flowers have really been there,” she said to herself,
and then she fell asleep. In the night she awoke; she had been dreaming of the
flowers and of the student, as well as of the tiresome lawyer who found fault
with him. It was quite still in Ida’s bedroom; the night-lamp burnt on the table,
and her father and mother were asleep. “I wonder if my flowers are still lying
in Sophy’s bed,” she thought to herself; “how much I should like to know.” She
raised herself a little, and glanced at the door of the room where all her flowers
and playthings lay; it was partly open, and as she listened, it seemed as if
some one in the room was playing the piano, but softly and more prettily than
she had ever before heard it. “Now all the flowers are certainly dancing in
there,” she thought, “oh how much I should like to see them,” but she did not
dare move for fear of disturbing her father and mother. “If they would only
come in here,” she thought; but they did not come, and the music continued to
play so beautifully, and was so pretty, that she could resist no longer. She
crept out of her little bed, went softly to the door and looked into the room.
Oh what a splendid sight there was to be sure! There was no night-lamp burning,
but the room appeared quite light, for the moon shone through the window upon
the floor, and made it almost like day. All the hyacinths and tulips stood in
two long rows down the room, not a single flower remained in the window, and
the flower-pots were all empty. The flowers were dancing gracefully on the floor,
making turns and holding each other by their long green leaves as they swung
round. At the piano sat a large yellow lily which little Ida was sure she had
seen in the summer, for she remembered the student saying she was very much
like Miss Lina, one of Ida’s friends. They all laughed at him then, but now
it seemed to little Ida as if the tall, yellow flower was really like the young
lady. She had just the same manners while playing, bending her long yellow face
from side to side, and nodding in time to the beautiful music. Then she saw
a large purple crocus jump into the middle of the table where the playthings
stood, go up to the doll’s bedstead and draw back the curtains; there lay the
sick flowers, but they got up directly, and nodded to the others as a sign that
they wished to dance with them. The old rough doll, with the broken mouth, stood
up and bowed to the pretty flowers. They did not look ill at all now, but jumped
about and were very merry, yet none of them noticed little Ida. Presently it
seemed as if something fell from the table. Ida looked that way, and saw a slight
carnival rod jumping down among the flowers as if it belonged to them; it was,
however, very smooth and neat, and a little wax doll with a broad brimmed hat
on her head, like the one worn by the lawyer, sat upon it. The carnival rod
hopped about among the flowers on its three red stilted feet, and stamped quite
loud when it danced the Mazurka; the flowers could not perform this dance, they
were too light to stamp in that manner. All at once the wax doll which rode
on the carnival rod seemed to grow larger and taller, and it turned round and
said to the paper flowers, “How can you put such things in a child’s head? they
are all foolish fancies;” and then the doll was exactly like the lawyer with
the broad brimmed hat, and looked as yellow and as cross as he did; but the
paper dolls struck him on his thin legs, and he shrunk up again and became quite
a little wax doll. This was very amusing, and Ida could not help laughing. The
carnival rod went on dancing, and the lawyer was obliged to dance also. It was
no use, he might make himself great and tall, or remain a little wax doll with
a large black hat; still he must dance. Then at last the other flowers interceded
for him, especially those who had lain in the doll’s bed, and the carnival rod
gave up his dancing. At the same moment a loud knocking was heard in the drawer,
where Ida’s doll Sophy lay with many other toys. Then the rough doll ran to
the end of the table, laid himself flat down upon it, and began to pull the
drawer out a little way.

Then Sophy raised himself, and looked round quite astonished, “There must be
a ball here to-night,” said Sophy. “Why did not somebody tell me?”

“Will you dance with me?” said the rough doll.

“You are the right sort to dance with, certainly,” said she, turning her back
upon him.

Then she seated herself on the edge of the drawer, and thought that perhaps
one of the flowers would ask her to dance; but none of them came. Then she coughed,
“Hem, hem, a-hem;” but for all that not one came. The shabby doll now danced
quite alone, and not very badly, after all. As none of the flowers seemed to
notice Sophy, she let herself down from the drawer to the floor, so as to make
a very great noise. All the flowers came round her directly, and asked if she
had hurt herself, especially those who had lain in her bed. But she was not
hurt at all, and Ida’s flowers thanked her for the use of the nice bed, and
were very kind to her. They led her into the middle of the room, where the moon
shone, and danced with her, while all the other flowers formed a circle round
them. Then Sophy was very happy, and said they might keep her bed; she did not
mind lying in the drawer at all. But the flowers thanked her very much, and

“We cannot live long. To-morrow morning we shall be quite dead; and you must
tell little Ida to bury us in the garden, near to the grave of the canary; then,
in the summer we shall wake up and be more beautiful than ever.”

“No, you must not die,” said Sophy, as she kissed the flowers.

Then the door of the room opened, and a number of beautiful flowers danced
in. Ida could not imagine where they could come from, unless they were the flowers
from the king’s garden. First came two lovely roses, with little golden crowns
on their heads; these were the king and queen. Beautiful stocks and carnations
followed, bowing to every one present. They had also music with them. Large
poppies and peonies had pea-shells for instruments, and blew into them till
they were quite red in the face. The bunches of blue hyacinths and the little
white snowdrops jingled their bell-like flowers, as if they were real bells.
Then came many more flowers: blue violets, purple heart’s-ease, daisies, and
lilies of the valley, and they all danced together, and kissed each other. It
was very beautiful to behold.

At last the flowers wished each other good-night. Then little Ida crept back
into her bed again, and dreamt of all she had seen. When she arose the next
morning, she went quickly to the little table, to see if the flowers were still
there. She drew aside the curtains of the little bed. There they all lay, but
quite faded; much more so than the day before. Sophy was lying in the drawer
where Ida had placed her; but she looked very sleepy.

“Do you remember what the flowers told you to say to me?” said little Ida.
But Sophy looked quite stupid, and said not a single word.

“You are not kind at all,” said Ida; “and yet they all danced with you.”

Then she took a little paper box, on which were painted beautiful birds, and
laid the dead flowers in it.

“This shall be your pretty coffin,” she said; “and by and by, when my cousins
come to visit me, they shall help me to bury you out in the garden; so that
next summer you may grow up again more beautiful than ever.”

Her cousins were two good-tempered boys, whose names were James and Adolphus.
Their father had given them each a bow and arrow, and they had brought them
to show Ida. She told them about the poor flowers which were dead; and as soon
as they obtained permission, they went with her to bury them. The two boys walked
first, with their crossbows on their shoulders, and little Ida followed, carrying
the pretty box containing the dead flowers. They dug a little grave in the garden.
Ida kissed her flowers and then laid them, with the box, in the earth. James
and Adolphus then fired their crossbows over the grave, as they had neither
guns nor cannons.

The Shepherd’s Story of the Bond of Friendship

The little dwelling in which we lived was of
clay, but the door-posts were columns of fluted marble, found near the spot on
which it stood. The roof sloped nearly to the ground. It was at this time dark,
brown, and ugly, but had originally been formed of blooming olive and laurel
branches, brought from beyond the mountains. The house was situated in a narrow
gorge, whose rocky walls rose to a perpendicular height, naked and black, while
round their summits clouds often hung, looking like white living figures. Not a
singing bird was ever heard there, neither did men dance to the sound of the
pipe. The spot was one sacred to olden times; even its name recalled a memory
of the days when it was called “Delphi.” Then the summits of the
dark, sacred mountains were covered with snow, and the highest, mount
Parnassus, glowed longest in the red evening light. The brook which rolled from
it near our house, was also sacred. How well I can remember every spot in that
deep, sacred solitude! A fire had been kindled in the midst of the hut, and
while the hot ashes lay there red and glowing, the bread was baked in them. At
times the snow would be piled so high around our hut as almost to hide it, and
then my mother appeared most cheerful. She would hold my head between her
hands, and sing the songs she never sang at other times, for the Turks, our
masters, would not allow it. She sang,—

“On the summit of mount Olympus, in a forest of dwarf
firs, lay an old stag. His eyes were heavy with tears, and glittering with
colors like dewdrops; and there came by a roebuck, and said, ’What ailest thee,
that thou weepest blue and red tears?’ And the stag answered, ’The Turk has
come to our city; he has wild dogs for the chase, a goodly pack.’ ’I will drive
them away across the islands!’ cried the young roebuck; ’I will drive them away
across the islands into the deep sea.’ But before evening the roebuck was
slain, and before night the hunted stag was dead.”

And when my mother sang thus, her eyes would become moist;
and on the long eyelashes were tears, but she concealed them and watched the
black bread baking in the ashes. Then I would clench my fist, and cry,
“We will kill these Turks!” But she repeated the words of the song,
“I will drive them across the islands to the deep sea; but before evening
came the roebuck was slain, and before the night the hunted stag was

We had been lonely in our hut for several days and nights
when my father came home. I knew he would bring me some shells from the gulf of
Lepanto, or perhaps a knife with a shining blade. This time he brought, under
his sheep-skin cloak, a little child, a little half-naked girl. She was wrapped
in a fur; but when this was taken off, and she lay in my mother’s lap, three
silver coins were found fastened in her dark hair; they were all her
possessions. My father told us that the child’s parents had been killed by the
Turks, and he talked so much about them that I dreamed of Turks all night. He
himself had been wounded, and my mother bound up his arm. It was a deep wound,
and the thick sheep-skin cloak was stiff with congealed blood. The little
maiden was to be my sister. How pretty and bright she looked: even my mother’s
eyes were not more gentle than hers. Anastasia, as she was called, was to be my
sister, because her father had been united to mine by an old custom, which we
still follow. They had sworn brotherhood in their youth, and the most beautiful
and virtuous maiden in the neighborhood was chosen to perform the act of
consecration upon this bond of friendship. So now this little girl was my
sister. She sat in my lap, and I brought her flowers, and feathers from the
birds of the mountain. We drank together of the waters of Parnassus, and dwelt
for many years beneath the laurel roof of the hut, while, winter after winter,
my mother sang her song of the stag who shed red tears. But as yet I did not
understand that the sorrows of my own countrymen were mirrored in those

One day there came to our hut Franks, men from a far
country, whose dress was different to ours. They had tents and beds with them,
carried by horses; and they were accompanied by more than twenty Turks, all
armed with swords and muskets. These Franks were friends of the Pacha, and had
letters from him, commanding an escort for them. They only came to see our
mountain, to ascend Parnassus amid the snow and clouds, and to look at the
strange black rocks which raised their steep sides near our hut. They could not
find room in the hut, nor endure the smoke that rolled along the ceiling till
it found its way out at the low door; so they pitched their tents on a small
space outside our dwelling. Roasted lambs and birds were brought forth, and
strong, sweet wine, of which the Turks are forbidden to partake.

When they departed, I accompanied them for some distance,
carrying my little sister Anastasia, wrapped in a goat-skin, on my back. One of
the Frankish gentlemen made me stand in front of a rock, and drew us both as we
stood there, so that we looked like one creature. I did not think of it then,
but Anastasia and I were really one. She was always sitting on my lap, or
riding in the goat-skin on my back; and in my dreams she always appeared to

Two nights after this, other men, armed with knives and
muskets, came into our tent. They were Albanians, brave men, my mother told me.
They only stayed a short time. My sister Anastasia sat on the knee of one of
them; and when they were gone, she had not three, but two silver coins in her
hair—one had disappeared. They wrapped tobacco in strips of paper, and
smoked it; and I remember they were uncertain as to the road they ought to
take. But they were obliged to go at last, and my father went with them. Soon
after, we heard the sound of firing. The noise continued, and presently
soldiers rushed into our hut, and took my mother and myself and Anastasia
prisoners. They declared that we had entertained robbers, and that my father
had acted as their guide, and therefore we must now go with them. The corpses
of the robbers, and my father’s corpse, were brought into the hut. I saw my
poor dead father, and cried till I fell asleep. When I awoke, I found myself in
a prison; but the room was not worse than our own in the hut. They gave me
onions and musty wine from a tarred cask; but we were not accustomed to much
better fare at home. How long we were kept in prison, I do not know; but many
days and nights passed by. We were set free about Easter-time. I carried
Anastasia on my back, and we walked very slowly; for my mother was very weak,
and it is a long way to the sea, to the Gulf of Lepanto.

On our arrival, we entered a church, in which there were
beautiful pictures in golden frames. They were pictures of angels, fair and
bright; and yet our little Anastasia looked equally beautiful, as it seemed to
me. In the centre of the floor stood a coffin filled with roses. My mother told
me it was the Lord Jesus Christ who was represented by these roses. Then the
priest announced, “Christ is risen,” and all the people greeted
each other. Each one carried a burning taper in his hand, and one was given to
me, as well as to little Anastasia. The music sounded, and the people left the
church hand-in-hand, with joy and gladness. Outside, the women were roasting
the paschal lamb. We were invited to partake; and as I sat by the fire, a boy,
older than myself, put his arms round my neck, and kissed me, and said,
“Christ is risen.” And thus it was that for the first time I met

My mother could make fishermen’s nets, for which there was a
great demand here in the bay; and we lived a long time by the side of the sea,
the beautiful sea, that had a taste like tears, and in its colors reminded me
of the stag that wept red tears; for sometimes its waters were red, and
sometimes green or blue. Aphtanides knew how to manage our boat, and I often
sat in it, with my little Anastasia, while it glided on through the water,
swift as a bird flying through the air. Then, when the sun set, how
beautifully, deeply blue, would be the tint on the mountains, one rising above
the other in the far distance, and the summit of mount Parnassus rising above
them all like a glorious crown. Its top glittered in the evening rays like
molten gold, and it seemed as if the light came from within it; for long after
the sun had sunk beneath the horizon, the mountain-top would glow in the clear,
blue sky. The white aquatic birds skimmed the surface of the water in their
flight, and all was calm and still as amid the black rocks at Delphi. I lay on
my back in the boat, Anastasia leaned against me, while the stars above us
glittered more brightly than the lamps in our church. They were the same stars,
and in the same position over me as when I used to sit in front of our hut at
Delphi, and I had almost begun to fancy I was still there, when suddenly there
was a splash in the water—Anastasia had fallen in; but in a moment
Aphtanides has sprung in after her, and was now holding her up to me. We dried
her clothes as well as we were able, and remained on the water till they were
dry; for we did not wish it to be known what a fright we had had, nor the
danger which our little adopted sister had incurred, in whose life Aphtanides
had now a part.

The summer came, and the burning heat of the sun tinted the
leaves of the trees with lines of gold. I thought of our cool mountain-home,
and the fresh water that flowed near it; my mother, too, longed for if, and one
evening we wandered towards home. How peaceful and silent it was as we walked
on through the thick, wild thyme, still fragrant, though the sun had scorched
the leaves. Not a single herdsman did we meet, not a solitary hut did we pass;
everything appeared lonely and deserted—only a shooting star showed that
in the heavens there was yet life. I know not whether the clear, blue
atmosphere gleamed with its own light, or if the radiance came from the stars;
but we could distinguish quite plainly the outline of the mountains. My mother
lighted a fire, and roasted some roots she had brought with her, and I and my
little sister slept among the bushes, without fear of the ugly
smidraki,1 from whose throat issues
fire, or of the wolf and the jackal; for my mother sat by us, and I considered
her presence sufficient protection.

We reached our old home; but the cottage was in ruins, and
we had to build a new one. With the aid of some neighbors, chiefly women, the
walls were in a few days erected, and very soon covered with a roof of
olive-branches. My mother obtained a living by making bottle-cases of bark and
skins, and I kept the sheep belonging to the priests, who were sometimes
peasants,2 while I had for my
playfellows Anastasia and the turtles.

Once our beloved Aphtanides paid us a visit. He said he had
been longing to see us so much; and he remained with us two whole happy days. A
month afterwards he came again to wish us good-bye, and brought with him a
large fish for my mother. He told us he was going in a ship to Corfu and
Patras, and could relate a great many stories, not only about the fishermen who
lived near the gulf of Lepanto, but also of kings and heroes who had once
possessed Greece, just as the Turks possess it now.

I have seen a bud on a rose-bush gradually, in the course of
a few weeks, unfold its leaves till it became a rose in all its beauty; and,
before I was aware of it, I beheld it blooming in rosy loveliness. The same
thing had happened to Anastasia. Unnoticed by me, she had gradually become a
beautiful maiden, and I was now also a stout, strong youth. The wolf-skins that
covered the bed in which my mother and Anastasia slept, had been taken from
wolves which I had myself shot.

Years had gone by when, one evening, Aphtanides came in. He
had grown tall and slender as a reed, with strong limbs, and a dark, brown
skin. He kissed us all, and had so much to tell of what he had seen of the
great ocean, of the fortifications at Malta, and of the marvellous sepulchres
of Egypt, that I looked up to him with a kind of veneration. His stories were
as strange as the legends of the priests of olden times.

“How much you know!” I exclaimed, “and
what wonders you can relate?”

“I think what you once told me, the finest of
all,” he replied; “you told me of a thing that has never been out
of my thoughts—of the good old custom of ’the bond of
friendship,’—a custom I should like to follow. Brother, let you and I go
to church, as your father and Anastasia’s father once did. Your sister
Anastasia is the most beautiful and most innocent of maidens, and she shall
consecrate the deed. No people have such grand old customs as we

Anastasia blushed like a young rose, and my mother kissed

At about two miles from our cottage, where the earth on the
hill is sheltered by a few scattered trees, stood the little church, with a
silver lamp hanging before the altar. I put on my best clothes, and the white
tunic fell in graceful folds over my hips. The red jacket fitted tight and
close, the tassel on my Fez cap was of silver, and in my girdle glittered a
knife and my pistols. Aphtanides was clad in the blue dress worn by the Greek
sailors; on his breast hung a silver medal with the figure of the Virgin Mary,
and his scarf was as costly as those worn by rich lords. Every one could see
that we were about to perform a solemn ceremony. When we entered the little,
unpretending church, the evening sunlight streamed through the open door on the
burning lamp, and glittered on the golden picture frames. We knelt down
together on the altar steps, and Anastasia drew near and stood beside us. A
long, white garment fell in graceful folds over her delicate form, and on her
white neck and bosom hung a chain entwined with old and new coins, forming a
kind of collar. Her black hair was fastened into a knot, and confined by a
headdress formed of gold and silver coins which had been found in an ancient
temple. No Greek girl had more beautiful ornaments than these. Her countenance
glowed, and her eyes were like two stars. We all three offered a silent prayer,
and then she said to us, “Will you be friends in life and in

“Yes,” we replied.

“Will you each remember to say, whatever may happen,
’My brother is a part of myself; his secret is my secret, my happiness is his;
self-sacrifice, patience, everything belongs to me as they do to him?’

And we again answered, “Yes.” Then she joined
out hands and kissed us on the forehead, and we again prayed silently. After
this a priest came through a door near the altar, and blessed us all three.
Then a song was sung by other holy men behind the altar-screen, and the bond of
eternal friendship was confirmed. When we arose, I saw my mother standing by
the church door, weeping.

How cheerful everything seemed now in our little cottage by
the Delphian springs! On the evening before his departure, Aphtanides sat
thoughtfully beside me on the slopes of the mountain. His arm was flung around
me, and mine was round his neck. We spoke of the sorrows of Greece, and of the
men of the country who could be trusted. Every thought of our souls lay clear
before us. Presently I seized his hand: “Aphtanides,” I exclaimed,
“there is one thing still that you must know,—one thing that till
now has been a secret between myself and Heaven. My whole soul is filled with
love,—with a love stronger than the love I bear to my mother and to

“And whom do you love?” asked Aphtanides. And
his face and neck grew red as fire.

“I love Anastasia,” I replied.

Then his hand trembled in mine, and he became pale as a
corpse. I saw it, I understood the cause, and I believe my hand trembled too.
I bent towards him, I kissed his forehead, and whispered, “I have never
spoken of this to her, and perhaps she does not love me. Brother, think of
this; I have seen her daily, she has grown up beside me, and has become a part
of my soul.”

“And she shall be thine,” he exclaimed;
“thine! I may not wrong thee, nor will I do so. I also love her, but
tomorrow I depart. In a year we will see each other again, but then you will be
married; shall it not be so? I have a little gold of my own, it shall be yours.
You must and shall take it.”

We wandered silently homeward across the mountains. It was
late in the evening when we reached my mother’s door. Anastasia held the lamp
as we entered; my mother was not there. She looked at Aphtanides with a sweet
but mournful expression on her face. “To-morrow you are going to leave
us,” she said. “I am very sorry.”

“Sorry!” he exclaimed, and his voice was
troubled with a grief as deep as my own. I could not speak; but he seized her
hand and said, “Our brother yonder loves you, and is he not dear to you?
His very silence now proves his affection.”

Anastasia trembled, and burst into tears. Then I saw no one,
thought of none, but her. I threw my arms round her, and pressed my lips to
hers. As she flung her arms round my neck, the lamp fell to the ground, and we
were in darkness, dark as the heart of poor Aphtanides.

Before daybreak he rose, kissed us all, and said
“Farewell,” and went away. He had given all his money to my mother
for us. Anastasia was betrothed to me, and in a few days afterwards she became
my wife.

  1. According to superstition among the Greeks, this is a
    monster produced from the unopened entrails of slaughtered sheep, which have
    been thrown away in the fields.
  2. A peasant who can read is ofen made a priest; he is addressed
    as “Most holy sir,” and the other peasants kiss the ground on which
    he has stepped.

The Shepherdess and the Sweep

Have you ever seen an old wooden cupboard quite black with age, and ornamented
with carved foliage and curious figures? Well, just such a cupboard stood in a
parlor, and had been left to the family as a legacy by the great-grandmother.
It was covered from top to bottom with carved roses and tulips; the most curious
scrolls were drawn upon it, and out of them peeped little stags’ heads, with antlers.
In the middle of the cupboard door was the carved figure of a man most ridiculous
to look at. He grinned at you, for no one could call it laughing. He had goat’s
legs, little horns on his head, and a long beard; the children in the room always
called him, “Major general-field-sergeant-commander Billy-goat’s-legs.” It was
certainly a very difficult name to pronounce, and there are very few who ever
receive such a title, but then it seemed wonderful how he came to be carved at
all; yet there he was, always looking at the table under the looking-glass, where
stood a very pretty little shepherdess made of china. Her shoes were gilt, and
her dress had a red rose or an ornament. She wore a hat, and carried a crook,
that were both gilded, and looked very bright and pretty. Close by her side stood
a little chimney-sweep, as black as coal, and also made of china. He was, however,
quite as clean and neat as any other china figure; he only represented a black
chimney-sweep, and the china workers might just as well have made him a prince,
had they felt inclined to do so. He stood holding his ladder quite handily, and
his face was as fair and rosy as a girl’s; indeed, that was rather a mistake,
it should have had some black marks on it. He and the shepherdess had been placed
close together, side by side; and, being so placed, they became engaged to each
other, for they were very well suited, being both made of the same sort of china,
and being equally fragile. Close to them stood another figure, three times as
large as they were, and also made of china. He was an old Chinaman, who could
nod his head, and used to pretend that he was the grandfather of the shepherdess,
although he could not prove it. He however assumed authority over her, and therefore
when “Major-general-field-sergeant-commander Billy-goat’s-legs” asked for the
little shepherdess to be his wife, he nodded his head to show that he consented.
“You will have a husband,” said the old Chinaman to her, “who I really believe
is made of mahogany. He will make you a lady of Major-general-field-sergeant-commander
Billy-goat’s-legs. He has the whole cupboard full of silver plate, which he keeps
locked up in secret drawers.”

“I won’t go into the dark cupboard,” said the little shepherdess. “I have heard
that he has eleven china wives there already.”

“Then you shall be the twelfth,” said the old Chinaman. “To-night as soon as
you hear a rattling in the old cupboard, you shall be married, as true as I
am a Chinaman;” and then he nodded his head and fell asleep.

Then the little shepherdess cried, and looked at her sweetheart, the china
chimney-sweep. “I must entreat you,” said she, “to go out with me into the wide
world, for we cannot stay here.”

“I will do whatever you wish,” said the little chimney-sweep; “let us go immediately:
I think I shall be able to maintain you with my profession.”

“If we were but safely down from the table!” said she; “I shall not be happy
till we are really out in the world.”

Then he comforted her, and showed her how to place her little foot on the carved
edge and gilt-leaf ornaments of the table. He brought his little ladder to help
her, and so they contrived to reach the floor. But when they looked at the old
cupboard, they saw it was all in an uproar. The carved stags pushed out their
heads, raised their antlers, and twisted their necks. The major-general sprung
up in the air; and cried out to the old Chinaman, “They are running away! they
are running away!” The two were rather frightened at this, so they jumped into
the drawer of the window-seat. Here were three or four packs of cards not quite
complete, and a doll’s theatre, which had been built up very neatly. A comedy
was being performed in it, and all the queens of diamonds, clubs, and hearts,,
and spades, sat in the first row fanning themselves with tulips, and behind
them stood all the knaves, showing that they had heads above and below as playing
cards generally have. The play was about two lovers, who were not allowed to
marry, and the shepherdess wept because it was so like her own story. “I cannot
bear it,” said she, “I must get out of the drawer;” but when they reached the
floor, and cast their eyes on the table, there was the old Chinaman awake and
shaking his whole body, till all at once down he came on the floor, “plump.”
“The old Chinaman is coming,” cried the little shepherdess in a fright, and
down she fell on one knee.

“I have thought of something,” said the chimney-sweep; “let us get into the
great pot-pourri jar which stands in the corner; there we can lie on rose-leaves
and lavender, and throw salt in his eyes if he comes near us.”

“No, that will never do,” said she, “because I know that the Chinaman and the
pot-pourri jar were lovers once, and there always remains behind a feeling of
good-will between those who have been so intimate as that. No, there is nothing
left for us but to go out into the wide world.”

“Have you really courage enough to go out into the wide world with me?” said
the chimney-sweep; “have you thought how large it is, and that we can never
come back here again?”

“Yes, I have,” she replied.

When the chimney-sweep saw that she was quite firm, he said, “My way is through
the stove and up the chimney. Have you courage to creep with me through the
fire-box, and the iron pipe? When we get to the chimney I shall know how to
manage very well. We shall soon climb too high for any one to reach us, and
we shall come through a hole in the top out into the wide world.” So he led
her to the door of the stove.

“It looks very dark,” said she; still she went in with him through the stove
and through the pipe, where it was as dark as pitch.

“Now we are in the chimney,” said he; “and look, there is a beautiful star
shining above it.” It was a real star shining down upon them as if it would
show them the way. So they clambered, and crept on, and a frightful steep place
it was; but the chimney-sweep helped her and supported her, till they got higher
and higher. He showed her the best places on which to set her little china foot,
so at last they reached the top of the chimney, and sat themselves down, for
they were very tired, as may be supposed. The sky, with all its stars, was over
their heads, and below were the roofs of the town. They could see for a very
long distance out into the wide world, and the poor little shepherdess leaned
her head on her chimney-sweep’s shoulder, and wept till she washed the gilt
off her sash; the world was so different to what she expected. “This is too
much,” she said; “I cannot bear it, the world is too large. Oh, I wish I were
safe back on the table. again, under the looking glass; I shall never be happy
till I am safe back again. Now I have followed you out into the wide world,
you will take me back, if you love me.”

Then the chimney-sweep tried to reason with her, and spoke of the old Chinaman,
and of the Major-general-field-sergeant-commander Billy-goat’s legs; but she
sobbed so bitterly, and kissed her little chimney-sweep till he was obliged
to do all she asked, foolish as it was. And so, with a great deal of trouble,
they climbed down the chimney, and then crept through the pipe and stove, which
were certainly not very pleasant places. Then they stood in the dark fire-box,
and listened behind the door, to hear what was going on in the room. As it was
all quiet, they peeped out. Alas! there lay the old Chinaman on the floor; he
had fallen down from the table as he attempted to run after them, and was broken
into three pieces; his back had separated entirely, and his head had rolled
into a corner of the room. The major-general stood in his old place, and appeared
lost in thought.

“This is terrible,” said the little shepherdess. “My poor old grandfather is
broken to pieces, and it is our fault. I shall never live after this;” and she
wrung her little hands.

“He can be riveted,” said the chimney-sweep; “he can be riveted. Do not be
so hasty. If they cement his back, and put a good rivet in it, he will be as
good as new, and be able to say as many disagreeable things to us as ever.”

“Do you think so?” said she; and then they climbed up to the table, and stood
in their old places.

“As we have done no good,” said the chimney-sweep, “we might as well have remained
here, instead of taking so much trouble.”

“I wish grandfather was riveted,” said the shepherdess. “Will it cost much,
I wonder?”

And she had her wish. The family had the Chinaman’s back mended, and a strong
rivet put through his neck; he looked as good as new, but he could no longer
nod his head.

“You have become proud since your fall broke you to pieces,” said Major-general-field-sergeant-commander
Billy-goat’s-legs. “You have no reason to give yourself such airs. Am I to have
her or not?”

The chimney-sweep and the little shepherdess looked piteously at the old Chinaman,
for they were afraid he might nod; but he was not able: besides, it was so tiresome
to be always telling strangers he had a rivet in the back of his neck.

And so the little china people remained together, and were glad of the grandfather’s
rivet, and continued to love each other till they were broken to pieces.

A Leaf from Heaven

High up in the clear, pure air flew an angel, with a flower plucked from the garden
of heaven. As he was kissing the flower a very little leaf fell from it and sunk
down into the soft earth in the middle of a wood. It immediately took root, sprouted,
and sent out shoots among the other plants.

“What a ridiculous little shoot!” said one. “No one will recognize it; not
even the thistle nor the stinging-nettle.”

“It must be a kind of garden plant,” said another; and so they sneered and
despised the plant as a thing from a garden.

“Where are you coming?” said the tall thistles whose leaves were all armed
with thorns. “It is stupid nonsense to allow yourself to shoot out in this way;
we are not here to support you.”

Winter came, and the plant was covered with snow, but the snow glittered over
it as if it had sunshine beneath as well as above.

When spring came, the plant appeared in full bloom: a more beautiful object
than any other plant in the forest. And now the professor of botany presented
himself, one who could explain his knowledge in black and white. He examined
and tested the plant, but it did not belong to his system of botany, nor could
he possibly find out to what class it did belong. “It must be some degenerate
species,” said he; “I do not know it, and it is not mentioned in any system.”

“Not known in any system!” repeated the thistles and the nettles.

The large trees which grew round it saw the plant and heard the remarks, but
they said not a word either good or bad, which is the wisest plan for those
who are ignorant.

There passed through the forest a poor innocent girl; her heart was pure, and
her understanding increased by her faith. Her chief inheritance had been an
old Bible, which she read and valued. From its pages she heard the voice of
God speaking to her, and telling her to remember what was said of Joseph’s brethren
when persons wished to injure her. “They imagined evil in their hearts, but
God turned it to good.” If we suffer wrongfully, if we are misunderstood or
despised, we must think of Him who was pure and holy, and who prayed for those
who nailed Him to the cross, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they

The girl stood still before the wonderful plant, for the green leaves exhaled
a sweet and refreshing fragrance, and the flowers glittered and sparkled in
the sunshine like colored flames, and the harmony of sweet sounds lingered round
them as if each concealed within itself a deep fount of melody, which thousands
of years could not exhaust. With pious gratitude the girl looked upon this glorious
work of God, and bent down over one of the branches, that she might examine
the flower and inhale the sweet perfume. Then a light broke in on her mind,
and her heart expanded. Gladly would she have plucked a flower, but she could
not overcome her reluctance to break one off. She knew it would so soon fade;
so she took only a single green leaf, carried it home, and laid it in her Bible,
where it remained ever green, fresh, and unfading. Between the pages of the
Bible it still lay when, a few weeks afterwards, that Bible was laid under the
young girl’s head in her coffin. A holy calm rested on her face, as if the earthly
remains bore the impress of the truth that she now stood in the presence of

In the forest the wonderful plant still continued to bloom till it grew and
became almost a tree, and all the birds of passage bowed themselves before it.

“That plant is a foreigner, no doubt,” said the thistles and the burdocks.
“We can never conduct ourselves like that in this country.” And the black forest
snails actually spat at the flower.

Then came the swineherd; he was collecting thistles and shrubs to burn them
for the ashes. He pulled up the wonderful plant, roots and all, and placed it
in his bundle. “This will be as useful as any,” he said; so the plant was carried

Not long after, the king of the country suffered from the deepest melancholy.
He was diligent and industrious, but employment did him no good. They read deep
and learned books to him, and then the lightest and most trifling that could
be found, but all to no purpose. Then they applied for advice to one of the
wise men of the world, and he sent them a message to say that there was one
remedy which would relieve and cure him, and that it was a plant of heavenly
origin which grew in the forest in the king’s own dominions. The messenger described
the flower so that is appearance could not be mistaken.

Then said the swineherd, “I am afraid I carried this plant away from the forest
in my bundle, and it has been burnt to ashes long ago. But I did not know any

“You did not know, any better! Ignorance upon ignorance indeed!”

The poor swineherd took these words to heart, for they were addressed to him;
he knew not that there were others who were equally ignorant. Not even a leaf
of the plant could be found. There was one, but it lay in the coffin of the
dead; no one knew anything about it.

Then the king, in his melancholy, wandered out to the spot in the wood. “Here
is where the plant stood,” he said; “it is a sacred place.” Then he ordered
that the place should be surrounded with a golden railing, and a sentry stationed
near it.

The botanical professor wrote a long treatise about the heavenly plant, and
for this he was loaded with gold, which improved the position of himself and
his family.

And this part is really the most pleasant part of the story. For the plant
had disappeared, and the king remained as melancholy and sad as ever, but the
sentry said he had always been so.

Ole-Luk-Oie, the Dream-God

There is nobody in the world who knows so many stories as Ole-Luk-Oie, or who can
relate them so nicely. In the evening, while the children are seated at the table
or in their little chairs, he comes up the stairs very softly, for he walks in
his socks, then he opens the doors without the slightest noise, and throws a small
quantity of very fine dust in their eyes, just enough to prevent them from keeping
them open, and so they do not see him. Then he creeps behind them, and blows softly
upon their necks, till their heads begin to droop. But Ole-Luk-Oie does not wish
to hurt them, for he is very fond of children, and only wants them to be quiet
that he may relate to them pretty stories, and they never are quiet until they
are in bed and asleep. As soon as they are asleep, Ole-Luk-Oie seats himself upon
the bed. He is nicely dressed; his coat is made of silken stuff; it is impossible
to say of what color, for it changes from green to red, and from red to blue as
he turns from side to side. Under each arm he carries an umbrella; one of them,
with pictures on the inside, he spreads over the good children, and then they
dream the most beautiful stories the whole night. But the other umbrella has no
pictures, and this he holds over the naughty children so that they sleep heavily,
and wake in the morning without having dreamed at all.

Now we shall hear how Ole-Luk-Oie came every night during a whole week to the
little boy named Hjalmar, and what he told him. There were seven stories, as
there are seven days in the week.


Now pay attention,” said Ole-Luk-Oie, in the evening, when Hjalmar was in
bed, “and I will decorate the room.”

Immediately all the flowers in the flower-pots became large trees, with long
branches reaching to the ceiling, and stretching along the walls, so that the
whole room was like a greenhouse. All the branches were loaded with flowers,
each flower as beautiful and as fragrant as a rose; and, had any one tasted
them, he would have found them sweeter even than jam. The fruit glittered like
gold, and there were cakes so full of plums that they were nearly bursting.
It was incomparably beautiful. At the same time sounded dismal moans from the
table-drawer in which lay Hjalmar’s school books.

“What can that be now?” said Ole-Luk-Oie, going to the table and pulling out
the drawer.

It was a slate, in such distress because of a false number in the sum, that
it had almost broken itself to pieces. The pencil pulled and tugged at its string
as if it were a little dog that wanted to help, but could not.

And then came a moan from Hjalmar’s copy-book. Oh, it was quite terrible to
hear! On each leaf stood a row of capital letters, every one having a small
letter by its side. This formed a copy; under these were other letters, which
Hjalmar had written: they fancied they looked like the copy, but they were mistaken;
for they were leaning on one side as if they intended to fall over the pencil-lines.

“See, this is the way you should hold yourselves,” said the copy. “Look here,
you should slope thus, with a graceful curve.”

“Oh, we are very willing to do so, but we cannot,” said Hjalmar’s letters;
“we are so wretchedly made.”

“You must be scratched out, then,” said Ole-Luk-Oie.

“Oh, no!” they cried, and then they stood up so gracefully it was quite a pleasure
to look at them.

“Now we must give up our stories, and exercise these letters,” said Ole-Luk-Oie;
“One, two—one, two—” So he drilled them till they stood up gracefully, and looked
as beautiful as a copy could look. But after Ole-Luk-Oie was gone, and Hjalmar
looked at them in the morning, they were as wretched and as awkward as ever.


As soon as Hjalmar was in bed, Ole-Luk-Oie touched, with his little magic
wand, all the furniture in the room, which immediately began to chatter, and
each article only talked of itself.

Over the chest of drawers hung a large picture in a gilt frame, representing
a landscape, with fine old trees, flowers in the grass, and a broad stream,
which flowed through the wood, past several castles, far out into the wild ocean.
Ole-Luk-Oie touched the picture with his magic wand, and immediately the birds
commenced singing, the branches of the trees rustled, and the clouds moved across
the sky, casting their shadows on the landscape beneath them. Then Ole-Luk-Oie
lifted little Hjalmar up to the frame, and placed his feet in the picture, just
on the high grass, and there he stood with the sun shining down upon him through
the branches of the trees. He ran to the water, and seated himself in a little
boat which lay there, and which was painted red and white. The sails glittered
like silver, and six swans, each with a golden circlet round its neck, and a
bright blue star on its forehead, drew the boat past the green wood, where the
trees talked of robbers and witches, and the flowers of beautiful little elves
and fairies, whose histories the butterflies had related to them. Brilliant
fish, with scales like silver and gold, swam after the boat, sometimes making
a spring and splashing the water round them, while birds, red and blue, small
and great, flew after him in two long lines. The gnats danced round them, and
the cockchafers cried “Buz, buz.” They all wanted to follow Hjalmar, and all
had some story to tell him. It was a most pleasant sail. Sometimes the forests
were thick and dark, sometimes like a beautiful garden, gay with sunshine and
flowers; then he passed great palaces of glass and of marble, and on the balconies
stood princesses, whose faces were those of little girls whom Hjalmar knew well,
and had often played with. One of them held out her hand, in which was a heart
made of sugar, more beautiful than any confectioner ever sold. As Hjalmar sailed
by, he caught hold of one side of the sugar heart, and held it fast, and the
princess held fast also, so that it broke in two pieces. Hjalmar had one piece,
and the princess the other, but Hjalmar’s was the largest. At each castle stood
little princes acting as sentinels. They presented arms, and had golden swords,
and made it rain plums and tin soldiers, so that they must have been real princes.

Hjalmar continued to sail, sometimes through woods, sometimes as it were through
large halls, and then by large cities. At last he came to the town where his
nurse lived, who had carried him in her arms when he was a very little boy,
and had always been kind to him. She nodded and beckoned to him, and then sang
the little verses she had herself composed and set to him,—

“How oft my memory turns to thee,
My own Hjalmar, ever dear!
When I could watch thy infant glee,
Or kiss away a pearly tear.
’Twas in my arms thy lisping tongue
First spoke the half-remembered word,
While o’er thy tottering steps I hung,
My fond protection to afford.
Farewell! I pray the Heavenly Power
To keep thee till thy dying hour.”

And all the birds sang the same tune, the flowers danced on their stems, and
the old trees nodded as if Ole-Luk-Oie had been telling them stories as well.


How the rain did pour down! Hjalmar could hear it in his sleep;. and when
Ole-Luk-Oie opened the window, the water flowed quite up to the window-sill.
It had the appearance of a large lake outside, and a beautiful ship lay close
to the house.

“Wilt thou sail with me to-night, little Hjalmar?” said Ole-Luk-Oie; “then
we shall see foreign countries, and thou shalt return here in the morning.”

All in a moment, there stood Hjalmar, in his best clothes, on the deck of the
noble ship; and immediately the weather became fine. They sailed through the
streets, round by the church, and on every side rolled the wide, great sea.
They sailed till the land disappeared, and then they saw a flock of storks,
who had left their own country, and were travelling to warmer climates. The
storks flew one behind the other, and had already been a long, long time on
the wing. One of them seemed so tired that his wings could scarcely carry him.
He was the last of the row, and was soon left very far behind. At length he
sunk lower and lower, with outstretched wings, flapping them in vain, till his
feet touched the rigging of the ship, and he slided from the sails to the deck,
and stood before them. Then a sailor-boy caught him, and put him in the hen-house,
with the fowls, the ducks, and the turkeys, while the poor stork stood quite
bewildered amongst them.

“Just look at that fellow,” said the chickens.

Then the turkey-cock puffed himself out as large as he could, and inquired
who he was; and the ducks waddled backwards, crying, “Quack, quack.”

Then the stork told them all about warm Africa, of the pyramids, and of the
ostrich, which, like a wild horse, runs across the desert. But the ducks did
not understand what he said, and quacked amongst themselves, “We are all of
the same opinion; namely, that he is stupid.”

“Yes, to be sure, he is stupid,” said the turkey-cock; and gobbled.

Then the stork remained quite silent, and thought of his home in Africa.

“Those are handsome thin legs of yours,” said the turkey-cock. “What do they
cost a yard?”

“Quack, quack, quack,” grinned the ducks; but, the stork pretended not to hear.

“You may as well laugh,” said the turkey; “for that remark was rather witty,
or perhaps it was above you. Ah, ah, is he not clever? He will be a great amusement
to us while he remains here.” And then he gobbled, and the ducks quacked, “Gobble,
gobble; Quack, quack.”

What a terrible uproar they made, while they were having such fun among themselves!

Then Hjalmar went to the hen-house; and, opening the door, called to the stork.
Then he hopped out on the deck. He had rested himself now, and he looked happy,
and seemed as if he nodded to Hjalmar, as if to thank him. Then he spread his
wings, and flew away to warmer countries, while the hens clucked, the ducks
quacked, and the turkey-cock turned quite scarlet in the head.

“To-morrow you shall be made into soup,” said Hjalmar to the fowls; and then
he awoke, and found himself lying in his little bed.

It was a wonderful journey which Ole-Luk-Oie had made him take this night.


What do you think I have got here?” said Ole-Luk-Oie, “Do not be frightened,
and you shall see a little mouse.” And then he held out his hand to him, in
which lay a lovely little creature. “It has come to invite you to a wedding.
Two little mice are going to enter into the marriage state tonight. They reside
under the floor of your mother’s store-room, and that must be a fine dwelling-place.”

“But how can I get through the little mouse-hole in the floor?” asked Hjalmar.

“Leave me to manage that,” said Ole-Luk-Oie. “I will soon make you small enough.”
And then he touched Hjalmar with his magic wand, whereupon he became less and
less, until at last he was not longer than a little finger. “Now you can borrow
the dress of the tin soldier. I think it will just fit you. It looks well to
wear a uniform when you go into company.”

“Yes, certainly,” said Hjalmar; and in a moment he was dressed as neatly as
the neatest of all tin soldiers.

“Will you be so good as to seat yourself in your mamma’s thimble,” said the
little mouse, “that I may have the pleasure of drawing you to the wedding.”

“Will you really take so much trouble, young lady?” said Hjalmar. And so in
this way he rode to the mouse’s wedding.

First they went under the floor, and then passed through a long passage, which
was scarcely high enough to allow the thimble to drive under, and the whole
passage was lit up with the phosphorescent light of rotten wood.

“Does it not smell delicious?” asked the mouse, as she drew him along. “The
wall and the floor have been smeared with bacon-rind; nothing can be nicer.”

Very soon they arrived at the bridal hall. On the right stood all the little
lady-mice, whispering and giggling, as if they were making game of each other.
To the left were the gentlemen-mice, stroking their whiskers with their fore-paws;
and in the centre of the hall could be seen the bridal pair, standing side by
side, in a hollow cheese-rind, and kissing each other, while all eyes were upon
them; for they had already been betrothed, and were soon to be married. More
and more friends kept arriving, till the mice were nearly treading each other
to death; for the bridal pair now stood in the doorway, and none could pass
in or out.

The room had been rubbed over with bacon-rind, like the passage, which was
all the refreshment offered to the guests. But for dessert they produced a pea,
on which a mouse belonging to the bridal pair had bitten the first letters of
their names. This was something quite uncommon. All the mice said it was a very
beautiful wedding, and that they had been very agreeably entertained.

After this, Hjalmar returned home. He had certainly been in grand society;
but he had been obliged to creep under a room, and to make himself small enough
to wear the uniform of a tin soldier.


T is incredible how many old people there are who would be glad to have me
at night,” said Ole-Luk-Oie, “especially those who have done something wrong.
‘Good little Ole,’ say they to me, ‘we cannot close our eyes, and we lie awake
the whole night and see all our evil deeds sitting on our beds like little imps,
and sprinkling us with hot water. Will you come and drive them away, that we
may have a good night’s rest?’ and then they sigh so deeply and say, ‘We would
gladly pay you for it. Good-night, Ole-Luk, the money lies on the window.’ But
I never do anything for gold.” “What shall we do to-night?” asked Hjalmar. “I
do not know whether you would care to go to another wedding,” he replied, “although
it is quite a different affair to the one we saw last night. Your sister’s large
doll, that is dressed like a man, and is called Herman, intends to marry the
doll Bertha. It is also the dolls’ birthday, and they will receive many presents.”

“Yes, I know that already,” said Hjalmar, “my sister always allows her dolls
to keep their birthdays or to have a wedding when they require new clothes;
that has happened already a hundred times, I am quite sure.”

“Yes, so it may; but to-night is the hundred and first wedding, and when that
has taken place it must be the last, therefore this is to be extremely beautiful.
Only look.”

Hjalmar looked at the table, and there stood the little card-board doll’s house,
with lights in all the windows, and drawn up before it were the tin soldiers
presenting arms. The bridal pair were seated on the floor, leaning against the
leg of the table, looking very thoughtful, and with good reason. Then Ole-Luk-Oie
dressed up in grandmother’s black gown married them.

As soon as the ceremony was concluded, all the furniture in the room joined
in singing a beautiful song, which had been composed by the lead pencil, and
which went to the melody of a military tattoo.

“What merry sounds are on the wind,
As marriage rites together bind
A quiet and a loving pair,
Though formed of kid, yet smooth and fair!
Hurrah! If they are deaf and blind,
We’ll sing, though weather prove unkind.”

And now came the present; but the bridal pair had nothing to eat, for love
was to be their food.

“Shall we go to a country house, or travel?” asked the bridegroom.

Then they consulted the swallow who had travelled so far, and the old hen in
the yard, who had brought up five broods of chickens.

And the swallow talked to them of warm countries, where the grapes hang in
large clusters on the vines, and the air is soft and mild, and about the mountains
glowing with colors more beautiful than we can think of.

“But they have no red cabbage like we have,” said the hen, “I was once in the
country with my chickens for a whole summer, there was a large sand-pit, in
which we could walk about and scratch as we liked. Then we got into a garden
in which grew red cabbage; oh, how nice it was, I cannot think of anything more

“But one cabbage stalk is exactly like another,” said the swallow; “and here
we have often bad weather.”

“Yes, but we are accustomed to it,” said the hen.

“But it is so cold here, and freezes sometimes.”

“Cold weather is good for cabbages,” said the hen; “besides we do have it warm
here sometimes. Four years ago, we had a summer that lasted more than five weeks,
and it was so hot one could scarcely breathe. And then in this country we have
no poisonous animals, and we are free from robbers. He must be wicked who does
not consider our country the finest of all lands. He ought not to be allowed
to live here.” And then the hen wept very much and said, “I have also travelled.
I once went twelve miles in a coop, and it was not pleasant travelling at all.”

“The hen is a sensible woman,” said the doll Bertha. “I don’t care for travelling
over mountains, just to go up and come down again. No, let us go to the sand-pit
in front of the gate, and then take a walk in the cabbage garden.”

And so they settled it.


Am I to hear any more stories?” asked little Hjalmar, as soon as Ole-Luk-Oie
had sent him to sleep.

“We shall have no time this evening,” said he, spreading out his prettiest
umbrella over the child. “Look at these Chinese,” and then the whole umbrella
appeared like a large china bowl, with blue trees and pointed bridges, upon
which stood little Chinamen nodding their heads. “We must make all the world
beautiful for to-morrow morning,” said Ole-Luk-Oie, “for it will be a holiday,
it is Sunday. I must now go to the church steeple and see if the little sprites
who live there have polished the bells, so that they may sound sweetly. Then
I must go into the fields and see if the wind has blown the dust from the grass
and the leaves, and the most difficult task of all which I have to do, is to
take down all the stars and brighten them up. I have to number them first before
I put them in my apron, and also to number the places from which I take them,
so that they may go back into the right holes, or else they would not remain,
and we should have a number of falling stars, for they would all tumble down
one after the other.”

“Hark ye! Mr. Luk-Oie,” said an old portrait which hung on the wall of Hjalmar’s
bedroom. “Do you know me? I am Hjalmar’s great-grandfather. I thank you for
telling the boy stories, but you must not confuse his ideas. The stars cannot
be taken down from the sky and polished; they are spheres like our earth, which
is a good thing for them.”

“Thank you, old great-grandfather,” said Ole-Luk-Oie. “I thank you; you may
be the head of the family, as no doubt you are, but I am older than you. I am
an ancient heathen. The old Romans and Greeks named me the Dream-god. I have
visited the noblest houses, and continue to do so; still I know how to conduct
myself both to high and low, and now you may tell the stories yourself:” and
so Ole-Luk-Oie walked off, taking his umbrellas with him.

“Well, well, one is never to give an opinion, I suppose,” grumbled the portrait.
And it woke Hjalmar.


Good evening,” said Ole-Luk-Oie.

Hjalmar nodded, and then sprang out of bed, and turned his great-grandfather’s
portrait to the wall, so that it might not interrupt them as it had done yesterday.
“Now,” said he, “you must tell me some stories about five green peas that lived
in one pod; or of the chickseed that courted the chickweed; or of the darning
needle, who acted so proudly because she fancied herself an embroidery needle.”

“You may have too much of a good thing,” said Ole-Luk-Oie. “You know that I
like best to show you something, so I will show you my brother. He is also called
Ole-Luk-Oie but he never visits any one but once, and when he does come, he
takes him away on his horse, and tells him stories as they ride along. He knows
only two stories. One of these is so wonderfully beautiful, that no one in the
world can imagine anything at all like it; but the other is just as ugly and
frightful, so that it would be impossible to describe it.” Then Ole-Luk-Oie
lifted Hjalmar up to the window. “There now, you can see my brother, the other
Ole-Luk-Oie; he is also called Death. You perceive he is not so bad as they
represent him in picture books; there he is a skeleton, but now his coat is
embroidered with silver, and he wears the splendid uniform of a hussar, and
a mantle of black velvet flies behind him, over the horse. Look, how he gallops
along.” Hjalmar saw that as this Ole-Luk-Oie rode on, he lifted up old and young,
and carried them away on his horse. Some he seated in front of him, and some
behind, but always inquired first, “How stands the mark-book?”

“Good,” they all answered.

“Yes, but let me see for myself,” he replied; and they were obliged to give
him the books. Then all those who had “Very good,” or “Exceedingly good,” came
in front of the horse, and heard the beautiful story; while those who had “Middling,”
or “Tolerably good,” in their books, were obliged to sit behind, and listen
to the frightful tale. They trembled and cried, and wanted to jump down from
the horse, but they could not get free, for they seemed fastened to the seat.

“Why, Death is a most splendid Luk-Oie,” said Hjalmar. “I am not in the least
afraid of him.”

“You need have no fear of him,” said Ole-Luk-Oie, “if you take care and keep
a good conduct book.”

“Now I call that very instructive,” murmured the great-grandfather’s portrait.
“It is useful sometimes to express an opinion;” so he was quite satisfied.

These are some of the doings and sayings of Ole-Luk-Oie. I hope he may visit
you himself this evening, and relate some more.

The Tinder-Box

A soldier came marching along the high road: “Left, right—left, right.” He had his
knapsack on his back, and a sword at his side; he had been to the wars, and was
now returning home.

As he walked on, he met a very frightful-looking old witch in the road. Her
under-lip hung quite down on her breast, and she stopped and said, “Good evening,
soldier; you have a very fine sword, and a large knapsack, and you are a real
soldier; so you shall have as much money as ever you like.”

“Thank you, old witch,” said the soldier.

“Do you see that large tree,” said the witch, pointing to a tree which stood
beside them. “Well, it is quite hollow inside, and you must climb to the top,
when you will see a hole, through which you can let yourself down into the tree
to a great depth. I will tie a rope round your body, so that I can pull you
up again when you call out to me.”

“But what am I to do, down there in the tree?” asked the soldier.

“Get money,” she replied; “for you must know that when you reach the ground
under the tree, you will find yourself in a large hall, lighted up by three
hundred lamps; you will then see three doors, which can be easily opened, for
the keys are in all the locks. On entering the first of the chambers, to which
these doors lead, you will see a large chest, standing in the middle of the
floor, and upon it a dog seated, with a pair of eyes as large as teacups. But
you need not be at all afraid of him; I will give you my blue checked apron,
which you must spread upon the floor, and then boldly seize hold of the dog,
and place him upon it. You can then open the chest, and take from it as many
pence as you please, they are only copper pence; but if you would rather have
silver money, you must go into the second chamber. Here you will find another
dog, with eyes as big as mill-wheels; but do not let that trouble you. Place
him upon my apron, and then take what money you please. If, however, you like
gold best, enter the third chamber, where there is another chest full of it.
The dog who sits on this chest is very dreadful; his eyes are as big as a tower,
but do not mind him. If he also is placed upon my apron, he cannot hurt you,
and you may take from the chest what gold you will.”

“This is not a bad story,” said the soldier; “but what am I to give you, you
old witch? for, of course, you do not mean to tell me all this for nothing.”

“No,” said the witch; “but I do not ask for a single penny. Only promise to
bring me an old tinder-box, which my grandmother left behind the last time she
went down there.”

“Very well; I promise. Now tie the rope round my body.”

“Here it is,” replied the witch; “and here is my blue checked apron.”

As soon as the rope was tied, the soldier climbed up the tree, and let himself
down through the hollow to the ground beneath; and here he found, as the witch
had told him, a large hall, in which many hundred lamps were all burning. Then
he opened the first door. “Ah!” there sat the dog, with the eyes as large as
teacups, staring at him.

“You’re a pretty fellow,” said the soldier, seizing him, and placing him on
the witch’s apron, while he filled his pockets from the chest with as many pieces
as they would hold. Then he closed the lid, seated the dog upon it again, and
walked into another chamber, And, sure enough, there sat the dog with eyes as
big as mill-wheels.

“You had better not look at me in that way,” said the soldier; “you will make
your eyes water;” and then he seated him also upon the apron, and opened the
chest. But when he saw what a quantity of silver money it contained, he very
quickly threw away all the coppers he had taken, and filled his pockets and
his knapsack with nothing but silver.

Then he went into the third room, and there the dog was really hideous; his
eyes were, truly, as big as towers, and they turned round and round in his head
like wheels.

“Good morning,” said the soldier, touching his cap, for he had never seen such
a dog in his life. But after looking at him more closely, he thought he had
been civil enough, so he placed him on the floor, and opened the chest. Good
gracious, what a quantity of gold there was! enough to buy all the sugar-sticks
of the sweet-stuff women; all the tin soldiers, whips, and rocking-horses in
the world, or even the whole town itself There was, indeed, an immense quantity.
So the soldier now threw away all the silver money he had taken, and filled
his pockets and his knapsack with gold instead; and not only his pockets and
his knapsack, but even his cap and boots, so that he could scarcely walk.

He was really rich now; so he replaced the dog on the chest, closed the door,
and called up through the tree, “Now pull me out, you old witch.”

“Have you got the tinder-box?” asked the witch.

“No; I declare I quite forgot it.” So he went back and fetched the tinderbox,
and then the witch drew him up out of the tree, and he stood again in the high
road, with his pockets, his knapsack, his cap, and his boots full of gold.

“What are you going to do with the tinder-box?” asked the soldier.

“That is nothing to you,” replied the witch; “you have the money, now give
me the tinder-box.”

“I tell you what,” said the soldier, “if you don’t tell me what you are going
to do with it, I will draw my sword and cut off your head.”

“No,” said the witch.

The soldier immediately cut off her head, and there she lay on the ground.
Then he tied up all his money in her apron. and slung it on his back like a
bundle, put the tinderbox in his pocket, and walked off to the nearest town.
It was a very nice town, and he put up at the best inn, and ordered a dinner
of all his favorite dishes, for now he was rich and had plenty of money.

The servant, who cleaned his boots, thought they certainly were a shabby pair
to be worn by such a rich gentleman, for he had not yet bought any new ones.
The next day, however, he procured some good clothes and proper boots, so that
our soldier soon became known as a fine gentleman, and the people visited him,
and told him all the wonders that were to be seen in the town, and of the king’s
beautiful daughter, the princess.

“Where can I see her?” asked the soldier.

“She is not to be seen at all,” they said; “she lives in a large copper castle,
surrounded by walls and towers. No one but the king himself can pass in or out,
for there has been a prophecy that she will marry a common soldier, and the
king cannot bear to think of such a marriage.”

“I should like very much to see her,” thought the soldier; but he could not
obtain permission to do so. However, he passed a very pleasant time; went to
the theatre, drove in the king’s garden, and gave a great deal of money to the
poor, which was very good of him; he remembered what it had been in olden times
to be without a shilling. Now he was rich, had fine clothes, and many friends,
who all declared he was a fine fellow and a real gentleman, and all this gratified
him exceedingly. But his money would not last forever; and as he spent and gave
away a great deal daily, and received none, he found himself at last with only
two shillings left. So he was obliged to leave his elegant rooms, and live in
a little garret under the roof, where he had to clean his own boots, and even
mend them with a large needle. None of his friends came to see him, there were
too many stairs to mount up. One dark evening, he had not even a penny to buy
a candle; then all at once he remembered that there was a piece of candle stuck
in the tinder-box, which he had brought from the old tree, into which the witch
had helped him.

He found the tinder-box, but no sooner had he struck a few sparks from the
flint and steel, than the door flew open and the dog with eyes as big as teacups,
whom he had seen while down in the tree, stood before him, and said, “What orders,

“Hallo,” said the soldier; “well this is a pleasant tinderbox, if it brings
me all I wish for.”

“Bring me some money,” said he to the dog.

He was gone in a moment, and presently returned, carrying a large bag of coppers
in his month. The soldier very soon discovered after this the value of the tinder-box.
If he struck the flint once, the dog who sat on the chest of copper money made
his appearance; if twice, the dog came from the chest of silver; and if three
times, the dog with eyes like towers, who watched over the gold. The soldier
had now plenty of money; he returned to his elegant rooms, and reappeared in
his fine clothes, so that his friends knew him again directly, and made as much
of him as before.

After a while he began to think it was very strange that no one could get a
look at the princess. “Every one says she is very beautiful,” thought he to
himself; “but what is the use of that if she is to be shut up in a copper castle
surrounded by so many towers. Can I by any means get to see her. Stop! where
is my tinder-box?” Then he struck a light, and in a moment the dog, with eyes
as big as teacups, stood before him.

“It is midnight,” said the soldier, “yet I should very much like to see the
princess, if only for a moment.”

The dog disappeared instantly, and before the soldier could even look round,
he returned with the princess. She was lying on the dog’s back asleep, and looked
so lovely, that every one who saw her would know she was a real princess. The
soldier could not help kissing her, true soldier as he was. Then the dog ran
back with the princess; but in the morning, while at breakfast with the king
and queen, she told them what a singular dream she had had during the night,
of a dog and a soldier, that she had ridden on the dog’s back, and been kissed
by the soldier.

“That is a very pretty story, indeed,” said the queen. So the next night one
of the old ladies of the court was set to watch by the princess’s bed, to discover
whether it really was a dream, or what else it might be.

The soldier longed very much to see the princess once more, so he sent for
the dog again in the night to fetch her, and to run with her as fast as ever
he could. But the old lady put on water boots, and ran after him as quickly
as he did, and found that he carried the princess into a large house. She thought
it would help her to remember the place if she made a large cross on the door
with a piece of chalk. Then she went home to bed, and the dog presently returned
with the princess. But when he saw that a cross had been made on the door of
the house, where the soldier lived, he took another piece of chalk and made
crosses on all the doors in the town, so that the lady-in-waiting might not
be able to find out the right door.

Early the next morning the king and queen accompanied the lady and all the
officers of the household, to see where the princess had been.

“Here it is,” said the king, when they came to the first door with a cross
on it.

“No, my dear husband, it must be that one,” said the queen, pointing to a second
door having a cross also.

“And here is one, and there is another!” they all exclaimed; for there were
crosses on all the doors in every direction.

So they felt it would be useless to search any farther. But the queen was a
very clever woman; she could do a great deal more than merely ride in a carriage.
She took her large gold scissors, cut a piece of silk into squares, and made
a neat little bag. This bag she filled with buckwheat flour, and tied it round
the princess’s neck; and then she cut a small hole in the bag, so that the flour
might be scattered on the ground as the princess went along. During the night,
the dog came again and carried the princess on his back, and ran with her to
the soldier, who loved her very much, and wished that he had been a prince,
so that he might have her for a wife. The dog did not observe how the flour
ran out of the bag all the way from the castle wall to the soldier’s house,
and even up to the window, where he had climbed with the princess. Therefore
in the morning the king and queen found out where their daughter had been, and
the soldier was taken up and put in prison. Oh, how dark and disagreeable it
was as he sat there, and the people said to him, “To-morrow you will be hanged.”
It was not very pleasant news, and besides, he had left the tinder-box at the
inn. In the morning he could see through the iron grating of the little window
how the people were hastening out of the town to see him hanged; he heard the
drums beating, and saw the soldiers marching. Every one ran out to look at them.
and a shoemaker’s boy, with a leather apron and slippers on, galloped by so
fast, that one of his slippers flew off and struck against the wall where the
soldier sat looking through the iron grating. “Hallo, you shoemaker’s boy, you
need not be in such a hurry,” cried the soldier to him. “There will be nothing
to see till I come; but if you will run to the house where I have been living,
and bring me my tinder-box, you shall have four shillings, but you must put
your best foot foremost.”

The shoemaker’s boy liked the idea of getting the four shillings, so he ran
very fast and fetched the tinder-box, and gave it to the soldier. And now we
shall see what happened. Outside the town a large gibbet had been erected, round
which stood the soldiers and several thousands of people. The king and the queen
sat on splendid thrones opposite to the judges and the whole council. The soldier
already stood on the ladder; but as they were about to place the rope around
his neck, he said that an innocent request was often granted to a poor criminal
before he suffered death. He wished very much to smoke a pipe, as it would be
the last pipe he should ever smoke in the world. The king could not refuse this
request, so the soldier took his tinder-box, and struck fire, once, twice, thrice,—
and there in a moment stood all the dogs;—the one with eyes as big as teacups,
the one with eyes as large as mill-wheels, and the third, whose eyes were like
towers. “Help me now, that I may not be hanged,” cried the soldier.

And the dogs fell upon the judges and all the councillors; seized one by the
legs, and another by the nose, and tossed them many feet high in the air, so
that they fell down and were dashed to pieces.

“I will not be touched,” said the king. But the largest dog seized him, as
well as the queen, and threw them after the others. Then the soldiers and all
the people were afraid, and cried, “Good soldier, you shall be our king, and
you shall marry the beautiful princess.”

So they placed the soldier in the king’s carriage, and the three dogs ran on
in front and cried “Hurrah!” and the little boys whistled through their fingers,
and the soldiers presented arms. The princess came out of the copper castle,
and became queen, which was very pleasing to her. The wedding festivities lasted
a whole week, and the dogs sat at the table, and stared with all their eyes.

The Storm Shakes the Shield

In the old days, when grandpapa was quite a little boy, and ran about in little
red breeches and a red coat, and a feather in his cap—for that’s the costume the
little boys wore in his time when they were dressed in their best—many things
were very different from what they are now. There was often a good deal of show
in the streets—show that we don’t see nowadays, because it has been abolished
as too old-fashioned. Still, it is very interesting to hear grandfather tell about

It must really have been a gorgeous sight to behold, in those days, when the
shoemaker brought over the shield, when the court-house was changed. The silken
flag waved to and fro, on the shield itself a double eagle was displayed, and
a big boot; the youngest lads carried the “welcome,” and the chest of the workmen’s
guild, and their shirt-sleeves were adorned with red and white ribbons; the
elder ones carried drawn swords, each with a lemon stuck on its point. There
was a full band of music, and the most splendid of all the instruments was the
“bird,” as grandfather called the big stick with the crescent on the top, and
all manner of dingle-dangles hanging to it—a perfect Turkish clatter of music.
The stick was lifted high in the air, and swung up and down till it jingled
again, and quite dazzled one’s eyes when the sun shone on all its glory of gold,
and silver, and brass.

In front of the procession ran the Harlequin, dressed in clothes made of all
kinds of colored patches artfully sewn together, with a black face, and bells
on his head like a sledge horse. He beat the people with his bat, which made
a great clattering without hurting them, and the people would crowd together
and fall back, only to advance again the next moment. Little boys and girls
fell over their own toes into the gutter, old women dispensed digs with their
elbows, and looked sour, and took snuff. One laughed, another chatted; the people
thronged the windows and door-steps, and even all the roofs. The sun shone;
and although they had a little rain too, that was good for the farmer; and when
they got wetted thoroughly, they only thought what a blessing it was for the

And what stories grandpapa could tell! As a little boy he had seen all these
fine doings in their greatest pomp. The oldest of the policemen used to make
a speech from the platform on which the shield was hung up, and the speech was
in verse, as if it had been made by a poet, as, indeed it had; for three people
had concocted it together, and they had first drunk a good bowl of punch, so
that the speech might turn out well.

And the people gave a cheer for the speech, but they shouted much louder for
the Harlequin, when he appeared in front of the platform, and made a grimace
at them.

The fools played the fool most admirably, and drank mead out of spirit-glasses,
which they then flung among the crowd, by whom they were caught up. Grandfather
was the possessor of one of these glasses, which had been given him by a working
mason, who had managed to catch it. Such a scene was really very pleasant; and
the shield on the new court-house was hung with flowers and green wreaths.

“One never forgets a feast like that, however old one may grow,” said grandfather.
Nor did he forget it, though he saw many other grand spectacles in his time,
and could tell about them too; but it was most pleasant of all to hear him tell
about the shield that was brought in the town from the old to the new court-house.

Once, when he was a little boy, grandpapa had gone with his parents to see
this festivity. He had never yet been in the metropolis of the country. There
were so many people in the streets, that he thought that the shield was being
carried. There were many shields to be seen; a hundred rooms might have been
filled with pictures, if they had been hung up inside and outside. At the tailor’s
were pictures of all kinds of clothing, to show that he could stitch up people
from the coarsest to the finest; at the tobacco manufacturer’s were pictures
of the most charming little boys, smoking cigars, just as they do in reality;
there were signs with painted butter, and herring, clerical collars, and coffins,
and inscriptions and announcements into the bargain. A person could walk up
and down for a whole day through the streets, and tire himself out with looking
at the pictures; and then he would know all about what people lived in the houses,
for they had hung out their shields or signs; and, as grandfather said, it was
a very instructive thing, in a great town, to know at once who the inhabitants

And this is what happened with these shields, when grandpapa came to the town.
He told it me himself, and he hadn’t “a rogue on his back,” as mother used to
tell me he had when he wanted to make me believe something outrageous, for now
he looked quite trustworthy.

The first night after he came to the town had been signalized by the most terrible
gale ever recorded in the newspapers—a gale such as none of the inhabitants
had ever before experienced. The air was dark with flying tiles; old wood-work
crashed and fell; and a wheelbarrow ran up the streets all alone, only to get
out of the way. There was a groaning in the air, and a howling and a shrieking,
and altogether it was a terrible storm. The water in the canal rose over the
banks, for it did not know where to run. The storm swept over the town, carrying
plenty of chimneys with it, and more than one proud weathercock on a church
tower had to bow, and has never got over it from that time.

There was a kind of sentry-house, where dwelt the venerable old superintendent
of the fire brigade, who always arrived with the last engine. The storm would
not leave this little sentry-house alone, but must needs tear it from its fastenings,
and roll it down the street; and, wonderfully enough, it stopped opposite to
the door of the dirty journeyman plasterer, who had saved three lives at the
last fire, but the sentry-house thought nothing of that.

The barber’s shield, the great brazen dish, was carried away, and hurled straight
into the embrasure of the councillor of justice; and the whole neighborhood
said this looked almost like malice, inasmuch as they, and nearly all the friends
of the councillor’s wife, used to call that lady “the Razor” for she was so
sharp that she knew more about other people’s business than they knew about
it themselves.

A shield with a dried salt fish painted on it flew exactly in front of the
door of a house where dwelt a man who wrote a newspaper. That was a very poor
joke perpetrated by the gale, which seemed to have forgotten that a man who
writes in a paper is not the kind of person to understand any liberty taken
with him; for he is a king in his own newspaper, and likewise in his own opinion.

The weathercock flew to the opposite house, where he perched, looking the picture
of malice—so the neighbors said.

The cooper’s tub stuck itself up under the head of “ladies’ costumes.”

The eating-house keeper’s bill of fare, which had hung at his door in a heavy
frame, was posted by the storm over the entrance to the theatre, where nobody
went. “It was a ridiculous list—horse-radish, soup, and stuffed cabbage.” And
now people came in plenty.

The fox’s skin, the honorable sign of the furrier, was found fastened to the
bell-pull of a young man who always went to early lecture, and looked like a
furled umbrella. He said he was striving after truth, and was considered by
his aunt “a model and an example.”

The inscription “Institution for Superior Education” was found near the billiard
club, which place of resort was further adorned with the words, “Children brought
up by hand.” Now, this was not at all witty; but, you see, the storm had done
it, and no one has any control over that.

It was a terrible night, and in the morning—only think!—nearly all the shields
had changed places. In some places the inscriptions were so malicious, that
grandfather would not speak of them at all; but I saw that he was chuckling
secretly, and there may have been some inaccuracy in his description, after

The poor people in the town, and still more the strangers, were continually
making mistakes in the people they wanted to see; nor was this to be avoided,
when they went according to the shields that were hung up. Thus, for instance,
some who wanted to go to a very grave assembly of elderly men, where important
affairs were to be discussed, found themselves in a noisy boys’ school, where
all the company were leaping over the chairs and tables.

There were also people who made a mistake between the church and the theatre,
and that was terrible indeed!

Such a storm we have never witnessed in our day; for that only happened in
grandpapa’s time, when he was quite a little boy. Perhaps we shall never experience
a storm of the kind, but our grandchildren may; and we can only hope and pray
that all may stay at home while the storm is moving the shields.

The Emperor’s New Suit

Many, many years ago lived an emperor, who thought so much of new clothes that
he spent all his money in order to obtain them; his only ambition was to be always
well dressed. He did not care for his soldiers, and the theatre did not amuse
him; the only thing, in fact, he thought anything of was to drive out and show
a new suit of clothes. He had a coat for every hour of the day; and as one would
say of a king “He is in his cabinet,” so one could say of him, “The emperor is
in his dressing-room.”

The great city where he resided was very gay; every day many strangers from
all parts of the globe arrived. One day two swindlers came to this city; they
made people believe that they were weavers, and declared they could manufacture
the finest cloth to be imagined. Their colours and patterns, they said, were
not only exceptionally beautiful, but the clothes made of their material possessed
the wonderful quality of being invisible to any man who was unfit for his office
or unpardonably stupid.

“That must be wonderful cloth,” thought the emperor. “If I were to be dressed
in a suit made of this cloth I should be able to find out which men in my empire
were unfit for their places, and I could distinguish the clever from the stupid.
I must have this cloth woven for me without delay.” And he gave a large sum
of money to the swindlers, in advance, that they should set to work without
any loss of time. They set up two looms, and pretended to be very hard at work,
but they did nothing whatever on the looms. They asked for the finest silk and
the most precious gold-cloth; all they got they did away with, and worked at
the empty looms till late at night.

“I should very much like to know how they are getting on with the cloth,” thought
the emperor. But he felt rather uneasy when he remembered that he who was not
fit for his office could not see it. Personally, he was of opinion that he had
nothing to fear, yet he thought it advisable to send somebody else first to
see how matters stood. Everybody in the town knew what a remarkable quality
the stuff possessed, and all were anxious to see how bad or stupid their neighbours

“I shall send my honest old minister to the weavers,” thought the emperor.
“He can judge best how the stuff looks, for he is intelligent, and nobody understands
his office better than he.”

The good old minister went into the room where the swindlers sat before the
empty looms. “Heaven preserve us!” he thought, and opened his eyes wide, “I
cannot see anything at all,” but he did not say so. Both swindlers requested
him to come near, and asked him if he did not admire the exquisite pattern and
the beautiful colours, pointing to the empty looms. The poor old minister tried
his very best, but he could see nothing, for there was nothing to be seen. “Oh
dear,” he thought, “can I be so stupid? I should never have thought so, and
nobody must know it! Is it possible that I am not fit for my office? No, no,
I cannot say that I was unable to see the cloth.”

“Now, have you got nothing to say?” said one of the swindlers, while he pretended
to be busily weaving.

“Oh, it is very pretty, exceedingly beautiful,” replied the old minister looking
through his glasses. “What a beautiful pattern, what brilliant colours! I shall
tell the emperor that I like the cloth very much.”

“We are pleased to hear that,” said the two weavers, and described to him the
colours and explained the curious pattern. The old minister listened attentively,
that he might relate to the emperor what they said; and so he did.

Now the swindlers asked for more money, silk and gold-cloth, which they required
for weaving. They kept everything for themselves, and not a thread came near
the loom, but they continued, as hitherto, to work at the empty looms.

Soon afterwards the emperor sent another honest courtier to the weavers to
see how they were getting on, and if the cloth was nearly finished. Like the
old minister, he looked and looked but could see nothing, as there was nothing
to be seen.

“Is it not a beautiful piece of cloth?” asked the two swindlers, showing and
explaining the magnificent pattern, which, however, did not exist.

“I am not stupid,” said the man. “It is therefore my good appointment for which
I am not fit. It is very strange, but I must not let any one know it;” and he
praised the cloth, which he did not see, and expressed his joy at the beautiful
colours and the fine pattern. “It is very excellent,” he said to the emperor.

Everybody in the whole town talked about the precious cloth. At last the emperor
wished to see it himself, while it was still on the loom. With a number of courtiers,
including the two who had already been there, he went to the two clever swindlers,
who now worked as hard as they could, but without using any thread.

“Is it not magnificent?” said the two old statesmen who had been there before.
“Your Majesty must admire the colours and the pattern.” And then they pointed
to the empty looms, for they imagined the others could see the cloth.

“What is this?” thought the emperor, “I do not see anything at all. That is
terrible! Am I stupid? Am I unfit to be emperor? That would indeed be the most
dreadful thing that could happen to me.”

“Really,” he said, turning to the weavers, “your cloth has our most gracious
approval;” and nodding contentedly he looked at the empty loom, for he did not
like to say that he saw nothing. All his attendants, who were with him, looked
and looked, and although they could not see anything more than the others, they
said, like the emperor, “It is very beautiful.” And all advised him to wear
the new magnificent clothes at a great procession which was soon to take place.
“It is magnificent, beautiful, excellent,” one heard them say; everybody seemed
to be delighted, and the emperor appointed the two swindlers “Imperial Court

The whole night previous to the day on which the procession was to take place,
the swindlers pretended to work, and burned more than sixteen candles. People
should see that they were busy to finish the emperor’s new suit. They pretended
to take the cloth from the loom, and worked about in the air with big scissors,
and sewed with needles without thread, and said at last: “The emperor’s new
suit is ready now.”

The emperor and all his barons then came to the hall; the swindlers held their
arms up as if they held something in their hands and said: “These are the trousers!”
“This is the coat!” and “Here is the cloak!” and so on. “They are all as light
as a cobweb, and one must feel as if one had nothing at all upon the body; but
that is just the beauty of them.”

“Indeed!” said all the courtiers; but they could not see anything, for there
was nothing to be seen.

“Does it please your Majesty now to graciously undress,” said the swindlers,
“that we may assist your Majesty in putting on the new suit before the large

The emperor undressed, and the swindlers pretended to put the new suit upon
him, one piece after another; and the emperor looked at himself in the glass
from every side.

“How well they look! How well they fit!” said all. “What a beautiful pattern!
What fine colours! That is a magnificent suit of clothes!”

The master of the ceremonies announced that the bearers of the canopy, which
was to be carried in the procession, were ready.

“I am ready,” said the emperor. “Does not my suit fit me marvellously?” Then
he turned once more to the looking-glass, that people should think he admired
his garments.

The chamberlains, who were to carry the train, stretched their hands to the
ground as if they lifted up a train, and pretended to hold something in their
hands; they did not like people to know that they could not see anything.

The emperor marched in the procession under the beautiful canopy, and all who
saw him in the street and out of the windows exclaimed: “Indeed, the emperor’s
new suit is incomparable! What a long train he has! How well it fits him!” Nobody
wished to let others know he saw nothing, for then he would have been unfit
for his office or too stupid. Never emperor’s clothes were more admired.

“But he has nothing on at all,” said a little child at last. “Good heavens!
listen to the voice of an innocent child,” said the father, and one whispered
to the other what the child had said. “But he has nothing on at all,” cried
at last the whole people. That made a deep impression upon the emperor, for
it seemed to him that they were right; but he thought to himself, “Now I must
bear up to the end.” And the chamberlains walked with still greater dignity,
as if they carried the train which did not exist.

The Dumb Book

In the high-road which led through a wood stood a solitary farm-house; the road,
in fact, ran right through its yard. The sun was shining and all the windows were
open; within the house people were very busy. In the yard, in an arbour formed
by lilac bushes in full bloom, stood an open coffin; thither they had carried
a dead man, who was to be buried that very afternoon. Nobody shed a tear over
him; his face was covered over with a white cloth, under his head they had placed
a large thick book, the leaves of which consisted of folded sheets of blotting-paper,
and withered flowers lay between them; it was the herbarium which he had gathered
in various places and was to be buried with him, according to his own wish. Every
one of the flowers in it was connected with some chapter of his life.

“Who is the dead man?” we asked.

“The old student,” was the reply. “They say that he was once an energetic young
man, that he studied the dead languages, and sang and even composed many songs;
then something had happened to him, and in consequence of this he gave himself
up to drink, body and mind. When at last he had ruined his health, they brought
him into the country, where someone paid for his board and residence. He was
gentle as a child as long as the sullen mood did not come over him; but when
it came he was fierce, became as strong as a giant, and ran about in the wood
like a chased deer. But when we succeeded in bringing him home, and prevailed
upon him to open the book with the dried-up plants in it, he would sometimes
sit for a whole day looking at this or that plant, while frequently the tears
rolled over his cheeks. God knows what was in his mind; but he requested us
to put the book into his coffin, and now he lies there. In a little while the
lid will be placed upon the coffin, and he will have sweet rest in the grave!”

The cloth which covered his face was lifted up; the dead man’s face expressed
peace—a sunbeam fell upon it. A swallow flew with the swiftness of an arrow
into the arbour, turning in its flight, and twittered over the dead man’s head.

What a strange feeling it is—surely we all know it—to look through old letters
of our young days; a different life rises up out of the past, as it were, with
all its hopes and sorrows. How many of the people with whom in those days we
used to be on intimate terms appear to us as if dead, and yet they are still
alive—only we have not thought of them for such a long time, whom we imagined
we should retain in our memories for ever, and share every joy and sorrow with

The withered oak leaf in the book here recalled the friend, the schoolfellow,
who was to be his friend for life. He fixed the leaf to the student’s cap in
the green wood, when they vowed eternal friendship. Where does he dwell now?
The leaf is kept, but the friendship does no longer exist. Here is a foreign
hothouse plant, too tender for the gardens of the North. It is almost as if
its leaves still smelt sweet! She gave it to him out of her own garden—a nobleman’s

Here is a water-lily that he had plucked himself, and watered with salt tears—a
lily of sweet water. And here is a nettle: what may its leaves tell us? What
might he have thought when he plucked and kept it? Here is a little snowdrop
out of the solitary wood; here is an evergreen from the flower-pot at the tavern;
and here is a simple blade of grass.

The lilac bends its fresh fragrant flowers over the dead man’s head; the swallow
passes again—“twit, twit;” now the men come with hammer and nails, the lid is
placed over the dead man, while his head rests on the dumb book—so long cherished,
now closed for ever!

The Portuguese Duck

A duck once arrived from Portugal, but there were some who said she came from Spain, which is almost the same thing. At all events, she was called the “Portuguese,” and she laid eggs, was killed, and cooked, and there was an end of her. But the ducklings which crept forth from the eggs were also called “Portuguese,” and about
that there may be some question. But of all the family one only remained in the
duckyard, which may be called a farmyard, as the chickens were admitted, and the
cock strutted about in a very hostile manner. “He annoys me with his loud crowing,”
said the Portuguese duck; “but, still, he’s a handsome bird, there’s no denying
that, although he’s not a drake. He ought to moderate his voice, like those little
birds who are singing in the lime-trees over there in our neighbor’s garden, but
that is an art only acquired in polite society. How sweetly they sing there; it
is quite a pleasure to listen to them! I call it Portuguese singing. If I had
only such a little singing-bird, I’d be kind and good as a mother to him, for
it’s in my nature, in my Portuguese blood.”

While she was speaking, one of the little singing-birds came tumbling head
over heels from the roof into the yard. The cat was after him, but he had escaped
from her with a broken wing, and so came tumbling into the yard. “That’s just
like the cat, she’s a villain,” said the Portuguese duck. “I remember her ways
when I had children of my own. How can such a creature be allowed to live, and
wander about upon the roofs. I don’t think they allow such things in Portugal.”
She pitied the little singing-bird, and so did all the other ducks who were
not Portuguese.

“Poor little creature!” they said, one after another, as they came up. “We
can’t sing, certainly; but we have a sounding-board, or something of the kind,
within us; we can feel that, though we don’t talk about it.”

“But I can talk,” said the Portuguese duck; “and I’ll do something for the
little fellow; it’s my duty;” and she stepped into the water-trough, and beat
her wings upon the water so strongly that the bird was nearly drowned by a shower-bath;
but the duck meant it kindly. “That is a good deed,” she said; “I hope the others
will take example by it.”

“Tweet, tweet!” said the little bird, for one of his wings being broken, he
found it difficult to shake himself; but he quite understood that the bath was
meant kindly, and he said, “You are very kind-hearted, madam;” but he did not
wish for a second bath.

“I have never thought about my heart,” replied the Portuguese duck, “but I
know that I love all my fellow-creatures, except the cat, and nobody can expect
me to love her, for she ate up two of my ducklings. But pray make yourself at
home; it is easy to make one’s self comfortable. I am myself from a foreign
country, as you may see by my feathery dress. My drake is a native of these
parts; he’s not of my race; but I am not proud on that account. If any one here
can understand you, I may say positively I am that person.”

“She’s quite full of ‘Portulak,’” said a little common duck, who was witty.
All the common ducks considered the word “Portulak” a good joke, for it sounded
like Portugal. They nudged each other, and said, “Quack! that was witty!”

Then the other ducks began to notice the little bird. “The Portuguese had certainly
a great flow of language,” they said to the little bird. “For our part we don’t
care to fill our beaks with such long words, but we sympathize with you quite
as much. If we don’t do anything else, we can walk about with you everywhere,
and we think that is the best thing we can do.”

“You have a lovely voice,” said one of the eldest ducks; “it must be great
satisfaction to you to be able to give so much pleasure as you do. I am certainly
no judge of your singing so I keep my beak shut, which is better than talking
nonsense, as others do.”

“Don’t plague him so,” interposed the Portuguese duck; “he requires rest and
nursing. My little singing-bird do you wish me to prepare another bath for you?”

“Oh, no! no! pray let me dry,” implored the little bird.

“The water-cure is the only remedy for me, when I am not well,” said the Portuguese.
“Amusement, too, is very beneficial. The fowls from the neighborhood will soon
be here to pay you a visit. There are two Cochin Chinese amongst them; they
wear feathers on their legs, and are well educated. They have been brought from
a great distance, and consequently I treat them with greater respect than I
do the others.”

Then the fowls arrived, and the cock was polite enough to-day to keep from
being rude. “You are a real songster,” he said, “you do as much with your little
voice as it is possible to do; but there requires more noise and shrillness
in any one who wishes it to be known who he is.”

The two Chinese were quite enchanted with the appearance of the singing-bird.
His feathers had been much ruffled by his bath, so that he seemed to them quite
like a tiny Chinese fowl. “He’s charming,” they said to each other, and began
a conversation with him in whispers, using the most aristocratic Chinese dialect:
“We are of the same race as yourself,” they said. “The ducks, even the Portuguese,
are all aquatic birds, as you must have noticed. You do not know us yet,—very
few know us, or give themselves the trouble to make our acquaintance, not even
any of the fowls, though we are born to occupy a higher grade in society than
most of them. But that does not disturb us, we quietly go on in our own way
among the rest, whose ideas are certainly not ours; for we look at the bright
side of things, and only speak what is good, although that is sometimes very
difficult to find where none exists. Except ourselves and the cock there is
not one in the yard who can be called talented or polite. It cannot even be
said of the ducks, and we warn you, little bird, not to trust that one yonder,
with the short tail feathers, for she is cunning; that curiously marked one,
with the crooked stripes on her wings, is a mischief-maker, and never lets any
one have the last word, though she is always in the wrong. That fat duck yonder
speaks evil of every one, and that is against our principles. If we have nothing
good to tell, we close our beaks. The Portuguese is the only one who has had
any education, and with whom we can associate, but she is passionate, and talks
too much about ‘Portugal.’”

“I wonder what those two Chinese are whispering about,” whispered one duck
to another; “they are always doing it, and it annoys me. We never speak to them.”

Now the drake came up, and he thought the little singing-bird was a sparrow.
“Well, I don’t understand the difference,” he said; “it appears to me all the
same. He’s only a plaything, and if people will have playthings, why let them,
I say.”

“Don’t take any notice of what he says,” whispered the Portuguese; “he’s very
well in matters of business, and with him business is placed before everything.
But now I shall lie down and have a little rest. It is a duty we owe to ourselves
that we may be nice and fat when we come to be embalmed with sage and onions
and apples.” So she laid herself down in the sun and winked with one eye; she
had a very comfortable place, and felt so comfortable that she fell asleep.
The little singing-bird busied himself for some time with his broken wing, and
at last he lay down, too, quite close to his protectress. The sun shone warm
and bright, and he found out that it was a very good place. But the fowls of
the neighborhood were all awake, and, to tell the truth, they had paid a visit
to the duckyard, simply and solely to find food for themselves. The Chinese
were the first to leave, and the other fowls soon followed them.

The witty little duck said of the Portuguese, that the old lady was getting
quite a “doting ducky,” All the other ducks laughed at this. “Doting ducky,”
they whispered. “Oh, that’s too ‘witty!’” And then they repeated the former
joke about “Portulak,” and declared it was most amusing. Then they all lay down
to have a nap.

They had been lying asleep for some time, when suddenly something was thrown
into the yard for them to eat. It came down with such a bang, that the whole
company started up and clapped their wings. The Portuguese awoke too, and rushed
over to the other side: in so doing she trod upon the little singing-bird.

“Tweet,” he cried; “you trod very hard upon me, madam.”

“Well, then, why do you lie in my way?” she retorted, “you must not be so touchy.
I have nerves of my own, but I do not cry ‘tweet.’”

“Don’t be angry,” said the little bird; “the ‘tweet’ slipped out of my beak

The Portuguese did not listen to him, but began eating as fast as she could,
and made a good meal. When she had finished, she lay down again, and the little
bird, who wished to be amiable, began to sing,—

“Chirp and twitter,
The dew-drops glitter,
In the hours of sunny spring,
I’ll sing my best,
Till I go to rest,
With my head behind my wing.”
“Now I want rest after my dinner,” said the Portuguese; “you must conform to
the rules of the house while you are here. I want to sleep now.”

The little bird was quite taken aback, for he meant it kindly. When madam awoke
afterwards, there he stood before her with a little corn he had found, and laid
it at her feet; but as she had not slept well, she was naturally in a bad temper.
“Give that to a chicken,” she said, “and don’t be always standing in my way.”

“Why are you angry with me?” replied the little singing-bird, “what have I

“Done!” repeated the Portuguese duck, “your mode of expressing yourself is
not very polite. I must call your attention to that fact.”

“It was sunshine here yesterday,” said the little bird, “but to-day it is cloudy
and the air is close.”

“You know very little about the weather, I fancy,” she retorted, “the day is
not over yet. Don’t stand there, looking so stupid.”

“But you are looking at me just as the wicked eyes looked when I fell into
the yard yesterday.”

“Impertinent creature!” exclaimed the Portuguese duck: “would you compare me
with the cat—that beast of prey? There’s not a drop of malicious blood in me.
I’ve taken your part, and now I’ll teach you better manners.” So saying, she
made a bite at the little singing-bird’s head, and he fell dead on the ground.
“Now whatever is the meaning of this?” she said; “could he not bear even such
a little peck as I gave him? Then certainly he was not made for this world.
I’ve been like a mother to him, I know that, for I’ve a good heart.”

Then the cock from the neighboring yard stuck his head in, and crowed with
steam-engine power.

“You’ll kill me with your crowing,” she cried, “it’s all your fault. He’s lost
his life, and I’m very near losing mine.”

“There’s not much of him lying there,” observed the cock.

“Speak of him with respect,” said the Portuguese duck, “for he had manners
and education, and he could sing. He was affectionate and gentle, and that is
as rare a quality in animals as in those who call themselves human beings.”

Then all the ducks came crowding round the little dead bird. Ducks have strong
passions, whether they feel envy or pity. There was nothing to envy here, so
they all showed a great deal of pity, even the two Chinese. “We shall never
have another singing-bird again amongst us; he was almost a Chinese,” they whispered,
and then they wept with such a noisy, clucking sound, that all the other fowls
clucked too, but the ducks went about with redder eyes afterwards. “We have
hearts of our own,” they said, “nobody can deny that.”

“Hearts!” repeated the Portuguese, “indeed you have, almost as tender as the
ducks in Portugal.”

“Let us think of getting something to satisfy our hunger,” said the drake,
“that’s the most important business. If one of our toys is broken, why we have
plenty more.”

The Butterfly

There was once a butterfly who wished for a bride, and, as may be supposed, he
wanted to choose a very pretty one from among the flowers. He glanced, with a
very critical eye, at all the flower-beds, and found that the flowers were seated
quietly and demurely on their stalks, just as maidens should sit before they are
engaged; but there was a great number of them, and it appeared as if his search
would become very wearisome. The butterfly did not like to take too much trouble,
so he flew off on a visit to the daisies. The French call this flower “Marguerite,”
and they say that the little daisy can prophesy. Lovers pluck off the leaves,
and as they pluck each leaf, they ask a question about their lovers; thus: “Does
he or she love me?—Ardently? Distractedly? Very much? A little? Not at all?” and
so on. Every one speaks these words in his own language. The butterfly came also
to Marguerite to inquire, but he did not pluck off her leaves; he pressed a kiss
on each of them, for he thought there was always more to be done by kindness.

“Darling Marguerite daisy,” he said to her, “you are the wisest woman of all
the flowers. Pray tell me which of the flowers I shall choose for my wife. Which
will be my bride? When I know, I will fly directly to her, and propose.”

But Marguerite did not answer him; she was offended that he should call her
a woman when she was only a girl; and there is a great difference. He asked
her a second time, and then a third; but she remained dumb, and answered not
a word. Then he would wait no longer, but flew away, to commence his wooing
at once. It was in the early spring, when the crocus and the snowdrop were in
full bloom.

“They are very pretty,” thought the butterfly; “charming little lasses; but
they are rather formal.”

Then, as the young lads often do, he looked out for the elder girls. He next
flew to the anemones; these were rather sour to his taste. The violet, a little
too sentimental. The lime-blossoms, too small, and besides, there was such a
large family of them. The apple-blossoms, though they looked like roses, bloomed
to-day, but might fall off to-morrow, with the first wind that blew; and he
thought that a marriage with one of them might last too short a time. The pea-blossom
pleased him most of all; she was white and red, graceful and slender, and belonged
to those domestic maidens who have a pretty appearance, and can yet be useful
in the kitchen. He was just about to make her an offer, when, close by the maiden,
he saw a pod, with a withered flower hanging at the end.

“Who is that?” he asked.

“That is my sister,” replied the pea-blossom.

“Oh, indeed; and you will be like her some day,” said he; and he flew away
directly, for he felt quite shocked.

A honeysuckle hung forth from the hedge, in full bloom; but there were so many
girls like her, with long faces and sallow complexions. No; he did not like
her. But which one did he like?

Spring went by, and summer drew towards its close; autumn came; but he had
not decided. The flowers now appeared in their most gorgeous robes, but all
in vain; they had not the fresh, fragrant air of youth. For the heart asks for
fragrance, even when it is no longer young; and there is very little of that
to be found in the dahlias or the dry chrysanthemums; therefore the butterfly
turned to the mint on the ground. You know, this plant has no blossom; but it
is sweetness all over,—full of fragrance from head to foot, with the scent of
a flower in every leaf.

“I will take her,” said the butterfly; and he made her an offer. But the mint
stood silent and stiff, as she listened to him. At last she said,—

“Friendship, if you please; nothing more. I am old, and you are old, but we
may live for each other just the same; as to marrying—no; don’t let us appear
ridiculous at our age.”

And so it happened that the butterfly got no wife at all. He had been too long
choosing, which is always a bad plan. And the butterfly became what is called
an old bachelor.

It was late in the autumn, with rainy and cloudy weather. The cold wind blew
over the bowed backs of the willows, so that they creaked again. It was not
the weather for flying about in summer clothes; but fortunately the butterfly
was not out in it. He had got a shelter by chance. It was in a room heated by
a stove, and as warm as summer. He could exist here, he said, well enough.

“But it is not enough merely to exist,” said he, “I need freedom, sunshine,
and a little flower for a companion.”

Then he flew against the window-pane, and was seen and admired by those in
the room, who caught him, and stuck him on a pin, in a box of curiosities. They
could not do more for him.

“Now I am perched on a stalk, like the flowers,” said the butterfly. “It is
not very pleasant, certainly; I should imagine it is something like being married;
for here I am stuck fast.” And with this thought he consoled himself a little.

“That seems very poor consolation,” said one of the plants in the room, that
grew in a pot.

“Ah,” thought the butterfly, “one can’t very well trust these plants in pots;
they have too much to do with mankind.”

Little Tuk

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
for strangers.

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
above did.

  • Kjøge, a little town in Kjøge Bay. Lifting up
    children by placing the hands on each side of their heads, is called
    “showing them Kjøge hens.”
  • Præstø, a still smaller town.
  • About a hundred paces from Præstø lies the
    estate of Nysø, where Thorswaldsen usually resided while in Denmark, and
    where he executed many memorable works.
  • Wordingburg under King Waldemar was a place of great
    importance; now it is a very insignificant town: only a lonely tower and the
    remains of a well show where the castle once stood.
  • Corsøe, on the Great Belt, used to be called the most
    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.
  • Roeskilde (from Roesquelle, rose-spring, falsely called
    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.
  • Sorø, a very quite little town in a beautiful
    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.

  • Little Claus and Big Claus

    In a village there once lived two men who had the same name. They were both called
    Claus. One of them had four horses, but the other had only one; so to distinguish
    them, people called the owner of the four horses, “Great Claus,” and he who had
    only one, “Little Claus.” Now we shall hear what happened to them, for this is
    a true story.

    Through the whole week, Little Claus was obliged to plough for Great Claus,
    and lend him his one horse; and once a week, on a Sunday, Great Claus lent him
    all his four horses. Then how Little Claus would smack his whip over all five
    horses, they were as good as his own on that one day. The sun shone brightly,
    and the church bells were ringing merrily as the people passed by, dressed in
    their best clothes, with their prayer-books under their arms. They were going
    to hear the clergyman preach. They looked at Little Claus ploughing with his
    five horses, and he was so proud that he smacked his whip, and said, “Gee-up,
    my five horses.”

    “You must not say that,” said Big Claus; “for only one of them belongs to you.”
    But Little Claus soon forgot what he ought to say, and when any one passed he
    would call out, “Gee-up, my five horses!”

    “Now I must beg you not to say that again,” said Big Claus; “for if you do,
    I shall hit your horse on the head, so that he will drop dead on the spot, and
    there will be an end of him.”

    “I promise you I will not say it any more,” said the other; but as soon as
    people came by, nodding to him, and wishing him “Good day,” he became so pleased,
    and thought how grand it looked to have five horses ploughing in his field,
    that he cried out again, “Gee-up, all my horses!”

    “I’ll gee-up your horses for you,” said Big Claus; and seizing a hammer, he
    struck the one horse of Little Claus on the head, and he fell dead instantly.

    “Oh, now I have no horse at all,” said Little Claus, weeping. But after a while
    he took off the dead horse’s skin, and hung the hide to dry in the wind. Then
    he put the dry skin into a bag, and, placing it over his shoulder, went out
    into the next town to sell the horse’s skin. He had a very long way to go, and
    had to pass through a dark, gloomy forest. Presently a storm arose, and he lost
    his way, and before he discovered the right path, evening came on, and it was
    still a long way to the town, and too far to return home before night. Near
    the road stood a large farmhouse. The shutters outside the windows were closed,
    but lights shone through the crevices at the top. “I might get permission to
    stay here for the night,” thought Little Claus; so he went up to the door and
    knocked. The farmer’s wife opened the door; but when she heard what he wanted,
    she told him to go away, as her husband would not allow her to admit strangers.
    “Then I shall be obliged to lie out here,” said Little Claus to himself, as
    the farmer’s wife shut the door in his face. Near to the farmhouse stood a large
    haystack, and between it and the house was a small shed, with a thatched roof.
    “I can lie up there,” said Little Claus, as he saw the roof; “it will make a
    famous bed, but I hope the stork will not fly down and bite my legs;” for on
    it stood a living stork, whose nest was in the roof. So Little Claus climbed
    to the roof of the shed, and while he turned himself to get comfortable, he
    discovered that the wooden shutters, which were closed, did not reach to the
    tops of the windows of the farmhouse, so that he could see into a room, in which
    a large table was laid out with wine, roast meat, and a splendid fish. The farmer’s
    wife and the sexton were sitting at the table together; and she filled his glass,
    and helped him plenteously to fish, which appeared to be his favorite dish.
    “If I could only get some, too,” thought Little Claus; and then, as he stretched
    his neck towards the window he spied a large, beautiful pie,—indeed they had
    a glorious feast before them.

    At this moment he heard some one riding down the road, towards the farmhouse.
    It was the farmer returning home. He was a good man, but still he had a very
    strange prejudice,—he could not bear the sight of a sexton. If one appeared
    before him, he would put himself in a terrible rage. In consequence of this
    dislike, the sexton had gone to visit the farmer’s wife during her husband’s
    absence from home, and the good woman had placed before him the best she had
    in the house to eat. When she heard the farmer coming she was frightened, and
    begged the sexton to hide himself in a large empty chest that stood in the room.
    He did so, for he knew her husband could not endure the sight of a sexton. The
    woman then quickly put away the wine, and hid all the rest of the nice things
    in the oven; for if her husband had seen them he would have asked what they
    were brought out for.

    “Oh, dear,” sighed Little Claus from the top of the shed, as he saw all the
    good things disappear.

    “Is any one up there?” asked the farmer, looking up and discovering Little
    Claus. “Why are you lying up there? Come down, and come into the house with
    me.” So Little Claus came down and told the farmer how he had lost his way and
    begged for a night’s lodging.

    “All right,” said the farmer; “but we must have something to eat first.”

    The woman received them both very kindly, laid the cloth on a large table,
    and placed before them a dish of porridge. The farmer was very hungry, and ate
    his porridge with a good appetite, but Little Claus could not help thinking
    of the nice roast meat, fish and pies, which he knew were in the oven. Under
    the table, at his feet, lay the sack containing the horse’s skin, which he intended
    to sell at the next town. Now Little Claus did not relish the porridge at all,
    so he trod with his foot on the sack under the table, and the dry skin squeaked
    quite loud. “Hush!” said Little Claus to his sack, at the same time treading
    upon it again, till it squeaked louder than before.

    “Hallo! what have you got in your sack!” asked the farmer.

    “Oh, it is a conjuror,” said Little Claus; “and he says we need not eat porridge,
    for he has conjured the oven full of roast meat, fish, and pie.”

    “Wonderful!” cried the farmer, starting up and opening the oven door; and there
    lay all the nice things hidden by the farmer’s wife, but which he supposed had
    been conjured there by the wizard under the table. The woman dared not say anything;
    so she placed the things before them, and they both ate of the fish, the meat,
    and the pastry.

    Then Little Claus trod again upon his sack, and it squeaked as before. “What
    does he say now?” asked the farmer.

    “He says,” replied Little Claus, “that there are three bottles of wine for
    us, standing in the corner, by the oven.”

    So the woman was obliged to bring out the wine also, which she had hidden,
    and the farmer drank it till he became quite merry. He would have liked such
    a conjuror as Little Claus carried in his sack. “Could he conjure up the evil
    one?” asked the farmer. “I should like to see him now, while I am so merry.”

    “Oh, yes!” replied Little Claus, “my conjuror can do anything I ask him,—can
    you not?” he asked, treading at the same time on the sack till it squeaked.
    “Do you hear? he answers ’Yes,’ but he fears that we shall not like to look
    at him.”

    “Oh, I am not afraid. What will he be like?”

    “Well, he is very much like a sexton.”

    “Ha!” said the farmer, “then he must be ugly. Do you know I cannot endure the
    sight of a sexton. However, that doesn’t matter, I shall know who it is; so
    I shall not mind. Now then, I have got up my courage, but don’t let him come
    too near me.”

    “Stop, I must ask the conjuror,” said Little Claus; so he trod on the bag,
    and stooped his ear down to listen.

    “What does he say?”

    “He says that you must go and open that large chest which stands in the corner,
    and you will see the evil one crouching down inside; but you must hold the lid
    firmly, that he may not slip out.”

    “Will you come and help me hold it?” said the farmer, going towards the chest
    in which his wife had hidden the sexton, who now lay inside, very much frightened.
    The farmer opened the lid a very little way, and peeped in.

    “Oh,” cried he, springing backwards, “I saw him, and he is exactly like our
    sexton. How dreadful it is!” So after that he was obliged to drink again, and
    they sat and drank till far into the night.

    “You must sell your conjuror to me,” said the farmer; “ask as much as you like,
    I will pay it; indeed I would give you directly a whole bushel of gold.”

    “No, indeed, I cannot,” said Little Claus; “only think how much profit I could
    make out of this conjuror.”

    “But I should like to have him,” said the fanner, still continuing his entreaties.

    “Well,” said Little Claus at length, “you have been so good as to give me a
    night’s lodging, I will not refuse you; you shall have the conjuror for a bushel
    of money, but I will have quite full measure.”

    “So you shall,” said the farmer; “but you must take away the chest as well.
    I would not have it in the house another hour; there is no knowing if he may
    not be still there.”

    So Little Claus gave the farmer the sack containing the dried horse’s skin,
    and received in exchange a bushel of money—full measure. The farmer also gave
    him a wheelbarrow on which to carry away the chest and the gold.

    “Farewell,” said Little Claus, as he went off with his money and the great
    chest, in which the sexton lay still concealed. On one side of the forest was
    a broad, deep river, the water flowed so rapidly that very few were able to
    swim against the stream. A new bridge had lately been built across it, and in
    the middle of this bridge Little Claus stopped, and said, loud enough to be
    heard by the sexton, “Now what shall I do with this stupid chest; it is as heavy
    as if it were full of stones: I shall be tired if I roll it any farther, so
    I may as well throw it in the river; if it swims after me to my house, well
    and good, and if not, it will not much matter.”

    So he seized the chest in his hand and lifted it up a little, as if he were
    going to throw it into the water.

    “No, leave it alone,” cried the sexton from within the chest; “let me out first.”

    “Oh,” exclaimed Little Claus, pretending to be frightened, “he is in there
    still, is he? I must throw him into the river, that he may be drowned.”

    “Oh, no; oh, no,” cried the sexton; “I will give you a whole bushel full of
    money if you will let me go.”

    “Why, that is another matter,” said Little Claus, opening the chest. The sexton
    crept out, pushed the empty chest into the water, and went to his house, then
    he measured out a whole bushel full of gold for Little Claus, who had already
    received one from the farmer, so that now he had a barrow full.

    “I have been well paid for my horse,” said he to himself when he reached home,
    entered his own room, and emptied all his money into a heap on the floor. “How
    vexed Great Claus will be when he finds out how rich I have become all through
    my one horse; but I shall not tell him exactly how it all happened.” Then he
    sent a boy to Great Claus to borrow a bushel measure.

    “What can he want it for?” thought Great Claus; so he smeared the bottom of
    the measure with tar, that some of whatever was put into it might stick there
    and remain. And so it happened; for when the measure returned, three new silver
    florins were sticking to it.

    “What does this mean?” said Great Claus; so he ran off directly to Little Claus,
    and asked, “Where did you get so much money?”

    “Oh, for my horse’s skin, I sold it yesterday.”

    “It was certainly well paid for then,” said Great Claus; and he ran home to
    his house, seized a hatchet, and knocked all his four horses on the head, flayed
    off their skins, and took them to the town to sell. “Skins, skins, who’ll buy
    skins?” he cried, as he went through the streets. All the shoemakers and tanners
    came running, and asked how much he wanted for them.

    “A bushel of money, for each,” replied Great Claus.

    “Are you mad?” they all cried; “do you think we have money to spend by the

    “Skins, skins,” he cried again, “who’ll buy skins?” but to all who inquired
    the price, his answer was, “a bushel of money.”

    “He is making fools of us,” said they all; then the shoemakers took their straps,
    and the tanners their leather aprons, and began to beat Great Claus.

    “Skins, skins!” they cried, mocking him; “yes, we’ll mark your skin for you,
    till it is black and blue.”

    “Out of the town with him,” said they. And Great Claus was obliged to run as
    fast as he could, he had never before been so thoroughly beaten.

    “Ah,” said he, as he came to his house; “Little Claus shall pay me for this;
    I will beat him to death.”

    Meanwhile the old grandmother of Little Claus died. She had been cross, unkind,
    and really spiteful to him; but he was very sorry, and took the dead woman and
    laid her in his warm bed to see if he could bring her to life again. There he
    determined that she should lie the whole night, while he seated himself in a
    chair in a corner of the room as he had often done before. During the night,
    as he sat there, the door opened, and in came Great Claus with a hatchet. He
    knew well where Little Claus’s bed stood; so he went right up to it, and struck
    the old grandmother on the head. thinking it must be Little Claus.

    “There,” cried he, “now you cannot make a fool of me again;” and then he went

    “That is a very wicked man,” thought Little Claus; “he meant to kill me. It
    is a good thing for my old grandmother that she was already dead, or he would
    have taken her life.” Then he dressed his old grandmother in her best clothes,
    borrowed a horse of his neighbor, and harnessed it to a cart. Then he placed
    the old woman on the back seat, so that she might not fall out as he drove,
    and rode away through the wood. By sunrise they reached a large inn, where Little
    Claus stopped and went to get something to eat. The landlord was a rich man,
    and a good man too; but as passionate as if he had been made of pepper and snuff.

    “Good morning,” said he to Little Claus; “you are come betimes to-day.”

    “Yes,” said Little Claus; “I am going to the town with my old grandmother;
    she is sitting at the back of the wagon, but I cannot bring her into the room.
    Will you take her a glass of mead? but you must speak very loud, for she cannot
    hear well.”

    “Yes, certainly I will,” replied the landlord; and, pouring out a glass of
    mead, he carried it out to the dead grandmother, who sat upright in the cart.
    “Here is a glass of mead from your grandson,” said the landlord. The dead woman
    did not answer a word, but sat quite still. “Do you not hear?” cried the landlord
    as loud as he could; “here is a glass of mead from your grandson.”

    Again and again he bawled it out, but as she did not stir he flew into a passion,
    and threw the glass of mead in her face; it struck her on the nose, and she
    fell backwards out of the cart, for she was only seated there, not tied in.

    “Hallo!” cried Little Claus, rushing out of the door, and seizing hold of the
    landlord by the throat; “you have killed my grandmother; see, here is a great
    hole in her forehead.”

    “Oh, how unfortunate,” said the landlord, wringing his hands. “This all comes
    of my fiery temper. Dear Little Claus, I will give you a bushel of money; I
    will bury your grandmother as if she were my own; only keep silent, or else
    they will cut off my head, and that would be disagreeable.”

    So it happened that Little Claus received another bushel of money, and the
    landlord buried his old grandmother as if she had been his own. When Little
    Claus reached home again, he immediately sent a boy to Great Claus, requesting
    him to lend him a bushel measure. “How is this?” thought Great Claus; “did I
    not kill him? I must go and see for myself.” So he went to Little Claus, and
    took the bushel measure with him. “How did you get all this money?” asked Great
    Claus, staring with wide open eyes at his neighbor’s treasures.

    “You killed my grandmother instead of me,” said Little Claus; “so I have sold
    her for a bushel of money.”

    “That is a good price at all events,” said Great Claus. So he went home, took
    a hatchet, and killed his old grandmother with one blow. Then he placed her
    on a cart, and drove into the town to the apothecary, and asked him if he would
    buy a dead body.

    “Whose is it, and where did you get it?” asked the apothecary.

    “It is my grandmother,” he replied; “I killed her with a blow, that I might
    get a bushel of money for her.”

    “Heaven preserve us!” cried the apothecary, “you are out of your mind. Don’t
    say such things, or you will lose your head.” And then he talked to him seriously
    about the wicked deed he had done, and told him that such a wicked man would
    surely be punished. Great Claus got so frightened that he rushed out of the
    surgery, jumped into the cart, whipped up his horses, and drove home quickly.
    The apothecary and all the people thought him mad, and let him drive where he

    “You shall pay for this,” said Great Claus, as soon as he got into the highroad,
    “that you shall, Little Claus.” So as soon as he reached home he took the largest
    sack he could find and went over to Little Claus. “You have played me another
    trick,” said he. “First, I killed all my horses, and then my old grandmother,
    and it is all your fault; but you shall not make a fool of me any more.” So
    he laid hold of Little Claus round the body, and pushed him into the sack, which
    he took on his shoulders, saying, “Now I’m going to drown you in the river.

    He had a long way to go before he reached the river, and Little Claus was not
    a very light weight to carry. The road led by the church, and as they passed
    he could hear the organ playing and the people singing beautifully. Great Claus
    put down the sack close to the church-door, and thought he might as well go
    in and hear a psalm before he went any farther. Little Claus could not possibly
    get out of the sack, and all the people were in church; so in he went.

    “Oh dear, oh dear,” sighed Little Claus in the sack, as he turned and twisted
    about; but he found he could not loosen the string with which it was tied. Presently
    an old cattle driver, with snowy hair, passed by, carrying a large staff in
    his hand, with which he drove a large herd of cows and oxen before him. They
    stumbled against the sack in which lay Little Claus, and turned it over. “Oh
    dear,” sighed Little Claus, “I am very young, yet I am soon going to heaven.”

    “And I, poor fellow,” said the drover, “I who am so old already, cannot get

    “Open the sack,” cried Little Claus; “creep into it instead of me, and you
    will soon be there.”

    “With all my heart,” replied the drover, opening the sack, from which sprung
    Little Claus as quickly as possible. “Will you take care of my cattle?” said
    the old man, as he crept into the bag.

    “Yes,” said Little Claus, and he tied up the sack, and then walked off with
    all the cows and oxen.

    When Great Claus came out of church, he took up the sack, and placed it on
    his shoulders. It appeared to have become lighter, for the old drover was not
    half so heavy as Little Claus.

    “How light he seems now,” said he. “Ah, it is because I have been to a church.”
    So he walked on to the river, which was deep and broad, and threw the sack containing
    the old drover into the water, believing it to be Little Claus. “There you may
    lie!” he exclaimed; “you will play me no more tricks now.” Then he turned to
    go home, but when he came to a place where two roads crossed, there was Little
    Claus driving the cattle. “How is this?” said Great Claus. “Did I not drown
    you just now?”

    “Yes,” said Little Claus; “you threw me into the river about half an hour ago.”

    “But wherever did you get all these fine beasts?” asked Great Claus.

    “These beasts are sea-cattle,” replied Little Claus. “I’ll tell you the whole
    story, and thank you for drowning me; I am above you now, I am really very rich.
    I was frightened, to be sure, while I lay tied up in the sack, and the wind
    whistled in my ears when you threw me into the river from the bridge, and I
    sank to the bottom immediately; but I did not hurt myself, for I fell upon beautifully
    soft grass which grows down there; and in a moment, the sack opened, and the
    sweetest little maiden came towards me. She had snow-white robes, and a wreath
    of green leaves on her wet hair. She took me by the hand, and said, ’So you
    are come, Little Claus, and here are some cattle for you to begin with. About
    a mile farther on the road, there is another herd for you.’ Then I saw that
    the river formed a great highway for the people who live in the sea. They were
    walking and driving here and there from the sea to the land at the, spot where
    the river terminates. The bed of the river was covered with the loveliest flowers
    and sweet fresh grass. The fish swam past me as rapidly as the birds do here
    in the air. How handsome all the people were, and what fine cattle were grazing
    on the hills and in the valleys!”

    “But why did you come up again,” said Great Claus, “if it was all so beautiful
    down there? I should not have done so?”

    “Well,” said Little Claus, “it was good policy on my part; you heard me say
    just now that I was told by the sea-maiden to go a mile farther on the road,
    and I should find a whole herd of cattle. By the road she meant the river, for
    she could not travel any other way; but I knew the winding of the river, and
    how it bends, sometimes to the right and sometimes to the left, and it seemed
    a long way, so I chose a shorter one; and, by coming up to the land, and then
    driving across the fields back again to the river, I shall save half a mile,
    and get all my cattle more quickly.”

    “What a lucky fellow you are!” exclaimed Great Claus. “Do you think I should
    get any sea-cattle if I went down to the bottom of the river?”

    “Yes, I think so,” said Little Claus; “but I cannot carry you there in a sack,
    you are too heavy. However if you will go there first, and then creep into a
    sack, I will throw you in with the greatest pleasure.”

    “Thank you,” said Great Claus; “but remember, if I do not get any sea-cattle
    down there I shall come up again and give you a good thrashing.”

    “No, now, don’t be too fierce about it!” said Little Claus, as they walked
    on towards the river. When they approached it, the cattle, who were very thirsty,
    saw the stream, and ran down to drink.

    “See what a hurry they are in,” said Little Claus, “they are longing to get
    down again,”

    “Come, help me, make haste,” said Great Claus; “or you’ll get beaten.” So he
    crept into a large sack, which had been lying across the back of one of the

    “Put in a stone,” said Great Claus, “or I may not sink.”

    “Oh, there’s not much fear of that,” he replied; still he put a large stone
    into the bag, and then tied it tightly, and gave it a push.

    “Plump!” In went Great Claus, and immediately sank to the bottom of the river.

    “I’m afraid he will not find any cattle,” said Little Claus, and then he drove
    his own beasts homewards.

    The Flax

    The flax was in full bloom; it had pretty little blue flowers as delicate as the
    wings of a moth, or even more so. The sun shone, and the showers watered it; and
    this was just as good for the flax as it is for little children to be washed and
    then kissed by their mother. They look much prettier for it, and so did the flax.

    “People say that I look exceedingly well,” said the flax, “and that I am so
    fine and long that I shall make a beautiful piece of linen. How fortunate I
    am; it makes me so happy, it is such a pleasant thing to know that something
    can be made of me. How the sunshine cheers me, and how sweet and refreshing
    is the rain; my happiness overpowers me, no one in the world can feel happier
    than I am.”

    “Ah, yes, no doubt,” said the fern, “but you do not know the world yet as well
    as I do, for my sticks are knotty;” and then it sung quite mournfully—

    “Snip, snap, snurre,
    Basse lurre:
    The song is ended.”
    “No, it is not ended,” said the flax. “To-morrow the sun will shine, or the
    rain descend. I feel that I am growing. I feel that I am in full blossom. I
    am the happiest of all creatures.”

    Well, one day some people came, who took hold of the flax, and pulled it up
    by the roots; this was painful; then it was laid in water as if they intended
    to drown it; and, after that, placed near a fire as if it were to be roasted;
    all this was very shocking. “We cannot expect to be happy always,” said the
    flax; “by experiencing evil as well as good, we become wise.” And certainly
    there was plenty of evil in store for the flax. It was steeped, and roasted,
    and broken, and combed; indeed, it scarcely knew what was done to it. At last
    it was put on the spinning wheel. “Whirr, whirr,” went the wheel so quickly
    that the flax could not collect its thoughts. “Well, I have been very happy,”
    he thought in the midst of his pain, “and must be contented with the past;”
    and contented he remained till he was put on the loom, and became a beautiful
    piece of white linen. All the flax, even to the last stalk, was used in making
    this one piece. “Well, this is quite wonderful; I could not have believed that
    I should be so favored by fortune. The fern was not wrong with its song of

    ‘Snip, snap, snurre,
    Basse lurre.’
    But the song is not ended yet, I am sure; it is only just beginning. How wonderful
    it is, that after all I have suffered, I am made something of at last; I am
    the luckiest person in the world—so strong and fine; and how white, and what
    a length! This is something different to being a mere plant and bearing flowers.
    Then I had no attention, nor any water unless it rained; now, I am watched and
    taken care of. Every morning the maid turns me over, and I have a shower-bath
    from the watering-pot every evening. Yes, and the clergyman’s wife noticed me,
    and said I was the best piece of linen in the whole parish. I cannot be happier
    than I am now.”
    After some time, the linen was taken into the house, placed under the scissors,
    and cut and torn into pieces, and then pricked with needles. This certainly
    was not pleasant; but at last it was made into twelve garments of that kind
    which people do not like to name, and yet everybody should wear one. “See, now,
    then,” said the flax; “I have become something of importance. This was my destiny;
    it is quite a blessing. Now I shall be of some use in the world, as everyone
    ought to be; it is the only way to be happy. I am now divided into twelve pieces,
    and yet we are all one and the same in the whole dozen. It is most extraordinary
    good fortune.”

    Years passed away, and at last the linen was so worn it could scarcely hold
    together. “It must end very soon,” said the pieces to each other; “we would
    gladly have held together a little longer, but it is useless to expect impossibilities.”
    And at length they fell into rags and tatters, and thought it was all over with
    them, for they were torn to shreds, and steeped in water, and made into a pulp,
    and dried, and they knew not what besides, till all at once they found themselves
    beautiful white paper. “Well, now, this is a surprise; a glorious surprise too,”
    said the paper. “I am now finer than ever, and I shall be written upon, and
    who can tell what fine things I may have written upon me. This is wonderful
    luck!” And sure enough the most beautiful stories and poetry were written upon
    it, and only once was there a blot, which was very fortunate. Then people heard
    the stories and poetry read, and it made them wiser and better; for all that
    was written had a good and sensible meaning, and a great blessing was contained
    in the words on this paper.

    “I never imagined anything like this,” said the paper, “when I was only a little
    blue flower, growing in the fields. How could I fancy that I should ever be
    the means of bringing knowledge and joy to man? I cannot understand it myself,
    and yet it is really so. Heaven knows that I have done nothing myself, but what
    I was obliged to do with my weak powers for my own preservation; and yet I have
    been promoted from one joy and honor to another. Each time I think that the
    song is ended; and then something higher and better begins for me. I suppose
    now I shall be sent on my travels about the world, so that people may read me.
    It cannot be otherwise; indeed, it is more than probable; for I have more splendid
    thoughts written upon me, than I had pretty flowers in olden times. I am happier
    than ever.”

    But the paper did not go on its travels; it was sent to the printer, and all
    the words written upon it were set up in type, to make a book, or rather, many
    hundreds of books; for so many more persons could derive pleasure and profit
    from a printed book, than from the written paper; and if the paper had been
    sent around the world, it would have been worn out before it had got half through
    its journey.

    “This is certainly the wisest plan,” said the written paper; “I really did
    not think of that. I shall remain at home, and be held in honor, like some old
    grandfather, as I really am to all these new books. They will do some good.
    I could not have wandered about as they do. Yet he who wrote all this has looked
    at me, as every word flowed from his pen upon my surface. I am the most honored
    of all.”

    Then the paper was tied in a bundle with other papers, and thrown into a tub
    that stood in the washhouse.

    “After work, it is well to rest,” said the paper, “and a very good opportunity
    to collect one’s thoughts. Now I am able, for the first time, to think of my
    real condition; and to know one’s self is true progress. What will be done with
    me now, I wonder? No doubt I shall still go forward. I have always progressed
    hitherto, as I know quite well.”

    Now it happened one day that all the paper in the tub was taken out, and laid
    on the hearth to be burnt. People said it could not be sold at the shop, to
    wrap up butter and sugar, because it had been written upon. The children in
    the house stood round the stove; for they wanted to see the paper burn, because
    it flamed up so prettily, and afterwards, among the ashes, so many red sparks
    could be seen running one after the other, here and there, as quick as the wind.
    They called it seeing the children come out of school, and the last spark was
    the schoolmaster. They often thought the last spark had come; and one would
    cry, “There goes the schoolmaster;” but the next moment another spark would
    appear, shining so beautifully. How they would like to know where the sparks
    all went to! Perhaps we shall find out some day, but we don’t know now.

    The whole bundle of paper had been placed on the fire, and was soon alight.
    “Ugh,” cried the paper, as it burst into a bright flame; “ugh.” It was certainly
    not very pleasant to be burning; but when the whole was wrapped in flames, the
    flames mounted up into the air, higher than the flax had ever been able to raise
    its little blue flower, and they glistened as the white linen never could have
    glistened. All the written letters became quite red in a moment, and all the
    words and thoughts turned to fire.

    “Now I am mounting straight up to the sun,” said a voice in the flames; and
    it was as if a thousand voices echoed the words; and the flames darted up through
    the chimney, and went out at the top. Then a number of tiny beings, as many
    in number as the flowers on the flax had been, and invisible to mortal eyes,
    floated above them. They were even lighter and more delicate than the flowers
    from which they were born; and as the flames were extinguished, and nothing
    remained of the paper but black ashes, these little beings danced upon it; and
    whenever they touched it, bright red sparks appeared.

    “The children are all out of school, and the schoolmaster was the last of all,”
    said the children. It was good fun, and they sang over the dead ashes,—

    “Snip, snap, snurre,
    Basse lure:
    The song is ended.”
    But the little invisible beings said, “The song is never ended; the most beautiful
    is yet to come.”

    But the children could neither hear nor understand this, nor should they; for
    children must not know everything.

    The Last Dream of the Old Oak

    In the forest, high up on the steep shore, and not far from the open seacoast,
    stood a very old oak-tree. It was just three hundred and sixty-five years old,
    but that long time was to the tree as the same number of days might be to us;
    we wake by day and sleep by night, and then we have our dreams. It is different
    with the tree; it is obliged to keep awake through three seasons of the year,
    and does not get any sleep till winter comes. Winter is its time for rest; its
    night after the long day of spring, summer, and autumn. On many a warm summer,
    the Ephemera, the flies that exist for only a day, had fluttered about the old
    oak, enjoyed life and felt happy and if, for a moment, one of the tiny creatures
    rested on one of his large fresh leaves, the tree would always say, “Poor little
    creature! your whole life consists only of a single day. How very short. It must
    be quite melancholy.”

    “Melancholy! what do you mean?” the little creature would always reply. “Everything
    around me is so wonderfully bright and warm, and beautiful, that it makes me

    “But only for one day, and then it is all over.”

    “Over!” repeated the fly; “what is the meaning of all over? Are you all over

    “No; I shall very likely live for thousands of your days, and my day is whole
    seasons long; indeed it is so long that you could never reckon it out.”

    “No? then I don’t understand you. You may have thousands of my days, but I
    have thousands of moments in which I can be merry and happy. Does all the beauty
    of the world cease when you die?”

    “No,” replied the tree; “it will certainly last much longer,— infinitely longer
    than I can even think of.” “Well, then,” said the little fly, “we have the same
    time to live; only we reckon differently.” And the little creature danced and
    floated in the air, rejoicing in her delicate wings of gauze and velvet, rejoicing
    in the balmy breezes, laden with the fragrance of clover-fields and wild roses,
    elder-blossoms and honeysuckle, from the garden hedges, wild thyme, primroses,
    and mint, and the scent of all these was so strong that the perfume almost intoxicated
    the little fly. The long and beautiful day had been so full of joy and sweet
    delights, that when the sun sank low it felt tired of all its happiness and
    enjoyment. Its wings could sustain it no longer, and gently and slowly it glided
    down upon the soft waving blades of grass, nodded its little head as well as
    it could nod, and slept peacefully and sweetly. The fly was dead.

    “Poor little Ephemera!” said the oak; “what a terribly short life!” And so,
    on every summer day the dance was repeated, the same questions asked, and the
    same answers given. The same thing was continued through many generations of
    Ephemera; all of them felt equally merry and equally happy.

    The oak remained awake through the morning of spring, the noon of summer, and
    the evening of autumn; its time of rest, its night drew nigh—winter was coming.
    Already the storms were singing, “Good-night, good-night.” Here fell a leaf
    and there fell a leaf. “We will rock you and lull you. Go to sleep, go to sleep.
    We will sing you to sleep, and shake you to sleep, and it will do your old twigs
    good; they will even crackle with pleasure. Sleep sweetly, sleep sweetly, it
    is your three-hundred-and-sixty-fifth night. Correctly speaking, you are but
    a youngster in the world. Sleep sweetly, the clouds will drop snow upon you,
    which will be quite a cover-lid, warm and sheltering to your feet. Sweet sleep
    to you, and pleasant dreams.” And there stood the oak, stripped of all its leaves,
    left to rest during the whole of a long winter, and to dream many dreams of
    events that had happened in its life, as in the dreams of men. The great tree
    had once been small; indeed, in its cradle it had been an acorn. According to
    human computation, it was now in the fourth century of its existence. It was
    the largest and best tree in the forest. Its summit towered above all the other
    trees, and could be seen far out at sea, so that it served as a landmark to
    the sailors. It had no idea how many eyes looked eagerly for it. In its topmost
    branches the wood-pigeon built her nest, and the cuckoo carried out his usual
    vocal performances, and his well-known notes echoed amid the boughs; and in
    autumn, when the leaves looked like beaten copper plates, the birds of passage
    would come and rest upon the branches before taking their flight across the
    sea. But now it was winter, the tree stood leafless, so that every one could
    see how crooked and bent were the branches that sprang forth from the trunk.
    Crows and rooks came by turns and sat on them, and talked of the hard times
    which were beginning, and how difficult it was in winter to obtain food.

    It was just about holy Christmas time that the tree dreamed a dream. The tree
    had, doubtless, a kind of feeling that the festive time had arrived, and in
    his dream fancied he heard the bells ringing from all the churches round, and
    yet it seemed to him to be a beautiful summer’s day, mild and warm. His mighty
    summits was crowned with spreading fresh green foliage; the sunbeams played
    among the leaves and branches, and the air was full of fragrance from herb and
    blossom; painted butterflies chased each other; the summer flies danced around
    him, as if the world had been created merely for them to dance and be merry
    in. All that had happened to the tree during every year of his life seemed to
    pass before him, as in a festive procession. He saw the knights of olden times
    and noble ladies ride by through the wood on their gallant steeds, with plumes
    waving in their hats, and falcons on their wrists. The hunting horn sounded,
    and the dogs barked. He saw hostile warriors, in colored dresses and glittering
    armor, with spear and halberd, pitching their tents, and anon striking them.
    The watchfires again blazed, and men sang and slept under the hospitable shelter
    of the tree. He saw lovers meet in quiet happiness near him in the moonshine,
    and carve the initials of their names in the grayish-green bark on his trunk.
    Once, but long years had intervened since then, guitars and Eolian harps had
    been hung on his boughs by merry travellers; now they seemed to hang there again,
    and he could hear their marvellous tones. The wood-pigeons cooed as if to explain
    the feelings of the tree, and the cuckoo called out to tell him how many summer
    days he had yet to live. Then it seemed as if new life was thrilling through
    every fibre of root and stem and leaf, rising even to the highest branches.
    The tree felt itself stretching and spreading out, while through the root beneath
    the earth ran the warm vigor of life. As he grew higher and still higher, with
    increased strength, his topmost boughs became broader and fuller; and in proportion
    to his growth, so was his self-satisfaction increased, and with it arose a joyous
    longing to grow higher and higher, to reach even to the warm, bright sun itself.
    Already had his topmost branches pierced the clouds, which floated beneath them
    like troops of birds of passage, or large white swans; every leaf seemed gifted
    with sight, as if it possessed eyes to see. The stars became visible in broad
    daylight, large and sparkling, like clear and gentle eyes. They recalled to
    the memory the well-known look in the eyes of a child, or in the eyes of lovers
    who had once met beneath the branches of the old oak. These were wonderful and
    happy moments for the old tree, full of peace and joy; and yet, amidst all this
    happiness, the tree felt a yearning, longing desire that all the other trees,
    bushes, herbs, and flowers beneath him, might be able also to rise higher, as
    he had done, and to see all this splendor, and experience the same happiness.
    The grand, majestic oak could not be quite happy in the midst of his enjoyment,
    while all the rest, both great and small, were not with him. And this feeling
    of yearning trembled through every branch, through every leaf, as warmly and
    fervently as if they had been the fibres of a human heart. The summit of the
    tree waved to and fro, and bent downwards as if in his silent longing he sought
    for something. Then there came to him the fragrance of thyme, followed by the
    more powerful scent of honeysuckle and violets; and he fancied he heard the
    note of the cuckoo. At length his longing was satisfied. Up through the clouds
    came the green summits of the forest trees, and beneath him, the oak saw them
    rising, and growing higher and higher. Bush and herb shot upward, and some even
    tore themselves up by the roots to rise more quickly. The birch-tree was the
    quickest of all. Like a lightning flash the slender stem shot upwards in a zigzag
    line, the branches spreading around it like green gauze and banners. Every native
    of the wood, even to the brown and feathery rushes, grew with the rest, while
    the birds ascended with the melody of song. On a blade of grass, that fluttered
    in the air like a long, green ribbon, sat a grasshopper, cleaning his wings
    with his legs. May beetles hummed, the bees murmured, the birds sang, each in
    his own way; the air was filled with the sounds of song and gladness.

    “But where is the little blue flower that grows by the water?” asked the oak,
    “and the purple bell-flower, and the daisy?” You see the oak wanted to have
    them all with him.

    “Here we are, we are here,” sounded in voice and song.

    “But the beautiful thyme of last summer, where is that? and the lilies-of-the-valley,
    which last year covered the earth with their bloom? and the wild apple-tree
    with its lovely blossoms, and all the glory of the wood, which has flourished
    year after year? even what may have but now sprouted forth could be with us

    “We are here, we are here,” sounded voices higher in the air, as if they had
    flown there beforehand.

    “Why this is beautiful, too beautiful to be believed,” said the oak in a joyful
    tone. “I have them all here, both great and small; not one has been forgotten.
    Can such happiness be imagined?” It seemed almost impossible.

    “In heaven with the Eternal God, it can be imagined, and it is possible,” sounded
    the reply through the air.

    And the old tree, as it still grew upwards and onwards, felt that his roots
    were loosening themselves from the earth.

    “It is right so, it is best,” said the tree, “no fetters hold me now. I can
    fly up to the very highest point in light and glory. And all I love are with
    me, both small and great. All—all are here.”

    Such was the dream of the old oak: and while he dreamed, a mighty storm came
    rushing over land and sea, at the holy Christmas time. The sea rolled in great
    billows towards the shore. There was a cracking and crushing heard in the tree.
    The root was torn from the ground just at the moment when in his dream he fancied
    it was being loosened from the earth. He fell—his three hundred and sixty-five
    years were passed as the single day of the Ephemera. On the morning of Christmas-day,
    when the sun rose, the storm had ceased. From all the churches sounded the festive
    bells, and from every hearth, even of the smallest hut, rose the smoke into
    the blue sky, like the smoke from the festive thank-offerings on the Druids’
    altars. The sea gradually became calm, and on board a great ship that had withstood
    the tempest during the night, all the flags were displayed, as a token of joy
    and festivity. “The tree is down! The old oak,—our landmark on the coast!” exclaimed
    the sailors. “It must have fallen in the storm of last night. Who can replace
    it? Alas! no one.” This was a funeral oration over the old tree; short, but
    well-meant. There it lay stretched on the snow-covered shore, and over it sounded
    the notes of a song from the ship—a song of Christmas joy, and of the redemption
    of the soul of man, and of eternal life through Christ’s atoning blood.

    “Sing aloud on the happy morn,
    All is fulfilled, for Christ is born;
    With songs of joy let us loudly sing,
    ‘Hallelujahs to Christ our King.’”

    Thus sounded the old Christmas carol, and every one on board the ship felt
    his thoughts elevated, through the song and the prayer, even as the old tree
    had felt lifted up in its last, its beautiful dream on that Christmas morn.

    The Last Pearl

    We are in a rich, happy house, where the master, the servants, the friends of
    the family are full of joy and felicity. For on this day a son and heir has been
    born, and mother and child are doing well. The lamp in the bed-chamber had been
    partly shaded, and the windows were covered with heavy curtains of some costly
    silken material. The carpet was thick and soft, like a covering of moss. Everything
    invited to slumber, everything had a charming look of repose; and so the nurse
    had discovered, for she slept; and well she might sleep, while everything around
    her told of happiness and blessing. The guardian angel of the house leaned against
    the head of the bed; while over the child was spread, as it were, a net of shining
    stars, and each star was a pearl of happiness. All the good stars of life had
    brought their gifts to the newly born; here sparkled health, wealth, fortune,
    and love; in short, there seemed to be everything for which man could wish on

    “Everything has been bestowed here,” said the guardian angel.

    “No, not everything,” said a voice near him—the voice of the good angel of
    the child; “one fairy has not yet brought her gift, but she will, even if years
    should elapse, she will bring her gift; it is the last pearl that is wanting.”

    “Wanting!” cried the guardian angel; “nothing must be wanting here; and if
    it is so, let us fetch it; let us seek the powerful fairy; let us go to her.”

    “She will come, she will come some day unsought!”

    “Her pearl must not be missing; it must be there, that the crown, when worn,
    may be complete. Where is she to be found? Where does she dwell?” said the guardian
    angel. “Tell me, and I will procure the pearl.”

    “Will you do that?” replied the good angel of the child. “Then I will lead
    you to her directly, wherever she may be. She has no abiding place; she rules
    in the palace of the emperor, sometimes she enters the peasant’s humble cot;
    she passes no one without leaving a trace of her presence. She brings her gift
    with her, whether it is a world or a bauble. To this child she must come. You
    think that to wait for this time would be long and useless. Well, then, let
    us go for this pearl—the only one lacking amidst all this wealth.”

    Then hand-in-hand they floated away to the spot where the fairy was now lingering.
    It was in a large house with dark windows and empty rooms, in which a peculiar
    stillness reigned. A whole row of windows stood open, so that the rude wind
    could enter at its pleasure, and the long white curtains waved to and fro in
    the current of air. In the centre of one of the rooms stood an open coffin,
    in which lay the body of a woman, still in the bloom of youth and very beautiful.
    Fresh roses were scattered over her. The delicate folded hands and the noble
    face glorified in death by the solemn, earnest look, which spoke of an entrance
    into a better world, were alone visible. Around the coffin stood the husband
    and children, a whole troop, the youngest in the father’s arms. They were come
    to take a last farewell look of their mother. The husband kissed her hand, which
    now lay like a withered leaf, but which a short time before had been diligently
    employed in deeds of love for them all. Tears of sorrow rolled down their cheeks,
    and fell in heavy drops on the floor, but not a word was spoken. The silence
    which reigned here expressed a world of grief. With silent steps, still sobbing,
    they left the room. A burning light remained in the room, and a long, red wick
    rose far above the flame, which fluttered in the draught of air. Strange men
    came in and placed the lid of the coffin over the dead, and drove the nails
    firmly in; while the blows of the hammer resounded through the house, and echoed
    in the hearts that were bleeding.

    “Whither art thou leading me?” asked the guardian angel. “Here dwells no fairy
    whose pearl could be counted amongst the best gifts of life.”

    “Yes, she is here; here in this sacred hour,” replied the angel, pointing to
    a corner of the room; and there,—where in her life-time, the mother had taken
    her seat amidst flowers and pictures: in that spot, where she, like the blessed
    fairy of the house, had welcomed husband, children, and friends, and, like a
    sunbeam, had spread joy and cheerfulness around her, the centre and heart of
    them all,—there, in that very spot, sat a strange woman, clothed in long, flowing
    garments, and occupying the place of the dead wife and mother. It was the fairy,
    and her name was “Sorrow.” A hot tear rolled into her lap, and formed itself
    into a pearl, glowing with all the colors of the rainbow. The angel seized it:
    the, pearl glittered like a star with seven-fold radiance. The pearl of Sorrow,
    the last, which must not be wanting, increases the lustre, and explains the
    meaning of all the other pearls.

    “Do you see the shimmer of the rainbow, which unites earth to heaven?” So has
    there been a bridge built between this world and the next. Through the night
    of the grave we gaze upwards beyond the stars to the end of all things. Then
    we glance at the pearl of Sorrow, in which are concealed the wings which shall
    carry us away to eternal happiness.

    Two Maidens

    Have you ever seen a maiden? I mean what our pavers call a maiden, a thing with
    which they ram down the paving-stones in the roads. A maiden of this kind is made
    altogether of wood, broad below, and girt round with iron rings. At the top she
    is narrow, and has a stick passed across through her waist, and this stick forms
    the arms of the maiden.

    In the shed stood two Maidens of this kind. They had their place among shovels,
    hand-carts, wheelbarrows, and measuring-tapes; and to all this company the news
    had come that the Maidens were no longer to be called “maidens,” but “hand-rammers,”
    which word was the newest and the only correct designation among the pavers
    for the thing we all know from the old times by the name of “the maiden.”

    Now, there are among us human creatures certain individuals who are known as
    “emancipated women,” as, for instance, principals of institutions, dancers who
    stand professionally on one leg, milliners, and sick-nurses; and with this class
    of emancipated women the two Maidens in the shed associated themselves. They
    were “maidens” among the paver folk, and determined not to give up this honorable
    appellation, and let themselves be miscalled “rammers.”

    “Maiden is a human name, but hand-rammer is a thing, and we won’t be called
    things—that’s insulting us.”

    “My lover would be ready to give up his engagement,” said the youngest, who
    was betrothed to a paver’s hammer; and the hammer is the thing which drives
    great piles into the earth, like a machine, and therefore does on a large scale
    what ten maidens effect in a similar way. “He wants to marry me as a maiden,
    but whether he would have me were I a hand-rammer is a question, so I won’t
    have my name changed.”

    “And I,” said the elder one, “would rather have both my arms broken off.”

    But the Wheelbarrow was of a different opinion; and the Wheelbarrow was looked
    upon as of some consequence, for he considered himself a quarter of a coach,
    because he went about upon one wheel.

    “I must submit to your notice,” he said, “that the name ‘maiden’ is common
    enough, and not nearly so refined as ‘hand-rammer,’ or ‘stamper,’ which latter
    has also been proposed, and through which you would be introduced into the category
    of seals; and only think of the great stamp of state, which impresses the royal
    seal that gives effect to the laws! No, in your case I would surrender my maiden

    “No, certainly not!” exclaimed the elder. “I am too old for that.”

    “I presume you have never heard of what is called ‘European necessity?’” observed
    the honest Measuring Tape. “One must be able to adapt one’s self to time and
    circumstances, and if there is a law that the ‘maiden’ is to be called ‘hand-rammer,’
    why, she must be called ‘hand-rammer,’ and no pouting will avail, for everything
    has its measure.”

    “No; if there must be a change,” said the younger, “I should prefer to be called
    ‘Missy,’ for that reminds one a little of maidens.”

    “But I would rather be chopped to chips,” said the elder.

    At last they all went to work. The Maidens rode—that is, they were put in a
    wheelbarrow, and that was a distinction; but still they were called “hand-rammers.”

    “Mai—!” they said, as they were bumped upon the pavement. “Mai—!” and they
    were very nearly pronouncing the whole word “maiden;” but they broke off short,
    and swallowed the last syllable; for after mature deliberation they considered
    it beneath their dignity to protest. But they always called each other “maiden,”
    and praised the good old days in which everything had been called by its right
    name, and those who were maidens were called maidens. And they remained as they
    were; for the hammer really broke off his engagement with the younger one, for
    nothing would suit him but he must have a maiden for his bride.

    The Snow Queen

    Story the First,
    Which Describes a Looking-Glass and the Broken Fragments.

    Yuo must attend to the commencement of this story, for when we get to the end
    we shall know more than we do now about a very wicked hobgoblin; he was one
    of the very worst, for he was a real demon. One day, when he was in a merry
    mood, he made a looking-glass which had the power of making everything good
    or beautiful that was reflected in it almost shrink to nothing, while everything
    that was worthless and bad looked increased in size and worse than ever. The
    most lovely landscapes appeared like boiled spinach, and the people became hideous,
    and looked as if they stood on their heads and had no bodies. Their countenances
    were so distorted that no one could recognize them, and even one freckle on
    the face appeared to spread over the whole of the nose and mouth. The demon
    said this was very amusing. When a good or pious thought passed through the
    mind of any one it was misrepresented in the glass; and then how the demon laughed
    at his cunning invention. All who went to the demon’s school—for he kept a school—talked
    everywhere of the wonders they had seen, and declared that people could now,
    for the first time, see what the world and mankind were really like. They carried
    the glass about everywhere, till at last there was not a land nor a people who
    had not been looked at through this distorted mirror. They wanted even to fly
    with it up to heaven to see the angels, but the higher they flew the more slippery
    the glass became, and they could scarcely hold it, till at last it slipped from
    their hands, fell to the earth, and was broken into millions of pieces. But
    now the looking-glass caused more unhappiness than ever, for some of the fragments
    were not so large as a grain of sand, and they flew about the world into every
    country. When one of these tiny atoms flew into a person’s eye, it stuck there
    unknown to him, and from that moment he saw everything through a distorted medium,
    or could see only the worst side of what he looked at, for even the smallest
    fragment retained the same power which had belonged to the whole mirror. Some
    few persons even got a fragment of the looking-glass in their hearts, and this
    was very terrible, for their hearts became cold like a lump of ice. A few of
    the pieces were so large that they could be used as window-panes; it would have
    been a sad thing to look at our friends through them. Other pieces were made
    into spectacles; this was dreadful for those who wore them, for they could see
    nothing either rightly or justly. At all this the wicked demon laughed till
    his sides shook—it tickled him so to see the mischief he had done. There were
    still a number of these little fragments of glass floating about in the air,
    and now you shall hear what happened with one of them.

    Second Story:
    A Little Boy and a Little Girl

    In a large town, full of houses and people, there is not room for everybody
    to have even a little garden, therefore they are obliged to be satisfied with
    a few flowers in flower-pots. In one of these large towns lived two poor children
    who had a garden something larger and better than a few flower-pots. They were
    not brother and sister, but they loved each other almost as much as if they
    had been. Their parents lived opposite to each other in two garrets, where the
    roofs of neighboring houses projected out towards each other and the water-pipe
    ran between them. In each house was a little window, so that any one could step
    across the gutter from one window to the other. The parents of these children
    had each a large wooden box in which they cultivated kitchen herbs for their
    own use, and a little rose-bush in each box, which grew splendidly. Now after
    a while the parents decided to place these two boxes across the water-pipe,
    so that they reached from one window to the other and looked like two banks
    of flowers. Sweet-peas drooped over the boxes, and the rose-bushes shot forth
    long branches, which were trained round the windows and clustered together almost
    like a triumphal arch of leaves and flowers. The boxes were very high, and the
    children knew they must not climb upon them, without permission, but they were
    often, however, allowed to step out together and sit upon their little stools
    under the rose-bushes, or play quietly. In winter all this pleasure came to
    an end, for the windows were sometimes quite frozen over. But then they would
    warm copper pennies on the stove, and hold the warm pennies against the frozen
    pane; there would be very soon a little round hole through which they could
    peep, and the soft bright eyes of the little boy and girl would beam through
    the hole at each window as they looked at each other. Their names were Kay and
    Gerda. In summer they could be together with one jump from the window, but in
    winter they had to go up and down the long staircase, and out through the snow
    before they could meet.

    “See there are the white bees swarming,” said Kay’s old grandmother one day
    when it was snowing.

    “Have they a queen bee?” asked the little boy, for he knew that the real bees
    had a queen.

    “To be sure they have,” said the grandmother. “She is flying there where the
    swarm is thickest. She is the largest of them all, and never remains on the
    earth, but flies up to the dark clouds. Often at midnight she flies through
    the streets of the town, and looks in at the windows, then the ice freezes on
    the panes into wonderful shapes, that look like flowers and castles.”

    “Yes, I have seen them,” said both the children, and they knew it must be true.

    “Can the Snow Queen come in here?” asked the little girl.

    “Only let her come,” said the boy, “I’ll set her on the stove and then she’ll

    Then the grandmother smoothed his hair and told him some more tales. One evening,
    when little Kay was at home, half undressed, he climbed on a chair by the window
    and peeped out through the little hole. A few flakes of snow were falling, and
    one of them, rather larger than the rest, alighted on the edge of one of the
    flower boxes. This snow-flake grew larger and larger, till at last it became
    the figure of a woman, dressed in garments of white gauze, which looked like
    millions of starry snow-flakes linked together. She was fair and beautiful,
    but made of ice—shining and glittering ice. Still she was alive and her eyes
    sparkled like bright stars, but there was neither peace nor rest in their glance.
    She nodded towards the window and waved her hand. The little boy was frightened
    and sprang from the chair; at the same moment it seemed as if a large bird flew
    by the window. On the following day there was a clear frost, and very soon came
    the spring. The sun shone; the young green leaves burst forth; the swallows
    built their nests; windows were opened, and the children sat once more in the
    garden on the roof, high above all the other rooms. How beautiful the roses
    blossomed this summer. The little girl had learnt a hymn in which roses were
    spoken of, and then she thought of their own roses, and she sang the hymn to
    the little boy, and he sang too:—

    “Roses bloom and cease to be,
    But we shall the Christ-child see.”
    Then the little ones held each other by the hand, and kissed the roses, and
    looked at the bright sunshine, and spoke to it as if the Christ-child were there.
    Those were splendid summer days. How beautiful and fresh it was out among the
    rose-bushes, which seemed as if they would never leave off blooming. One day
    Kay and Gerda sat looking at a book full of pictures of animals and birds, and
    then just as the clock in the church tower struck twelve, Kay said, “Oh, something
    has struck my heart!” and soon after, “There is something in my eye.”

    The little girl put her arm round his neck, and looked into his eye, but she
    could see nothing.

    “I think it is gone,” he said. But it was not gone; it was one of those bits
    of the looking-glass—that magic mirror, of which we have spoken—the ugly glass
    which made everything great and good appear small and ugly, while all that was
    wicked and bad became more visible, and every little fault could be plainly
    seen. Poor little Kay had also received a small grain in his heart, which very
    quickly turned to a lump of ice. He felt no more pain, but the glass was there
    still. “Why do you cry?” said he at last; “it makes you look ugly. There is
    nothing the matter with me now. Oh, see!” he cried suddenly, “that rose is worm-eaten,
    and this one is quite crooked. After all they are ugly roses, just like the
    box in which they stand,” and then he kicked the boxes with his foot, and pulled
    off the two roses.

    “Kay, what are you doing?” cried the little girl; and then, when he saw how
    frightened she was, he tore off another rose, and jumped through his own window
    away from little Gerda.

    When she afterwards brought out the picture book, he said, “It was only fit
    for babies in long clothes,” and when grandmother told any stories, he would
    interrupt her with “but;” or, when he could manage it, he would get behind her
    chair, put on a pair of spectacles, and imitate her very cleverly, to make people
    laugh. By-and-by he began to mimic the speech and gait of persons in the street.
    All that was peculiar or disagreeable in a person he would imitate directly,
    and people said, “That boy will be very clever; he has a remarkable genius.”
    But it was the piece of glass in his eye, and the coldness in his heart, that
    made him act like this. He would even tease little Gerda, who loved him with
    all her heart. His games, too, were quite different; they were not so childish.
    One winter’s day, when it snowed, he brought out a burning-glass, then he held
    out the tail of his blue coat, and let the snow-flakes fall upon it. “Look in
    this glass, Gerda,” said he; and she saw how every flake of snow was magnified,
    and looked like a beautiful flower or a glittering star. “Is it not clever?”
    said Kay, “and much more interesting than looking at real flowers. There is
    not a single fault in it, and the snow-flakes are quite perfect till they begin
    to melt.”

    Soon after Kay made his appearance in large thick gloves, and with his sledge
    at his back. He called up stairs to Gerda, “I’ve got to leave to go into the
    great square, where the other boys play and ride.” And away he went.

    In the great square, the boldest among the boys would often tie their sledges
    to the country people’s carts, and go with them a good way. This was capital.
    But while they were all amusing themselves, and Kay with them, a great sledge
    came by; it was painted white, and in it sat some one wrapped in a rough white
    fur, and wearing a white cap. The sledge drove twice round the square, and Kay
    fastened his own little sledge to it, so that when it went away, he followed
    with it. It went faster and faster right through the next street, and then the
    person who drove turned round and nodded pleasantly to Kay, just as if they
    were acquainted with each other, but whenever Kay wished to loosen his little
    sledge the driver nodded again, so Kay sat still, and they drove out through
    the town gate. Then the snow began to fall so heavily that the little boy could
    not see a hand’s breadth before him, but still they drove on; then he suddenly
    loosened the cord so that the large sled might go on without him, but it was
    of no use, his little carriage held fast, and away they went like the wind.
    Then he called out loudly, but nobody heard him, while the snow beat upon him,
    and the sledge flew onwards. Every now and then it gave a jump as if it were
    going over hedges and ditches. The boy was frightened, and tried to say a prayer,
    but he could remember nothing but the multiplication table.

    The snow-flakes became larger and larger, till they appeared like great white
    chickens. All at once they sprang on one side, the great sledge stopped, and
    the person who had driven it rose up. The fur and the cap, which were made entirely
    of snow, fell off, and he saw a lady, tall and white, it was the Snow Queen.

    “We have driven well,” said she, “but why do you tremble? here, creep into
    my warm fur.” Then she seated him beside her in the sledge, and as she wrapped
    the fur round him he felt as if he were sinking into a snow drift.

    “Are you still cold,” she asked, as she kissed him on the forehead. The kiss
    was colder than ice; it went quite through to his heart, which was already almost
    a lump of ice; he felt as if he were going to die, but only for a moment; he
    soon seemed quite well again, and did not notice the cold around him.

    “My sledge! don’t forget my sledge,” was his first thought, and then he looked
    and saw that it was bound fast to one of the white chickens, which flew behind
    him with the sledge at its back. The Snow Queen kissed little Kay again, and
    by this time he had forgotten little Gerda, his grandmother, and all at home.

    “Now you must have no more kisses,” she said, “or I should kiss you to death.”

    Kay looked at her, and saw that she was so beautiful, he could not imagine
    a more lovely and intelligent face; she did not now seem to be made of ice,
    as when he had seen her through his window, and she had nodded to him. In his
    eyes she was perfect, and she did not feel at all afraid. He told her he could
    do mental arithmetic, as far as fractions, and that he knew the number of square
    miles and the number of inhabitants in the country. And she always smiled so
    that he thought he did not know enough yet, and she looked round the vast expanse
    as she flew higher and higher with him upon a black cloud, while the storm blew
    and howled as if it were singing old songs. They flew over woods and lakes,
    over sea and land; below them roared the wild wind; the wolves howled and the
    snow crackled; over them flew the black screaming crows, and above all shone
    the moon, clear and bright,—and so Kay passed through the long winter’s night,
    and by day he slept at the feet of the Snow Queen.

    Third Story:
    The Flower Garden of the Woman Who Could Conjure

    But how fared little Gerda during Kay’s absence? What had become of him, no
    one knew, nor could any one give the slightest information, excepting the boys,
    who said that he had tied his sledge to another very large one, which had driven
    through the street, and out at the town gate. Nobody knew where it went; many
    tears were shed for him, and little Gerda wept bitterly for a long time. She
    said she knew he must be dead; that he was drowned in the river which flowed
    close by the school. Oh, indeed those long winter days were very dreary. But
    at last spring came, with warm sunshine. “Kay is dead and gone,” said little

    “I don’t believe it,” said the sunshine.

    “He is dead and gone,” she said to the sparrows.

    “We don’t believe it,” they replied; and at last little Gerda began to doubt
    it herself. “I will put on my new red shoes,” she said one morning, “those that
    Kay has never seen, and then I will go down to the river, and ask for him.”
    It was quite early when she kissed her old grandmother, who was still asleep;
    then she put on her red shoes, and went quite alone out of the town gates toward
    the river. “Is it true that you have taken my little playmate away from me?”
    said she to the river. “I will give you my red shoes if you will give him back
    to me.” And it seemed as if the waves nodded to her in a strange manner. Then
    she took off her red shoes, which she liked better than anything else, and threw
    them both into the river, but they fell near the bank, and the little waves
    carried them back to the land, just as if the river would not take from her
    what she loved best, because they could not give her back little Kay. But she
    thought the shoes had not been thrown out far enough. Then she crept into a
    boat that lay among the reeds, and threw the shoes again from the farther end
    of the boat into the water, but it was not fastened. And her movement sent it
    gliding away from the land. When she saw this she hastened to reach the end
    of the boat, but before she could so it was more than a yard from the bank,
    and drifting away faster than ever. Then little Gerda was very much frightened,
    and began to cry, but no one heard her except the sparrows, and they could not
    carry her to land, but they flew along by the shore, and sang, as if to comfort
    her, “Here we are! Here we are!” The boat floated with the stream; little Gerda
    sat quite still with only her stockings on her feet; the red shoes floated after
    her, but she could not reach them because the boat kept so much in advance.
    The banks on each side of the river were very pretty. There were beautiful flowers,
    old trees, sloping fields, in which cows and sheep were grazing, but not a man
    to be seen. Perhaps the river will carry me to little Kay, thought Gerda, and
    then she became more cheerful, and raised her head, and looked at the beautiful
    green banks; and so the boat sailed on for hours. At length she came to a large
    cherry orchard, in which stood a small red house with strange red and blue windows.
    It had also a thatched roof, and outside were two wooden soldiers, that presented
    arms to her as she sailed past. Gerda called out to them, for she thought they
    were alive, but of course they did not answer; and as the boat drifted nearer
    to the shore, she saw what they really were. Then Gerda called still louder,
    and there came a very old woman out of the house, leaning on a crutch. She wore
    a large hat to shade her from the sun, and on it were painted all sorts of pretty
    flowers. “You poor little child,” said the old woman, “how did you manage to
    come all this distance into the wide world on such a rapid rolling stream?”
    And then the old woman walked in the water, seized the boat with her crutch,
    drew it to land, and lifted Gerda out. And Gerda was glad to feel herself on
    dry ground, although she was rather afraid of the strange old woman. “Come and
    tell me who you are,” said she, “and how came you here.”

    Then Gerda told her everything, while the old woman shook her head, and said,
    “Hem-hem;” and when she had finished, Gerda asked if she had not seen little
    Kay, and the old woman told her he had not passed by that way, but he very likely
    would come. So she told Gerda not to be sorrowful, but to taste the cherries
    and look at the flowers; they were better than any picture-book, for each of
    them could tell a story. Then she took Gerda by the hand and led her into the
    little house, and the old woman closed the door. The windows were very high,
    and as the panes were red, blue, and yellow, the daylight shone through them
    in all sorts of singular colors. On the table stood beautiful cherries, and
    Gerda had permission to eat as many as she would. While she was eating them
    the old woman combed out her long flaxen ringlets with a golden comb, and the
    glossy curls hung down on each side of the little round pleasant face, which
    looked fresh and blooming as a rose. “I have long been wishing for a dear little
    maiden like you,” said the old woman, “and now you must stay with me, and see
    how happily we shall live together.” And while she went on combing little Gerda’s
    hair, she thought less and less about her adopted brother Kay, for the old woman
    could conjure, although she was not a wicked witch; she conjured only a little
    for her own amusement, and now, because she wanted to keep Gerda. Therefore
    she went into the garden, and stretched out her crutch towards all the rose-trees,
    beautiful though they were; and they immediately sunk into the dark earth, so
    that no one could tell where they had once stood. The old woman was afraid that
    if little Gerda saw roses she would think of those at home, and then remember
    little Kay, and run away. Then she took Gerda into the flower-garden. How fragrant
    and beautiful it was! Every flower that could be thought of for every season
    of the year was here in full bloom; no picture-book could have more beautiful
    colors. Gerda jumped for joy, and played till the sun went down behind the tall
    cherry-trees; then she slept in an elegant bed with red silk pillows, embroidered
    with colored violets; and then she dreamed as pleasantly as a queen on her wedding
    day. The next day, and for many days after, Gerda played with the flowers in
    the warm sunshine. She knew every flower, and yet, although there were so many
    of them, it seemed as if one were missing, but which it was she could not tell.
    One day, however, as she sat looking at the old woman’s hat with the painted
    flowers on it, she saw that the prettiest of them all was a rose. The old woman
    had forgotten to take it from her hat when she made all the roses sink into
    the earth. But it is difficult to keep the thoughts together in everything;
    one little mistake upsets all our arrangements.

    “What, are there no roses here?” cried Gerda; and she ran out into the garden,
    and examined all the beds, and searched and searched. There was not one to be
    found. Then she sat down and wept, and her tears fell just on the place where
    one of the rose-trees had sunk down. The warm tears moistened the earth, and
    the rose-tree sprouted up at once, as blooming as when it had sunk; and Gerda
    embraced it and kissed the roses, and thought of the beautiful roses at home,
    and, with them, of little Kay.

    “Oh, how I have been detained!” said the little maiden, “I wanted to seek for
    little Kay. Do you know where he is?” she asked the roses; “do you think he
    is dead?”

    And the roses answered, “No, he is not dead. We have been in the ground where
    all the dead lie; but Kay is not there.”

    “Thank you,” said little Gerda, and then she went to the other flowers, and
    looked into their little cups, and asked, “Do you know where little Kay is?”
    But each flower, as it stood in the sunshine, dreamed only of its own little
    fairy tale of history. Not one knew anything of Kay. Gerda heard many stories
    from the flowers, as she asked them one after another about him.

    And what, said the tiger-lily? “Hark, do you hear the drum?— ‘turn, turn,’—there
    are only two notes, always, ‘turn, turn.’ Listen to the women’s song of mourning!
    Hear the cry of the priest! In her long red robe stands the Hindoo widow by
    the funeral pile. The flames rise around her as she places herself on the dead
    body of her husband; but the Hindoo woman is thinking of the living one in that
    circle; of him, her son, who lighted those flames. Those shining eyes trouble
    her heart more painfully than the flames which will soon consume her body to
    ashes. Can the fire of the heart be extinguished in the flames of the funeral

    “I don’t understand that at all,” said little Gerda.

    “That is my story,” said the tiger-lily.

    What, says the convolvulus? “Near yonder narrow road stands an old knight’s
    castle; thick ivy creeps over the old ruined walls, leaf over leaf, even to
    the balcony, in which stands a beautiful maiden. She bends over the balustrades,
    and looks up the road. No rose on its stem is fresher than she; no apple-blossom,
    wafted by the wind, floats more lightly than she moves. Her rich silk rustles
    as she bends over and exclaims, ‘Will he not come?’

    “Is it Kay you mean?” asked Gerda.

    “I am only speaking of a story of my dream,” replied the flower.

    What, said the little snow-drop? “Between two trees a rope is hanging; there
    is a piece of board upon it; it is a swing. Two pretty little girls, in dresses
    white as snow, and with long green ribbons fluttering from their hats, are sitting
    upon it swinging. Their brother who is taller than they are, stands in the swing;
    he has one arm round the rope, to steady himself; in one hand he holds a little
    bowl, and in the other a clay pipe; he is blowing bubbles. As the swing goes
    on, the bubbles fly upward, reflecting the most beautiful varying colors. The
    last still hangs from the bowl of the pipe, and sways in the wind. On goes the
    swing; and then a little black dog comes running up. He is almost as light as
    the bubble, and he raises himself on his hind legs, and wants to be taken into
    the swing; but it does not stop, and the dog falls; then he barks and gets angry.
    The children stoop towards him, and the bubble bursts. A swinging plank, a light
    sparkling foam picture,—that is my story.”

    “It may be all very pretty what you are telling me,” said little Gerda, “but
    you speak so mournfully, and you do not mention little Kay at all.”

    What do the hyacinths say? “There were three beautiful sisters, fair and delicate.
    The dress of one was red, of the second blue, and of the third pure white. Hand
    in hand they danced in the bright moonlight, by the calm lake; but they were
    human beings, not fairy elves. The sweet fragrance attracted them, and they
    disappeared in the wood; here the fragrance became stronger. Three coffins,
    in which lay the three beautiful maidens, glided from the thickest part of the
    forest across the lake. The fire-flies flew lightly over them, like little floating
    torches. Do the dancing maidens sleep, or are they dead? The scent of the flower
    says that they are corpses. The evening bell tolls their knell.”

    “You make me quite sorrowful,” said little Gerda; “your perfume is so strong,
    you make me think of the dead maidens. Ah! is little Kay really dead then? The
    roses have been in the earth, and they say no.”

    “Cling, clang,” tolled the hyacinth bells. “We are not tolling for little Kay;
    we do not know him. We sing our song, the only one we know.”

    Then Gerda went to the buttercups that were glittering amongst the bright green

    “You are little bright suns,” said Gerda; “tell me if you know where I can
    find my play-fellow.”

    And the buttercups sparkled gayly, and looked again at Gerda. What song could
    the buttercups sing? It was not about Kay.

    “The bright warm sun shone on a little court, on the first warm day of spring.
    His bright beams rested on the white walls of the neighboring house; and close
    by bloomed the first yellow flower of the season, glittering like gold in the
    sun’s warm ray. An old woman sat in her arm chair at the house door, and her
    granddaughter, a poor and pretty servant-maid came to see her for a short visit.
    When she kissed her grandmother there was gold everywhere: the gold of the heart
    in that holy kiss; it was a golden morning; there was gold in the beaming sunlight,
    gold in the leaves of the lowly flower, and on the lips of the maiden. There,
    that is my story,” said the buttercup.

    “My poor old grandmother!” sighed Gerda; “she is longing to see me, and grieving
    for me as she did for little Kay; but I shall soon go home now, and take little
    Kay with me. It is no use asking the flowers; they know only their own songs,
    and can give me no information.”

    And then she tucked up her little dress, that she might run faster, but the
    narcissus caught her by the leg as she was jumping over it; so she stopped and
    looked at the tall yellow flower, and said, “Perhaps you may know something.”

    Then she stooped down quite close to the flower, and listened; and what did
    he say?

    “I can see myself, I can see myself,” said the narcissus. “Oh, how sweet is
    my perfume! Up in a little room with a bow window, stands a little dancing girl,
    half undressed; she stands sometimes on one leg, and sometimes on both, and
    looks as if she would tread the whole world under her feet. She is nothing but
    a delusion. She is pouring water out of a tea-pot on a piece of stuff which
    she holds in her hand; it is her bodice. ‘Cleanliness is a good thing,’ she
    says. Her white dress hangs on a peg; it has also been washed in the tea-pot,
    and dried on the roof. She puts it on, and ties a saffron-colored handkerchief
    round her neck, which makes the dress look whiter. See how she stretches out
    her legs, as if she were showing off on a stem. I can see myself, I can see

    “What do I care for all that,” said Gerda, “you need not tell me such stuff.”
    And then she ran to the other end of the garden. The door was fastened, but
    she pressed against the rusty latch, and it gave way. The door sprang open,
    and little Gerda ran out with bare feet into the wide world. She looked back
    three times, but no one seemed to be following her. At last she could run no
    longer, so she sat down to rest on a great stone, and when she looked round
    she saw that the summer was over, and autumn very far advanced. She had known
    nothing of this in the beautiful garden, where the sun shone and the flowers
    grew all the year round.

    “Oh, how I have wasted my time?” said little Gerda; “it is autumn. I must not
    rest any longer,” and she rose up to go on. But her little feet were wounded
    and sore, and everything around her looked so cold and bleak. The long willow-leaves
    were quite yellow. The dew-drops fell like water, leaf after leaf dropped from
    the trees, the sloe-thorn alone still bore fruit, but the sloes were sour, and
    set the teeth on edge. Oh, how dark and weary the whole world appeared!

    Fourth Story:
    The Prince and Princess

    Gerda was obliged to rest again, and just opposite the place where she sat,
    she saw a great crow come hopping across the snow toward her. He stood looking
    at her for some time, and then he wagged his head and said, “Caw, caw; good-day,
    good-day.” He pronounced the words as plainly as he could, because he meant
    to be kind to the little girl; and then he asked her where she was going all
    alone in the wide world.

    The word alone Gerda understood very well, and knew how much it expressed.
    So then she told the crow the whole story of her life and adventures, and asked
    him if he had seen little Kay.

    The crow nodded his head very gravely, and said, “Perhaps I have—it may be.”

    “No! Do you think you have?” cried little Gerda, and she kissed the crow, and
    hugged him almost to death with joy.

    “Gently, gently,” said the crow. “I believe I know. I think it may be little
    Kay; but he has certainly forgotten you by this time for the princess.”

    “Does he live with a princess?” asked Gerda.

    “Yes, listen,” replied the crow, “but it is so difficult to speak your language.
    If you understand the crows’ language1 then I can explain it better. Do you?”

    “No, I have never learnt it,” said Gerda, “but my grandmother understands it,
    and used to speak it to me. I wish I had learnt it.”

    “It does not matter,” answered the crow; “I will explain as well as I can,
    although it will be very badly done;” and he told her what he had heard. “In
    this kingdom where we now are,” said he, “there lives a princess, who is so
    wonderfully clever that she has read all the newspapers in the world, and forgotten
    them too, although she is so clever. A short time ago, as she was sitting on
    her throne, which people say is not such an agreeable seat as is often supposed,
    she began to sing a song which commences in these words:

    ‘Why should I not be married?’
    ‘Why not indeed?’ said she, and so she determined to marry if she could find
    a husband who knew what to say when he was spoken to, and not one who could
    only look grand, for that was so tiresome. Then she assembled all her court
    ladies together at the beat of the drum, and when they heard of her intentions
    they were very much pleased. ‘We are so glad to hear it,’ said they, ‘we were
    talking about it ourselves the other day.’ You may believe that every word I
    tell you is true,” said the crow, “for I have a tame sweetheart who goes freely
    about the palace, and she told me all this.”

    Of course his sweetheart was a crow, for “birds of a feather flock together,”
    and one crow always chooses another crow.

    “Newspapers were published immediately, with a border of hearts, and the initials
    of the princess among them. They gave notice that every young man who was handsome
    was free to visit the castle and speak with the princess; and those who could
    reply loud enough to be heard when spoken to, were to make themselves quite
    at home at the palace; but the one who spoke best would be chosen as a husband
    for the princess. Yes, yes, you may believe me, it is all as true as I sit here,”
    said the crow. “The people came in crowds. There was a great deal of crushing
    and running about, but no one succeeded either on the first or second day. They
    could all speak very well while they were outside in the streets, but when they
    entered the palace gates, and saw the guards in silver uniforms, and the footmen
    in their golden livery on the staircase, and the great halls lighted up, they
    became quite confused. And when they stood before the throne on which the princess
    sat, they could do nothing but repeat the last words she had said; and she had
    no particular wish to hear her own words over again. It was just as if they
    had all taken something to make them sleepy while they were in the palace, for
    they did not recover themselves nor speak till they got back again into the
    street. There was quite a long line of them reaching from the town-gate to the
    palace. I went myself to see them,” said the crow. “They were hungry and thirsty,
    for at the palace they did not get even a glass of water. Some of the wisest
    had taken a few slices of bread and butter with them, but they did not share
    it with their neighbors; they thought if they went in to the princess looking
    hungry, there would be a better chance for themselves.”

    “But Kay! tell me about little Kay!” said Gerda, “was he amongst the crowd?”

    “Stop a bit, we are just coming to him. It was on the third day, there came
    marching cheerfully along to the palace a little personage, without horses or
    carriage, his eyes sparkling like yours; he had beautiful long hair, but his
    clothes were very poor.”

    “That was Kay!” said Gerda joyfully. “Oh, then I have found him;” and she clapped
    her hands.

    “He had a little knapsack on his back,” added the crow.

    “No, it must have been his sledge,” said Gerda; “for he went away with it.”

    “It may have been so,” said the crow; “I did not look at it very closely. But
    I know from my tame sweetheart that he passed through the palace gates, saw
    the guards in their silver uniform, and the servants in their liveries of gold
    on the stairs, but he was not in the least embarrassed. ‘It must be very tiresome
    to stand on the stairs,’ he said. ‘I prefer to go in.’ The rooms were blazing
    with light. Councillors and ambassadors walked about with bare feet, carrying
    golden vessels; it was enough to make any one feel serious. His boots creaked
    loudly as he walked, and yet he was not at all uneasy.”

    “It must be Kay,” said Gerda, “I know he had new boots on, I have heard them
    creak in grandmother’s room.”

    “They really did creak,” said the crow, “yet he went boldly up to the princess
    herself, who was sitting on a pearl as large as a spinning wheel, and all the
    ladies of the court were present with their maids, and all the cavaliers with
    their servants; and each of the maids had another maid to wait upon her, and
    the cavaliers’ servants had their own servants, as well as a page each. They
    all stood in circles round the princess, and the nearer they stood to the door,
    the prouder they looked. The servants’ pages, who always wore slippers, could
    hardly be looked at, they held themselves up so proudly by the door.”

    “It must be quite awful,” said little Gerda, “but did Kay win the princess?”

    “If I had not been a crow,” said he, “I would have married her myself, although
    I am engaged. He spoke just as well as I do, when I speak the crows’ language,
    so I heard from my tame sweetheart. He was quite free and agreeable and said
    he had not come to woo the princess, but to hear her wisdom; and he was as pleased
    with her as she was with him.”

    “Oh, certainly that was Kay,” said Gerda, “he was so clever; he could work
    mental arithmetic and fractions. Oh, will you take me to the palace?”

    “It is very easy to ask that,” replied the crow, “but how are we to manage
    it? However, I will speak about it to my tame sweetheart, and ask her advice;
    for I must tell you it will be very difficult to gain permission for a little
    girl like you to enter the palace.”

    “Oh, yes; but I shall gain permission easily,” said Gerda, “for when Kay hears
    that I am here, he will come out and fetch me in immediately.”

    “Wait for me here by the palings,” said the crow, wagging his head as he flew

    It was late in the evening before the crow returned. “Caw, caw,” he said, “she
    sends you greeting, and here is a little roll which she took from the kitchen
    for you; there is plenty of bread there, and she thinks you must be hungry.
    It is not possible for you to enter the palace by the front entrance. The guards
    in silver uniform and the servants in gold livery would not allow it. But do
    not cry, we will manage to get you in; my sweetheart knows a little back-staircase
    that leads to the sleeping apartments, and she knows where to find the key.”

    Then they went into the garden through the great avenue, where the leaves were
    falling one after another, and they could see the light in the palace being
    put out in the same manner. And the crow led little Gerda to the back door,
    which stood ajar. Oh! how little Gerda’s heart beat with anxiety and longing;
    it was just as if she were going to do something wrong, and yet she only wanted
    to know where little Kay was. “It must be he,” she thought, “with those clear
    eyes, and that long hair.” She could fancy she saw him smiling at her, as he
    used to at home, when they sat among the roses. He would certainly be glad to
    see her, and to hear what a long distance she had come for his sake, and to
    know how sorry they had been at home because he did not come back. Oh what joy
    and yet fear she felt! They were now on the stairs, and in a small closet at
    the top a lamp was burning. In the middle of the floor stood the tame crow,
    turning her head from side to side, and gazing at Gerda, who curtseyed as her
    grandmother had taught her to do.

    “My betrothed has spoken so very highly of you, my little lady,” said the tame
    crow, “your life-history, Vita, as it may be called, is very touching. If you
    will take the lamp I will walk before you. We will go straight along this way,
    then we shall meet no one.”

    “It seems to me as if somebody were behind us,” said Gerda, as something rushed
    by her like a shadow on the wall, and then horses with flying manes and thin
    legs, hunters, ladies and gentlemen on horseback, glided by her, like shadows
    on the wall.

    “They are only dreams,” said the crow, “they are coming to fetch the thoughts
    of the great people out hunting.”

    “All the better, for we shall be able to look at them in their beds more safely.
    I hope that when you rise to honor and favor, you will show a grateful heart.”

    “You may be quite sure of that,” said the crow from the forest.

    They now came into the first hall, the walls of which were hung with rose-colored
    satin, embroidered with artificial flowers. Here the dreams again flitted by
    them but so quickly that Gerda could not distinguish the royal persons. Each
    hall appeared more splendid than the last, it was enought to bewilder any one.
    At length they reached a bedroom. The ceiling was like a great palm-tree, with
    glass leaves of the most costly crystal, and over the centre of the floor two
    beds, each resembling a lily, hung from a stem of gold. One, in which the princess
    lay, was white, the other was red; and in this Gerda had to seek for little
    Kay. She pushed one of the red leaves aside, and saw a little brown neck. Oh,
    that must be Kay! She called his name out quite loud, and held the lamp over
    him. The dreams rushed back into the room on horseback. He woke, and turned
    his head round, it was not little Kay! The prince was only like him in the neck,
    still he was young and pretty. Then the princess peeped out of her white-lily
    bed, and asked what was the matter. Then little Gerda wept and told her story,
    and all that the crows had done to help her.

    “You poor child,” said the prince and princess; then they praised the crows,
    and said they were not angry for what they had done, but that it must not happen
    again, and this time they should be rewarded.

    “Would you like to have your freedom?” asked the princess, “or would you prefer
    to be raised to the position of court crows, with all that is left in the kitchen
    for yourselves?”

    Then both the crows bowed, and begged to have a fixed appointment, for they
    thought of their old age, and said it would be so comfortable to feel that they
    had provision for their old days, as they called it. And then the prince got
    out of his bed, and gave it up to Gerda,—he could do no more; and she lay down.
    She folded her little hands, and thought, “How good everyone is to me, men and
    animals too;” then she closed her eyes and fell into a sweet sleep. All the
    dreams came flying back again to her, and they looked like angels, and one of
    them drew a little sledge, on which sat Kay, and nodded to her. But all this
    was only a dream, and vanished as soon as she awoke.

    The following day she was dressed from head to foot in silk and velvet, and
    they invited her to stay at the palace for a few days, and enjoy herself, but
    she only begged for a pair of boots, and a little carriage, and a horse to draw
    it, so that she might go into the wide world to seek for Kay. And she obtained,
    not only boots, but also a muff, and she was neatly dressed; and when she was
    ready to go, there, at the door, she found a coach made of pure gold, with the
    coat-of-arms of the prince and princess shining upon it like a star, and the
    coachman, footman, and outriders all wearing golden crowns on their heads. The
    prince and princess themselves helped her into the coach, and wished her success.
    The forest crow, who was now married, accompanied her for the first three miles;
    he sat by Gerda’s side, as he could not bear riding backwards. The tame crow
    stood in the door-way flapping her wings. She could not go with them, because
    she had been suffering from headache ever since the new appointment, no doubt
    from eating too much. The coach was well stored with sweet cakes, and under
    the seat were fruit and gingerbread nuts. “Farewell, farewell,” cried the prince
    and princess, and little Gerda wept, and the crow wept; and then, after a few
    miles, the crow also said “Farewell,” and this was the saddest parting. However,
    he flew to a tree, and stood flapping his black wings as long as he could see
    the coach, which glittered in the bright sunshine.

    Fifth Story:
    Little Robber-Girl

    The coach drove on through a thick forest, where it lighted up the way like
    a torch, and dazzled the eyes of some robbers, who could not bear to let it
    pass them unmolested.

    “It is gold! it is gold!” cried they, rushing forward, and seizing the horses.
    Then they struck the little jockeys, the coachman, and the footman dead, and
    pulled little Gerda out of the carriage.

    “She is fat and pretty, and she has been fed with the kernels of nuts,” said
    the old robber-woman, who had a long beard and eyebrows that hung over her eyes.
    “She is as good as a little lamb; how nice she will taste!” and as she said
    this, she drew forth a shining knife, that glittered horribly. “Oh!” screamed
    the old woman the same moment; for her own daughter, who held her back, had
    bitten her in the ear. She was a wild and naughty girl, and the mother called
    her an ugly thing, and had not time to kill Gerda.

    “She shall play with me,” said the little robber-girl; “she shall give me her
    muff and her pretty dress, and sleep with me in my bed.” And then she bit her
    mother again, and made her spring in the air, and jump about; and all the robbers
    laughed, and said, “See how she is dancing with her young cub.”

    “I will have a ride in the coach,” said the little robber-girl; and she would
    have her own way; for she was so self-willed and obstinate.

    She and Gerda seated themselves in the coach, and drove away, over stumps and
    stones, into the depths of the forest. The little robber-girl was about the
    same size as Gerda, but stronger; she had broader shoulders and a darker skin;
    her eyes were quite black, and she had a mournful look. She clasped little Gerda
    round the waist, and said,—

    “They shall not kill you as long as you don’t make us vexed with you. I suppose
    you are a princess.”

    “No,” said Gerda; and then she told her all her history, and how fond she was
    of little Kay.

    The robber-girl looked earnestly at her, nodded her head slightly, and said,
    “They sha’nt kill you, even if I do get angry with you; for I will do it myself.”
    And then she wiped Gerda’s eyes, and stuck her own hands in the beautiful muff
    which was so soft and warm.

    The coach stopped in the courtyard of a robber’s castle, the walls of which
    were cracked from top to bottom. Ravens and crows flew in and out of the holes
    and crevices, while great bulldogs, either of which looked as if it could swallow
    a man, were jumping about; but they were not allowed to bark. In the large and
    smoky hall a bright fire was burning on the stone floor. There was no chimney;
    so the smoke went up to the ceiling, and found a way out for itself. Soup was
    boiling in a large cauldron, and hares and rabbits were roasting on the spit.

    “You shall sleep with me and all my little animals to-night,” said the robber-girl,
    after they had had something to eat and drink. So she took Gerda to a corner
    of the hall, where some straw and carpets were laid down. Above them, on laths
    and perches, were more than a hundred pigeons, who all seemed to be asleep,
    although they moved slightly when the two little girls came near them. “These
    all belong to me,” said the robber-girl; and she seized the nearest to her,
    held it by the feet, and shook it till it flapped its wings. “Kiss it,” cried
    she, flapping it in Gerda’s face. “There sit the wood-pigeons,” continued she,
    pointing to a number of laths and a cage which had been fixed into the walls,
    near one of the openings. “Both rascals would fly away directly, if they were
    not closely locked up. And here is my old sweetheart ‘Ba;’” and she dragged
    out a reindeer by the horn; he wore a bright copper ring round his neck, and
    was tied up. “We are obliged to hold him tight too, or else he would run away
    from us also. I tickle his neck every evening with my sharp knife, which frightens
    him very much.” And then the robber-girl drew a long knife from a chink in the
    wall, and let it slide gently over the reindeer’s neck. The poor animal began
    to kick, and the little robber-girl laughed, and pulled down Gerda into bed
    with her.

    “Will you have that knife with you while you are asleep?” asked Gerda, looking
    at it in great fright.

    “I always sleep with the knife by me,” said the robber-girl. “No one knows
    what may happen. But now tell me again all about little Kay, and why you went
    out into the world.”

    Then Gerda repeated her story over again, while the wood-pigeons in the cage
    over her cooed, and the other pigeons slept. The little robber-girl put one
    arm across Gerda’s neck, and held the knife in the other, and was soon fast
    asleep and snoring. But Gerda could not close her eyes at all; she knew not
    whether she was to live or die. The robbers sat round the fire, singing and
    drinking, and the old woman stumbled about. It was a terrible sight for a little
    girl to witness.

    Then the wood-pigeons said, “Coo, coo; we have seen little Kay. A white fowl
    carried his sledge, and he sat in the carriage of the Snow Queen, which drove
    through the wood while we were lying in our nest. She blew upon us, and all
    the young ones died excepting us two. Coo, coo.”

    “What are you saying up there?” cried Gerda. “Where was the Snow Queen going?
    Do you know anything about it?”

    “She was most likely travelling to Lapland, where there is always snow and
    ice. Ask the reindeer that is fastened up there with a rope.”

    “Yes, there is always snow and ice,” said the reindeer; “and it is a glorious
    place; you can leap and run about freely on the sparkling ice plains. The Snow
    Queen has her summer tent there, but her strong castle is at the North Pole,
    on an island called Spitzbergen.”

    “Oh, Kay, little Kay!” sighed Gerda.

    “Lie still,” said the robber-girl, “or I shall run my knife into your body.”

    In the morning Gerda told her all that the wood-pigeons had said; and the little
    robber-girl looked quite serious, and nodded her head, and said, “That is all
    talk, that is all talk. Do you know where Lapland is?” she asked the reindeer.

    “Who should know better than I do?” said the animal, while his eyes sparkled.
    “I was born and brought up there, and used to run about the snow-covered plains.”

    “Now listen,” said the robber-girl; “all our men are gone away,— only mother
    is here, and here she will stay; but at noon she always drinks out of a great
    bottle, and afterwards sleeps for a little while; and then, I’ll do something
    for you.” Then she jumped out of bed, clasped her mother round the neck, and
    pulled her by the beard, crying, “My own little nanny goat, good morning.” Then
    her mother filliped her nose till it was quite red; yet she did it all for love.

    When the mother had drunk out of the bottle, and was gone to sleep, the little
    robber-maiden went to the reindeer, and said, “I should like very much to tickle
    your neck a few times more with my knife, for it makes you look so funny; but
    never mind,—I will untie your cord, and set you free, so that you may run away
    to Lapland; but you must make good use of your legs, and carry this little maiden
    to the castle of the Snow Queen, where her play-fellow is. You have heard what
    she told me, for she spoke loud enough, and you were listening.”

    Then the reindeer jumped for joy; and the little robber-girl lifted Gerda on
    his back, and had the forethought to tie her on, and even to give her her own
    little cushion to sit on.

    “Here are your fur boots for you,” said she; “for it will be very cold; but
    I must keep the muff; it is so pretty. However, you shall not be frozen for
    the want of it; here are my mother’s large warm mittens; they will reach up
    to your elbows. Let me put them on. There, now your hands look just like my

    But Gerda wept for joy.

    “I don’t like to see you fret,” said the little robber-girl; “you ought to
    look quite happy now; and here are two loaves and a ham, so that you need not
    starve.” These were fastened on the reindeer, and then the little robber-maiden
    opened the door, coaxed in all the great dogs, and then cut the string with
    which the reindeer was fastened, with her sharp knife, and said, “Now run, but
    mind you take good care of the little girl.” And then Gerda stretched out her
    hand, with the great mitten on it, towards the little robber-girl, and said,
    “Farewell,” and away flew the reindeer, over stumps and stones, through the
    great forest, over marshes and plains, as quickly as he could. The wolves howled,
    and the ravens screamed; while up in the sky quivered red lights like flames
    of fire. “There are my old northern lights,” said the reindeer; “see how they
    flash.” And he ran on day and night still faster and faster, but the loaves
    and the ham were all eaten by the time they reached Lapland.

    Sixth Story:
    The Lapland Woman and the Finland Woman

    They stopped at a little hut; it was very mean looking; the roof sloped nearly
    down to the ground, and the door was so low that the family had to creep in
    on their hands and knees, when they went in and out. There was no one at home
    but an old Lapland woman, who was cooking fish by the light of a train-oil lamp.
    The reindeer told her all about Gerda’s story, after having first told his own,
    which seemed to him the most important, but Gerda was so pinched with the cold
    that she could not speak. “Oh, you poor things,” said the Lapland woman, “you
    have a long way to go yet. You must travel more than a hundred miles farther,
    to Finland. The Snow Queen lives there now, and she burns Bengal lights every
    evening. I will write a few words on a dried stock-fish, for I have no paper,
    and you can take it from me to the Finland woman who lives there; she can give
    you better information than I can.” So when Gerda was warmed, and had taken
    something to eat and drink, the woman wrote a few words on the dried fish, and
    told Gerda to take great care of it. Then she tied her again on the reindeer,
    and he set off at full speed. Flash, flash, went the beautiful blue northern
    lights in the air the whole night long. And at length they reached Finland,
    and knocked at the chimney of the Finland woman’s hut, for it had no door above
    the ground. They crept in, but it was so terribly hot inside that that woman
    wore scarcely any clothes; she was small and very dirty looking. She loosened
    little Gerda’s dress, and took off the fur boots and the mittens, or Gerda would
    have been unable to bear the heat; and then she placed a piece of ice on the
    reindeer’s head, and read what was written on the dried fish. After she had
    read it three times, she knew it by heart, so she popped the fish into the soup
    saucepan, as she knew it was good to eat, and she never wasted anything. The
    reindeer told his own story first, and then little Gerda’s, and the Finlander
    twinkled with her clever eyes, but she said nothing. “You are so clever,” said
    the reindeer; “I know you can tie all the winds of the world with a piece of
    twine. If a sailor unties one knot, he has a fair wind; when he unties the second,
    it blows hard; but if the third and fourth are loosened, then comes a storm,
    which will root up whole forests. Cannot you give this little maiden something
    which will make her as strong as twelve men, to overcome the Snow Queen?”

    “The Power of twelve men!” said the Finland woman; “that would be of very little
    use.” But she went to a shelf and took down and unrolled a large skin, on which
    were inscribed wonderful characters, and she read till the perspiration ran
    down from her forehead. But the reindeer begged so hard for little Gerda, and
    Gerda looked at the Finland woman with such beseeching tearful eyes, that her
    own eyes began to twinkle again; so she drew the reindeer into a corner, and
    whispered to him while she laid a fresh piece of ice on his head, “Little Kay
    is really with the Snow Queen, but he finds everything there so much to his
    taste and his liking, that he believes it is the finest place in the world;
    but this is because he has a piece of broken glass in his heart, and a little
    piece of glass in his eye. These must be taken out, or he will never be a human
    being again, and the Snow Queen will retain her power over him.”

    “But can you not give little Gerda something to help her to conquer this power?”

    “I can give her no greater power than she has already,” said the woman; “don’t
    you see how strong that is? How men and animals are obliged to serve her, and
    how well she has got through the world, barefooted as she is. She cannot receive
    any power from me greater than she now has, which consists in her own purity
    and innocence of heart. If she cannot herself obtain access to the Snow Queen,
    and remove the glass fragments from little Kay, we can do nothing to help her.
    Two miles from here the Snow Queen’s garden begins; you can carry the little
    girl so far, and set her down by the large bush which stands in the snow, covered
    with red berries. Do not stay gossiping, but come back here as quickly as you
    can.” Then the Finland woman lifted little Gerda upon the reindeer, and he ran
    away with her as quickly as he could.

    “Oh, I have forgotten my boots and my mittens,” cried little Gerda, as soon
    as she felt the cutting cold, but the reindeer dared not stop, so he ran on
    till he reached the bush with the red berries; here he set Gerda down, and he
    kissed her, and the great bright tears trickled over the animal’s cheeks; then
    he left her and ran back as fast as he could.

    There stood poor Gerda, without shoes, without gloves, in the midst of cold,
    dreary, ice-bound Finland. She ran forwards as quickly as she could, when a
    whole regiment of snow-flakes came round her; they did not, however, fall from
    the sky, which was quite clear and glittering with the northern lights. The
    snow-flakes ran along the ground, and the nearer they came to her, the larger
    they appeared. Gerda remembered how large and beautiful they looked through
    the burning-glass. But these were really larger, and much more terrible, for
    they were alive, and were the guards of the Snow Queen, and had the strangest
    shapes. Some were like great porcupines, others like twisted serpents with their
    heads stretching out, and some few were like little fat bears with their hair
    bristled; but all were dazzlingly white, and all were living snow-flakes. Then
    little Gerda repeated the Lord’s Prayer, and the cold was so great that she
    could see her own breath come out of her mouth like steam as she uttered the
    words. The steam appeared to increase, as she continued her prayer, till it
    took the shape of little angels who grew larger the moment they touched the
    earth. They all wore helmets on their heads, and carried spears and shields.
    Their number continued to increase more and more; and by the time Gerda had
    finished her prayers, a whole legion stood round her. They thrust their spears
    into the terrible snow-flakes, so that they shivered into a hundred pieces,
    and little Gerda could go forward with courage and safety. The angels stroked
    her hands and feet, so that she felt the cold less, and she hastened on to the
    Snow Queen’s castle.

    But now we must see what Kay is doing. In truth he thought not of little Gerda,
    and never supposed she could be standing in the front of the palace.

    Seventh Story:
    Of the Palace of the Snow Queen and What Happened There At Last

    The walls of the palace were formed of drifted snow, and the windows and doors
    of the cutting winds. There were more than a hundred rooms in it, all as if
    they had been formed with snow blown together. The largest of them extended
    for several miles; they were all lighted up by the vivid light of the aurora,
    and they were so large and empty, so icy cold and glittering! There were no
    amusements here, not even a little bear’s ball, when the storm might have been
    the music, and the bears could have danced on their hind legs, and shown their
    good manners. There were no pleasant games of snap-dragon, or touch, or even
    a gossip over the tea-table, for the young-lady foxes. Empty, vast, and cold
    were the halls of the Snow Queen. The flickering flame of the northern lights
    could be plainly seen, whether they rose high or low in the heavens, from every
    part of the castle. In the midst of its empty, endless hall of snow was a frozen
    lake, broken on its surface into a thousand forms; each piece resembled another,
    from being in itself perfect as a work of art, and in the centre of this lake
    sat the Snow Queen, when she was at home. She called the lake “The Mirror of
    Reason,” and said that it was the best, and indeed the only one in the world.

    Little Kay was quite blue with cold, indeed almost black, but he did not feel
    it; for the Snow Queen had kissed away the icy shiverings, and his heart was
    already a lump of ice. He dragged some sharp, flat pieces of ice to and fro,
    and placed them together in all kinds of positions, as if he wished to make
    something out of them; just as we try to form various figures with little tablets
    of wood which we call “a Chinese puzzle.” Kay’s fingers were very artistic;
    it was the icy game of reason at which he played, and in his eyes the figures
    were very remarkable, and of the highest importance; this opinion was owing
    to the piece of glass still sticking in his eye. He composed many complete figures,
    forming different words, but there was one word he never could manage to form,
    although he wished it very much. It was the word “Eternity.” The Snow Queen
    had said to him, “When you can find out this, you shall be your own master,
    and I will give you the whole world and a new pair of skates.” But he could
    not accomplish it.

    “Now I must hasten away to warmer countries,” said the Snow Queen. “I will
    go and look into the black craters of the tops of the burning mountains, Etna
    and Vesuvius, as they are called,—I shall make them look white, which will be
    good for them, and for the lemons and the grapes.” And away flew the Snow Queen,
    leaving little Kay quite alone in the great hall which was so many miles in
    length; so he sat and looked at his pieces of ice, and was thinking so deeply,
    and sat so still, that any one might have supposed he was frozen.

    Just at this moment it happened that little Gerda came through the great door
    of the castle. Cutting winds were raging around her, but she offered up a prayer
    and the winds sank down as if they were going to sleep; and she went on till
    she came to the large empty hall, and caught sight of Kay; she knew him directly;
    she flew to him and threw her arms round his neck, and held him fast, while
    she exclaimed, “Kay, dear little Kay, I have found you at last.”

    But he sat quite still, stiff and cold.

    Then little Gerda wept hot tears, which fell on his breast, and penetrated
    into his heart, and thawed the lump of ice, and washed away the little piece
    of glass which had stuck there. Then he looked at her, and she sang—

    “Roses bloom and cease to be,
    But we shall the Christ-child see.”
    Then Kay burst into tears, and he wept so that the splinter of glass swam out
    of his eye. Then he recognized Gerda, and said, joyfully, “Gerda, dear little
    Gerda, where have you been all this time, and where have I been?” And he looked
    all around him, and said, “How cold it is, and how large and empty it all looks,”
    and he clung to Gerda, and she laughed and wept for joy. It was so pleasing
    to see them that the pieces of ice even danced about; and when they were tired
    and went to lie down, they formed themselves into the letters of the word which
    the Snow Queen had said he must find out before he could be his own master,
    and have the whole world and a pair of new skates. Then Gerda kissed his cheeks,
    and they became blooming; and she kissed his eyes, and they shone like her own;
    she kissed his hands and his feet, and then he became quite healthy and cheerful.
    The Snow Queen might come home now when she pleased, for there stood his certainty
    of freedom, in the word she wanted, written in shining letters of ice.

    Then they took each other by the hand, and went forth from the great palace
    of ice. They spoke of the grandmother, and of the roses on the roof, and as
    they went on the winds were at rest, and the sun burst forth. When they arrived
    at the bush with red berries, there stood the reindeer waiting for them, and
    he had brought another young reindeer with him, whose udders were full, and
    the children drank her warm milk and kissed her on the mouth. Then they carried
    Kay and Gerda first to the Finland woman, where they warmed themselves thoroughly
    in the hot room, and she gave them directions about their journey home. Next
    they went to the Lapland woman, who had made some new clothes for them, and
    put their sleighs in order. Both the reindeer ran by their side, and followed
    them as far as the boundaries of the country, where the first green leaves were
    budding. And here they took leave of the two reindeer and the Lapland woman,
    and all said—Farewell. Then the birds began to twitter, and the forest too was
    full of green young leaves; and out of it came a beautiful horse, which Gerda
    remembered, for it was one which had drawn the golden coach. A young girl was
    riding upon it, with a shining red cap on her head, and pistols in her belt.
    It was the little robber-maiden, who had got tired of staying at home; she was
    going first to the north, and if that did not suit her, she meant to try some
    other part of the world. She knew Gerda directly, and Gerda remembered her:
    it was a joyful meeting.

    “You are a fine fellow to go gadding about in this way,” said she to little
    Kay, “I should like to know whether you deserve that any one should go to the
    end of the world to find you.”

    But Gerda patted her cheeks, and asked after the prince and princess.

    “They are gone to foreign countries,” said the robber-girl.

    “And the crow?” asked Gerda.

    “Oh, the crow is dead,” she replied; “his tame sweetheart is now a widow, and
    wears a bit of black worsted round her leg. She mourns very pitifully, but it
    is all stuff. But now tell me how you managed to get him back.”

    Then Gerda and Kay told her all about it.

    “Snip, snap, snare! it’s all right at last,” said the robber-girl.

    Then she took both their hands, and promised that if ever she should pass through
    the town, she would call and pay them a visit. And then she rode away into the
    wide world. But Gerda and Kay went hand-in-hand towards home; and as they advanced,
    spring appeared more lovely with its green verdure and its beautiful flowers.
    Very soon they recognized the large town where they lived, and the tall steeples
    of the churches, in which the sweet bells were ringing a merry peal as they
    entered it, and found their way to their grandmother’s door. They went upstairs
    into the little room, where all looked just as it used to do. The old clock
    was going “tick, tick,” and the hands pointed to the time of day, but as they
    passed through the door into the room they perceived that they were both grown
    up, and become a man and woman. The roses out on the roof were in full bloom,
    and peeped in at the window; and there stood the little chairs, on which they
    had sat when children; and Kay and Gerda seated themselves each on their own
    chair, and held each other by the hand, while the cold empty grandeur of the
    Snow Queen’s palace vanished from their memories like a painful dream. The grandmother
    sat in God’s bright sunshine, and she read aloud from the Bible, “Except ye
    become as little children, ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of God.”
    And Kay and Gerda looked into each other’s eyes, and all at once understood
    the words of the old song,

    “Roses bloom and cease to be,
    But we shall the Christ-child see.”

    And they both sat there, grown up, yet children at heart; and it was summer,—warm,
    beautiful summer.

    The Saucy Boy

    Once upon a time there was an old poet, one of those right good old poets.

    One evening, as he was sitting at home, there was a terrible storm going on
    outside; the rain was pouring down, but the old poet sat comfortably in his
    chimney-corner, where the fire was burning and the apples were roasting.

    “There will not be a dry thread left on the poor people who are out in this
    weather,” he said.

    “Oh, open the door! I am so cold and wet through,” called a little child outside.
    It was crying and knocking at the door, whilst the rain was pouring down and
    the wind was rattling all the windows.

    “Poor creature!” said the poet, and got up and opened the door. Before him
    stood a little boy; he was naked, and the water flowed from his long fair locks.
    He was shivering with cold; if he had not been let in, he would certainly have
    perished in the storm.

    “Poor little thing!” said the poet, and took him by the hand. “Come to me;
    I will soon warm you. You shall have some wine and an apple, for you are such
    a pretty boy.”

    And he was, too. His eyes sparkled like two bright stars, and although the
    water flowed down from his fair locks, they still curled quite beautifully.

    He looked like a little angel, but was pale with cold, and trembling all over.
    In his hand he held a splendid bow, but it had been entirely spoilt by the rain,
    and the colours of the pretty arrows had run into one another by getting wet.

    The old man sat down by the fire, and taking the little boy on his knee, wrung
    the water out of his locks and warmed his hands in his own.

    He then made him some hot spiced wine, which quickly revived him; so that with
    reddening cheeks, he sprang upon the floor and danced around the old man.

    “You are a merry boy,” said the latter. “What is your name?”

    “My name is Cupid,” he answered. “Don’t you know me? There lies my bow. I shoot
    with that, you know. Look, the weather is getting fine again—the moon is shining.”

    “But your bow is spoilt,” said the old poet.

    “That would be unfortunate,” said the little boy, taking it up and looking
    at it. “Oh, it’s quite dry and isn’t damaged at all. The string is quite tight;
    I’ll try it.” So, drawing it back, he took an arrow, aimed, and shot the good
    old poet right in the heart. “Do you see now that my bow was not spoilt?” he
    said, and, loudly laughing, ran away. What a naughty boy to shoot the old poet
    like that, who had taken him into his warm room, had been so good to him, and
    had given him the nicest wine and the best apple!

    The good old man lay upon the floor crying; he was really shot in the heart.
    “Oh!” he cried, “what a naughty boy this Cupid is! I shall tell all the good
    children about this, so that they take care never to play with him, lest he
    hurt them.”

    And all good children, both girls and boys, whom he told about this, were on
    their guard against wicked Cupid; but he deceives them all the same, for he
    is very deep. When the students come out of class, he walks beside them with
    a book under his arm, and wearing a black coat. They cannot recognize him. And
    then, if they take him by the arm, believing him to be a student too, he sticks
    an arrow into their chest. And when the girls go to church to be confirmed,
    he is amongst them too. In fact, he is always after people. He sits in the large
    chandelier in the theatre and blazes away, so that people think it is a lamp;
    but they soon find out their mistake. He walks about in the castle garden and
    on the promenades. Yes, once he shot your father and your mother in the heart
    too. Just ask them, and you will hear what they say. Oh! he is a bad boy, this
    Cupid, and you must never have anything to do with him, for he is after every
    one. Just think, he even shot an arrow at old grandmother; but that was a long
    time ago. The wound has long been healed, but such things are never forgotten.

    Now you know what a bad boy this wicked Cupid is.

    The Little Mermaid

    Far out in the ocean, where the water is as blue as the prettiest cornflower,
    and as clear as crystal, it is very, very deep; so deep, indeed, that no cable
    could fathom it: many church steeples, piled one upon another, would not reach
    from the ground beneath to the surface of the water above. There dwell the Sea
    King and his subjects. We must not imagine that there is nothing at the bottom
    of the sea but bare yellow sand. No, indeed; the most singular flowers and plants
    grow there; the leaves and stems of which are so pliant, that the slightest agitation
    of the water causes them to stir as if they had life. Fishes, both large and small,
    glide between the branches, as birds fly among the trees here upon land. In the
    deepest spot of all, stands the castle of the Sea King. Its walls are built of
    coral, and the long, gothic windows are of the clearest amber. The roof is formed
    of shells, that open and close as the water flows over them. Their appearance
    is very beautiful, for in each lies a glittering pearl, which would be fit for
    the diadem of a queen.

    The Sea King had been a widower for many years, and his aged mother kept house
    for him. She was a very wise woman, and exceedingly proud of her high birth;
    on that account she wore twelve oysters on her tail; while others, also of high
    rank, were only allowed to wear six. She was, however, deserving of very great
    praise, especially for her care of the little sea-princesses, her grand-daughters.
    They were six beautiful children; but the youngest was the prettiest of them
    all; her skin was as clear and delicate as a rose-leaf, and her eyes as blue
    as the deepest sea; but, like all the others, she had no feet, and her body
    ended in a fish’s tail. All day long they played in the great halls of the castle,
    or among the living flowers that grew out of the walls. The large amber windows
    were open, and the fish swam in, just as the swallows fly into our houses when
    we open the windows, excepting that the fishes swam up to the princesses, ate
    out of their hands, and allowed themselves to be stroked. Outside the castle
    there was a beautiful garden, in which grew bright red and dark blue flowers,
    and blossoms like flames of fire; the fruit glittered like gold, and the leaves
    and stems waved to and fro continually. The earth itself was the finest sand,
    but blue as the flame of burning sulphur. Over everything lay a peculiar blue
    radiance, as if it were surrounded by the air from above, through which the
    blue sky shone, instead of the dark depths of the sea. In calm weather the sun
    could be seen, looking like a purple flower, with the light streaming from the
    calyx. Each of the young princesses had a little plot of ground in the garden,
    where she might dig and plant as she pleased. One arranged her flower-bed into
    the form of a whale; another thought it better to make hers like the figure
    of a little mermaid; but that of the youngest was round like the sun, and contained
    flowers as red as his rays at sunset. She was a strange child, quiet and thoughtful;
    and while her sisters would be delighted with the wonderful things which they
    obtained from the wrecks of vessels, she cared for nothing but her pretty red
    flowers, like the sun, excepting a beautiful marble statue. It was the representation
    of a handsome boy, carved out of pure white stone, which had fallen to the bottom
    of the sea from a wreck. She planted by the statue a rose-colored weeping willow.
    It grew splendidly, and very soon hung its fresh branches over the statue, almost
    down to the blue sands. The shadow had a violet tint, and waved to and fro like
    the branches; it seemed as if the crown of the tree and the root were at play,
    and trying to kiss each other. Nothing gave her so much pleasure as to hear
    about the world above the sea. She made her old grandmother tell her all she
    knew of the ships and of the towns, the people and the animals. To her it seemed
    most wonderful and beautiful to hear that the flowers of the land should have
    fragrance, and not those below the sea; that the trees of the forest should
    be green; and that the fishes among the trees could sing so sweetly, that it
    was quite a pleasure to hear them. Her grandmother called the little birds fishes,
    or she would not have understood her; for she had never seen birds.

    “When you have reached your fifteenth year,” said the grand-mother, “you will
    have permission to rise up out of the sea, to sit on the rocks in the moonlight,
    while the great ships are sailing by; and then you will see both forests and

    In the following year, one of the sisters would be fifteen: but as each was
    a year younger than the other, the youngest would have to wait five years before
    her turn came to rise up from the bottom of the ocean, and see the earth as
    we do. However, each promised to tell the others what she saw on her first visit,
    and what she thought the most beautiful; for their grandmother could not tell
    them enough; there were so many things on which they wanted information. None
    of them longed so much for her turn to come as the youngest, she who had the
    longest time to wait, and who was so quiet and thoughtful. Many nights she stood
    by the open window, looking up through the dark blue water, and watching the
    fish as they splashed about with their fins and tails. She could see the moon
    and stars shining faintly; but through the water they looked larger than they
    do to our eyes. When something like a black cloud passed between her and them,
    she knew that it was either a whale swimming over her head, or a ship full of
    human beings, who never imagined that a pretty little mermaid was standing beneath
    them, holding out her white hands towards the keel of their ship.

    As soon as the eldest was fifteen, she was allowed to rise to the surface of
    the ocean. When she came back, she had hundreds of things to talk about; but
    the most beautiful, she said, was to lie in the moonlight, on a sandbank, in
    the quiet sea, near the coast, and to gaze on a large town nearby, where the
    lights were twinkling like hundreds of stars; to listen to the sounds of the
    music, the noise of carriages, and the voices of human beings, and then to hear
    the merry bells peal out from the church steeples; and because she could not
    go near to all those wonderful things, she longed for them more than ever. Oh,
    did not the youngest sister listen eagerly to all these descriptions? and afterwards,
    when she stood at the open window looking up through the dark blue water, she
    thought of the great city, with all its bustle and noise, and even fancied she
    could hear the sound of the church bells, down in the depths of the sea.

    In another year the second sister received permission to rise to the surface
    of the water, and to swim about where she pleased. She rose just as the sun
    was setting, and this, she said, was the most beautiful sight of all. The whole
    sky looked like gold, while violet and rose-colored clouds, which she could
    not describe, floated over her; and, still more rapidly than the clouds, flew
    a large flock of wild swans towards the setting sun, looking like a long white
    veil across the sea. She also swam towards the sun; but it sunk into the waves,
    and the rosy tints faded from the clouds and from the sea.

    The third sister’s turn followed; she was the boldest of them all, and she
    swam up a broad river that emptied itself into the sea. On the banks she saw
    green hills covered with beautiful vines; palaces and castles peeped out from
    amid the proud trees of the forest; she heard the birds singing, and the rays
    of the sun were so powerful that she was obliged often to dive down under the
    water to cool her burning face. In a narrow creek she found a whole troop of
    little human children, quite naked, and sporting about in the water; she wanted
    to play with them, but they fled in a great fright; and then a little black
    animal came to the water; it was a dog, but she did not know that, for she had
    never before seen one. This animal barked at her so terribly that she became
    frightened, and rushed back to the open sea. But she said she should never forget
    the beautiful forest, the green hills, and the pretty little children who could
    swim in the water, although they had not fish’s tails.

    The fourth sister was more timid; she remained in the midst of the sea, but
    she said it was quite as beautiful there as nearer the land. She could see for
    so many miles around her, and the sky above looked like a bell of glass. She
    had seen the ships, but at such a great distance that they looked like sea-gulls.
    The dolphins sported in the waves, and the great whales spouted water from their
    nostrils till it seemed as if a hundred fountains were playing in every direction.

    The fifth sister’s birthday occurred in the winter; so when her turn came,
    she saw what the others had not seen the first time they went up. The sea looked
    quite green, and large icebergs were floating about, each like a pearl, she
    said, but larger and loftier than the churches built by men. They were of the
    most singular shapes, and glittered like diamonds. She had seated herself upon
    one of the largest, and let the wind play with her long hair, and she remarked
    that all the ships sailed by rapidly, and steered as far away as they could
    from the iceberg, as if they were afraid of it. Towards evening, as the sun
    went down, dark clouds covered the sky, the thunder rolled and the lightning
    flashed, and the red light glowed on the icebergs as they rocked and tossed
    on the heaving sea. On all the ships the sails were reefed with fear and trembling,
    while she sat calmly on the floating iceberg, watching the blue lightning, as
    it darted its forked flashes into the sea.

    When first the sisters had permission to rise to the surface, they were each
    delighted with the new and beautiful sights they saw; but now, as grown-up girls,
    they could go when they pleased, and they had become indifferent about it. They
    wished themselves back again in the water, and after a month had passed they
    said it was much more beautiful down below, and pleasanter to be at home. Yet
    often, in the evening hours, the five sisters would twine their arms round each
    other, and rise to the surface, in a row. They had more beautiful voices than
    any human being could have; and before the approach of a storm, and when they
    expected a ship would be lost, they swam before the vessel, and sang sweetly
    of the delights to be found in the depths of the sea, and begging the sailors
    not to fear if they sank to the bottom. But the sailors could not understand
    the song, they took it for the howling of the storm. And these things were never
    to be beautiful for them; for if the ship sank, the men were drowned, and their
    dead bodies alone reached the palace of the Sea King.

    When the sisters rose, arm-in-arm, through the water in this way, their youngest
    sister would stand quite alone, looking after them, ready to cry, only that
    the mermaids have no tears, and therefore they suffer more. “Oh, were I but
    fifteen years old,” said she: “I know that I shall love the world up there,
    and all the people who live in it.”

    At last she reached her fifteenth year. “Well, now, you are grown up,” said
    the old dowager, her grandmother; “so you must let me adorn you like your other
    sisters;” and she placed a wreath of white lilies in her hair, and every flower
    leaf was half a pearl. Then the old lady ordered eight great oysters to attach
    themselves to the tail of the princess to show her high rank.

    “But they hurt me so,” said the little mermaid.

    “Pride must suffer pain,” replied the old lady. Oh, how gladly she would have
    shaken off all this grandeur, and laid aside the heavy wreath! The red flowers
    in her own garden would have suited her much better, but she could not help
    herself: so she said, “Farewell,” and rose as lightly as a bubble to the surface
    of the water. The sun had just set as she raised her head above the waves; but
    the clouds were tinted with crimson and gold, and through the glimmering twilight
    beamed the evening star in all its beauty. The sea was calm, and the air mild
    and fresh. A large ship, with three masts, lay becalmed on the water, with only
    one sail set; for not a breeze stiffed, and the sailors sat idle on deck or
    amongst the rigging. There was music and song on board; and, as darkness came
    on, a hundred colored lanterns were lighted, as if the flags of all nations
    waved in the air. The little mermaid swam close to the cabin windows; and now
    and then, as the waves lifted her up, she could look in through clear glass
    window-panes, and see a number of well-dressed people within. Among them was
    a young prince, the most beautiful of all, with large black eyes; he was sixteen
    years of age, and his birthday was being kept with much rejoicing. The sailors
    were dancing on deck, but when the prince came out of the cabin, more than a
    hundred rockets rose in the air, making it as bright as day. The little mermaid
    was so startled that she dived under water; and when she again stretched out
    her head, it appeared as if all the stars of heaven were falling around her,
    she had never seen such fireworks before. Great suns spurted fire about, splendid
    fireflies flew into the blue air, and everything was reflected in the clear,
    calm sea beneath. The ship itself was so brightly illuminated that all the people,
    and even the smallest rope, could be distinctly and plainly seen. And how handsome
    the young prince looked, as he pressed the hands of all present and smiled at
    them, while the music resounded through the clear night air.

    It was very late; yet the little mermaid could not take her eyes from the ship,
    or from the beautiful prince. The colored lanterns had been extinguished, no
    more rockets rose in the air, and the cannon had ceased firing; but the sea
    became restless, and a moaning, grumbling sound could be heard beneath the waves:
    still the little mermaid remained by the cabin window, rocking up and down on
    the water, which enabled her to look in. After a while, the sails were quickly
    unfurled, and the noble ship continued her passage; but soon the waves rose
    higher, heavy clouds darkened the sky, and lightning appeared in the distance.
    A dreadful storm was approaching; once more the sails were reefed, and the great
    ship pursued her flying course over the raging sea. The waves rose mountains
    high, as if they would have overtopped the mast; but the ship dived like a swan
    between them, and then rose again on their lofty, foaming crests. To the little
    mermaid this appeared pleasant sport; not so to the sailors. At length the ship
    groaned and creaked; the thick planks gave way under the lashing of the sea
    as it broke over the deck; the mainmast snapped asunder like a reed; the ship
    lay over on her side; and the water rushed in. The little mermaid now perceived
    that the crew were in danger; even she herself was obliged to be careful to
    avoid the beams and planks of the wreck which lay scattered on the water. At
    one moment it was so pitch dark that she could not see a single object, but
    a flash of lightning revealed the whole scene; she could see every one who had
    been on board excepting the prince; when the ship parted, she had seen him sink
    into the deep waves, and she was glad, for she thought he would now be with
    her; and then she remembered that human beings could not live in the water,
    so that when he got down to her father’s palace he would be quite dead. But
    he must not die. So she swam about among the beams and planks which strewed
    the surface of the sea, forgetting that they could crush her to pieces. Then
    she dived deeply under the dark waters, rising and falling with the waves, till
    at length she managed to reach the young prince, who was fast losing the power
    of swimming in that stormy sea. His limbs were failing him, his beautiful eyes
    were closed, and he would have died had not the little mermaid come to his assistance.
    She held his head above the water, and let the waves drift them where they would.

    In the morning the storm had ceased; but of the ship not a single fragment
    could be seen. The sun rose up red and glowing from the water, and its beams
    brought back the hue of health to the prince’s cheeks; but his eyes remained
    closed. The mermaid kissed his high, smooth forehead, and stroked back his wet
    hair; he seemed to her like the marble statue in her little garden, and she
    kissed him again, and wished that he might live. Presently they came in sight
    of land; she saw lofty blue mountains, on which the white snow rested as if
    a flock of swans were lying upon them. Near the coast were beautiful green forests,
    and close by stood a large building, whether a church or a convent she could
    not tell. Orange and citron trees grew in the garden, and before the door stood
    lofty palms. The sea here formed a little bay, in which the water was quite
    still, but very deep; so she swam with the handsome prince to the beach, which
    was covered with fine, white sand, and there she laid him in the warm sunshine,
    taking care to raise his head higher than his body. Then bells sounded in the
    large white building, and a number of young girls came into the garden. The
    little mermaid swam out farther from the shore and placed herself between some
    high rocks that rose out of the water; then she covered her head and neck with
    the foam of the sea so that her little face might not be seen, and watched to
    see what would become of the poor prince. She did not wait long before she saw
    a young girl approach the spot where he lay. She seemed frightened at first,
    but only for a moment; then she fetched a number of people, and the mermaid
    saw that the prince came to life again, and smiled upon those who stood round
    him. But to her he sent no smile; he knew not that she had saved him. This made
    her very unhappy, and when he was led away into the great building, she dived
    down sorrowfully into the water, and returned to her father’s castle. She had
    always been silent and thoughtful, and now she was more so than ever. Her sisters
    asked her what she had seen during her first visit to the surface of the water;
    but she would tell them nothing. Many an evening and morning did she rise to
    the place where she had left the prince. She saw the fruits in the garden ripen
    till they were gathered, the snow on the tops of the mountains melt away; but
    she never saw the prince, and therefore she returned home, always more sorrowful
    than before. It was her only comfort to sit in her own little garden, and fling
    her arm round the beautiful marble statue which was like the prince; but she
    gave up tending her flowers, and they grew in wild confusion over the paths,
    twining their long leaves and stems round the branches of the trees, so that
    the whole place became dark and gloomy. At length she could bear it no longer,
    and told one of her sisters all about it. Then the others heard the secret,
    and very soon it became known to two mermaids whose intimate friend happened
    to know who the prince was. She had also seen the festival on board ship, and
    she told them where the prince came from, and where his palace stood.

    “Come, little sister,” said the other princesses; then they entwined their
    arms and rose up in a long row to the surface of the water, close by the spot
    where they knew the prince’s palace stood. It was built of bright yellow shining
    stone, with long flights of marble steps, one of which reached quite down to
    the sea. Splendid gilded cupolas rose over the roof, and between the pillars
    that surrounded the whole building stood life-like statues of marble. Through
    the clear crystal of the lofty windows could be seen noble rooms, with costly
    silk curtains and hangings of tapestry; while the walls were covered with beautiful
    paintings which were a pleasure to look at. In the centre of the largest saloon
    a fountain threw its sparkling jets high up into the glass cupola of the ceiling,
    through which the sun shone down upon the water and upon the beautiful plants
    growing round the basin of the fountain. Now that she knew where he lived, she
    spent many an evening and many a night on the water near the palace. She would
    swim much nearer the shore than any of the others ventured to do; indeed once
    she went quite up the narrow channel under the marble balcony, which threw a
    broad shadow on the water. Here she would sit and watch the young prince, who
    thought himself quite alone in the bright moonlight. She saw him many times
    of an evening sailing in a pleasant boat, with music playing and flags waving.
    She peeped out from among the green rushes, and if the wind caught her long
    silvery-white veil, those who saw it believed it to be a swan, spreading out
    its wings. On many a night, too, when the fishermen, with their torches, were
    out at sea, she heard them relate so many good things about the doings of the
    young prince, that she was glad she had saved his life when he had been tossed
    about half-dead on the waves. And she remembered that his head had rested on
    her bosom, and how heartily she had kissed him; but he knew nothing of all this,
    and could not even dream of her. She grew more and more fond of human beings,
    and wished more and more to be able to wander about with those whose world seemed
    to be so much larger than her own. They could fly over the sea in ships, and
    mount the high hills which were far above the clouds; and the lands they possessed,
    their woods and their fields, stretched far away beyond the reach of her sight.
    There was so much that she wished to know, and her sisters were unable to answer
    all her questions. Then she applied to her old grandmother, who knew all about
    the upper world, which she very rightly called the lands above the sea.

    “If human beings are not drowned,” asked the little mermaid, “can they live
    forever? do they never die as we do here in the sea?”

    “Yes,” replied the old lady, “they must also die, and their term of life is
    even shorter than ours. We sometimes live to three hundred years, but when we
    cease to exist here we only become the foam on the surface of the water, and
    we have not even a grave down here of those we love. We have not immortal souls,
    we shall never live again; but, like the green sea-weed, when once it has been
    cut off, we can never flourish more. Human beings, on the contrary, have a soul
    which lives forever, lives after the body has been turned to dust. It rises
    up through the clear, pure air beyond the glittering stars. As we rise out of
    the water, and behold all the land of the earth, so do they rise to unknown
    and glorious regions which we shall never see.”

    “Why have not we an immortal soul?” asked the little mermaid mournfully; “I
    would give gladly all the hundreds of years that I have to live, to be a human
    being only for one day, and to have the hope of knowing the happiness of that
    glorious world above the stars.”

    “You must not think of that,” said the old woman; “we feel ourselves to be
    much happier and much better off than human beings.”

    “So I shall die,” said the little mermaid, “and as the foam of the sea I shall
    be driven about never again to hear the music of the waves, or to see the pretty
    flowers nor the red sun. Is there anything I can do to win an immortal soul?”

    “No,” said the old woman, “unless a man were to love you so much that you were
    more to him than his father or mother; and if all his thoughts and all his love
    were fixed upon you, and the priest placed his right hand in yours, and he promised
    to be true to you here and hereafter, then his soul would glide into your body
    and you would obtain a share in the future happiness of mankind. He would give
    a soul to you and retain his own as well; but this can never happen. Your fish’s
    tail, which amongst us is considered so beautiful, is thought on earth to be
    quite ugly; they do not know any better, and they think it necessary to have
    two stout props, which they call legs, in order to be handsome.”

    Then the little mermaid sighed, and looked sorrowfully at her fish’s tail.
    “Let us be happy,” said the old lady, “and dart and spring about during the
    three hundred years that we have to live, which is really quite long enough;
    after that we can rest ourselves all the better. This evening we are going to
    have a court ball.”

    It is one of those splendid sights which we can never see on earth. The walls
    and the ceiling of the large ball-room were of thick, but transparent crystal.
    May hundreds of colossal shells, some of a deep red, others of a grass green,
    stood on each side in rows, with blue fire in them, which lighted up the whole
    saloon, and shone through the walls, so that the sea was also illuminated. Innumerable
    fishes, great and small, swam past the crystal walls; on some of them the scales
    glowed with a purple brilliancy, and on others they shone like silver and gold.
    Through the halls flowed a broad stream, and in it danced the mermen and the
    mermaids to the music of their own sweet singing. No one on earth has such a
    lovely voice as theirs. The little mermaid sang more sweetly than them all.
    The whole court applauded her with hands and tails; and for a moment her heart
    felt quite gay, for she knew she had the loveliest voice of any on earth or
    in the sea. But she soon thought again of the world above her, for she could
    not forget the charming prince, nor her sorrow that she had not an immortal
    soul like his; therefore she crept away silently out of her father’s palace,
    and while everything within was gladness and song, she sat in her own little
    garden sorrowful and alone. Then she heard the bugle sounding through the water,
    and thought—“He is certainly sailing above, he on whom my wishes depend, and
    in whose hands I should like to place the happiness of my life. I will venture
    all for him, and to win an immortal soul, while my sisters are dancing in my
    father’s palace, I will go to the sea witch, of whom I have always been so much
    afraid, but she can give me counsel and help.”

    And then the little mermaid went out from her garden, and took the road to
    the foaming whirlpools, behind which the sorceress lived. She had never been
    that way before: neither flowers nor grass grew there; nothing but bare, gray,
    sandy ground stretched out to the whirlpool, where the water, like foaming mill-wheels,
    whirled round everything that it seized, and cast it into the fathomless deep.
    Through the midst of these crushing whirlpools the little mermaid was obliged
    to pass, to reach the dominions of the sea witch; and also for a long distance
    the only road lay right across a quantity of warm, bubbling mire, called by
    the witch her turfmoor. Beyond this stood her house, in the centre of a strange
    forest, in which all the trees and flowers were polypi, half animals and half
    plants; they looked like serpents with a hundred heads growing out of the ground.
    The branches were long slimy arms, with fingers like flexible worms, moving
    limb after limb from the root to the top. All that could be reached in the sea
    they seized upon, and held fast, so that it never escaped from their clutches.
    The little mermaid was so alarmed at what she saw, that she stood still, and
    her heart beat with fear, and she was very nearly turning back; but she thought
    of the prince, and of the human soul for which she longed, and her courage returned.
    She fastened her long flowing hair round her head, so that the polypi might
    not seize hold of it. She laid her hands together across her bosom, and then
    she darted forward as a fish shoots through the water, between the supple arms
    and fingers of the ugly polypi, which were stretched out on each side of her.
    She saw that each held in its grasp something it had seized with its numerous
    little arms, as if they were iron bands. The white skeletons of human beings
    who had perished at sea, and had sunk down into the deep waters, skeletons of
    land animals, oars, rudders, and chests of ships were lying tightly grasped
    by their clinging arms; even a little mermaid, whom they had caught and strangled;
    and this seemed the most shocking of all to the little princess.

    She now came to a space of marshy ground in the wood, where large, fat water-snakes
    were rolling in the mire, and showing their ugly, drab-colored bodies. In the
    midst of this spot stood a house, built with the bones of shipwrecked human
    beings. There sat the sea witch, allowing a toad to eat from her mouth, just
    as people sometimes feed a canary with a piece of sugar. She called the ugly
    water-snakes her little chickens, and allowed them to crawl all over her bosom.

    “I know what you want,” said the sea witch; “it is very stupid of you, but
    you shall have your way, and it will bring you to sorrow, my pretty princess.
    You want to get rid of your fish’s tail, and to have two supports instead of
    it, like human beings on earth, so that the young prince may fall in love with
    you, and that you may have an immortal soul.” And then the witch laughed so
    loud and disgustingly, that the toad and the snakes fell to the ground, and
    lay there wriggling about. “You are but just in time,” said the witch; “for
    after sunrise to-morrow I should not be able to help you till the end of another
    year. I will prepare a draught for you, with which you must swim to land tomorrow
    before sunrise, and sit down on the shore and drink it. Your tail will then
    disappear, and shrink up into what mankind calls legs, and you will feel great
    pain, as if a sword were passing through you. But all who see you will say that
    you are the prettiest little human being they ever saw. You will still have
    the same floating gracefulness of movement, and no dancer will ever tread so
    lightly; but at every step you take it will feel as if you were treading upon
    sharp knives, and that the blood must flow. If you will bear all this, I will
    help you.”

    “Yes, I will,” said the little princess in a trembling voice, as she thought
    of the prince and the immortal soul.

    “But think again,” said the witch; “for when once your shape has become like
    a human being, you can no more be a mermaid. You will never return through the
    water to your sisters, or to your father’s palace again; and if you do not win
    the love of the prince, so that he is willing to forget his father and mother
    for your sake, and to love you with his whole soul, and allow the priest to
    join your hands that you may be man and wife, then you will never have an immortal
    soul. The first morning after he marries another your heart will break, and
    you will become foam on the crest of the waves.”

    “I will do it,” said the little mermaid, and she became pale as death.

    “But I must be paid also,” said the witch, “and it is not a trifle that I ask.
    You have the sweetest voice of any who dwell here in the depths of the sea,
    and you believe that you will be able to charm the prince with it also, but
    this voice you must give to me; the best thing you possess will I have for the
    price of my draught. My own blood must be mixed with it, that it may be as sharp
    as a two-edged sword.”

    “But if you take away my voice,” said the little mermaid, “what is left for

    “Your beautiful form, your graceful walk, and your expressive eyes; surely
    with these you can enchain a man’s heart. Well, have you lost your courage?
    Put out your little tongue that I may cut it off as my payment; then you shall
    have the powerful draught.”

    “It shall be,” said the little mermaid.

    Then the witch placed her cauldron on the fire, to prepare the magic draught.

    “Cleanliness is a good thing,” said she, scouring the vessel with snakes, which
    she had tied together in a large knot; then she pricked herself in the breast,
    and let the black blood drop into it. The steam that rose formed itself into
    such horrible shapes that no one could look at them without fear. Every moment
    the witch threw something else into the vessel, and when it began to boil, the
    sound was like the weeping of a crocodile. When at last the magic draught was
    ready, it looked like the clearest water. “There it is for you,” said the witch.
    Then she cut off the mermaid’s tongue, so that she became dumb, and would never
    again speak or sing. “If the polypi should seize hold of you as you return through
    the wood,” said the witch, “throw over them a few drops of the potion, and their
    fingers will be torn into a thousand pieces.” But the little mermaid had no
    occasion to do this, for the polypi sprang back in terror when they caught sight
    of the glittering draught, which shone in her hand like a twinkling star.

    So she passed quickly through the wood and the marsh, and between the rushing
    whirlpools. She saw that in her father’s palace the torches in the ballroom
    were extinguished, and all within asleep; but she did not venture to go in to
    them, for now she was dumb and going to leave them forever, she felt as if her
    heart would break. She stole into the garden, took a flower from the flower-beds
    of each of her sisters, kissed her hand a thousand times towards the palace,
    and then rose up through the dark blue waters. The sun had not risen when she
    came in sight of the prince’s palace, and approached the beautiful marble steps,
    but the moon shone clear and bright. Then the little mermaid drank the magic
    draught, and it seemed as if a two-edged sword went through her delicate body:
    she fell into a swoon, and lay like one dead. When the sun arose and shone over
    the sea, she recovered, and felt a sharp pain; but just before her stood the
    handsome young prince. He fixed his coal-black eyes upon her so earnestly that
    she cast down her own, and then became aware that her fish’s tail was gone,
    and that she had as pretty a pair of white legs and tiny feet as any little
    maiden could have; but she had no clothes, so she wrapped herself in her long,
    thick hair. The prince asked her who she was, and where she came from, and she
    looked at him mildly and sorrowfully with her deep blue eyes; but she could
    not speak. Every step she took was as the witch had said it would be, she felt
    as if treading upon the points of needles or sharp knives; but she bore it willingly,
    and stepped as lightly by the prince’s side as a soap-bubble, so that he and
    all who saw her wondered at her graceful-swaying movements. She was very soon
    arrayed in costly robes of silk and muslin, and was the most beautiful creature
    in the palace; but she was dumb, and could neither speak nor sing.

    Beautiful female slaves, dressed in silk and gold, stepped forward and sang
    before the prince and his royal parents: one sang better than all the others,
    and the prince clapped his hands and smiled at her. This was great sorrow to
    the little mermaid; she knew how much more sweetly she herself could sing once,
    and she thought, “Oh if he could only know that! I have given away my voice
    forever, to be with him.”

    The slaves next performed some pretty fairy-like dances, to the sound of beautiful
    music. Then the little mermaid raised her lovely white arms, stood on the tips
    of her toes, and glided over the floor, and danced as no one yet had been able
    to dance. At each moment her beauty became more revealed, and her expressive
    eyes appealed more directly to the heart than the songs of the slaves. Every
    one was enchanted, especially the prince, who called her his little foundling;
    and she danced again quite readily, to please him, though each time her foot
    touched the floor it seemed as if she trod on sharp knives.

    The prince said she should remain with him always, and she received permission
    to sleep at his door, on a velvet cushion. He had a page’s dress made for her,
    that she might accompany him on horseback. They rode together through the sweet-scented
    woods, where the green boughs touched their shoulders, and the little birds
    sang among the fresh leaves. She climbed with the prince to the tops of high
    mountains; and although her tender feet bled so that even her steps were marked,
    she only laughed, and followed him till they could see the clouds beneath them
    looking like a flock of birds travelling to distant lands. While at the prince’s
    palace, and when all the household were asleep, she would go and sit on the
    broad marble steps; for it eased her burning feet to bathe them in the cold
    sea-water; and then she thought of all those below in the deep.

    Once during the night her sisters came up arm-in-arm, singing sorrowfully,
    as they floated on the water. She beckoned to them, and then they recognized
    her, and told her how she had grieved them. After that, they came to the same
    place every night; and once she saw in the distance her old grandmother, who
    had not been to the surface of the sea for many years, and the old Sea King,
    her father, with his crown on his head. They stretched out their hands towards
    her, but they did not venture so near the land as her sisters did.

    As the days passed, she loved the prince more fondly, and he loved her as he
    would love a little child, but it never came into his head to make her his wife;
    yet, unless he married her, she could not receive an immortal soul; and, on
    the morning after his marriage with another, she would dissolve into the foam
    of the sea.

    “Do you not love me the best of them all?” the eyes of the little mermaid seemed
    to say, when he took her in his arms, and kissed her fair forehead.

    “Yes, you are dear to me,” said the prince; “for you have the best heart, and
    you are the most devoted to me; you are like a young maiden whom I once saw,
    but whom I shall never meet again. I was in a ship that was wrecked, and the
    waves cast me ashore near a holy temple, where several young maidens performed
    the service. The youngest of them found me on the shore, and saved my life.
    I saw her but twice, and she is the only one in the world whom I could love;
    but you are like her, and you have almost driven her image out of my mind. She
    belongs to the holy temple, and my good fortune has sent you to me instead of
    her; and we will never part.”

    “Ah, he knows not that it was I who saved his life,” thought the little mermaid.
    “I carried him over the sea to the wood where the temple stands: I sat beneath
    the foam, and watched till the human beings came to help him. I saw the pretty
    maiden that he loves better than he loves me;” and the mermaid sighed deeply,
    but she could not shed tears. “He says the maiden belongs to the holy temple,
    therefore she will never return to the world. They will meet no more: while
    I am by his side, and see him every day. I will take care of him, and love him,
    and give up my life for his sake.”

    Very soon it was said that the prince must marry, and that the beautiful daughter
    of a neighboring king would be his wife, for a fine ship was being fitted out.
    Although the prince gave out that he merely intended to pay a visit to the king,
    it was generally supposed that he really went to see his daughter. A great company
    were to go with him. The little mermaid smiled, and shook her head. She knew
    the prince’s thoughts better than any of the others.

    “I must travel,” he had said to her; “I must see this beautiful princess; my
    parents desire it; but they will not oblige me to bring her home as my bride.
    I cannot love her; she is not like the beautiful maiden in the temple, whom
    you resemble. If I were forced to choose a bride, I would rather choose you,
    my dumb foundling, with those expressive eyes.” And then he kissed her rosy
    mouth, played with her long waving hair, and laid his head on her heart, while
    she dreamed of human happiness and an immortal soul. “You are not afraid of
    the sea, my dumb child,” said he, as they stood on the deck of the noble ship
    which was to carry them to the country of the neighboring king. And then he
    told her of storm and of calm, of strange fishes in the deep beneath them, and
    of what the divers had seen there; and she smiled at his descriptions, for she
    knew better than any one what wonders were at the bottom of the sea.

    In the moonlight, when all on board were asleep, excepting the man at the helm,
    who was steering, she sat on the deck, gazing down through the clear water.
    She thought she could distinguish her father’s castle, and upon it her aged
    grandmother, with the silver crown on her head, looking through the rushing
    tide at the keel of the vessel. Then her sisters came up on the waves, and gazed
    at her mournfully, wringing their white hands. She beckoned to them, and smiled,
    and wanted to tell them how happy and well off she was; but the cabin-boy approached,
    and when her sisters dived down he thought it was only the foam of the sea which
    he saw.

    The next morning the ship sailed into the harbor of a beautiful town belonging
    to the king whom the prince was going to visit. The church bells were ringing,
    and from the high towers sounded a flourish of trumpets; and soldiers, with
    flying colors and glittering bayonets, lined the rocks through which they passed.
    Every day was a festival; balls and entertainments followed one another.

    But the princess had not yet appeared. People said that she was being brought
    up and educated in a religious house, where she was learning every royal virtue.
    At last she came. Then the little mermaid, who was very anxious to see whether
    she was really beautiful, was obliged to acknowledge that she had never seen
    a more perfect vision of beauty. Her skin was delicately fair, and beneath her
    long dark eye-lashes her laughing blue eyes shone with truth and purity.

    “It was you,” said the prince, “who saved my life when I lay dead on the beach,”
    and he folded his blushing bride in his arms. “Oh, I am too happy,” said he
    to the little mermaid; “my fondest hopes are all fulfilled. You will rejoice
    at my happiness; for your devotion to me is great and sincere.”

    The little mermaid kissed his hand, and felt as if her heart were already broken.
    His wedding morning would bring death to her, and she would change into the
    foam of the sea. All the church bells rung, and the heralds rode about the town
    proclaiming the betrothal. Perfumed oil was burning in costly silver lamps on
    every altar. The priests waved the censers, while the bride and bridegroom joined
    their hands and received the blessing of the bishop. The little mermaid, dressed
    in silk and gold, held up the bride’s train; but her ears heard nothing of the
    festive music, and her eyes saw not the holy ceremony; she thought of the night
    of death which was coming to her, and of all she had lost in the world. On the
    same evening the bride and bridegroom went on board ship; cannons were roaring,
    flags waving, and in the centre of the ship a costly tent of purple and gold
    had been erected. It contained elegant couches, for the reception of the bridal
    pair during the night. The ship, with swelling sails and a favorable wind, glided
    away smoothly and lightly over the calm sea. When it grew dark a number of colored
    lamps were lit, and the sailors danced merrily on the deck. The little mermaid
    could not help thinking of her first rising out of the sea, when she had seen
    similar festivities and joys; and she joined in the dance, poised herself in
    the air as a swallow when he pursues his prey, and all present cheered her with
    wonder. She had never danced so elegantly before. Her tender feet felt as if
    cut with sharp knives, but she cared not for it; a sharper pang had pierced
    through her heart. She knew this was the last evening she should ever see the
    prince, for whom she had forsaken her kindred and her home; she had given up
    her beautiful voice, and suffered unheard-of pain daily for him, while he knew
    nothing of it. This was the last evening that she would breathe the same air
    with him, or gaze on the starry sky and the deep sea; an eternal night, without
    a thought or a dream, awaited her: she had no soul and now she could never win
    one. All was joy and gayety on board ship till long after midnight; she laughed
    and danced with the rest, while the thoughts of death were in her heart. The
    prince kissed his beautiful bride, while she played with his raven hair, till
    they went arm-in-arm to rest in the splendid tent. Then all became still on
    board the ship; the helmsman, alone awake, stood at the helm. The little mermaid
    leaned her white arms on the edge of the vessel, and looked towards the east
    for the first blush of morning, for that first ray of dawn that would bring
    her death. She saw her sisters rising out of the flood: they were as pale as
    herself; but their long beautiful hair waved no more in the wind, and had been
    cut off.

    “We have given our hair to the witch,” said they, “to obtain help for you,
    that you may not die to-night. She has given us a knife: here it is, see it
    is very sharp. Before the sun rises you must plunge it into the heart of the
    prince; when the warm blood falls upon your feet they will grow together again,
    and form into a fish’s tail, and you will be once more a mermaid, and return
    to us to live out your three hundred years before you die and change into the
    salt sea foam. Haste, then; he or you must die before sunrise. Our old grandmother
    moans so for you, that her white hair is falling off from sorrow, as ours fell
    under the witch’s scissors. Kill the prince and come back; hasten: do you not
    see the first red streaks in the sky? In a few minutes the sun will rise, and
    you must die.” And then they sighed deeply and mournfully, and sank down beneath
    the waves.

    The little mermaid drew back the crimson curtain of the tent, and beheld the
    fair bride with her head resting on the prince’s breast. She bent down and kissed
    his fair brow, then looked at the sky on which the rosy dawn grew brighter and
    brighter; then she glanced at the sharp knife, and again fixed her eyes on the
    prince, who whispered the name of his bride in his dreams. She was in his thoughts,
    and the knife trembled in the hand of the little mermaid: then she flung it
    far away from her into the waves; the water turned red where it fell, and the
    drops that spurted up looked like blood. She cast one more lingering, half-fainting
    glance at the prince, and then threw herself from the ship into the sea, and
    thought her body was dissolving into foam. The sun rose above the waves, and
    his warm rays fell on the cold foam of the little mermaid, who did not feel
    as if she were dying. She saw the bright sun, and all around her floated hundreds
    of transparent beautiful beings; she could see through them the white sails
    of the ship, and the red clouds in the sky; their speech was melodious, but
    too ethereal to be heard by mortal ears, as they were also unseen by mortal
    eyes. The little mermaid perceived that she had a body like theirs, and that
    she continued to rise higher and higher out of the foam. “Where am I?” asked
    she, and her voice sounded ethereal, as the voice of those who were with her;
    no earthly music could imitate it.

    “Among the daughters of the air,” answered one of them. “A mermaid has not
    an immortal soul, nor can she obtain one unless she wins the love of a human
    being. On the power of another hangs her eternal destiny. But the daughters
    of the air, although they do not possess an immortal soul, can, by their good
    deeds, procure one for themselves. We fly to warm countries, and cool the sultry
    air that destroys mankind with the pestilence. We carry the perfume of the flowers
    to spread health and restoration. After we have striven for three hundred years
    to all the good in our power, we receive an immortal soul and take part in the
    happiness of mankind. You, poor little mermaid, have tried with your whole heart
    to do as we are doing; you have suffered and endured and raised yourself to
    the spirit-world by your good deeds; and now, by striving for three hundred
    years in the same way, you may obtain an immortal soul.”

    The little mermaid lifted her glorified eyes towards the sun, and felt them,
    for the first time, filling with tears. On the ship, in which she had left the
    prince, there were life and noise; she saw him and his beautiful bride searching
    for her; sorrowfully they gazed at the pearly foam, as if they knew she had
    thrown herself into the waves. Unseen she kissed the forehead of her bride,
    and fanned the prince, and then mounted with the other children of the air to
    a rosy cloud that floated through the aether.

    “After three hundred years, thus shall we float into the kingdom of heaven,”
    said she. “And we may even get there sooner,” whispered one of her companions.
    “Unseen we can enter the houses of men, where there are children, and for every
    day on which we find a good child, who is the joy of his parents and deserves
    their love, our time of probation is shortened. The child does not know, when
    we fly through the room, that we smile with joy at his good conduct, for we
    can count one year less of our three hundred years. But when we see a naughty
    or a wicked child, we shed tears of sorrow, and for every tear a day is added
    to our time of trial!”

    The Daisy

    Now listen! In the country, close by the high road, stood a farmhouse; perhaps
    you have passed by and seen it yourself. There was a little flower garden with
    painted wooden palings in front of it; close by was a ditch, on its fresh green
    bank grew a little daisy; the sun shone as warmly and brightly upon it as on the
    magnificent garden flowers, and therefore it thrived well. One morning it had
    quite opened, and its little snow-white petals stood round the yellow centre,
    like the rays of the sun. It did not mind that nobody saw it in the grass, and
    that it was a poor despised flower; on the contrary, it was quite happy, and turned
    towards the sun, looking upward and listening to the song of the lark high up
    in the air.

    The little daisy was as happy as if the day had been a great holiday, but it
    was only Monday. All the children were at school, and while they were sitting
    on the forms and learning their lessons, it sat on its thin green stalk and
    learnt from the sun and from its surroundings how kind God is, and it rejoiced
    that the song of the little lark expressed so sweetly and distinctly its own
    feelings. With a sort of reverence the daisy looked up to the bird that could
    fly and sing, but it did not feel envious. “I can see and hear,” it thought;
    “the sun shines upon me, and the forest kisses me. How rich I am!”

    In the garden close by grew many large and magnificent flowers, and, strange
    to say, the less fragrance they had the haughtier and prouder they were. The
    peonies puffed themselves up in order to be larger than the roses, but size
    is not everything! The tulips had the finest colours, and they knew it well,
    too, for they were standing bolt upright like candles, that one might see them
    the better. In their pride they did not see the little daisy, which looked over
    to them and thought, “How rich and beautiful they are! I am sure the pretty
    bird will fly down and call upon them. Thank God, that I stand so near and can
    at least see all the splendour.” And while the daisy was still thinking, the
    lark came flying down, crying “Tweet,” but not to the peonies and tulips—no,
    into the grass to the poor daisy. Its joy was so great that it did not know
    what to think. The little bird hopped round it and sang, “How beautifully soft
    the grass is, and what a lovely little flower with its golden heart and silver
    dress is growing here.” The yellow centre in the daisy did indeed look like
    gold, while the little petals shone as brightly as silver.

    How happy the daisy was! No one has the least idea. The bird kissed it with
    its beak, sang to it, and then rose again up to the blue sky. It was certainly
    more than a quarter of an hour before the daisy recovered its senses. Half ashamed,
    yet glad at heart, it looked over to the other flowers in the garden; surely
    they had witnessed its pleasure and the honour that had been done to it; they
    understood its joy. But the tulips stood more stiffly than ever, their faces
    were pointed and red, because they were vexed. The peonies were sulky; it was
    well that they could not speak, otherwise they would have given the daisy a
    good lecture. The little flower could very well see that they were ill at ease,
    and pitied them sincerely.

    Shortly after this a girl came into the garden, with a large sharp knife. She
    went to the tulips and began cutting them off, one after another. “Ugh!” sighed
    the daisy, “that is terrible; now they are done for.”

    The girl carried the tulips away. The daisy was glad that it was outside, and
    only a small flower—it felt very grateful. At sunset it folded its petals, and
    fell asleep, and dreamt all night of the sun and the little bird.

    On the following morning, when the flower once more stretched forth its tender
    petals, like little arms, towards the air and light, the daisy recognised the
    bird’s voice, but what it sang sounded so sad. Indeed the poor bird had good
    reason to be sad, for it had been caught and put into a cage close by the open
    window. It sang of the happy days when it could merrily fly about, of fresh
    green corn in the fields, and of the time when it could soar almost up to the
    clouds. The poor lark was most unhappy as a prisoner in a cage. The little daisy
    would have liked so much to help it, but what could be done? Indeed, that was
    very difficult for such a small flower to find out. It entirely forgot how beautiful
    everything around it was, how warmly the sun was shining, and how splendidly
    white its own petals were. It could only think of the poor captive bird, for
    which it could do nothing. Then two little boys came out of the garden; one
    of them had a large sharp knife, like that with which the girl had cut the tulips.
    They came straight towards the little daisy, which could not understand what
    they wanted.

    “Here is a fine piece of turf for the lark,” said one of the boys, and began
    to cut out a square round the daisy, so that it remained in the centre of the

    “Pluck the flower off” said the other boy, and the daisy trembled for fear,
    for to be pulled off meant death to it; and it wished so much to live, as it
    was to go with the square of turf into the poor captive lark’s cage.

    “No let it stay,” said the other boy, “it looks so pretty.”

    And so it stayed, and was brought into the lark’s cage. The poor bird was lamenting
    its lost liberty, and beating its wings against the wires; and the little daisy
    could not speak or utter a consoling word, much as it would have liked to do
    so. So the forenoon passed.

    “I have no water,” said the captive lark, “they have all gone out, and forgotten
    to give me anything to drink. My throat is dry and burning. I feel as if I had
    fire and ice within me, and the air is so oppressive. Alas! I must die, and
    part with the warm sunshine, the fresh green meadows, and all the beauty that
    God has created.” And it thrust its beak into the piece of grass, to refresh
    itself a little. Then it noticed the little daisy, and nodded to it, and kissed
    it with its beak and said: “You must also fade in here, poor little flower.
    You and the piece of grass are all they have given me in exchange for the whole
    world, which I enjoyed outside. Each little blade of grass shall be a green
    tree for me, each of your white petals a fragrant flower. Alas! you only remind
    me of what I have lost.”

    “I wish I could console the poor lark,” thought the daisy. It could not move
    one of its leaves, but the fragrance of its delicate petals streamed forth,
    and was much stronger than such flowers usually have: the bird noticed it, although
    it was dying with thirst, and in its pain tore up the green blades of grass,
    but did not touch the flower.

    The evening came, and nobody appeared to bring the poor bird a drop of water;
    it opened its beautiful wings, and fluttered about in its anguish; a faint and
    mournful “Tweet, tweet,” was all it could utter, then it bent its little head
    towards the flower, and its heart broke for want and longing. The flower could
    not, as on the previous evening, fold up its petals and sleep; it dropped sorrowfully.
    The boys only came the next morning; when they saw the dead bird, they began
    to cry bitterly, dug a nice grave for it, and adorned it with flowers. The bird’s
    body was placed in a pretty red box; they wished to bury it with royal honours.
    While it was alive and sang they forgot it, and let it suffer want in the cage;
    now, they cried over it and covered it with flowers. The piece of turf, with
    the little daisy in it, was thrown out on the dusty highway. Nobody thought
    of the flower which had felt so much for the bird and had so greatly desired
    to comfort it.

    A Rose from Homer’s Grave

    All the songs of the east speak of the love of the nightingale for the rose in
    the silent starlight night. The winged songster serenades the fragrant flowers.

    Not far from Smyrna, where the merchant drives his loaded camels, proudly arching
    their long necks as they journey beneath the lofty pines over holy ground, I
    saw a hedge of roses. The turtle-dove flew among the branches of the tall trees,
    and as the sunbeams fell upon her wings, they glistened as if they were mother-of-pearl.
    On the rose-bush grew a flower, more beautiful than them all, and to her the
    nightingale sung of his woes; but the rose remained silent, not even a dewdrop
    lay like a tear of sympathy on her leaves. At last she bowed her head over a
    heap of stones, and said, “Here rests the greatest singer in the world; over
    his tomb will I spread my fragrance, and on it I will let my leaves fall when
    the storm scatters them. He who sung of Troy became earth, and from that earth
    I have sprung. I, a rose from the grave of Homer, am too lofty to bloom for
    a nightingale.” Then the nightingale sung himself to death. A camel-driver came
    by, with his loaded camels and his black slaves; his little son found the dead
    bird, and buried the lovely songster in the grave of the great Homer, while
    the rose trembled in the wind.

    The evening came, and the rose wrapped her leaves more closely round her, and
    dreamed: and this was her dream.

    It was a fair sunshiny day; a crowd of strangers drew near who had undertaken
    a pilgrimage to the grave of Homer. Among the strangers was a minstrel from
    the north, the home of the clouds and the brilliant lights of the aurora borealis.
    He plucked the rose and placed it in a book, and carried it away into a distant
    part of the world, his fatherland. The rose faded with grief, and lay between
    the leaves of the book, which he opened in his own home, saying, “Here is a
    rose from the grave of Homer.”

    Then the flower awoke from her dream, and trembled in the wind. A drop of dew
    fell from the leaves upon the singer’s grave. The sun rose, and the flower bloomed
    more beautiful than ever. The day was hot, and she was still in her own warm
    Asia. Then footsteps approached, strangers, such as the rose had seen in her
    dream, came by, and among them was a poet from the north; he plucked the rose,
    pressed a kiss upon her fresh mouth, and carried her away to the home of the
    clouds and the northern lights. Like a mummy, the flower now rests in his “Iliad,”
    and, as in her dream, she hears him say, as he opens the book, “Here is a rose
    from the grave of Homer.”

    Children’s Prattle

    The Garden of Paradise

    There was once a king’s son, no one had so many beautiful books as he. In them
    he could read of everything that had ever happened in this world, and he could
    see it all pictured in fine illustrations. He could find out about every race
    of people and every country, but there was not a single word about where to find
    the Garden of Paradise, and this, just this, was the very thing that he thought
    most about.

    When he was still very young and was about to start his schooling, his grandmother
    had told him that each flower in the Garden of Paradise was made of the sweetest
    cake, and that the pistils were bottles full of finest wine. On one sort of
    flower, she told, history was written, on another geography, or multiplication
    tables, so that one only had to eat cake to know one’s lesson, and the more
    one ate, the more history, geography, or arithmetic one would know.

    At the time he believed her, but when the boy grew older and more learned and
    much wiser, he knew that the glories of the Garden of Paradise must be of a
    very different sort.

    "Oh, why did Eve have to pick fruit from the tree of knowledge, and why
    did Adam eat what was forbidden him? Now if it had only been I, that would never
    have happened, and sin would never have come into the world." He said it
    then, and when he was seventeen he said it still. The Garden of Paradise was
    always in his thoughts.

    He went walking in the woods one day. He walked alone, for this was his favorite
    amusement. Evening came on, the clouds gathered, and the rain poured down as
    if the sky were all one big floodgate from which the water plunged. It was as
    dark as it would be at night in the deepest well. He kept slipping on the wet
    grass, and tripping over the stones that stuck out of the rocky soil. Everything
    was soaking wet, and at length the poor Prince didn’t have a dry stitch to his
    back. He had to scramble over great boulders where the water trickled from the
    wet moss. He had almost fainted, when he heard a strange puffing and saw a huge
    cave ahead of him. It was brightly lit, for inside the cave burned a fire so
    large that it could have roasted a stag. And this was actually being done. A
    magnificent deer, antlers and all, had been stuck on a spit, and was being slowly
    turned between the rough-hewn trunks of two pine trees. An elderly woman, so
    burly and strong that she might have been taken for a man in disguise, sat by
    the fire and threw log after log upon it.

    "You can come nearer," she said. "Sit down by the fire and let
    your clothes dry."

    "There’s an awful draft here," the Prince remarked, as he seated
    himself on the ground.

    "It will be still worse when my sons get home," the woman told him.
    "You are in the cave of the winds, and my sons are the four winds of the
    world. Do I make myself clear?"

    "Where are your sons?" the Prince asked.

    "Such a stupid question is hard to answer," the woman told him. "My
    sons go their own ways, playing ball with the clouds in that great hall. "And
    she pointed up toward the sky.

    "Really!" said the Prince. "I notice that you have a rather
    forceful way of speaking, and are not as gentle as the women I usually see around

    "I suppose they have nothing better to do. I have to be harsh to control
    those sons of mine. I manage to do it, for all that they are an obstinate lot.
    See the four sacks that hang there on the wall! They dread those as much as
    you used to dread the switch that was kept behind the mirror for you. I can
    fold the boys right up, let me tell you, and pop them straight into the bag.
    We don’t mince matters. There they stay. They aren’t allowed to roam around
    again until I see fit to let them. But here comes one of them."

    It was the North Wind who came hurtling in, with a cold blast of snowflakes
    that swirled about him and great hailstones that rattled on the floor. He was
    wearing a bear-skin coat and trousers; a seal-skin cap was pulled over his ears;
    long icicles hung from his beard; and hailstone after hailstone fell from the
    collar of his coat.

    "Don’t go right up to the fire so quickly," the Prince warned him.
    "Your face and hands might get frostbite."

    "Frostbite!" the North Wind laughed his loudest. "Frostbite!
    Why, frost is my chief delight. But what sort of ‘longleg’ are you? How do you
    come to be in the cave of the winds?"

    "He is here as my guest," the old woman intervened. "And if
    that explanation doesn’t suit you, into the sack you go. Do I make myself clear?"

    She made herself clear enough. The North Wind now talked of whence he had come,
    and where he had traveled for almost a month.

    "I come from the Arctic Sea," he told them. "I have been on
    Bear Island with the Russian walrus hunters. I lay beside the helm, and slept
    as they sailed from the North Cape. When I awoke from time to time the storm
    bird circled about my knees. There’s an odd bird for you! He gives a quick flap
    of his wings, and then holds them perfectly still and rushes along at full speed."

    "Don’t be so long-winded," his mother told him. "So you came
    to Bear Island?"

    "It’s a wonderful place! There’s a dancing floor for you, as flat as a
    platter! The surface of the island is all half-melted snow, little patches of
    moss, and outcropping rocks. Scattered about are the bones of whales and polar
    bears, colored a moldy green, and looking like the arms and legs of some giant.

    "You’d have thought that the sun never shone there. I blew the fog away
    a bit, so that the house could be seen. It was a hut built of wreckage and covered
    with walrus skins, the fleshy side turned outward, and smeared with reds and
    greens. A love polar bear sat growling on the roof of it.

    "I went to the shore and looked at bird nests, and when I saw the featherless
    nestlings shrieking, with their beaks wide open, I blew down into their thousand
    throats. That taught them to shut their mouths. Further along, great walruses
    were wallowing about like monstrous maggots, with pigs’ heads, and tusks a yard

    "How well you do tell a story, my son," the old woman said. "My
    mouth waters when I hear you!"

    "The hunt began. The harpoon was hurled into the walrus’s breast, and
    a streaming blood stream spurted across the ice like a fountain. This reminded
    me of my own sport. I blew my sailing ships, those towering icebergs, against
    the boats until their timbers cracked. Ho! how the crew whistled and shouted.
    But I outwhistled them all. Overboard on the ice they had to throw their dead
    walruses, their tackle, and even their sea chests. I shrouded them in snow,
    and let them drift south with their broken boats and their booty alongside,
    for a taste of the open sea. They won’t ever come back to Bear Island."
    "That was a wicked thing to do," said the mother of the winds.

    "I’ll let others tell of my good deeds," he said. "But here
    comes my brother from the west. I like him best of all. He has a seafaring air
    about him, and carries a refreshing touch of coolness wherever he goes."

    "Is that little Zephyr?" the Prince asked.

    "Of course it’s Zephyr," the old woman replied, "but he’s not
    little. He was a nice boy once, but that was years ago."

    He looked like a savage, except that he wore a broad-rimmed hat to shield his
    face. In his hand he carried a mahogany bludgeon, cut in the mahogany forests
    of America. Nothing less would do!

    "Where have you come from?" his mother asked.

    "I come from the forest wilderness," he said, "where the thorny
    vines make a fence between every tree, where the water snake lurks in the wet
    grass, and where people seem unnecessary."

    "What were you doing there?"

    "I gazed into the deepest of rivers, and saw how it rushed through the
    rapids and threw up a cloud of spray large enough to hold the rainbow. I saw
    a wild buffalo wading in the river, but it swept him away. He swam with a flock
    of wild ducks, that flew up when the river went over a waterfall. But the buffalo
    had to plunge down it. That amused me so much that I blew up a storm, which
    broke age-old trees into splinters."

    "Haven’t you done anything else?" the old woman asked him.

    "I turned somersaults across the plains, stroked the wild horses, and
    shook cocoanuts down from the palm trees. Yes indeed, I have tales worth telling,
    but one shouldn’t tell all he knows. Isn’t that right, old lady?" Then
    he gave her such a kiss that it nearly knocked her over backward. He was certainly
    a wild young fellow.

    Then the South Wind arrived, in a turban and a Bedouin’s billowing robe.

    "It’s dreadfully cold in here," he cried, and threw more wood on
    the fire. "I can tell that the North Wind got here before me."

    "It’s hot enough to roast a polar bear here," the North Wind protested.

    "You are a polar bear yourself," the South Wind said.

    "Do you want to be put into the sack?" the old woman asked. "Sit
    down on that stone over there and tell me where you have been."

    "In Africa, dear Mother," said he. "I have been hunting the
    lion with Hottentots in Kaffirland. What fine grass grows there on the plains.
    It is as green as an olive. There danced the gnu, and the ostrich raced with
    me, but I am fleeter than he is. I went into the desert where the yellow sand
    is like the bottom of the sea. I met with a caravan, where they were killing
    their last camel to get drinking water, but it was little enough they got. The
    sun blazed overhead and the sand scorched underfoot. The desert was unending.

    "I rolled in the fine loose sand and whirled it aloft in great columns.
    What a dance that was! You ought to have seen how despondently the dromedaries
    hunched up, and how the trader pulled his burnoose over his head. He threw himself
    down before me as he would before Allah, his god. Now they are buried, with
    a pyramid of sand rising over them all. When some day I blow it away, the sun
    will bleach their bones white, and travelers will see that men have been there
    before them. Otherwise no one would believe it, there in the desert."

    "So you have done nothing but wickedness!" cried his mother. "Into
    the sack with you!" And before he was aware of it, she picked the South
    Wind up bodily and thrust him into the bag. He thrashed about on the floor until
    she sat down on the sack. That kept him quiet.

    "Those are boisterous sons you have," said the Prince.

    "Indeed they are," she agreed, "but I know how to keep them
    in order. Here comes the fourth one."

    This was the East Wind. He was dressed as a Chinaman.

    "So that’s where you’ve been!" said his mother. "I thought you
    had gone to the Garden of Paradise."

    "I won’t fly there until tomorrow," the East Wind said. "Tomorrow
    it will be exactly a hundred years since I was there. I am just home from China,
    where I danced around the porcelain tower until all the bells jangled. Officials
    of state were being whipped through the streets. Bamboo sticks were broken across
    their shoulders, though they were people of importance, from the first to the
    ninth degree. They howled, ‘Thank you so much, my father and protector,’ but
    they didn’t mean it. And I went about clanging the bells and sang, ‘Tsing, tsang,
    tsu!’ "

    "You are too saucy," the old woman told him. "It’s a lucky thing
    that you’ll be off to the Garden of Paradise tomorrow, for it always has a good
    influence on you. Remember to drink deep out of the fountain of wisdom and bring
    back a little bottleful for me."

    "I’ll do that," said the East Wind. "But why have you popped
    my brother from the south into the sack? Let’s have him out. He must tell me
    about the phoenix bird, because the Princess in the Garden of Paradise always
    asks me about that bird when I drop in on her every hundred years. Open up my
    sack, like my own sweet mother, and I’ll give you two pockets full of tea as
    green and fresh as it was when I picked it off the bush."

    "Well-for the sake of the tea, and because you are my pet, I’ll open the

    She opened it up, and the South Wind crawled out. But he looked very glum,
    because the Prince, who was a stranger, had seen him humbled.

    "Here’s a palm-leaf fan for the Princess," the South Wind said. "It
    was given to me by the old phoenix, who was the only one of his kind in the
    world. On it he scratched with his beak a history of the hundred years that
    he lived, so she can read it herself. I watched the phoenix bird set fire to
    her nest, and sat there while she burned to death, just like a Hindoo widow.
    What a crackling there was of dry twigs, what smoke, and what a smell of smoldering!
    Finally it all burst into flames, and the old phoenix was reduced to ashes,
    but her egg lay white-hot in the blaze. With a great bang it broke open, and
    the young phoenix flew out of it. Now he is the ruler over all the birds, and
    he is the only phoenix bird in all the world. As his greetings to the Princess,
    he thrust a hole in the palm leaf I am giving you."

    "Let’s have a bite to eat," said the mother of the winds.

    As they sat down to eat the roast stag, the Prince took a place beside the
    East Wind, and they soon became fast friends.

    "Tell me," said the Prince, "who is this Princess you’ve been
    talking so much about, and just where is the Garden of Eden?"

    "Ah, ha!" said the East Wind. "Would you like to go there? Then
    fly with me tomorrow. I must warn you, though, no man has been there since Adam
    and Eve. You have read about them in the Bible?"

    "Surely," the Prince said.

    "After they were driven out, the Garden of Paradise sank deep into the
    earth, but it kept its warm sunlight, its refreshing air, and all of its glories.
    The queen of the fairies lives there on the Island of the Blessed, where death
    never comes and where there is everlasting happiness. Sit on my back tomorrow
    and I shall take you with me. I think it can be managed. But now let’s stop
    talking, for I want to sleep."

    And then they all went to sleep. When the Prince awoke the next morning, it
    came as no small surprise to find himself high over the clouds. He was seated
    on the back of the East Wind, who carefully held him safe. They were so far
    up in the sky that all the woods, fields, rivers, and lakes looked as if they
    were printed on a map spread beneath them.

    "Good morning," said the East Wind. "You might just as well
    sleep a little longer. There’s nothing very interesting in this flat land beneath
    us, unless you care to count churches. They stand out like chalk marks upon
    the green board."

    What he called "the green board" was all the fields and pastures.

    "It was not very polite of me to leave without bidding your mother and
    brothers farewell," the Prince said.

    "That’s excusable, when you leave in your sleep," the East Wind told
    him, as they flew on faster than ever.

    One could hear it in the tree tops. All the leaves and branches rustled as
    they swept over the forest, and when they crossed over lakes or over seas the
    waves rose high, and tall ships bent low to the water as if they were drifting

    As darkness gathered that evening, it was pleasant to see the great cities
    with their lights twinkling here and spreading there, just as when you burn
    a piece of paper and the sparks fly one after another. At this sight the Prince
    clapped his hands in delight, but the East Wind advised him to stop it and hold
    on tight, or he might fall and find himself stuck upon a church steeple.

    The eagle in the dark forest flew lightly, but the East Wind flew more lightly
    still. The Cossack on his pony sped swiftly across the steppes, but the Prince
    sped still more swiftly.

    "Now," said the East Wind, "you can view the Himalayas, the
    highest mountains in Asia. And soon we shall reach the Garden of paradise."

    They turned southward, where the air was sweet with flowers and spice. Figs
    and pomegranates grew wild, and on untended vines grew red and blue clusters
    of grapes. They came down here, and both of them stretched out on the soft grass,
    where flowers nodded in the breeze as if to say: "Welcome back."

    "Are we now in the Garden of Paradise?" the Prince asked.

    "Oh, no!" said the East Wind. "But we shall come to it soon.
    Do you see that rocky cliff, and the big cave, where the vines hang in a wide
    curtain of greenery? That’s the way we go. Wrap your coat well about you. Here
    the sun is scorching hot, but a few steps and it is as cold as ice. The bird
    that flies at the mouth of the cave has one wing in summery and the other in
    wintry air."

    "So this is the way to the Garden of Paradise," said the Prince,
    as they entered the cave.

    Brer-r-r! how frosty it was there, but not for long. The East Wind spread his
    wings, and they shone like the brighest flames. But what a cave that was! Huge
    masses of rock, from which water was trickling, hung in fantastic shapes above
    them. Sometimes the cave was so narrow that they had to crawl on their hands
    and knees, sometimes so vast that it seemed that they were under the open sky.
    The cave resembled a series of funeral chapels, with mute organ pipes and banners
    turned to stone.

    "We are going to the Garden of Paradise through the gates of death, are
    we not?" the Prince asked.

    The East Wind answered not a word, but pointed to a lovely blue light that
    shone ahead of them. The masses of stone over their heads grew more and more
    misty, and at last they looked up at a clear white cloud in the moonlight. The
    air became delightfully clement, as fresh as it is in the hills, and as sweetly
    scented as it is among the roses that bloom in the valley.

    The river which flowed there was clear as the air itself, and the fish in it
    were like silver and gold. Purple eels, that at every turn threw off blue sparks,
    frolicked about in the water, and the large leaves of the aquatic flowers gleamed
    in all of the rainbow’s colors. The flowers themselves were like a bright orange
    flame, which fed on the water just as a lamplight is fed by oil.

    A strong marble bridge, made so delicately and artistically that it looked
    as if it consisted of lace and glass pearls, led across the water to the Island
    of the Blessed, where the Garden of Paradise bloomed.

    The East Wind swept the Prince up in his arms and carried him across to the
    island, where the petals and leaves sang all the lovely old songs of his childhood,
    but far, far sweeter than any human voice could sing. Were these palm trees
    that grew there, or immense water plants? Such vast and verdant trees the Prince
    had never seen before. The most marvelous climbing vines hung in garlands such
    as are to be seen only in old illuminated church books, painted in gold and
    bright colors in the margins or twined about the initial letters. Here was the
    oddest assortment of birds, flowers, and twisting vines.

    On the grass near-by, with their brilliantly starred tails spread wide, was
    a flock of peacocks. Or so they seemed, but when the Prince touched them he
    found that these were not birds. They were plants. They were large burdock leaves
    that were as resplendent as a peacock’s train. Lions and tigers leaped about,
    as lithe as cats, in the green shrubbery which the olive blossoms made so fragrant.
    The lions and tigers were quite tame, for the wild wood pigeon, which glistened
    like a lovely pearl, brushed the lion’s mane with her wings, and the timid antelopes
    stood by and tossed their heads as if they would like to join in their play.

    Then the fairy of the garden came to meet them. Her garments were as bright
    as the sun, and her face was as cheerful as that of a happy mother who is well
    pleased with her child. She was so young and lovely, and the other pretty maidens
    who followed her each wore a shining star in their hair. When the East Wind
    gave her the palm-leaf message from the phoenix, her eyes sparkled with pleasure.

    She took the Prince by his hand and led him into her palace, where the walls
    had the color of a perfect tulip petal held up to the sun. The ceiling was made
    of one great shining flower, and the longer one looked up the deeper did the
    cup of it seem to be. The Prince went to the window. As he glanced out through
    one of the panes he saw the Tree of Knowledge, with the serpent, and Adam and
    Eve standing under it.

    "Weren’t they driven out?" he asked.

    The fairy smilingly explained to him that Time had glazed a picture in each
    pane, but that these were not the usual sort of pictures. No, they had life
    in them. The leaves quivered on the trees, and the people came and went as in
    a mirror.

    He looked through another pane and there was Jacob’s dream, with the ladder
    that went up to Heaven, and the great angels climbing up and down. Yes, all
    that ever there was in the world lived on, and moved across these panes of glass.
    Only Time could glaze such artistic paintings so well.

    The fairy smiled and led him on into a vast and lofty hall, with walls that
    seemed transparent. On the walls were portraits, each fairer than the one before.
    These were millions of blessed souls, a happy choir which sang in perfect harmony.
    The uppermost faces appeared to be smaller than the tiniest rosebud drawn as
    a single dot in a picture. In the center of the hall grew a large tree, with
    luxuriantly hanging branches. Golden apples large and small hung like oranges
    among the leaves. This was the Tree of Knowledge, of which Adam and Eve had
    tasted. A sparkling red drop of dew hung from each leaf, as if the Tree were
    weeping tears of blood.

    "Now let us get into the boat," the fairy proposed. "There we
    will have some refreshments on the heaving water. Though the rocking boat stays
    in one place, we shall see all the lands in the world glide by."

    It was marvelous how the whole shore moved. Now the high snow-capped Alps went
    past, with their clouds and dark evergreen trees. The Alpine horn was heard,
    deep and melancholy, and the shepherds yodeled gaily in the valley. But soon
    the boat was overhung by the long arching branches of banana trees. Jet-black
    swans went swimming by, and the queerest animals and plants were to be seen
    along the banks. This was new Holland and the fifth quarter of the globe that
    glided past, with its blue hills in the distance. They heard the songs of the
    priests and saw the savages dance to the sound of drums, and trumpets of bone.
    The cloud-tipped pyramids of Egypt, the fallen columns, and sphinxes half buried
    in the sands, swept by. The Northern Lights blazed over the glaciers around
    the Pole, in a display of fireworks that no one could imitate. The Prince saw
    a hundred times more than we can tell, and he was completely happy.

    "May I always stay here?" he asked.

    "That is up to you," the fairy told him. "Unless, as Adam did,
    you let yourself be tempted and do what is forbidden, you may stay here always."

    "I won’t touch the fruit on the Tree of Knowledge," the Prince declared.
    "Here are thousands of other fruits that are just as attractive."

    "Look into your heart, and, if you have not strength enough, go back with
    the East Wind who brought you here. He is leaving soon, and will not return
    for a hundred years, which you will spend as quickly here as if they were a
    hundred hours.

    "But that is a long time to resist the temptation to sin. When I leave
    you every evening, I shall have to call, ‘ Come with me,’ and hold out my hands
    to you. But you must stay behind. Do not follow me, or your desire will grow
    with every step. You will come into the hall where the Tree of Knowledge grows.
    I sleep under the arch of its sweet-smelling branches. If you lean over me I
    shall have to smile, but if you kiss me on the mouth this Paradise will vanish
    deep into the earth, and you will lose it. The cutting winds of the wasteland
    will blow about you, the cold rain will drip from your hair, and sorrow and
    toil will be your destiny."

    "I shall stay," the Prince said.

    The East Wind kissed his forehead. "Be strong," he said, "and
    in a hundred years we shall meet here again. Farewell! farewell!" Then
    the East Wind spread his tremendous wings that flashed like lightning seen at
    harvest time or like the Northern Lights in the winter cold.

    "Farewell! farewell!" the leaves and trees echoed the sound, as the
    storks and the pelicans flew with him to the end of the garden, in lines that
    were like ribbons streaming through the air.

    "Now we will start our dances," the fairy said. "When I have
    danced the last dance with you at sundown, you will see me hold out my hands
    to you, and hear me call. ‘come with me.’ But do not come. Every evening for
    a hundred years, I shall have to repeat this. Every time that you resist, your
    strength will grow, and at last you will not even think of yielding to temptation.
    This evening is the first time, so take warning!"

    And the fairy led him into a large hall of white, transparent lilies. The yellow
    stamens of each flower formed a small golden harp, which vibrated to the music
    of strings and flutes. The loveliest maidens, floating and slender, came dancing
    by, clad in such airy gauze that one could see how perfectly shaped they were.
    They sang of the happiness of life-they who would never die-and they sang that
    the Garden of Paradise would forever bloom.

    The sun went down. The sky turned to shining gold, and in its light the lilies
    took on the color of the loveliest roses. The Prince drank the sparkling wine
    that the maidens offered him, and felt happier than he had ever been. He watched
    the background of the hall thrown open, and the Tree of Knowledge standing in
    a splendor which blinded his eyes. The song from the tree was as soft and lovely
    as his dear mother’s voice, and it was as if she were saying, "My child,
    my dearest child."

    The fairy then held out her hands to him and called most sweetly:

    "Follow me! Oh, follow me!"

    Forgetting his promise-forgetting everything, on the very first evening that
    she held out her hands and smiled-he ran toward her. The fragrant air around
    him became even more sweet, the music of the harps sounded even more lovely,
    and it seemed as though the millions of happy faces in the hall where the Tree
    grew nodded to him and sang, "One must know all there is to know, for man
    is the lord of the earth." And it seemed to him that the drops that fell
    from the Tree of Knowledge were no longer tears of blood, but red and shining

    "Follow me! Follow me!" the quivering voice still called, and at
    every step that the Prince took his cheeks flushed warmer and his pulse beat

    "I cannot help it," he said. "This is no sin. It cannot be wicked
    to follow beauty and happiness. I must see her sleeping. No harm will be done
    if only I keep myself from kissing her. And I will not kiss her, for I am strong.
    I have a determined will."

    The fairy threw off her bright robe, parted the boughs, and was instantly hidden
    within them.

    "I have not sinned yet," said the Prince, "and I shall not!"

    He pushed the branches aside. There she lay, already asleep. Lovely as only
    the fairy of the Garden of Paradise can be, she smiled in her sleep, but as
    he leaned over her he saw tears trembling between her lashes.

    "Do you weep for me?" he whispered. "Do not weep, my splendid
    maiden. Not until now have I known the bliss of Paradise. It runs through my
    veins and through all my thoughts. I feel the strength of an angel, and the
    strength of eternal life in my mortal body. Let eternal night come over me.
    One moment such as this is worth it all." He kissed away the tears from
    her eyes, and then his lips had touched her mouth.

    Thunder roared, louder and more terrible than any thunder ever heard before,
    and everything crashed! The lovely fairy and the blossoming Paradise dropped
    away, deeper and deeper. The Prince saw it disappear into the dark night. Like
    a small shining star it twinkled in the distance. A deathly chill shook his
    body. He closed his eyes and for a long time he lay as if he were dead.

    The cold rain fell in his face, and the cutting wind blew about his head. Consciousness
    returned to him.

    "What have I done?" he gasped. "Like Adam, I have sinned-sinned
    so unforgivably that Paradise has dropped away, deep in the earth."

    He opened his eyes and he still saw the star far away, the star that twinkled
    like the Paradise he had lost-it was the morning star in the sky. He rose and
    found himself in the forest, not far from the cave of the winds. The mother
    of the winds sat beside him. She looked at him angrily and raised her finger.

    "The very first evening!" she said. "I thought that was the
    way it would be. If you were my son, into the sack you would certainly go."

    "Indeed he shall go there!" said Death, a vigorous old man with a
    scythe in his hand, and long black wings. "Yes, he shall be put in a coffin,
    but not quite yet. Now I shall only mark him. For a while I’ll let him walk
    the earth to atone for his sins and grow better. But I’ll be back some day.
    Some day, when he least expects me, I shall put him in a black coffin, lift
    it on my head, and fly upward to the star. There too blooms the Garden of Paradise,
    and if he is a good and pious man he will be allowed to enter it. But if his
    thoughts are bad, and his heart is still full of sin, he will sink down deeper
    with his coffin than Paradise sank. Only once in a thousand years shall I go
    to see whether he must sink still lower, or may reach the star-that bright star
    away up there."

    Five Peas from a Pod

    There were five peas in one pod; the peas were green and the pod was green, and
    so they believed that the whole world was green-and that was absolutely right!
    The pod grew and the peas grew; they adjusted themselves to their surroundings,
    sitting straight in a row. The sun shone outside and warmed the pod; the rain
    made it clear and clean. It was nice and cozy inside, bright in the daytime and
    dark at night, just as it should be; and the peas became larger, and more and
    more thoughtful, as they sat there, for surely there was something they must do.

    "Shall I always remain sitting here?" said one. "If only I don’t
    become hard from sitting so long. It seems to me there must be something outside;
    I have a feeling about it."

    And weeks went by; the peas became yellow, and the pod became yellow. "The
    whole world’s becoming yellow," they said, and that they had a right to

    Then they felt a jerk at the pod. It was torn off, came into human hands, and
    then was put down into the pocket of a jacket, along with other full pods.

    "Now it will soon be opened up!" they said, and they waited for that.

    "Now I’d like to know which of us will get the farthest," said the
    smallest pea. "Yes, now we’ll soon find that out."

    "Let happen what may!" said the biggest.

    "Crack!" the pod burst open, and all five peas rolled out into the
    bright sunshine. They were lying in a child’s hand; a little boy held them,
    and said that they were suitable peas for his peashooter, and immediately one
    was put in and shot out.

    "Now I’m flying out into the wide world! Catch me if you can!" And
    then it was gone.

    "I’m going to fly right into the sun!" said the second. "That’s
    a perfect pod, and very well suited to me!" Away it went.

    "We’ll go to sleep wherever we come to," said two of the others,
    "but we’ll roll on, anyway." And they rolled about on the ground before
    being put into the shooter, but they went into it all the same.

    "We’ll go the farthest!"

    "Let happen what may!" said the last one as it was shot into the
    air. And it flew up against the old board under the garret window, right into
    a crack, where there was moss and soft soil; and the moss closed around the
    pea. There it lay hidden, but not forgotten by our Lord.

    "Let happen what may!" it said.

    Inside the little garret lived a poor woman who went out by the day to polish
    stoves; yes, even chop up wood and do other hard work, for she had strength
    and she was industrious; but still she remained poor. And at home in the little
    room lay her half-grown, only daughter, who was so very frail and thin. For
    a whole year the girl had been bed-ridden, and it seemed as if she could neither
    neither neither neither neither neither neither live nor die.

    "She will go to her little sister," the woman said. "I had the
    two children, and it was hard for me to care for both, but then our Lord divided
    with me and took the one home to Himself. I want to keep the one I have left,
    but probably He doesn’t want them to be separated, and she will go up to her
    little sister."

    But the sick girl stayed; she lay patient and quiet the day long, while her
    mother went out to earn money.

    It was springtime, and early one morning, just as the mother was about to go
    to work; the sun shone beautifully through the little window, across the floor.
    The sick girl looked over at the lowest windowpane.

    "What is that green thing that’s peeping in the window? It’s moving in
    the wind."

    And the mother went over to the window and opened it a little. "Why,"
    she said, "it is a little pea that has sprouted out here with green leaves!
    How did it ever get here in the crack? You now have a little garden to look

    And the sick girl’s bed was moved closer to the window, where she could see
    the growing pea vine, and the mother went to her work.

    "Mother, I think I am going to get well!" said the little girl in
    the evening.

    "The sun today shone so warmly in on me. The little pea is prospering
    so well, and I will also prosper and get up and out into the sunshine!"

    "Oh, I hope so!" said the mother, but she didn’t believe it would
    happen; yet she was careful to strengthen with a little stick the green plant
    that had given her daughter such happy thoughts about life, so that it wouldn’t
    be broken by the wind. She tied a piece of string to the window sill and to
    the upper part of the frame, so that the vine could have something to wind around
    as it shot up. And this it did. You could see every day that it was growing.

    "Look, it has a blossom!" said the woman one morning; and now she
    had not only the hope, but also the belief, that the little sick girl would
    get well. She recalled that lately the child had talked more cheerfully and
    that the last few mornings she had risen up in bed by herself and had sat there
    and looked with sparkling eyes at the little pea garden with its one single
    plant. The following week the sick child for the first time sat up for over
    an hour. Joyous, she sat there in the warm sunshine; the window was opened,
    and outside stood a fully blown pink pea blossom. The little girl bent her head
    down and gently kissed the delicate leaves. This was just like a festival day.

    "Our Lord Himself planted the pea, and made it thrive, to bring hope and
    joy to you, my blessed child, and to me, too!" said the happy mother, and
    smiled at the flower, as if to a good angel from God.

    But now the other peas! Well, the one that flew out into the wide world crying,
    "Catch me if you can!" fell into the gutter of the roof and landed
    in a pigeon’s crop, where it lay like Jonah in the whale. The two lazy ones
    got just that far, for they also were eaten by pigeons, and that’s being of
    real use. But the fourth pea, who wanted to shoot up to the sun, fell into a
    gutter and lay for days and weeks in the dirty water, where it swelled up amazingly.

    "I’m becoming so beautifully fat!" said the pea. "I’m going
    to burst, and I don’t think any pea can, or ever did, go farther than that.
    I am the most remarkable of the five from that pod!"

    And the gutter agreed with it.

    But at the garret window stood the young girl with sparkling eyes and the rosy
    hue of health on her cheeks, and she folded her delicate hands over the pea
    blossom and thanked our Lord for it.

    "I still stand up for my pea!" said the gutter.

    The Phoenix Bird

    In the Garden of Paradise, beneath the Tree of Knowledge, bloomed a rose bush.
    Here, in the first rose, a bird was born. His flight was like the flashing of
    light, his plumage was beauteous, and his song ravishing. But when Eve plucked
    the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, when she and Adam were driven
    from Paradise, there fell from the flaming sword of the cherub a spark into the
    nest of the bird, which blazed up forthwith. The bird perished in the flames;
    but from the red egg in the nest there fluttered aloft a new one—the one solitary
    Phoenix bird. The fable tells that he dwells in Arabia, and that every hundred
    years, he burns himself to death in his nest; but each time a new Phoenix, the
    only one in the world, rises up from the red egg.

    The bird flutters round us, swift as light, beauteous in color, charming in
    song. When a mother sits by her infant’s cradle, he stands on the pillow, and,
    with his wings, forms a glory around the infant’s head. He flies through the
    chamber of content, and brings sunshine into it, and the violets on the humble
    table smell doubly sweet.

    But the Phoenix is not the bird of Arabia alone. He wings his way in the glimmer
    of the Northern Lights over the plains of Lapland, and hops among the yellow
    flowers in the short Greenland summer. Beneath the copper mountains of Fablun,
    and England’s coal mines, he flies, in the shape of a dusty moth, over the hymnbook
    that rests on the knees of the pious miner. On a lotus leaf he floats down the
    sacred waters of the Ganges, and the eye of the Hindoo maid gleams bright when
    she beholds him.

    The Phoenix bird, dost thou not know him? The Bird of Paradise, the holy swan
    of song! On the car of Thespis he sat in the guise of a chattering raven, and
    flapped his black wings, smeared with the lees of wine; over the sounding harp
    of Iceland swept the swan’s red beak; on Shakspeare’s shoulder he sat in the
    guise of Odin’s raven, and whispered in the poet’s ear “Immortality!” and at
    the minstrels’ feast he fluttered through the halls of the Wartburg.

    The Phoenix bird, dost thou not know him? He sang to thee the Marseillaise,
    and thou kissedst the pen that fell from his wing; he came in the radiance of
    Paradise, and perchance thou didst turn away from him towards the sparrow who
    sat with tinsel on his wings.

    The Bird of Paradise—renewed each century—born in flame, ending in flame! Thy
    picture, in a golden frame, hangs in the halls of the rich, but thou thyself
    often fliest around, lonely and disregarded, a myth—“The Phoenix of Arabia.”

    In Paradise, when thou wert born in the first rose, beneath the Tree of Knowledge,
    thou receivedst a kiss, and thy right name was given thee—thy name, Poetry.

    The Jumpers

    The Flea, the Grasshopper, and the Skipjack (1) once wanted to see which of them
    could jump highest; and they invited the whole world, and whoever else would come,
    to see the grand sight. And there the three famous jumpers were met together in
    the room.

    “Yes, I’ll give my daughter to him who jumps highest,” said the King, “for
    it would be mean to let these people jump for nothing.”

    The Flea stepped out first. He had very pretty manners, and bowed in all directions,
    for he had young ladies’ blood in his veins, and was accustomed to consort only
    with human beings; and that was of great consequence.

    Then came the Grasshopper: he was certainly much heavier, but he had a good
    figure, and wore the green uniform that was born with him. This person, moreover,
    maintained that he belonged to a very old family in the land of Egypt, and that
    he was highly esteemed there. He had just come from the field, he said, and
    had been put into a card house three stories high, and all made of picture cards
    with the figures turned inwards. There were doors and windows in the house,
    cut in the body of the Queen of Hearts.

    “I sing so,” he said, “that sixteen native crickets who have chirped from their
    youth up, and have never yet had a card house of their own, would become thinner
    than they are with envy if they were to hear me.”

    Both of them, the Flea and the Grasshopper, took care to announce who they
    were, and that they considered themselves entitled to marry a Princess.

    The Skipjack said nothing, but it was said of him that he thought all the more;
    and directly the Yard Dog had smelt at him he was ready to assert that the Skipjack
    was of good family, and formed from the breastbone of an undoubted goose. The
    old councillor, who had received three medals for holding his tongue, declared
    that the Skipjack possessed the gift of prophecy; one could tell by his bones
    whether there would be a severe winter or a mild one; and that’s more than one
    can always tell from the breastbone of the man who writes the almanac.

    “I shall not say anything more,” said the old King. “I only go on quietly,
    and always think the best.”

    Now they were to take their jump. The Flea sprang so high that no one could
    see him; and then they asserted that he had not jumped at all. That was very
    mean. The Grasshopper only sprang half as high, but he sprang straight into
    the King’s face, and the King declared that was horribly rude. The Skipjack
    stood a long time considering; at last people thought that he could not jump
    at all.

    “I only hope he’s not become unwell,” said the Yard Dog, and then he smelt
    at him again.

    “Tap!” he sprang with a little crooked jump just into the lap of the Princess,
    who sat on a low golden stool.

    Then the King said, “The highest leap was taken by him who jumped up to my
    daughter; for therein lies the point; but it requires head to achieve that,
    and the Skipjack has shown that he has a head.”

    And so he had the Princess.

    “I jumped highest, after all,” said the Flea. “But it’s all the same. Let her
    have the goose-bone with its lump of wax and bit of stick. I jumped to the highest;
    but in this world a body is required if one wishes to be seen.”

    And the Flea went into foreign military service, where it is said he was killed.

    The Grasshopper seated himself out in the ditch, and thought and considered
    how things happened in the world. And he too said, “Body is required! body is
    required!” And then he sang his own melancholy song, and from that we have gathered
    this story, which they say is not true, though it’s in print.

    1) A chidren’s toy, made from the breastbone of a goose, wax and a stick, which
    can be made to jump.

    She Was Good for Nothing

    The mayor stood at the open window. He looked smart, for his shirt-frill, in which
    he had stuck a breast-pin, and his ruffles, were very fine. He had shaved his
    chin uncommonly smooth, although he had cut himself slightly, and had stuck a
    piece of newspaper over the place. “Hark ’ee, youngster!” cried he.

    The boy to whom he spoke was no other than the son of a poor washer-woman,
    who was just going past the house. He stopped, and respectfully took off his
    cap. The peak of this cap was broken in the middle, so that he could easily
    roll it up and put it in his pocket. He stood before the mayor in his poor but
    clean and well-mended clothes, with heavy wooden shoes on his feet, looking
    as humble as if it had been the king himself.

    “You are a good and civil boy,” said the mayor. “I suppose your mother is busy
    washing the clothes down by the river, and you are going to carry that thing
    to her that you have in your pocket. It is very bad for your mother. How much
    have you got in it?”

    “Only half a quartern,” stammered the boy in a frightened voice.

    “And she has had just as much this morning already?”

    “No, it was yesterday,” replied the boy.

    “Two halves make a whole,” said the mayor. “She’s good for nothing. What a
    sad thing it is with these people. Tell your mother she ought to be ashamed
    of herself. Don’t you become a drunkard, but I expect you will though. Poor
    child! there, go now.”

    The boy went on his way with his cap in his hand, while the wind fluttered
    his golden hair till the locks stood up straight. He turned round the corner
    of the street into the little lane that led to the river, where his mother stood
    in the water by her washing bench, beating the linen with a heavy wooden bar.
    The floodgates at the mill had been drawn up, and as the water rolled rapidly
    on, the sheets were dragged along by the stream, and nearly overturned the bench,
    so that the washer-woman was obliged to lean against it to keep it steady. “I
    have been very nearly carried away,” she said; “it is a good thing that you
    are come, for I want something to strengthen me. It is cold in the water, and
    I have stood here six hours. Have you brought anything for me?”

    The boy drew the bottle from his pocket, and the mother put it to her lips,
    and drank a little.

    “Ah, how much good that does, and how it warms me,” she said; “it is as good
    as a hot meal, and not so dear. Drink a little, my boy; you look quite pale;
    you are shivering in your thin clothes, and autumn has really come. Oh, how
    cold the water is! I hope I shall not be ill. But no, I must not be afraid of
    that. Give me a little more, and you may have a sip too, but only a sip; you
    must not get used to it, my poor, dear child.” She stepped up to the bridge
    on which the boy stood as she spoke, and came on shore. The water dripped from
    the straw mat which she had bound round her body, and from her gown. “I work
    hard and suffer pain with my poor hands,” said she, “but I do it willingly,
    that I may be able to bring you up honestly and truthfully, my dear boy.”

    At the same moment, a woman, rather older than herself, came towards them.
    She was a miserable-looking object, lame of one leg, and with a large false
    curl hanging down over one of her eyes, which was blind. This curl was intended
    to conceal the blind eye, but it made the defect only more visible. She was
    a friend of the laundress, and was called, among the neighbors, “Lame Martha,
    with the curl.” “Oh, you poor thing; how you do work, standing there in the
    water!” she exclaimed. “You really do need something to give you a little warmth,
    and yet spiteful people cry out about the few drops you take.” And then Martha
    repeated to the laundress, in a very few minutes, all that the mayor had said
    to her boy, which she had overheard; and she felt very angry that any man could
    speak, as he had done, of a mother to her own child, about the few drops she
    had taken; and she was still more angry because, on that very day, the mayor
    was going to have a dinner-party, at which there would be wine, strong, rich
    wine, drunk by the bottle. “Many will take more than they ought, but they don’t
    call that drinking! They are all right, you are good for nothing indeed!” cried
    Martha indignantly.

    “And so he spoke to you in that way, did he, my child?” said the washer-woman,
    and her lips trembled as she spoke. “He says you have a mother who is good for
    nothing. Well, perhaps he is right, but he should not have said it to my child.
    How much has happened to me from that house!”

    “Yes,” said Martha; “I remember you were in service there, and lived in the
    house when the mayor’s parents were alive; how many years ago that is. Bushels
    of salt have been eaten since then, and people may well be thirsty,” and Martha
    smiled. “The mayor’s great dinner-party to-day ought to have been put off, but
    the news came too late. The footman told me the dinner was already cooked, when
    a letter came to say that the mayor’s younger brother in Copenhagen is dead.”

    “Dead!” cried the laundress, turning pale as death.

    “Yes, certainly,” replied Martha; “but why do you take it so much to heart?
    I suppose you knew him years ago, when you were in service there?”

    “Is he dead?” she exclaimed. “Oh, he was such a kind, good-hearted man, there
    are not many like him,” and the tears rolled down her cheeks as she spoke. Then
    she cried, “Oh, dear me; I feel quite ill: everything is going round me, I cannot
    bear it. Is the bottle empty?” and she leaned against the plank.

    “Dear me, you are ill indeed,” said the other woman. “Come, cheer up; perhaps
    it will pass off. No, indeed, I see you are really ill; the best thing for me
    to do is to lead you home.”

    “But my washing yonder?”

    “I will take care of that. Come, give me your arm. The boy can stay here and
    take care of the linen, and I’ll come back and finish the washing; it is but
    a trifle.”

    The limbs of the laundress shook under her, and she said, “I have stood too
    long in the cold water, and I have had nothing to eat the whole day since the
    morning. O kind Heaven, help me to get home; I am in a burning fever. Oh, my
    poor child,” and she burst into tears. And he, poor boy, wept also, as he sat
    alone by the river, near to and watching the damp linen.

    The two women walked very slowly. The laundress slipped and tottered through
    the lane, and round the corner, into the street where the mayor lived; and just
    as she reached the front of his house, she sank down upon the pavement. Many
    persons came round her, and Lame Martha ran into the house for help. The mayor
    and his guests came to the window.

    “Oh, it is the laundress,” said he; “she has had a little drop too much. She
    is good for nothing. It is a sad thing for her pretty little son. I like the
    boy very well; but the mother is good for nothing.”

    After a while the laundress recovered herself, and they led her to her poor
    dwelling, and put her to bed. Kind Martha warmed a mug of beer for her, with
    butter and sugar—she considered this the best medicine—and then hastened to
    the river, washed and rinsed, badly enough, to be sure, but she did her best.
    Then she drew the linen ashore, wet as it was, and laid it in a basket. Before
    evening, she was sitting in the poor little room with the laundress. The mayor’s
    cook had given her some roasted potatoes and a beautiful piece of fat for the
    sick woman. Martha and the boy enjoyed these good things very much; but the
    sick woman could only say that the smell was very nourishing, she thought. By-and-by
    the boy was put to bed, in the same bed as the one in which his mother lay;
    but he slept at her feet, covered with an old quilt made of blue and white patchwork.
    The laundress felt a little better by this time. The warm beer had strengthened
    her, and the smell of the good food had been pleasant to her.

    “Many thanks, you good soul,” she said to Martha. “Now the boy is asleep, I
    will tell you all. He is soon asleep. How gentle and sweet he looks as he lies
    there with his eyes closed! He does not know how his mother has suffered; and
    Heaven grant he never may know it. I was in service at the counsellor’s, the
    father of the mayor, and it happened that the youngest of his sons, the student,
    came home. I was a young wild girl then, but honest; that I can declare in the
    sight of Heaven. The student was merry and gay, brave and affectionate; every
    drop of blood in him was good and honorable; a better man never lived on earth.
    He was the son of the house, and I was only a maid; but he loved me truly and
    honorably, and he told his mother of it. She was to him as an angel upon earth;
    she was so wise and loving. He went to travel, and before he started he placed
    a gold ring on my finger; and as soon as he was out of the house, my mistress
    sent for me. Gently and earnestly she drew me to her, and spake as if an angel
    were speaking. She showed me clearly, in spirit and in truth, the difference
    there was between him and me. ‘He is pleased now,’ she said, ‘with your pretty
    face; but good looks do not last long. You have not been educated like he has.
    You are not equals in mind and rank, and therein lies the misfortune. I esteem
    the poor,’ she added. ‘In the sight of God, they may occupy a higher place than
    many of the rich; but here upon earth we must beware of entering upon a false
    track, lest we are overturned in our plans, like a carriage that travels by
    a dangerous road. I know a worthy man, an artisan, who wishes to marry you.
    I mean Eric, the glovemaker. He is a widower, without children, and in a good
    position. Will you think it over?’ Every word she said pierced my heart like
    a knife; but I knew she was right, and the thought pressed heavily upon me.
    I kissed her hand, and wept bitter tears, and I wept still more when I went
    to my room, and threw myself on the bed. I passed through a dreadful night;
    God knows what I suffered, and how I struggled. The following Sunday I went
    to the house of God to pray for light to direct my path. It seemed like a providence
    that as I stepped out of church Eric came towards me; and then there remained
    not a doubt in my mind. We were suited to each other in rank and circumstances.
    He was, even then, a man of good means. I went up to him, and took his hand,
    and said, ‘Do you still feel the same for me?’ ‘Yes; ever and always,’ said
    he. ‘Will you, then, marry a maiden who honors and esteems you, although she
    cannot offer you her love? but that may come.’ ‘Yes, it will come,’ said he;
    and we joined our hands together, and I went home to my mistress. The gold ring
    which her son had given me I wore next to my heart. I could not place it on
    my finger during the daytime, but only in the evening, when I went to bed. I
    kissed the ring till my lips almost bled, and then I gave it to my mistress,
    and told her that the banns were to be put up for me and the glovemaker the
    following week. Then my mistress threw her arms round me, and kissed me. She
    did not say that I was ‘good for nothing;’ very likely I was better then than
    I am now; but the misfortunes of this world, were unknown to me then. At Michaelmas
    we were married, and for the first year everything went well with us. We had
    a journeyman and an apprentice, and you were our servant, Martha.”

    “Ah, yes, and you were a dear, good mistress,” said Martha, “I shall never
    forget how kind you and your husband were to me.”

    “Yes, those were happy years when you were with us, although we had no children
    at first. The student I never met again. Yet I saw him once, although he did
    not see me. He came to his mother’s funeral. I saw him, looking pale as death,
    and deeply troubled, standing at her grave; for she was his mother. Sometime
    after, when his father died, he was in foreign lands, and did not come home.
    I know that he never married, I believe he became a lawyer. He had forgotten
    me, and even had we met he would not have known me, for I have lost all my good
    looks, and perhaps that is all for the best.” And then she spoke of the dark
    days of trial, when misfortune had fallen upon them.

    “We had five hundred dollars,” she said, “and there was a house in the street
    to be sold for two hundred, so we thought it would be worth our while to pull
    it down and build a new one in its place; so it was bought. The builder and
    carpenter made an estimate that the new house would cost ten hundred and twenty
    dollars to build. Eric had credit, so he borrowed the money in the chief town.
    But the captain, who was bringing it to him, was shipwrecked, and the money
    lost. Just about this time, my dear sweet boy, who lies sleeping there, was
    born, and my husband was attacked with a severe lingering illness. For three
    quarters of a year I was obliged to dress and undress him. We were backward
    in our payments, we borrowed more money, and all that we had was lost and sold,
    and then my husband died. Since then I have worked, toiled, and striven for
    the sake of the child. I have scrubbed and washed both coarse and fine linen,
    but I have not been able to make myself better off; and it was God’s will. In
    His own time He will take me to Himself, but I know He will never forsake my
    boy.” Then she fell asleep. In the morning she felt much refreshed, and strong
    enough, as she thought, to go on with her work. But as soon as she stepped into
    the cold water, a sudden faintness seized her; she clutched at the air convulsively
    with her hand, took one step forward, and fell. Her head rested on dry land,
    but her feet were in the water; her wooden shoes, which were only tied on by
    a wisp of straw, were carried away by the stream, and thus she was found by
    Martha when she came to bring her some coffee.

    In the meantime a messenger had been sent to her house by the mayor, to say
    that she must come to him immediately, as he had something to tell her. It was
    too late; a surgeon had been sent for to open a vein in her arm, but the poor
    woman was dead.

    “She has drunk herself to death,” said the cruel mayor. In the letter, containing
    the news of his brother’s death, it was stated that he had left in his will
    a legacy of six hundred dollars to the glovemaker’s widow, who had been his
    mother’s maid, to be paid with discretion, in large or small sums to the widow
    or her child.

    “There was something between my brother and her, I remember,” said the mayor;
    “it is a good thing that she is out of the way, for now the boy will have the
    whole. I will place him with honest people to bring him up, that he may become
    a respectable working man.” And the blessing of God rested upon these words.
    The mayor sent for the boy to come to him, and promised to take care of him,
    but most cruelly added that it was a good thing that his mother was dead, for
    “she was good for nothing.” They carried her to the churchyard, the churchyard
    in which the poor were buried. Martha strewed sand on the grave and planted
    a rose-tree upon it, and the boy stood by her side.

    “Oh, my poor mother!” he cried, while the tears rolled down his cheeks. “Is
    it true what they say, that she was good for nothing?”

    “No, indeed, it is not true,” replied the old servant, raising her eyes to
    heaven; “she was worth a great deal; I knew it years ago, and since the last
    night of her life I am more certain of it than ever. I say she was a good and
    worthy woman, and God, who is in heaven, knows I am speaking the truth, though
    the world may say, even now she was good for nothing.”

    The Princess and the Pea

    Once upon a time there was a prince who wanted to marry a princess; but she would
    have to be a real princess. He travelled all over the world to find one, but nowhere
    could he get what he wanted. There were princesses enough, but it was difficult
    to find out whether they were real ones. There was always something about them
    that was not as it should be. So he came home again and was sad, for he would
    have liked very much to have a real princess.

    One evening a terrible storm came on; there was thunder and lightning, and
    the rain poured down in torrents. Suddenly a knocking was heard at the city
    gate, and the old king went to open it.

    It was a princess standing out there in front of the gate. But, good gracious!
    what a sight the rain and the wind had made her look. The water ran down from
    her hair and clothes; it ran down into the toes of her shoes and out again at
    the heels. And yet she said that she was a real princess.

    “Well, we’ll soon find that out,” thought the old queen. But she said nothing,
    went into the bed-room, took all the bedding off the bedstead, and laid a pea
    on the bottom; then she took twenty mattresses and laid them on the pea, and
    then twenty eider-down beds on top of the mattresses.

    On this the princess had to lie all night. In the morning she was asked how
    she had slept.

    “Oh, very badly!” said she. “I have scarcely closed my eyes all night. Heaven
    only knows what was in the bed, but I was lying on something hard, so that I
    am black and blue all over my body. It’s horrible!”

    Now they knew that she was a real princess because she had felt the pea right
    through the twenty mattresses and the twenty eider-down beds.

    Nobody but a real princess could be as sensitive as that.

    So the prince took her for his wife, for now he knew that he had a real princess;
    and the pea was put in the museum, where it may still be seen, if no one has
    stolen it.

    There, that is a true story.

    The Red Shoes

    Once upon a time there was little girl, pretty and dainty. But in summer time she
    was obliged to go barefooted because she was poor, and in winter she had to wear
    large wooden shoes, so that her little instep grew quite red.

    In the middle of the village lived an old shoemaker’s wife; she sat down and
    made, as well as she could, a pair of little shoes out of some old pieces of
    red cloth. They were clumsy, but she meant well, for they were intended for
    the little girl, whose name was Karen.

    Karen received the shoes and wore them for the first time on the day of her
    mother’s funeral. They were certainly not suitable for mourning; but she had
    no others, and so she put her bare feet into them and walked behind the humble

    Just then a large old carriage came by, and in it sat an old lady; she looked
    at the little girl, and taking pity on her, said to the clergyman, “Look here,
    if you will give me the little girl, I will take care of her.”

    Karen believed that this was all on account of the red shoes, but the old lady
    thought them hideous, and so they were burnt. Karen herself was dressed very
    neatly and cleanly; she was taught to read and to sew, and people said that
    she was pretty. But the mirror told her, “You are more than pretty—you are beautiful.”

    One day the Queen was travelling through that part of the country, and had
    her little daughter, who was a princess, with her. All the people, amongst them
    Karen too, streamed towards the castle, where the little princess, in fine white
    clothes, stood before the window and allowed herself to be stared at. She wore
    neither a train nor a golden crown, but beautiful red morocco shoes; they were
    indeed much finer than those which the shoemaker’s wife had sewn for little
    Karen. There is really nothing in the world that can be compared to red shoes!

    Karen was now old enough to be confirmed; she received some new clothes, and
    she was also to have some new shoes. The rich shoemaker in the town took the
    measure of her little foot in his own room, in which there stood great glass
    cases full of pretty shoes and white slippers. It all looked very lovely, but
    the old lady could not see very well, and therefore did not get much pleasure
    out of it. Amongst the shoes stood a pair of red ones, like those which the
    princess had worn. How beautiful they were! and the shoemaker said that they
    had been made for a count’s daughter, but that they had not fitted her.

    “I suppose they are of shiny leather?” asked the old lady. “They shine so.”

    “Yes, they do shine,” said Karen. They fitted her, and were bought. But the
    old lady knew nothing of their being red, for she would never have allowed Karen
    to be confirmed in red shoes, as she was now to be.

    Everybody looked at her feet, and the whole of the way from the church door
    to the choir it seemed to her as if even the ancient figures on the monuments,
    in their stiff collars and long black robes, had their eyes fixed on her red
    shoes. It was only of these that she thought when the clergyman laid his hand
    upon her head and spoke of the holy baptism, of the covenant with God, and told
    her that she was now to be a grown-up Christian. The organ pealed forth solemnly,
    and the sweet children’s voices mingled with that of their old leader; but Karen
    thought only of her red shoes. In the afternoon the old lady heard from everybody
    that Karen had worn red shoes. She said that it was a shocking thing to do,
    that it was very improper, and that Karen was always to go to church in future
    in black shoes, even if they were old.

    On the following Sunday there was Communion. Karen looked first at the black
    shoes, then at the red ones—looked at the red ones again, and put them on.

    The sun was shining gloriously, so Karen and the old lady went along the footpath
    through the corn, where it was rather dusty.

    At the church door stood an old crippled soldier leaning on a crutch; he had
    a wonderfully long beard, more red than white, and he bowed down to the ground
    and asked the old lady whether he might wipe her shoes. Then Karen put out her
    little foot too. “Dear me, what pretty dancing-shoes!” said the soldier. “Sit
    fast, when you dance,” said he, addressing the shoes, and slapping the soles
    with his hand.

    The old lady gave the soldier some money and then went with Karen into the

    And all the people inside looked at Karen’s red shoes, and all the figures
    gazed at them; when Karen knelt before the altar and put the golden goblet to
    her mouth, she thought only of the red shoes. It seemed to her as though they
    were swimming about in the goblet, and she forgot to sing the psalm, forgot
    to say the “Lord’s Prayer.”

    Now every one came out of church, and the old lady stepped into her carriage.
    But just as Karen was lifting up her foot to get in too, the old soldier said:
    “Dear me, what pretty dancing shoes!” and Karen could not help it, she was obliged
    to dance a few steps; and when she had once begun, her legs continued to dance.
    It seemed as if the shoes had got power over them. She danced round the church
    corner, for she could not stop; the coachman had to run after her and seize
    her. He lifted her into the carriage, but her feet continued to dance, so that
    she kicked the good old lady violently. At last they took off her shoes, and
    her legs were at rest.

    At home the shoes were put into the cupboard, but Karen could not help looking
    at them.

    Now the old lady fell ill, and it was said that she would not rise from her
    bed again. She had to be nursed and waited upon, and this was no one’s duty
    more than Karen’s. But there was a grand ball in the town, and Karen was invited.
    She looked at the red shoes, saying to herself that there was no sin in doing
    that; she put the red shoes on, thinking there was no harm in that either; and
    then she went to the ball; and commenced to dance.

    But when she wanted to go to the right, the shoes danced to the left, and when
    she wanted to dance up the room, the shoes danced down the room, down the stairs
    through the street, and out through the gates of the town. She danced, and was
    obliged to dance, far out into the dark wood. Suddenly something shone up among
    the trees, and she believed it was the moon, for it was a face. But it was the
    old soldier with the red beard; he sat there nodding his head and said: “Dear
    me, what pretty dancing shoes!”

    She was frightened, and wanted to throw the red shoes away; but they stuck
    fast. She tore off her stockings, but the shoes had grown fast to her feet.
    She danced and was obliged to go on dancing over field and meadow, in rain and
    sunshine, by night and by day—but by night it was most horrible.

    She danced out into the open churchyard; but the dead there did not dance.
    They had something better to do than that. She wanted to sit down on the pauper’s
    grave where the bitter fern grows; but for her there was neither peace nor rest.
    And as she danced past the open church door she saw an angel there in long white
    robes, with wings reaching from his shoulders down to the earth; his face was
    stern and grave, and in his hand he held a broad shining sword.

    “Dance you shall,” said he, “dance in your red shoes till you are pale and
    cold, till your skin shrivels up and you are a skeleton! Dance you shall, from
    door to door, and where proud and wicked children live you shall knock, so that
    they may hear you and fear you! Dance you shall, dance—!”

    “Mercy!” cried Karen. But she did not hear what the angel answered, for the
    shoes carried her through the gate into the fields, along highways and byways,
    and unceasingly she had to dance.

    One morning she danced past a door that she knew well; they were singing a
    psalm inside, and a coffin was being carried out covered with flowers. Then
    she knew that she was forsaken by every one and damned by the angel of God.

    She danced, and was obliged to go on dancing through the dark night. The shoes
    bore her away over thorns and stumps till she was all torn and bleeding; she
    danced away over the heath to a lonely little house. Here, she knew, lived the
    executioner; and she tapped with her finger at the window and said:

    “Come out, come out! I cannot come in, for I must dance.”

    And the executioner said: “I don’t suppose you know who I am. I strike off
    the heads of the wicked, and I notice that my axe is tingling to do so.”

    “Don’t cut off my head!” said Karen, “for then I could not repent of my sin.
    But cut off my feet with the red shoes.”

    And then she confessed all her sin, and the executioner struck off her feet
    with the red shoes; but the shoes danced away with the little feet across the
    field into the deep forest.

    And he carved her a pair of wooden feet and some crutches, and taught her a
    psalm which is always sung by sinners; she kissed the hand that guided the axe,
    and went away over the heath.

    “Now, I have suffered enough for the red shoes,” she said; “I will go to church,
    so that people can see me.” And she went quickly up to the church-door; but
    when she came there, the red shoes were dancing before her, and she was frightened,
    and turned back.

    During the whole week she was sad and wept many bitter tears, but when Sunday
    came again she said: “Now I have suffered and striven enough. I believe I am
    quite as good as many of those who sit in church and give themselves airs.”
    And so she went boldly on; but she had not got farther than the churchyard gate
    when she saw the red shoes dancing along before her. Then she became terrified,
    and turned back and repented right heartily of her sin.

    She went to the parsonage, and begged that she might be taken into service
    there. She would be industrious, she said, and do everything that she could;
    she did not mind about the wages as long as she had a roof over her, and was
    with good people. The pastor’s wife had pity on her, and took her into service.
    And she was industrious and thoughtful. She sat quiet and listened when the
    pastor read aloud from the Bible in the evening. All the children liked her
    very much, but when they spoke about dress and grandeur and beauty she would
    shake her head.

    On the following Sunday they all went to church, and she was asked whether
    she wished to go too; but, with tears in her eyes, she looked sadly at her crutches.
    And then the others went to hear God’s Word, but she went alone into her little
    room; this was only large enough to hold the bed and a chair. Here she sat down
    with her hymn-book, and as she was reading it with a pious mind, the wind carried
    the notes of the organ over to her from the church, and in tears she lifted
    up her face and said: “O God! help me!”

    Then the sun shone so brightly, and right before her stood an angel of God
    in white robes; it was the same one whom she had seen that night at the church-door.
    He no longer carried the sharp sword, but a beautiful green branch, full of
    roses; with this he touched the ceiling, which rose up very high, and where
    he had touched it there shone a golden star. He touched the walls, which opened
    wide apart, and she saw the organ which was pealing forth; she saw the pictures
    of the old pastors and their wives, and the congregation sitting in the polished
    chairs and singing from their hymn-books. The church itself had come to the
    poor girl in her narrow room, or the room had gone to the church. She sat in
    the pew with the rest of the pastor’s household, and when they had finished
    the hymn and looked up, they nodded and said, “It was right of you to come,

    “It was mercy,” said she.

    The organ played and the children’s voices in the choir sounded soft and lovely.
    The bright warm sunshine streamed through the window into the pew where Karen
    sat, and her heart became so filled with it, so filled with peace and joy, that
    it broke. Her soul flew on the sunbeams to Heaven, and no one was there who
    asked after the Red Shoes.

    The Bell

    In the narrow streets of a large town people often heard in the evening, when the
    sun was setting, and his last rays gave a golden tint to the chimney-pots, a strange
    noise which resembled the sound of a church bell; it only lasted an instant, for
    it was lost in the continual roar of traffic and hum of voices which rose from
    the town. “The evening bell is ringing,” people used to say; “the sun is setting!”
    Those who walked outside the town, where the houses were less crowded and interspersed
    by gardens and little fields, saw the evening sky much better, and heard the sound
    of the bell much more clearly. It seemed as though the sound came from a church,
    deep in the calm, fragrant wood, and thither people looked with devout feelings.

    A considerable time elapsed: one said to the other, “I really wonder if there
    is a church out in the wood. The bell has indeed a strange sweet sound! Shall
    we go there and see what the cause of it is?” The rich drove, the poor walked,
    but the way seemed to them extraordinarily long, and when they arrived at a
    number of willow trees on the border of the wood they sat down, looked up into
    the great branches and thought they were now really in the wood. A confectioner
    from the town also came out and put up a stall there; then came another confectioner
    who hung a bell over his stall, which was covered with pitch to protect it from
    the rain, but the clapper was wanting.

    When people came home they used to say that it had been very romantic, and
    that really means something else than merely taking tea. Three persons declared
    that they had gone as far as the end of the wood; they had always heard the
    strange sound, but there it seemed to them as if it came from the town. One
    of them wrote verses about the bell, and said that it was like the voice of
    a mother speaking to an intelligent and beloved child; no tune, he said, was
    sweeter than the sound of the bell.

    The emperor of the country heard of it, and declared that he who would really
    find out where the sound came from should receive the title of “Bellringer to
    the World,” even if there was no bell at all.

    Now many went out into the wood for the sake of this splendid berth; but only
    one of them came back with some sort of explanation. None of them had gone far
    enough, nor had he, and yet he said that the sound of the bell came from a large
    owl in a hollow tree. It was a wisdom owl, which continually knocked its head
    against the tree, but he was unable to say with certainty whether its head or
    the hollow trunk of the tree was the cause of the noise.

    He was appointed “Bellringer to the World,” and wrote every year a short dissertation
    on the owl, but by this means people did not become any wiser than they had
    been before.

    It was just confirmation-day. The clergyman had delivered a beautiful and touching
    sermon, the candidates were deeply moved by it; it was indeed a very important
    day for them; they were all at once transformed from mere children to grown-up
    people; the childish soul was to fly over, as it were, into a more reasonable

    The sun shone most brightly; and the sound of the great unknown bell was heard
    more distinctly than ever. They had a mind to go thither, all except three.
    One of them wished to go home and try on her ball dress, for this very dress
    and the ball were the cause of her being confirmed this time, otherwise she
    would not have been allowed to go. The second, a poor boy, had borrowed a coat
    and a pair of boots from the son of his landlord to be confirmed in, and he
    had to return them at a certain time. The third said that he never went into
    strange places if his parents were not with him; he had always been a good child,
    and wished to remain so, even after being confirmed, and they ought not to tease
    him for this; they, however, did it all the same. These three, therefore did
    not go; the others went on. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, and
    the confirmed children sang too, holding each other by the hand, for they had
    no position yet, and they were all equal in the eyes of God. Two of the smallest
    soon became tired and returned to the town; two little girls sat down and made
    garlands of flowers, they, therefore, did not go on. When the others arrived
    at the willow trees, where the confectioner had put up his stall, they said:
    “Now we are out here; the bell does not in reality exist—it is only something
    that people imagine!”

    Then suddenly the sound of the bell was heard so beautifully and solemnly from
    the wood that four or five made up their minds to go still further on. The wood
    was very thickly grown. It was difficult to advance: wood lilies and anemones
    grew almost too high; flowering convolvuli and brambles were hanging like garlands
    from tree to tree; while the nightingales were singing and the sunbeams played.
    That was very beautiful! But the way was unfit for the girls; they would have
    torn their dresses. Large rocks, covered with moss of various hues, were lying
    about; the fresh spring water rippled forth with a peculiar sound. “I don’t
    think that can be the bell,” said one of the confirmed children, and then he
    lay down and listened. “We must try to find out if it is!” And there he remained,
    and let the others walk on.

    They came to a hut built of the bark of trees and branches; a large crab-apple
    tree spread its branches over it, as if it intended to pour all its fruit on
    the roof, upon which roses were blooming; the long boughs covered the gable,
    where a little bell was hanging. Was this the one they had heard? All agreed
    that it must be so, except one who said that the bell was too small and too
    thin to be heard at such a distance, and that it had quite a different sound
    to that which had so touched men’s hearts.

    He who spoke was a king’s son, and therefore the others said that such a one
    always wishes to be cleverer than other people.

    Therefore they let him go alone; and as he walked on, the solitude of the wood
    produced a feeling of reverence in his breast; but still he heard the little
    bell about which the others rejoiced, and sometimes, when the wind blew in that
    direction, he could hear the sounds from the confectioner’s stall, where the
    others were singing at tea. But the deep sounds of the bell were much stronger;
    soon it seemed to him as if an organ played an accompaniment—the sound came
    from the left, from the side where the heart is. Now something rustled among
    the bushes, and a little boy stood before the king’s son, in wooden shoes and
    such a short jacket that the sleeves did not reach to his wrists. They knew
    each other: the boy was the one who had not been able to go with them because
    he had to take the coat and boots back to his landlord’s son. That he had done,
    and had started again in his wooden shoes and old clothes, for the sound of
    the bell was too enticing—he felt he must go on.

    “We might go together,” said the king’s son. But the poor boy with the wooden
    shoes was quite ashamed; he pulled at the short sleeves of his jacket, and said
    that he was afraid he could not walk so fast; besides, he was of opinion that
    the bell ought to be sought at the right, for there was all that was grand and

    “Then we shall not meet,” said the king’s son, nodding to the poor boy, who
    went into the deepest part of the wood, where the thorns tore his shabby clothes
    and scratched his hands, face, and feet until they bled. The king’s son also
    received several good scratches, but the sun was shining on his way, and it
    is he whom we will now follow, for he was a quick fellow. “I will and must find
    the bell,” he said, “if I have to go to the end of the world.”

    Ugly monkeys sat high in the branches and clenched their teeth. “Shall we beat
    him?” they said. “Shall we thrash him? He is a king’s son!”

    But he walked on undaunted, deeper and deeper into the wood, where the most
    wonderful flowers were growing; there were standing white star lilies with blood-red
    stamens, sky-blue tulips shining when the wind moved them; apple-trees covered
    with apples like large glittering soap bubbles: only think how resplendent these
    trees were in the sunshine! All around were beautiful green meadows, where hart
    and hind played in the grass. There grew magnificent oaks and beech-trees; and
    if the bark was split of any of them, long blades of grass grew out of the clefts;
    there were also large smooth lakes in the wood, on which the swans were swimming
    about and flapping their wings. The king’s son often stood still and listened;
    sometimes he thought that the sound of the bell rose up to him out of one of
    these deep lakes, but soon he found that this was a mistake, and that the bell
    was ringing still farther in the wood. Then the sun set, the clouds were as
    red as fire; it became quiet in the wood; he sank down on his knees, sang an
    evening hymn and said: “I shall never find what I am looking for! Now the sun
    is setting, and the night, the dark night, is approaching. Yet I may perhaps
    see the round sun once more before he disappears beneath the horizon. I will
    climb up these rocks, they are as high as the highest trees!” And then, taking
    hold of the creepers and roots, he climbed up on the wet stones, where water-snakes
    were wriggling and the toads, as it were, barked at him: he reached the top
    before the sun, seen from such a height, had quite set. “Oh, what a splendour!”
    The sea, the great majestic sea, which was rolling its long waves against the
    shore, stretched out before him, and the sun was standing like a large bright
    altar and there where sea and heaven met—all melted together in the most glowing
    colours; the wood was singing, and his heart too. The whole of nature was one
    large holy church, in which the trees and hovering clouds formed the pillars,
    the flowers and grass the woven velvet carpet, and heaven itself was the great
    cupola; up there the flame colour vanished as soon as the sun disappeared, but
    millions of stars were lighted; diamond lamps were shining, and the king’s son
    stretched his arms out towards heaven, towards the sea, and towards the wood.
    Then suddenly the poor boy with the short-sleeved jacket and the wooden shoes
    appeared; he had arrived just as quickly on the road he had chosen. And they
    ran towards each other and took one another’s hand, in the great cathedral of
    nature and poesy, and above them sounded the invisible holy bell; happy spirits
    surrounded them, singing hallelujahs and rejoicing.

    The Girl Who Trod on the Loaf

    There was once a girl who trod on a loaf to avoid soiling her shoes, and the misfortunes
    that happened to her in consequence are well known. Her name was Inge; she was
    a poor child, but proud and presuming, and with a bad and cruel disposition. When
    quite a little child she would delight in catching flies, and tearing off their
    wings, so as to make creeping things of them. When older, she would take cockchafers
    and beetles, and stick pins through them. Then she pushed a green leaf, or a little
    scrap of paper towards their feet, and when the poor creatures would seize it
    and hold it fast, and turn over and over in their struggles to get free from the
    pin, she would say, “The cockchafer is reading; see how he turns over the leaf.”
    She grew worse instead of better with years, and, unfortunately, she was pretty,
    which caused her to be excused, when she should have been sharply reproved.

    “Your headstrong will requires severity to conquer it,” her mother often said
    to her. “As a little child you used to trample on my apron, but one day I fear
    you will trample on my heart.” And, alas! this fear was realized.

    Inge was taken to the house of some rich people, who lived at a distance, and
    who treated her as their own child, and dressed her so fine that her pride and
    arrogance increased.

    When she had been there about a year, her patroness said to her, “You ought
    to go, for once, and see your parents, Inge.”

    So Inge started to go and visit her parents; but she only wanted to show herself
    in her native place, that the people might see how fine she was. She reached
    the entrance of the village, and saw the young laboring men and maidens standing
    together chatting, and her own mother amongst them. Inge’s mother was sitting
    on a stone to rest, with a fagot of sticks lying before her, which she had picked
    up in the wood. Then Inge turned back; she who was so finely dressed she felt
    ashamed of her mother, a poorly clad woman, who picked up wood in the forest.
    She did not turn back out of pity for her mother’s poverty, but from pride.

    Another half-year went by, and her mistress said, “you ought to go home again,
    and visit your parents, Inge, and I will give you a large wheaten loaf to take
    to them, they will be glad to see you, I am sure.”

    So Inge put on her best clothes, and her new shoes, drew her dress up around
    her, and set out, stepping very carefully, that she might be clean and neat
    about the feet, and there was nothing wrong in doing so. But when she came to
    the place where the footpath led across the moor, she found small pools of water,
    and a great deal of mud, so she threw the loaf into the mud, and trod upon it,
    that she might pass without wetting her feet. But as she stood with one foot
    on the loaf and the other lifted up to step forward, the loaf began to sink
    under her, lower and lower, till she disappeared altogether, and only a few
    bubbles on the surface of the muddy pool remained to show where she had sunk.
    And this is the story.

    But where did Inge go? She sank into the ground, and went down to the Marsh
    Woman, who is always brewing there.

    The Marsh Woman is related to the elf maidens, who are well-known, for songs
    are sung and pictures painted about them. But of the Marsh Woman nothing is
    known, excepting that when a mist arises from the meadows, in summer time, it
    is because she is brewing beneath them. To the Marsh Woman’s brewery Inge sunk
    down to a place which no one can endure for long. A heap of mud is a palace
    compared with the Marsh Woman’s brewery; and as Inge fell she shuddered in every
    limb, and soon became cold and stiff as marble. Her foot was still fastened
    to the loaf, which bowed her down as a golden ear of corn bends the stem.

    An evil spirit soon took possession of Inge, and carried her to a still worse
    place, in which she saw crowds of unhappy people, waiting in a state of agony
    for the gates of mercy to be opened to them, and in every heart was a miserable
    and eternal feeling of unrest. It would take too much time to describe the various
    tortures these people suffered, but Inge’s punishment consisted in standing
    there as a statue, with her foot fastened to the loaf. She could move her eyes
    about, and see all the misery around her, but she could not turn her head; and
    when she saw the people looking at her she thought they were admiring her pretty
    face and fine clothes, for she was still vain and proud. But she had forgotten
    how soiled her clothes had become while in the Marsh Woman’s brewery, and that
    they were covered with mud; a snake had also fastened itself in her hair, and
    hung down her back, while from each fold in her dress a great toad peeped out
    and croaked like an asthmatic poodle. Worse than all was the terrible hunger
    that tormented her, and she could not stoop to break off a piece of the loaf
    on which she stood. No; her back was too stiff, and her whole body like a pillar
    of stone. And then came creeping over her face and eyes flies without wings;
    she winked and blinked, but they could not fly away, for their wings had been
    pulled off; this, added to the hunger she felt, was horrible torture.

    “If this lasts much longer,” she said, “I shall not be able to bear it.” But
    it did last, and she had to bear it, without being able to help herself.

    A tear, followed by many scalding tears, fell upon her head, and rolled over
    her face and neck, down to the loaf on which she stood. Who could be weeping
    for Inge? She had a mother in the world still, and the tears of sorrow which
    a mother sheds for her child will always find their way to the child’s heart,
    but they often increase the torment instead of being a relief. And Inge could
    hear all that was said about her in the world she had left, and every one seemed
    cruel to her. The sin she had committed in treading on the loaf was known on
    earth, for she had been seen by the cowherd from the hill, when she was crossing
    the marsh and had disappeared.

    When her mother wept and exclaimed, “Ah, Inge! what grief thou hast caused
    thy mother” she would say, “Oh that I had never been born! My mother’s tears
    are useless now.”

    And then the words of the kind people who had adopted her came to her ears,
    when they said, “Inge was a sinful girl, who did not value the gifts of God,
    but trampled them under her feet.”

    “Ah,” thought Inge, “they should have punished me, and driven all my naughty
    tempers out of me.”

    A song was made about “The girl who trod on a loaf to keep her shoes from being
    soiled,” and this song was sung everywhere. The story of her sin was also told
    to the little children, and they called her “wicked Inge,” and said she was
    so naughty that she ought to be punished. Inge heard all this, and her heart
    became hardened and full of bitterness.

    But one day, while hunger and grief were gnawing in her hollow frame, she heard
    a little, innocent child, while listening to the tale of the vain, haughty Inge,
    burst into tears and exclaim, “But will she never come up again?”

    And she heard the reply, “No, she will never come up again.”

    “But if she were to say she was sorry, and ask pardon, and promise never to
    do so again?” asked the little one.

    “Yes, then she might come; but she will not beg pardon,” was the answer.

    “Oh, I wish she would!” said the child, who was quite unhappy about it. “I
    should be so glad. I would give up my doll and all my playthings, if she could
    only come here again. Poor Inge! it is so dreadful for her.”

    These pitying words penetrated to Inge’s inmost heart, and seemed to do her
    good. It was the first time any one had said, “Poor Inge!” without saying something
    about her faults. A little innocent child was weeping, and praying for mercy
    for her. It made her feel quite strange, and she would gladly have wept herself,
    and it added to her torment to find she could not do so. And while she thus
    suffered in a place where nothing changed, years passed away on earth, and she
    heard her name less frequently mentioned. But one day a sigh reached her ear,
    and the words, “Inge! Inge! what a grief thou hast been to me! I said it would
    be so.” It was the last sigh of her dying mother.

    After this, Inge heard her kind mistress say, “Ah, poor Inge! shall I ever
    see thee again? Perhaps I may, for we know not what may happen in the future.”
    But Inge knew right well that her mistress would never come to that dreadful

    Time-passed—a long bitter time—then Inge heard her name pronounced once more,
    and saw what seemed two bright stars shining above her. They were two gentle
    eyes closing on earth. Many years had passed since the little girl had lamented
    and wept about “poor Inge.” That child was now an old woman, whom God was taking
    to Himself. In the last hour of existence the events of a whole life often appear
    before us; and this hour the old woman remembered how, when a child, she had
    shed tears over the story of Inge, and she prayed for her now. As the eyes of
    the old woman closed to earth, the eyes of the soul opened upon the hidden things
    of eternity, and then she, in whose last thoughts Inge had been so vividly present,
    saw how deeply the poor girl had sunk. She burst into tears at the sight, and
    in heaven, as she had done when a little child on earth, she wept and prayed
    for poor Inge. Her tears and her prayers echoed through the dark void that surrounded
    the tormented captive soul, and the unexpected mercy was obtained for it through
    an angel’s tears. As in thought Inge seemed to act over again every sin she
    had committed on earth, she trembled, and tears she had never yet been able
    to weep rushed to her eyes. It seemed impossible that the gates of mercy could
    ever be opened to her; but while she acknowledged this in deep penitence, a
    beam of radiant light shot suddenly into the depths upon her. More powerful
    than the sunbeam that dissolves the man of snow which the children have raised,
    more quickly than the snowflake melts and becomes a drop of water on the warm
    lips of a child, was the stony form of Inge changed, and as a little bird she
    soared, with the speed of lightning, upward to the world of mortals. A bird
    that felt timid and shy to all things around it, that seemed to shrink with
    shame from meeting any living creature, and hurriedly sought to conceal itself
    in a dark corner of an old ruined wall; there it sat cowering and unable to
    utter a sound, for it was voiceless. Yet how quickly the little bird discovered
    the beauty of everything around it. The sweet, fresh air; the soft radiance
    of the moon, as its light spread over the earth; the fragrance which exhaled
    from bush and tree, made it feel happy as it sat there clothed in its fresh,
    bright plumage. All creation seemed to speak of beneficence and love. The bird
    wanted to give utterance to thoughts that stirred in his breast, as the cuckoo
    and the nightingale in the spring, but it could not. Yet in heaven can be heard
    the song of praise, even from a worm; and the notes trembling in the breast
    of the bird were as audible to Heaven even as the psalms of David before they
    had fashioned themselves into words and song.

    Christmas-time drew near, and a peasant who dwelt close by the old wall stuck
    up a pole with some ears of corn fastened to the top, that the birds of heaven
    might have feast, and rejoice in the happy, blessed time. And on Christmas morning
    the sun arose and shone upon the ears of corn, which were quickly surrounded
    by a number of twittering birds. Then, from a hole in the wall, gushed forth
    in song the swelling thoughts of the bird as he issued from his hiding place
    to perform his first good deed on earth,—and in heaven it was well known who
    that bird was.

    The winter was very hard; the ponds were covered with ice, and there was very
    little food for either the beasts of the field or the birds of the air. Our
    little bird flew away into the public roads, and found here and there, in the
    ruts of the sledges, a grain of corn, and at the halting places some crumbs.
    Of these he ate only a few, but he called around him the other birds and the
    hungry sparrows, that they too might have food. He flew into the towns, and
    looked about, and wherever a kind hand had strewed bread on the window-sill
    for the birds, he only ate a single crumb himself, and gave all the rest to
    the rest of the other birds. In the course of the winter the bird had in this
    way collected many crumbs and given them to other birds, till they equalled
    the weight of the loaf on which Inge had trod to keep her shoes clean; and when
    the last bread-crumb had been found and given, the gray wings of the bird became
    white, and spread themselves out for flight.

    “See, yonder is a sea-gull!” cried the children, when they saw the white bird,
    as it dived into the sea, and rose again into the clear sunlight, white and
    glittering. But no one could tell whither it went then although some declared
    it flew straight to the sun.

    The Little Match-Seller

    It was terribly cold and nearly dark on the last evening of the old year, and the
    snow was falling fast. In the cold and the darkness, a poor little girl, with
    bare head and naked feet, roamed through the streets. It is true she had on a
    pair of slippers when she left home, but they were not of much use. They were
    very large, so large, indeed, that they had belonged to her mother, and the poor
    little creature had lost them in running across the street to avoid two carriages
    that were rolling along at a terrible rate. One of the slippers she could not
    find, and a boy seized upon the other and ran away with it, saying that he could
    use it as a cradle, when he had children of his own. So the little girl went on
    with her little naked feet, which were quite red and blue with the cold. In an
    old apron she carried a number of matches, and had a bundle of them in her hands.
    No one had bought anything of her the whole day, nor had anyone given her even
    a penny. Shivering with cold and hunger, she crept along; poor little child, she
    looked the picture of misery. The snowflakes fell on her long, fair hair, which
    hung in curls on her shoulders, but she regarded them not.

    Lights were shining from every window, and there was a savory smell of roast
    goose, for it was New-year’s eve—yes, she remembered that. In a corner, between
    two houses, one of which projected beyond the other, she sank down and huddled
    herself together. She had drawn her little feet under her, but she could not
    keep off the cold; and she dared not go home, for she had sold no matches, and
    could not take home even a penny of money. Her father would certainly beat her;
    besides, it was almost as cold at home as here, for they had only the roof to
    cover them, through which the wind howled, although the largest holes had been
    stopped up with straw and rags. Her little hands were almost frozen with the
    cold. Ah! perhaps a burning match might be some good, if she could draw it from
    the bundle and strike it against the wall, just to warm her fingers. She drew
    one out—“scratch!” how it sputtered as it burnt! It gave a warm, bright light,
    like a little candle, as she held her hand over it. It was really a wonderful
    light. It seemed to the little girl that she was sitting by a large iron stove,
    with polished brass feet and a brass ornament. How the fire burned! and seemed
    so beautifully warm that the child stretched out her feet as if to warm them,
    when, lo! the flame of the match went out, the stove vanished, and she had only
    the remains of the half-burnt match in her hand.

    She rubbed another match on the wall. It burst into a flame, and where its
    light fell upon the wall it became as transparent as a veil, and she could see
    into the room. The table was covered with a snowy white table-cloth, on which
    stood a splendid dinner service, and a steaming roast goose, stuffed with apples
    and dried plums. And what was still more wonderful, the goose jumped down from
    the dish and waddled across the floor, with a knife and fork in its breast,
    to the little girl. Then the match went out, and there remained nothing but
    the thick, damp, cold wall before her.

    She lighted another match, and then she found herself sitting under a beautiful
    Christmas-tree. It was larger and more beautifully decorated than the one which
    she had seen through the glass door at the rich merchant’s. Thousands of tapers
    were burning upon the green branches, and colored pictures, like those she had
    seen in the show-windows, looked down upon it all. The little one stretched
    out her hand towards them, and the match went out.

    The Christmas lights rose higher and higher, till they looked to her like the
    stars in the sky. Then she saw a star fall, leaving behind it a bright streak
    of fire. “Someone is dying,” thought the little girl, for her old grandmother,
    the only one who had ever loved her, and who was now dead, had told her that
    when a star falls, a soul was going up to God.

    She again rubbed a match on the wall, and the light shone round her; in the
    brightness stood her old grandmother, clear and shining, yet mild and loving
    in her appearance. “Grandmother,” cried the little one, “O take me with you;
    I know you will go away when the match burns out; you will vanish like the warm
    stove, the roast goose, and the large, glorious Christmas-tree.” And she made
    haste to light the whole bundle of matches, for she wished to keep her grandmother
    there. And the matches glowed with a light that was brighter than the noon-day,
    and her grandmother had never appeared so large or so beautiful. She took the
    little girl in her arms, and they both flew upwards in brightness and joy far
    above the earth, where there was neither cold nor hunger nor pain, for they
    were with God.

    In the dawn of morning there lay the poor little one, with pale cheeks and
    smiling mouth, leaning against the wall; she had been frozen to death on the
    last evening of the year; and the New-year’s sun rose and shone upon a little
    corpse! The child still sat, in the stiffness of death, holding the matches
    in her hand, one bundle of which was burnt. “She tried to warm herself,” said
    some. No one imagined what beautiful things she had seen, nor into what glory
    she had entered with her grandmother, on New-year’s day.

    The Farm-Yard Cock and the Weather-Cock

    There were two cocks—one on the dung-hill, the other on the roof. They were both
    arrogant, but which of the two rendered most service? Tell us your opinion—we’ll
    keep to ours just the same though.

    The poultry yard was divided by some planks from another yard in which there
    was a dung-hill, and on the dung-hill lay and grew a large cucumber which was
    conscious of being a hot-bed plant.

    “One is born to that,” said the cucumber to itself. “Not all can be born cucumbers;
    there must be other things, too. The hens, the ducks, and all the animals in
    the next yard are creatures too. Now I have a great opinion of the yard cock
    on the plank; he is certainly of much more importance than the weather-cock
    who is placed so high and can’t even creak, much less crow. The latter has neither
    hens nor chicks, and only thinks of himself and perspires verdigris. No, the
    yard cock is really a cock! His step is a dance! His crowing is music, and wherever
    he goes one knows what a trumpeter is like! If he would only come in here! Even
    if he ate me up stump, stalk, and all, and I had to dissolve in his body, it
    would be a happy death,” said the cucumber.

    In the night there was a terrible storm. The hens, chicks, and even the cock
    sought shelter; the wind tore down the planks between the two yards with a crash;
    the tiles came tumbling down, but the weather-cock sat firm. He did not even
    turn round, for he could not; and yet he was young and freshly cast, but prudent
    and sedate. He had been born old, and did not at all resemble the birds flying
    in the air—the sparrows, and the swallows; no, he despised them, these mean
    little piping birds, these common whistlers. He admitted that the pigeons, large
    and white and shining like mother-o’-pearl, looked like a kind of weather-cock;
    but they were fat and stupid, and all their thoughts and endeavours were directed
    to filling themselves with food, and besides, they were tiresome things to converse
    with. The birds of passage had also paid the weather-cock a visit and told him
    of foreign countries, of airy caravans and robber stories that made one’s hair
    stand on end. All this was new and interesting; that is, for the first time,
    but afterwards, as the weather-cock found out, they repeated themselves and
    always told the same stories, and that’s very tedious, and there was no one
    with whom one could associate, for one and all were stale and small-minded.

    “The world is no good!” he said. “Everything in it is so stupid.”

    The weather-cock was puffed up, and that quality would have made him interesting
    in the eyes of the cucumber if it had known it, but it had eyes only for the
    yard cock, who was now in the yard with it.

    The wind had blown the planks, but the storm was over.

    “What do you think of that crowing?” said the yard cock to the hens and chickens.
    “It was a little rough—it wanted elegance.”

    And the hens and chickens came up on the dung-hill, and the cock strutted about
    like a lord.

    “Garden plant!” he said to the cucumber, and in that one word his deep learning
    showed itself, and it forgot that he was pecking at her and eating it up. “A
    happy death!”

    The hens and the chickens came, for where one runs the others run too; they
    clucked, and chirped, and looked at the cock, and were proud that he was of
    their kind.

    “Cock-a-doodle-doo!” he crowed, “the chickens will grow up into great hens
    at once, if I cry it out in the poultry-yard of the world!”

    And hens and chicks clucked and chirped, and the cock announced a great piece
    of news.

    “A cock can lay an egg! And do you know what’s in that egg? A basilisk. No
    one can stand the sight of such a thing; people know that, and now you know
    it too—you know what is in me, and what a champion of all cocks I am!”

    With that the yard cock flapped his wings, made his comb swell up, and crowed
    again; and they all shuddered, the hens and the little chicks—but they were
    very proud that one of their number was such a champion of all cocks. They clucked
    and chirped till the weather-cock heard; he heard it; but he did not stir.

    “Everything is very stupid,” the weather-cock said to himself. “The yard cock
    lays no eggs, and I am too lazy to do so; if I liked, I could lay a wind-egg.
    But the world is not worth even a wind-egg. Everything is so stupid! I don’t
    want to sit here any longer.”

    With that the weather-cock broke off; but he did not kill the yard cock, although
    the hens said that had been his intention. And what is the moral? “Better to
    crow than to be puffed up and break off!”

    The Buckwheat

    Very often, after a violent thunder-storm, a field of buckwheat appears blackened
    and singed, as if a flame of fire had passed over it. The country people say that
    this appearance is caused by lightning; but I will tell you what the sparrow says,
    and the sparrow heard it from an old willow-tree which grew near a field of buckwheat,
    and is there still. It is a large venerable tree, though a little crippled by
    age. The trunk has been split, and out of the crevice grass and brambles grow.
    The tree bends for-ward slightly, and the branches hang quite down to the ground
    just like green hair. Corn grows in the surrounding fields, not only rye and barley,
    but oats,—pretty oats that, when ripe, look like a number of little golden canary-birds
    sitting on a bough. The corn has a smiling look and the heaviest and richest ears
    bend their heads low as if in pious humility. Once there was also a field of buckwheat,
    and this field was exactly opposite to old willow-tree. The buckwheat did not
    bend like the other grain, but erected its head proudly and stiffly on the stem.
    “I am as valuable as any other corn,” said he, “and I am much handsomer; my flowers
    are as beautiful as the bloom of the apple blossom, and it is a pleasure to look
    at us. Do you know of anything prettier than we are, you old willow-tree?”

    And the willow-tree nodded his head, as if he would say, “Indeed I do.”

    But the buckwheat spread itself out with pride, and said, “Stupid tree; he
    is so old that grass grows out of his body.”

    There arose a very terrible storm. All the field-flowers folded their leaves
    together, or bowed their little heads, while the storm passed over them, but
    the buckwheat stood erect in its pride. “Bend your head as we do,” said the

    “I have no occasion to do so,” replied the buckwheat.

    “Bend your head as we do,” cried the ears of corn; “the angel of the storm
    is coming; his wings spread from the sky above to the earth beneath. He will
    strike you down before you can cry for mercy.”

    “But I will not bend my head,” said the buckwheat.

    “Close your flowers and bend your leaves,” said the old willow-tree. “Do not
    look at the lightning when the cloud bursts; even men cannot do that. In a flash
    of lightning heaven opens, and we can look in; but the sight will strike even
    human beings blind. What then must happen to us, who only grow out of the earth,
    and are so inferior to them, if we venture to do so?”

    “Inferior, indeed!” said the buckwheat. “Now I intend to have a peep into heaven.”
    Proudly and boldly he looked up, while the lightning flashed across the sky
    as if the whole world were in flames.

    When the dreadful storm had passed, the flowers and the corn raised their drooping
    heads in the pure still air, refreshed by the rain, but the buckwheat lay like
    a weed in the field, burnt to blackness by the lightning. The branches of the
    old willow-tree rustled in the wind, and large water-drops fell from his green
    leaves as if the old willow were weeping. Then the sparrows asked why he was
    weeping, when all around him seemed so cheerful. “See,” they said, “how the
    sun shines, and the clouds float in the blue sky. Do you not smell the sweet
    perfume from flower and bush? Wherefore do you weep, old willow-tree?” Then
    the willow told them of the haughty pride of the buckwheat, and of the punishment
    which followed in consequence.

    This is the story told me by the sparrows one evening when I begged them to
    relate some tale to me.

    Jack the Dullard

    Far in the interior of the country lay an old baronial hall, and in it lived an
    old proprietor, who had two sons, which two young men thought themselves too clever
    by half. They wanted to go out and woo the King’s daughter; for the maiden in
    question had publicly announced that she would choose for her husband that youth
    who could arrange his words best.

    So these two geniuses prepared themselves a full week for the wooing—this was
    the longest time that could be granted them; but it was enough, for they had
    had much preparatory information, and everybody knows how useful that is. One
    of them knew the whole Latin dictionary by heart, and three whole years of the
    daily paper of the little town into the bargain, and so well, indeed, that he
    could repeat it all either backwards or forwards, just as he chose. The other
    was deeply read in the corporation laws, and knew by heart what every corporation
    ought to know; and accordingly he thought he could talk of affairs of state,
    and put his spoke in the wheel in the council. And he knew one thing more: he
    could embroider suspenders with roses and other flowers, and with arabesques,
    for he was a tasty, light-fingered fellow.

    “I shall win the Princess!” So cried both of them. Therefore their old papa
    gave to each of them a handsome horse. The youth who knew the dictionary and
    newspaper by heart had a black horse, and he who knew all about the corporation
    laws received a milk-white steed. Then they rubbed the corners of their mouths
    with fish-oil, so that they might become very smooth and glib. All the servants
    stood below in the courtyard, and looked on while they mounted their horses;
    and just by chance the third son came up. For the proprietor had really three
    sons, though nobody counted the third with his brothers, because he was not
    so learned as they, and indeed he was generally known as “Jack the Dullard.”

    “Hallo!” said Jack the Dullard, “where are you going? I declare you have put
    on your Sunday clothes!”

    “We’re going to the King’s court, as suitors to the King’s daughter. Don’t
    you know the announcement that has been made all through the country?” And they
    told him all about it.

    “My word! I’ll be in it too!” cried Jack the Dullard; and his two brothers
    burst out laughing at him, and rode away.

    “Father, dear,” said Jack, “I must have a horse too. I do feel so desperately
    inclined to marry! If she accepts me, she accepts me; and if she won’t have
    me, I’ll have her; but she shall be mine!”

    “Don’t talk nonsense,” replied the old gentleman. “You shall have no horse
    from me. You don’t know how to speak—you can’t arrange your words. Your brothers
    are very different fellows from you.”

    “Well,” quoth Jack the Dullard, “If I can’t have a horse, I’ll take the Billy-goat,
    who belongs to me, and he can carry me very well!”

    And so said, so done. He mounted the Billy-goat, pressed his heels into its
    sides, and galloped down the high street like a hurricane.

    “Hei, houp! that was a ride! Here I come!” shouted Jack the Dullard, and he
    sang till his voice echoed far and wide.

    But his brothers rode slowly on in advance of him. They spoke not a word, for
    they were thinking about the fine extempore speeches they would have to bring
    out, and these had to be cleverly prepared beforehand.

    “Hallo!” shouted Jack the Dullard. “Here am I! Look what I have found on the
    high road.” And he showed them what it was, and it was a dead crow.

    “Dullard!” exclaimed the brothers, “what are you going to do with that?”

    “With the crow? why, I am going to give it to the Princess.”

    “Yes, do so,” said they; and they laughed, and rode on.

    “Hallo, here I am again! just see what I have found now: you don’t find that
    on the high road every day!”

    And the brothers turned round to see what he could have found now.

    “Dullard!” they cried, “that is only an old wooden shoe, and the upper part
    is missing into the bargain; are you going to give that also to the Princess?”

    “Most certainly I shall,” replied Jack the Dullard; and again the brothers
    laughed and rode on, and thus they got far in advance of him; but—

    “Hallo—hop rara!” and there was Jack the Dullard again. “It is getting better
    and better,” he cried. “Hurrah! it is quite famous.”

    “Why, what have you found this time?” inquired the brothers.

    “Oh,” said Jack the Dullard, “I can hardly tell you. How glad the Princess
    will be!”

    “Bah!” said the brothers; “that is nothing but clay out of the ditch.”

    “Yes, certainly it is,” said Jack the Dullard; “and clay of the finest sort.
    See, it is so wet, it runs through one’s fingers.” And he filled his pocket
    with the clay.

    But his brothers galloped on till the sparks flew, and consequently they arrived
    a full hour earlier at the town gate than could Jack. Now at the gate each suitor
    was provided with a number, and all were placed in rows immediately on their
    arrival, six in each row, and so closely packed together that they could not
    move their arms; and that was a prudent arrangement, for they would certainly
    have come to blows, had they been able, merely because one of them stood before
    the other.

    All the inhabitants of the country round about stood in great crowds around
    the castle, almost under the very windows, to see the Princess receive the suitors;
    and as each stepped into the hall, his power of speech seemed to desert him,
    like the light of a candle that is blown out. Then the Princess would say, “He
    is of no use! Away with him out of the hall!”

    At last the turn came for that brother who knew the dictionary by heart; but
    he did not know it now; he had absolutely forgotten it altogether; and the boards
    seemed to re-echo with his footsteps, and the ceiling of the hall was made of
    looking-glass, so that he saw himself standing on his head; and at the window
    stood three clerks and a head clerk, and every one of them was writing down
    every single word that was uttered, so that it might be printed in the newspapers,
    and sold for a penny at the street corners. It was a terrible ordeal, and they
    had, moreover, made such a fire in the stove, that the room seemed quite red

    “It is dreadfully hot here!” observed the first brother.

    “Yes,” replied the Princess, “my father is going to roast young pullets today.”

    “Baa!” there he stood like a baa-lamb. He had not been prepared for a speech
    of this kind, and had not a word to say, though he intended to say something
    witty. “Baa!”

    “He is of no use!” said the Princess. “Away with him!”

    And he was obliged to go accordingly. And now the second brother came in.

    “It is terribly warm here!” he observed.

    “Yes, we’re roasting pullets to-day,” replied the Princess.

    “What—what were you—were you pleased to ob—” stammered he—and all the clerks
    wrote down, “pleased to ob—”

    “He is of no use!” said the Princess. “Away with him!”

    Now came the turn of Jack the Dullard. He rode into the hall on his goat.

    “Well, it’s most abominably hot here.”

    “Yes, because I’m roasting young pullets,” replied the Princess.

    “Ah, that’s lucky!” exclaimed Jack the Dullard, “for I suppose you’ll let me
    roast my crow at the same time?”

    “With the greatest pleasure,” said the Princess. “But have you anything you
    can roast it in? for I have neither pot nor pan.”

    “Certainly I have!” said Jack. “Here’s a cooking utensil with a tin handle.”

    And he brought out the old wooden shoe, and put the crow into it.

    “Well, that is a famous dish!” said the Princess. “But what shall we do for

    “Oh, I have that in my pocket,” said Jack; “I have so much of it that I can
    afford to throw some away;” and he poured some of the clay out of his pocket.

    “I like that!” said the Princess. “You can give an answer, and you have something
    to say for yourself, and so you shall be my husband. But are you aware that
    every word we speak is being taken down, and will be published in the paper
    to-morrow? Look yonder, and you will see in every window three clerks and a
    head clerk; and the old head clerk is the worst of all, for he can’t understand

    But she only said this to frighten Jack the Dullard; and the clerks gave a
    great crow of delight, and each one spurted a blot out of his pen on to the

    “Oh, those are the gentlemen, are they?” said Jack; “then I will give the best
    I have to the head clerk.” And he turned out his pockets, and flung the wet
    clay full in the head clerk’s face.

    “That was very cleverly done,” observed the Princess. “I could not have done
    that; but I shall learn in time.”

    And accordingly Jack the Dullard was made a king, and received a crown and
    a wife, and sat upon a throne. And this report we have wet from the press of
    the head clerk and the corporation of printers— but they are not to be depended
    upon in the least.

    The Ugly Duckling

    It was lovely summer weather in the country, and the golden corn, the green oats,
    and the haystacks piled up in the meadows looked beautiful. The stork walking
    about on his long red legs chattered in the Egyptian language, which he had learnt
    from his mother. The corn-fields and meadows were surrounded by large forests,
    in the midst of which were deep pools. It was, indeed, delightful to walk about
    in the country. In a sunny spot stood a pleasant old farm-house close by a deep
    river, and from the house down to the water side grew great burdock leaves, so
    high, that under the tallest of them a little child could stand upright. The spot
    was as wild as the centre of a thick wood. In this snug retreat sat a duck on
    her nest, watching for her young brood to hatch; she was beginning to get tired
    of her task, for the little ones were a long time coming out of their shells,
    and she seldom had any visitors. The other ducks liked much better to swim about
    in the river than to climb the slippery banks, and sit under a burdock leaf, to
    have a gossip with her. At length one shell cracked, and then another, and from
    each egg came a living creature that lifted its head and cried, “Peep, peep.”
    “Quack, quack,” said the mother, and then they all quacked as well as they could,
    and looked about them on every side at the large green leaves. Their mother allowed
    them to look as much as they liked, because green is good for the eyes. “How large
    the world is,” said the young ducks, when they found how much more room they now
    had than while they were inside the egg-shell. “Do you imagine this is the whole
    world?” asked the mother; “Wait till you have seen the garden; it stretches far
    beyond that to the parson’s field, but I have never ventured to such a distance.
    Are you all out?” she continued, rising; “No, I declare, the largest egg lies
    there still. I wonder how long this is to last, I am quite tired of it;” and she
    seated herself again on the nest.

    “Well, how are you getting on?” asked an old duck, who paid her a visit.

    “One egg is not hatched yet,” said the duck, “it will not break. But just look
    at all the others, are they not the prettiest little ducklings you ever saw?
    They are the image of their father, who is so unkind, he never comes to see.”

    “Let me see the egg that will not break,” said the duck; “I have no doubt it
    is a turkey’s egg. I was persuaded to hatch some once, and after all my care
    and trouble with the young ones, they were afraid of the water. I quacked and
    clucked, but all to no purpose. I could not get them to venture in. Let me look
    at the egg. Yes, that is a turkey’s egg; take my advice, leave it where it is
    and teach the other children to swim.”

    “I think I will sit on it a little while longer,” said the duck; “as I have
    sat so long already, a few days will be nothing.”

    “Please yourself,” said the old duck, and she went away.

    At last the large egg broke, and a young one crept forth crying, “Peep, peep.”
    It was very large and ugly. The duck stared at it and exclaimed, “It is very
    large and not at all like the others. I wonder if it really is a turkey. We
    shall soon find it out, however when we go to the water. It must go in, if I
    have to push it myself.”

    On the next day the weather was delightful, and the sun shone brightly on the
    green burdock leaves, so the mother duck took her young brood down to the water,
    and jumped in with a splash. “Quack, quack,” cried she, and one after another
    the little ducklings jumped in. The water closed over their heads, but they
    came up again in an instant, and swam about quite prettily with their legs paddling
    under them as easily as possible, and the ugly duckling was also in the water
    swimming with them.

    “Oh,” said the mother, “that is not a turkey; how well he uses his legs, and
    how upright he holds himself! He is my own child, and he is not so very ugly
    after all if you look at him properly. Quack, quack! come with me now, I will
    take you into grand society, and introduce you to the farmyard, but you must
    keep close to me or you may be trodden upon; and, above all, beware of the cat.”

    When they reached the farmyard, there was a great disturbance, two families
    were fighting for an eel’s head, which, after all, was carried off by the cat.
    “See, children, that is the way of the world,” said the mother duck, whetting
    her beak, for she would have liked the eel’s head herself. “Come, now, use your
    legs, and let me see how well you can behave. You must bow your heads prettily
    to that old duck yonder; she is the highest born of them all, and has Spanish
    blood, therefore, she is well off. Don’t you see she has a red flag tied to
    her leg, which is something very grand, and a great honor for a duck; it shows
    that every one is anxious not to lose her, as she can be recognized both by
    man and beast. Come, now, don’t turn your toes, a well-bred duckling spreads
    his feet wide apart, just like his father and mother, in this way; now bend
    your neck, and say ‘quack.’”

    The ducklings did as they were bid, but the other duck stared, and said, “Look,
    here comes another brood, as if there were not enough of us already! and what
    a queer looking object one of them is; we don’t want him here,” and then one
    flew out and bit him in the neck.

    “Let him alone,” said the mother; “he is not doing any harm.”

    “Yes, but he is so big and ugly,” said the spiteful duck “and therefore he
    must be turned out.”

    “The others are very pretty children,” said the old duck, with the rag on her
    leg, “all but that one; I wish his mother could improve him a little.”

    “That is impossible, your grace,” replied the mother; “he is not pretty; but
    he has a very good disposition, and swims as well or even better than the others.
    I think he will grow up pretty, and perhaps be smaller; he has remained too
    long in the egg, and therefore his figure is not properly formed;” and then
    she stroked his neck and smoothed the feathers, saying, “It is a drake, and
    therefore not of so much consequence. I think he will grow up strong, and able
    to take care of himself.”

    “The other ducklings are graceful enough,” said the old duck. “Now make yourself
    at home, and if you can find an eel’s head, you can bring it to me.”

    And so they made themselves comfortable; but the poor duckling, who had crept
    out of his shell last of all, and looked so ugly, was bitten and pushed and
    made fun of, not only by the ducks, but by all the poultry. “He is too big,”
    they all said, and the turkey cock, who had been born into the world with spurs,
    and fancied himself really an emperor, puffed himself out like a vessel in full
    sail, and flew at the duckling, and became quite red in the head with passion,
    so that the poor little thing did not know where to go, and was quite miserable
    because he was so ugly and laughed at by the whole farmyard. So it went on from
    day to day till it got worse and worse. The poor duckling was driven about by
    every one; even his brothers and sisters were unkind to him, and would say,
    “Ah, you ugly creature, I wish the cat would get you,” and his mother said she
    wished he had never been born. The ducks pecked him, the chickens beat him,
    and the girl who fed the poultry kicked him with her feet. So at last he ran
    away, frightening the little birds in the hedge as he flew over the palings.

    “They are afraid of me because I am ugly,” he said. So he closed his eyes,
    and flew still farther, until he came out on a large moor, inhabited by wild
    ducks. Here he remained the whole night, feeling very tired and sorrowful.

    In the morning, when the wild ducks rose in the air, they stared at their new
    comrade. “What sort of a duck are you?” they all said, coming round him.

    He bowed to them, and was as polite as he could be, but he did not reply to
    their question. “You are exceedingly ugly,” said the wild ducks, “but that will
    not matter if you do not want to marry one of our family.”

    Poor thing! he had no thoughts of marriage; all he wanted was permission to
    lie among the rushes, and drink some of the water on the moor. After he had
    been on the moor two days, there came two wild geese, or rather goslings, for
    they had not been out of the egg long, and were very saucy. “Listen, friend,”
    said one of them to the duckling, “you are so ugly, that we like you very well.
    Will you go with us, and become a bird of passage? Not far from here is another
    moor, in which there are some pretty wild geese, all unmarried. It is a chance
    for you to get a wife; you may be lucky, ugly as you are.”

    “Pop, pop,” sounded in the air, and the two wild geese fell dead among the
    rushes, and the water was tinged with blood. “Pop, pop,” echoed far and wide
    in the distance, and whole flocks of wild geese rose up from the rushes. The
    sound continued from every direction, for the sportsmen surrounded the moor,
    and some were even seated on branches of trees, overlooking the rushes. The
    blue smoke from the guns rose like clouds over the dark trees, and as it floated
    away across the water, a number of sporting dogs bounded in among the rushes,
    which bent beneath them wherever they went. How they terrified the poor duckling!
    He turned away his head to hide it under his wing, and at the same moment a
    large terrible dog passed quite near him. His jaws were open, his tongue hung
    from his mouth, and his eyes glared fearfully. He thrust his nose close to the
    duckling, showing his sharp teeth, and then, “splash, splash,” he went into
    the water without touching him, “Oh,” sighed the duckling, “how thankful I am
    for being so ugly; even a dog will not bite me.” And so he lay quite still,
    while the shot rattled through the rushes, and gun after gun was fired over
    him. It was late in the day before all became quiet, but even then the poor
    young thing did not dare to move. He waited quietly for several hours, and then,
    after looking carefully around him, hastened away from the moor as fast as he
    could. He ran over field and meadow till a storm arose, and he could hardly
    struggle against it. Towards evening, he reached a poor little cottage that
    seemed ready to fall, and only remained standing because it could not decide
    on which side to fall first. The storm continued so violent, that the duckling
    could go no farther; he sat down by the cottage, and then he noticed that the
    door was not quite closed in consequence of one of the hinges having given way.
    There was therefore a narrow opening near the bottom large enough for him to
    slip through, which he did very quietly, and got a shelter for the night. A
    woman, a tom cat, and a hen lived in this cottage. The tom cat, whom the mistress
    called, “My little son,” was a great favorite; he could raise his back, and
    purr, and could even throw out sparks from his fur if it were stroked the wrong
    way. The hen had very short legs, so she was called “Chickie short legs.” She
    laid good eggs, and her mistress loved her as if she had been her own child.
    In the morning, the strange visitor was discovered, and the tom cat began to
    purr, and the hen to cluck.

    “What is that noise about?” said the old woman, looking round the room, but
    her sight was not very good; therefore, when she saw the duckling she thought
    it must be a fat duck, that had strayed from home. “Oh what a prize!” she exclaimed,
    “I hope it is not a drake, for then I shall have some duck’s eggs. I must wait
    and see.” So the duckling was allowed to remain on trial for three weeks, but
    there were no eggs. Now the tom cat was the master of the house, and the hen
    was mistress, and they always said, “We and the world,” for they believed themselves
    to be half the world, and the better half too. The duckling thought that others
    might hold a different opinion on the subject, but the hen would not listen
    to such doubts. “Can you lay eggs?” she asked. “No.” “Then have the goodness
    to hold your tongue.” “Can you raise your back, or purr, or throw out sparks?”
    said the tom cat. “No.” “Then you have no right to express an opinion when sensible
    people are speaking.” So the duckling sat in a corner, feeling very low spirited,
    till the sunshine and the fresh air came into the room through the open door,
    and then he began to feel such a great longing for a swim on the water, that
    he could not help telling the hen.

    “What an absurd idea,” said the hen. “You have nothing else to do, therefore
    you have foolish fancies. If you could purr or lay eggs, they would pass away.”

    “But it is so delightful to swim about on the water,” said the duckling, “and
    so refreshing to feel it close over your head, while you dive down to the bottom.”

    “Delightful, indeed!” said the hen, “why you must be crazy! Ask the cat, he
    is the cleverest animal I know, ask him how he would like to swim about on the
    water, or to dive under it, for I will not speak of my own opinion; ask our
    mistress, the old woman—there is no one in the world more clever than she is.
    Do you think she would like to swim, or to let the water close over her head?”

    “You don’t understand me,” said the duckling.

    “We don’t understand you? Who can understand you, I wonder? Do you consider
    yourself more clever than the cat, or the old woman? I will say nothing of myself.
    Don’t imagine such nonsense, child, and thank your good fortune that you have
    been received here. Are you not in a warm room, and in society from which you
    may learn something. But you are a chatterer, and your company is not very agreeable.
    Believe me, I speak only for your own good. I may tell you unpleasant truths,
    but that is a proof of my friendship. I advise you, therefore, to lay eggs,
    and learn to purr as quickly as possible.”

    “I believe I must go out into the world again,” said the duckling.

    “Yes, do,” said the hen. So the duckling left the cottage, and soon found water
    on which it could swim and dive, but was avoided by all other animals, because
    of its ugly appearance. Autumn came, and the leaves in the forest turned to
    orange and gold. then, as winter approached, the wind caught them as they fell
    and whirled them in the cold air. The clouds, heavy with hail and snow-flakes,
    hung low in the sky, and the raven stood on the ferns crying, “Croak, croak.”
    It made one shiver with cold to look at him. All this was very sad for the poor
    little duckling. One evening, just as the sun set amid radiant clouds, there
    came a large flock of beautiful birds out of the bushes. The duckling had never
    seen any like them before. They were swans, and they curved their graceful necks,
    while their soft plumage shown with dazzling whiteness. They uttered a singular
    cry, as they spread their glorious wings and flew away from those cold regions
    to warmer countries across the sea. As they mounted higher and higher in the
    air, the ugly little duckling felt quite a strange sensation as he watched them.
    He whirled himself in the water like a wheel, stretched out his neck towards
    them, and uttered a cry so strange that it frightened himself. Could he ever
    forget those beautiful, happy birds; and when at last they were out of his sight,
    he dived under the water, and rose again almost beside himself with excitement.
    He knew not the names of these birds, nor where they had flown, but he felt
    towards them as he had never felt for any other bird in the world. He was not
    envious of these beautiful creatures, but wished to be as lovely as they. Poor
    ugly creature, how gladly he would have lived even with the ducks had they only
    given him encouragement. The winter grew colder and colder; he was obliged to
    swim about on the water to keep it from freezing, but every night the space
    on which he swam became smaller and smaller. At length it froze so hard that
    the ice in the water crackled as he moved, and the duckling had to paddle with
    his legs as well as he could, to keep the space from closing up. He became exhausted
    at last, and lay still and helpless, frozen fast in the ice.

    Early in the morning, a peasant, who was passing by, saw what had happened.
    He broke the ice in pieces with his wooden shoe, and carried the duckling home
    to his wife. The warmth revived the poor little creature; but when the children
    wanted to play with him, the duckling thought they would do him some harm; so
    he started up in terror, fluttered into the milk-pan, and splashed the milk
    about the room. Then the woman clapped her hands, which frightened him still
    more. He flew first into the butter-cask, then into the meal-tub, and out again.
    What a condition he was in! The woman screamed, and struck at him with the tongs;
    the children laughed and screamed, and tumbled over each other, in their efforts
    to catch him; but luckily he escaped. The door stood open; the poor creature
    could just manage to slip out among the bushes, and lie down quite exhausted
    in the newly fallen snow.

    It would be very sad, were I to relate all the misery and privations which
    the poor little duckling endured during the hard winter; but when it had passed,
    he found himself lying one morning in a moor, amongst the rushes. He felt the
    warm sun shining, and heard the lark singing, and saw that all around was beautiful
    spring. Then the young bird felt that his wings were strong, as he flapped them
    against his sides, and rose high into the air. They bore him onwards, until
    he found himself in a large garden, before he well knew how it had happened.
    The apple-trees were in full blossom, and the fragrant elders bent their long
    green branches down to the stream which wound round a smooth lawn. Everything
    looked beautiful, in the freshness of early spring. From a thicket close by
    came three beautiful white swans, rustling their feathers, and swimming lightly
    over the smooth water. The duckling remembered the lovely birds, and felt more
    strangely unhappy than ever.

    “I will fly to those royal birds,” he exclaimed, “and they will kill me, because
    I am so ugly, and dare to approach them; but it does not matter: better be killed
    by them than pecked by the ducks, beaten by the hens, pushed about by the maiden
    who feeds the poultry, or starved with hunger in the winter.”

    Then he flew to the water, and swam towards the beautiful swans. The moment
    they espied the stranger, they rushed to meet him with outstretched wings.

    “Kill me,” said the poor bird; and he bent his head down to the surface of
    the water, and awaited death.

    But what did he see in the clear stream below? His own image; no longer a dark,
    gray bird, ugly and disagreeable to look at, but a graceful and beautiful swan.
    To be born in a duck’s nest, in a farmyard, is of no consequence to a bird,
    if it is hatched from a swan’s egg. He now felt glad at having suffered sorrow
    and trouble, because it enabled him to enjoy so much better all the pleasure
    and happiness around him; for the great swans swam round the new-comer, and
    stroked his neck with their beaks, as a welcome.

    Into the garden presently came some little children, and threw bread and cake
    into the water.

    “See,” cried the youngest, “there is a new one;” and the rest were delighted,
    and ran to their father and mother, dancing and clapping their hands, and shouting
    joyously, “There is another swan come; a new one has arrived.”

    Then they threw more bread and cake into the water, and said, “The new one
    is the most beautiful of all; he is so young and pretty.” And the old swans
    bowed their heads before him.

    Then he felt quite ashamed, and hid his head under his wing; for he did not
    know what to do, he was so happy, and yet not at all proud. He had been persecuted
    and despised for his ugliness, and now he heard them say he was the most beautiful
    of all the birds. Even the elder-tree bent down its bows into the water before
    him, and the sun shone warm and bright. Then he rustled his feathers, curved
    his slender neck, and cried joyfully, from the depths of his heart, “I never
    dreamed of such happiness as this, while I was an ugly duckling.”

    The Shirt-Collar

    There was once a fine gentleman who possessed among other things a boot-jack and
    a hair-brush; but he had also the finest shirt-collar in the world, and of this
    collar we are about to hear a story. The collar had become so old that he began
    to think about getting married; and one day he happened to find himself in the
    same washing-tub as a garter. “Upon my word,” said the shirt-collar, “I have never
    seen anything so slim and delicate, so neat and soft before. May I venture to
    ask your name?”

    “I shall not tell you,” replied the garter.

    “Where do you reside when you are at home?” asked the shirt-collar. But the
    garter was naturally shy, and did not know how to answer such a question.

    “I presume you are a girdle,” said the shirt-collar, “a sort of under girdle.
    I see that you are useful, as well as ornamental, my little lady.”

    “You must not speak to me,” said the garter; “I do not think I have given you
    any encouragement to do so.”

    “Oh, when any one is as beautiful as you are,” said the shirt-collar, “is not
    that encouragement enough?”

    “Get away; don’t come so near me,” said the garter, “you appear to me quite
    like a man.”

    “I am a fine gentleman certainly,” said the shirt-collar, “I possess a boot-jack
    and a hair-brush.” This was not true, for these things belonged to his master;
    but he was a boaster.

    “Don’t come so near me,” said the garter; “I am not accustomed to it.”

    “Affectation!” said the shirt-collar.

    Then they were taken out of the wash-tub, starched, and hung over a chair in
    the sunshine, and then laid on the ironing-board. And now came the glowing iron.
    “Mistress widow,” said the shirt-collar, “little mistress widow, I feel quite
    warm. I am changing, I am losing all my creases. You are burning a hole in me.
    Ugh! I propose to you.”

    “You old rag,” said the flat-iron, driving proudly over the collar, for she
    fancied herself a steam-engine, which rolls over the railway and draws carriages.
    “You old rag!” said she.

    The edges of the shirt-collar were a little frayed, so the scissors were brought
    to cut them smooth. “Oh!” exclaimed the shirt-collar, “what a first-rate dancer
    you would make; you can stretch out your leg so well. I never saw anything so
    charming; I am sure no human being could do the same.”

    “I should think not,” replied the scissors.

    “You ought to be a countess,” said the shirt collar; “but all I possess consists
    of a fine gentleman, a boot-jack, and a comb. I wish I had an estate for your

    “What! is he going to propose to me?” said the scissors, and she became so
    angry that she cut too sharply into the shirt collar, and it was obliged to
    be thrown by as useless.

    “I shall be obliged to propose to the hair-brush,” thought the shirt collar;
    so he remarked one day, “It is wonderful what beautiful hair you have, my little
    lady. Have you never thought of being engaged?”

    “You might know I should think of it,” answered the hair brush; “I am engaged
    to the boot-jack.”

    “Engaged!” cried the shirt collar, “now there is no one left to propose to;”
    and then he pretended to despise all love-making.

    A long time passed, and the shirt collar was taken in a bag to the paper-mill.
    Here was a large company of rags, the fine ones lying by themselves, separated
    from the coarser, as it ought to be. They had all many things to relate, especially
    the shirt collar, who was a terrible boaster. “I have had an immense number
    of love affairs,” said the shirt collar, “no one left me any peace. It is true
    I was a very fine gentleman; quite stuck up. I had a boot-jack and a brush that
    I never used. You should have seen me then, when I was turned down. I shall
    never forget my first love; she was a girdle, so charming, and fine, and soft,
    and she threw herself into a washing tub for my sake. There was a widow too,
    who was warmly in love with me, but I left her alone, and she became quite black.
    The next was a first-rate dancer; she gave me the wound from which I still suffer,
    she was so passionate. Even my own hair-brush was in love with me, and lost
    all her hair through neglected love. Yes, I have had great experience of this
    kind, but my greatest grief was for the garter—the girdle I meant to say—that
    jumped into the wash-tub. I have a great deal on my conscience, and it is really
    time I should be turned into white paper.”

    And the shirt collar came to this at last. All the rags were made into white
    paper, and the shirt collar became the very identical piece of paper which we
    now see, and on which this story is printed. It happened as a punishment to
    him, for having boasted so shockingly of things which were not true. And this
    is a warning to us, to be careful how we act, for we may some day find ourselves
    in the rag-bag, to be turned into white paper, on which our whole history may
    be written, even its most secret actions. And it would not be pleasant to have
    to run about the world in the form of a piece of paper, telling everything we
    have done, like the boasting shirt collar.

    The Elfin Hill

    A few large lizards were running nimbly about in the clefts of an old tree; they
    could understand one another very well, for they spoke the lizard language.

    “What a buzzing and a rumbling there is in the elfin hill,” said one of the
    lizards; “I have not been able to close my eyes for two nights on account of
    the noise; I might just as well have had the toothache, for that always keeps
    me awake.”

    “There is something going on within there,” said the other lizard; “they propped
    up the top of the hill with four red posts, till cock-crow this morning, so
    that it is thoroughly aired, and the elfin girls have learnt new dances; there
    is something.”

    “I spoke about it to an earth-worm of my acquaintance,” said a third lizard;
    “the earth-worm had just come from the elfin hill, where he has been groping
    about in the earth day and night. He has heard a great deal; although he cannot
    see, poor miserable creature, yet he understands very well how to wriggle and
    lurk about. They expect friends in the elfin hill, grand company, too; but who
    they are the earth-worm would not say, or, perhaps, he really did not know.
    All the will-o’-the-wisps are ordered to be there to hold a torch dance, as
    it is called. The silver and gold which is plentiful in the hill will be polished
    and placed out in the moonlight.”

    “Who can the strangers be?” asked the lizards; “what can the matter be? Hark,
    what a buzzing and humming there is!”

    Just at this moment the elfin hill opened, and an old elfin maiden, hollow
    behind,1 came tripping out; she was the old elf king’s housekeeper, and a distant
    relative of the family; therefore she wore an amber heart on the middle of her
    forehead. Her feet moved very fast, “trip, trip;” good gracious, how she could
    trip right down to the sea to the night-raven.2

    “You are invited to the elf hill for this evening,” said she; “but will you
    do me a great favor and undertake the invitations? you ought to do something,
    for you have no housekeeping to attend to as I have. We are going to have some
    very grand people, conjurors, who have always something to say; and therefore
    the old elf king wishes to make a great display.”

    “Who is to be invited?” asked the raven.

    “All the world may come to the great ball, even human beings, if they can only
    talk in their sleep, or do something after our fashion. But for the feast the
    company must be carefully selected; we can only admit persons of high rank;
    I have had a dispute myself with the elf king, as he thought we could not admit
    ghosts. The merman and his daughter must be invited first, although it may not
    be agreeable to them to remain so long on dry land, but they shall have a wet
    stone to sit on, or perhaps something better; so I think they will not refuse
    this time. We must have all the old demons of the first class, with tails, and
    the hobgoblins and imps; and then I think we ought not to leave out the death-horse,3
    or the grave-pig, or even the church dwarf, although they do belong to the clergy,
    and are not reckoned among our people; but that is merely their office, they
    are nearly related to us, and visit us very frequently.”

    “Croak,” said the night-raven as he flew away with the invitations.

    The elfin maidens we’re already dancing on the elf hill, and they danced in
    shawls woven from moonshine and mist, which look very pretty to those who like
    such things. The large hall within the elf hill was splendidly decorated; the
    floor had been washed with moonshine, and the walls had been rubbed with magic
    ointment, so that they glowed like tulip-leaves in the light. In the kitchen
    were frogs roasting on the spit, and dishes preparing of snail skins, with children’s
    fingers in them, salad of mushroom seed, hemlock, noses and marrow of mice,
    beer from the marsh woman’s brewery, and sparkling salt-petre wine from the
    grave cellars. These were all substantial food. Rusty nails and church-window
    glass formed the dessert. The old elf king had his gold crown polished up with
    powdered slate-pencil; it was like that used by the first form, and very difficult
    for an elf king to obtain. In the bedrooms, curtains were hung up and fastened
    with the slime of snails; there was, indeed, a buzzing and humming everywhere.

    “Now we must fumigate the place with burnt horse-hair and pig’s bristles, and
    then I think I shall have done my part,” said the elf man-servant.

    “Father, dear,” said the youngest daughter, “may I now hear who our high-born
    visitors are?”

    “Well, I suppose I must tell you now,” he replied; “two of my daughters must
    prepare themselves to be married, for the marriages certainly will take place.
    The old goblin from Norway, who lives in the ancient Dovre mountains, and who
    possesses many castles built of rock and freestone, besides a gold mine, which
    is better than all, so it is thought, is coming with his two sons, who are both
    seeking a wife. The old goblin is a true-hearted, honest, old Norwegian graybeard;
    cheerful and straightforward. I knew him formerly, when we used to drink together
    to our good fellowship: he came here once to fetch his wife, she is dead now.
    She was the daughter of the king of the chalk-hills at Moen. They say he took
    his wife from chalk; I shall be delighted to see him again. It is said that
    the boys are ill-bred, forward lads, but perhaps that is not quite correct,
    and they will become better as they grow older. Let me see that you know how
    to teach them good manners.”

    “And when are they coming?” asked the daughter.

    “That depends upon wind and weather,” said the elf king; “they travel economically.
    They will come when there is the chance of a ship. I wanted them to come over
    to Sweden, but the old man was not inclined to take my advice. He does not go
    forward with the times, and that I do not like.”

    Two will-o’-the-wisps came jumping in, one quicker than the other, so of course,
    one arrived first. “They are coming! they are coming!” he cried.

    “Give me my crown,” said the elf king, “and let me stand in the moonshine.”

    The daughters drew on their shawls and bowed down to the ground. There stood
    the old goblin from the Dovre mountains, with his crown of hardened ice and
    polished fir-cones. Besides this, he wore a bear-skin, and great, warm boots,
    while his sons went with their throats bare and wore no braces, for they were
    strong men.

    “Is that a hill?” said the youngest of the boys, pointing to the elf hill,
    “we should call it a hole in Norway.”

    “Boys,” said the old man, “a hole goes in, and a hill stands out; have you
    no eyes in your heads?”

    Another thing they wondered at was, that they were able without trouble to
    understand the language.

    “Take care,” said the old man, “or people will think you have not been well
    brought up.”

    Then they entered the elfin hill, where the select and grand company were assembled,
    and so quickly had they appeared that they seemed to have been blown together.
    But for each guest the neatest and pleasantest arrangement had been made. The
    sea folks sat at table in great water-tubs, and they said it was just like being
    at home. All behaved themselves properly excepting the two young northern goblins;
    they put their legs on the table and thought they were all right.

    “Feet off the table-cloth!” said the old goblin. They obeyed, but not immediately.
    Then they tickled the ladies who waited at table, with the fir-cones, which
    they carried in their pockets. They took off their boots, that they might be
    more at ease, and gave them to the ladies to hold. But their father, the old
    goblin, was very different; he talked pleasantly about the stately Norwegian
    rocks, and told fine tales of the waterfalls which dashed over them with a clattering
    noise like thunder or the sound of an organ, spreading their white foam on every
    side. He told of the salmon that leaps in the rushing waters, while the water-god
    plays on his golden harp. He spoke of the bright winter nights, when the sledge
    bells are ringing, and the boys run with burning torches across the smooth ice,
    which is so transparent that they can see the fishes dart forward beneath their
    feet. He described everything so clearly, that those who listened could see
    it all; they could see the saw-mills going, the men-servants and the maidens
    singing songs, and dancing a rattling dance,—when all at once the old goblin
    gave the old elfin maiden a kiss, such a tremendous kiss, and yet they were
    almost strangers to each other.

    Then the elfin girls had to dance, first in the usual way, and then with stamping
    feet, which they performed very well; then followed the artistic and solo dance.
    Dear me, how they did throw their legs about! No one could tell where the dance
    begun, or where it ended, nor indeed which were legs and which were arms, for
    they were all flying about together, like the shavings in a saw-pit! And then
    they spun round so quickly that the death-horse and the grave-pig became sick
    and giddy, and were obliged to leave the table.

    “Stop!” cried the old goblin, “is that the only house-keeping they can perform?
    Can they do anything more than dance and throw about their legs, and make a

    “You shall soon see what they can do,” said the elf king. And then he called
    his youngest daughter to him. She was slender and fair as moonlight, and the
    most graceful of all the sisters. She took a white chip in her mouth, and vanished
    instantly; this was her accomplishment. But the old goblin said he should not
    like his wife to have such an accomplishment, and thought his boys would have
    the same objection. Another daughter could make a figure like herself follow
    her, as if she had a shadow, which none of the goblin folk ever had. The third
    was of quite a different sort; she had learnt in the brew-house of the moor
    witch how to lard elfin puddings with glow-worms.

    “She will make a good housewife,” said the old goblin, and then saluted her
    with his eyes instead of drinking her health; for he did not drink much.

    Now came the fourth daughter, with a large harp to play upon; and when she
    struck the first chord, every one lifted up the left leg (for the goblins are
    left-legged), and at the second chord they found they must all do just what
    she wanted.

    “That is a dangerous woman,” said the old goblin; and the two sons walked out
    of the hill; they had had enough of it. “And what can the next daughter do?”
    asked the old goblin.

    “I have learnt everything that is Norwegian,” said she; “and I will never marry,
    unless I can go to Norway.”

    Then her youngest sister whispered to the old goblin, “That is only because
    she has heard, in a Norwegian song, that when the world shall decay, the cliffs
    of Norway will remain standing like monuments; and she wants to get there, that
    she may be safe; for she is so afraid of sinking.”

    “Ho! ho!” said the old goblin, “is that what she means? Well, what can the
    seventh and last do?”

    “The sixth comes before the seventh,” said the elf king, for he could reckon;
    but the sixth would not come forward.

    “I can only tell people the truth,” said she. “No one cares for me, nor troubles
    himself about me; and I have enough to do to sew my grave clothes.”

    So the seventh and last came; and what could she do? Why, she could tell stories,
    as many as you liked, on any subject.

    “Here are my five fingers,” said the old goblin; “now tell me a story for each
    of them.”

    So she took him by the wrist, and he laughed till he nearly choked; and when
    she came to the fourth finger, there was a gold ring on it, as if it knew there
    was to be a betrothal. Then the old goblin said, “Hold fast what you have: this
    hand is yours; for I will have you for a wife myself.”

    Then the elfin girl said that the stories about the ring-finger and little
    Peter Playman had not yet been told.

    “We will hear them in the winter,” said the old goblin, “and also about the
    fir and the birch-trees, and the ghost stories, and of the tingling frost. You
    shall tell your tales, for no one over there can do it so well; and we will
    sit in the stone rooms, where the pine logs are burning, and drink mead out
    of the golden drinking-horn of the old Norwegian kings. The water-god has given
    me two; and when we sit there, Nix comes to pay us a visit, and will sing you
    all the songs of the mountain shepherdesses. How merry we shall be! The salmon
    will be leaping in the waterfalls, and dashing against the stone walls, but
    he will not be able to come in. It is indeed very pleasant to live in old Norway.
    But where are the lads?”

    Where indeed were they? Why, running about the fields, and blowing out the
    will-o’-the-wisps, who so good-naturedly came and brought their torches.

    “What tricks have you been playing?” said the old goblin. “I have taken a mother
    for you, and now you may take one of your aunts.”

    But the youngsters said they would rather make a speech and drink to their
    good fellowship; they had no wish to marry. Then they made speeches and drank
    toasts, and tipped their glasses, to show that they were empty. Then they took
    off their coats, and lay down on the table to sleep; for they made themselves
    quite at home. But the old goblin danced about the room with his young bride,
    and exchanged boots with her, which is more fashionable than exchanging rings.

    “The cock is crowing,” said the old elfin maiden who acted as housekeeper;
    “now we must close the shutters, that the sun may not scorch us.”

    Then the hill closed up. But the lizards continued to run up and down the riven
    tree; and one said to the other, “Oh, how much I was pleased with the old goblin!”

    “The boys pleased me better,” said the earth-worm. But then the poor miserable
    creature could not see.

    The Story of the Wind

    Near the shores of the great Belt, which is one of the straits that connect the
    Cattegat with the Baltic, stands an old mansion with thick red walls. I know every
    stone of it,” says the Wind. “I saw it when it was part of the castle
    of Marck Stig on the promontory. But the castle was obliged to be pulled down,
    and the stone was used again for the walls of a new mansion on another spot—the
    baronial residence of Borreby, which still stands near the coast. I knew them
    well, those noble lords and ladies, the successive generations that dwelt there;
    and now I’m going to tell you of Waldemar Daa and his daughters. How proud
    was his bearing, for he was of royal blood, and could boast of more noble deeds
    than merely hunting the stag and emptying the wine-cup. His rule was despotic:
    ‘It shall be,’ he was accustomed to say. His wife, in garments embroidered
    with gold, stepped proudly over the polished marble floors. The tapestries were
    gorgeous, and the furniture of costly and artistic taste. She had brought gold
    and plate with her into the house. The cellars were full of wine. Black, fiery
    horses, neighed in the stables. There was a look of wealth about the house of
    Borreby at that time. They had three children, daughters, fair and delicate maidens—Ida,
    Joanna, and Anna Dorothea; I have never forgotten their names. They were a rich,
    noble family, born in affluence and nurtured in luxury.

    “Whir-r-r, whir-r-r!” roared the Wind, and went on, “I did
    not see in this house, as in other great houses, the high-born lady sitting
    among her women, turning the spinning-wheel. She could sweep the sounding chords
    of the guitar, and sing to the music, not always Danish melodies, but the songs
    of a strange land. It was ‘Live and let live,’ here. Stranger guests
    came from far and near, music sounded, goblets clashed, and I,” said the
    Wind, “was not able to drown the noise. Ostentation, pride, splendor,
    and display ruled, but not the fear of the Lord.

    ”It was on the evening of the first day of May,” the Wind continued,
    “I came from the west, and had seen the ships overpowered with the waves,
    when all on board persisted or were cast shipwrecked on the coast of Jutland.
    I had hurried across the heath and over Jutland’s wood-girt eastern coast,
    and over the island of Funen, and then I drove across the great belt, sighing
    and moaning. At length I lay down to rest on the shores of Zeeland, near to
    the great house of Borreby, where the splendid forest of oaks still flourished.
    The young men of the neighborhood were collecting branches and brushwood under
    the oak-trees. The largest and dryest they could find they carried into the
    village, and piled them up in a heap and set them on fire. Then the men and
    maidens danced, and sung in a circle round the blazing pile. I lay quite quiet,”
    said the Wind, “but I silently touched a branch which had been brought
    by one of the handsomest of the young men, and the wood blazed up brightly,
    blazed brighter than all the rest. Then he was chosen as the chief, and received
    the name of the Shepherd; and might choose his lamb from among the maidens.
    There was greater mirth and rejoicing than I had ever heard in the halls of
    the rich baronial house. Then the noble lady drove by towards the baron’s
    mansion with her three daughters, in a gilded carriage drawn by six horses.
    The daughters were young and beautiful—three charming blossoms—a
    rose, a lily, and a white hyacinth. The mother was a proud tulip, and never
    acknowledged the salutations of any of the men or maidens who paused in their
    sport to do her honor. The gracious lady seemed like a flower that was rather
    stiff in the stalk. Rose, lily, and hyacinth—yes, I saw them all three.
    Whose little lambs will they one day become? thought I; their shepherd will
    be a gallant knight, perhaps a prince. The carriage rolled on, and the peasants
    resumed their dancing. They drove about the summer through all the villages
    near. But one night, when I rose again, the high-born lady lay down to rise
    again no more; that thing came to her which comes to us all, in which there
    is nothing new. Waldemar Daa remained for a time silent and thoughtful. ‘The
    loftiest tree may be bowed without being broken,’ said a voice within
    him. His daughters wept; all the people in the mansion wiped their eyes, but
    Lady Daa had driven away, and I drove away too,” said the Wind. “Whir-r-r,

    “I returned again; I often returned and passed over the island of Funen
    and the shores of the Belt. Then I rested by Borreby, near the glorious wood,
    where the heron made his nest, the haunt of the wood-pigeons, the blue-birds,
    and the black stork. It was yet spring, some were sitting on their eggs, others
    had already hatched their young broods; but how they fluttered about and cried
    out when the axe sounded through the forest, blow upon blow! The trees of the
    forest were doomed. Waldemar Daa wanted to build a noble ship, a man-of-war,
    a three-decker, which the king would be sure to buy; and these, the trees of
    the wood, the landmark of the seamen, the refuge of the birds, must be felled.
    The hawk started up and flew away, for its nest was destroyed; the heron and
    all the birds of the forest became homeless, and flew about in fear and anger.
    I could well understand how they felt. Crows and ravens croaked, as if in scorn,
    while the trees were cracking and falling around them. Far in the interior of
    the wood, where a noisy swarm of laborers were working, stood Waldemar Daa and
    his three daughters, and all were laughing at the wild cries of the birds, excepting
    one, the youngest, Anna Dorothea, who felt grieved to the heart; and when they
    made preparations to fell a tree that was almost dead, and on whose naked branches
    the black stork had built her nest, she saw the poor little things stretching
    out their necks, and she begged for mercy for them, with the tears in her eyes.
    So the tree with the black stork’s nest was left standing; the tree itself,
    however, was not worth much to speak of. Then there was a great deal of hewing
    and sawing, and at last the three-decker was built. The builder was a man of
    low origin, but possessing great pride; his eyes and forehead spoke of large
    intellect, and Waldemar Daa was fond of listening to him, and so was Waldemar’s
    daughter Ida, the eldest, now about fifteen years old; and while he was building
    the ship for the father, he was building for himself a castle in the air, in
    which he and Ida were to live when they were married. This might have happened,
    indeed, if there had been a real castle, with stone walls, ramparts, and a moat.
    But in spite of his clever head, the builder was still but a poor, inferior
    bird; and how can a sparrow expect to be admitted into the society of peacocks?

    “I passed on in my course,” said the Wind, “and he passed
    away also. He was not allowed to remain, and little Ida got over it, because
    she was obliged to do so. Proud, black horses, worth looking at, were neighing
    in the stable. And they were locked up; for the admiral, who had been sent by
    the king to inspect the new ship, and make arrangements for its purchase, was
    loud in admiration of these beautiful horses. I heard it all,” said the
    Wind, “for I accompanied the gentlemen through the open door of the stable,
    and strewed stalks of straw, like bars of gold, at their feet. Waldemar Daa
    wanted gold, and the admiral wished for the proud black horses; therefore he
    praised them so much. But the hint was not taken, and consequently the ship
    was not bought. It remained on the shore covered with boards,—a Noah’s
    ark that never got to the water—Whir-r-r-r—and that was a pity.

    “In the winter, when the fields were covered with snow, and the water
    filled with large blocks of ice which I had blown up to the coast,” continued
    the Wind, “great flocks of crows and ravens, dark and black as they usually
    are, came and alighted on the lonely, deserted ship. Then they croaked in harsh
    accents of the forest that now existed no more, of the many pretty birds’
    nests destroyed and the little ones left without a home; and all for the sake
    of that great bit of lumber, that proud ship, that never sailed forth. I made
    the snowflakes whirl till the snow lay like a great lake round the ship, and
    drifted over it. I let it hear my voice, that it might know what the storm has
    to say. Certainly I did my part towards teaching it seamanship.

    “That winter passed away, and another winter and summer both passed,
    as they are still passing away, even as I pass away. The snow drifts onwards,
    the apple-blossoms are scattered, the leaves fall,—everything passes away,
    and men are passing away too. But the great man’s daughters are still
    young, and little Ida is a rose as fair to look upon as on the day when the
    shipbuilder first saw her. I often tumbled her long, brown hair, while she stood
    in the garden by the apple-tree, musing, and not heeding how I strewed the blossoms
    on her hair, and dishevelled it; or sometimes, while she stood gazing at the
    red sun and the golden sky through the opening branches of the dark, thick foliage
    of the garden trees. Her sister Joanna was bright and slender as a lily; she
    had a tall and lofty carriage and figure, though, like her mother, rather stiff
    in back. She was very fond of walking through the great hall, where hung the
    portraits of her ancestors. The women were represented in dresses of velvet
    and silk, with tiny little hats, embroidered with pearls, on their braided hair.
    They were all handsome women. The gentlemen appeared clad in steel, or in rich
    cloaks lined with squirrel’s fur; they wore little ruffs, and swords at
    their sides. Where would Joanna’s place be on that wall some day? and
    how would he look,—her noble lord and husband? This is what she thought
    of, and often spoke of in a low voice to herself. I heard it as I swept into
    the long hall, and turned round to come out again. Anna Dorothea, the pale hyacinth,
    a child of fourteen, was quiet and thoughtful; her large, deep, blue eyes had
    a dreamy look, but a childlike smile still played round her mouth. I was not
    able to blow it away, neither did I wish to do so. We have met in the garden,
    in the hollow lane, in the field and meadow, where she gathered herbs and flowers
    which she knew would be useful to her father in preparing the drugs and mixtures
    he was always concocting. Waldemar Daa was arrogant and proud, but he was also
    a learned man, and knew a great deal. It was no secret, and many opinions were
    expressed on what he did. In his fireplace there was a fire, even in summer
    time. He would lock himself in his room, and for days the fire would be kept
    burning; but he did not talk much of what he was doing. The secret powers of
    nature are generally discovered in solitude, and did he not soon expect to find
    out the art of making the greatest of all good things—the art of making
    gold? So he fondly hoped; therefore the chimney smoked and the fire crackled
    so constantly. Yes, I was there too,” said the Wind. “‘Leave
    it alone,’ I sang down the chimney; ‘leave it alone, it will all
    end in smoke, air, coals, and ashes, and you will burn your fingers.’
    But Waldemar Daa did not leave it alone, and all he possessed vanished like
    smoke blown by me. The splendid black horses, where are they? What became of
    the cows in the field, the old gold and silver vessels in cupboards and chests,
    and even the house and home itself? It was easy to melt all these away in the
    gold-making crucible, and yet obtain no gold. And so it was. Empty are the barns
    and store-rooms, the cellars and cupboards; the servants decreased in number,
    and the mice multiplied. First one window became broken, and then another, so
    that I could get in at other places besides the door. ‘Where the chimney
    smokes, the meal is being cooked,’ says the proverb; but here a chimney
    smoked that devoured all the meals for the sake of gold. I blew round the courtyard,”
    said the Wind, “like a watchman blowing his home, but no watchman was
    there. I twirled the weather-cock round on the summit of the tower, and it creaked
    like the snoring of a warder, but no warder was there; nothing but mice and
    rats. Poverty laid the table-cloth; poverty sat in the wardrobe and in the larder.
    The door fell off its hinges, cracks and fissures made their appearance everywhere;
    so that I could go in and out at pleasure, and that is how I know all about
    it. Amid smoke and ashes, sorrow, and sleepless nights, the hair and beard of
    the master of the house turned gray, and deep furrows showed themselves around
    his temples; his skin turned pale and yellow, while his eyes still looked eagerly
    for gold, the longed-for gold, and the result of his labor was debt instead
    of gain. I blew the smoke and ashes into his face and beard; I moaned through
    the broken window-panes, and the yawning clefts in the walls; I blew into the
    chests and drawers belonging to his daughters, wherein lay the clothes that
    had become faded and threadbare, from being worn over and over again. Such a
    song had not been sung, at the children’s cradle as I sung now. The lordly
    life had changed to a life of penury. I was the only one who rejoiced aloud
    in that castle,” said the Wind. “At last I snowed them up, and they
    say snow keeps people warm. It was good for them, for they had no wood, and
    the forest, from which they might have obtained it, had been cut down. The frost
    was very bitter, and I rushed through loop-holes and passages, over gables and
    roofs with keen and cutting swiftness. The three high-born daughters were lying
    in bed because of the cold, and their father crouching beneath his leather coverlet.
    Nothing to eat, nothing to burn, no fire on the hearth! Here was a life for
    high-born people! ‘Give it up, give it up!’ But my Lord Daa would
    not do that. ‘After winter, spring will come,’ he said, ‘after
    want, good times. We must not lose patience, we must learn to wait. Now my horses
    and lands are all mortgaged, it is indeed high time; but gold will come at last—at

    “I heard him as he thus spoke; he was looking at a spider’s web,
    and he continued, ‘Thou cunning little weaver, thou dost teach me perseverance.
    Let any one tear thy web, and thou wilt begin again and repair it. Let it be
    entirely destroyed, thou wilt resolutely begin to make another till it is completed.
    So ought we to do, if we wish to succeed at last.’

    “It was the morning of Easter-day. The bells sounded from the neighboring
    church, and the sun seemed to rejoice in the sky. The master of the castle had
    watched through the night, in feverish excitement, and had been melting and
    cooling, distilling and mixing. I heard him sighing like a soul in despair;
    I heard him praying, and I noticed how he held his breath. The lamp burnt out,
    but he did not observe it. I blew up the fire in the coals on the hearth, and
    it threw a red glow on his ghastly white face, lighting it up with a glare,
    while his sunken eyes looked out wildly from their cavernous depths, and appeared
    to grow larger and more prominent, as if they would burst from their sockets.
    ‘Look at the alchymic glass,’ he cried; ‘something glows in
    the crucible, pure and heavy.’ He lifted it with a trembling hand, and
    exclaimed in a voice of agitation, ‘Gold! gold!’ He was quite giddy,
    I could have blown him down,” said the Wind; “but I only fanned
    the glowing coals, and accompanied him through the door to the room where his
    daughter sat shivering. His coat was powdered with ashes, and there were ashes
    in his beard and in his tangled hair. He stood erect, and held high in the air
    the brittle glass that contained his costly treasure. ‘Found! found! Gold!
    gold!’ he shouted, again holding the glass aloft, that it might flash
    in the sunshine; but his hand trembled, and the alchymic glass fell from it,
    clattering to the ground, and brake in a thousand pieces. The last bubble of
    his happiness had burst, with a whiz and a whir, and I rushed away from the
    gold-maker’s house.

    “Late in the autumn, when the days were short, and the mist sprinkled
    cold drops on the berries and the leafless branches, I came back in fresh spirits,
    rushed through the air, swept the sky clear, and snapped off the dry twigs,
    which is certainly no great labor to do, yet it must be done. There was another
    kind of sweeping taking place at Waldemar Daa’s, in the castle of Borreby.
    His enemy, Owe Ramel, of Basnas, was there, with the mortgage of the house and
    everything it contained, in his pocket. I rattled the broken windows, beat against
    the old rotten doors, and whistled through cracks and crevices, so that Mr.
    Owe Ramel did not much like to remain there. Ida and Anna Dorothea wept bitterly,
    Joanna stood, pale and proud, biting her lips till the blood came; but what
    could that avail? Owe Ramel offered Waldemar Daa permission to remain in the
    house till the end of his life. No one thanked him for the offer, and I saw
    the ruined old gentleman lift his head, and throw it back more proudly than
    ever. Then I rushed against the house and the old lime-trees with such force,
    that one of the thickest branches, a decayed one, was broken off, and the branch
    fell at the entrance, and remained there. It might have been used as a broom,
    if any one had wanted to sweep the place out, and a grand sweeping-out there
    really was; I thought it would be so. It was hard for any one to preserve composure
    on such a day; but these people had strong wills, as unbending as their hard
    fortune. There was nothing they could call their own, excepting the clothes
    they wore. Yes, there was one thing more, an alchymist’s glass, a new
    one, which had been lately bought, and filled with what could be gathered from
    the ground of the treasure which had promised so much but failed in keeping
    its promise. Waldemar Daa hid the glass in his bosom, and, taking his stick
    in his hand, the once rich gentleman passed with his daughters out of the house
    of Borreby. I blew coldly upon his flustered cheeks, I stroked his gray beard
    and his long white hair, and I sang as well as I was able, ‘Whir-r-r,
    whir-r-r. Gone away! Gone away!’ Ida walked on one side of the old man,
    and Anna Dorothea on the other; Joanna turned round, as they left the entrance.
    Why? Fortune would not turn because she turned. She looked at the stone in the
    walls which had once formed part of the castle of Marck Stig, and perhaps she
    thought of his daughters and of the old song,—

    ‘The eldest and youngest, hand-in-hand,
    Went forth alone to a distant land’.
    These were only two; here there were three, and their father with them also.
    They walked along the high-road, where once they had driven in their splendid
    carriage; they went forth with their father as beggars. They wandered across
    an open field to a mud hut, which they rented for a dollar and a half a year,
    a new home, with bare walls and empty cupboards. Crows and magpies fluttered
    about them, and cried, as if in contempt, ‘Caw, caw, turned out of our
    nest—caw, caw,’ as they had done in the wood at Borreby, when the
    trees were felled. Daa and his daughters could not help hearing it, so I blew
    about their ears to drown the noise; what use was it that they should listen?
    So they went to live in the mud hut in the open field, and I wandered away,
    over moor and meadow, through bare bushes and leafless forests, to the open
    sea, to the broad shores in other lands, ‘Whir-r-r, whir-r-r! Away, away!’
    year after year.”
    And what became of Waldemar Daa and his daughters? Listen; the Wind will tell

    “The last I saw of them was the pale hyacinth, Anna Dorothea. She was
    old and bent then; for fifty years had passed and she had outlived them all.
    She could relate the history. Yonder, on the heath, near the town of Wiborg,
    in Jutland, stood the fine new house of the canon. It was built of red brick,
    with projecting gables. It was inhabited, for the smoke curled up thickly from
    the chimneys. The canon’s gentle lady and her beautiful daughters sat
    in the bay-window, and looked over the hawthorn hedge of the garden towards
    the brown heath. What were they looking at? Their glances fell upon a stork’s
    nest, which was built upon an old tumbledown hut. The roof, as far as one existed
    at all, was covered with moss and lichen. The stork’s nest covered the
    greater part of it, and that alone was in a good condition; for it was kept
    in order by the stork himself. That is a house to be looked at, and not to be
    touched,” said the Wind. “For the sake of the stork’s nest
    it had been allowed to remain, although it is a blot on the landscape. They
    did not like to drive the stork away; therefore the old shed was left standing,
    and the poor woman who dwelt in it allowed to stay. She had the Egyptian bird
    to thank for that; or was it perchance her reward for having once interceded
    for the preservation of the nest of its black brother in the forest of Borreby?
    At that time she, the poor woman, was a young child, a white hyacinth in a rich
    garden. She remembered that time well; for it was Anna Dorothea.

    “‘O-h, o-h,’ she sighed; for people can sigh like the moaning
    of the wind among the reeds and rushes. ‘O-h, o-h,’ she would say,
    ‘no bell sounded at thy burial, Waldemar Daa. The poor school-boys did
    not even sing a psalm when the former lord of Borreby was laid in the earth
    to rest. O-h, everything has an end, even misery. Sister Ida became the wife
    of a peasant; that was the hardest trial which befell our father, that the husband
    of his own daughter should be a miserable serf, whom his owner could place for
    punishment on the wooden horse. I suppose he is under the ground now; and Ida—alas!
    alas! it is not ended yet; miserable that I am! Kind Heaven, grant me that I
    may die.’

    “That was Anna Dorothea’s prayer in the wretched hut that was left
    standing for the sake of the stork. I took pity on the proudest of the sisters,”
    said the Wind. “Her courage was like that of a man; and in man’s
    clothes she served as a sailor on board ship. She was of few words, and of a
    dark countenance; but she did not know how to climb, so I blew her overboard
    before any one found out that she was a woman; and, in my opinion, that was
    well done,” said the Wind.

    On such another Easter morning as that on which Waldemar Daa imagined he had
    discovered the art of making gold, I heard the tones of a psalm under the stork’s
    nest, and within the crumbling walls. It was Anna Dorothea’s last song.
    There was no window in the hut, only a hole in the wall; and the sun rose like
    a globe of burnished gold, and looked through. With what splendor he filled
    that dismal dwelling! Her eyes were glazing, and her heart breaking; but so
    it would have been, even had the sun not shone that morning on Anna Dorothea.
    The stork’s nest had secured her a home till her death. I sung over her
    grave; I sung at her father’s grave. I know where it lies, and where her
    grave is too, but nobody else knows it.

    “New times now; all is changed. The old high-road is lost amid cultivated
    fields; the new one now winds along over covered graves; and soon the railway
    will come, with its train of carriages, and rush over graves where lie those
    whose very names are forgoten. All passed away, passed away!

    “This is the story of Waldemar Daa and his daughters. Tell it better,
    any of you, if you know how,” said the Wind; and he rushed away, and was

    The Little Elder-Tree Mother

    There was once a little boy who had caught cold; he had gone out and got wet feet.
    Nobody had the least idea how it had happened; the weather was quite dry. His
    mother undressed him, put him to bed, and ordered the teapot to be brought in,
    that she might make him a good cup of tea from the elder-tree blossoms, which
    is so warming. At the same time, the kind-hearted old man who lived by himself
    in the upper storey of the house came in; he led a lonely life, for he had no
    wife and children; but he loved the children of others very much, and he could
    tell so many fairy tales and stories, that it was a pleasure to hear him.

    “Now, drink your tea,” said the mother; “perhaps you will
    hear a story.”

    “Yes, if I only knew a fresh one,” said the old man, and nodded
    smilingly. “But how did the little fellow get his wet feet?” he
    then asked.

    “That,” replied the mother, “nobody can understand.”

    “Will you tell me a story?” asked the boy.

    “Yes, if you can tell me as nearly as possible how deep is the gutter
    in the little street where you go to school.”

    “Just half as high as my top-boots,” replied the boy; “but
    then I must stand in the deepest holes.”

    “There, now we know where you got your wet feet,” said the old
    man. “I ought to tell you a story, but the worst of it is, I do not know
    any more.”

    “You can make one up,” said the little boy. “Mother says
    you can tell a fairy tale about anything you look at or touch.”

    “That is all very well, but such tales or stories are worth nothing!
    No, the right ones come by themselves and knock at my forehead saying: ‘Here
    I am.’”

    “Will not one knock soon?” asked the boy; and the mother smiled
    while she put elder-tree blossoms into the teapot and poured boiling water over
    them. “Pray, tell me a story.”

    “Yes, if stories came by themselves; they are so proud, they only come
    when they please.—But wait,” he said suddenly, “there is one.
    Look at the teapot; there is a story in it now.”

    And the little boy looked at the teapot; the lid rose up gradually, the elder-tree
    blossoms sprang forth one by one, fresh and white; long boughs came forth; even
    out of the spout they grew up in all directions, and formed a bush—nay,
    a large elder tree, which stretched its branches up to the bed and pushed the
    curtains aside; and there were so many blossoms and such a sweet fragrance!
    In the midst of the tree sat a kindly-looking old woman with a strange dress;
    it was as green as the leaves, and trimmed with large white blossoms, so that
    it was difficult to say whether it was real cloth, or the leaves and blossoms
    of the elder-tree.

    “What is this woman’s name?” asked the little boy.

    “Well, the Romans and Greeks used to call her a Dryad,” said the
    old man; “but we do not understand that. Out in the sailors’ quarter
    they give her a better name; there she is called elder-tree mother. Now, you
    must attentively listen to her and look at the beautiful elder-tree.

    “Just such a large tree, covered with flowers, stands out there; it grew
    in the corner of an humble little yard; under this tree sat two old people one
    afternoon in the beautiful sunshine. He was an old, old sailor, and she his
    old wife; they had already great-grandchildren, and were soon to celebrate their
    golden wedding, but they could not remember the date, and the elder-tree mother
    was sitting in the tree and looked as pleased as this one here. ‘I know
    very well when the golden wedding is to take place,’ she said; but they
    did not hear it—they were talking of bygone days.

    “‘Well, do you remember?’ said the old sailor, ‘when
    we were quite small and used to run about and play—it was in the very
    same yard where we now are—we used to put little branches into the ground
    and make a garden.’

    “‘Yes,’ said the old woman, ‘I remember it very well;
    we used to water the branches, and one of them, an elder-tree branch, took root,
    and grew and became the large tree under which we are now sitting as old people.’

    “‘Certainly, you are right,’ he said; ‘and in yonder
    corner stood a large water-tub; there I used to sail my boat, which I had cut
    out myself—it sailed so well; but soon I had to sail somewhere else.’

    “‘But first we went to school to learn something,’ she said,
    ‘and then we were confirmed; we both wept on that day, but in the afternoon
    we went out hand in hand, and ascended the high round tower and looked out into
    the wide world right over Copenhagen and the sea; then we walked to Fredericksburg,
    where the king and the queen were sailing about in their magnificent boat on
    the canals.’

    “‘But soon I had to sail about somewhere else, and for many years
    I was travelling about far away from home.’

    “‘And I often cried about you, for I was afraid lest you were drowned
    and lying at the bottom of the sea. Many a time I got up in the night and looked
    if the weathercock had turned; it turned often, but you did not return. I remember
    one day distinctly: the rain was pouring down in torrents; the dust-man had
    come to the house where I was in service; I went down with the dust-bin and
    stood for a moment in the doorway, and looked at the dreadful weather. Then
    the postman gave me a letter; it was from you. Heavens! how that letter had
    travelled about. I tore it open and read it; I cried and laughed at the same
    time, and was so happy! Therein was written that you were staying in the hot
    countries, where the coffee grows. These must be marvellous countries. You said
    a great deal about them, and I read all while the rain was pouring down and
    I was standing there with the dust-bin. Then suddenly some one put his arm round
    my waist—’

    “‘Yes, and you gave him a hearty smack on the cheek,’ said
    the old man.

    “‘I did not know that it was you—you had come as quickly
    as your letter; and you looked so handsome, and so you do still. You had a large
    yellow silk handkerchief in your pocket and a shining hat on. You looked so
    well, and the weather in the street was horrible!’

    “‘Then we married,’ he said. ‘Do you remember how we
    got our first boy, and then Mary, Niels, Peter, John, and Christian?’

    ‘Oh yes; and now they have all grown up, and have become useful members
    of society, whom everybody cares for.’

    “‘And their children have had children again,’ said the old
    sailor. ‘Yes, these are children’s children, and they are strong
    and healthy. If I am not mistaken, our wedding took place at this season of
    the year.’

    “‘Yes, to-day is your golden wedding-day,’ said the little
    elder-tree mother, stretching her head down between the two old people, who
    thought that she was their neighbour who was nodding to them; they looked at
    each other and clasped hands. Soon afterwards the children and grandchildren
    came, for they knew very well that it was the golden wedding-day; they had already
    wished them joy and happiness in the morning, but the old people had forgotten
    it, although they remembered things so well that had passed many, many years
    ago. The elder-tree smelt strongly, and the setting sun illuminated the faces
    of the two old people, so that they looked quite rosy; the youngest of the grandchildren
    danced round them, and cried merrily that there would be a feast in the evening,
    for they were to have hot potatoes; and the elder mother nodded in the tree
    and cried ‘Hooray’ with the others.”

    “But that was no fairy tale,” said the little boy who had listened
    to it.

    “You will presently understand it,” said the old man who told the
    story. “Let us ask little elder-tree mother about it.”

    “That was no fairy tale,” said the little elder-tree mother; “but
    now it comes! Real life furnishes us with subjects for the most wonderful fairy
    tales; for otherwise my beautiful elder-bush could not have grown forth out
    of the teapot.”

    And then she took the little boy out of bed and placed him on her bosom; the
    elder branches, full of blossoms, closed over them; it was as if they sat in
    a thick leafy bower which flew with them through the air; it was beautiful beyond
    all description. The little elder-tree mother had suddenly become a charming
    young girl, but her dress was still of the same green material, covered with
    white blossoms, as the elder-tree mother had worn; she had a real elder blossom
    on her bosom, and a wreath of the same flowers was wound round her curly golden
    hair; her eyes were so large and so blue that it was wonderful to look at them.
    She and the boy kissed each other, and then they were of the same age and felt
    the same joys. They walked hand in hand out of the bower, and now stood at home
    in a beautiful flower garden. Near the green lawn the father’s walking-stick
    was tied to a post. There was life in this stick for the little ones, for as
    soon as they seated themselves upon it the polished knob turned into a neighing
    horse’s head, a long black mane was fluttering in the wind, and four strong
    slender legs grew out. The animal was fiery and spirited; they galloped round
    the lawn. “Hooray! now we shall ride far away, many miles!” said
    the boy; “we shall ride to the nobleman’s estate where we were last
    year.” And they rode round the lawn again, and the little girl, who, as
    we know, was no other than the little elder-tree mother, continually cried,
    “Now we are in the country! Do you see the farmhouse there, with the large
    baking stove, which projects like a gigantic egg out of the wall into the road?
    The elder-tree spreads its branches over it, and the cock struts about and scratches
    for the hens. Look how proud he is! Now we are near the church; it stands on
    a high hill, under the spreading oak trees; one of them is half dead! Now we
    are at the smithy, where the fire roars and the half-naked men beat with their
    hammers so that the sparks fly far and wide. Let’s be off to the beautiful
    farm!” And they passed by everything the little girl, who was sitting
    behind on the stick, described, and the boy saw it, and yet they only went round
    the lawn. Then they played in a side-walk, and marked out a little garden on
    the ground; she took elder-blossoms out of her hair and planted them, and they
    grew exactly like those the old people planted when they were children, as we
    have heard before. They walked about hand in hand, just as the old couple had
    done when they were little, but they did not go to the round tower nor to the
    Fredericksburg garden. No; the little girl seized the boy round the waist, and
    then they flew far into the country. It was spring and it became summer, it
    was autumn and it became winter, and thousands of pictures reflected themselves
    in the boy’s eyes and heart, and the little girl always sang again, “You
    will never forget that!” And during their whole flight the elder-tree
    smelt so sweetly; he noticed the roses and the fresh beeches, but the elder-tree
    smelt much stronger, for the flowers were fixed on the little girl’s bosom,
    against which the boy often rested his head during the flight.

    “It is beautiful here in spring,” said the little girl, and they
    were again in the green beechwood, where the thyme breathed forth sweet fragrance
    at their feet, and the pink anemones looked lovely in the green moss. “Oh!
    that it were always spring in the fragrant beechwood!”

    “Here it is splendid in summer!” she said, and they passed by old
    castles of the age of chivalry. The high walls and indented battlements were
    reflected in the water of the ditches, on which swans were swimming and peering
    into the old shady avenues. The corn waved in the field like a yellow sea. Red
    and yellow flowers grew in the ditches, wild hops and convolvuli in full bloom
    in the hedges. In the evening the moon rose, large and round, and the hayricks
    in the meadows smelt sweetly. “One can never forget it!”

    “Here it is beautiful in autumn!” said the little girl, and the
    atmosphere seemed twice as high and blue, while the wood shone with crimson,
    green, and gold. The hounds were running off, flocks of wild fowl flew screaming
    over the barrows, while the bramble bushes twined round the old stones. The
    dark-blue sea was covered with white-sailed ships, and in the barns sat old
    women, girls, and children picking hops into a large tub; the young ones sang
    songs, and the old people told fairy tales about goblins and sorcerers. It could
    not be more pleasant anywhere.

    “Here it’s agreeable in winter!” said the little girl, and
    all the trees were covered with hoar-frost, so that they looked like white coral.
    The snow creaked under one’s feet, as if one had new boots on. One shooting
    star after another traversed the sky. In the room the Christmas tree was lit,
    and there were song and merriment. In the peasant’s cottage the violin
    sounded, and games were played for apple quarters; even the poorest child said,
    “It is beautiful in winter!”

    And indeed it was beautiful! And the little girl showed everything to the boy,
    and the elder-tree continued to breathe forth sweet perfume, while the red flag
    with the white cross was streaming in the wind; it was the flag under which
    the old sailor had served. The boy became a youth; he was to go out into the
    wide world, far away to the countries where the coffee grows. But at parting
    the little girl took an elder-blossom from her breast and gave it to him as
    a keepsake. He placed it in his prayer-book, and when he opened it in distant
    lands it was always at the place where the flower of remembrance was lying;
    and the more he looked at it the fresher it became, so that he could almost
    smell the fragrance of the woods at home. He distinctly saw the little girl,
    with her bright blue eyes, peeping out from behind the petals, and heard her
    whispering, “Here it is beautiful in spring, in summer, in autumn, and
    in winter,” and hundreds of pictures passed through his mind.

    Thus many years rolled by. He had now become an old man, and was sitting, with
    his old wife, under an elder-tree in full bloom. They held each other by the
    hand exactly as the great-grandfather and the great-grandmother had done outside,
    and, like them, they talked about bygone days and of their golden wedding. The
    little girl with the blue eyes and elder-blossoms in her hair was sitting high
    up in the tree, and nodded to them, saying, “To-day is the golden wedding!”
    And then she took two flowers out of her wreath and kissed them. They glittered
    at first like silver, then like gold, and when she placed them on the heads
    of the old people each flower became a golden crown. There they both sat like
    a king and queen under the sweet-smelling tree, which looked exactly like an
    elder-tree, and he told his wife the story of the elder-tree mother as it had
    been told him when he was a little boy. They were both of opinion that the story
    contained many points like their own, and these similarities they liked best.

    “Yes, so it is,” said the little girl in the tree. “Some
    call me Little Elder-tree Mother; others a Dryad; but my real name is ‘Remembrance.’
    It is I who sit in the tree which grows and grows. I can remember things and
    tell stories! But let’s see if you have still got your flower.”

    And the old man opened his prayer-book; the elder-blossom was still in it,
    and as fresh as if it had only just been put in. Remembrance nodded, and the
    two old people, with the golden crowns on their heads, sat in the glowing evening
    sun. They closed their eyes and—and—

    Well, now the story is ended! The little boy in bed did not know whether he
    had dreamt it or heard it told; the teapot stood on the table, but no elder-tree
    was growing out of it, and the old man who had told the story was on the point
    of leaving the room, and he did go out.

    “How beautiful it was!” said the little boy. “Mother, I have
    been to warm countries!”

    “I believe you,” said the mother; “if one takes two cups
    of hot elder-tea it is quite natural that one gets into warm countries!”
    And she covered him up well, so that he might not take cold. “You have
    slept soundly while I was arguing with the old man whether it was a story or
    a fairy tale!”

    “And what has become of the little elder-tree mother?” asked the

    “She is in the teapot,” said the mother; “and there she may

    The Metal Pig

    In the city of Florence, not far from the Piazza del Granduca, runs a little street
    called Porta Rosa. In this street, just in front of the market-place where vegetables
    are sold, stands a pig, made of brass and curiously formed. The bright color has
    been changed by age to dark green; but clear, fresh water pours from the snout,
    which shines as if it had been polished, and so indeed it has, for hundreds of
    poor people and children seize it in their hands as they place their mouths close
    to the mouth of the animal, to drink. It is quite a picture to see a half-naked
    boy clasping the well-formed creature by the head, as he presses his rosy lips
    against its jaws. Every one who visits Florence can very quickly find the place;
    he has only to ask the first beggar he meets for the Metal Pig, and he will be
    told where it is.

    It was late on a winter evening; the mountains were covered with snow, but
    the moon shone brightly, and moonlight in Italy is like a dull winter’s
    day in the north; indeed it is better, for clear air seems to raise us above
    the earth, while in the north a cold, gray, leaden sky appears to press us down
    to earth, even as the cold damp earth shall one day press on us in the grave.
    In the garden of the grand duke’s palace, under the roof of one of the
    wings, where a thousand roses bloom in winter, a little ragged boy had been
    sitting the whole day long; a boy, who might serve as a type of Italy, lovely
    and smiling, and yet still suffering. He was hungry and thirsty, yet no one
    gave him anything; and when it became dark, and they were about to close the
    gardens, the porter turned him out. He stood a long time musing on the bridge
    which crosses the Arno, and looking at the glittering stars, reflected in the
    water which flowed between him and the elegant marble bridge Della Trinità.
    He then walked away towards the Metal Pig, half knelt down, clasped it with
    his arms, and then put his mouth to the shining snout and drank deep draughts
    of the fresh water. Close by, lay a few salad-leaves and two chestnuts, which
    were to serve for his supper. No one was in the street but himself; it belonged
    only to him, so he boldly seated himself on the pig’s back, leaned forward
    so that his curly head could rest on the head of the animal, and, before he
    was aware, he fell asleep.

    It was midnight. The Metal Pig raised himself gently, and the boy heard him
    say quite distinctly, “Hold tight, little boy, for I am going to run;”
    and away he started for a most wonderful ride. First, they arrived at the Piazza
    del Granduca, and the metal horse which bears the duke’s statue, neighed
    aloud. The painted coats-of-arms on the old council-house shone like transparent
    pictures, and Michael Angelo’s David tossed his sling; it was as if everything
    had life. The metallic groups of figures, among which were Perseus and the Rape
    of the Sabines, looked like living persons, and cries of terror sounded from
    them all across the noble square. By the Palazzo degli Uffizi, in the arcade,
    where the nobility assemble for the carnival, the Metal Pig stopped. “Hold
    fast,” said the animal; “hold fast, for I am going up stairs.”

    The little boy said not a word; he was half pleased and half afraid. They entered
    a long gallery, where the boy had been before. The walls were resplendent with
    paintings; here stood statues and busts, all in a clear light as if it were
    day. But the grandest appeared when the door of a side room opened; the little
    boy could remember what beautiful things he had seen there, but to-night everything
    shone in its brightest colors. Here stood the figure of a beautiful woman, as
    beautifully sculptured as possible by one of the great masters. Her graceful
    limbs appeared to move; dolphins sprang at her feet, and immortality shone from
    her eyes. The world called her the Venus de’ Medici. By her side were
    statues, in which the spirit of life breathed in stone; figures of men, one
    of whom whetted his sword, and was named the Grinder; wrestling gladiators formed
    another group, the sword had been sharpened for them, and they strove for the
    goddess of beauty. The boy was dazzled by so much glitter; for the walls were
    gleaming with bright colors, all appeared living reality.

    As they passed from hall to hall, beauty everywhere showed itself; and as the
    Metal Pig went step by step from one picture to the other, the little boy could
    see it all plainly. One glory eclipsed another; yet there was one picture that
    fixed itself on the little boy’s memory, more especially because of the
    happy children it represented, for these the little boy had seen in daylight.
    Many pass this picture by with indifference, and yet it contains a treasure
    of poetic feeling; it represents Christ descending into Hades. They are not
    the lost whom the spectator sees, but the heathen of olden times. The Florentine,
    Angiolo Bronzino, painted this picture; most beautiful is the expression on
    the face of the two children, who appear to have full confidence that they shall
    reach heaven at last. They are embracing each other, and one little one stretches
    out his hand towards another who stands below him, and points to himself, as
    if he were saying, “I am going to heaven.” The older people stand
    as if uncertain, yet hopeful, and they bow in humble adoration to the Lord Jesus.
    On this picture the boy’s eyes rested longer than on any other: the Metal
    Pig stood still before it. A low sigh was heard. Did it come from the picture
    or from the animal? The boy raised his hands towards the smiling children, and
    then the Pig ran off with him through the open vestibule.

    “Thank you, thank you, you beautiful animal,” said the little boy,
    caressing the Metal Pig as it ran down the steps.

    “Thanks to yourself also,” replied the Metal Pig; “I have
    helped you and you have helped me, for it is only when I have an innocent child
    on my back that I receive the power to run. Yes; as you see, I can even venture
    under the rays of the lamp, in front of the picture of the Madonna, but I may
    not enter the church; still from without, and while you are upon my back, I
    may look in through the open door. Do not get down yet, for if you do, then
    I shall be lifeless, as you have seen me in the Porta Rosa.”

    “I will stay with you, my dear creature,” said the little boy.
    So then they went on at a rapid pace through the streets of Florence, till they
    came to the square before the church of Santa Croce. The folding-doors flew
    open, and light streamed from the altar through the church into the deserted
    square. A wonderful blaze of light streamed from one of the monuments in the
    left-side aisle, and a thousand moving stars seemed to form a glory round it;
    even the coat-of-arms on the tomb-stone shone, and a red ladder on a blue field
    gleamed like fire. It was the grave of Galileo. The monument is unadorned, but
    the red ladder is an emblem of art, signifying that the way to glory leads up
    a shining ladder, on which the prophets of mind rise to heaven, like Elias of
    old. In the right aisle of the church every statue on the richly carved sarcophagi
    seemed endowed with life. Here stood Michael Angelo; there Dante, with the laurel
    wreath round his brow; Alfieri and Machiavelli; for here side by side rest the
    great men—the pride of Italy.1 The church itself is very beautiful, even
    more beautiful than the marble cathedral at Florence, though not so large. It
    seemed as if the carved vestments stirred, and as if the marble figures they
    covered raised their heads higher, to gaze upon the brightly colored glowing
    altar where the white-robed boys swung the golden censers, amid music and song,
    while the strong fragrance of incense filled the church, and streamed forth
    into the square. The boy stretched forth his hands towards the light, and at
    the same moment the Metal Pig started again so rapidly that he was obliged to
    cling tightly to him. The wind whistled in his ears, he heard the church door
    creak on its hinges as it closed, and it seemed to him as if he had lost his
    senses— then a cold shudder passed over him, and he awoke.

    It was morning; the Metal Pig stood in its old place on the Porta Rosa, and
    the boy found he had slipped nearly off its back. Fear and trembling came upon
    him as he thought of his mother; she had sent him out the day before to get
    some money, he had not done so, and now he was hungry and thirsty. Once more
    he clasped the neck of his metal horse, kissed its nose, and nodded farewell
    to it. Then he wandered away into one of the narrowest streets, where there
    was scarcely room for a loaded donkey to pass. A great iron-bound door stood
    ajar; he passed through, and climbed up a brick staircase, with dirty walls
    and a rope for a balustrade, till he came to an open gallery hung with rags.
    From here a flight of steps led down to a court, where from a well water was
    drawn up by iron rollers to the different stories of the house, and where the
    water-buckets hung side by side. Sometimes the roller and the bucket danced
    in the air, splashing the water all over the court. Another broken-down staircase
    led from the gallery, and two Russian sailors running down it almost upset the
    poor boy. They were coming from their nightly carousal. A woman not very young,
    with an unpleasant face and a quantity of black hair, followed them. “What
    have you brought home?” she asked. when she saw the boy.

    “Don’t be angry,” he pleaded; “I received nothing,
    I have nothing at all;” and he seized his mother’s dress and would
    have kissed it. Then they went into a little room. I need not describe it, but
    only say that there stood in it an earthen pot with handles, made for holding
    fire, which in Italy is called a marito. This pot she took in her lap, warmed
    her fingers, and pushed the boy with her elbow.

    “Certainly you must have some money,” she said. The boy began to
    cry, and then she struck him with her foot till he cried out louder.

    “Will you be quiet? or I’ll break your screaming head;” and
    she swung about the fire-pot which she held in her hand, while the boy crouched
    to the earth and screamed.

    Then a neighbor came in, and she had also a marito under her arm. “Felicita,”
    she said, “what are you doing to the child?”

    “The child is mine,” she answered; “I can murder him if I
    like, and you too, Giannina.” And then she swung about the fire-pot. The
    other woman lifted up hers to defend herself, and the two pots clashed together
    so violently that they were dashed to pieces, and fire and ashes flew about
    the room. The boy rushed out at the sight, sped across the courtyard, and fled
    from the house. The poor child ran till he was quite out of breath; at last
    he stopped at the church, the doors of which were opened to him the night before,
    and went in. Here everything was bright, and the boy knelt down by the first
    tomb on his right, the grave of Michael Angelo, and sobbed as if his heart would
    break. People came and went, mass was performed, but no one noticed the boy,
    excepting an elderly citizen, who stood still and looked at him for a moment,
    and then went away like the rest. Hunger and thirst overpowered the child, and
    he became quite faint and ill. At last he crept into a corner behind the marble
    monuments, and went to sleep. Towards evening he was awakened by a pull at his
    sleeve; he started up, and the same old citizen stood before him.

    “Are you ill? where do you live? have you been here all day?” were
    some of the questions asked by the old man. After hearing his answers, the old
    man took him home to a small house close by, in a back street. They entered
    a glovemaker’s shop, where a woman sat sewing busily. A little white poodle,
    so closely shaven that his pink skin could plainly be seen, frisked about the
    room, and gambolled upon the boy.

    “Innocent souls are soon intimate,” said the woman, as she caressed
    both the boy and the dog. These good people gave the child food and drink, and
    said he should stay with them all night, and that the next day the old man,
    who was called Giuseppe, would go and speak to his mother. A little homely bed
    was prepared for him, but to him who had so often slept on the hard stones it
    was a royal couch, and he slept sweetly and dreamed of the splendid pictures
    and of the Metal Pig. Giuseppe went out the next morning, and the poor child
    was not glad to see him go, for he knew that the old man was gone to his mother,
    and that, perhaps, he would have to go back. He wept at the thought, and then
    he played with the little, lively dog, and kissed it, while the old woman looked
    kindly at him to encourage him. And what news did Giuseppe bring back? At first
    the boy could not hear, for he talked a great deal to his wife, and she nodded
    and stroked the boy’s cheek.

    Then she said, “He is a good lad, he shall stay with us, he may become
    a clever glovemaker, like you. Look what delicate fingers he has got; Madonna
    intended him for a glovemaker.” So the boy stayed with them, and the woman
    herself taught him to sew; and he ate well, and slept well, and became very
    merry. But at last he began to tease Bellissima, as the little dog was called.
    This made the woman angry, and she scolded him and threatened him, which made
    him very unhappy, and he went and sat in his own room full of sad thoughts.
    This chamber looked upon the street, in which hung skins to dry, and there were
    thick iron bars across his window. That night he lay awake, thinking of the
    Metal Pig; indeed, it was always in his thoughts. Suddenly he fancied he heard
    feet outside going pit-a-pat. He sprung out of bed and went to the window. Could
    it be the Metal Pig? But there was nothing to be seen; whatever he had heard
    had passed already. Next morning, their neighbor, the artist, passed by, carrying
    a paint-box and a large roll of canvas.

    “Help the gentleman to carry his box of colors,” said the woman
    to the boy; and he obeyed instantly, took the box, and followed the painter.
    They walked on till they reached the picture gallery, and mounted the same staircase
    up which he had ridden that night on the Metal Pig. He remembered all the statues
    and pictures, the beautiful marble Venus, and again he looked at the Madonna
    with the Saviour and St. John. They stopped before the picture by Bronzino,
    in which Christ is represented as standing in the lower world, with the children
    smiling before Him, in the sweet expectation of entering heaven; and the poor
    boy smiled, too, for here was his heaven.

    “You may go home now,” said the painter, while the boy stood watching
    him, till he had set up his easel.

    “May I see you paint?” asked the boy; “may I see you put
    the picture on this white canvas?”

    “I am not going to paint yet,” replied the artist; then he brought
    out a piece of chalk. His hand moved quickly, and his eye measured the great
    picture; and though nothing appeared but a faint line, the figure of the Saviour
    was as clearly visible as in the colored picture.

    “Why don’t you go?” said the painter. Then the boy wandered
    home silently, and seated himself on the table, and learned to sew gloves. But
    all day long his thoughts were in the picture gallery; and so he pricked his
    fingers and was awkward. But he did not tease Bellissima. When evening came,
    and the house door stood open, he slipped out. It was a bright, beautiful, starlight
    evening, but rather cold. Away he went through the already-deserted streets,
    and soon came to the Metal Pig; he stooped down and kissed its shining nose,
    and then seated himself on its back.

    “You happy creature,” he said; “how I have longed for you!
    we must take a ride to-night.”

    But the Metal Pig lay motionless, while the fresh stream gushed forth from
    its mouth. The little boy still sat astride on its back, when he felt something
    pulling at his clothes. He looked down, and there was Bellissima, little smooth-shaven
    Bellissima, barking as if she would have said, “Here I am too; why are
    you sitting there?”

    A fiery dragon could not have frightened the little boy so much as did the
    little dog in this place. “Bellissima in the street, and not dressed!”
    as the old lady called it; “what would be the end of this?”

    The dog never went out in winter, unless she was attired in a little lambskin
    coat which had been made for her; it was fastened round the little dog’s
    neck and body with red ribbons, and was decorated with rosettes and little bells.
    The dog looked almost like a little kid when she was allowed to go out in winter,
    and trot after her mistress. And now here she was in the cold, and not dressed.
    Oh, how would it end? All his fancies were quickly put to flight; yet he kissed
    the Metal Pig once more, and then took Bellissima in his arms. The poor little
    thing trembled so with cold, that the boy ran homeward as fast as he could.

    “What are you running away with there?” asked two of the police
    whom he met, and at whom the dog barked. “Where have you stolen that pretty
    dog?” they asked; and they took it away from him.

    “Oh, I have not stolen it; do give it to me back again,” cried
    the boy, despairingly.

    “If you have not stolen it, you may say at home that they can send to
    the watch-house for the dog.” Then they told him where the watch-house
    was, and went away with Bellissima.

    Here was a dreadful trouble. The boy did not know whether he had better jump
    into the Arno, or go home and confess everything. They would certainly kill
    him, he thought.

    “Well, I would gladly be killed,” he reasoned; “for then
    I shall die, and go to heaven:” and so he went home, almost hoping for

    The door was locked, and he could not reach the knocker. No one was in the
    street; so he took up a stone, and with it made a tremendous noise at the door.

    “Who is there?” asked somebody from within.

    “It is I,” said he. “Bellissima is gone. Open the door, and
    then kill me.”

    Then indeed there was a great panic. Madame was so very fond of Bellissima.
    She immediately looked at the wall where the dog’s dress usually hung;
    and there was the little lambskin.

    “Bellissima in the watch-house!” she cried. “You bad boy!
    how did you entice her out? Poor little delicate thing, with those rough policemen!
    and she’ll be frozen with cold.”

    Giuseppe went off at once, while his wife lamented, and the boy wept. Several
    of the neighbors came in, and amongst them the painter. He took the boy between
    his knees, and questioned him; and, in broken sentences, he soon heard the whole
    story, and also about the Metal Pig, and the wonderful ride to the picture-gallery,
    which was certainly rather incomprehensible. The painter, however, consoled
    the little fellow, and tried to soften the lady’s anger; but she would
    not be pacified till her husband returned with Bellissima, who had been with
    the police. Then there was great rejoicing, and the painter caressed the boy,
    and gave him a number of pictures. Oh, what beautiful pictures these were!—figures
    with funny heads; and, above all, the Metal Pig was there too. Oh, nothing could
    be more delightful. By means of a few strokes, it was made to appear on the
    paper; and even the house that stood behind it had been sketched in. Oh, if
    he could only draw and paint! He who could do this could conjure all the world
    before him. The first leisure moment during the next day, the boy got a pencil,
    and on the back of one of the other drawings he attempted to copy the drawing
    of the Metal Pig, and he succeeded. Certainly it was rather crooked, rather
    up and down, one leg thick, and another thin; still it was like the copy, and
    he was overjoyed at what he had done. The pencil would not go quite as it ought,—he
    had found that out; but the next day he tried again. A second pig was drawn
    by the side of the first, and this looked a hundred times better; and the third
    attempt was so good, that everybody might know what it was meant to represent.

    And now the glovemaking went on but slowly. The orders given by the shops in
    the town were not finished quickly; for the Metal Pig had taught the boy that
    all objects may be drawn upon paper; and Florence is a picture-book in itself
    for any one who chooses to turn over its pages. On the Piazza dell Trinita stands
    a slender pillar, and upon it is the goddess of Justice, blindfolded, with her
    scales in her hand. She was soon represented on paper, and it was the glovemaker’s
    boy who placed her there. His collection of pictures increased; but as yet they
    were only copies of lifeless objects, when one day Bellissima came gambolling
    before him: “Stand still,” cried he, “and I will draw you
    beautifully, to put amongst my collection.”

    But Bellissima would not stand still, so she must be bound fast in one position.
    He tied her head and tail; but she barked and jumped, and so pulled and tightened
    the string, that she was nearly strangled; and just then her mistress walked

    “You wicked boy! the poor little creature!” was all she could utter.

    She pushed the boy from her, thrust him away with her foot, called him a most
    ungrateful, good-for-nothing, wicked boy, and forbade him to enter the house
    again. Then she wept, and kissed her little half-strangled Bellissima. At this
    moment the painter entered the room. In the year 1834 there was an exhibition
    in the Academy of Arts at Florence. Two pictures, placed side by side, attracted
    a large number of spectators. The smaller of the two represented a little boy
    sitting at a table, drawing; before him was a little white poodle, curiously
    shaven; but as the animal would not stand still, it had been fastened with a
    string to its head and tail, to keep it in one position. The truthfulness and
    life in this picture interested every one. The painter was said to be a young
    Florentine, who had been found in the streets, when a child, by an old glovemaker,
    who had brought him up. The boy had taught himself to draw: it was also said
    that a young artist, now famous, had discovered talent in the child just as
    he was about to be sent away for having tied up madame’s favorite little
    dog, and using it as a model. The glovemaker’s boy had also become a great
    painter, as the picture proved; but the larger picture by its side was a still
    greater proof of his talent. It represented a handsome boy, clothed in rags,
    lying asleep, and leaning against the Metal Pig in the street of the Porta Rosa.
    All the spectators knew the spot well. The child’s arms were round the
    neck of the Pig, and he was in a deep sleep. The lamp before the picture of
    the Madonna threw a strong, effective light on the pale, delicate face of the
    child. It was a beautiful picture. A large gilt frame surrounded it, and on
    one corner of the frame a laurel wreath had been hung; but a black band, twined
    unseen among the green leaves, and a streamer of crape, hung down from it; for
    within the last few days the young artist had — died.

    Opposite to the grave of Galileo is the tomb of Michael Angelo. His bust stands
    upon it, with three figures, representing sculpture, painting and architecture.
    Close by is a monument to Dante, whose body is buried in Ravenna. On this monument
    Italy is represented pointing to the colossal statue of Dante, while poetry
    weeps over his loss. A few steps farther is Alfieri’s monumnet, which
    is adorned with laurel, the lyre, and dramatic masks: Italy weeps over the grave.
    Machiavelli is the last in the list of these celebrated men.


    Grandmother is very old, her face is wrinkled, and her hair is quite white; but
    her eyes are like two stars, and they have a mild, gentle expression in them when
    they look at you, which does you good. She wears a dress of heavy, rich silk,
    with large flowers worked on it; and it rustles when she moves. And then she can
    tell the most wonderful stories. Grandmother knows a great deal, for she was alive
    before father and mother—that’s quite certain. She has a hymn-book
    with large silver clasps, in which she often reads; and in the book, between the
    leaves, lies a rose, quite flat and dry; it is not so pretty as the roses which
    are standing in the glass, and yet she smiles at it most pleasantly, and tears
    even come into her eyes. “I wonder why grandmother looks at the withered
    flower in the old book that way? Do you know?” Why, when grandmother’s
    tears fall upon the rose, and she is looking at it, the rose revives, and fills
    the room with its fragrance; the walls vanish as in a mist, and all around her
    is the glorious green wood, where in summer the sunlight streams through thick
    foliage; and grandmother, why she is young again, a charming maiden, fresh as
    a rose, with round, rosy cheeks, fair, bright ringlets, and a figure pretty and
    graceful; but the eyes, those mild, saintly eyes, are the same,—they have
    been left to grandmother. At her side sits a young man, tall and strong; he gives
    her a rose and she smiles. Grandmother cannot smile like that now. Yes, she is
    smiling at the memory of that day, and many thoughts and recollections of the
    past; but the handsome young man is gone, and the rose has withered in the old
    book, and grandmother is sitting there, again an old woman, looking down upon
    the withered rose in the book.

    Grandmother is dead now. She had been sitting in her arm-chair, telling us
    a long, beautiful tale; and when it was finished, she said she was tired, and
    leaned her head back to sleep awhile. We could hear her gentle breathing as
    she slept; gradually it became quieter and calmer, and on her countenance beamed
    happiness and peace. It was as if lighted up with a ray of sunshine. She smiled
    once more, and then people said she was dead. She was laid in a black coffin,
    looking mild and beautiful in the white folds of the shrouded linen, though
    her eyes were closed; but every wrinkle had vanished, her hair looked white
    and silvery, and around her mouth lingered a sweet smile. We did not feel at
    all afraid to look at the corpse of her who had been such a dear, good grandmother.
    The hymn-book, in which the rose still lay, was placed under her head, for so
    she had wished it; and then they buried grandmother.

    On the grave, close by the churchyard wall, they planted a rose-tree; it was
    soon full of roses, and the nightingale sat among the flowers, and sang over
    the grave. From the organ in the church sounded the music and the words of the
    beautiful psalms, which were written in the old book under the head of the dead

    The moon shone down upon the grave, but the dead was not there; every child
    could go safely, even at night, and pluck a rose from the tree by the churchyard
    wall. The dead know more than we do who are living. They know what a terror
    would come upon us if such a strange thing were to happen, as the appearance
    of a dead person among us. They are better off than we are; the dead return
    no more. The earth has been heaped on the coffin, and it is earth only that
    lies within it. The leaves of the hymn-book are dust; and the rose, with all
    its recollections, has crumbled to dust also. But over the grave fresh roses
    bloom, the nightingale sings, and the organ sounds and there still lives a remembrance
    of old grandmother, with the loving, gentle eyes that always looked young. Eyes
    can never die. Ours will once again behold dear grandmother, young and beautiful
    as when, for the first time, she kissed the fresh, red rose, that is now dust
    in the grave.

    The Angel

    Whenever a good child dies, an angel of God comes down from heaven, takes the dead
    child in his arms, spreads out his great white wings, and flies with him over
    all the places which the child had loved during his life. Then he gathers a large
    handful of flowers, which he carries up to the Almighty, that they may bloom more
    brightly in heaven than they do on earth. And the Almighty presses the flowers
    to His heart, but He kisses the flower that pleases Him best, and it receives
    a voice, and is able to join the song of the chorus of bliss.”

    These words were spoken by an angel of God, as he carried a dead child up to
    heaven, and the child listened as if in a dream. Then they passed over well-known
    spots, where the little one had often played, and through beautiful gardens
    full of lovely flowers.

    “Which of these shall we take with us to heaven to be transplanted there?”
    asked the angel.

    Close by grew a slender, beautiful, rose-bush, but some wicked hand had broken
    the stem, and the half-opened rosebuds hung faded and withered on the trailing

    “Poor rose-bush!” said the child, “let us take it with us
    to heaven, that it may bloom above in God’s garden.”

    The angel took up the rose-bush; then he kissed the child, and the little one
    half opened his eyes. The angel gathered also some beautiful flowers, as well
    as a few humble buttercups and heart’s-ease.

    “Now we have flowers enough,” said the child; but the angel only
    nodded, he did not fly upward to heaven.

    It was night, and quite still in the great town. Here they remained, and the
    angel hovered over a small, narrow street, in which lay a large heap of straw,
    ashes, and sweepings from the houses of people who had removed. There lay fragments
    of plates, pieces of plaster, rags, old hats, and other rubbish not pleasant
    to see. Amidst all this confusion, the angel pointed to the pieces of a broken
    flower-pot, and to a lump of earth which had fallen out of it. The earth had
    been kept from falling to pieces by the roots of a withered field-flower, which
    had been thrown amongst the rubbish.

    “We will take this with us,” said the angel, “I will tell
    you why as we fly along.”

    And as they flew the angel related the history.

    “Down in that narrow lane, in a low cellar, lived a poor sick boy; he
    had been afflicted from his childhood, and even in his best days he could just
    manage to walk up and down the room on crutches once or twice, but no more.
    During some days in summer, the sunbeams would lie on the floor of the cellar
    for about half an hour. In this spot the poor sick boy would sit warming himself
    in the sunshine, and watching the red blood through his delicate fingers as
    he held them before his face. Then he would say he had been out, yet he knew
    nothing of the green forest in its spring verdure, till a neighbor’s son
    brought him a green bough from a beech-tree. This he would place over his head,
    and fancy that he was in the beech-wood while the sun shone, and the birds carolled
    gayly. One spring day the neighbor’s boy brought him some field-flowers,
    and among them was one to which the root still adhered. This he carefully planted
    in a flower-pot, and placed in a window-seat near his bed. And the flower had
    been planted by a fortunate hand, for it grew, put forth fresh shoots, and blossomed
    every year. It became a splendid flower-garden to the sick boy, and his little
    treasure upon earth. He watered it, and cherished it, and took care it should
    have the benefit of every sunbeam that found its way into the cellar, from the
    earliest morning ray to the evening sunset. The flower entwined itself even
    in his dreams—for him it bloomed, for him spread its perfume. And it gladdened
    his eyes, and to the flower he turned, even in death, when the Lord called him.
    He has been one year with God. During that time the flower has stood in the
    window, withered and forgotten, till at length cast out among the sweepings
    into the street, on the day of the lodgers’ removal. And this poor flower,
    withered and faded as it is, we have added to our nosegay, because it gave more
    real joy than the most beautiful flower in the garden of a queen.”

    “But how do you know all this?” asked the child whom the angel
    was carrying to heaven.

    “I know it,” said the angel, “because I myself was the poor
    sick boy who walked upon crutches, and I know my own flower well.”

    Then the child opened his eyes and looked into the glorious happy face of the
    angel, and at the same moment they found themselves in that heavenly home where
    all is happiness and joy. And God pressed the dead child to His heart, and wings
    were given him so that he could fly with the angel, hand in hand. Then the Almighty
    pressed all the flowers to His heart; but He kissed the withered field-flower,
    and it received a voice. Then it joined in the song of the angels, who surrounded
    the throne, some near, and others in a distant circle, but all equally happy.
    They all joined in the chorus of praise, both great and small,—the good,
    happy child, and the poor field-flower, that once lay withered and cast away
    on a heap of rubbish in a narrow, dark street.

    The Wild Swans

    Far away in the land to which the swallows fly when it is winter, dwelt a king
    who had eleven sons, and one daughter, named Eliza. The eleven brothers were princes,
    and each went to school with a star on his breast, and a sword by his side. They
    wrote with diamond pencils on gold slates, and learnt their lessons so quickly
    and read so easily that every one might know they were princes. Their sister Eliza
    sat on a little stool of plate-glass, and had a book full of pictures, which had
    cost as much as half a kingdom. Oh, these children were indeed happy, but it was
    not to remain so always. Their father, who was king of the country, married a
    very wicked queen, who did not love the poor children at all. They knew this from
    the very first day after the wedding. In the palace there were great festivities,
    and the children played at receiving company; but instead of having, as usual,
    all the cakes and apples that were left, she gave them some sand in a tea-cup,
    and told them to pretend it was cake. The week after, she sent little Eliza into
    the country to a peasant and his wife, and then she told the king so many untrue
    things about the young princes, that he gave himself no more trouble respecting

    “Go out into the world and get your own living,” said the queen. “Fly like
    great birds, who have no voice.” But she could not make them ugly as she wished,
    for they were turned into eleven beautiful wild swans. Then, with a strange
    cry, they flew through the windows of the palace, over the park, to the forest
    beyond. It was early morning when they passed the peasant’s cottage, where their
    sister Eliza lay asleep in her room. They hovered over the roof, twisted their
    long necks and flapped their wings, but no one heard them or saw them, so they
    were at last obliged to fly away, high up in the clouds; and over the wide world
    they flew till they came to a thick, dark wood, which stretched far away to
    the seashore. Poor little Eliza was alone in her room playing with a green leaf,
    for she had no other playthings, and she pierced a hole through the leaf, and
    looked through it at the sun, and it was as if she saw her brothers’ clear eyes,
    and when the warm sun shone on her cheeks, she thought of all the kisses they
    had given her. One day passed just like another; sometimes the winds rustled
    through the leaves of the rose-bush, and would whisper to the roses, “Who can
    be more beautiful than you!” But the roses would shake their heads, and say,
    “Eliza is.” And when the old woman sat at the cottage door on Sunday, and read
    her hymn-book, the wind would flutter the leaves, and say to the book, “Who
    can be more pious than you?” and then the hymn-book would answer “Eliza.” And
    the roses and the hymn-book told the real truth. At fifteen she returned home,
    but when the queen saw how beautiful she was, she became full of spite and hatred
    towards her. Willingly would she have turned her into a swan, like her brothers,
    but she did not dare to do so yet, because the king wished to see his daughter.
    Early one morning the queen went into the bath-room; it was built of marble,
    and had soft cushions, trimmed with the most beautiful tapestry. She took three
    toads with her, and kissed them, and said to one, “When Eliza comes to the bath,
    seat yourself upon her head, that she may become as stupid as you are.” Then
    she said to another, “Place yourself on her forehead, that she may become as
    ugly as you are, and that her father may not know her.” “Rest on her heart,”
    she whispered to the third, “then she will have evil inclinations, and suffer
    in consequence.” So she put the toads into the clear water, and they turned
    green immediately. She next called Eliza, and helped her to undress and get
    into the bath. As Eliza dipped her head under the water, one of the toads sat
    on her hair, a second on her forehead, and a third on her breast, but she did
    not seem to notice them, and when she rose out of the water, there were three
    red poppies floating upon it. Had not the creatures been venomous or been kissed
    by the witch, they would have been changed into red roses. At all events they
    became flowers, because they had rested on Eliza’s head, and on her heart. She
    was too good and too innocent for witchcraft to have any power over her. When
    the wicked queen saw this, she rubbed her face with walnut-juice, so that she
    was quite brown; then she tangled her beautiful hair and smeared it with disgusting
    ointment, till it was quite impossible to recognize the beautiful Eliza.

    When her father saw her, he was much shocked, and declared she was not his
    daughter. No one but the watch-dog and the swallows knew her; and they were
    only poor animals, and could say nothing. Then poor Eliza wept, and thought
    of her eleven brothers, who were all away. Sorrowfully, she stole away from
    the palace, and walked, the whole day, over fields and moors, till she came
    to the great forest. She knew not in what direction to go; but she was so unhappy,
    and longed so for her brothers, who had been, like herself, driven out into
    the world, that she was determined to seek them. She had been but a short time
    in the wood when night came on, and she quite lost the path; so she laid herself
    down on the soft moss, offered up her evening prayer, and leaned her head against
    the stump of a tree. All nature was still, and the soft, mild air fanned her
    forehead. The light of hundreds of glow-worms shone amidst the grass and the
    moss, like green fire; and if she touched a twig with her hand, ever so lightly,
    the brilliant insects fell down around her, like shooting-stars.

    All night long she dreamt of her brothers. She and they were children again,
    playing together. She saw them writing with their diamond pencils on golden
    slates, while she looked at the beautiful picture-book which had cost half a
    kingdom. They were not writing lines and letters, as they used to do; but descriptions
    of the noble deeds they had performed, and of all they had discovered and seen.
    In the picture-book, too, everything was living. The birds sang, and the people
    came out of the book, and spoke to Eliza and her brothers; but, as the leaves
    turned over, they darted back again to their places, that all might be in order.

    When she awoke, the sun was high in the heavens; yet she could not see him,
    for the lofty trees spread their branches thickly over her head; but his beams
    were glancing through the leaves here and there, like a golden mist. There was
    a sweet fragrance from the fresh green verdure, and the birds almost perched
    upon her shoulders. She heard water rippling from a number of springs, all flowing
    in a lake with golden sands. Bushes grew thickly round the lake, and at one
    spot an opening had been made by a deer, through which Eliza went down to the
    water. The lake was so clear that, had not the wind rustled the branches of
    the trees and the bushes, so that they moved, they would have appeared as if
    painted in the depths of the lake; for every leaf was reflected in the water,
    whether it stood in the shade or the sunshine. As soon as Eliza saw her own
    face, she was quite terrified at finding it so brown and ugly; but when she
    wetted her little hand, and rubbed her eyes and forehead, the white skin gleamed
    forth once more; and, after she had undressed, and dipped herself in the fresh
    water, a more beautiful king’s daughter could not be found in the wide world.
    As soon as she had dressed herself again, and braided her long hair, she went
    to the bubbling spring, and drank some water out of the hollow of her hand.
    Then she wandered far into the forest, not knowing whither she went. She thought
    of her brothers, and felt sure that God would not forsake her. It is God who
    makes the wild apples grow in the wood, to satisfy the hungry, and He now led
    her to one of these trees, which was so loaded with fruit, that the boughs bent
    beneath the weight. Here she held her noonday repast, placed props under the
    boughs, and then went into the gloomiest depths of the forest. It was so still
    that she could hear the sound of her own footsteps, as well as the rustling
    of every withered leaf which she crushed under her feet. Not a bird was to be
    seen, not a sunbeam could penetrate through the large, dark boughs of the trees.
    Their lofty trunks stood so close together, that, when she looked before her,
    it seemed as if she were enclosed within trellis-work. Such solitude she had
    never known before. The night was very dark. Not a single glow-worm glittered
    in the moss.

    Sorrowfully she laid herself down to sleep; and, after a while, it seemed to
    her as if the branches of the trees parted over her head, and that the mild
    eyes of angels looked down upon her from heaven. When she awoke in the morning,
    she knew not whether she had dreamt this, or if it had really been so. Then
    she continued her wandering; but she had not gone many steps forward, when she
    met an old woman with berries in her basket, and she gave her a few to eat.
    Then Eliza asked her if she had not seen eleven princes riding through the forest.

    “No,” replied the old woman, “But I saw yesterday eleven swans, with gold crowns
    on their heads, swimming on the river close by.” Then she led Eliza a little
    distance farther to a sloping bank, and at the foot of it wound a little river.
    The trees on its banks stretched their long leafy branches across the water
    towards each other, and where the growth prevented them from meeting naturally,
    the roots had torn themselves away from the ground, so that the branches might
    mingle their foliage as they hung over the water. Eliza bade the old woman farewell,
    and walked by the flowing river, till she reached the shore of the open sea.
    And there, before the young maiden’s eyes, lay the glorious ocean, but not a
    sail appeared on its surface, not even a boat could be seen. How was she to
    go farther? She noticed how the countless pebbles on the sea-shore had been
    smoothed and rounded by the action of the water. Glass, iron, stones, everything
    that lay there mingled together, had taken its shape from the same power, and
    felt as smooth, or even smoother than her own delicate hand. “The water rolls
    on without weariness,” she said, “till all that is hard becomes smooth; so will
    I be unwearied in my task. Thanks for your lessons, bright rolling waves; my
    heart tells me you will lead me to my dear brothers.” On the foam-covered sea-weeds,
    lay eleven white swan feathers, which she gathered up and placed together. Drops
    of water lay upon them; whether they were dew-drops or tears no one could say.
    Lonely as it was on the sea-shore, she did not observe it, for the ever-moving
    sea showed more changes in a few hours than the most varying lake could produce
    during a whole year. If a black heavy cloud arose, it was as if the sea said,
    “I can look dark and angry too;” and then the wind blew, and the waves turned
    to white foam as they rolled. When the wind slept, and the clouds glowed with
    the red sunlight, then the sea looked like a rose leaf. But however quietly
    its white glassy surface rested, there was still a motion on the shore, as its
    waves rose and fell like the breast of a sleeping child. When the sun was about
    to set, Eliza saw eleven white swans with golden crowns on their heads, flying
    towards the land, one behind the other, like a long white ribbon. Then Eliza
    went down the slope from the shore, and hid herself behind the bushes. The swans
    alighted quite close to her and flapped their great white wings. As soon as
    the sun had disappeared under the water, the feathers of the swans fell off,
    and eleven beautiful princes, Eliza’s brothers, stood near her. She uttered
    a loud cry, for, although they were very much changed, she knew them immediately.
    She sprang into their arms, and called them each by name. Then, how happy the
    princes were at meeting their little sister again, for they recognized her,
    although she had grown so tall and beautiful. They laughed, and they wept, and
    very soon understood how wickedly their mother had acted to them all. “We brothers,”
    said the eldest, “fly about as wild swans, so long as the sun is in the sky;
    but as soon as it sinks behind the hills, we recover our human shape. Therefore
    must we always be near a resting place for our feet before sunset; for if we
    should be flying towards the clouds at the time we recovered our natural shape
    as men, we should sink deep into the sea. We do not dwell here, but in a land
    just as fair, that lies beyond the ocean, which we have to cross for a long
    distance; there is no island in our passage upon which we could pass, the night;
    nothing but a little rock rising out of the sea, upon which we can scarcely
    stand with safety, even closely crowded together. If the sea is rough, the foam
    dashes over us, yet we thank God even for this rock; we have passed whole nights
    upon it, or we should never have reached our beloved fatherland, for our flight
    across the sea occupies two of the longest days in the year. We have permission
    to visit out home once in every year, and to remain eleven days, during which
    we fly across the forest to look once more at the palace where our father dwells,
    and where we were born, and at the church, where our mother lies buried. Here
    it seems as if the very trees and bushes were related to us. The wild horses
    leap over the plains as we have seen them in our childhood. The charcoal burners
    sing the old songs, to which we have danced as children. This is our fatherland,
    to which we are drawn by loving ties; and here we have found you, our dear little
    sister., Two days longer we can remain here, and then must we fly away to a
    beautiful land which is not our home; and how can we take you with us? We have
    neither ship nor boat.”

    “How can I break this spell?” said their sister. And then she talked about
    it nearly the whole night, only slumbering for a few hours. Eliza was awakened
    by the rustling of the swans’ wings as they soared above. Her brothers were
    again changed to swans, and they flew in circles wider and wider, till they
    were far away; but one of them, the youngest swan, remained behind, and laid
    his head in his sister’s lap, while she stroked his wings; and they remained
    together the whole day. Towards evening, the rest came back, and as the sun
    went down they resumed their natural forms. “To-morrow,” said one, “we shall
    fly away, not to return again till a whole year has passed. But we cannot leave
    you here. Have you courage to go with us? My arm is strong enough to carry you
    through the wood; and will not all our wings be strong enough to fly with you
    over the sea?”

    “Yes, take me with you,” said Eliza. Then they spent the whole night in weaving
    a net with the pliant willow and rushes. It was very large and strong. Eliza
    laid herself down on the net, and when the sun rose, and her brothers again
    became wild swans, they took up the net with their beaks, and flew up to the
    clouds with their dear sister, who still slept. The sunbeams fell on her face,
    therefore one of the swans soared over her head, so that his broad wings might
    shade her. They were far from the land when Eliza woke. She thought she must
    still be dreaming, it seemed so strange to her to feel herself being carried
    so high in the air over the sea. By her side lay a branch full of beautiful
    ripe berries, and a bundle of sweet roots; the youngest of her brothers had
    gathered them for her, and placed them by her side. She smiled her thanks to
    him; she knew it was the same who had hovered over her to shade her with his
    wings. They were now so high, that a large ship beneath them looked like a white
    sea-gull skimming the waves. A great cloud floating behind them appeared like
    a vast mountain, and upon it Eliza saw her own shadow and those of the eleven
    swans, looking gigantic in size. Altogether it formed a more beautiful picture
    than she had ever seen; but as the sun rose higher, and the clouds were left
    behind, the shadowy picture vanished away. Onward the whole day they flew through
    the air like a winged arrow, yet more slowly than usual, for they had their
    sister to carry. The weather seemed inclined to be stormy, and Eliza watched
    the sinking sun with great anxiety, for the little rock in the ocean was not
    yet in sight. It appeared to her as if the swans were making great efforts with
    their wings. Alas! she was the cause of their not advancing more quickly. When
    the sun set, they would change to men, fall into the sea and be drowned. Then
    she offered a prayer from her inmost heart, but still no appearance of the rock.
    Dark clouds came nearer, the gusts of wind told of a coming storm, while from
    a thick, heavy mass of clouds the lightning burst forth flash after flash. The
    sun had reached the edge of the sea, when the swans darted down so swiftly,
    that Eliza’s head trembled; she believed they were falling, but they again soared
    onward. Presently she caught sight of the rock just below them, and by this
    time the sun was half hidden by the waves. The rock did not appear larger than
    a seal’s head thrust out of the water. They sunk so rapidly, that at the moment
    their feet touched the rock, it shone only like a star, and at last disappeared
    like the last spark in a piece of burnt paper. Then she saw her brothers standing
    closely round her with their arms linked together. There was but just room enough
    for them, and not the smallest space to spare. The sea dashed against the rock,
    and covered them with spray. The heavens were lighted up with continual flashes,
    and peal after peal of thunder rolled. But the sister and brothers sat holding
    each other’s hands, and singing hymns, from which they gained hope and courage.
    In the early dawn the air became calm and still, and at sunrise the swans flew
    away from the rock with Eliza. The sea was still rough, and from their high
    position in the air, the white foam on the dark green waves looked like millions
    of swans swimming on the water. As the sun rose higher, Eliza saw before her,
    floating on the air, a range of mountains, with shining masses of ice on their
    summits. In the centre, rose a castle apparently a mile long, with rows of columns,
    rising one above another, while, around it, palm-trees waved and flowers bloomed
    as large as mill wheels. She asked if this was the land to which they were hastening.
    The swans shook their heads, for what she beheld were the beautiful ever-changing
    cloud palaces of the “Fata Morgana,” into which no mortal can enter. Eliza was
    still gazing at the scene, when mountains, forests, and castles melted away,
    and twenty stately churches rose in their stead, with high towers and pointed
    gothic windows. Eliza even fancied she could hear the tones of the organ, but
    it was the music of the murmuring sea which she heard. As they drew nearer to
    the churches, they also changed into a fleet of ships, which seemed to be sailing
    beneath her; but as she looked again, she found it was only a sea mist gliding
    over the ocean. So there continued to pass before her eyes a constant change
    of scene, till at last she saw the real land to which they were bound, with
    its blue mountains, its cedar forests, and its cities and palaces. Long before
    the sun went down, she sat on a rock, in front of a large cave, on the floor
    of which the over-grown yet delicate green creeping plants looked like an embroidered
    carpet. “Now we shall expect to hear what you dream of to-night,” said the youngest
    brother, as he showed his sister her bedroom.

    “Heaven grant that I may dream how to save you,” she replied. And this thought
    took such hold upon her mind that she prayed earnestly to God for help, and
    even in her sleep she continued to pray. Then it appeared to her as if she were
    flying high in the air, towards the cloudy palace of the “Fata Morgana,” and
    a fairy came out to meet her, radiant and beautiful in appearance, and yet very
    much like the old woman who had given her berries in the wood, and who had told
    her of the swans with golden crowns on their heads. “Your brothers can be released,”
    said she, “if you have only courage and perseverance. True, water is softer
    than your own delicate hands, and yet it polishes stones into shapes; it feels
    no pain as your fingers would feel, it has no soul, and cannot suffer such agony
    and torment as you will have to endure. Do you see the stinging nettle which
    I hold in my hand? Quantities of the same sort grow round the cave in which
    you sleep, but none will be of any use to you unless they grow upon the graves
    in a churchyard. These you must gather even while they burn blisters on your
    hands. Break them to pieces with your hands and feet, and they will become flax,
    from which you must spin and weave eleven coats with long sleeves; if these
    are then thrown over the eleven swans, the spell will be broken. But remember,
    that from the moment you commence your task until it is finished, even should
    it occupy years of your life, you must not speak. The first word you utter will
    pierce through the hearts of your brothers like a deadly dagger. Their lives
    hang upon your tongue. Remember all I have told you.” And as she finished speaking,
    she touched her hand lightly with the nettle, and a pain, as of burning fire,
    awoke Eliza.

    It was broad daylight, and close by where she had been sleeping lay a nettle
    like the one she had seen in her dream. She fell on her knees and offered her
    thanks to God. Then she went forth from the cave to begin her work with her
    delicate hands. She groped in amongst the ugly nettles, which burnt great blisters
    on her hands and arms, but she determined to bear it gladly if she could only
    release her dear brothers. So she bruised the nettles with her bare feet and
    spun the flax. At sunset her brothers returned and were very much frightened
    when they found her dumb. They believed it to be some new sorcery of their wicked
    step-mother. But when they saw her hands they understood what she was doing
    on their behalf, and the youngest brother wept, and where his tears fell the
    pain ceased, and the burning blisters vanished. She kept to her work all night,
    for she could not rest till she had released her dear brothers. During the whole
    of the following day, while her brothers were absent, she sat in solitude, but
    never before had the time flown so quickly. One coat was already finished and
    she had begun the second, when she heard the huntsman’s horn, and was struck
    with fear. The sound came nearer and nearer, she heard the dogs barking, and
    fled with terror into the cave. She hastily bound together the nettles she had
    gathered into a bundle and sat upon them. Immediately a great dog came bounding
    towards her out of the ravine, and then another and another; they barked loudly,
    ran back, and then came again. In a very few minutes all the huntsmen stood
    before the cave, and the handsomest of them was the king of the country. He
    advanced towards her, for he had never seen a more beautiful maiden.

    “How did you come here, my sweet child?” he asked. But Eliza shook her head.
    She dared not speak, at the cost of her brothers’ lives. And she hid her hands
    under her apron, so that the king might not see how she must be suffering.

    “Come with me,” he said; “here you cannot remain. If you are as good as you
    are beautiful, I will dress you in silk and velvet, I will place a golden crown
    upon your head, and you shall dwell, and rule, and make your home in my richest
    castle.” And then he lifted her on his horse. She wept and wrung her hands,
    but the king said, “I wish only for your happiness. A time will come when you
    will thank me for this.” And then he galloped away over the mountains, holding
    her before him on this horse, and the hunters followed behind them. As the sun
    went down, they approached a fair royal city, with churches, and cupolas. On
    arriving at the castle the king led her into marble halls, where large fountains
    played, and where the walls and the ceilings were covered with rich paintings.
    But she had no eyes for all these glorious sights, she could only mourn and
    weep. Patiently she allowed the women to array her in royal robes, to weave
    pearls in her hair, and draw soft gloves over her blistered fingers. As she
    stood before them in all her rich dress, she looked so dazzingly beautiful that
    the court bowed low in her presence. Then the king declared his intention of
    making her his bride, but the archbishop shook his head, and whispered that
    the fair young maiden was only a witch who had blinded the king’s eyes and bewitched
    his heart. But the king would not listen to this; he ordered the music to sound,
    the daintiest dishes to be served, and the loveliest maidens to dance. After-wards
    he led her through fragrant gardens and lofty halls, but not a smile appeared
    on her lips or sparkled in her eyes. She looked the very picture of grief. Then
    the king opened the door of a little chamber in which she. was to sleep; it
    was adorned with rich green tapestry, and resembled the cave in which he had
    found her. On the floor lay the bundle of flax which she had spun from the nettles,
    and under the ceiling hung the coat she had made. These things had been brought
    away from the cave as curiosities by one of the huntsmen.

    “Here you can dream yourself back again in the old home in the cave,” said
    the king; “here is the work with which you employed yourself. It will amuse
    you now in the midst of all this splendor to think of that time.”

    When Eliza saw all these things which lay so near her heart, a smile played
    around her mouth, and the crimson blood rushed to her cheeks. She thought of
    her brothers, and their release made her so joyful that she kissed the king’s
    hand. Then he pressed her to his heart. Very soon the joyous church bells announced
    the marriage feast, and that the beautiful dumb girl out of the wood was to
    be made the queen of the country. Then the archbishop whispered wicked words
    in the king’s ear, but they did not sink into his heart. The marriage was still
    to take place, and the archbishop himself had to place the crown on the bride’s
    head; in his wicked spite, he pressed the narrow circlet so tightly on her forehead
    that it caused her pain. But a heavier weight encircled her heart—sorrow for
    her brothers. She felt not bodily pain. Her mouth was closed; a single word
    would cost the lives of her brothers. But she loved the kind, handsome king,
    who did everything to make her happy more and more each day; she loved him with
    all her heart, and her eyes beamed with the love she dared not speak. Oh! if
    she had only been able to confide in him and tell him of her grief. But dumb
    she must remain till her task was finished. Therefore at night she crept away
    into her little chamber, which had been decked out to look like the cave, and
    quickly wove one coat after another. But when she began the seventh she found
    she had no more flax. She knew that the nettles she wanted to use grew in the
    churchyard, and that she must pluck them herself. How should she get out there?
    “Oh, what is the pain in my fingers to the torment which my heart endures?”
    said she. “I must venture, I shall not be denied help from heaven.” Then with
    a trembling heart, as if she were about to perform a wicked deed, she crept
    into the garden in the broad moonlight, and passed through the narrow walks
    and the deserted streets, till she reached the churchyard. Then she saw on one
    of the broad tombstones a group of ghouls. These hideous creatures took off
    their rags, as if they intended to bathe, and then clawing open the fresh graves
    with their long, skinny fingers, pulled out the dead bodies and ate the flesh!
    Eliza had to pass close by them, and they fixed their wicked glances upon her,
    but she prayed silently, gathered the burning nettles, and carried them home
    with her to the castle. One person only had seen her, and that was the archbishop—he
    was awake while everybody was asleep. Now he thought his opinion was evidently
    correct. All was not right with the queen. She was a witch, and had bewitched
    the king and all the people. Secretly he told the king what he had seen and
    what he feared, and as the hard words came from his tongue, the carved images
    of the saints shook their heads as if they would say. “It is not so. Eliza is

    But the archbishop interpreted it in another way; he believed that they witnessed
    against her, and were shaking their heads at her wickedness. Two large tears
    rolled down the king’s cheeks, and he went home with doubt in his heart, and
    at night he pretended to sleep, but there came no real sleep to his eyes, for
    he saw Eliza get up every night and disappear in her own chamber. From day to
    day his brow became darker, and Eliza saw it and did not understand the reason,
    but it alarmed her and made her heart tremble for her brothers. Her hot tears
    glittered like pearls on the regal velvet and diamonds, while all who saw her
    were wishing they could be queens. In the mean time she had almost finished
    her task; only one coat of mail was wanting, but she had no flax left, and not
    a single nettle. Once more only, and for the last time, must she venture to
    the churchyard and pluck a few handfuls. She thought with terror of the solitary
    walk, and of the horrible ghouls, but her will was firm, as well as her trust
    in Providence. Eliza went, and the king and the archbishop followed her. They
    saw her vanish through the wicket gate into the churchyard, and when they came
    nearer they saw the ghouls sitting on the tombstone, as Eliza had seen them,
    and the king turned away his head, for he thought she was with them—she whose
    head had rested on his breast that very evening. “The people must condemn her,”
    said he, and she was very quickly condemned by every one to suffer death by
    fire. Away from the gorgeous regal halls was she led to a dark, dreary cell,
    where the wind whistled through the iron bars. Instead of the velvet and silk
    dresses, they gave her the coats of mail which she had woven to cover her, and
    the bundle of nettles for a pillow; but nothing they could give her would have
    pleased her more. She continued her task with joy, and prayed for help, while
    the street-boys sang jeering songs about her, and not a soul comforted her with
    a kind word. Towards evening, she heard at the grating the flutter of a swan’s
    wing, it was her youngest brother—he had found his sister, and she sobbed for
    joy, although she knew that very likely this would be the last night she would
    have to live. But still she could hope, for her task was almost finished, and
    her brothers were come. Then the archbishop arrived, to be with her during her
    last hours, as he had promised the king. But she shook her head, and begged
    him, by looks and gestures, not to stay; for in this night she knew she must
    finish her task, otherwise all her pain and tears and sleepless nights would
    have been suffered in vain. The archbishop withdrew, uttering bitter words against
    her; but poor Eliza knew that she was innocent, and diligently continued her

    The little mice ran about the floor, they dragged the nettles to her feet,
    to help as well as they could; and the thrush sat outside the grating of the
    window, and sang to her the whole night long, as sweetly as possible, to keep
    up her spirits.

    It was still twilight, and at least an hour before sunrise, when the eleven
    brothers stood at the castle gate, and demanded to be brought before the king.
    They were told it could not be, it was yet almost night, and as the king slept
    they dared not disturb him. They threatened, they entreated. Then the guard
    appeared, and even the king himself, inquiring what all the noise meant. At
    this moment the sun rose. The eleven brothers were seen no more, but eleven
    wild swans flew away over the castle.

    And now all the people came streaming forth from the gates of the city, to
    see the witch burnt. An old horse drew the cart on which she sat. They had dressed
    her in a garment of coarse sackcloth. Her lovely hair hung loose on her shoulders,
    her cheeks were deadly pale, her lips moved silently, while her fingers still
    worked at the green flax. Even on the way to death, she would not give up her
    task. The ten coats of mail lay at her feet, she was working hard at the eleventh,
    while the mob jeered her and said, “See the witch, how she mutters! She has
    no hymn-book in her hand. She sits there with her ugly sorcery. Let us tear
    it in a thousand pieces.”

    And then they pressed towards her, and would have destroyed the coats of mail,
    but at the same moment eleven wild swans flew over her, and alighted on the
    cart. Then they flapped their large wings, and the crowd drew on one side in

    “It is a sign from heaven that she is innocent,” whispered many of them; but
    they ventured not to say it aloud.

    As the executioner seized her by the hand, to lift her out of the cart, she
    hastily threw the eleven coats of mail over the swans, and they immediately
    became eleven handsome princes; but the youngest had a swan’s wing, instead
    of an arm; for she had not been able to finish the last sleeve of the coat.

    “Now I may speak,” she exclaimed. “I am innocent.”

    Then the people, who saw what happened, bowed to her, as before a saint; but
    she sank lifeless in her brothers’ arms, overcome with suspense, anguish, and

    “Yes, she is innocent,” said the eldest brother; and then he related all that
    had taken place; and while he spoke there rose in the air a fragrance as from
    millions of roses. Every piece of faggot in the pile had taken root, and threw
    out branches, and appeared a thick hedge, large and high, covered with roses;
    while above all bloomed a white and shining flower, that glittered like a star.
    This flower the king plucked, and placed in Eliza’s bosom, when she awoke from
    her swoon, with peace and happiness in her heart. And all the church bells rang
    of themselves, and the birds came in great troops. And a marriage procession
    returned to the castle, such as no king had ever before seen.

    The Puppet-Show Man

    On board a steamer I once met an elderly man, with such a merry face that, if it
    was really an index of his mind, he must have been the happiest fellow in creation;
    and indeed he considered himself so, for I heard it from his own mouth. He was
    a Dane, the owner of a travelling theatre. He had all his company with him in
    a large box, for he was the proprietor of a puppet-show. His inborn cheerfulness,
    he said, had been tested by a member of the Polytechnic Institution, and the experiment
    had made him completely happy. I did not at first understand all this, but afterwards
    he explained the whole story to me; and here it is:—

    “I was giving a representation,” he said, “in the hall of the posting-house
    in the little town of Slagelse; there was a splendid audience, entirely juvenile
    excepting two respectable matrons. All at once, a person in black, of student-like
    appearance, entered the room, and sat down; he laughed aloud at the telling
    points, and applauded quite at the proper time. This was a very unusual spectator
    for me, and I felt anxious to know who he was. I heard that he was a member
    of the Polytechnic Institution in Copenhagen, who had been sent out to lecture
    to the people in the provinces. Punctually at eight o’clock my performance closed,
    for children must go early to bed, and a manager must also consult the convenience
    of the public.

    “At nine o’clock the lecturer commenced his lecture and his experiments, and
    then I formed a part of his audience. It was wonderful both to hear and to see.
    The greater part of it was beyond my comprehension, but it led me to think that
    if we men can acquire so much, we must surely be intended to last longer than
    the little span which extends only to the time when we are hidden away under
    the earth. His experiments were quite miracles on a small scale, and yet the
    explanations flowed as naturally as water from his lips. At the time of Moses
    and the prophets, such a man would have been placed among the sages of the land;
    in the middle ages they would have burnt him at the stake.

    “All night long I could not sleep; and the next evening when I gave another
    performance and the lecturer was present, I was in one of my best moods.

    “I once heard of an actor, who, when he had to act the part of a lover, always
    thought of one particular lady in the audience; he only played for her, and
    forgot all the rest of the house, and now the Polytechnic lecturer was my she,
    my only auditor, for whom alone I played.

    “When the performance was over, and the puppets removed behind the curtain,
    the Polytechnic lecturer invited me into his room to take a glass of wine. He
    talked of my comedies, and I of his science, and I believe we were both equally
    pleased. But I had the best of it, for there was much in what he did that he
    could not always explain to me. For instance, why a piece of iron which is rubbed
    on a cylinder, should become magnetic. How does this happen? The magnetic sparks
    come to it,—but how? It is the same with people in the world; they are rubbed
    about on this spherical globe till the electric spark comes upon them, and then
    we have a Napoleon, or a Luther, or some one of the kind.

    “‘The whole world is but a series of miracles,’ said the lecturer, ‘but we
    are so accustomed to them that we call them everyday matters.’ And he went on
    explaining things to me till my skull seemed lifted from my brain, and I declared
    that were I not such an old fellow, I would at once become a member of the Polytechnic
    Institution, that I might learn to look at the bright side of everything, although
    I was one of the happiest of men.

    “‘One of the happiest!’ said the lecturer, as if the idea pleased him; ‘are
    you really happy?’

    “‘Yes,’ I replied; ‘for I am welcomed in every town, when I arrive with my
    company; but I certainly have one wish which sometimes weighs upon my cheerful
    temper like a mountain of lead. I should like to become the manager of a real
    theatre, and the director of a real troupe of men and women.’

    “‘I understand,’ he said; ‘you would like to have life breathed into your puppets,
    so that they might be living actors, and you their director. And would you then
    be quite happy?’

    “I said I believed so. But he did not; and we talked it over in all manner
    of ways, yet could not agree on the subject. However, the wine was excellent,
    and we clanked our glasses together as we drank. There must have been magic
    in it, or I should most certainly become tipsy; but that did not happen, for
    my mind seemed quite clear; and, indeed, a kind of sunshine filled the room,
    and beamed from the eyes of the Polytechnic lecturer. It made me think of the
    old stories when the gods, in their immortal youth, wandered upon this earth,
    and paid visits to mankind. I said so to him, and he smiled; and I could have
    sworn that he was one of these ancient deities in disguise, or, at all events,
    that he belonged to the race of the gods. The result seemed to prove I was right
    in my suspicions; for it was arranged that my highest wish should be granted,
    that my puppets were to be gifted with life, and that I was to be the manager
    of a real company. We drank to my success, and clanked our glasses. Then he
    packed all my dolls into the box, and fastened it on my back, and I felt as
    if I were spinning round in a circle, and presently found myself lying on the
    floor. I remember that quite well. And then the whole company sprang from the
    box. The spirit had come upon us all; the puppets had become distinguished actors—at
    least, so they said themselves—and I was their director.

    “When all was ready for the first representation, the whole company requested
    permission to speak to me before appearing in public. The dancing lady said
    the house could not be supported unless she stood on one leg; for she was a
    great genius, and begged to be treated as such. The lady who acted the part
    of the queen expected to be treated as a queen off the stage, as well as on
    it, or else she said she should get out of practice. The man whose duty it was
    to deliver a letter gave himself as many airs as he who took the part of first
    lover in the piece; he declared that the inferior parts were as important as
    the great ones, and deserving equal consideration, as parts of an artistic whole.
    The hero of the piece would only play in a part containing points likely to
    bring down the applause of the house. The ‘prima donna’ would only act when
    the lights were red, for she declared that a blue light did not suit her complexion.
    It was like a company of flies in a bottle, and I was in the bottle with them;
    for I was their director. My breath was taken away, my head whirled, and I was
    as miserable as a man could be. It was quite a novel, strange set of beings
    among whom I now found myself. I only wished I had them all in my box again,
    and that I had never been their director. So I told them roundly that, after
    all, they were nothing but puppets; and then they killed me. After a while I
    found myself lying on my bed in my room; but how I got there, or how I got away
    at all from the Polytechnic professor, he may perhaps know, I don’t. The moon
    shone upon the floor, the box lay open, and the dolls were all scattered about
    in great confusion; but I was not idle. I jumped off the bed, and into the box
    they all had to go, some on their heads, some on their feet. Then I shut down
    the lid, and seated myself upon the box. ‘Now you’ll have to stay,’ said I,
    ‘and I shall be cautious how I wish you flesh and blood again.’

    “I felt quite light, my cheerfulness had returned, and I was the happiest of
    mortals. The Polytechnic professor had fully cured me. I was as happy as a king,
    and went to sleep on the box. Next morning— correctly speaking, it was noon,
    for I slept remarkably late that day— I found myself still sitting there, in
    happy consciousness that my former wish had been a foolish one. I inquired for
    the Polytechnic professor; but he had disappeared like the Greek and Roman gods;
    from that time I have been the happiest man in the world. I am a happy director;
    for none of my company ever grumble, nor the public either, for I always make
    them merry. I can arrange my pieces just as I please. I choose out of every
    comedy what I like best, and no one is offended. Plays that are neglected now-a-days
    by the great public were ran after thirty years ago, and listened to till the
    tears ran down the cheeks of the audience. These are the pieces I bring forward.
    I place them before the little ones, who cry over them as papa and mamma used
    to cry thirty years ago. But I make them shorter, for the youngsters don’t like
    long speeches; and if they have anything mournful, they like it to be over quickly.”

    The Drop of Water

    Of course you know what is meant by a magnifying glass—one of those round spectacle-glasses
    that make everything look a hundred times bigger than it is? When any one takes
    one of these and holds it to his eye, and looks at a drop of water from the pond
    yonder, he sees above a thousand wonderful creatures that are otherwise never
    discerned in the water. But there they are, and it is no delusion. It almost looks
    like a great plateful of spiders jumping about in a crowd. And how fierce they
    are! They tear off each other’s legs. and arms and bodies, before and behind;
    and yet they are merry and joyful in their way.

    Now, there once was an old man whom all the people called Kribble-Krabble,
    for that was his name. He always wanted the best of everything, and when he
    could not manage it otherwise, he did it by magic.

    There he sat one day, and held his magnifying-glass to his eye, and looked
    at a drop of water that had been taken out of a puddle by the ditch. But what
    a kribbling and krabbling was there! All the thousands of little creatures hopped
    and sprang and tugged at one another, and ate each other up.

    “That is horrible!” said old Kribble-Krabble. “Can one not persuade them to
    live in peace and quietness, so that each one may mind his own business?”

    And he thought it over and over, but it would not do, and so he had recourse
    to magic.

    “I must give them color, that they may be seen more plainly,” said he; and
    he poured something like a little drop of red wine into the drop of water, but
    it was witches’ blood from the lobes of the ear, the finest kind, at ninepence
    a drop. And now the wonderful little creatures were pink all over. It looked
    like a whole town of naked wild men.

    “What have you there?” asked another old magician, who had no name—and that
    was the best thing about him.

    “Yes, if you can guess what it is,” said Kribble-Krabble, “I’ll make you a
    present of it.”

    But it is not so easy to find out if one does not know.

    And the magician who had no name looked through the magnifying-glass.

    It looked really like a great town reflected there, in which all the people
    were running about without clothes. It was terrible! But it was still more terrible
    to see how one beat and pushed the other, and bit and hacked, and tugged and
    mauled him. Those at the top were being pulled down, and those at the bottom
    were struggling upwards.

    “Look! look! his leg is longer than mine! Bah! Away with it! There is one who
    has a little bruise. It hurts him, but it shall hurt him still more.”

    And they hacked away at him, and they pulled at him, and ate him up, because
    of the little bruise. And there was one sitting as still as any little maiden,
    and wishing only for peace and quietness. But now she had to come out, and they
    tugged at her, and pulled her about, and ate her up.

    “That’s funny!” said the magician.

    “Yes; but what do you think it is?” said Kribble-Krabble. “Can you find that

    “Why, one can see that easily enough,” said the other. “That’s Paris, or some
    other great city, for they’re all alike. It’s a great city!”

    “It’s a drop of puddle water!” said Kribble-Krabble.

    The Galoshes of Fortune

    In a house in Copenhagen, not far from the
    king’s new market, a very large party had assembled, the host and his family
    expecting, no doubt, to receive invitations in return. One half of the company
    were already seated at the card-tables, the other half seemed to be waiting the
    result of their hostess’s question, “Well, how shall we amuse

    Conversation followed, which, after a while, began to prove
    very entertaining. Among other subjects, it turned upon the events of the
    middle ages, which some persons maintained were more full of interest than our
    own times. Counsellor Knapp defended this opinion so warmly that the lady of
    the house immediately went over to his side, and both exclaimed against
    Oersted’s Essays on Ancient and Modern Times, in which the preference is given
    to our own. The counsellor considered the times of the Danish king,
    Hans,1 as the noblest and

    The conversation on this topic was only interrupted for a
    moment by the arrival of a newspaper, which did not, however, contain much
    worth reading, and while it is still going on we will pay a visit to the
    ante-room, in which cloaks, sticks, and goloshes were carefully placed. Here
    sat two maidens, one young, and the other old, as if they had come and were
    waiting to accompany their mistresses home; but on looking at them more
    closely, it could easily be seen that they were no common servants. Their
    shapes were too graceful, their complexions too delicate, and the cut of their
    dresses much too elegant. They were two fairies. The younger was not Fortune
    herself, but the chambermaid of one of Fortune’s attendants, who carries about
    her more trifling gifts. The elder one, who was named Care, looked rather
    gloomy; she always goes about to perform her own business in person; for then
    she knows it is properly done. They were telling each other where they had been
    during the day. The messenger of Fortune had only transacted a few unimportant
    matters; for instance, she had preserved a new bonnet from a shower of rain,
    and obtained for an honest man a bow from a titled nobody, and so on; but she
    had something extraordinary to relate, after all.

    “I must tell you,” said she, “that to-day
    is my birthday; and in honor of it I have been intrusted with a pair of
    goloshes, to introduce amongst mankind. These goloshes have the property of
    making every one who puts them on imagine himself in any place he wishes, or
    that he exists at any period. Every wish is fulfilled at the moment it is
    expressed, so that for once mankind have the chance of being happy.”

    “No,” replied Care; “you may depend upon
    it that whoever puts on those goloshes will be very unhappy, and bless the
    moment in which he can get rid of them.”

    “What are you thinking of?” replied the other.
    “Now see; I will place them by the door; some one will take them instead
    of his own, and he will be the happy man.”

    This was the end of their conversation.

    What Happened to the Counsellor

    IT was late when Counsellor Knapp, lost in
    thought about the times of King Hans, desired to return home; and fate so
    ordered it that he put on the goloshes of Fortune instead of his own, and
    walked out into the East Street. Through the magic power of the goloshes, he
    was at once carried back three hundred years, to the times of King Hans, for
    which he had been longing when he put them on. Therefore he immediately set his
    foot into the mud and mire of the street, which in those days possessed no

    “Why, this is horrible; how dreadfully dirty it
    is!” said the counsellor; “and the whole pavement has vanished, and
    the lamps are all out.”

    The moon had not yet risen high enough to penetrate the
    thick foggy air, and all the objects around him were confused together in the
    darkness. At the nearest corner, a lamp hung before a picture of the Madonna;
    but the light it gave was almost useless, for he only perceived it when he came
    quite close and his eyes fell on the painted figures of the Mother and

    “That is most likely a museum of art,” thought
    he, “and they have forgotten to take down the sign.”

    Two men, in the dress of olden times, passed by him.

    “What odd figures!” thought he; “they must
    be returning from some masquerade.”

    Suddenly he heard the sound of a drum and fifes, and then a
    blazing light from torches shone upon him. The counsellor stared with
    astonishment as he beheld a most strange procession pass before him. First came
    a whole troop of drummers, beating their drums very cleverly; they were
    followed by life-guards, with longbows and crossbows. The principal person in
    the procession was a clerical-looking gentleman. The astonished counsellor
    asked what it all meant, and who the gentleman might be.

    “That is the bishop of Zealand.”

    “Good gracious!” he exclaimed; “what in
    the world has happened to the bishop? what can he be thinking about?”
    Then he shook his head and said, “It cannot possibly be the bishop

    While musing on this strange affair, and without looking to
    the right or left, he walked on through East Street and over Highbridge Place.
    The bridge, which he supposed led to Palace Square, was nowhere to be found;
    but instead, he saw a bank and some shallow water, and two people, who sat in a

    “Does the gentleman wish to be ferried over the
    Holm?” asked one.

    “To the Holm!” exclaimed the counsellor, not
    knowing in what age he was now existing; “I want to go to Christian’s
    Haven, in Little Turf Street.” The men stared at him. “Pray tell me
    where the bridge is!” said he. “It is shameful that the lamps are
    not lighted here, and it is as muddy as if one were walking in a marsh.”
    But the more he talked with the boatmen the less they could understand each

    “I don’t understand your outlandish talk,” he
    cried at last, angrily turning his back upon them. He could not, however, find
    the bridge nor any railings.

    “What a scandalous condition this place is in,”
    said he; never, certainly, had he found his own times so miserable as on this
    evening. “I think it will be better for me to take a coach; but where are
    they?” There was not one to be seen! “I shall be obliged to go back
    to the king’s new market,” said he, “where there are plenty of
    carriages standing, or I shall never reach Christian’s Haven.” Then he
    went towards East Street, and had nearly passed through it, when the moon burst
    forth from a cloud.

    “Dear me, what have they been erecting here?” he
    cried, as he caught sight of the East gate, which in olden times used to stand
    at the end of East Street. However, he found an opening through which he
    passed, and came out upon where he expected to find the new market. Nothing was
    to be seen but an open meadow, surrounded by a few bushes, through which ran a
    broad canal or stream. A few miserable-looking wooden booths, for the
    accommodation of Dutch watermen, stood on the opposite shore.

    “Either I behold a fata morgana, or I must be
    tipsy,” groaned the counsellor. “What can it be? What is the matter
    with me?” He turned back in the full conviction that he must be ill. In
    walking through the street this time, he examined the houses more closely; he
    found that most of them were built of lath and plaster, and many had only a
    thatched roof.

    “I am certainly all wrong,” said he, with a
    sigh; “and yet I only drank one glass of punch. But I cannot bear even
    that, and it was very foolish to give us punch and hot salmon; I shall speak
    about it to our hostess, the agent’s lady. Suppose I were to go back now and
    say how ill I feel, I fear it would look so ridiculous, and it is not very
    likely that I should find any one up.” Then he looked for the house, but
    it was not in existence.

    “This is really frightful; I cannot even recognize
    East Street. Not a shop to be seen; nothing but old, wretched, tumble-down
    houses, just as if I were at Roeskilde or Ringstedt. Oh, I really must be ill!
    It is no use to stand upon ceremony. But where in the world is the agent’s
    house. There is a house, but it is not his; and people still up in it, I
    can hear. Oh dear! I certainly am very queer.” As he reached the
    half-open door, he saw a light and went in. It was a tavern of the olden times,
    and seemed a kind of beershop. The room had the appearance of a Dutch interior.
    A number of people, consisting of seamen, Copenhagen citizens, and a few
    scholars, sat in deep conversation over their mugs, and took very little notice
    of the new comer.

    “Pardon me,” said the counsellor, addressing the
    landlady, “I do not feel quite well, and I should be much obliged if you
    will send for a fly to take me to Christian’s Haven.” The woman stared at
    him and shook her head. Then she spoke to him in German. The counsellor
    supposed from this that she did not understand Danish; he therefore repeated
    his request in German. This, as well as his singular dress, convinced the woman
    that he was a foreigner. She soon understood, however, that he did not find
    himself quite well, and therefore brought him a mug of water. It had something
    of the taste of seawater, certainly, although it had been drawn from the well
    outside. Then the counsellor leaned his head on his hand, drew a deep breath,
    and pondered over all the strange things that had happened to him.

    “Is that to-day’s number of the
    Day?2 he asked, quite
    mechanically, as he saw the woman putting by a large piece of paper. She did
    not understand what he meant, but she handed him the sheet; it was a woodcut,
    representing a meteor, which had appeared in the town of Cologne.

    “That is very old,” said the counsellor,
    becoming quite cheerful at the sight of this antique drawing. “Where did
    you get this singular sheet? It is very interesting, although the whole affair
    is a fable. Meteors are easily explained in these days; they are northern
    lights, which are often seen, and are no doubt caused by

    Those who sat near him, and heard what he said, looked at
    him in great astonishment, and one of them rose, took off his hat respectfully,
    and said in a very serious manner, “You must certainly be a very learned
    man, monsieur.”

    “Oh no,” replied the counsellor; “I can
    only discourse on topics which every one should understand.”

    Modestia is a beautiful virtue,” said
    the man. “Moreover, I must add to your speech mihi secus videtur;
    yet in this case I would suspend my judicium”.

    “May I ask to whom I have the pleasure of

    “I am a Bachelor of Divinity,” said the man.
    This answer satisfied the counsellor. The title agreed with the dress.

    “This is surely,” thought he, “an old
    village schoolmaster, a perfect original, such as one meets with sometimes even
    in Jutland.”

    “This is not certainly a locus docendi,” began
    the man; “still I must beg you to continue the conversation. You must be
    well read in ancient lore.”

    “Oh yes,” replied the counsellor; “I am
    very fond of reading useful old books, and modern ones as well, with the
    exception of every-day stories, of which we really have more than

    “Every-day stories?” asked the bachelor.

    “Yes, I mean the new novels that we have at the
    present day.”

    “Oh,” replied the man, with a smile; “and
    yet they are very witty, and are much read at Court. The king likes especially
    the romance of Messeurs Iffven and Gaudian, which describes King Arthur and his
    knights of the round table. He has joked about it with the gentlemen of his

    “Well, I have certainly not read that,” replied
    the counsellor. “I suppose it is quite new, and published by

    “No,” answered the man, “it is not by
    Heiberg; Godfred von Gehman brought it out.”

    “Oh, is he the publisher? That is a very old
    name,” said the counsellor; “was it not the name of the first
    publisher in Denmark?”

    “Yes; and he is our first printer and publisher
    now,” replied the scholar.

    So far all had passed off very well; but now one of the
    citizens began to speak of a terrible pestilence which had been raging a few
    years before, meaning the plague of 1484. The counsellor thought he referred to
    the cholera, and they could discuss this without finding out the mistake. The
    war in 1490 was spoken of as quite recent. The English pirates had taken some
    ships in the Channel in 1801, and the counsellor, supposing they referred to
    these, agreed with them in finding fault with the English. The rest of the
    talk, however, was not so agreeable; every moment one contradicted the other.
    The good bachelor appeared very ignorant, for the simplest remark of the
    counsellor seemed to him either too bold or too fantastic. They stared at each
    other, and when it became worse the bachelor spoke in Latin, in the hope of
    being better understood; but it was all useless.

    “How are you now?” asked the landlady, pulling
    the counsellor’s sleeve.

    Then his recollection returned to him. In the course of
    conversation he had forgotten all that had happened previously.

    “Goodness me! where am I?” said he. It
    bewildered him as he thought of it.

    “We will have some claret, or mead, or Bremen
    beer,” said one of the guests; “will you drink with us?”

    Two maids came in. One of them had a cap on her head of two
    colors.3 They poured out the wine,
    bowed their heads, and withdrew.

    The counsellor felt a cold shiver run all over him.
    “What is this? what does it mean?” said he; but he was obliged to
    drink with them, for they overpowered the good man with their politeness. He
    became at last desperate; and when one of them said he was tipsy, he did not
    doubt the man’s word in the least—only begged them to get a droschky; and
    then they thought he was speaking the Muscovite language. Never before had he
    been in such rough and vulgar company. “One might believe that the
    country was going back to heathenism,” he observed. “This is the
    most terrible moment of my life.”

    Just then it came into his mind that he would stoop under
    the table, and so creep to the door. He tried it; but before he reached the
    entry, the rest discovered what he was about, and seized him by the feet, when,
    luckily for him, off came the goloshes, and with them vanished the whole
    enchantment. The counsellor now saw quite plainly a lamp, and a large building
    behind it; everything looked familiar and beautiful. He was in East Street, as
    it now appears; he lay with his legs turned towards a porch, and just by him
    sat the watchman asleep.

    “Is it possible that I have been lying here in the
    street dreaming?” said he. “Yes, this is East Street; how
    beautifully bright and gay it looks! It is quite shocking that one glass of
    punch should have upset me like this.”

    Two minutes afterwards he sat in a droschky, which was to
    drive him to Christian’s Haven. He thought of all the terror and anxiety which
    he had undergone, and felt thankful from his heart for the reality and comfort
    of modern times, which, with all their errors, were far better than those in
    which he so lately found himself.

    The Watchman’s Adventures

    “WELL, I declare, there lies a pair of
    goloshes,” said the watchman. “No doubt, they belong to the
    lieutenant who lives up stairs. They are lying just by his door.” Gladly
    would the honest man have rung, and given them in, for a light was still
    burning, but he did not wish to disturb the other people in the house; so he
    let them lie. “These things must keep the feet very warm,” said he;
    “they are of such nice soft leather.” Then he tried them on, and
    they fitted his feet exactly. “Now,” said he, “how droll
    things are in this world! There’s that man can lie down in his warm bed, but he
    does not do so. There he goes pacing up and down the room. He ought to be a
    happy man. He has neither wife nor children, and he goes out into company every
    evening. Oh, I wish I were he; then I should be a happy man.”

    As he uttered this wish, the goloshes which he had put on
    took effect, and the watchman at once became the lieutenant. There he stood in
    his room, holding a little piece of pink paper between his fingers, on which
    was a poem,—a poem written by the lieutenant himself. Who has not had,
    for once in his life, a moment of poetic inspiration? and at such a moment, if
    the thoughts are written down, they flow in poetry. The following verses were
    written on the pink paper:—


    “Oh were I rich! How oft, in youth’s bright hour,

    When youthful pleasures banish every care,

    I longed for riches but to gain a power,

    The sword and plume and uniform to wear!

    The riches and the honor came for me;

    Yet still my greatest wealth was poverty:

    Ah, help and pity me!

    “Once in my youthful hours, when gay and free,

    A maiden loved me; and her gentle kiss,

    Rich in its tender love and purity,

    Taught me, alas! too much of earthly bliss.

    Dear child! She only thought of youthful glee;

    She loved no wealth, but fairy tales and me.

    Thou knowest: ah, pity me!

    “Oh were I rich! again is all my prayer:

    That child is now a woman, fair and free,

    As good and beautiful as angels are.

    Oh, were I rich in lovers’ poetry,

    To tell my fairy tale, love’s richest lore!

    But no; I must be silent—I am poor.

    Ah, wilt thou pity me?

    “Oh were I rich in truth and peace below,

    I need not then my poverty bewail.

    To thee I dedicate these lines of woe;

    Wilt thou not understand the mournful tale?

    A leaf on which my sorrows I relate—

    Dark story of a darker night of fate.

    Ah, bless and pity me!”

    “Well, yes; people write poems when they are in love, but a wise
    man will not print them. A lieutenant in love, and poor. This is a
    triangle, or more properly speaking, the half of the broken die of
    fortune.” The lieutenant felt this very keenly, and therefore leaned
    his head against the window-frame, and sighed deeply. “The poor watchman
    in the street,” said he, “is far happier than I am. He knows not
    what I call poverty. He has a home, a wife and children, who weep at his sorrow
    and rejoice at his joy. Oh, how much happier I should be could I change my
    being and position with him, and pass through life with his humble expectations
    and hopes! Yes, he is indeed happier than I am.”

    At this moment the watchman again became a watchman; for
    having, through the goloshes of Fortune, passed into the existence of the
    lieutenant, and found himself less contented than he expected, he had preferred
    his former condition, and wished himself again a watchman. “That was an
    ugly dream,” said he, “but droll enough. It seemed to me as if I
    were the lieutenant up yonder, but there was no happiness for me. I missed my
    wife and the little ones, who are always ready to smother me with
    kisses.” He sat down again and nodded, but he could not get the dream out
    of his thoughts, and he still had the goloshes on his feet. A falling star
    gleamed across the sky. “There goes one!” cried he. “However,
    there are quite enough left; I should very much like to examine these a little
    nearer, especially the moon, for that could not slip away under one’s hands.
    The student, for whom my wife washes, says that when we die we shall fly from
    one star to another. If that were true, it would be very delightful, but I
    don’t believe it. I wish I could make a little spring up there now; I would
    willingly let my body lie here on the steps.”

    There are certain things in the world which should be
    uttered very cautiously; doubly so when the speaker has on his feet the
    goloshes of Fortune. Now we shall hear what happened to the watchman.

    Nearly every one is acquainted with the great power of
    steam; we have proved it by the rapidity with which we can travel, both on a
    railroad or in a steamship across the sea. But this speed is like the movements
    of the sloth, or the crawling march of the snail, when compared to the
    swiftness with which light travels; light flies nineteen million times faster
    than the fleetest race-horse, and electricity is more rapid still. Death is an
    electric shock which we receive in our hearts, and on the wings of electricity
    the liberated soul flies away swiftly, the light from the sun travels to our
    earth ninety-five millions of miles in eight minutes and a few seconds; but on
    the wings of electricity, the mind requires only a second to accomplish the
    same distance. The space between the heavenly bodies is, to thought, no farther
    than the distance which we may have to walk from one friend’s house to another
    in the same town; yet this electric shock obliges us to use our bodies here
    below, unless, like the watchman, we have on the goloshes of Fortune.

    In a very few seconds the watchman had travelled more than
    two hundred thousand miles to the moon, which is formed of a lighter material
    than our earth, and may be said to be as soft as new fallen snow. He found
    himself on one of the circular range of mountains which we see represented in
    Dr. Madler’s large map of the moon. The interior had the appearance of a large
    hollow, bowl-shaped, with a depth about half a mile from the brim. Within this
    hollow stood a large town; we may form some idea of its appearance by pouring
    the white of an egg into a glass of water. The materials of which it was built
    seemed just as soft, and pictured forth cloudy turrets and sail-like terraces,
    quite transparent, and floating in the thin air. Our earth hung over his head
    like a great dark red ball. Presently he discovered a number of beings, which
    might certainly be called men, but were very different to ourselves. A more
    fantastical imagination than Herschel’s must have discovered these. Had they
    been placed in groups, and painted, it might have been said, “What
    beautiful foliage!” They had also a language of their own. No one could
    have expected the soul of the watchman to understand it, and yet he did
    understand it, for our souls have much greater capabilities then we are
    inclined to believe. Do we not, in our dreams, show a wonderful dramatic
    talent? each of our acquaintance appears to us then in his own character, and
    with his own voice; no man could thus imitate them in his waking hours. How
    clearly, too, we are reminded of persons whom we have not seen for many years;
    they start up suddenly to the mind’s eye with all their peculiarities as living
    realities. In fact, this memory of the soul is a fearful thing; every sin,
    every sinful thought it can bring back, and we may well ask how we are to give
    account of “every idle word” that may have been whispered in the
    heart or uttered with the lips. The spirit of the watchman therefore understood
    very well the language of the inhabitants of the moon. They were disputing
    about our earth, and doubted whether it could be inhabited. The atmosphere,
    they asserted, must be too dense for any inhabitants of the moon to exist
    there. They maintained that the moon alone was inhabited, and was really the
    heavenly body in which the old world people lived. They likewise talked

    But now we will descend to East Street, and see what
    happened to the watchman’s body. He sat lifeless on the steps. His staff had
    fallen out of his hand, and his eyes stared at the moon, about which his honest
    soul was wandering.

    “What is it o’clock, watchman?” inquired a
    passenger. But there was no answer from the watchman.

    The man then pulled his nose gently, which caused him to
    lose his balance. The body fell forward, and lay at full length on the ground
    as one dead.

    All his comrades were very much frightened, for he seemed
    quite dead; still they allowed him to remain after they had given notice of
    what had happened; and at dawn the body was carried to the hospital. We might
    imagine it to be no jesting matter if the soul of the man should chance to
    return to him, for most probably it would seek for the body in East Street
    without being able to find it. We might fancy the soul inquiring of the police,
    or at the address office, or among the missing parcels, and then at length
    finding it at the hospital. But we may comfort ourselves by the certainty that
    the soul, when acting upon its own impulses, is wiser than we are; it is the
    body that makes it stupid.

    As we have said, the watchman’s body had been taken to the
    hospital, and here it was placed in a room to be washed. Naturally, the first
    thing done here was to take off the goloshes, upon which the soul was instantly
    obliged to return, and it took the direct road to the body at once, and in a
    few seconds the man’s life returned to him. He declared, when he quite
    recovered himself, that this had been the most dreadful night he had ever
    passed; not for a hundred pounds would he go through such feelings again.
    However, it was all over now.

    The same day he was allowed to leave, but the goloshes
    remained at the hospital.

    The Eventful Moment—a Most Unusual Journey

    EVERY inhabitant of Copenhagen knows what
    the entrance to Frederick’s Hospital is like; but as most probably a few of
    those who read this little tale may not reside in Copenhagen, we will give a
    short description of it.

    The hospital is separated from the street by an iron
    railing, in which the bars stand so wide apart that, it is said, some very slim
    patients have squeezed through, and gone to pay little visits in the town. The
    most difficult part of the body to get through was the head; and in this case,
    as it often happens in the world, the small heads were the most fortunate. This
    will serve as sufficient introduction to our tale. One of the young volunteers,
    of whom, physically speaking, it might be said that he had a great head, was on
    guard that evening at the hospital. The rain was pouring down, yet, in spite of
    these two obstacles, he wanted to go out just for a quarter of an hour; it was
    not worth while, he thought, to make a confidant of the porter, as he could
    easily slip through the iron railings. There lay the goloshes, which the
    watchman had forgotten. It never occurred to him that these could be goloshes
    of Fortune. They would be very serviceable to him in this rainy weather, so he
    drew them on. Now came the question whether he could squeeze through the
    palings; he certainly had never tried, so he stood looking at them. “I
    wish to goodness my head was through,” said he, and instantly, though it
    was so thick and large, it slipped through quite easily. The goloshes answered
    that purpose very well, but his body had to follow, and this was impossible.
    “I am too fat,” he said; “I thought my head would be the
    worst, but I cannot get my body through, that is certain.” Then he tried
    to pull his head back again, but without success; he could move his neck about
    easily enough, and that was all. His first feeling was one of anger, and then
    his spirits sank below zero. The goloshes of Fortune had placed him in this
    terrible position, and unfortunately it never occurred to him to wish himself
    free. No, instead of wishing he kept twisting about, yet did not stir from the
    spot. The rain poured, and not a creature could be seen in the street. The
    porter’s bell he was unable to reach, and however was he to get loose! He
    foresaw that he should have to stay there till morning, and then they must send
    for a smith to file away the iron bars, and that would be a work of time. All
    the charity children would just be going to school: and all the sailors who
    inhabited that quarter of the town would be there to see him standing in the
    pillory. What a crowd there would be. “Ha,” he cried, “the
    blood is rushing to my head, and I shall go mad. I believe I am crazy already;
    oh, I wish I were free, then all these sensations would pass off.” This
    is just what he ought to have said at first. The moment he had expressed the
    thought his head was free. He started back, quite bewildered with the fright
    which the goloshes of Fortune had caused him. But we must not suppose it was
    all over; no, indeed, there was worse to come yet. The night passed, and the
    whole of the following day; but no one sent for the goloshes. In the evening a
    declamatory performance was to take place at the amateur theatre in a distant
    street. The house was crowded; among the audience was the young volunteer from
    the hospital, who seemed to have quite forgotten his adventures of the previous
    evening. He had on the goloshes; they had not been sent for, and as the streets
    were still very dirty, they were of great service to him. A new poem, entitled
    “My Aunt’s Spectacles,” was being recited. It described these
    spectacles as possessing a wonderful power; if any one put them on in a large
    assembly the people appeared like cards, and the future events of ensuing years
    could be easily foretold by them. The idea struck him that he should very much
    like to have such a pair of spectacles; for, if used rightly, they would
    perhaps enable him to see into the hearts of people, which he thought would be
    more interesting than to know what was going to happen next year; for future
    events would be sure to show themselves, but the hearts of people never.
    “I can fancy what I should see in the whole row of ladies and gentlemen
    on the first seat, if I could only look into their hearts; that lady, I
    imagine, keeps a store for things of all descriptions; how my eyes would wander
    about in that collection; with many ladies I should no doubt find a large
    millinery establishment. There is another that is perhaps empty, and would be
    all the better for cleaning out. There may be some well stored with good
    articles. Ah, yes,” he sighed, “I know one, in which everything is
    solid, but a servant is there already, and that is the only thing against it. I
    dare say from many I should hear the words, ‘Please to walk in.’ I
    only wish I could slip into the hearts like a little tiny thought.” This
    was the word of command for the goloshes. The volunteer shrunk up together, and
    commenced a most unusual journey through the hearts of the spectators in the
    first row. The first heart he entered was that of a lady, but he thought he
    must have got into one of the rooms of an orthopedic institution where plaster
    casts of deformed limbs were hanging on the walls, with this difference, that
    the casts in the institution are formed when the patient enters, but here they
    were formed and preserved after the good people had left. These were casts of
    the bodily and mental deformities of the lady’s female friends carefully
    preserved. Quickly he passed into another heart, which had the appearance of a
    spacious, holy church, with the white dove of innocence fluttering over the
    altar. Gladly would he have fallen on his knees in such a sacred place; but he
    was carried on to another heart, still, however, listening to the tones of the
    organ, and feeling himself that he had become another and a better man. The
    next heart was also a sanctuary, which he felt almost unworthy to enter; it
    represented a mean garret, in which lay a sick mother; but the warm sunshine
    streamed through the window, lovely roses bloomed in a little flowerbox on the
    roof, two blue birds sang of childlike joys, and the sick mother prayed for a
    blessing on her daughter. Next he crept on his hands and knees through an
    overfilled butcher’s shop; there was meat, nothing but meat, wherever he
    stepped; this was the heart of a rich, respectable man, whose name is doubtless
    in the directory. Then he entered the heart of this man’s wife; it was an old,
    tumble-down pigeon-house; the husband’s portrait served as a weather-cock; it
    was connected with all the doors, which opened and shut just as the husband’s
    decision turned. The next heart was a complete cabinet of mirrors, such as can
    be seen in the Castle of Rosenberg. But these mirrors magnified in an
    astonishing degree; in the middle of the floor sat, like the Grand Lama, the
    insignificant I of the owner, astonished at the contemplation of his own
    features. At his next visit he fancied he must have got into a narrow
    needlecase, full of sharp needles: “Oh,” thought he, “this
    must be the heart of an old maid;” but such was not the fact; it belonged
    to a young officer, who wore several orders, and was said to be a man of
    intellect and heart.

    The poor volunteer came out of the last heart in the row
    quite bewildered. He could not collect his thoughts, and imagined his foolish
    fancies had carried him away. “Good gracious!” he sighed, “I
    must have a tendency to softening of the brain, and here it is so exceedingly
    hot that the blood is rushing to my head.” And then suddenly recurred to
    him the strange event of the evening before, when his head had been fixed
    between the iron railings in front of the hospital. “That is the cause of
    it all!” he exclaimed, “I must do something in time. A Russian bath
    would be a very good thing to begin with. I wish I were lying on one of the
    highest shelves.” Sure enough, there he lay on an upper shelf of a vapor
    bath, still in his evening costume, with his boots and goloshes on, and the hot
    drops from the ceiling falling on his face. “Ho!” he cried, jumping
    down and rushing towards the plunging bath. The attendant stopped him with a
    loud cry, when he saw a man with all his clothes on. The volunteer had,
    however, presence of mind enough to whisper, “It is for a wager;”
    but the first thing he did, when he reached his own room, was to put a large
    blister on his neck, and another on his back, that his crazy fit might be
    cured. The next morning his back was very sore, which was all he gained by the
    goloshes of Fortune.

    The Clerk’s Transformation

    THE watchman, whom we of course have not
    forgotten, thought, after a while, of the goloshes which he had found and taken
    to the hospital; so he went and fetched them. But neither the lieutenant nor
    any one in the street could recognize them as their own, so he gave them up to
    the police. “They look exactly like my own goloshes,” said one of
    the clerks, examining the unknown articles, as they stood by the side of his
    own. “It would require even more than the eye of a shoemaker to know one
    pair from the other.”

    “Master clerk,” said a servant who entered with
    some papers. The clerk turned and spoke to the man; but when he had done with
    him, he turned to look at the goloshes again, and now he was in greater doubt
    than ever as to whether the pair on the right or on the left belonged to him.
    “Those that are wet must be mine,” thought he; but he thought
    wrong, it was just the reverse. The goloshes of Fortune were the wet pair; and,
    besides, why should not a clerk in a police office be wrong sometimes? So he
    drew them on, thrust his papers into his pocket, placed a few manuscripts under
    his arm, which he had to take with him, and to make abstracts from at home.
    Then, as it was Sunday morning and the weather very fine, he said to himself,
    “A walk to Fredericksburg will do me good:” so away he went.

    There could not be a quieter or more steady young man than
    this clerk. We will not grudge him this little walk, it was just the thing to
    do him good after sitting so much. He went on at first like a mere automaton,
    without thought or wish; therefore the goloshes had no opportunity to display
    their magic power. In the avenue he met with an acquaintance, one of our young
    poets, who told him that he intended to start on the following day on a summer
    excursion. “Are you really going away so soon?” asked the clerk.
    “What a free, happy man you are. You can roam about where you will, while
    such as we are tied by the foot.”

    “But it is fastened to the bread-tree,” replied
    the poet. “You need have no anxiety for the morrow; and when you are old
    there is a pension for you.”

    “Ah, yes; but you have the best of it,” said the
    clerk; “it must be so delightful to sit and write poetry. The whole world
    makes itself agreeable to you, and then you are your own master. You should try
    how you would like to listen to all the trivial things in a court of
    justice.” The poet shook his head, so also did the clerk; each retained
    his own opinion, and so they parted. “They are strange people, these
    poets,” thought the clerk. “I should like to try what it is to have
    a poetic taste, and to become a poet myself. I am sure I should not write such
    mournful verses as they do. This is a splendid spring day for a poet, the air
    is so remarkably clear, the clouds are so beautiful, and the green grass has
    such a sweet smell. For many years I have not felt as I do at this

    We perceive, by these remarks, that he had already become a
    poet. By most poets what he had said would be considered common-place, or as
    the Germans call it, “insipid.” It is a foolish fancy to look upon
    poets as different to other men. There are many who are more the poets of
    nature than those who are professed poets. The difference is this, the poet’s
    intellectual memory is better; he seizes upon an idea or a sentiment, until he
    can embody it, clearly and plainly in words, which the others cannot do. But
    the transition from a character of every-day life to one of a more gifted
    nature is a great transition; and so the clerk became aware of the change after
    a time. “What a delightful perfume,” said he; “it reminds me
    of the violets at Aunt Lora’s. Ah, that was when I was a little boy. Dear me,
    how long it seems since I thought of those days! She was a good old maiden
    lady! she lived yonder, behind the Exchange. She always had a sprig or a few
    blossoms in water, let the winter be ever so severe. I could smell the violets,
    even while I was placing warm penny pieces against the frozen panes to make
    peep-holes, and a pretty view it was on which I peeped. Out in the river lay
    the ships, icebound, and forsaken by their crews; a screaming crow represented
    the only living creature on board. But when the breezes of spring came,
    everything started into life. Amidst shouting and cheers the ships were tarred
    and rigged, and then they sailed to foreign lands.”

    “I remain here, and always shall remain, sitting at my
    post at the police office, and letting others take passports to distant lands.
    Yes, this is my fate,” and he sighed deeply. Suddenly he paused.
    “Good gracious, what has come over me? I never felt before as I do now;
    it must be the air of spring. It is overpowering, and yet it is

    He felt in his pockets for some of his papers. “These
    will give me something else to think of,” said he. Casting his eyes on
    the first page of one, he read, “‘Mistress Sigbirth; an original
    Tragedy, in Five Acts.’ What is this?—in my own handwriting, too!
    Have I written this tragedy?” He read again, “‘The Intrigue
    on the Promenade; or, the Fast-Day. A Vaudeville.’ However did I get all
    this? Some one must have put them into my pocket. And here is a letter!”
    It was from the manager of a theatre; the pieces were rejected, not at all in
    polite terms.

    “Hem, hem!” said he, sitting down on a bench;
    his thoughts were very elastic, and his heart softened strangely. Involuntarily
    he seized one of the nearest flowers; it was a little, simple daisy. All that
    botanists can say in many lectures was explained in a moment by this little
    flower. It spoke of the glory of its birth; it told of the strength of the
    sunlight, which had caused its delicate leaves to expand, and given to it such
    sweet perfume. The struggles of life which arouse sensations in the bosom have
    their type in the tiny flowers. Air and light are the lovers of the flowers,
    but light is the favored one; towards light it turns, and only when light
    vanishes does it fold its leaves together, and sleep in the embraces of the

    “It is light that adorns me,” said the

    “But the air gives you the breath of life,”
    whispered the poet.

    Just by him stood a boy, splashing with his stick in a
    marshy ditch. The water-drops spurted up among the green twigs, and the clerk
    thought of the millions of animalculae which were thrown into the air with
    every drop of water, at a height which must be the same to them as it would be
    to us if we were hurled beyond the clouds. As the clerk thought of all these
    things, and became conscious of the great change in his own feelings, he
    smiled, and said to himself, “I must be asleep and dreaming; and yet, if
    so, how wonderful for a dream to be so natural and real, and to know at the
    same time too that it is but a dream. I hope I shall be able to remember it all
    when I wake tomorrow. My sensations seem most unaccountable. I have a clear
    perception of everything as if I were wide awake. I am quite sure if I
    recollect all this tomorrow, it will appear utterly ridiculous and absurd. I
    have had this happen to me before. It is with the clever or wonderful things we
    say or hear in dreams, as with the gold which comes from under the earth, it is
    rich and beautiful when we possess it, but when seen in a true light it is but
    as stones and withered leaves.”

    “Ah!” he sighed mournfully, as he gazed at the
    birds singing merrily, or hopping from branch to branch, “they are much
    better off than I. Flying is a glorious power. Happy is he who is born with
    wings. Yes, if I could change myself into anything I would be a little
    lark.” At the same moment his coat-tails and sleeves grew together and
    formed wings, his clothes changed to feathers, and his goloshes to claws. He
    felt what was taking place, and laughed to himself. “Well, now it is
    evident I must be dreaming; but I never had such a wild dream as this.”
    And then he flew up into the green boughs and sang, but there was no poetry in
    the song, for his poetic nature had left him. The goloshes, like all persons
    who wish to do a thing thoroughly, could only attend to one thing at a time. He
    wished to be a poet, and he became one. Then he wanted to be a little bird, and
    in this change he lost the characteristics of the former one.
    “Well,” thought he, “this is charming; by day I sit in a
    police-office, amongst the dryest law papers, and at night I can dream that I
    am a lark, flying about in the gardens of Fredericksburg. Really a complete
    comedy could be written about it.” Then he flew down into the grass,
    turned his head about in every direction, and tapped his beak on the bending
    blades of grass, which, in proportion to his size, seemed to him as long as the
    palm-leaves in northern Africa.

    In another moment all was darkness around him. It seemed as
    if something immense had been thrown over him. A sailor boy had flung his large
    cap over the bird, and a hand came underneath and caught the clerk by the back
    and wings so roughly, that he squeaked, and then cried out in his alarm,
    “You impudent rascal, I am a clerk in the police-office!” but it
    only sounded to the boy like “tweet, tweet;” so he tapped the bird
    on the beak, and walked away with him. In the avenue he met two school-boys,
    who appeared to belong to a better class of society, but whose inferior
    abilities kept them in the lowest class at school. These boys bought the bird
    for eightpence, and so the clerk returned to Copenhagen. “It is well for
    me that I am dreaming,” he thought; “otherwise I should become
    really angry. First I was a poet, and now I am a lark. It must have been the
    poetic nature that changed me into this little creature. It is a miserable
    story indeed, especially now I have fallen into the hands of boys. I wonder
    what will be the end of it.” The boys carried him into a very elegant
    room, where a stout, pleasant-looking lady received them, but she was not at
    all gratified to find that they had brought a lark—a common field-bird as
    she called it. However, she allowed them for one day to place the bird in an
    empty cage that hung near the window. “It will please Polly
    perhaps,” she said, laughing at a large gray parrot, who was swinging
    himself proudly on a ring in a handsome brass cage. “It is Polly’s
    birthday,” she added in a simpering tone, “and the little
    field-bird has come to offer his congratulations.”

    Polly did not answer a single word, he continued to swing
    proudly to and fro; but a beautiful canary, who had been brought from his own
    warm, fragrant fatherland, the summer previous, began to sing as loud as he

    “You screamer!” said the lady, throwing a white
    handkerchief over the cage.

    “Tweet, tweet,” sighed he, “what a
    dreadful snowstorm!” and then he became silent.

    The clerk, or as the lady called him the field-bird, was
    placed in a little cage close to the canary, and not far from the parrot. The
    only human speech which Polly could utter, and which she sometimes chattered
    forth most comically, was “Now let us be men.” All besides was a
    scream, quite as unintelligible as the warbling of the canary-bird, excepting
    to the clerk, who being now a bird, could understand his comrades very

    “I flew beneath green palm-trees, and amidst the
    blooming almond-trees,” sang the canary. “I flew with my brothers
    and sisters over beautiful flowers, and across the clear, bright sea, which
    reflected the waving foliage in its glittering depths; and I have seen many gay
    parrots, who could relate long and delightful stories.”

    “They were wild birds,” answered the parrot,
    “and totally uneducated. Now let us be men. Why do you not laugh? If the
    lady and her visitors can laugh at this, surely you can. It is a great failing
    not to be able to appreciate what is amusing. Now let us be men.”

    “Do you remember,” said the canary, “the
    pretty maidens who used to dance in the tents that were spread out beneath the
    sweet blossoms? Do you remember the delicious fruit and the cooling juice from
    the wild herbs?”

    “Oh, yes,” said the parrot; “but here I am
    much better off. I am well fed, and treated politely. I know that I have a
    clever head; and what more do I want? Let us be men now. You have a soul for
    poetry. I have deep knowledge and wit. You have genius, but no discretion. You
    raise your naturally high notes so much, that you get covered over. They never
    serve me so. Oh, no; I cost them something more than you. I keep them in order
    with my beak, and fling my wit about me. Now let us be men.”

    “O my warm, blooming fatherland,” sang the
    canary bird, “I will sing of thy dark-green trees and thy quiet streams,
    where the bending branches kiss the clear, smooth water. I will sing of the joy
    of my brothers and sisters, as their shining plumage flits among the dark
    leaves of the plants which grow wild by the springs.”

    “Do leave off those dismal strains,” said the
    parrot; “sing something to make us laugh; laughter is the sign of the
    highest order of intellect. Can a dog or a horse laugh? No, they can cry; but
    to man alone is the power of laughter given. Ha! ha! ha!” laughed Polly,
    and repeated his witty saying, “Now let us be men.”

    “You little gray Danish bird,” said the canary,
    “you also have become a prisoner. It is certainly cold in your forests,
    but still there is liberty there. Fly out! they have forgotten to close the
    cage, and the window is open at the top. Fly, fly!”

    Instinctively, the clerk obeyed, and left the cage; at the
    same moment the half-opened door leading into the next room creaked on its
    hinges, and, stealthily, with green fiery eyes, the cat crept in and chased the
    lark round the room. The canary-bird fluttered in his cage, and the parrot
    flapped his wings and cried, “Let us be men;” the poor clerk, in
    the most deadly terror, flew through the window, over the houses, and through
    the streets, till at length he was obliged to seek a resting-place. A house
    opposite to him had a look of home. A window stood open; he flew in, and
    perched upon the table. It was his own room. “Let us be men now,”
    said he, involuntarily imitating the parrot; and at the same moment he became a
    clerk again, only that he was sitting on the table. “Heaven preserve
    us!” said he; “How did I get up here and fall asleep in this way?
    It was an uneasy dream too that I had. The whole affair appears most

    The Best Thing the Goloshes Did

    EARLY on the following morning, while the
    clerk was still in bed, his neighbor, a young divinity student, who lodged on
    the same storey, knocked at his door, and then walked in. “Lend me your
    goloshes,” said he; “it is so wet in the garden, but the sun is
    shining brightly. I should like to go out there and smoke my pipe.” He
    put on the goloshes, and was soon in the garden, which contained only one
    plum-tree and one apple-tree; yet, in a town, even a small garden like this is
    a great advantage.

    The student wandered up and down the path; it was just six
    o’clock, and he could hear the sound of the post-horn in the street.
    “Oh, to travel, to travel!” cried he; “there is no greater
    happiness in the world: it is the height of my ambition. This restless feeling
    would be stilled, if I could take a journey far away from this country. I
    should like to see beautiful Switzerland, to travel through Italy,
    and,”—It was well for him that the goloshes acted immediately,
    otherwise he might have been carried too far for himself as well as for us. In
    a moment he found himself in Switzerland, closely packed with eight others in
    the diligence. His head ached, his back was stiff, and the blood had ceased to
    circulate, so that his feet were swelled and pinched by his boots. He wavered
    in a condition between sleeping and waking. In his right-hand pocket he had a
    letter of credit; in his left-hand pocket was his passport; and a few louis
    d’ors were sewn into a little leather bag which he carried in his
    breast-pocket. Whenever he dozed, he dreamed that he had lost one or another of
    these possessions; then he would awake with a start, and the first movements of
    his hand formed a triangle from his right-hand pocket to his breast, and from
    his breast to his left-hand pocket, to feel whether they were all safe.
    Umbrellas, sticks, and hats swung in the net before him, and almost obstructed
    the prospect, which was really very imposing; and as he glanced at it, his
    memory recalled the words of one poet at least, who has sung of Switzerland,
    and whose poems have not yet been printed:—

    “How lovely to my wondering eyes

    Mont Blanc’s fair summits gently rise;

    ’Tis sweet to breathe the mountain air,—

    If you have gold enough to spare.”

    Grand, dark, and gloomy appeared the landscape around him. The pine-forests
    looked like little groups of moss on high rocks, whose summits were lost in
    clouds of mist. Presently it began to snow, and the wind blew keen and cold.
    “Ah,” he sighed, “if I were only on the other side of the
    Alps now, it would be summer, and I should be able to get money on my letter of
    credit. The anxiety I feel on this matter prevents me from enjoying myself in
    Switzerland. Oh, I wish I was on the other side of the Alps.”

    And there, in a moment, he found himself, far away in the
    midst of Italy, between Florence and Rome, where the lake Thrasymene glittered
    in the evening sunlight like a sheet of molten gold between the dark blue
    mountains. There, where Hannibal defeated Flaminius, the grape vines clung to
    each other with the friendly grasp of their green tendril fingers; while, by
    the wayside, lovely half-naked children were watching a herd of coal-black
    swine under the blossoms of fragrant laurel. Could we rightly describe this
    picturesque scene, our readers would exclaim, “Delightful

    But neither the student nor either of his travelling
    companions felt the least inclination to think of it in this way. Poisonous
    flies and gnats flew into the coach by thousands. In vain they drove them away
    with a myrtle branch, the flies stung them notwithstanding. There was not a man
    in the coach whose face was not swollen and disfigured with the stings. The
    poor horses looked wretched; the flies settled on their backs in swarms, and
    they were only relieved when the coachmen got down and drove the creatures

    As the sun set, an icy coldness filled all nature, not
    however of long duration. It produced the feeling which we experience when we
    enter a vault at a funeral, on a summer’s day; while the hills and the clouds
    put on that singular green hue which we often notice in old paintings, and look
    upon as unnatural until we have ourselves seen nature’s coloring in the south.
    It was a glorious spectacle; but the stomachs of the travellers were empty,
    their bodies exhausted with fatigue, and all the longings of their heart turned
    towards a resting-place for the night; but where to find one they knew not.
    All the eyes were too eagerly seeking for this resting-place, to notice the
    beauties of nature.

    The road passed through a grove of olive-trees; it reminded
    the student of the willow-trees at home. Here stood a lonely inn, and close by
    it a number of crippled beggars had placed themselves; the brightest among them
    looked, to quote the words of Marryat, “like the eldest son of Famine who
    had just come of age.” The others were either blind, or had withered
    legs, which obliged them to creep about on their hands and knees, or they had
    shrivelled arms and hands without fingers. It was indeed poverty arrayed in
    rags. “Eccellenza, miserabili!” they exclaimed, stretching
    forth their diseased limbs. The hostess received the travellers with bare feet,
    untidy hair, and a dirty blouse. The doors were fastened together with string;
    the floors of the rooms were of brick, broken in many places; bats flew about
    under the roof; and as to the odor within—

    “Let us have supper laid in the stable,” said
    one of the travellers; “then we shall know what we are

    The windows were opened to let in a little fresh air, but
    quicker than air came in the withered arms and the continual whining sounds,
    “Miserabili, eccellenza”. On the walls were inscriptions,
    half of them against “la bella Italia.”

    The supper made its appearance at last. It consisted of
    watery soup, seasoned with pepper and rancid oil. This last delicacy played a
    principal part in the salad. Musty eggs and roasted cocks’-combs were the best
    dishes on the table; even the wine had a strange taste, it was certainly a
    mixture. At night, all the boxes were placed against the doors, and one of the
    travellers watched while the others slept. The student’s turn came to watch.
    How close the air felt in that room; the heat overpowered him. The gnats were
    buzzing about and stinging, while the miserabili, outside, moaned in
    their dreams.

    “Travelling would be all very well,” said the
    student of divinity to himself, “if we had no bodies, or if the body
    could rest while the soul if flying. Wherever I go I feel a want which
    oppresses my heart, for something better presents itself at the moment; yes,
    something better, which shall be the best of all; but where is that to be
    found? In fact, I know in my heart very well what I want. I wish to attain the
    greatest of all happiness.”

    No sooner were the words spoken than he was at home. Long
    white curtains shaded the windows of his room, and in the middle of the floor
    stood a black coffin, in which he now lay in the still sleep of death; his wish
    was fulfilled, his body was at rest, and his spirit travelling.

    “Esteem no man happy until he is in his grave,”
    were the words of Solon. Here was a strong fresh proof of their truth. Every
    corpse is a sphinx of immortality. The sphinx in this sarcophagus might unveil
    its own mystery in the words which the living had himself written two days

    “Stern death, thy chilling silence waketh dread;

    Yet in thy darkest hour there may be light.

    Earth’s garden reaper! from the grave’s cold bed

    The soul on Jacob’s ladder takes her flight.

    Man’s greatest sorrows often are a part

    Of hidden griefs, concealed from human eyes,

    Which press far heavier on the lonely heart

    Than now the earth that on his coffin lies.”

    Two figures were moving about the room; we know them both.
    One was the fairy named Care, the other the messenger of Fortune. They bent
    over the dead.

    “Look!” said Care; “what happiness have
    your goloshes brought to mankind?”

    “They have at least brought lasting happiness to him
    who slumbers here,” she said.

    “Not so,” said Care, “he went away of
    himself, he was not summoned. His mental powers were not strong enough to
    discern the treasures which he had been destined to discover. I will do him a
    favor now.” And she drew the goloshes from his feet.

    The sleep of death was ended, and the recovered man raised
    himself. Care vanished, and with her the goloshes; doubtless she looked upon
    them as her own property.

    1. He died in 1513. He married Christine, daughter of the
      Electoral Prince Ernest of Saxony.
    2. An evening paper in Copenhagen.
    3. In the time of king Hans, chambermaids were obliged to wear
      caps of two colors.

    The Story of a Mother

    A mother sat by her little child; she was very sad, for she feared it would die.
    It was quite pale, and its little eyes were closed, and sometimes it drew a heavy
    deep breath, almost like a sigh; and then the mother gazed more sadly than ever
    on the poor little creature. Some one knocked at the door, and a poor old man
    walked in. He was wrapped in something that looked like a great horse-cloth; and
    he required it truly to keep him warm, for it was cold winter; the country everywhere
    lay covered with snow and ice, and the wind blew so sharply that it cut one’s
    face. The little child had dozed off to sleep for a moment, and the mother, seeing
    that the old man shivered with the cold, rose and placed a small mug of beer on
    the stove to warm for him. The old man sat and rocked the cradle; and the mother
    seated herself on a chair near him, and looked at her sick child who still breathed
    heavily, and took hold of its little hand.

    “You think I shall keep him, do you not?” she said. “Our all-merciful God will
    surely not take him away from me.”

    The old man, who was indeed Death himself, nodded his head in a peculiar manner,
    which might have signified either Yes, or No; and the mother cast down her eyes,
    while the tears rolled down her cheeks. Then her head became heavy, for she
    had not closed her eyes for three days and nights, and she slept, but only for
    a moment. Shivering with cold, she started up and looked round the room. The
    old man was gone, and her child—it was gone too!—the old man had taken it with
    him. In the corner of the room the old clock began to strike; “whirr” went the
    chains, the heavy weight sank to the ground, and the clock stopped; and the
    poor mother rushed out of the house calling for her child. Out in the snow sat
    a woman in long black garments, and she said to the mother, “Death has been
    with you in your room. I saw him hastening away with your little child; he strides
    faster than the wind, and never brings back what he has taken away.”

    “Only tell me which way he has gone,” said the mother; “tell me the way, I
    will find him.”

    “I know the way,” said the woman in the black garments; “but before I tell
    you, you must sing to me all the songs that you have sung to your child; I love
    these songs, I have heard them before. I am Night, and I saw your tears flow
    as you sang.”

    “I will sing them all to you,” said the mother; “but do not detain me now.
    I must overtake him, and find my child.”

    But Night sat silent and still. Then the mother wept and sang, and wrung her
    hands. And there were many songs, and yet even more tears; till at length Night
    said, “Go to the right, into the dark forest of fir-trees; for I saw Death take
    that road with your little child.”

    Within the wood the mother came to cross roads, and she knew not which to take.
    Just by stood a thorn-bush; it had neither leaf nor flower, for it was the cold
    winter time, and icicles hung on the branches. “Have you not seen Death go by,
    with my little child?” she asked.

    “Yes,” replied the thorn-bush; “but I will not tell you which way he has taken
    until you have warmed me in your bosom. I am freezing to death here, and turning
    to ice.”

    Then she pressed the bramble to her bosom quite close, so that it might be
    thawed, and the thorns pierced her flesh, and great drops of blood flowed; but
    the bramble shot forth fresh green leaves, and they became flowers on the cold
    winter’s night, so warm is the heart of a sorrowing mother. Then the bramble-bush
    told her the path she must take. She came at length to a great lake, on which
    there was neither ship nor boat to be seen. The lake was not frozen sufficiently
    for her to pass over on the ice, nor was it open enough for her to wade through;
    and yet she must cross it, if she wished to find her child. Then she laid herself
    down to drink up the water of the lake, which was of course impossible for any
    human being to do; but the bereaved mother thought that perhaps a miracle might
    take place to help her. “You will never succeed in this,” said the lake; “let
    us make an agreement together which will be better. I love to collect pearls,
    and your eyes are the purest I have ever seen. If you will weep those eyes away
    in tears into my waters, then I will take you to the large hothouse where Death
    dwells and rears flowers and trees, every one of which is a human life.”

    “Oh, what would I not give to reach my child!” said the weeping mother; and
    as she still continued to weep, her eyes fell into the depths of the lake, and
    became two costly pearls.

    Then the lake lifted her up, and wafted her across to the opposite shore as
    if she were on a swing, where stood a wonderful building many miles in length.
    No one could tell whether it was a mountain covered with forests and full of
    caves, or whether it had been built. But the poor mother could not see, for
    she had wept her eyes into the lake. “Where shall I find Death, who went away
    with my little child?” she asked.

    “He has not arrived here yet,” said an old gray-haired woman, who was walking
    about, and watering Death’s hothouse. “How have you found your way here? and
    who helped you?”

    “God has helped me,” she replied. “He is merciful; will you not be merciful
    too? Where shall I find my little child?”

    “I did not know the child,” said the old woman; “and you are blind. Many flowers
    and trees have faded to-night, and Death will soon come to transplant them.
    You know already that every human being has a life-tree or a life-flower, just
    as may be ordained for him. They look like other plants; but they have hearts
    that beat. Children’s hearts also beat: from that you may perhaps be able to
    recognize your child. But what will you give me, if I tell you what more you
    will have to do?”

    “I have nothing to give,” said the afflicted mother; “but I would go to the
    ends of the earth for you.”

    “I can give you nothing to do for me there,” said the old woman; “but you can
    give me your long black hair. You know yourself that it is beautiful, and it
    pleases me. You can take my white hair in exchange, which will be something
    in return.”

    “Do you ask nothing more than that?” said she. “I will give it to you with

    And she gave up her beautiful hair, and received in return the white locks
    of the old woman. Then they went into Death’s vast hothouse, where flowers and
    trees grew together in wonderful profusion. Blooming hyacinths, under glass
    bells, and peonies, like strong trees. There grew water-plants, some quite fresh,
    and others looking sickly, which had water-snakes twining round them, and black
    crabs clinging to their stems. There stood noble palm-trees, oaks, and plantains,
    and beneath them bloomed thyme and parsley. Each tree and flower had a name;
    each represented a human life, and belonged to men still living, some in China,
    others in Greenland, and in all parts of the world. Some large trees had been
    planted in little pots, so that they were cramped for room, and seemed about
    to burst the pot to pieces; while many weak little flowers were growing in rich
    soil, with moss all around them, carefully tended and cared for. The sorrowing
    mother bent over the little plants, and heard the human heart beating in each,
    and recognized the beatings of her child’s heart among millions of others.

    “That is it,” she cried, stretching out her hand towards a little crocus-flower
    which hung down its sickly head.

    “Do not touch the flower,” exclaimed the old woman; “but place yourself here;
    and when Death comes—I expect him every minute—do not let him pull up that plant,
    but threaten him that if he does you will serve the other flowers in the same
    manner. This will make him afraid; for he must account to God for each of them.
    None can be uprooted, unless he receives permission to do so.”

    There rushed through the hothouse a chill of icy coldness, and the blind mother
    felt that Death had arrived.

    “How did you find your way hither?” asked he; “how could you come here faster
    than I have?”

    “I am a mother,” she answered.

    And Death stretched out his hand towards the delicate little flower; but she
    held her hands tightly round it, and held it fast at same time, with the most
    anxious care, lest she should touch one of the leaves. Then Death breathed upon
    her hands, and she felt his breath colder than the icy wind, and her hands sank
    down powerless.

    “You cannot prevail against me,” said Death.

    “But a God of mercy can,” said she.

    “I only do His will,” replied Death. “I am his gardener. I take all His flowers
    and trees, and transplant them into the gardens of Paradise in an unknown land.
    How they flourish there, and what that garden resembles, I may not tell you.”

    “Give me back my child,” said the mother, weeping and imploring; and she seized
    two beautiful flowers in her hands, and cried to Death, “I will tear up all
    your flowers, for I am in despair.”

    “Do not touch them,” said Death. “You say you are unhappy; and would you make
    another mother as unhappy as yourself?”

    “Another mother!” cried the poor woman, setting the flowers free from her hands.

    “There are your eyes,” said Death. “I fished them up out of the lake for you.
    They were shining brightly; but I knew not they were yours. Take them back—they
    are clearer now than before—and then look into the deep well which is close
    by here. I will tell you the names of the two flowers which you wished to pull
    up; and you will see the whole future of the human beings they represent, and
    what you were about to frustrate and destroy.”

    Then she looked into the well; and it was a glorious sight to behold how one
    of them became a blessing to the world, and how much happiness and joy it spread
    around. But she saw that the life of the other was full of care and poverty,
    misery and woe.

    “Both are the will of God,” said Death.

    “Which is the unhappy flower, and which is the blessed one?” she said.

    “That I may not tell you,” said Death; “but thus far you may learn, that one
    of the two flowers represents your own child. It was the fate of your child
    that you saw,—the future of your own child.”

    Then the mother screamed aloud with terror, “Which of them belongs to my child?
    Tell me that. Deliver the unhappy child. Release it from so much misery. Rather
    take it away. Take it to the kingdom of God. Forget my tears and my entreaties;
    forget all that I have said or done.”

    “I do not understand you,” said Death. “Will you have your child back? or shall
    I carry him away to a place that you do not know?”

    Then the mother wrung her hands, fell on her knees, and prayed to God, “Grant
    not my prayers, when they are contrary to Thy will, which at all times must
    be the best. Oh, hear them not;” and her head sank on her bosom.

    Then Death carried away her child to the unknown land.

    There Is No Doubt About It

    That was a terrible affair!” said a hen, and in a quarter of the town, too, where
    it had not taken place. “That was a terrible affair in a hen-roost. I cannot sleep
    alone to-night. It is a good thing that many of us sit on the roost together.”
    And then she told a story that made the feathers on the other hens bristle up,
    and the cock’s comb fall. There was no doubt about it.

    But we will begin at the beginning, and that is to be found in a hen-roost
    in another part of the town. The sun was setting, and the fowls were flying
    on to their roost; one hen, with white feathers and short legs, used to lay
    her eggs according to the regulations, and was, as a hen, respectable in every
    way. As she was flying upon the roost, she plucked herself with her beak, and
    a little feather came out.

    “There it goes,” she said; “the more I pluck, the more beautiful do I get.”
    She said this merrily, for she was the best of the hens, and, moreover, as had
    been said, very respectable. With that she went to sleep.

    It was dark all around, and hen sat close to hen, but the one who sat nearest
    to her merry neighbour did not sleep. She had heard and yet not heard, as we
    are often obliged to do in this world, in order to live at peace; but she could
    not keep it from her neighbour on the other side any longer. “Did you hear what
    was said? I mention no names, but there is a hen here who intends to pluck herself
    in order to look well. If I were a cock, I should despise her.”

    Just over the fowls sat the owl, with father owl and the little owls. The family
    has sharp ears, and they all heard every word that their neighbour had said.
    They rolled their eyes, and mother owl, beating her wings, said: “Don’t listen
    to her! But I suppose you heard what was said? I heard it with my own ears,
    and one has to hear a great deal before they fall off. There is one among the
    fowls who has so far forgotten what is becoming to a hen that she plucks out
    all her feathers and lets the cock see it.”

    “Prenez garde aux enfants!” said father owl; “children should not hear such

    “But I must tell our neighbour owl about it; she is such an estimable owl to
    talk to.” And with that she flew away.

    “Too-whoo! Too-whoo!” they both hooted into the neighbour’s dove-cot to the
    doves inside. “Have you heard? Have you heard? Too-whoo! There is a hen who
    has plucked out all her feathers for the sake of the cock; she will freeze to
    death, if she is not frozen already. Too-whoo!”

    “Where? where?” cooed the doves.

    “In the neighbour’s yard. I have as good as seen it myself. It is almost unbecoming
    to tell the story, but there is no doubt about it.”

    “Believe every word of what we tell you,” said the doves, and cooed down into
    their poultry-yard. “There is a hen—nay, some say that there are two—who have
    plucked out all their feathers, in order not to look like the others, and to
    attract the attention of the cock. It is a dangerous game, for one can easily
    catch cold and die from fever, and both of these are dead already.”

    “Wake up! wake up!” crowed the cock, and flew upon his board. Sleep was still
    in his eyes, but yet he crowed out: “Three hens have died of their unfortunate
    love for a cock. They had plucked out all their feathers. It is a horrible story:
    I will not keep it to myself, but let it go farther.”

    “Let it go farther,” shrieked the bats, and the hens clucked and the cocks
    crowed, “Let it go farther! Let it go farther!” In this way the story travelled
    from poultry-yard to poultry-yard, and at last came back to the place from which
    it had really started.

    “Five hens,” it now ran, “have plucked out all their feathers to show which
    of them had grown leanest for love of the cock, and then they all pecked at
    each other till the blood ran down and they fell down dead, to the derision
    and shame of their family, and to the great loss of their owner.”

    The hen who had lost the loose little feather naturally did not recognise her
    own story, and being a respectable hen, said: “I despise those fowls; but there
    are more of that kind. Such things ought not to be concealed, and I will do
    my best to get the story into the papers, so that it becomes known throughout
    the land; the hens have richly deserved it, and their family too.”

    It got into the papers, it was printed; and there is no doubt about it, one
    little feather may easily grow into five hens.

    Ib and Little Christina

    In the forest that extends from the banks of the Gudenau, in North Jutland, a long
    way into the country, and not far from the clear stream, rises a great ridge of
    land, which stretches through the wood like a wall. Westward of this ridge, and
    not far from the river, stands a farmhouse, surrounded by such poor land that
    the sandy soil shows itself between the scanty ears of rye and wheat which grow
    in it. Some years have passed since the people who lived here cultivated these
    fields; they kept three sheep, a pig, and two oxen; in fact they maintained themselves
    very well, they had quite enough to live upon, as people generally have who are
    content with their lot. They even could have afforded to keep two horses, but
    it was a saying among the farmers in those parts, “The horse eats himself up;”
    that is to say, he eats as much as he earns. Jeppe Jans cultivated his fields
    in summer, and in the winter he made wooden shoes. He also had an assistant, a
    lad who understood as well as he himself did how to make wooden shoes strong,
    but light, and in the fashion. They carved shoes and spoons, which paid well;
    therefore no one could justly call Jeppe Jans and his family poor people. Little
    Ib, a boy of seven years old and the only child, would sit by, watching the workmen,
    or cutting a stick, and sometimes his finger instead of the stick. But one day
    Ib succeeded so well in his carving that he made two pieces of wood look really
    like two little wooden shoes, and he determined to give them as a present to Little

    “And who was Little Christina?” She was the boatman’s daughter, graceful and
    delicate as the child of a gentleman; had she been dressed differently, no one
    would have believed that she lived in a hut on the neighboring heath with her
    father. He was a widower, and earned his living by carrying firewood in his
    large boat from the forest to the eel-pond and eel-weir, on the estate of Silkborg,
    and sometimes even to the distant town of Randers. There was no one under whose
    care he could leave Little Christina; so she was almost always with him in his
    boat, or playing in the wood among the blossoming heath, or picking the ripe
    wild berries. Sometimes, when her father had to go as far as the town, he would
    take Little Christina, who was a year younger than Ib, across the heath to the
    cottage of Jeppe Jans, and leave her there. Ib and Christina agreed together
    in everything; they divided their bread and berries when they were hungry; they
    were partners in digging their little gardens; they ran, and crept, and played
    about everywhere. Once they wandered a long way into the forest, and even ventured
    together to climb the high ridge. Another time they found a few snipes’ eggs
    in the wood, which was a great event. Ib had never been on the heath where Christina’s
    father lived, nor on the river; but at last came an opportunity. Christina’s
    father invited him to go for a sail in his boat; and the evening before, he
    accompanied the boatman across the heath to his house. The next morning early,
    the two children were placed on the top of a high pile of firewood in the boat,
    and sat eating bread and wild strawberries, while Christina’s father and his
    man drove the boat forward with poles. They floated on swiftly, for the tide
    was in their favor, passing over lakes, formed by the stream in its course;
    sometimes they seemed quite enclosed by reeds and water-plants, yet there was
    always room for them to pass out, although the old trees overhung the water
    and the old oaks stretched out their bare branches, as if they had turned up
    their sleeves and wished to show their knotty, naked arms. Old alder-trees,
    whose roots were loosened from the banks, clung with their fibres to the bottom
    of the stream, and the tops of the branches above the water looked like little
    woody islands. The water-lilies waved themselves to and fro on the river, everything
    made the excursion beautiful, and at last they came to the great eel-weir, where
    the water rushed through the flood-gates; and the children thought this a beautiful
    sight. In those days there was no factory nor any town house, nothing but the
    great farm, with its scanty-bearing fields, in which could be seen a few herd
    of cattle, and one or two farm laborers. The rushing of the water through the
    sluices, and the scream of the wild ducks, were almost the only signs of active
    life at Silkborg. After the firewood had been unloaded, Christina’s father bought
    a whole bundle of eels and a sucking-pig, which were all placed in a basket
    in the stern of the boat. Then they returned again up the stream; and as the
    wind was favorable, two sails were hoisted, which carried the boat on as well
    as if two horses had been harnessed to it. As they sailed on, they came by chance
    to the place where the boatman’s assistant lived, at a little distance from
    the bank of the river. The boat was moored; and the two men, after desiring
    the children to sit still, both went on shore. they obeyed this order for a
    very short time, and then forgot it altogether. First they peeped into the basket
    containing the eels and the sucking-pig; then they must needs pull out the pig
    and take it in their hands, and feel it, and touch it; and as they both wanted
    to hold it at the same time, the consequence was that they let it fall into
    the water, and the pig sailed away with the stream.

    Here was a terrible disaster. Ib jumped ashore, and ran a little distance from
    the boat.

    “Oh, take me with you,” cried Christina; and she sprang after him. In a few
    minutes they found themselves deep in a thicket, and could no longer see the
    boat or the shore. They ran on a little farther, and then Christina fell down,
    and began to cry.

    Ib helped her up, and said, “Never mind; follow me. Yonder is the house.” But
    the house was not yonder; and they wandered still farther, over the dry rustling
    leaves of the last year, and treading on fallen branches that crackled under
    their little feet; then they heard a loud, piercing cry, and they stood still
    to listen. Presently the scream of an eagle sounded through the wood; it was
    an ugly cry, and it frightened the children; but before them, in the thickest
    part of the forest, grew the most beautiful blackberries, in wonderful quantities.
    They looked so inviting that the children could not help stopping; and they
    remained there so long eating, that their mouths and cheeks became quite black
    with the juice.

    Presently they heard the frightful scream again, and Christina said, “We shall
    get into trouble about that pig.”

    “Oh, never mind,” said Ib; “we will go home to my father’s house. It is here
    in the wood.” So they went on, but the road led them out of the way; no house
    could be seen, it grew dark, and the children were afraid. The solemn stillness
    that reigned around them was now and then broken by the shrill cries of the
    great horned owl and other birds that they knew nothing of. At last they both
    lost themselves in the thicket; Christina began to cry, and then Ib cried too;
    and, after weeping and lamenting for some time, they stretched themselves down
    on the dry leaves and fell asleep.

    The sun was high in the heavens when the two children woke. They felt cold;
    but not far from their resting-place, on a hill, the sun was shining through
    the trees. They thought if they went there they should be warm, and Ib fancied
    he should be able to see his father’s house from such a high spot. But they
    were far away from home now, in quite another part of the forest. They clambered
    to the top of the rising ground, and found themselves on the edge of a declivity,
    which sloped down to a clear transparent lake. Great quantities of fish could
    be seen through the clear water, sparkling in the sun’s rays; they were quite
    surprised when they came so suddenly upon such an unexpected sight.

    Close to where they stood grew a hazel-bush, covered with beautiful nuts. They
    soon gathered some, cracked them, and ate the fine young kernels, which were
    only just ripe. But there was another surprise and fright in store for them.
    Out of the thicket stepped a tall old woman, her face quite brown, and her hair
    of a deep shining black; the whites of her eyes glittered like a Moor’s; on
    her back she carried a bundle, and in her hand a knotted stick. She was a gypsy.
    The children did not at first understand what she said. She drew out of her
    pocket three large nuts, in which she told them were hidden the most beautiful
    and lovely things in the world, for they were wishing nuts. Ib looked at her,
    and as she spoke so kindly, he took courage, and asked her if she would give
    him the nuts; and the woman gave them to him, and then gathered some more from
    the bushes for herself, quite a pocket full. Ib and Christina looked at the
    wishing nuts with wide open eyes.

    “Is there in this nut a carriage, with a pair of horses?” asked Ib.

    “Yes, there is a golden carriage, with two golden horses,” replied the woman.

    “Then give me that nut,” said Christina; so Ib gave it to her, and the strange
    woman tied up the nut for her in her handkerchief.

    Ib held up another nut. “Is there, in this nut, a pretty little neckerchief
    like the one Christina has on her neck?” asked Ib.

    “There are ten neckerchiefs in it,” she replied, “as well as beautiful dresses,
    stockings, and a hat and veil.”

    “Then I will have that one also,” said Christina; “and it is a pretty one too.”
    And then Ib gave her the second nut.

    The third was a little black thing. “You may keep that one,” said Christina;
    “it is quite as pretty.”

    “What is in it?” asked Ib.

    “The best of all things for you,” replied the gypsy. So Ib held the nut very

    Then the woman promised to lead the children to the right path, that they might
    find their way home: and they went forward certainly in quite another direction
    to the one they meant to take; therefore no one ought to speak against the woman,
    and say that she wanted to steal the children. In the wild wood-path they met
    a forester who knew Ib, and, by his help, Ib and Christina reached home, where
    they found every one had been very anxious about them. They were pardoned and
    forgiven, although they really had both done wrong, and deserved to get into
    trouble; first, because they had let the sucking-pig fall into the water; and,
    secondly, because they had run away. Christina was taken back to her father’s
    house on the heath, and Ib remained in the farm-house on the borders of the
    wood, near the great land ridge.

    The first thing Ib did that evening was to take out of his pocket the little
    black nut, in which the best thing of all was said to be enclosed. He laid it
    carefully between the door and the door-post, and then shut the door so that
    the nut cracked directly. But there was not much kernel to be seen; it was what
    we should call hollow or worm-eaten, and looked as if it had been filled with
    tobacco or rich black earth. “It is just what I expected!” exclaimed Ib. “How
    should there be room in a little nut like this for the best thing of all? Christina
    will find her two nuts just the same; there will be neither fine clothes or
    a golden carriage in them.”

    Winter came; and the new year, and indeed many years passed away; until Ib
    was old enough to be confirmed, and, therefore, he went during a whole winter
    to the clergyman of the nearest village to be prepared.

    One day, about this time, the boatman paid a visit to Ib’s parents, and told
    them that Christina was going to service, and that she had been remarkably fortunate
    in obtaining a good place, with most respectable people. “Only think,” he said,
    “She is going to the rich innkeeper’s, at the hotel in Herning, many miles west
    from here. She is to assist the landlady in the housekeeping; and, if afterwards
    she behaves well and remains to be confirmed, the people will treat her as their
    own daughter.”

    So Ib and Christina took leave of each other. People already called them “the
    betrothed,” and at parting the girl showed Ib the two nuts, which she had taken
    care of ever since the time that they lost themselves in the wood; and she told
    him also that the little wooden shoes he once carved for her when he was a boy,
    and gave her as a present, had been carefully kept in a drawer ever since. And
    so they parted.

    After Ib’s confirmation, he remained at home with his mother, for he had become
    a clever shoemaker, and in summer managed the farm for her quite alone. His
    father had been dead some time, and his mother kept no farm servants. Sometimes,
    but very seldom, he heard of Christina, through a postillion or eel-seller who
    was passing. But she was well off with the rich innkeeper; and after being confirmed
    she wrote a letter to her father, in which was a kind message to Ib and his
    mother. In this letter, she mentioned that her master and mistress had made
    her a present of a beautiful new dress, and some nice under-clothes. This was,
    of course, pleasant news.

    One day, in the following spring, there came a knock at the door of the house
    where Ib’s old mother lived; and when they opened it, lo and behold, in stepped
    the boatman and Christina. She had come to pay them a visit, and to spend the
    day. A carriage had to come from the Herning hotel to the next village, and
    she had taken the opportunity to see her friends once more. She looked as elegant
    as a real lady, and wore a pretty dress, beautifully made on purpose for her.
    There she stood, in full dress, while Ib wore only his working clothes. He could
    not utter a word; he could only seize her hand and hold it fast in his own,
    but he felt too happy and glad to open his lips. Christina, however, was quite
    at her ease; she talked and talked, and kissed him in the most friendly manner.
    Even afterwards, when they were left alone, and she asked, “Did you know me
    again, Ib?” he still stood holding her hand, and said at last, “You are become
    quite a grand lady, Christina, and I am only a rough working man; but I have
    often thought of you and of old times.” Then they wandered up the great ridge,
    and looked across the stream to the heath, where the little hills were covered
    with the flowering broom. Ib said nothing; but before the time came for them
    to part, it became quite clear to him that Christina must be his wife: had they
    not even in childhood been called the betrothed? To him it seemed as if they
    were really engaged to each other, although not a word had been spoken on the
    subject. They had only a few more hours to remain together, for Christina was
    obliged to return that evening to the neighboring village, to be ready for the
    carriage which was to start the next morning early for Herning. Ib and her father
    accompanied her to the village. It was a fine moonlight evening; and when they
    arrived, Ib stood holding Christina’s hand in his, as if he could not let her
    go. His eyes brightened, and the words he uttered came with hesitation from
    his lips, but from the deepest recesses of his heart: “Christina, if you have
    not become too grand, and if you can be contented to live in my mother’s house
    as my wife, we will be married some day. But we can wait for a while.”

    “Oh yes,” she replied; “Let us wait a little longer, Ib. I can trust you, for
    I believe that I do love you. But let me think it over.” Then he kissed her
    lips; and so they parted.

    On the way home, Ib told the boatman that he and Christina were as good as
    engaged to each other; and the boatman found out that he had always expected
    it would be so, and went home with Ib that evening, and remained the night in
    the farmhouse; but nothing further was said of the engagement. During the next
    year, two letters passed between Ib and Christina. They were signed, “Faithful
    till death;” but at the end of that time, one day the boatman came over to see
    Ib, with a kind greeting from Christina. He had something else to say, which
    made him hesitate in a strange manner. At last it came out that Christina, who
    had grown a very pretty girl, was more lucky than ever. She was courted and
    admired by every one; but her master’s son, who had been home on a visit, was
    so much pleased with Christina that he wished to marry her. He had a very good
    situation in an office at Copenhagen, and as she had also taken a liking for
    him, his parents were not unwilling to consent. But Christina, in her heart,
    often thought of Ib, and knew how much he thought of her; so she felt inclined
    to refuse this good fortune, added the boatman. At first Ib said not a word,
    but he became as white as the wall, and shook his head gently, and then he spoke,—“Christina
    must not refuse this good fortune.”

    “Then will you write a few words to her?” said the boatman.

    Ib sat down to write, but he could not get on at all. The words were not what
    he wished to say, so he tore up the page. The following morning, however, a
    letter lay ready to be sent to Christina, and the following is what he wrote:—

    “The letter written by you to your father I have read, and see from it that
    you are prosperous in everything, and that still better fortune is in store
    for you. Ask your own heart, Christina, and think over carefully what awaits
    you if you take me for your husband, for I possess very little in the world.
    Do not think of me or of my position; think only of your own welfare. You are
    bound to me by no promises; and if in your heart you have given me one, I release
    you from it. May every blessing and happiness be poured out upon you, Christina.
    Heaven will give me the heart’s consolation.

    Ever your sincere friend, IB.”

    This letter was sent, and Christina received it in due time. In the course of
    the following November, her banns were published in the church on the heath,
    and also in Copenhagen, where the bridegroom lived. She was taken to Copenhagen
    under the protection of her future mother-in-law, because the bridegroom could
    not spare time from his numerous occupations for a journey so far into Jutland.
    On the journey, Christina met her father at one of the villages through which
    they passed, and here he took leave of her. Very little was said about the matter
    to Ib, and he did not refer to it; his mother, however, noticed that he had
    grown very silent and pensive. Thinking as he did of old times, no wonder the
    three nuts came into his mind which the gypsy woman had given him when a child,
    and of the two which he had given to Christina. These wishing nuts, after all,
    had proved true fortune-tellers. One had contained a gilded carriage and noble
    horses, and the other beautiful clothes; all of these Christina would now have
    in her new home at Copenhagen. Her part had come true. And for him the nut had
    contained only black earth. The gypsy woman had said it was the best for him.
    Perhaps it was, and this also would be fulfilled. He understood the gypsy woman’s
    meaning now. The black earth—the dark grave—was the best thing for him now.

    Again years passed away; not many, but they seemed long years to Ib. The old
    innkeeper and his wife died one after the other; and the whole of their property,
    many thousand dollars, was inherited by their son. Christina could have the
    golden carriage now, and plenty of fine clothes. During the two long years which
    followed, no letter came from Christina to her father; and when at last her
    father received one from her, it did not speak of prosperity or happiness. Poor
    Christina! Neither she nor her husband understood how to economize or save,
    and the riches brought no blessing with them, because they had not asked for

    Years passed; and for many summers the heath was covered with bloom; in winter
    the snow rested upon it, and the rough winds blew across the ridge under which
    stood Ib’s sheltered home. One spring day the sun shone brightly, and he was
    guiding the plough across his field. The ploughshare struck against something
    which he fancied was a firestone, and then he saw glittering in the earth a
    splinter of shining metal which the plough had cut from something which gleamed
    brightly in the furrow. He searched, and found a large golden armlet of superior
    workmanship, and it was evident that the plough had disturbed a Hun’s grave.
    He searched further, and found more valuable treasures, which Ib showed to the
    clergyman, who explained their value to him. Then he went to the magistrate,
    who informed the president of the museum of the discovery, and advised Ib to
    take the treasures himself to the president.

    “You have found in the earth the best thing you could find,” said the magistrate.

    “The best thing,” thought Ib; “the very best thing for me,—and found in the
    earth! Well, if it really is so, then the gypsy woman was right in her prophecy.”

    So Ib went in the ferry-boat from Aarhus to Copenhagen. To him who had only
    sailed once or twice on the river near his own home, this seemed like a voyage
    on the ocean; and at length he arrived at Copenhagen. The value of the gold
    he had found was paid to him; it was a large sum—six hundred dollars. Then Ib
    of the heath went out, and wandered about in the great city.

    On the evening before the day he had settled to return with the captain of
    the passage-boat, Ib lost himself in the streets, and took quite a different
    turning to the one he wished to follow. He wandered on till he found himself
    in a poor street of the suburb called Christian’s Haven. Not a creature could
    be seen. At last a very little girl came out of one of the wretched-looking
    houses, and Ib asked her to tell him the way to the street he wanted; she looked
    up timidly at him, and began to cry bitterly. He asked her what was the matter;
    but what she said he could not understand. So he went along the street with
    her; and as they passed under a lamp, the light fell on the little girl’s face.
    A strange sensation came over Ib, as he caught sight of it. The living, breathing
    embodiment of Little Christina stood before him, just as he remembered her in
    the days of her childhood. He followed the child to the wretched house, and
    ascended the narrow, crazy staircase which led to a little garret in the roof.
    The air in the room was heavy and stifling, no light was burning, and from one
    corner came sounds of moaning and sighing. It was the mother of the child who
    lay there on a miserable bed. With the help of a match, Ib struck a light, and
    approached her.

    “Can I be of any service to you?” he asked. “This little girl brought me up
    here; but I am a stranger in this city. Are there no neighbors or any one whom
    I can call?”

    Then he raised the head of the sick woman, and smoothed her pillow. He started
    as he did so. It was Christina of the heath! No one had mentioned her name to
    Ib for years; it would have disturbed his peace of mind, especially as the reports
    respecting her were not good. The wealth which her husband had inherited from
    his parents had made him proud and arrogant. He had given up his certain appointment,
    and travelled for six months in foreign lands, and, on his return, had lived
    in great style, and got into terrible debt. For a time he had trembled on the
    high pedestal on which he had placed himself, till at last he toppled over,
    and ruin came. His numerous merry companions, and the visitors at his table,
    said it served him right, for he had kept house like a madman. One morning his
    corpse was found in the canal. The cold hand of death had already touched the
    heart of Christina. Her youngest child, looked for in the midst of prosperity,
    had sunk into the grave when only a few weeks old; and at last Christina herself
    became sick unto death, and lay, forsaken and dying, in a miserable room, amid
    poverty she might have borne in her younger days, but which was now more painful
    to her from the luxuries to which she had lately been accustomed. It was her
    eldest child, also a Little Christina, whom Ib had followed to her home, where
    she suffered hunger and poverty with her mother.

    “It makes me unhappy to think that I shall die, and leave this poor child,”
    sighed she. “Oh, what will become of her?” She could say no more.

    Then Ib brought out another match, and lighted a piece of candle which he found
    in the room, and it threw a glimmering light over the wretched dwelling. Ib
    looked at the little girl, and thought of Christina in her young days. For her
    sake, could he not love this child, who was a stranger to him? As he thus reflected,
    the dying woman opened her eyes, and gazed at him. Did she recognize him? He
    never knew; for not another word escaped her lips.

    In the forest by the river Gudenau, not far from the heath, and beneath the
    ridge of land, stood the little farm, newly painted and whitewashed. The air
    was heavy and dark; there were no blossoms on the heath; the autumn winds whirled
    the yellow leaves towards the boatman’s hut, in which strangers dwelt; but the
    little farm stood safely sheltered beneath the tall trees and the high ridge.
    The turf blazed brightly on the hearth, and within was sunlight, the sparkling
    light from the sunny eyes of a child; the birdlike tones from the rosy lips
    ringing like the song of a lark in spring. All was life and joy. Little Christina
    sat on Ib’s knee. Ib was to her both father and mother; her own parents had
    vanished from her memory, as a dream-picture vanishes alike from childhood and
    age. Ib’s house was well and prettily furnished; for he was a prosperous man
    now, while the mother of the little girl rested in the churchyard at Copenhagen,
    where she had died in poverty. Ib had money now—money which had come to him
    out of the black earth; and he had Christina for his own, after all.

    The Top and Ball

    A whipping top and a little ball lay together in a box, among other toys, and
    the top said to the ball, “Shall we be married, as we live in the same box?”

    But the ball, which wore a dress of morocco leather, and thought as much of
    herself as any other young lady, would not even condescend to reply.

    The next day came the little boy to whom the playthings belonged, and he painted
    the top red and yellow, and drove a brass-headed nail into the middle, so that
    while the top was spinning round it looked splendid.

    “Look at me,” said the top to the ball. “What do you say now? Shall we be engaged
    to each other? We should suit so well; you spring, and I dance. No one could
    be happier than we should be.”

    “Indeed! do you think so? Perhaps you do not know that my father and mother
    were morocco slippers, and that I have a Spanish cork in my body.”

    “Yes; but I am made of mahogany,” said the top. “The major himself turned me.
    He has a turning lathe of his own, and it is a great amusement to him.”

    “Can I believe it?” asked the ball.

    “May I never be whipped again,” said the top, “if I am not telling you the

    “You certainly know how to speak for yourself very well,” said the ball; “but
    I cannot accept your proposal. I am almost engaged to a swallow. Every time
    I fly up in the air, he puts his head out of the nest, and says, ‘Will you?’
    and I have said, ‘Yes,’ to myself silently, and that is as good as being half
    engaged; but I will promise never to forget you.”

    “Much good that will be to me,” said the top; and they spoke to each other
    no more.

    Next day the ball was taken out by the boy. The top saw it flying high in the
    air, like a bird, till it would go quite out of sight. Each time it came back,
    as it touched the earth, it gave a higher leap than before, either because it
    longed to fly upwards, or from having a Spanish cork in its body. But the ninth
    time it rose in the air, it remained away, and did not return. The boy searched
    everywhere for it, but he searched in vain, for it could not be found; it was

    “I know very well where she is,” sighed the top; “she is in the swallow’s nest,
    and has married the swallow.”

    The more the top thought of this, the more he longed for the ball. His love
    increased the more, just because he could not get her; and that she should have
    been won by another, was the worst of all. The top still twirled about and hummed,
    but he continued to think of the ball; and the more he thought of her, the more
    beautiful she seemed to his fancy.

    Thus several years passed by, and his love became quite old. The top, also,
    was no longer young; but there came a day when he looked handsomer than ever;
    for he was gilded all over. He was now a golden top, and whirled and danced
    about till he hummed quite loud, and was something worth looking at; but one
    day he leaped too high, and then he, also, was gone. They searched everywhere,
    even in the cellar, but he was nowhere to be found. Where could he be? He had
    jumped into the dust-bin, where all sorts of rubbish were lying: cabbage-stalks,
    dust, and rain-droppings that had fallen down from the gutter under the roof.

    “Now I am in a nice place,” said he; “my gilding will soon be washed off here.
    Oh dear, what a set of rabble I have got amongst!” And then he glanced at a
    curious round thing like an old apple, which lay near a long, leafless cabbage-stalk.
    It was, however, not an apple, but an old ball, which had lain for years in
    the gutter, and was soaked through with water.

    “Thank goodness, here comes one of my own class, with whom I can talk,” said
    the ball, examining the gilded top. “I am made of morocco,” she said. “I was
    sewn together by a young lady, and I have a Spanish cork in my body; but no
    one would think it, to look at me now. I was once engaged to a swallow; but
    I fell in here from the gutter under the roof, and I have lain here more than
    five years, and have been thoroughly drenched. Believe me, it is a long time
    for a young maiden.”

    The top said nothing, but he thought of his old love; and the more she said,
    the more clear it became to him that this was the same ball.

    The servant then came to clean out the dust-bin.

    “Ah,” she exclaimed, “here is a gilt top.” So the top was brought again to
    notice and honor, but nothing more was heard of the little ball. He spoke not
    a word about his old love; for that soon died away. When the beloved object
    has lain for five years in a gutter, and has been drenched through, no one cares
    to know her again on meeting her in a dust-bin.

    The Toad

    The well was deep, and therefore the rope had to be a long one; it was heavy work
    turning the handle when any one had to raise a bucketful of water over the edge
    of the well. Though the water was clear, the sun never looked down far enough
    into the well to mirror itself in the waters; but as far as its beams could reach,
    green things grew forth between the stones in the sides of the well.

    Down below dwelt a family of the Toad race. They had, in fact, come head-over-heels
    down the well, in the person of the old Mother-Toad, who was still alive. The
    green Frogs, who had been established there a long time, and swam about in the
    water, called them “well-guests.” But the new-comers seemed determined to stay
    where they were, for they found it very agreeable living “in a dry place,” as
    they called the wet stones.

    The Mother-Frog had once been a traveller. She happened to be in the water-bucket
    when it was drawn up, but the light became too strong for her, and she got a
    pain in her eyes. Fortunately she scrambled out of the bucket; but she fell
    into the water with a terrible flop, and had to lie sick for three days with
    pains in her back. She certainly had not much to tell of the things up above,
    but she knew this, and all the Frogs knew it, that the well was not all the
    world. The Mother-Toad might have told this and that, if she had chosen, but
    she never answered when they asked her anything, and so they left off asking.

    “She’s thick, and fat and ugly,” said the young green Frogs; “and her children
    will be just as ugly as she is.”

    “That may be,” retorted the mother-Toad, “but one of them has a jewel in his
    head, or else I have the jewel.”

    The young frogs listened and stared; and as these words did not please them,
    they made grimaces and dived down under the water. But the little Toads kicked
    up their hind legs from mere pride, for each of them thought that he must have
    the jewel; and then they sat and held their heads quite still. But at length
    they asked what it was that made them so proud, and what kind of a thing a jewel
    might be.

    “Oh, it is such a splendid and precious thing, that I cannot describe it,”
    said the Mother-Toad. “It’s something which one carries about for one’s own
    pleasure, and that makes other people angry. But don’t ask me any questions,
    for I shan’t answer you.”

    “Well, I haven’t got the jewel,” said the smallest of the Toads; she was as
    ugly as a toad can be. “Why should I have such a precious thing? And if it makes
    others angry, it can’t give me any pleasure. No, I only wish I could get to
    the edge of the well, and look out; it must be beautiful up there.”

    “You’d better stay where you are,” said the old Mother-Toad, “for you know
    everything here, and you can tell what you have. Take care of the bucket, for
    it will crush you to death; and even if you get into it safely, you may fall
    out. And it’s not every one who falls so cleverly as I did, and gets away with
    whole legs and whole bones.”

    “Quack!” said the little Toad; and that’s just as if one of us were to say,

    She had an immense desire to get to the edge of the well, and to look over;
    she felt such a longing for the green, up there; and the next morning, when
    it chanced that the bucket was being drawn up, filled with water, and stopped
    for a moment just in front of the stone on which the Toad sat, the little creature’s
    heart moved within it, and our Toad jumped into the filled bucket, which presently
    was drawn to the top, and emptied out.

    “Ugh, you beast!” said the farm laborer who emptied the bucket, when he saw
    the toad. “You’re the ugliest thing I’ve seen for one while.” And he made a
    kick with his wooden shoe at the toad, which just escaped being crushed by managing
    to scramble into the nettles which grew high by the well’s brink. Here she saw
    stem by stem, but she looked up also; the sun shone through the leaves, which
    were quite transparent; and she felt as a person would feel who steps suddenly
    into a great forest, where the sun looks in between the branches and leaves.

    “It’s much nicer here than down in the well! I should like to stay here my
    whole life long!” said the little Toad. So she lay there for an hour, yes, for
    two hours. “I wonder what is to be found up here? As I have come so far, I must
    try to go still farther.” And so she crawled on as fast as she could crawl,
    and got out upon the highway, where the sun shone upon her, and the dust powdered
    her all over as she marched across the way.

    “I’ve got to a dry place. now, and no mistake,” said the Toad. “It’s almost
    too much of a good thing here; it tickles one so.”

    She came to the ditch; and forget-me-nots were growing there, and meadow-sweet;
    and a very little way off was a hedge of whitethorn, and elder bushes grew there,
    too, and bindweed with white flowers. Gay colors were to be seen here, and a
    butterfly, too, was flitting by. The Toad thought it was a flower which had
    broken loose that it might look about better in the world, which was quite a
    natural thing to do.

    “If one could only make such a journey as that!” said the Toad. “Croak! how
    capital that would be.”

    Eight days and eight nights she stayed by the well, and experienced no want
    of provisions. On the ninth day she thought, “Forward! onward!” But what could
    she find more charming and beautiful? Perhaps a little toad or a few green frogs.
    During the last night there had been a sound borne on the breeze, as if there
    were cousins in the neighborhood.

    “It’s a glorious thing to live! glorious to get out of the well, and to lie
    among the stinging-nettles, and to crawl along the dusty road. But onward, onward!
    that we may find frogs or a little toad. We can’t do without that; nature alone
    is not enough for one.” And so she went forward on her journey.

    She came out into the open field, to a great pond, round about which grew reeds;
    and she walked into it.

    “It will be too damp for you here,” said the Frogs; “but you are very welcome!
    Are you a he or a she? But it doesn’t matter; you are equally welcome.”

    And she was invited to the concert in the evening—the family concert; great
    enthusiasm and thin voices; we know the sort of thing. No refreshments were
    given, only there was plenty to drink, for the whole pond was free.

    “Now I shall resume my journey,” said the little Toad; for she always felt
    a longing for something better.

    She saw the stars shining, so large and so bright, and she saw the moon gleaming;
    and then she saw the sun rise, and mount higher and higher.

    “Perhaps after all, I am still in a well, only in a larger well. I must get
    higher yet; I feel a great restlessness and longing.” And when the moon became
    round and full, the poor creature thought, “I wonder if that is the bucket which
    will be let down, and into which I must step to get higher up? Or is the sun
    the great bucket? How great it is! how bright it is! It can take up all. I must
    look out, that I may not miss the opportunity. Oh, how it seems to shine in
    my head! I don’t think the jewel can shine brighter. But I haven’t the jewel;
    not that I cry about that—no, I must go higher up, into splendor and joy! I
    feel so confident, and yet I am afraid. It’s a difficult step to take, and yet
    it must be taken. Onward, therefore, straight onward!”

    She took a few steps, such as a crawling animal may take, and soon found herself
    on a road beside which people dwelt; but there were flower gardens as well as
    kitchen gardens. And she sat down to rest by a kitchen garden.

    “What a number of different creatures there are that I never knew! and how
    beautiful and great the world is! But one must look round in it, and not stay
    in one spot.” And then she hopped into the kitchen garden. “How green it is
    here! how beautiful it is here!”

    “I know that,” said the Caterpillar, on the leaf, “my leaf is the largest here.
    It hides half the world from me, but I don’t care for the world.”

    “Cluck, cluck!” And some fowls came. They tripped about in the cabbage garden.
    The Fowl who marched at the head of them had a long sight, and she spied the
    Caterpillar on the green leaf, and pecked at it, so that the Caterpillar fell
    on the ground, where it twisted and writhed.

    The Fowl looked at it first with one eye and then with the other, for she did
    not know what the end of this writhing would be.

    “It doesn’t do that with a good will,” thought the Fowl, and lifted up her
    head to peck at the Caterpillar.

    The Toad was so horrified at this, that she came crawling straight up towards
    the Fowl.

    “Aha, it has allies,” quoth the Fowl. “Just look at the crawling thing!” And
    then the Fowl turned away. “I don’t care for the little green morsel; it would
    only tickle my throat.” The other fowls took the same view of it, and they all
    turned away together.

    “I writhed myself free,” said the Caterpillar. “What a good thing it is when
    one has presence of mind! But the hardest thing remains to be done, and that
    is to get on my leaf again. Where is it?”

    And the little Toad came up and expressed her sympathy. She was glad that in
    her ugliness she had frightened the fowls.

    “What do you mean by that?” cried the Caterpillar. “I wriggled myself free
    from the Fowl. You are very disagreeable to look at. Cannot I be left in peace
    on my own property? Now I smell cabbage; now I am near my leaf. Nothing is so
    beautiful as property. But I must go higher up.”

    “Yes, higher up,” said the little Toad; “higher-up! She feels just as I do;
    but she’s not in a good humor to-day. That’s because of the fright. We all want
    to go higher up.” And she looked up as high as ever she could.

    The stork sat in his nest on the roof of the farm-house. He clapped with his
    beak, and the Mother-stork clapped with hers.

    “How high up they live!” thought the Toad. “If one could only get as high as

    In the farm-house lived two young students; the one was a poet and the other
    a scientific searcher into the secrets of nature. The one sang and wrote joyously
    of everything that God had created, and how it was mirrored in his heart. He
    sang it out clearly, sweetly, richly, in well-sounding verses; while the other
    investigated created matter itself, and even cut it open where need was. He
    looked upon God’s creation as a great sum in arithmetic—subtracted, multiplied,
    and tried to know it within and without, and to talk with understanding concerning
    it; and that was a very sensible thing; and he spoke joyously and cleverly of
    it. They were good, joyful men, those two,

    “There sits a good specimen of a toad,” said the naturalist. “I must have that
    fellow in a bottle of spirits.”

    “You have two of them already,” replied the poet. “Let the thing sit there
    and enjoy its life.”

    “But it’s so wonderfully ugly,” persisted the first.

    “Yes, if we could find the jewel in its head,” said the poet, “I too should
    be for cutting it open.”

    “A jewel!” cried the naturalist. “You seem to know a great deal about natural

    “But is there not something beautiful in the popular belief that just as the
    toad is the ugliest of animals, it should often carry the most precious jewel
    in its head? Is it not just the same thing with men? What a jewel that was that
    Aesop had, and still more, Socrates!”

    The Toad did not hear any more, nor did she understand half of what she had
    heard. The two friends walked on, and thus she escaped the fate of being bottled
    up in spirits.

    “Those two also were speaking of the jewel,” said the Toad to herself. “What
    a good thing that I have not got it! I might have been in a very disagreeable

    Now there was a clapping on the roof of the farm-house. Father-Stork was making
    a speech to his family, and his family was glancing down at the two young men
    in the kitchen garden.

    “Man is the most conceited creature!” said the Stork. “Listen how their jaws
    are wagging; and for all that they can’t clap properly. They boast of their
    gifts of eloquence and their language! Yes, a fine language truly! Why, it changes
    in every day’s journey we make. One of them doesn’t understand another. Now,
    we can speak our language over the whole earth—up in the North and in Egypt.
    And then men are not able to fly, moreover. They rush along by means of an invention
    they call ’railway;’ but they often break their necks over it. It makes my beak
    turn cold when I think of it. The world could get on without men. We could do
    without them very well, so long as we only keep frogs and earth-worms.”

    “That was a powerful speech,” thought the little Toad. “What a great man that
    is yonder! and how high he sits! Higher than ever I saw any one sit yet; and
    how he can swim!” she cried, as the Stork soared away through the air with outspread

    And the Mother-Stork began talking in the nest, and told about Egypt and the
    waters of the Nile, and the incomparable mud that was to be found in that strange
    land; and all this sounded new and very charming to the little Toad.

    “I must go to Egypt!” said she. “If the Stork or one of his young ones would
    only take me! I would oblige him in return. Yes, I shall get to Egypt, for I
    feel so happy! All the longing and all the pleasure that I feel is much better
    than having a jewel in one’s head.”

    And it was just she who had the jewel. That jewel was the continual striving
    and desire to go upward—ever upward. It gleamed in her head, gleamed in joy,
    beamed brightly in her longing.

    Then, suddenly, up came the Stork. He had seen the Toad in the grass, and stooped
    down and seized the little creature anything but gently. The Stork’s beak pinched
    her, and the wind whistled; it was not exactly agreeable, but she was going
    upward—upward towards Egypt— and she knew it; and that was why her eyes gleamed,
    and a spark seemed to fly out of them.


    The body was dead—the Toad was killed! But the spark that had shot forth from
    her eyes; what became of that?

    The sunbeam took it up; the sunbeam carried the jewel from the head of the
    toad. Whither?

    Ask not the naturalist; rather ask the poet. He will tell it thee under the
    guise of a fairy tale; and the Caterpillar on the cabbage, and the Stork family
    belong to the story. Think! the Caterpillar is changed, and turns into a beautiful
    butterfly; the Stork family flies over mountains and seas, to the distant Africa,
    and yet finds the shortest way home to the same country—to the same roof. Nay,
    that is almost too improbable; and yet it is true. You may ask the naturalist,
    he will confess it is so; and you know it yourself, for you have seen it.

    But the jewel in the head of the toad?

    Seek it in the sun; see it there if you can.

    The brightness is too dazzling there. We have not yet such eyes as can see
    into the glories which God has created, but we shall receive them by-and-by;
    and that will be the most beautiful story of all, and we shall all have our
    share in it.

    The Fir Tree

    Far down in the forest, where the warm sun and the fresh air made a sweet resting-place,
    grew a pretty little fir-tree; and yet it was not happy, it wished so much to
    be tall like its companions— the pines and firs which grew around it. The sun
    shone, and the soft air fluttered its leaves, and the little peasant children
    passed by, prattling merrily, but the fir-tree heeded them not. Sometimes the
    children would bring a large basket of raspberries or strawberries, wreathed on
    a straw, and seat themselves near the fir-tree, and say, “Is it not a pretty little
    tree?” which made it feel more unhappy than before. And yet all this while the
    tree grew a notch or joint taller every year; for by the number of joints in the
    stem of a fir-tree we can discover its age. Still, as it grew, it complained,
    “Oh! how I wish I were as tall as the other trees, then I would spread out my
    branches on every side, and my top would over-look the wide world. I should have
    the birds building their nests on my boughs, and when the wind blew, I should
    bow with stately dignity like my tall companions.” The tree was so discontented,
    that it took no pleasure in the warm sunshine, the birds, or the rosy clouds that
    floated over it morning and evening. Sometimes, in winter, when the snow lay white
    and glittering on the ground, a hare would come springing along, and jump right
    over the little tree; and then how mortified it would feel! Two winters passed,
    and when the third arrived, the tree had grown so tall that the hare was obliged
    to run round it. Yet it remained unsatisfied, and would exclaim, “Oh, if I could
    but keep on growing tall and old! There is nothing else worth caring for in the
    world!” In the autumn, as usual, the wood-cutters came and cut down several of
    the tallest trees, and the young fir-tree, which was now grown to its full height,
    shuddered as the noble trees fell to the earth with a crash. After the branches
    were lopped off, the trunks looked so slender and bare, that they could scarcely
    be recognized. Then they were placed upon wagons, and drawn by horses out of the
    forest. “Where were they going? What would become of them?” The young fir-tree
    wished very much to know; so in the spring, when the swallows and the storks came,
    it asked, “Do you know where those trees were taken? Did you meet them?”

    The swallows knew nothing, but the stork, after a little reflection, nodded
    his head, and said, “Yes, I think I do. I met several new ships when I flew
    from Egypt, and they had fine masts that smelt like fir. I think these must
    have been the trees; I assure you they were stately, very stately.”

    “Oh, how I wish I were tall enough to go on the sea,” said the fir-tree. “What
    is the sea, and what does it look like?”

    “It would take too much time to explain,” said the stork, flying quickly away.

    “Rejoice in thy youth,” said the sunbeam; “rejoice in thy fresh growth, and
    the young life that is in thee.”

    And the wind kissed the tree, and the dew watered it with tears; but the fir-tree
    regarded them not.

    Christmas-time drew near, and many young trees were cut down, some even smaller
    and younger than the fir-tree who enjoyed neither rest nor peace with longing
    to leave its forest home. These young trees, which were chosen for their beauty,
    kept their branches, and were also laid on wagons and drawn by horses out of
    the forest.

    “Where are they going?” asked the fir-tree. “They are not taller than I am:
    indeed, one is much less; and why are the branches not cut off? Where are they

    “We know, we know,” sang the sparrows; “we have looked in at the windows of
    the houses in the town, and we know what is done with them. They are dressed
    up in the most splendid manner. We have seen them standing in the middle of
    a warm room, and adorned with all sorts of beautiful things,—honey cakes, gilded
    apples, playthings, and many hundreds of wax tapers.”

    “And then,” asked the fir-tree, trembling through all its branches, “and then
    what happens?”

    “We did not see any more,” said the sparrows; “but this was enough for us.”

    “I wonder whether anything so brilliant will ever happen to me,” thought the
    fir-tree. “It would be much better than crossing the sea. I long for it almost
    with pain. Oh! when will Christmas be here? I am now as tall and well grown
    as those which were taken away last year. Oh! that I were now laid on the wagon,
    or standing in the warm room, with all that brightness and splendor around me!
    Something better and more beautiful is to come after, or the trees would not
    be so decked out. Yes, what follows will be grander and more splendid. What
    can it be? I am weary with longing. I scarcely know how I feel.”

    “Rejoice with us,” said the air and the sunlight. “Enjoy thine own bright life
    in the fresh air.”

    But the tree would not rejoice, though it grew taller every day; and, winter
    and summer, its dark-green foliage might be seen in the forest, while passers
    by would say, “What a beautiful tree!”

    A short time before Christmas, the discontented fir-tree was the first to fall.
    As the axe cut through the stem, and divided the pith, the tree fell with a
    groan to the earth, conscious of pain and faintness, and forgetting all its
    anticipations of happiness, in sorrow at leaving its home in the forest. It
    knew that it should never again see its dear old companions, the trees, nor
    the little bushes and many-colored flowers that had grown by its side; perhaps
    not even the birds. Neither was the journey at all pleasant. The tree first
    recovered itself while being unpacked in the courtyard of a house, with several
    other trees; and it heard a man say, “We only want one, and this is the prettiest.”

    Then came two servants in grand livery, and carried the fir-tree into a large
    and beautiful apartment. On the walls hung pictures, and near the great stove
    stood great china vases, with lions on the lids. There were rocking chairs,
    silken sofas, large tables, covered with pictures, books, and playthings, worth
    a great deal of money,—at least, the children said so. Then the fir-tree was
    placed in a large tub, full of sand; but green baize hung all around it, so
    that no one could see it was a tub, and it stood on a very handsome carpet.
    How the fir-tree trembled! “What was going to happen to him now?” Some young
    ladies came, and the servants helped them to adorn the tree. On one branch they
    hung little bags cut out of colored paper, and each bag was filled with sweetmeats;
    from other branches hung gilded apples and walnuts, as if they had grown there;
    and above, and all round, were hundreds of red, blue, and white tapers, which
    were fastened on the branches. Dolls, exactly like real babies, were placed
    under the green leaves,—the tree had never seen such things before,—and at the
    very top was fastened a glittering star, made of tinsel. Oh, it was very beautiful!

    “This evening,” they all exclaimed, “how bright it will be!” “Oh, that the
    evening were come,” thought the tree, “and the tapers lighted! then I shall
    know what else is going to happen. Will the trees of the forest come to see
    me? I wonder if the sparrows will peep in at the windows as they fly? shall
    I grow faster here, and keep on all these ornaments summer and winter?” But
    guessing was of very little use; it made his bark ache, and this pain is as
    bad for a slender fir-tree, as headache is for us. At last the tapers were lighted,
    and then what a glistening blaze of light the tree presented! It trembled so
    with joy in all its branches, that one of the candles fell among the green leaves
    and burnt some of them. “Help! help!” exclaimed the young ladies, but there
    was no danger, for they quickly extinguished the fire. After this, the tree
    tried not to tremble at all, though the fire frightened him; he was so anxious
    not to hurt any of the beautiful ornaments, even while their brilliancy dazzled
    him. And now the folding doors were thrown open, and a troop of children rushed
    in as if they intended to upset the tree; they were followed more silently by
    their elders. For a moment the little ones stood silent with astonishment, and
    then they shouted for joy, till the room rang, and they danced merrily round
    the tree, while one present after another was taken from it.

    “What are they doing? What will happen next?” thought the fir. At last the
    candles burnt down to the branches and were put out. Then the children received
    permission to plunder the tree.

    Oh, how they rushed upon it, till the branches cracked, and had it not been
    fastened with the glistening star to the ceiling, it must have been thrown down.
    The children then danced about with their pretty toys, and no one noticed the
    tree, except the children’s maid who came and peeped among the branches to see
    if an apple or a fig had been forgotten.

    “A story, a story,” cried the children, pulling a little fat man towards the

    “Now we shall be in the green shade,” said the man, as he seated himself under
    it, “and the tree will have the pleasure of hearing also, but I shall only relate
    one story; what shall it be? Ivede-Avede, or Humpty Dumpty, who fell down stairs,
    but soon got up again, and at last married a princess.”

    “Ivede-Avede,” cried some. “Humpty Dumpty,” cried others, and there was a fine
    shouting and crying out. But the fir-tree remained quite still, and thought
    to himself, “Shall I have anything to do with all this?” but he had already
    amused them as much as they wished. Then the old man told them the story of
    Humpty Dumpty, how he fell down stairs, and was raised up again, and married
    a princess. And the children clapped their hands and cried, “Tell another, tell
    another,” for they wanted to hear the story of “Ivede-Avede;” but they only
    had “Humpty Dumpty.” After this the fir-tree became quite silent and thoughtful;
    never had the birds in the forest told such tales as “Humpty Dumpty,” who fell
    down stairs, and yet married a princess.

    “Ah! yes, so it happens in the world,” thought the fir-tree; he believed it
    all, because it was related by such a nice man. “Ah! well,” he thought, “who
    knows? perhaps I may fall down too, and marry a princess;” and he looked forward
    joyfully to the next evening, expecting to be again decked out with lights and
    playthings, gold and fruit. “To-morrow I will not tremble,” thought he; “I will
    enjoy all my splendor, and I shall hear the story of Humpty Dumpty again, and
    perhaps Ivede-Avede.” And the tree remained quiet and thoughtful all night.
    In the morning the servants and the housemaid came in. “Now,” thought the fir,
    “all my splendor is going to begin again.” But they dragged him out of the room
    and up stairs to the garret, and threw him on the floor, in a dark corner, where
    no daylight shone, and there they left him. “What does this mean?” thought the
    tree, “what am I to do here? I can hear nothing in a place like this,” and he
    had time enough to think, for days and nights passed and no one came near him,
    and when at last somebody did come, it was only to put away large boxes in a
    corner. So the tree was completely hidden from sight as if it had never existed.
    “It is winter now,” thought the tree, “the ground is hard and covered with snow,
    so that people cannot plant me. I shall be sheltered here, I dare say, until
    spring comes. How thoughtful and kind everybody is to me! Still I wish this
    place were not so dark, as well as lonely, with not even a little hare to look
    at. How pleasant it was out in the forest while the snow lay on the ground,
    when the hare would run by, yes, and jump over me too, although I did not like
    it then. Oh! it is terrible lonely here.”

    “Squeak, squeak,” said a little mouse, creeping cautiously towards the tree;
    then came another; and they both sniffed at the fir-tree and crept between the

    “Oh, it is very cold,” said the little mouse, “or else we should be so comfortable
    here, shouldn’t we, you old fir-tree?”

    “I am not old,” said the fir-tree, “there are many who are older than I am.”

    “Where do you come from? and what do you know?” asked the mice, who were full
    of curiosity. “Have you seen the most beautiful places in the world, and can
    you tell us all about them? and have you been in the storeroom, where cheeses
    lie on the shelf, and hams hang from the ceiling? One can run about on tallow
    candles there, and go in thin and come out fat.”

    “I know nothing of that place,” said the fir-tree, “but I know the wood where
    the sun shines and the birds sing.” And then the tree told the little mice all
    about its youth. They had never heard such an account in their lives; and after
    they had listened to it attentively, they said, “What a number of things you
    have seen? you must have been very happy.”

    “Happy!” exclaimed the fir-tree, and then as he reflected upon what he had
    been telling them, he said, “Ah, yes! after all those were happy days.” But
    when he went on and related all about Christmas-eve, and how he had been dressed
    up with cakes and lights, the mice said, “How happy you must have been, you
    old fir-tree.”

    “I am not old at all,” replied the tree, “I only came from the forest this
    winter, I am now checked in my growth.”

    “What splendid stories you can relate,” said the little mice. And the next
    night four other mice came with them to hear what the tree had to tell. The
    more he talked the more he remembered, and then he thought to himself, “Those
    were happy days, but they may come again. Humpty Dumpty fell down stairs, and
    yet he married the princess; perhaps I may marry a princess too.” And the fir-tree
    thought of the pretty little birch-tree that grew in the forest, which was to
    him a real beautiful princess.

    “Who is Humpty Dumpty?” asked the little mice. And then the tree related the
    whole story; he could remember every single word, and the little mice was so
    delighted with it, that they were ready to jump to the top of the tree. The
    next night a great many more mice made their appearance, and on Sunday two rats
    came with them; but they said, it was not a pretty story at all, and the little
    mice were very sorry, for it made them also think less of it.

    “Do you know only one story?” asked the rats.

    “Only one,” replied the fir-tree; “I heard it on the happiest evening of my
    life; but I did not know I was so happy at the time.”

    “We think it is a very miserable story,” said the rats. “Don’t you know any
    story about bacon, or tallow in the storeroom.”

    “No,” replied the tree.

    “Many thanks to you then,” replied the rats, and they marched off.

    The little mice also kept away after this, and the tree sighed, and said, “It
    was very pleasant when the merry little mice sat round me and listened while
    I talked. Now that is all passed too. However, I shall consider myself happy
    when some one comes to take me out of this place.” But would this ever happen?
    Yes; one morning people came to clear out the garret, the boxes were packed
    away, and the tree was pulled out of the corner, and thrown roughly on the garret
    floor; then the servant dragged it out upon the staircase where the daylight
    shone. “Now life is beginning again,” said the tree, rejoicing in the sunshine
    and fresh air. Then it was carried down stairs and taken into the courtyard
    so quickly, that it forgot to think of itself, and could only look about, there
    was so much to be seen. The court was close to a garden, where everything looked
    blooming. Fresh and fragrant roses hung over the little palings. The linden-trees
    were in blossom; while the swallows flew here and there, crying, “Twit, twit,
    twit, my mate is coming,”—but it was not the fir-tree they meant. “Now I shall
    live,” cried the tree, joyfully spreading out its branches; but alas! they were
    all withered and yellow, and it lay in a corner amongst weeds and nettles. The
    star of gold paper still stuck in the top of the tree and glittered in the sunshine.
    In the same courtyard two of the merry children were playing who had danced
    round the tree at Christmas, and had been so happy. The youngest saw the gilded
    star, and ran and pulled it off the tree. “Look what is sticking to the ugly
    old fir-tree,” said the child, treading on the branches till they crackled under
    his boots. And the tree saw all the fresh bright flowers in the garden, and
    then looked at itself, and wished it had remained in the dark corner of the
    garret. It thought of its fresh youth in the forest, of the merry Christmas
    evening, and of the little mice who had listened to the story of “Humpty Dumpty.”
    “Past! past!” said the old tree; “Oh, had I but enjoyed myself while I could
    have done so! but now it is too late.” Then a lad came and chopped the tree
    into small pieces, till a large bundle lay in a heap on the ground. The pieces
    were placed in a fire under the copper, and they quickly blazed up brightly,
    while the tree sighed so deeply that each sigh was like a pistol-shot. Then
    the children, who were at play, came and seated themselves in front of the fire,
    and looked at it and cried, “Pop, pop.” But at each “pop,” which was a deep
    sigh, the tree was thinking of a summer day in the forest; and of Christmas
    evening, and of “Humpty Dumpty,” the only story it had ever heard or knew how
    to relate, till at last it was consumed. The boys still played in the garden,
    and the youngest wore the golden star on his breast, with which the tree had
    been adorned during the happiest evening of its existence. Now all was past;
    the tree’s life was past, and the story also,—for all stories must come to an
    end at last.

    There is a Difference

    It was in the month of May. The wind was still cold, but spring had come, said
    the trees and the bushes, the fields and the meadows. Everywhere flowers were
    budding into blossom; even the hedges were alive with them. Here spring spoke
    about herself; it spoke from a little apple tree, from which hung a single branch
    so fresh and blooming, and fairly weighed down by a glorious mass of rosy buds
    just ready to open.

    Now this branch knew how lovely it was, for that knowledge lies in the leaf
    as well as in the flesh, so it wasn’t a bit surprised when one day a grand carriage
    stopped in the road beside it, and the young Countess in the carriage said that
    this apple branch was the most beautiful she had ever seen-it was spring itself
    in its loveliest form. So she broke off the apple branch and carried it in her
    own dainty hand, shading it from the sun with her silk parasol, as they drove
    on to her castle, in which there were lofty halls and beautifully decorated
    rooms. Fleecy-white curtains fluttered at its open windows, and there were many
    shining, transparent vases full of beautiful flowers. In one of these vases,
    which looked as if it were carved of new-fallen snow, she placed the apple branch,
    among fresh green beech leaves-a lovely sight indeed.

    And so it happened that the apple branch grew proud, and that’s quite human.

    All sorts of people passed through the rooms, and according to their rank expressed
    their admiration in different ways; some said too much, some said too little,
    and some said nothing at all. And the apple branch began to realize that there
    were differences in people as well as in plants.

    "Some are used for nourishment, some are for ornament, and some you could
    very well do without," thought the apple branch.

    From its position at the open window the apple branch could look down over
    the gardens and meadows below, and consider the differences among the flowers
    and plants beneath. Some were rich, some were poor, and some were very poor.

    "Miserable, rejected plants," said the apple branch. "There
    is a difference indeed! It’s quite proper and just that distinctions should
    be made. Yet how unhappy they must feel, if indeed a creature like that is capable
    of feeling anything, as I and my equals do; but it must be that way, otherwise
    everybody would be treated as though they were just alike."

    And the apple branch looked down with especial pity on one kind of flower that
    grew everywhere in meadows and ditches. They were much too common ever to be
    gathered into bouquets; they could be found between the paving stones; they
    shot up like the rankest and most worthless of weeds. They were dandelions,
    but people have given them the ugly name, "the devil’s milk pails."

    "Poor wretched outcasts," said the apple branch. "I suppose
    you can’t help being as common as you are, and having such a vulgar name! It’s
    the same with plants as with men-there must be a difference."

    "A difference?" repeated the sunbeam, as it kissed the apple branch;
    but it kissed the golden "devil’s milk pails," too. And all the other
    sunbeams did the same, kissing all the flowers equally, poor as well as rich.

    The apple branch had never thought about our Lord’s infinite love for everything
    that lives and moves in Him, had never thought how much that it is good and
    beautiful can lie hidden but still not be forgotten; and that, too, was human.

    But the sunbeam, the ray of light, knew better. "You don’t see very clearly;
    you are not very farsighted. Who are these outcast flowers that you pity so

    "Those devil’s milk pails down there," replied the apple branch.
    "Nobody ever ties them up in bouquets; they’re trodden under foot, because
    there are too many of them. And when they go to seed they fly about along the
    road like little bits of wool and hang on people’s clothes. They’re just weeds!
    I suppose there must be weeds too, but I’m certainly happy and grateful that
    I’m not like one of them!"

    Now a whole flock of children ran out into the meadow to play. The youngest
    of them was so tiny that he had to be carried by the others. When they set him
    down in the grass among the golden blossoms, he laughed and gurgled with joy,
    kicked his little legs, rolled over and over, and plucked only the yellow dandelions.
    These he kissed in innocent delight.

    The bigger children broke off the flowers of the dandelions and joined the
    hollow stalks link by link into chains. First they would make one for a necklace,
    then a longer one to hang across the shoulders and around the waist, and finally
    one to go around their heads; it was a beautiful wreath of splendid green links
    and chains.

    But the biggest of the children carefully gathered the stalks that had gone
    to seed, those loose, aerial, woolly blossoms, those wonderfully perfect balls
    of dainty white plumes, and held them to their lips, trying to blow away all
    the white feathers with one breath. Granny had told them that whoever could
    do that would receive new clothes before the year was out. The poor, despised
    dandelion was considered quite a prophet on such occasions.

    "Now do you see?" asked the sunbeam. "Do you see its beauty
    and power?"

    "Oh, it’s all right-for children," replied the apple branch.

    Now an old woman came into the meadow. She stooped and dug up the roots of
    the dandelion with a blunt knife that had lost its handle. Some of the roots
    she would roast instead of coffee berries, others she would sell to the apothecary
    to be used as drugs.

    "Beauty is something higher than this," said the apple branch. "Only
    the chosen few can really be allowed into the kingdom of the beautiful; there’s
    as much difference between plants as between men."

    Then the sunbeam spoke of the infinite love of the Creator for all His creatures,
    for everything that has life, and of the equal distribution of all things in
    time and eternity.

    "That’s just your opinion," replied the apple branch.

    Now some people came into the room, and among them was the young Countess who
    had placed the apple branch in the transparent vase. She was carrying a flower-or
    whatever it was-that was protected by three or four large leaves around it like
    a cap, so that no breath of air or gust of wind could injure it. She carried
    it more carefully and tenderly than she had the apple branch when she had brought
    it to the castle. Very gently she removed the leaves, and then the apple branch
    could see what she carried. It was a delicate, feathery crown of starry seeds
    borne by the despised dandelion!

    This was what she had plucked so carefully and carried so tenderly, so that
    no single one of the loose, dainty, feathered arrows that rounded out its downy
    form should be blown away. There it was, whole and perfect. With delight she
    admired the beautiful form, the airy lightness, the marvelous mechanism of a
    thing that was destined so soon to be scattered by the wind.

    "Look how wonderfully beautiful our Lord made this!" she cried. "I’ll
    paint it, together with the apple branch. Everybody thinks it is so extremely
    beautiful, but this poor flower is lovely, too; it has received as much from
    our Lord in another way. They are very different, yet both are children in the
    kingdom of the beautiful!"

    The sunbeam kissed the poor dandelion, and then kissed the blooming apple branch,
    whose petals seemed to blush a deeper red.

    Little Tiny or Thumbelina

    There was once a woman who wished very much to have a little child, but she could
    not obtain her wish. At last she went to a fairy, and said, “I should so very
    much like to have a little child; can you tell me where I can find one?”

    “Oh, that can be easily managed,” said the fairy. “Here is a barleycorn of
    a different kind to those which grow in the farmer’s fields, and which the chickens
    eat; put it into a flower-pot, and see what will happen.”

    “Thank you,” said the woman, and she gave the fairy twelve shillings, which
    was the price of the barleycorn. Then she went home and planted it, and immediately
    there grew up a large handsome flower, something like a tulip in appearance,
    but with its leaves tightly closed as if it were still a bud. “It is a beautiful
    flower,” said the woman, and she kissed the red and golden-colored leaves, and
    while she did so the flower opened, and she could see that it was a real tulip.
    Within the flower, upon the green velvet stamens, sat a very delicate and graceful
    little maiden. She was scarcely half as long as a thumb, and they gave her the
    name of “Thumbelina,” or Tiny, because she was so small. A walnut-shell, elegantly
    polished, served her for a cradle; her bed was formed of blue violet-leaves,
    with a rose-leaf for a counterpane. Here she slept at night, but during the
    day she amused herself on a table, where the woman had placed a plateful of
    water. Round this plate were wreaths of flowers with their stems in the water,
    and upon it floated a large tulip-leaf, which served Tiny for a boat. Here the
    little maiden sat and rowed herself from side to side, with two oars made of
    white horse-hair. It really was a very pretty sight. Tiny could, also, sing
    so softly and sweetly that nothing like her singing had ever before been heard.
    One night, while she lay in her pretty bed, a large, ugly, wet toad crept through
    a broken pane of glass in the window, and leaped right upon the table where
    Tiny lay sleeping under her rose-leaf quilt. “What a pretty little wife this
    would make for my son,” said the toad, and she took up the walnut-shell in which
    little Tiny lay asleep, and jumped through the window with it into the garden.

    In the swampy margin of a broad stream in the garden lived the toad, with her
    son. He was uglier even than his mother, and when he saw the pretty little maiden
    in her elegant bed, he could only cry, “Croak, croak, croak.”

    “Don’t speak so loud, or she will wake,” said the toad, “and then she might
    run away, for she is as light as swan’s down. We will place her on one of the
    water-lily leaves out in the stream; it will be like an island to her, she is
    so light and small, and then she cannot escape; and, while she is away, we will
    make haste and prepare the state-room under the marsh, in which you are to live
    when you are married.”

    Far out in the stream grew a number of water-lilies, with broad green leaves,
    which seemed to float on the top of the water. The largest of these leaves appeared
    farther off than the rest, and the old toad swam out to it with the walnut-shell,
    in which little Tiny lay still asleep. The tiny little creature woke very early
    in the morning, and began to cry bitterly when she found where she was, for
    she could see nothing but water on every side of the large green leaf, and no
    way of reaching the land. Meanwhile the old toad was very busy under the marsh,
    decking her room with rushes and wild yellow flowers, to make it look pretty
    for her new daughter-in-law. Then she swam out with her ugly son to the leaf
    on which she had placed poor little Tiny. She wanted to fetch the pretty bed,
    that she might put it in the bridal chamber to be ready for her. The old toad
    bowed low to her in the water, and said, “Here is my son, he will be your husband,
    and you will live happily in the marsh by the stream.”

    “Croak, croak, croak,” was all her son could say for himself; so the toad took
    up the elegant little bed, and swam away with it, leaving Tiny all alone on
    the green leaf, where she sat and wept. She could not bear to think of living
    with the old toad, and having her ugly son for a husband. The little fishes,
    who swam about in the water beneath, had seen the toad, and heard what she said,
    so they lifted their heads above the water to look at the little maiden. As
    soon as they caught sight of her, they saw she was very pretty, and it made
    them very sorry to think that she must go and live with the ugly toads. “No,
    it must never be!” so they assembled together in the water, round the green
    stalk which held the leaf on which the little maiden stood, and gnawed it away
    at the root with their teeth. Then the leaf floated down the stream, carrying
    Tiny far away out of reach of land.

    Tiny sailed past many towns, and the little birds in the bushes saw her, and
    sang, “What a lovely little creature;” so the leaf swam away with her farther
    and farther, till it brought her to other lands. A graceful little white butterfly
    constantly fluttered round her, and at last alighted on the leaf. Tiny pleased
    him, and she was glad of it, for now the toad could not possibly reach her,
    and the country through which she sailed was beautiful, and the sun shone upon
    the water, till it glittered like liquid gold. She took off her girdle and tied
    one end of it round the butterfly, and the other end of the ribbon she fastened
    to the leaf, which now glided on much faster than ever, taking little Tiny with
    it as she stood. Presently a large cockchafer flew by; the moment he caught
    sight of her, he seized her round her delicate waist with his claws, and flew
    with her into a tree. The green leaf floated away on the brook, and the butterfly
    flew with it, for he was fastened to it, and could not get away.

    Oh, how frightened little Tiny felt when the cockchafer flew with her to the
    tree! But especially was she sorry for the beautiful white butterfly which she
    had fastened to the leaf, for if he could not free himself he would die of hunger.
    But the cockchafer did not trouble himself at all about the matter. He seated
    himself by her side on a large green leaf, gave her some honey from the flowers
    to eat, and told her she was very pretty, though not in the least like a cockchafer.
    After a time, all the cockchafers turned up their feelers, and said, “She has
    only two legs! how ugly that looks.” “She has no feelers,” said another. “Her
    waist is quite slim. Pooh! she is like a human being.”

    “Oh! she is ugly,” said all the lady cockchafers, although Tiny was very pretty.
    Then the cockchafer who had run away with her, believed all the others when
    they said she was ugly, and would have nothing more to say to her, and told
    her she might go where she liked. Then he flew down with her from the tree,
    and placed her on a daisy, and she wept at the thought that she was so ugly
    that even the cockchafers would have nothing to say to her. And all the while
    she was really the loveliest creature that one could imagine, and as tender
    and delicate as a beautiful rose-leaf. During the whole summer poor little Tiny
    lived quite alone in the wide forest. She wove herself a bed with blades of
    grass, and hung it up under a broad leaf, to protect herself from the rain.
    She sucked the honey from the flowers for food, and drank the dew from their
    leaves every morning. So passed away the summer and the autumn, and then came
    the winter,— the long, cold winter. All the birds who had sung to her so sweetly
    were flown away, and the trees and the flowers had withered. The large clover
    leaf under the shelter of which she had lived, was now rolled together and shrivelled
    up, nothing remained but a yellow withered stalk. She felt dreadfully cold,
    for her clothes were torn, and she was herself so frail and delicate, that poor
    little Tiny was nearly frozen to death. It began to snow too; and the snow-flakes,
    as they fell upon her, were like a whole shovelful falling upon one of us, for
    we are tall, but she was only an inch high. Then she wrapped herself up in a
    dry leaf, but it cracked in the middle and could not keep her warm, and she
    shivered with cold. Near the wood in which she had been living lay a corn-field,
    but the corn had been cut a long time; nothing remained but the bare dry stubble
    standing up out of the frozen ground. It was to her like struggling through
    a large wood. Oh! how she shivered with the cold. She came at last to the door
    of a field-mouse, who had a little den under the corn-stubble. There dwelt the
    field-mouse in warmth and comfort, with a whole roomful of corn, a kitchen,
    and a beautiful dining room. Poor little Tiny stood before the door just like
    a little beggar-girl, and begged for a small piece of barley-corn, for she had
    been without a morsel to eat for two days.

    “You poor little creature,” said the field-mouse, who was really a good old
    field-mouse, “come into my warm room and dine with me.” She was very pleased
    with Tiny, so she said, “You are quite welcome to stay with me all the winter,
    if you like; but you must keep my rooms clean and neat, and tell me stories,
    for I shall like to hear them very much.” And Tiny did all the field-mouse asked
    her, and found herself very comfortable.

    “We shall have a visitor soon,” said the field-mouse one day; “my neighbor
    pays me a visit once a week. He is better off than I am; he has large rooms,
    and wears a beautiful black velvet coat. If you could only have him for a husband,
    you would be well provided for indeed. But he is blind, so you must tell him
    some of your prettiest stories.”

    But Tiny did not feel at all interested about this neighbor, for he was a mole.
    However, he came and paid his visit dressed in his black velvet coat.

    “He is very rich and learned, and his house is twenty times larger than mine,”
    said the field-mouse.

    He was rich and learned, no doubt, but he always spoke slightingly of the sun
    and the pretty flowers, because he had never seen them. Tiny was obliged to
    sing to him, “Lady-bird, lady-bird, fly away home,” and many other pretty songs.
    And the mole fell in love with her because she had such a sweet voice; but he
    said nothing yet, for he was very cautious. A short time before, the mole had
    dug a long passage under the earth, which led from the dwelling of the field-mouse
    to his own, and here she had permission to walk with Tiny whenever she liked.
    But he warned them not to be alarmed at the sight of a dead bird which lay in
    the passage. It was a perfect bird, with a beak and feathers, and could not
    have been dead long, and was lying just where the mole had made his passage.
    The mole took a piece of phosphorescent wood in his mouth, and it glittered
    like fire in the dark; then he went before them to light them through the long,
    dark passage. When they came to the spot where lay the dead bird, the mole pushed
    his broad nose through the ceiling, the earth gave way, so that there was a
    large hole, and the daylight shone into the passage. In the middle of the floor
    lay a dead swallow, his beautiful wings pulled close to his sides, his feet
    and his head drawn up under his feathers; the poor bird had evidently died of
    the cold. It made little Tiny very sad to see it, she did so love the little
    birds; all the summer they had sung and twittered for her so beautifully. But
    the mole pushed it aside with his crooked legs, and said, “He will sing no more
    now. How miserable it must be to be born a little bird! I am thankful that none
    of my children will ever be birds, for they can do nothing but cry, ‘Tweet,
    tweet,’ and always die of hunger in the winter.”

    “Yes, you may well say that, as a clever man!” exclaimed the field-mouse, “What
    is the use of his twittering, for when winter comes he must either starve or
    be frozen to death. Still birds are very high bred.”

    Tiny said nothing; but when the two others had turned their backs on the bird,
    she stooped down and stroked aside the soft feathers which covered the head,
    and kissed the closed eyelids. “Perhaps this was the one who sang to me so sweetly
    in the summer,” she said; “and how much pleasure it gave me, you dear, pretty

    The mole now stopped up the hole through which the daylight shone, and then
    accompanied the lady home. But during the night Tiny could not sleep; so she
    got out of bed and wove a large, beautiful carpet of hay; then she carried it
    to the dead bird, and spread it over him; with some down from the flowers which
    she had found in the field-mouse’s room. It was as soft as wool, and she spread
    some of it on each side of the bird, so that he might lie warmly in the cold
    earth. “Farewell, you pretty little bird,” said she, “farewell; thank you for
    your delightful singing during the summer, when all the trees were green, and
    the warm sun shone upon us.” Then she laid her head on the bird’s breast, but
    she was alarmed immediately, for it seemed as if something inside the bird went
    “thump, thump.” It was the bird’s heart; he was not really dead, only benumbed
    with the cold, and the warmth had restored him to life. In autumn, all the swallows
    fly away into warm countries, but if one happens to linger, the cold seizes
    it, it becomes frozen, and falls down as if dead; it remains where it fell,
    and the cold snow covers it. Tiny trembled very much; she was quite frightened,
    for the bird was large, a great deal larger than herself,—she was only an inch
    high. But she took courage, laid the wool more thickly over the poor swallow,
    and then took a leaf which she had used for her own counterpane, and laid it
    over the head of the poor bird. The next morning she again stole out to see
    him. He was alive but very weak; he could only open his eyes for a moment to
    look at Tiny, who stood by holding a piece of decayed wood in her hand, for
    she had no other lantern. “Thank you, pretty little maiden,” said the sick swallow;
    “I have been so nicely warmed, that I shall soon regain my strength, and be
    able to fly about again in the warm sunshine.”

    “Oh,” said she, “it is cold out of doors now; it snows and freezes. Stay in
    your warm bed; I will take care of you.”

    Then she brought the swallow some water in a flower-leaf, and after he had
    drank, he told her that he had wounded one of his wings in a thorn-bush, and
    could not fly as fast as the others, who were soon far away on their journey
    to warm countries. Then at last he had fallen to the earth, and could remember
    no more, nor how he came to be where she had found him. The whole winter the
    swallow remained underground, and Tiny nursed him with care and love. Neither
    the mole nor the field-mouse knew anything about it, for they did not like swallows.
    Very soon the spring time came, and the sun warmed the earth. Then the swallow
    bade farewell to Tiny, and she opened the hole in the ceiling which the mole
    had made. The sun shone in upon them so beautifully, that the swallow asked
    her if she would go with him; she could sit on his back, he said, and he would
    fly away with her into the green woods. But Tiny knew it would make the field-mouse
    very grieved if she left her in that manner, so she said, “No, I cannot.”

    “Farewell, then, farewell, you good, pretty little maiden,” said the swallow;
    and he flew out into the sunshine.

    Tiny looked after him, and the tears rose in her eyes. She was very fond of
    the poor swallow.

    “Tweet, tweet,” sang the bird, as he flew out into the green woods, and Tiny
    felt very sad. She was not allowed to go out into the warm sunshine. The corn
    which had been sown in the field over the house of the field-mouse had grown
    up high into the air, and formed a thick wood to Tiny, who was only an inch
    in height.

    “You are going to be married, Tiny,” said the field-mouse. “My neighbor has
    asked for you. What good fortune for a poor child like you. Now we will prepare
    your wedding clothes. They must be both woollen and linen. Nothing must be wanting
    when you are the mole’s wife.”

    Tiny had to turn the spindle, and the field-mouse hired four spiders, who were
    to weave day and night. Every evening the mole visited her, and was continually
    speaking of the time when the summer would be over. Then he would keep his wedding-day
    with Tiny; but now the heat of the sun was so great that it burned the earth,
    and made it quite hard, like a stone. As soon, as the summer was over, the wedding
    should take place. But Tiny was not at all pleased; for she did not like the
    tiresome mole. Every morning when the sun rose, and every evening when it went
    down, she would creep out at the door, and as the wind blew aside the ears of
    corn, so that she could see the blue sky, she thought how beautiful and bright
    it seemed out there, and wished so much to see her dear swallow again. But he
    never returned; for by this time he had flown far away into the lovely green

    When autumn arrived, Tiny had her outfit quite ready; and the field-mouse said
    to her, “In four weeks the wedding must take place.”

    Then Tiny wept, and said she would not marry the disagreeable mole.

    “Nonsense,” replied the field-mouse. “Now don’t be obstinate, or I shall bite
    you with my white teeth. He is a very handsome mole; the queen herself does
    not wear more beautiful velvets and furs. His kitchen and cellars are quite
    full. You ought to be very thankful for such good fortune.”

    So the wedding-day was fixed, on which the mole was to fetch Tiny away to live
    with him, deep under the earth, and never again to see the warm sun, because
    he did not like it. The poor child was very unhappy at the thought of saying
    farewell to the beautiful sun, and as the field-mouse had given her permission
    to stand at the door, she went to look at it once more.

    “Farewell bright sun,” she cried, stretching out her arm towards it; and then
    she walked a short distance from the house; for the corn had been cut, and only
    the dry stubble remained in the fields. “Farewell, farewell,” she repeated,
    twining her arm round a little red flower that grew just by her side. “Greet
    the little swallow from me, if you should see him again.”

    “Tweet, tweet,” sounded over her head suddenly. She looked up, and there was
    the swallow himself flying close by. As soon as he spied Tiny, he was delighted;
    and then she told him how unwilling she felt to marry the ugly mole, and to
    live always beneath the earth, and never to see the bright sun any more. And
    as she told him she wept.

    “Cold winter is coming,” said the swallow, “and I am going to fly away into
    warmer countries. Will you go with me? You can sit on my back, and fasten yourself
    on with your sash. Then we can fly away from the ugly mole and his gloomy rooms,—far
    away, over the mountains, into warmer countries, where the sun shines more brightly—than
    here; where it is always summer, and the flowers bloom in greater beauty. Fly
    now with me, dear little Tiny; you saved my life when I lay frozen in that dark

    “Yes, I will go with you,” said Tiny; and she seated herself on the bird’s
    back, with her feet on his outstretched wings, and tied her girdle to one of
    his strongest feathers.

    Then the swallow rose in the air, and flew over forest and over sea, high above
    the highest mountains, covered with eternal snow. Tiny would have been frozen
    in the cold air, but she crept under the bird’s warm feathers, keeping her little
    head uncovered, so that she might admire the beautiful lands over which they
    passed. At length they reached the warm countries, where the sun shines brightly,
    and the sky seems so much higher above the earth. Here, on the hedges, and by
    the wayside, grew purple, green, and white grapes; lemons and oranges hung from
    trees in the woods; and the air was fragrant with myrtles and orange blossoms.
    Beautiful children ran along the country lanes, playing with large gay butterflies;
    and as the swallow flew farther and farther, every place appeared still more

    At last they came to a blue lake, and by the side of it, shaded by trees of
    the deepest green, stood a palace of dazzling white marble, built in the olden
    times. Vines clustered round its lofty pillars, and at the top were many swallows’
    nests, and one of these was the home of the swallow who carried Tiny.

    “This is my house,” said the swallow; “but it would not do for you to live
    there—you would not be comfortable. You must choose for yourself one of those
    lovely flowers, and I will put you down upon it, and then you shall have everything
    that you can wish to make you happy.”

    “That will be delightful,” she said, and clapped her little hands for joy.

    A large marble pillar lay on the ground, which, in falling, had been broken
    into three pieces. Between these pieces grew the most beautiful large white
    flowers; so the swallow flew down with Tiny, and placed her on one of the broad
    leaves. But how surprised she was to see in the middle of the flower, a tiny
    little man, as white and transparent as if he had been made of crystal! He had
    a gold crown on his head, and delicate wings at his shoulders, and was not much
    larger than Tiny herself. He was the angel of the flower; for a tiny man and
    a tiny woman dwell in every flower; and this was the king of them all.

    “Oh, how beautiful he is!” whispered Tiny to the swallow.

    The little prince was at first quite frightened at the bird, who was like a
    giant, compared to such a delicate little creature as himself; but when he saw
    Tiny, he was delighted, and thought her the prettiest little maiden he had ever
    seen. He took the gold crown from his head, and placed it on hers, and asked
    her name, and if she would be his wife, and queen over all the flowers.

    This certainly was a very different sort of husband to the son of a toad, or
    the mole, with my black velvet and fur; so she said, “Yes,” to the handsome
    prince. Then all the flowers opened, and out of each came a little lady or a
    tiny lord, all so pretty it was quite a pleasure to look at them. Each of them
    brought Tiny a present; but the best gift was a pair of beautiful wings, which
    had belonged to a large white fly and they fastened them to Tiny’s shoulders,
    so that she might fly from flower to flower. Then there was much rejoicing,
    and the little swallow who sat above them, in his nest, was asked to sing a
    wedding song, which he did as well as he could; but in his heart he felt sad
    for he was very fond of Tiny, and would have liked never to part from her again.

    “You must not be called Tiny any more,” said the spirit of the flowers to her.
    “It is an ugly name, and you are so very pretty. We will call you Maia.”

    “Farewell, farewell,” said the swallow, with a heavy heart as he left the warm
    countries to fly back into Denmark. There he had a nest over the window of a
    house in which dwelt the writer of fairy tales. The swallow sang, “Tweet, tweet,”
    and from his song came the whole story.

    The Marsh King’s Daughter

    The storks relate to their little ones a great many stories, and they are all about
    moors and reed banks, and suited to their age and capacity. The youngest of them
    are quite satisfied with “kribble, krabble,” or such nonsense, and think it very
    grand; but the elder ones want something with a deeper meaning, or at least something
    about their own family.

    We are only acquainted with one of the two longest and oldest stories which
    the storks relate—it is about Moses, who was exposed by his mother on the banks
    of the Nile, and was found by the king’s daughter, who gave him a good education,
    and he afterwards became a great man; but where he was buried is still unknown.

    Every one knows this story, but not the second; very likely because it is quite
    an inland story. It has been repeated from mouth to mouth, from one stork-mamma
    to another, for thousands of years; and each has told it better than the last;
    and now we mean to tell it better than all.

    The first stork pair who related it lived at the time it happened, and had
    their summer residence on the rafters of the Viking’s1 house, which stood near
    the wild moorlands of Wendsyssell; that is, to speak more correctly, the great
    moorheath, high up in the north of Jutland, by the Skjagen peak. This wilderness
    is still an immense wild heath of marshy ground, about which we can read in
    the “Official Directory.” It is said that in olden times the place was a lake,
    the ground of which had heaved up from beneath, and now the moorland extends
    for miles in every direction, and is surrounded by damp meadows, trembling,
    undulating swamps, and marshy ground covered with turf, on which grow bilberry
    bushes and stunted trees. Mists are almost always hovering over this region,
    which, seventy years ago, was overrun with wolves. It may well be called the
    Wild Moor; and one can easily imagine, with such a wild expanse of marsh and
    lake, how lonely and dreary it must have been a thousand years ago. Many things
    may be noticed now that existed then. The reeds grow to the same height, and
    bear the same kind of long, purple-brown leaves, with their feathery tips. There
    still stands the birch, with its white bark and its delicate, loosely hanging
    leaves; and with regard to the living beings who frequented this spot, the fly
    still wears a gauzy dress of the same cut, and the favorite colors of the stork
    are white, with black and red for stockings. The people, certainly, in those
    days, wore very different dresses to those they now wear, but if any of them,
    be he huntsman or squire, master or servant, ventured on the wavering, undulating,
    marshy ground of the moor, they met with the same fate a thousand years ago
    as they would now. The wanderer sank, and went down to the Marsh King, as he
    is named, who rules in the great moorland empire beneath. They also called him
    “Gunkel King,” but we like the name of “Marsh King” better, and we will give
    him that name as the storks do. Very little is known of the Marsh King’s rule,
    but that, perhaps, is a good thing.

    In the neighborhood of the moorlands, and not far from the great arm of the
    North Sea and the Cattegat which is called the Lumfjorden, lay the castle of
    the Viking, with its water-tight stone cellars, its tower, and its three projecting
    storeys. On the ridge of the roof the stork had built his nest, and there the
    stork-mamma sat on her eggs and felt sure her hatching would come to something.

    One evening, stork-papa stayed out rather late, and when he came home he seemed
    quite busy, bustling, and important. “I have something very dreadful to tell
    you,” said he to the stork-mamma.

    “Keep it to yourself then,” she replied. “Remember that I am hatching eggs;
    it may agitate me, and will affect them.”

    “You must know it at once,” said he. “The daughter of our host in Egypt has
    arrived here. She has ventured to take this journey, and now she is lost.”

    “She who sprung from the race of the fairies, is it?” cried the mother stork.
    “Oh, tell me all about it; you know I cannot bear to be kept waiting at a time
    when I am hatching eggs.”

    “Well, you see, mother,” he replied, “she believed what the doctors said, and
    what I have heard you state also, that the moor-flowers which grow about here
    would heal her sick father; and she has flown to the north in swan’s plumage,
    in company with some other swan-princesses, who come to these parts every year
    to renew their youth. She came, and where is she now!”

    “You enter into particulars too much,” said the mamma stork, “and the eggs
    may take cold; I cannot bear such suspense as this.”

    “Well,” said he, “I have kept watch; and this evening I went among the rushes
    where I thought the marshy ground would bear me, and while I was there three
    swans came. Something in their manner of flying seemed to say to me, ‘Look carefully
    now; there is one not all swan, only swan’s feathers.’ You know, mother, you
    have the same intuitive feeling that I have; you know whether a thing is right
    or not immediately.”

    “Yes, of course,” said she; “but tell me about the princess; I am tired of
    hearing about the swan’s feathers.”

    “Well, you know that in the middle of the moor there is something like a lake,”
    said the stork-papa. “You can see the edge of it if you raise yourself a little.
    Just there, by the reeds and the green banks, lay the trunk of an elder-tree;
    upon this the three swans stood flapping their wings, and looking about them;
    one of them threw off her plumage, and I immediately recognized her as one of
    the princesses of our home in Egypt. There she sat, without any covering but
    her long, black hair. I heard her tell the two others to take great care of
    the swan’s plumage, while she dipped down into the water to pluck the flowers
    which she fancied she saw there. The others nodded, and picked up the feather
    dress, and took possession of it. I wonder what will become of it? thought I,
    and she most likely asked herself the same question. If so, she received an
    answer, a very practical one; for the two swans rose up and flew away with her
    swan’s plumage. ‘Dive down now!’ they cried; ‘thou shalt never more fly in the
    swan’s plumage, thou shalt never again see Egypt; here, on the moor, thou wilt
    remain.’ So saying, they tore the swan’s plumage into a thousand pieces, the
    feathers drifted about like a snow-shower, and then the two deceitful princesses
    flew away.”

    “Why, that is terrible,” said the stork-mamma; “I feel as if I could hardly
    bear to hear any more, but you must tell me what happened next.”

    “The princess wept and lamented aloud; her tears moistened the elder stump,
    which was really not an elder stump but the Marsh King himself, he who in marshy
    ground lives and rules. I saw myself how the stump of the tree turned round,
    and was a tree no more, while long, clammy branches like arms, were extended
    from it. Then the poor child was terribly frightened, and started up to run
    away. She hastened to cross the green, slimy ground; but it will not bear any
    weight, much less hers. She quickly sank, and the elder stump dived immediately
    after her; in fact, it was he who drew her down. Great black bubbles rose up
    out of the moor-slime, and with these every trace of the two vanished. And now
    the princess is buried in the wild marsh, she will never now carry flowers to
    Egypt to cure her father. It would have broken your heart, mother, had you seen

    “You ought not to have told me,” said she, “at such a time as this; the eggs
    might suffer. But I think the princess will soon find help; some one will rise
    up to help her. Ah! if it had been you or I, or one of our people, it would
    have been all over with us.”

    “I mean to go every day,” said he, “to see if anything comes to pass;” and
    so he did.

    A long time went by, but at last he saw a green stalk shooting up out of the
    deep, marshy ground. As it reached the surface of the marsh, a leaf spread out,
    and unfolded itself broader and broader, and close to it came forth a bud.

    One morning, when the stork-papa was flying over the stem, he saw that the
    power of the sun’s rays had caused the bud to open, and in the cup of the flower
    lay a charming child—a little maiden, looking as if she had just come out of
    a bath. The little one was so like the Egyptian princess, that the stork, at
    the first moment, thought it must be the princess herself, but after a little
    reflection he decided that it was much more likely to be the daughter of the
    princess and the Marsh King; and this explained also her being placed in the
    cup of a water-lily. “But she cannot be left to lie here,” thought the stork,
    “and in my nest there are already so many. But stay, I have thought of something:
    the wife of the Viking has no children, and how often she has wished for a little
    one. People always say the stork brings the little ones; I will do so in earnest
    this time. I shall fly with the child to the Viking’s wife; what rejoicing there
    will be!”

    And then the stork lifted the little girl out of the flower-cup, flew to the
    castle, picked a hole with his beak in the bladder-covered, window, and laid
    the beautiful child in the bosom of the Viking’s wife. Then he flew back quickly
    to the stork-mamma and told her what he had seen and done; and the little storks
    listened to it all, for they were then quite old enough to do so. “So you see,”
    he continued, “that the princess is not dead, for she must have sent her little
    one up here; and now I have found a home for her.”

    “Ah, I said it would be so from the first,” replied the stork-mamma; “but now
    think a little of your own family. Our travelling time draws near, and I sometimes
    feel a little irritation already under the wings. The cuckoos and the nightingale
    are already gone, and I heard the quails say they should go too as soon as the
    wind was favorable. Our youngsters will go through all the manoeuvres at the
    review very well, or I am much mistaken in them.”

    The Viking’s wife was above measure delighted when she awoke the next morning
    and found the beautiful little child lying in her bosom. She kissed it and caressed
    it; but it cried terribly, and struck out with its arms and legs, and did not
    seem to be pleased at all. At last it cried itself to sleep; and as it lay there
    so still and quiet, it was a most beautiful sight to see. The Viking’s wife
    was so delighted, that body and soul were full of joy. Her heart felt so light
    within her, that it seemed as if her husband and his soldiers, who were absent,
    must come home as suddenly and unexpectedly as the little child had done. She
    and her whole household therefore busied themselves in preparing everything
    for the reception of her lord. The long, colored tapestry, on which she and
    her maidens had worked pictures of their idols, Odin, Thor, and Friga, was hung
    up. The slaves polished the old shields that served as ornaments; cushions were
    placed on the seats, and dry wood laid on the fireplaces in the centre of the
    hall, so that the flames might be fanned up at a moment’s notice. The Viking’s
    wife herself assisted in the work, so that at night she felt very tired, and
    quickly fell into a sound sleep. When she awoke, just before morning, she was
    terribly alarmed to find that the infant had vanished. She sprang from her couch,
    lighted a pine-chip, and searched all round the room, when, at last, in that
    part of the bed where her feet had been, lay, not the child, but a great, ugly
    frog. She was quite disgusted at this sight, and seized a heavy stick to kill
    the frog; but the creature looked at her with such strange, mournful eyes, that
    she was unable to strike the blow. Once more she searched round the room; then
    she started at hearing the frog utter a low, painful croak. She sprang from
    the couch and opened the window hastily; at the same moment the sun rose, and
    threw its beams through the window, till it rested on the couch where the great
    frog lay. Suddenly it appeared as if the frog’s broad mouth contracted, and
    became small and red. The limbs moved and stretched out and extended themselves
    till they took a beautiful shape; and behold there was the pretty child lying
    before her, and the ugly frog was gone. “How is this?” she cried, “have I had
    a wicked dream? Is it not my own lovely cherub that lies there.” Then she kissed
    it and fondled it; but the child struggled and fought, and bit as if she had
    been a little wild cat.

    The Viking did not return on that day, nor the next; he was, however, on the
    way home; but the wind, so favorable to the storks, was against him; for it
    blew towards the south. A wind in favor of one is often against another.

    After two or three days had passed, it became clear to the Viking’s wife how
    matters stood with the child; it was under the influence of a powerful sorcerer.
    By day it was charming in appearance as an angel of light, but with a temper
    wicked and wild; while at night, in the form of an ugly frog, it was quiet and
    mournful, with eyes full of sorrow. Here were two natures, changing inwardly
    and outwardly with the absence and return of sunlight. And so it happened that
    by day the child, with the actual form of its mother, possessed the fierce disposition
    of its father; at night, on the contrary, its outward appearance plainly showed
    its descent on the father’s side, while inwardly it had the heart and mind of
    its mother. Who would be able to loosen this wicked charm which the sorcerer
    had worked upon it? The wife of the Viking lived in constant pain and sorrow
    about it. Her heart clung to the little creature, but she could not explain
    to her husband the circumstances in which it was placed. He was expected to
    return shortly; and were she to tell him, he would very likely, as was the custom
    at that time, expose the poor child in the public highway, and let any one take
    it away who would. The good wife of the Viking could not let that happen, and
    she therefore resolved that the Viking should never see the child excepting
    by daylight.

    One morning there sounded a rushing of storks’ wings over the roof. More than
    a hundred pair of storks had rested there during the night, to recover themselves
    after their excursion; and now they soared aloft, and prepared for the journey

    “All the husbands are here, and ready!” they cried; “wives and children also!”

    “How light we are!” screamed the young storks in chorus. “Something pleasant
    seems creeping over us, even down to our toes, as if we were full of live frogs.
    Ah, how delightful it is to travel into foreign lands!”

    “Hold yourselves properly in the line with us,” cried papa and mamma. “Do not
    use your beaks so much; it tries the lungs.” And then the storks flew away.

    About the same time sounded the clang of the warriors’ trumpets across the
    heath. The Viking had landed with his men. They were returning home, richly
    laden with spoil from the Gallic coast, where the people, as did also the inhabitants
    of Britain, often cried in alarm, “Deliver us from the wild northmen.”

    Life and noisy pleasure came with them into the castle of the Viking on the
    moorland. A great cask of mead was drawn into the hall, piles of wood blazed,
    cattle were slain and served up, that they might feast in reality, The priest
    who offered the sacrifice sprinkled the devoted parishioners with the warm blood;
    the fire crackled, and the smoke rolled along beneath the roof; the soot fell
    upon them from the beams; but they were used to all these things. Guests were
    invited, and received handsome presents. All wrongs and unfaithfulness were
    forgotten. They drank deeply, and threw in each other’s faces the bones that
    were left, which was looked upon as a sign of good feeling amongst them. A bard,
    who was a kind of musician as well as warrior, and who had been with the Viking
    in his expedition, and knew what to sing about, gave them one of his best songs,
    in which they heard all their warlike deeds praised, and every wonderful action
    brought forward with honor. Every verse ended with this refrain,—

    “Gold and possessions will flee away,
    Friends and foes must die one day;
    Every man on earth must die,
    But a famous name will never die.”
    And with that they beat upon their shields, and hammered upon the table with
    knives and bones, in a most outrageous manner.
    The Viking’s wife sat upon a raised cross seat in the open hall. She wore a
    silk dress, golden bracelets, and large amber beads. She was in costly attire,
    and the bard named her in his song, and spoke of the rich treasure of gold which
    she had brought to her husband. Her husband had already seen the wonderfully
    beautiful child in the daytime, and was delighted with her beauty; even her
    wild ways pleased him. He said the little maiden would grow up to be a heroine,
    with the strong will and determination of a man. She would never wink her eyes,
    even if, in joke, an expert hand should attempt to cut off her eye-brows with
    a sharp sword.

    The full cask of mead soon became empty, and a fresh one was brought in; for
    these were people who liked plenty to eat and drink. The old proverb, which
    every one knows, says that “the cattle know when to leave their pasture, but
    a foolish man knows not the measure of his own appetite.” Yes, they all knew
    this; but men may know what is right, and yet often do wrong. They also knew
    “that even the welcome guest becomes wearisome when he sits too long in the
    house.” But there they remained; for pork and mead are good things. And so at
    the Viking’s house they stayed, and enjoyed themselves; and at night the bondmen
    slept in the ashes, and dipped their fingers in the fat, and licked them. Oh,
    it was a delightful time!

    Once more in the same year the Viking went forth, though the storms of autumn
    had already commenced to roar. He went with his warriors to the coast of Britain;
    he said that it was but an excursion of pleasure across the water, so his wife
    remained at home with the little girl. After a while, it is quite certain the
    foster-mother began to love the poor frog, with its gentle eyes and its deep
    sighs, even better than the little beauty who bit and fought with all around

    The heavy, damp mists of autumn, which destroy the leaves of the wood, had
    already fallen upon forest and heath. Feathers of plucked birds, as they call
    the snow, flew about in thick showers, and winter was coming. The sparrows took
    possession of the stork’s nest, and conversed about the absent owners in their
    own fashion; and they, the stork pair and all their young ones, where were they
    staying now? The storks might have been found in the land of Egypt, where the
    sun’s rays shone forth bright and warm, as it does here at midsummer. Tamarinds
    and acacias were in full bloom all over the country, the crescent of Mahomet
    glittered brightly from the cupolas of the mosques, and on the slender pinnacles
    sat many of the storks, resting after their long journey. Swarms of them took
    divided possession of the nests—nests which lay close to each other between
    the venerable columns, and crowded the arches of temples in forgotten cities.
    The date and the palm lifted themselves as a screen or as a sun-shade over them.
    The gray pyramids looked like broken shadows in the clear air and the far-off
    desert, where the ostrich wheels his rapid flight, and the lion, with his subtle
    eyes, gazes at the marble sphinx which lies half buried in sand. The waters
    of the Nile had retreated, and the whole bed of the river was covered with frogs,
    which was a most acceptable prospect for the stork families. The young storks
    thought their eyes deceived them, everything around appeared so beautiful.

    “It is always like this here, and this is how we live in our warm country,”
    said the stork-mamma; and the thought made the young ones almost beside themselves
    with pleasure.

    “Is there anything more to see?” they asked; “are we going farther into the

    “There is nothing further for us to see,” answered the stork-mamma. “Beyond
    this delightful region there are immense forests, where the branches of the
    trees entwine round each other, while prickly, creeping plants cover the paths,
    and only an elephant could force a passage for himself with his great feet.
    The snakes are too large, and the lizards too lively for us to catch. Then there
    is the desert; if you went there, your eyes would soon be full of sand with
    the lightest breeze, and if it should blow great guns, you would most likely
    find yourself in a sand-drift. Here is the best place for you, where there are
    frogs and locusts; here I shall remain, and so must you.” And so they stayed.

    The parents sat in the nest on the slender minaret, and rested, yet still were
    busily employed in cleaning and smoothing their feathers, and in sharpening
    their beaks against their red stockings; then they would stretch out their necks,
    salute each other, and gravely raise their heads with the high-polished forehead,
    and soft, smooth feathers, while their brown eyes shone with intelligence. The
    female young ones strutted about amid the moist rushes, glancing at the other
    young storks and making acquaintances, and swallowing a frog at every third
    step, or tossing a little snake about with their beaks, in a way they considered
    very becoming, and besides it tasted very good. The young male storks soon began
    to quarrel; they struck at each other with their wings, and pecked with their
    beaks till the blood came. And in this manner many of the young ladies and gentlemen
    were betrothed to each other: it was, of course, what they wanted, and indeed
    what they lived for. Then they returned to a nest, and there the quarrelling
    began afresh; for in hot countries people are almost all violent and passionate.
    But for all that it was pleasant, especially for the old people, who watched
    them with great joy: all that their young ones did suited them. Every day here
    there was sunshine, plenty to eat, and nothing to think of but pleasure. But
    in the rich castle of their Egyptian host, as they called him, pleasure was
    not to be found. The rich and mighty lord of the castle lay on his couch, in
    the midst of the great hall, with its many colored walls looking like the centre
    of a great tulip; but he was stiff and powerless in all his limbs, and lay stretched
    out like a mummy. His family and servants stood round him; he was not dead,
    although he could scarcely be said to live. The healing moor-flower from the
    north, which was to have been found and brought to him by her who loved him
    so well, had not arrived. His young and beautiful daughter who, in swan’s plumage,
    had flown over land and seas to the distant north, had never returned. She is
    dead, so the two swan-maidens had said when they came home; and they made up
    quite a story about her, and this is what they told,—

    “We three flew away together through the air,” said they: “a hunter caught
    sight of us, and shot at us with an arrow. The arrow struck our young friend
    and sister, and slowly singing her farewell song she sank down, a dying swan,
    into the forest lake. On the shores of the lake, under a spreading birch-tree,
    we laid her in the cold earth. We had our revenge; we bound fire under the wings
    of a swallow, who had a nest on the thatched roof of the huntsman. The house
    took fire, and burst into flames; the hunter was burnt with the house, and the
    light was reflected over the sea as far as the spreading birch, beneath which
    we laid her sleeping dust. She will never return to the land of Egypt.” And
    then they both wept. And stork-papa, who heard the story, snapped with his beak
    so that it might be heard a long way off.

    “Deceit and lies!” cried he; “I should like to run my beak deep into their

    “And perhaps break it off,” said the mamma stork, “then what a sight you would
    be. Think first of yourself, and then of your family; all others are nothing
    to us.”

    “Yes, I know,” said the stork-papa; “but to-morrow I can easily place myself
    on the edge of the open cupola, when the learned and wise men assemble to consult
    on the state of the sick man; perhaps they may come a little nearer to the truth.”
    And the learned and wise men assembled together, and talked a great deal on
    every point; but the stork could make no sense out of anything they said; neither
    were there any good results from their consultations, either for the sick man,
    or for his daughter in the marshy heath. When we listen to what people say in
    this world, we shall hear a great deal; but it is an advantage to know what
    has been said and done before, when we listen to a conversation. The stork did,
    and we know at least as much as he, the stork.

    “Love is a life-giver. The highest love produces the highest life. Only through
    love can the sick man be cured.” This had been said by many, and even the learned
    men acknowledged that it was a wise saying.

    “What a beautiful thought!” exclaimed the papa stork immediately.

    “I don’t quite understand it,” said the mamma stork, when her husband repeated
    it; “however, it is not my fault, but the fault of the thought; whatever it
    may be, I have something else to think of.”

    Now the learned men had spoken also of love between this one and that one;
    of the difference of the love which we have for our neighbor, to the love that
    exists between parents and children; of the love of the plant for the light,
    and how the germ springs forth when the sunbeam kisses the ground. All these
    things were so elaborately and learnedly explained, that it was impossible for
    stork-papa to follow it, much less to talk about it. His thoughts on the subject
    quite weighed him down; he stood the whole of the following day on one leg,
    with half-shut eyes, thinking deeply. So much learning was quite a heavy weight
    for him to carry. One thing, however, the papa stork could understand. Every
    one, high and low, had from their inmost hearts expressed their opinion that
    it was a great misfortune for so many thousands of people—the whole country
    indeed—to have this man so sick, with no hopes of his recovery. And what joy
    and blessing it would spread around if he could by any means be cured! But where
    bloomed the flower that could bring him health? They had searched for it everywhere;
    in learned writings, in the shining stars, in the weather and wind. Inquiries
    had been made in every by-way that could be thought of, until at last the wise
    and learned men has asserted, as we have been already told, that “love, the
    life-giver, could alone give new life to a father;” and in saying this, they
    had overdone it, and said more than they understood themselves. They repeated
    it, and wrote it down as a recipe, “Love is a life-giver.” But how could such
    a recipe be prepared—that was a difficulty they could not overcome. At last
    it was decided that help could only come from the princess herself, whose whole
    soul was wrapped up in her father, especially as a plan had been adopted by
    her to enable her to obtain a remedy.

    More than a year had passed since the princess had set out at night, when the
    light of the young moon was soon lost beneath the horizon. She had gone to the
    marble sphinx in the desert, shaking the sand from her sandals, and then passed
    through the long passage, which leads to the centre of one of the great pyramids,
    where the mighty kings of antiquity, surrounded with pomp and splendor, lie
    veiled in the form of mummies. She had been told by the wise men, that if she
    laid her head on the breast of one of them, from the head she would learn where
    to find life and recovery for her father. She had performed all this, and in
    a dream had learnt that she must bring home to her father the lotus flower,
    which grows in the deep sea, near the moors and heath in the Danish land. The
    very place and situation had been pointed out to her, and she was told that
    the flower would restore her father to health and strength. And, therefore,
    she had gone forth from the land of Egypt, flying over to the open marsh and
    the wild moor in the plumage of a swan.

    The papa and mamma storks knew all this, and we also know it now. We know,
    too, that the Marsh King has drawn her down to himself, and that to the loved
    ones at home she is forever dead. One of the wisest of them said, as the stork-mamma
    also said, “That in some way she would, after all, manage to succeed;” and so
    at last they comforted themselves with this hope, and would wait patiently;
    in fact, they could do nothing better.

    “I should like to get away the swan’s feathers from those two treacherous princesses,”
    said the papa stork; “then, at least, they would not be able to fly over again
    to the wild moor, and do more wickedness. I can hide the two suits of feathers
    over yonder, till we find some use for them.”

    “But where will you put them?” asked the mamma stork.

    “In our nest on the moor. I and the young ones will carry them by turns during
    our flight across; and as we return, should they prove too heavy for us, we
    shall be sure to find plenty of places on the way in which we can conceal them
    till our next journey. Certainly one suit of swan’s feathers would be enough
    for the princess, but two are always better. In those northern countries no
    one can have too many travelling wrappers.”

    “No one will thank you for it,” said stork-mamma; “but you are master; and,
    excepting at breeding time, I have nothing to say.”

    In the Viking’s castle on the wild moor, to which the storks directed their
    flight in the following spring, the little maiden still remained. They had named
    her Helga, which was rather too soft a name for a child with a temper like hers,
    although her form was still beautiful. Every month this temper showed itself
    in sharper outlines; and in the course of years, while the storks still made
    the same journeys in autumn to the hill, and in spring to the moors, the child
    grew to be almost a woman, and before any one seemed aware of it, she was a
    wonderfully beautiful maiden of sixteen. The casket was splendid, but the contents
    were worthless. She was, indeed, wild and savage even in those hard, uncultivated
    times. It was a pleasure to her to splash about with her white hands in the
    warm blood of the horse which had been slain for sacrifice. In one of her wild
    moods she bit off the head of the black cock, which the priest was about to
    slay for the sacrifice. To her foster-father she said one day, “If thine enemy
    were to pull down thine house about thy ears, and thou shouldest be sleeping
    in unconscious security, I would not wake thee; even if I had the power I would
    never do it, for my ears still tingle with the blow that thou gavest me years
    ago. I have never forgotten it.” But the Viking treated her words as a joke;
    he was, like every one else, bewitched with her beauty, and knew nothing of
    the change in the form and temper of Helga at night. Without a saddle, she would
    sit on a horse as if she were a part of it, while it rushed along at full speed;
    nor would she spring from its back, even when it quarrelled with other horses
    and bit them. She would often leap from the high shore into the sea with all
    her clothes on, and swim to meet the Viking, when his boat was steering home
    towards the shore. She once cut off a long lock of her beautiful hair, and twisted
    it into a string for her bow. “If a thing is to be done well,” said she, “I
    must do it myself.”

    The Viking’s wife was, for the time in which she lived, a woman of strong character
    and will; but, compared to her daughter, she was a gentle, timid woman, and
    she knew that a wicked sorcerer had the terrible child in his power. It was
    sometimes as if Helga acted from sheer wickedness; for often when her mother
    stood on the threshold of the door, or stepped into the yard, she would seat
    herself on the brink of the well, wave her arms and legs in the air, and suddenly
    fall right in. Here she was able, from her frog nature, to dip and dive about
    in the water of the deep well, until at last she would climb forth like a cat,
    and come back into the hall dripping with water, so that the green leaves that
    were strewed on the floor were whirled round, and carried away by the streams
    that flowed from her.

    But there was one time of the day which placed a check upon Helga. It was the
    evening twilight; when this hour arrived she became quiet and thoughtful, and
    allowed herself to be advised and led; then also a secret feeling seemed to
    draw her towards her mother. And as usual, when the sun set, and the transformation
    took place, both in body and mind, inwards and outwards, she would remain quiet
    and mournful, with her form shrunk together in the shape of a frog. Her body
    was much larger than those animals ever are, and on this account it was much
    more hideous in appearance; for she looked like a wretched dwarf, with a frog’s
    head, and webbed fingers. Her eyes had a most piteous expression; she was without
    a voice, excepting a hollow, croaking sound, like the smothered sobs of a dreaming

    Then the Viking’s wife took her on her lap, and forgot the ugly form, as she
    looked into the mournful eyes, and often said, “I could wish that thou wouldst
    always remain my dumb frog child, for thou art too terrible when thou art clothed
    in a form of beauty.” And the Viking woman wrote Runic characters against sorcery
    and spells of sickness, and threw them over the wretched child; but they did
    no good.

    “One can scarcely believe that she was ever small enough to lie in the cup
    of the water-lily,” said the papa stork; “and now she is grown up, and the image
    of her Egyptian mother, especially about the eyes. Ah, we shall never see her
    again; perhaps she has not discovered how to help herself, as you and the wise
    men said she would. Year after year have I flown across and across the moor,
    but there was no sign of her being still alive. Yes, and I may as well tell
    you that you that each year, when I arrived a few days before you to repair
    the nest, and put everything in its place, I have spent a whole night flying
    here and there over the marshy lake, as if I had been an owl or a bat, but all
    to no purpose. The two suit of swan’s plumage, which I and the young ones dragged
    over here from the land of the Nile, are of no use; trouble enough it was to
    us to bring them here in three journeys, and now they are lying at the bottom
    of the nest; and if a fire should happen to break out, and the wooden house
    be burnt down, they would be destroyed.”

    “And our good nest would be destroyed, too,” said the mamma stork; “but you
    think less of that than of your plumage stuff and your moor-princess. Go and
    stay with her in the marsh if you like. You are a bad father to your own children,
    as I have told you already, when I hatched my first brood. I only hope neither
    we nor our children may have an arrow sent through our wings, owing to that
    wild girl. Helga does not know in the least what she is about. We have lived
    in this house longer than she has, she should think of that, and we have never
    forgotten our duty. We have paid every year our toll of a feather, an egg, and
    a young one, as it is only right we should do. You don’t suppose I can wander
    about the court-yard, or go everywhere as I used to do in old times. I can do
    it in Egypt, where I can be a companion of the people, without forgetting myself.
    But here I cannot go and peep into the pots and kettles as I do there. No, I
    can only sit up here and feel angry with that girl, the little wretch; and I
    am angry with you, too; you should have left her lying in the water lily, then
    no one would have known anything about her.”

    “You are far better than your conversation,” said the papa stork; “I know you
    better than you know yourself.” And with that he gave a hop, and flapped his
    wings twice, proudly; then he stretched his neck and flew, or rather soared
    away, without moving his outspread wings. He went on for some distance, and
    then he gave a great flap with his wings and flew on his course at a rapid rate,
    his head and neck bending proudly before him, while the sun’s rays fell on his
    glossy plumage.

    “He is the handsomest of them all,” said the mamma stork, as she watched him;
    “but I won’t tell him so.”

    Early in the autumn, the Viking again returned home laden with spoil, and bringing
    prisoners with him. Among them was a young Christian priest, one of those who
    contemned the gods of the north. Often lately there had been, both in hall and
    chamber, a talk of the new faith which was spreading far and wide in the south,
    and which, through the means of the holy Ansgarius, had already reached as far
    as Hedeby on the Schlei. Even Helga had heard of this belief in the teachings
    of One who was named Christ, and who for the love of mankind, and for their
    redemption, had given up His life. But to her all this had, as it were, gone
    in one ear and out the other. It seemed that she only understood the meaning
    of the word “love,” when in the form of a miserable frog she crouched together
    in the corner of the sleeping chamber; but the Viking’s wife had listened to
    the wonderful story, and had felt herself strangely moved by it.

    On their return, after this voyage, the men spoke of the beautiful temples
    built of polished stone, which had been raised for the public worship of this
    holy love. Some vessels, curiously formed of massive gold, had been brought
    home among the booty. There was a peculiar fragrance about them all, for they
    were incense vessels, which had been swung before the altars in the temples
    by the Christian priests. In the deep stony cellars of the castle, the young
    Christian priest was immured, and his hands and feet tied together with strips
    of bark. The Viking’s wife considered him as beautiful as Baldur, and his distress
    raised her pity; but Helga said he ought to have ropes fastened to his heels,
    and be tied to the tails of wild animals.

    “I would let the dogs loose after him” she said; “over the moor and across
    the heath. Hurrah! that would be a spectacle for the gods, and better still
    to follow in its course.”

    But the Viking would not allow him to die such a death as that, especially
    as he was the disowned and despiser of the high gods. In a few days, he had
    decided to have him offered as a sacrifice on the blood-stone in the grove.
    For the first time, a man was to be sacrificed here. Helga begged to be allowed
    to sprinkle the assembled people with the blood of the priest. She sharpened
    her glittering knife; and when one of the great, savage dogs, who were running
    about the Viking’s castle in great numbers, sprang towards her, she thrust the
    knife into his side, merely, as she said, to prove its sharpness.

    The Viking’s wife looked at the wild, badly disposed girl, with great sorrow;
    and when night came on, and her daughter’s beautiful form and disposition were
    changed, she spoke in eloquent words to Helga of the sorrow and deep grief that
    was in her heart. The ugly frog, in its monstrous shape, stood before her, and
    raised its brown mournful eyes to her face, listening to her words, and seeming
    to understand them with the intelligence of a human being.

    “Never once to my lord and husband has a word passed my lips of what I have
    to suffer through you; my heart is full of grief about you,” said the Viking’s
    wife. “The love of a mother is greater and more powerful than I ever imagined.
    But love never entered thy heart; it is cold and clammy, like the plants on
    the moor.”

    Then the miserable form trembled; it was as if these words had touched an invisible
    bond between body and soul, for great tears stood in the eyes.

    “A bitter time will come for thee at last,” continued the Viking’s wife; “and
    it will be terrible for me too. It had been better for thee if thou hadst been
    left on the high-road, with the cold night wind to lull thee to sleep.” And
    the Viking’s wife shed bitter tears, and went away in anger and sorrow, passing
    under the partition of furs, which hung loose over the beam and divided the

    The shrivelled frog still sat in the corner alone. Deep silence reigned around.
    At intervals, a half-stifled sigh was heard from its inmost soul; it was the
    soul of Helga. It seemed in pain, as if a new life were arising in her heart.
    Then she took a step forward and listened; then stepped again forward, and seized
    with her clumsy hands the heavy bar which was laid across the door. Gently,
    and with much trouble, she pushed back the bar, as silently lifted the latch,
    and then took up the glimmering lamp which stood in the ante-chamber of the
    hall. It seemed as if a stronger will than her own gave her strength. She removed
    the iron bolt from the closed cellar-door, and slipped in to the prisoner. He
    was slumbering. She touched him with her cold, moist hand, and as he awoke and
    caught sight of the hideous form, he shuddered as if he beheld a wicked apparition.
    She drew her knife, cut through the bonds which confined his hands and feet,
    and beckoned to him to follow her. He uttered some holy names and made the sign
    of the cross, while the form remained motionless by his side.

    “Who art thou?” he asked, “whose outward appearance is that of an animal, while
    thou willingly performest acts of mercy?”

    The frog-figure beckoned to him to follow her, and led him through a long gallery
    concealed by hanging drapery to the stables, and then pointed to a horse. He
    mounted upon it, and she sprang up also before him, and held tightly by the
    animal’s mane. The prisoner understood her, and they rode on at a rapid trot,
    by a road which he would never have found by himself, across the open heath.
    He forgot her ugly form, and only thought how the mercy and loving-kindness
    of the Almighty was acting through this hideous apparition. As he offered pious
    prayers and sang holy songs of praise, she trembled. Was it the effect of prayer
    and praise that caused this? or, was she shuddering in the cold morning air
    at the thought of approaching twilight? What were her feelings? She raised herself
    up, and wanted to stop the horse and spring off, but the Christian priest held
    her back with all his might, and then sang a pious song, as if this could loosen
    the wicked charm that had changed her into the semblance of a frog.

    And the horse galloped on more wildly than before. The sky painted itself red,
    the first sunbeam pierced through the clouds, and in the clear flood of sunlight
    the frog became changed. It was Helga again, young and beautiful, but with a
    wicked demoniac spirit. He held now a beautiful young woman in his arms, and
    he was horrified at the sight. He stopped the horse, and sprang from its back.
    He imagined that some new sorcery was at work. But Helga also leaped from the
    horse and stood on the ground. The child’s short garment reached only to her
    knee. She snatched the sharp knife from her girdle, and rushed like lightning
    at the astonished priest. “Let me get at thee!” she cried; “let me get at thee,
    that I may plunge this knife into thy body. Thou art pale as ashes, thou beardless
    slave.” She pressed in upon him. They struggled with each other in heavy combat,
    but it was as if an invisible power had been given to the Christian in the struggle.
    He held her fast, and the old oak under which they stood seemed to help him,
    for the loosened roots on the ground became entangled in the maiden’s feet,
    and held them fast. Close by rose a bubbling spring, and he sprinkled Helga’s
    face and neck with the water, commanded the unclean spirit to come forth, and
    pronounced upon her a Christian blessing. But the water of faith has no power
    unless the well-spring of faith flows within. And yet even here its power was
    shown; something more than the mere strength of a man opposed itself, through
    his means, against the evil which struggled within her. His holy action seemed
    to overpower her. She dropped her arms, glanced at him with pale cheeks and
    looks of amazement. He appeared to her a mighty magician skilled in secret arts;
    his language was the darkest magic to her, and the movements of his hands in
    the air were as the secret signs of a magician’s wand. She would not have blinked
    had he waved over her head a sharp knife or a glittering axe; but she shrunk
    from him as he signed her with the sign of the cross on her forehead and breast,
    and sat before him like a tame bird, with her head bowed down. Then he spoke
    to her, in gentle words, of the deed of love she had performed for him during
    the night, when she had come to him in the form of an ugly frog, to loosen his
    bonds, and to lead him forth to life and light; and he told her that she was
    bound in closer fetters than he had been, and that she could recover also life
    and light by his means. He would take her to Hedeby2 to St. Ansgarius, and there,
    in that Christian town, the spell of the sorcerer would be removed. But he would
    not let her sit before him on the horse, though of her own free will she wished
    to do so. “Thou must sit behind me, not before me,” said he. “Thy magic beauty
    has a magic power which comes from an evil origin, and I fear it; still I am
    sure to overcome through my faith in Christ.” Then he knelt down, and prayed
    with pious fervor. It was as if the quiet woodland were a holy church consecrated
    by his worship. The birds sang as if they were also of this new congregation;
    and the fragrance of the wild flowers was as the ambrosial perfume of incense;
    while, above all, sounded the words of Scripture, “A light to them that sit
    in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide their feet into the way of
    peace.” And he spoke these words with the deep longing of his whole nature.

    Meanwhile, the horse that had carried them in wild career stood quietly by,
    plucking at the tall bramble-bushes, till the ripe young berries fell down upon
    Helga’s hands, as if inviting her to eat. Patiently she allowed herself to be
    lifted on the horse, and sat there like a somnambulist—as one who walked in
    his sleep. The Christian bound two branches together with bark, in the form
    of a cross, and held it on high as they rode through the forest. The way gradually
    grew thicker of brushwood, as they rode along, till at last it became a trackless
    wilderness. Bushes of the wild sloe here and there blocked up the path, so that
    they had to ride over them. The bubbling spring formed not a stream, but a marsh,
    round which also they were obliged to guide the horse; still there were strength
    and refreshment in the cool forest breeze, and no trifling power in the gentle
    words spoken in faith and Christian love by the young priest, whose inmost heart
    yearned to lead this poor lost one into the way of light and life. It is said
    that rain-drops can make a hollow in the hardest stone, and the waves of the
    sea can smooth and round the rough edges of the rocks; so did the dew of mercy
    fall upon Helga, softening what was hard, and smoothing what was rough in her
    character. These effects did not yet appear; she was not herself aware of them;
    neither does the seed in the lap of earth know, when the refreshing dew and
    the warm sunbeams fall upon it, that it contains within itself power by which
    it will flourish and bloom. The song of the mother sinks into the heart of the
    child, and the little one prattles the words after her, without understanding
    their meaning; but after a time the thoughts expand, and what has been heard
    in childhood seems to the mind clear and bright. So now the “Word,” which is
    all-powerful to create, was working in the heart of Helga.

    They rode forth from the thick forest, crossed the heath, and again entered
    a pathless wood. Here, towards evening, they met with robbers.

    “Where hast thou stolen that beauteous maiden?” cried the robbers, seizing
    the horse by the bridle, and dragging the two riders from its back.

    The priest had nothing to defend himself with, but the knife he had taken from
    Helga, and with this he struck out right and left. One of the robbers raised
    his axe against him; but the young priest sprang on one side, and avoided the
    blow, which fell with great force on the horse’s neck, so that the blood gushed
    forth, and the animal sunk to the ground. Then Helga seemed suddenly to awake
    from her long, deep reverie; she threw herself hastily upon the dying animal.
    The priest placed himself before her, to defend and shelter her; but one of
    the robbers swung his iron axe against the Christian’s head with such force
    that it was dashed to pieces, the blood and brains were scattered about, and
    he fell dead upon the ground. Then the robbers seized beautiful Helga by her
    white arms and slender waist; but at that moment the sun went down, and as its
    last ray disappeared, she was changed into the form of a frog. A greenish white
    mouth spread half over her face; her arms became thin and slimy; while broad
    hands, with webbed fingers, spread themselves out like fans. Then the robbers,
    in terror, let her go, and she stood among them, a hideous monster; and as is
    the nature of frogs to do, she hopped up as high as her own size, and disappeared
    in the thicket. Then the robbers knew that this must be the work of an evil
    spirit or some secret sorcery, and, in a terrible fright, they ran hastily from
    the spot.

    The full moon had already risen, and was shining in all her radiant splendor
    over the earth, when from the thicket, in the form of a frog, crept poor Helga.
    She stood still by the corpse of the Christian priest, and the carcase of the
    dead horse. She looked at them with eyes that seemed to weep, and from the frog’s
    head came forth a croaking sound, as when a child bursts into tears. She threw
    herself first upon one, and then upon the other; brought water in her hand,
    which, from being webbed, was large and hollow, and poured it over them; but
    they were dead, and dead they would remain. She understood that at last. Soon
    wild animals would come and tear their dead bodies; but no, that must not happen.
    Then she dug up the earth, as deep as she was able, that she might prepare a
    grave for them. She had nothing but a branch of a tree and her two hands, between
    the fingers of which the webbed skin stretched, and they were torn by the work,
    while the blood ran down her hands. She saw at last that her work would be useless,
    more than she could accomplish; so she fetched more water, and washed the face
    of the dead, and then covered it with fresh green leaves; she also brought large
    boughs and spread over him, and scattered dried leaves between the branches.
    Then she brought the heaviest stones that she could carry, and laid them over
    the dead body, filling up the crevices with moss, till she thought she had fenced
    in his resting-place strongly enough. The difficult task had employed her the
    whole night; and as the sun broke forth, there stood the beautiful Helga in
    all her loveliness, with her bleeding hands, and, for the first time, with tears
    on her maiden cheeks. It was, in this transformation, as if two natures were
    striving together within her; her whole frame trembled, and she looked around
    her as if she had just awoke from a painful dream. She leaned for support against
    the trunk of a slender tree, and at last climbed to the topmost branches, like
    a cat, and seated herself firmly upon them. She remained there the whole day,
    sitting alone, like a frightened squirrel, in the silent solitude of the wood,
    where the rest and stillness is as the calm of death.

    Butterflies fluttered around her, and close by were several ant-hills, each
    with its hundreds of busy little creatures moving quickly to and fro. In the
    air, danced myriads of gnats, swarm upon swarm, troops of buzzing flies, ladybirds,
    dragon-flies with golden wings, and other little winged creatures. The worm
    crawled forth from the moist ground, and the moles crept out; but, excepting
    these, all around had the stillness of death: but when people say this, they
    do not quite understand themselves what they mean. None noticed Helga but a
    flock of magpies, which flew chattering round the top of the tree on which she
    sat. These birds hopped close to her on the branches with bold curiosity. A
    glance from her eyes was a signal to frighten them away, and they were not clever
    enough to find out who she was; indeed she hardly knew herself.

    When the sun was near setting, and the evening’s twilight about to commence,
    the approaching transformation aroused her to fresh exertion. She let herself
    down gently from the tree, and, as the last sunbeam vanished, she stood again
    in the wrinkled form of a frog, with the torn, webbed skin on her hands, but
    her eyes now gleamed with more radiant beauty than they had ever possessed in
    her most beautiful form of loveliness; they were now pure, mild maidenly eyes
    that shone forth in the face of a frog. They showed the existence of deep feeling
    and a human heart, and the beauteous eyes overflowed with tears, weeping precious
    drops that lightened the heart.

    On the raised mound which she had made as a grave for the dead priest, she
    found the cross made of the branches of a tree, the last work of him who now
    lay dead and cold beneath it. A sudden thought came to Helga, and she lifted
    up the cross and planted it upon the grave, between the stones that covered
    him and the dead horse. The sad recollection brought the tears to her eyes,
    and in this gentle spirit she traced the same sign in the sand round the grave;
    and as she formed, with both her hands, the sign of the cross, the web skin
    fell from them like a torn glove. She washed her hands in the water of the spring,
    and gazed with astonishment at their delicate whiteness. Again she made the
    holy sign in the air, between herself and the dead man; her lips trembled, her
    tongue moved, and the name which she in her ride through the forest had so often
    heard spoken, rose to her lips, and she uttered the words, “Jesus Christ.” Then
    the frog skin fell from her; she was once more a lovely maiden. Her head bent
    wearily, her tired limbs required rest, and then she slept.

    Her sleep, however, was short. Towards midnight, she awoke; before her stood
    the dead horse, prancing and full of life, which shone forth from his eyes and
    from his wounded neck. Close by his side appeared the murdered Christian priest,
    more beautiful than Baldur, as the Viking’s wife had said; but now he came as
    if in a flame of fire. Such gravity, such stern justice, such a piercing glance
    shone from his large, gentle eyes, that it seemed to penetrate into every corner
    of her heart. Beautiful Helga trembled at the look, and her memory returned
    with a power as if it had been the day of judgment. Every good deed that had
    been done for her, every loving word that had been said, were vividly before
    her mind. She understood now that love had kept her here during the day of her
    trial; while the creature formed of dust and clay, soul and spirit, had wrestled
    and struggled with evil. She acknowledged that she had only followed the impulses
    of an evil disposition, that she had done nothing to cure herself; everything
    had been given her, and all had happened as it were by the ordination of Providence.
    She bowed herself humbly, confessed her great imperfections in the sight of
    Him who can read every fault of the heart, and then the priest spoke. “Daughter
    of the moorland, thou hast come from the swamp and the marshy earth, but from
    this thou shalt arise. The sunlight shining into thy inmost soul proves the
    origin from which thou hast really sprung, and has restored the body to its
    natural form. I am come to thee from the land of the dead, and thou also must
    pass through the valley to reach the holy mountains where mercy and perfection
    dwell. I cannot lead thee to Hedeby that thou mayst receive Christian baptism,
    for first thou must remove the thick veil with which the waters of the moorland
    are shrouded, and bring forth from its depths the living author of thy being
    and thy life. Till this is done, thou canst not receive consecration.”

    Then he lifted her on the horse and gave her a golden censer, similar to those
    she had already seen at the Viking’s house. A sweet perfume arose from it, while
    the open wound in the forehead of the slain priest, shone with the rays of a
    diamond. He took the cross from the grave, and held it aloft, and now they rode
    through the air over the rustling trees, over the hills where warriors lay buried
    each by his dead war-horse; and the brazen monumental figures rose up and galloped
    forth, and stationed themselves on the summits of the hills. The golden crescent
    on their foreheads, fastened with golden knots, glittered in the moonlight,
    and their mantles floated in the wind. The dragon, that guards buried treasure,
    lifted his head and gazed after them. The goblins and the satyrs peeped out
    from beneath the hills, and flitted to and fro in the fields, waving blue, red,
    and green torches, like the glowing sparks in burning paper. Over woodland and
    heath, flood and fen, they flew on, till they reached the wild moor, over which
    they hovered in broad circles. The Christian priest held the cross aloft, and
    it glittered like gold, while from his lips sounded pious prayers. Beautiful
    Helga’s voice joined with his in the hymns he sung, as a child joins in her
    mother’s song. She swung the censer, and a wonderful fragrance of incense arose
    from it; so powerful, that the reeds and rushes of the moor burst forth into
    blossom. Each germ came forth from the deep ground: all that had life raised
    itself. Blooming water-lilies spread themselves forth like a carpet of wrought
    flowers, and upon them lay a slumbering woman, young and beautiful. Helga fancied
    that it was her own image she saw reflected in the still water. But it was her
    mother she beheld, the wife of the Marsh King, the princess from the land of
    the Nile.

    The dead Christian priest desired that the sleeping woman should be lifted
    on the horse, but the horse sank beneath the load, as if he had been a funeral
    pall fluttering in the wind. But the sign of the cross made the airy phantom
    strong, and then the three rode away from the marsh to firm ground.

    At the same moment the cock crew in the Viking’s castle, and the dream figures
    dissolved and floated away in the air, but mother and daughter stood opposite
    to each other.

    “Am I looking at my own image in the deep water?” said the mother.

    “Is it myself that I see represented on a white shield?” cried the daughter.

    Then they came nearer to each other in a fond embrace. The mother’s heart beat
    quickly, and she understood the quickened pulses. “My child!” she exclaimed,
    “the flower of my heart—my lotus flower of the deep water!” and she embraced
    her child again and wept, and the tears were as a baptism of new life and love
    for Helga. “In swan’s plumage I came here,” said the mother, “and here I threw
    off my feather dress. Then I sank down through the wavering ground, deep into
    the marsh beneath, which closed like a wall around me; I found myself after
    a while in fresher water; still a power drew me down deeper and deeper. I felt
    the weight of sleep upon my eyelids. Then I slept, and dreams hovered round
    me. It seemed to me as if I were again in the pyramids of Egypt, and yet the
    waving elder trunk that had frightened me on the moor stood ever before me.
    I observed the clefts and wrinkles in the stem; they shone forth in strange
    colors, and took the form of hieroglyphics. It was the mummy case on which I
    gazed. At last it burst, and forth stepped the thousand years’ old king, the
    mummy form, black as pitch, black as the shining wood-snail, or the slimy mud
    of the swamp. Whether it was really the mummy or the Marsh King I know not.
    He seized me in his arms, and I felt as if I must die. When I recovered myself,
    I found in my bosom a little bird, flapping its wings, twittering and fluttering.
    The bird flew away from my bosom, upwards towards the dark, heavy canopy above
    me, but a long, green band kept it fastened to me. I heard and understood the
    tenor of its longings. Freedom! sunlight! to my father! Then I thought of my
    father, and the sunny land of my birth, my life, and my love. Then I loosened
    the band, and let the bird fly away to its home—to a father. Since that hour
    I have ceased to dream; my sleep has been long and heavy, till in this very
    hour, harmony and fragrance awoke me, and set me free.”

    The green band which fastened the wings of the bird to the mother’s heart,
    where did it flutter now? whither had it been wafted? The stork only had seen
    it. The band was the green stalk, the cup of the flower the cradle in which
    lay the child, that now in blooming beauty had been folded to the mother’s heart.

    And while the two were resting in each other’s arms, the old stork flew round
    and round them in narrowing circles, till at length he flew away swiftly to
    his nest, and fetched away the two suits of swan’s feathers, which he had preserved
    there for many years. Then he returned to the mother and daughter, and threw
    the swan’s plumage over them; the feathers immediately closed around them, and
    they rose up from the earth in the form of two white swans.

    “And now we can converse with pleasure,” said the stork-papa; “we can understand
    one another, although the beaks of birds are so different in shape. It is very
    fortunate that you came to-night. To-morrow we should have been gone. The mother,
    myself and the little ones, we’re about to fly to the south. Look at me now:
    I am an old friend from the Nile, and a mother’s heart contains more than her
    beak. She always said that the princess would know how to help herself. I and
    the young ones carried the swan’s feathers over here, and I am glad of it now,
    and how lucky it is that I am here still. When the day dawns we shall start
    with a great company of other storks. We’ll fly first, and you can follow in
    our track, so that you cannot miss your way. I and the young ones will have
    an eye upon you.”

    “And the lotus-flower which I was to take with me,” said the Egyptian princess,
    “is flying here by my side, clothed in swan’s feathers. The flower of my heart
    will travel with me; and so the riddle is solved. Now for home! now for home!”

    But Helga said she could not leave the Danish land without once more seeing
    her foster-mother, the loving wife of the Viking. Each pleasing recollection,
    each kind word, every tear from the heart which her foster-mother had wept for
    her, rose in her mind, and at that moment she felt as if she loved this mother
    the best.

    “Yes, we must go to the Viking’s castle,” said the stork; “mother and the young
    ones are waiting for me there. How they will open their eyes and flap their
    wings! My wife, you see, does not say much; she is short and abrupt in her manner;
    but she means well, for all that. I will flap my wings at once, that they may
    hear us coming.” Then stork-papa flapped his wings in first-rate style, and
    he and the swans flew away to the Viking’s castle.

    In the castle, every one was in a deep sleep. It had been late in the evening
    before the Viking’s wife retired to rest. She was anxious about Helga, who,
    three days before, had vanished with the Christian priest. Helga must have helped
    him in his flight, for it was her horse that was missed from the stable; but
    by what power had all this been accomplished? The Viking’s wife thought of it
    with wonder, thought on the miracles which they said could be performed by those
    who believed in the Christian faith, and followed its teachings. These passing
    thoughts formed themselves into a vivid dream, and it seemed to her that she
    was still lying awake on her couch, while without darkness reigned. A storm
    arose; she heard the lake dashing and rolling from east and west, like the waves
    of the North Sea or the Cattegat. The monstrous snake which, it is said, surrounds
    the earth in the depths of the ocean, was trembling in spasmodic convulsions.
    The night of the fall of the gods was come, “Ragnorock,” as the heathens call
    the judgment-day, when everything shall pass away, even the high gods themselves.
    The war trumpet sounded; riding upon the rainbow, came the gods, clad in steel,
    to fight their last battle on the last battle-field. Before them flew the winged
    vampires, and the dead warriors closed up the train. The whole firmament was
    ablaze with the northern lights, and yet the darkness triumphed. It was a terrible
    hour. And, close to the terrified woman, Helga seemed to be seated on the floor,
    in the hideous form of a frog, yet trembling, and clinging to her foster-mother,
    who took her on her lap, and lovingly caressed her, hideous and frog-like as
    she was. The air was filled with the clashing of arms and the hissing of arrows,
    as if a storm of hail was descending upon the earth. It seemed to her the hour
    when earth and sky would burst asunder, and all things be swallowed up in Saturn’s
    fiery lake; but she knew that a new heaven and a new earth would arise, and
    that corn-fields would wave where now the lake rolled over desolate sands, and
    the ineffable God reign. Then she saw rising from the region of the dead, Baldur
    the gentle, the loving, and as the Viking’s wife gazed upon him, she recognized
    his countenance. It was the captive Christian priest. “White Christian!” she
    exclaimed aloud, and with the words, she pressed a kiss on the forehead of the
    hideous frog-child. Then the frog-skin fell off, and Helga stood before her
    in all her beauty, more lovely and gentle-looking, and with eyes beaming with
    love. She kissed the hands of her foster-mother, blessed her for all her fostering
    love and care during the days of her trial and misery, for the thoughts she
    had suggested and awoke in her heart, and for naming the Name which she now
    repeated. Then beautiful Helga rose as a mighty swan, and spread her wings with
    the rushing sound of troops of birds of passage flying through the air.

    Then the Viking’s wife awoke, but she still heard the rushing sound without.
    She knew it was the time for the storks to depart, and that it must be their
    wings which she heard. She felt she should like to see them once more, and bid
    them farewell. She rose from her couch, stepped out on the threshold, and beheld,
    on the ridge of the roof, a party of storks ranged side by side. Troops of the
    birds were flying in circles over the castle and the highest trees; but just
    before her, as she stood on the threshold and close to the well where Helga
    had so often sat and alarmed her with her wildness, now stood two swans, gazing
    at her with intelligent eyes. Then she remembered her dream, which still appeared
    to her as a reality. She thought of Helga in the form of a swan. She thought
    of a Christian priest, and suddenly a wonderful joy arose in her heart. The
    swans flapped their wings and arched their necks as if to offer her a greeting,
    and the Viking’s wife spread out her arms towards them, as if she accepted it,
    and smiled through her tears. She was roused from deep thought by a rustling
    of wings and snapping of beaks; all the storks arose, and started on their journey
    towards the south.

    “We will not wait for the swans,” said the mamma stork; “if they want to go
    with us, let them come now; we can’t sit here till the plovers start. It is
    a fine thing after all to travel in families, not like the finches and the partridges.
    There the male and the female birds fly in separate flocks, which, to speak
    candidly, I consider very unbecoming.”

    “What are those swans flapping their wings for?”

    “Well, every one flies in his own fashion,” said the papa stork. “The swans
    fly in an oblique line; the cranes, in the form of a triangle; and the plovers,
    in a curved line like a snake.”

    “Don’t talk about snakes while we are flying up here,” said stork-mamma. “It
    puts ideas into the children’s heads that can not be realized.”

    “Are those the high mountains I have heard spoken of?” asked Helga, in the
    swan’s plumage.

    “They are storm-clouds driving along beneath us,” replied her mother.

    “What are yonder white clouds that rise so high?” again inquired Helga.

    “Those are mountains covered with perpetual snows, that you see yonder,” said
    her mother. And then they flew across the Alps towards the blue Mediterranean.

    “Africa’s land! Egyptia’s strand!” sang the daughter of the Nile, in her swan’s
    plumage, as from the upper air she caught sight of her native land, a narrow,
    golden, wavy strip on the shores of the Nile; the other birds espied it also
    and hastened their flight.

    “I can smell the Nile mud and the wet frogs,” said the stork-mamma, “and I
    begin to feel quite hungry. Yes, now you shall taste something nice, and you
    will see the marabout bird, and the ibis, and the crane. They all belong to
    our family, but they are not nearly so handsome as we are. They give themselves
    great airs, especially the ibis. The Egyptians have spoilt him. They make a
    mummy of him, and stuff him with spices. I would rather be stuffed with live
    frogs, and so would you, and so you shall. Better have something in your inside
    while you are alive, than to be made a parade of after you are dead. That is
    my opinion, and I am always right.”

    “The storks are come,” was said in the great house on the banks of the Nile,
    where the lord lay in the hall on his downy cushions, covered with a leopard
    skin, scarcely alive, yet not dead, waiting and hoping for the lotus-flower
    from the deep moorland in the far north. Relatives and servants were standing
    by his couch, when the two beautiful swans who had come with the storks flew
    into the hall. They threw off their soft white plumage, and two lovely female
    forms approached the pale, sick old man, and threw back their long hair, and
    when Helga bent over her grandfather, redness came back to his cheeks, his eyes
    brightened, and life returned to his benumbed limbs. The old man rose up with
    health and energy renewed; daughter and grandchild welcomed him as joyfully
    as if with a morning greeting after a long and troubled dream.

    Joy reigned through the whole house, as well as in the stork’s nest; although
    there the chief cause was really the good food, especially the quantities of
    frogs, which seemed to spring out of the ground in swarms.

    Then the learned men hastened to note down, in flying characters, the story
    of the two princesses, and spoke of the arrival of the health-giving flower
    as a mighty event, which had been a blessing to the house and the land. Meanwhile,
    the stork-papa told the story to his family in his own way; but not till they
    had eaten and were satisfied; otherwise they would have had something else to
    do than to listen to stories.

    “Well,” said the stork-mamma, when she had heard it, “you will be made something
    of at last; I suppose they can do nothing less.”

    “What could I be made?” said stork-papa; “what have I done?— just nothing.”

    “You have done more than all the rest,” she replied. “But for you and the youngsters
    the two young princesses would never have seen Egypt again, and the recovery
    of the old man would not have been effected. You will become something. They
    must certainly give you a doctor’s hood, and our young ones will inherit it,
    and their children after them, and so on. You already look like an Egyptian
    doctor, at least in my eyes.”

    “I cannot quite remember the words I heard when I listened on the roof,” said
    stork-papa, while relating the story to his family; “all I know is, that what
    the wise men said was so complicated and so learned, that they received not
    only rank, but presents; even the head cook at the great house was honored with
    a mark of distinction, most likely for the soup.”

    “And what did you receive?” said the stork-mamma. “They certainly ought not
    to forget the most important person in the affair, as you really are. The learned
    men have done nothing at all but use their tongues. Surely they will not overlook

    Late in the night, while the gentle sleep of peace rested on the now happy
    house, there was still one watcher. It was not stork-papa, who, although he
    stood on guard on one leg, could sleep soundly. Helga alone was awake. She leaned
    over the balcony, gazing at the sparkling stars that shone clearer and brighter
    in the pure air than they had done in the north, and yet they were the same
    stars. She thought of the Viking’s wife in the wild moorland, of the gentle
    eyes of her foster-mother, and of the tears she had shed over the poor frog-child
    that now lived in splendor and starry beauty by the waters of the Nile, with
    air balmy and sweet as spring. She thought of the love that dwelt in the breast
    of the heathen woman, love that had been shown to a wretched creature, hateful
    as a human being, and hideous when in the form of an animal. She looked at the
    glittering stars, and thought of the radiance that had shone forth on the forehead
    of the dead man, as she had fled with him over the woodland and moor. Tones
    were awakened in her memory; words which she had heard him speak as they rode
    onward, when she was carried, wondering and trembling, through the air; words
    from the great Fountain of love, the highest love that embraces all the human
    race. What had not been won and achieved by this love?

    Day and night beautiful Helga was absorbed in the contemplation of the great
    amount of her happiness, and lost herself in the contemplation, like a child
    who turns hurriedly from the giver to examine the beautiful gifts. She was over-powered
    with her good fortune, which seemed always increasing, and therefore what might
    it become in the future? Had she not been brought by a wonderful miracle to
    all this joy and happiness? And in these thoughts she indulged, until at last
    she thought no more of the Giver. It was the over-abundance of youthful spirits
    unfolding its wings for a daring flight. Her eyes sparkled with energy, when
    suddenly arose a loud noise in the court below, and the daring thought vanished.
    She looked down, and saw two large ostriches running round quickly in narrow
    circles; she had never seen these creatures before,—great, coarse, clumsy-looking
    birds with curious wings that looked as if they had been clipped, and the birds
    themselves had the appearance of having been roughly used. She inquired about
    them, and for the first time heard the legend which the Egyptians relate respecting
    the ostrich.

    Once, say they, the ostriches were a beautiful and glorious race of birds,
    with large, strong wings. One evening the other large birds of the forest said
    to the ostrich, “Brother, shall we fly to the river to-morrow morning to drink,
    God willing?” and the ostrich answered, “I will.”

    With the break of day, therefore, they commenced their flight; first rising
    high in the air, towards the sun, which is the eye of God; still higher and
    higher the ostrich flew, far above the other birds, proudly approaching the
    light, trusting in its own strength, and thinking not of the Giver, or saying,
    “if God will.” When suddenly the avenging angel drew back the veil from the
    flaming ocean of sunlight, and in a moment the wings of the proud bird were
    scorched and shrivelled, and they sunk miserably to the earth. Since that time
    the ostrich and his race have never been able to rise in the air; they can only
    fly terror-stricken along the ground, or run round and round in narrow circles.
    It is a warning to mankind, that in all our thoughts and schemes, and in every
    action we undertake, we should say, “if God will.”

    Then Helga bowed her head thoughtfully and seriously, and looked at the circling
    ostrich, as with timid fear and simple pleasure it glanced at its own great
    shadow on the sunlit walls. And the story of the ostrich sunk deeply into the
    heart and mind of Helga: a life of happiness, both in the present and in the
    future, seemed secure for her, and what was yet to come might be the best of
    all, God willing.

    Early in the spring, when the storks were again about to journey northward,
    beautiful Helga took off her golden bracelets, scratched her name on them, and
    beckoned to the stork-father. He came to her, and she placed the golden circlet
    round his neck, and begged him to deliver it safely to the Viking’s wife, so
    that she might know that her foster-daughter still lived, was happy, and had
    not forgotten her.

    “It is rather heavy to carry,” thought stork-papa, when he had it on his neck;
    “but gold and honor are not to be flung into the street. The stork brings good
    fortune—they’ll be obliged to acknowledge that at last.”

    “You lay gold, and I lay eggs,” said stork-mamma; “with you it is only once
    in a way, I lay eggs every year But no one appreciates what we do; I call it
    very mortifying.”

    “But then we have a consciousness of our own worth, mother,” replied stork-papa.

    “What good will that do you?” retorted stork-mamma; “it will neither bring
    you a fair wind, nor a good meal.”

    “The little nightingale, who is singing yonder in the tamarind grove, will
    soon be going north, too.” Helga said she had often heard her singing on the
    wild moor, so she determined to send a message by her. While flying in the swan’s
    plumage she had learnt the bird language; she had often conversed with the stork
    and the swallow, and she knew that the nightingale would understand. So she
    begged the nightingale to fly to the beechwood, on the peninsula of Jutland,
    where a mound of stone and twigs had been raised to form the grave, and she
    begged the nightingale to persuade all the other little birds to build their
    nests round the place, so that evermore should resound over that grave music
    and song. And the nightingale flew away, and time flew away also.

    In the autumn, an eagle, standing upon a pyramid, saw a stately train of richly
    laden camels, and men attired in armor on foaming Arabian steeds, whose glossy
    skins shone like silver, their nostrils were pink, and their thick, flowing
    manes hung almost to their slender legs. A royal prince of Arabia, handsome
    as a prince should be, and accompanied by distinguished guests, was on his way
    to the stately house, on the roof of which the storks’ empty nests might be
    seen. They were away now in the far north, but expected to return very soon.
    And, indeed, they returned on a day that was rich in joy and gladness.

    A marriage was being celebrated, in which the beautiful Helga, glittering in
    silk and jewels, was the bride, and the bridegroom the young Arab prince. Bride
    and bridegroom sat at the upper end of the table, between the bride’s mother
    and grandfather. But her gaze was not on the bridegroom, with his manly, sunburnt
    face, round which curled a black beard, and whose dark fiery eyes were fixed
    upon her; but away from him, at a twinkling star, that shone down upon her from
    the sky. Then was heard the sound of rushing wings beating the air. The storks
    were coming home; and the old stork pair, although tired with the journey and
    requiring rest, did not fail to fly down at once to the balustrades of the verandah,
    for they knew already what feast was being celebrated. They had heard of it
    on the borders of the land, and also that Helga had caused their figures to
    be represented on the walls, for they belonged to her history.

    “I call that very sensible and pretty,” said stork-papa.

    “Yes, but it is very little,” said mamma stork; “they could not possibly have
    done less.”

    But, when Helga saw them, she rose and went out into the verandah to stroke
    the backs of the storks. The old stork pair bowed their heads, and curved their
    necks, and even the youngest among the young ones felt honored by this reception.

    Helga continued to gaze upon the glittering star, which seemed to glow brighter
    and purer in its light; then between herself and the star floated a form, purer
    than the air, and visible through it. It floated quite near to her, and she
    saw that it was the dead Christian priest, who also was coming to her wedding
    feast—coming from the heavenly kingdom.

    “The glory and brightness, yonder, outshines all that is known on earth,” said

    Then Helga the fair prayed more gently, and more earnestly, than she had ever
    prayed in her life before, that she might be permitted to gaze, if only for
    a single moment, at the glory and brightness of the heavenly kingdom. Then she
    felt herself lifted up, as it were, above the earth, through a sea of sound
    and thought; not only around her, but within her, was there light and song,
    such as words cannot express.

    “Now we must return;” he said; “you will be missed.”

    “Only one more look,” she begged; “but one short moment more.”

    “We must return to earth; the guests will have all departed. Only one more
    look!—the last!”

    Then Helga stood again in the verandah. But the marriage lamps in the festive
    hall had been all extinguished, and the torches outside had vanished. The storks
    were gone; not a guest could be seen; no bridegroom—all in those few short moments
    seemed to have died. Then a great dread fell upon her. She stepped from the
    verandah through the empty hall into the next chamber, where slept strange warriors.
    She opened a side door, which once led into her own apartment, but now, as she
    passed through, she found herself suddenly in a garden which she had never before
    seen here, the sky blushed red, it was the dawn of morning. Three minutes only
    in heaven, and a whole night on earth had passed away! Then she saw the storks,
    and called to them in their own language.

    Then stork-papa turned his head towards here, listened to her words, and drew
    near. “You speak our language,” said he, “what do you wish? Why do you appear,—you—a
    strange woman?”

    “It is I—it is Helga! Dost thou not know me? Three minutes ago we were speaking
    together yonder in the verandah.”

    “That is a mistake,” said the stork, “you must have dreamed all this.”

    “No, no,” she exclaimed. Then she reminded him of the Viking’s castle, of the
    great lake, and of the journey across the ocean.

    Then stork-papa winked his eyes, and said, “Why that’s an old story which happened
    in the time of my grandfather. There certainly was a princess of that kind here
    in Egypt once, who came from the Danish land, but she vanished on the evening
    of her wedding day, many hundred years ago, and never came back. You may read
    about it yourself yonder, on a monument in the garden. There you will find swans
    and storks sculptured, and on the top is a figure of the princess Helga, in

    And so it was; Helga understood it all now, and sank on her knees. The sun
    burst forth in all its glory, and, as in olden times, the form of the frog vanished
    in his beams, and the beautiful form stood forth in all its loveliness; so now,
    bathed in light, rose a beautiful form, purer, clearer than air—a ray of brightness—from
    the Source of light Himself. The body crumbled into dust, and a faded lotus-flower
    lay on the spot on which Helga had stood.

    “Now that is a new ending to the story,” said stork-papa; “I really never expected
    it would end in this way, but it seems a very good ending.”

    “And what will the young ones say to it, I wonder?” said stork-mamma.

    “Ah, that is a very important question,” replied the stork.

    Sea Kings, or pirates of the north.
    Now the city of Sleswig.

    The Travelling Companion

    Poor John was very sad for his father was so ill, he had no hope of his recovery.
    John sat alone with the sick man in the little room, and the lamp had nearly burnt
    out; for it was late in the night.

    “You have been a good son, John,” said the sick father, “and God will help
    you on in the world.” He looked at him, as he spoke, with mild, earnest eyes,
    drew a deep sigh, and died; yet it appeared as if he still slept.

    John wept bitterly. He had no one in the wide world now; neither father, mother,
    brother, nor sister. Poor John! he knelt down by the bed, kissed his dead father’s
    hand, and wept many, many bitter tears. But at last his eyes closed, and he
    fell asleep with his head resting against the hard bedpost. Then he dreamed
    a strange dream; he thought he saw the sun shining upon him, and his father
    alive and well, and even heard him laughing as he used to do when he was very
    happy. A beautiful girl, with a golden crown on her head, and long, shining
    hair, gave him her hand; and his father said, “See what a bride you have won.
    She is the loveliest maiden on the whole earth.” Then he awoke, and all the
    beautiful things vanished before his eyes, his father lay dead on the bed, and
    he was all alone. Poor John!

    During the following week the dead man was buried. The son walked behind the
    coffin which contained his father, whom he so dearly loved, and would never
    again behold. He heard the earth fall on the coffin-lid, and watched it till
    only a corner remained in sight, and at last that also disappeared. He felt
    as if his heart would break with its weight of sorrow, till those who stood
    round the grave sang a psalm, and the sweet, holy tones brought tears into his
    eyes, which relieved him. The sun shone brightly down on the green trees, as
    if it would say, “You must not be so sorrowful, John. Do you see the beautiful
    blue sky above you? Your father is up there, and he prays to the loving Father
    of all, that you may do well in the future.”

    “I will always be good,” said John, “and then I shall go to be with my father
    in heaven. What joy it will be when we see each other again! How much I shall
    have to relate to him, and how many things he will be able to explain to me
    of the delights of heaven, and teach me as he once did on earth. Oh, what joy
    it will be!”

    He pictured it all so plainly to himself, that he smiled even while the tears
    ran down his cheeks.

    The little birds in the chestnut-trees twittered, “Tweet, tweet;” they were
    so happy, although they had seen the funeral; but they seemed as if they knew
    that the dead man was now in heaven, and that he had wings much larger and more
    beautiful than their own; and he was happy now, because he had been good here
    on earth, and they were glad of it. John saw them fly away out of the green
    trees into the wide world, and he longed to fly with them; but first he cut
    out a large wooden cross, to place on his father’s grave; and when he brought
    it there in the evening, he found the grave decked out with gravel and flowers.
    Strangers had done this; they who had known the good old father who was now
    dead, and who had loved him very much.

    Early the next morning, John packed up his little bundle of clothes, and placed
    all his money, which consisted of fifty dollars and a few shillings, in his
    girdle; with this he determined to try his fortune in the world. But first he
    went into the churchyard; and, by his father’s grave, he offered up a prayer,
    and said, “Farewell.”

    As he passed through the fields, all the flowers looked fresh and beautiful
    in the warm sunshine, and nodded in the wind, as if they wished to say, “Welcome
    to the green wood, where all is fresh and bright.”

    Then John turned to have one more look at the old church, in which he had been
    christened in his infancy, and where his father had taken him every Sunday to
    hear the service and join in singing the psalms. As he looked at the old tower,
    he espied the ringer standing at one of the narrow openings, with his little
    pointed red cap on his head, and shading his eyes from the sun with his bent
    arm. John nodded farewell to him, and the little ringer waved his red cap, laid
    his hand on his heart, and kissed his hand to him a great many times, to show
    that he felt kindly towards him, and wished him a prosperous journey.

    John continued his journey, and thought of all the wonderful things he should
    see in the large, beautiful world, till he found himself farther away from home
    than ever he had been before. He did not even know the names of the places he
    passed through, and could scarcely understand the language of the people he
    met, for he was far away, in a strange land. The first night he slept on a haystack,
    out in the fields, for there was no other bed for him; but it seemed to him
    so nice and comfortable that even a king need not wish for a better. The field,
    the brook, the haystack, with the blue sky above, formed a beautiful sleeping-room.
    The green grass, with the little red and white flowers, was the carpet; the
    elder-bushes and the hedges of wild roses looked like garlands on the walls;
    and for a bath he could have the clear, fresh water of the brook; while the
    rushes bowed their heads to him, to wish him good morning and good evening.
    The moon, like a large lamp, hung high up in the blue ceiling, and he had no
    fear of its setting fire to his curtains. John slept here quite safely all night;
    and when he awoke, the sun was up, and all the little birds were singing round
    him, “Good morning, good morning. Are you not up yet?”

    It was Sunday, and the bells were ringing for church. As the people went in,
    John followed them; he heard God’s word, joined in singing the psalms, and listened
    to the preacher. It seemed to him just as if he were in his own church, where
    he had been christened, and had sung the psalms with his father. Out in the
    churchyard were several graves, and on some of them the grass had grown very
    high. John thought of his father’s grave, which he knew at last would look like
    these, as he was not there to weed and attend to it. Then he set to work, pulled
    up the high grass, raised the wooden crosses which had fallen down, and replaced
    the wreaths which had been blown away from their places by the wind, thinking
    all the time, “Perhaps some one is doing the same for my father’s grave, as
    I am not there to do it ”

    Outside the church door stood an old beggar, leaning on his crutch. John gave
    him his silver shillings, and then he continued his journey, feeling lighter
    and happier than ever. Towards evening, the weather became very stormy, and
    he hastened on as quickly as he could, to get shelter; but it was quite dark
    by the time he reached a little lonely church which stood on a hill. “I will
    go in here,” he said, “and sit down in a corner; for I am quite tired, and want

    So he went in, and seated himself; then he folded his hands, and offered up
    his evening prayer, and was soon fast asleep and dreaming, while the thunder
    rolled and the lightning flashed without. When he awoke, it was still night;
    but the storm had ceased, and the moon shone in upon him through the windows.
    Then he saw an open coffin standing in the centre of the church, which contained
    a dead man, waiting for burial. John was not at all timid; he had a good conscience,
    and he knew also that the dead can never injure any one. It is living wicked
    men who do harm to others. Two such wicked persons stood now by the dead man,
    who had been brought to the church to be buried. Their evil intentions were
    to throw the poor dead body outside the church door, and not leave him to rest
    in his coffin.

    “Why do you do this?” asked John, when he saw what they were going to do; “it
    is very wicked. Leave him to rest in peace, in Christ’s name.”

    “Nonsense,” replied the two dreadful men. “He has cheated us; he owed us money
    which he could not pay, and now he is dead we shall not get a penny; so we mean
    to have our revenge, and let him lie like a dog outside the church door.”

    “I have only fifty dollars,” said John, “it is all I possess in the world,
    but I will give it to you if you will promise me faithfully to leave the dead
    man in peace. I shall be able to get on without the money; I have strong and
    healthy limbs, and God will always help me.”

    “Why, of course,” said the horrid men, “if you will pay his debt we will both
    promise not to touch him. You may depend upon that;” and then they took the
    money he offered them, laughed at him for his good nature, and went their way.

    Then he laid the dead body back in the coffin, folded the hands, and took leave
    of it; and went away contentedly through the great forest. All around him he
    could see the prettiest little elves dancing in the moonlight, which shone through
    the trees. They were not disturbed by his appearance, for they knew he was good
    and harmless among men. They are wicked people only who can never obtain a glimpse
    of fairies. Some of them were not taller than the breadth of a finger, and they
    wore golden combs in their long, yellow hair. They were rocking themselves two
    together on the large dew-drops with which the leaves and the high grass were
    sprinkled. Sometimes the dew-drops would roll away, and then they fell down
    between the stems of the long grass, and caused a great deal of laughing and
    noise among the other little people. It was quite charming to watch them at
    play. Then they sang songs, and John remembered that he had learnt those pretty
    songs when he was a little boy. Large speckled spiders, with silver crowns on
    their heads, were employed to spin suspension bridges and palaces from one hedge
    to another, and when the tiny drops fell upon them, they glittered in the moonlight
    like shining glass. This continued till sunrise. Then the little elves crept
    into the flower-buds, and the wind seized the bridges and palaces, and fluttered
    them in the air like cobwebs.

    As John left the wood, a strong man’s voice called after him, “Hallo, comrade,
    where are you travelling?”

    “Into the wide world,” he replied; “I am only a poor lad, I have neither father
    nor mother, but God will help me.”

    “I am going into the wide world also,” replied the stranger; “shall we keep
    each other company?”

    “With all my heart,” he said, and so they went on together. Soon they began
    to like each other very much, for they were both good; but John found out that
    the stranger was much more clever than himself. He had travelled all over the
    world, and could describe almost everything. The sun was high in the heavens
    when they seated themselves under a large tree to eat their breakfast, and at
    the same moment an old woman came towards them. She was very old and almost
    bent double. She leaned upon a stick and carried on her back a bundle of firewood,
    which she had collected in the forest; her apron was tied round it, and John
    saw three great stems of fern and some willow twigs peeping out. just as she
    came close up to them, her foot slipped and she fell to the ground screaming
    loudly; poor old woman, she had broken her leg! John proposed directly that
    they should carry the old woman home to her cottage; but the stranger opened
    his knapsack and took out a box, in which he said he had a salve that would
    quickly make her leg well and strong again, so that she would be able to walk
    home herself, as if her leg had never been broken. And all that he would ask
    in return was the three fern stems which she carried in her apron.

    “That is rather too high a price,” said the old woman, nodding her head quite
    strangely. She did not seem at all inclined to part with the fern stems. However,
    it was not very agreeable to lie there with a broken leg, so she gave them to
    him; and such was the power of the ointment, that no sooner had he rubbed her
    leg with it than the old mother rose up and walked even better than she had
    done before. But then this wonderful ointment could not be bought at a chemist’s.

    “What can you want with those three fern rods?” asked John of his fellow-traveller.

    “Oh, they will make capital brooms,” said he; “and I like them because I have
    strange whims sometimes.” Then they walked on together for a long distance.

    “How dark the sky is becoming,” said John; “and look at those thick, heavy

    “Those are not clouds,” replied his fellow-traveller; “they are mountains—large
    lofty mountains—on the tops of which we should be above the clouds, in the pure,
    free air. Believe me, it is delightful to ascend so high, tomorrow we shall
    be there.” But the mountains were not so near as they appeared; they had to
    travel a whole day before they reached them, and pass through black forests
    and piles of rock as large as a town. The journey had been so fatiguing that
    John and his fellow-traveller stopped to rest at a roadside inn, so that they
    might gain strength for their journey on the morrow. In the large public room
    of the inn a great many persons were assembled to see a comedy performed by
    dolls. The showman had just erected his little theatre, and the people were
    sitting round the room to witness the performance. Right in front, in the very
    best place, sat a stout butcher, with a great bull-dog by his side who seemed
    very much inclined to bite. He sat staring with all his eyes, and so indeed
    did every one else in the room. And then the play began. It was a pretty piece,
    with a king and a queen in it, who sat on a beautiful throne, and had gold crowns
    on their heads. The trains to their dresses were very long, according to the
    fashion; while the prettiest of wooden dolls, with glass eyes and large mustaches,
    stood at the doors, and opened and shut them, that the fresh air might come
    into the room. It was a very pleasant play, not at all mournful; but just as
    the queen stood up and walked across the stage, the great bull-dog, who should
    have been held back by his master, made a spring forward, and caught the queen
    in the teeth by the slender wrist, so that it snapped in two. This was a very
    dreadful disaster. The poor man, who was exhibiting the dolls, was much annoyed,
    and quite sad about his queen; she was the prettiest doll he had, and the bull-dog
    had broken her head and shoulders off. But after all the people were gone away,
    the stranger, who came with John, said that he could soon set her to rights.
    And then he brought out his box and rubbed the doll with some of the salve with
    which he had cured the old woman when she broke her leg. As soon as this was
    done the doll’s back became quite right again; her head and shoulders were fixed
    on, and she could even move her limbs herself: there was now no occasion to
    pull the wires, for the doll acted just like a living creature, excepting that
    she could not speak. The man to whom the show belonged was quite delighted at
    having a doll who could dance of herself without being pulled by the wires;
    none of the other dolls could do this.

    During the night, when all the people at the inn were gone to bed, some one
    was heard to sigh so deeply and painfully, and the sighing continued for so
    long a time, that every one got up to see what could be the matter. The showman
    went at once to his little theatre and found that it proceeded from the dolls,
    who all lay on the floor sighing piteously, and staring with their glass eyes;
    they all wanted to be rubbed with the ointment, so that, like the queen, they
    might be able to move of themselves. The queen threw herself on her knees, took
    off her beautiful crown, and, holding it in her hand, cried, “Take this from
    me, but do rub my husband and his courtiers.”

    The poor man who owned the theatre could scarcely refrain from weeping; he
    was so sorry that he could not help them. Then he immediately spoke to John’s
    comrade, and promised him all the money he might receive at the next evening’s
    performance, if he would only rub the ointment on four or five of his dolls.
    But the fellow-traveller said he did not require anything in return, excepting
    the sword which the showman wore by his side. As soon as he received the sword
    he anointed six of the dolls with the ointment, and they were able immediately
    to dance so gracefully that all the living girls in the room could not help
    joining in the dance. The coachman danced with the cook, and the waiters with
    the chambermaids, and all the strangers joined; even the tongs and the fire-shovel
    made an attempt, but they fell down after the first jump. So after all it was
    a very merry night. The next morning John and his companion left the inn to
    continue their journey through the great pine-forests and over the high mountains.
    They arrived at last at such a great height that towns and villages lay beneath
    them, and the church steeples looked like little specks between the green trees.
    They could see for miles round, far away to places they had never visited, and
    John saw more of the beautiful world than he had ever known before. The sun
    shone brightly in the blue firmament above, and through the clear mountain air
    came the sound of the huntsman’s horn, and the soft, sweet notes brought tears
    into his eyes, and he could not help exclaiming, “How good and loving God is
    to give us all this beauty and loveliness in the world to make us happy!”

    His fellow-traveller stood by with folded hands, gazing on the dark wood and
    the towns bathed in the warm sunshine. At this moment there sounded over their
    heads sweet music. They looked up, and discovered a large white swan hovering
    in the air, and singing as never bird sang before. But the song soon became
    weaker and weaker, the bird’s head drooped, and he sunk slowly down, and lay
    dead at their feet.

    “It is a beautiful bird,” said the traveller, “and these large white wings
    are worth a great deal of money. I will take them with me. You see now that
    a sword will be very useful.”

    So he cut off the wings of the dead swan with one blow, and carried them away
    with him.

    They now continued their journey over the mountains for many miles, till they
    at length reached a large city, containing hundreds of towers, that shone in
    the sunshine like silver. In the midst of the city stood a splendid marble palace,
    roofed with pure red gold, in which dwelt the king. John and his companion would
    not go into the town immediately; so they stopped at an inn outside the town,
    to change their clothes; for they wished to appear respectable as they walked
    through the streets. The landlord told them that the king was a very good man,
    who never injured any one: but as to his daughter, “Heaven defend us!”

    She was indeed a wicked princess. She possessed beauty enough—nobody could
    be more elegant or prettier than she was; but what of that? for she was a wicked
    witch; and in consequence of her conduct many noble young princes had lost their
    lives. Any one was at liberty to make her an offer; were he a prince or a beggar,
    it mattered not to her. She would ask him to guess three things which she had
    just thought of, and if he succeed, he was to marry her, and be king over all
    the land when her father died; but if he could not guess these three things,
    then she ordered him to be hanged or to have his head cut off. The old king,
    her father, was very much grieved at her conduct, but he could not prevent her
    from being so wicked, because he once said he would have nothing more to do
    with her lovers; she might do as she pleased. Each prince who came and tried
    the three guesses, so that he might marry the princess, had been unable to find
    them out, and had been hanged or beheaded. They had all been warned in time,
    and might have left her alone, if they would. The old king became at last so
    distressed at all these dreadful circumstances, that for a whole day every year
    he and his soldiers knelt and prayed that the princess might become good; but
    she continued as wicked as ever. The old women who drank brandy would color
    it quite black before they drank it, to show how they mourned; and what more
    could they do?

    “What a horrible princess!” said John; “she ought to be well flogged. If I
    were the old king, I would have her punished in some way.”

    Just then they heard the people outside shouting, “Hurrah!” and, looking out,
    they saw the princess passing by; and she was really so beautiful that everybody
    forgot her wickedness, and shouted “Hurrah!” Twelve lovely maidens in white
    silk dresses, holding golden tulips in their hands, rode by her side on coal-black
    horses. The princess herself had a snow-white steed, decked with diamonds and
    rubies. Her dress was of cloth of gold, and the whip she held in her hand looked
    like a sunbeam. The golden crown on her head glittered like the stars of heaven,
    and her mantle was formed of thousands of butterflies’ wings sewn together.
    Yet she herself was more beautiful than all.

    When John saw her, his face became as red as a drop of blood, and he could
    scarcely utter a word. The princess looked exactly like the beautiful lady with
    the golden crown, of whom he had dreamed on the night his father died. She appeared
    to him so lovely that he could not help loving her.

    “It could not be true,” he thought, “that she was really a wicked witch, who
    ordered people to be hanged or beheaded, if they could not guess her thoughts.
    Every one has permission to go and ask her hand, even the poorest beggar. I
    shall pay a visit to the palace,” he said; “I must go, for I cannot help myself.”

    Then they all advised him not to attempt it; for he would be sure to share
    the same fate as the rest. His fellow-traveller also tried to persuade him against
    it; but John seemed quite sure of success. He brushed his shoes and his coat,
    washed his face and his hands, combed his soft flaxen hair, and then went out
    alone into the town, and walked to the palace.

    “Come in,” said the king, as John knocked at the door. John opened it, and
    the old king, in a dressing gown and embroidered slippers, came towards him.
    He had the crown on his head, carried his sceptre in one hand, and the orb in
    the other. “Wait a bit,” said he, and he placed the orb under his arm, so that
    he could offer the other hand to John; but when he found that John was another
    suitor, he began to weep so violently, that both the sceptre and the orb fell
    to the floor, and he was obliged to wipe his eyes with his dressing gown. Poor
    old king! “Let her alone,” he said; “you will fare as badly as all the others.
    Come, I will show you.” Then he led him out into the princess’s pleasure gardens,
    and there he saw a frightful sight. On every tree hung three or four king’s
    sons who had wooed the princess, but had not been able to guess the riddles
    she gave them. Their skeletons rattled in every breeze, so that the terrified
    birds never dared to venture into the garden. All the flowers were supported
    by human bones instead of sticks, and human skulls in the flower-pots grinned
    horribly. It was really a doleful garden for a princess. “Do you see all this?”
    said the old king; “your fate will be the same as those who are here, therefore
    do not attempt it. You really make me very unhappy,—I take these things to heart
    so very much.”

    John kissed the good old king’s hand, and said he was sure it would be all
    right, for he was quite enchanted with the beautiful princess. Then the princess
    herself came riding into the palace yard with all her ladies, and he wished
    her “Good morning.” She looked wonderfully fair and lovely when she offered
    her hand to John, and he loved her more than ever. How could she be a wicked
    witch, as all the people asserted? He accompanied her into the hall, and the
    little pages offered them gingerbread nuts and sweetmeats, but the old king
    was so unhappy he could eat nothing, and besides, gingerbread nuts were too
    hard for him. It was decided that John should come to the palace the next day,
    when the judges and the whole of the counsellors would be present, to try if
    he could guess the first riddle. If he succeeded, he would have to come a second
    time; but if not, he would lose his life,—and no one had ever been able to guess
    even one. However, John was not at all anxious about the result of his trial;
    on the contrary, he was very merry. He thought only of the beautiful princess,
    and believed that in some way he should have help, but how he knew not, and
    did not like to think about it; so he danced along the high-road as he went
    back to the inn, where he had left his fellow-traveller waiting for him. John
    could not refrain from telling him how gracious the princess had been, and how
    beautiful she looked. He longed for the next day so much, that he might go to
    the palace and try his luck at guessing the riddles. But his comrade shook his
    head, and looked very mournful. “I do so wish you to do well,” said he; “we
    might have continued together much longer, and now I am likely to lose you;
    you poor dear John! I could shed tears, but I will not make you unhappy on the
    last night we may be together. We will be merry, really merry this evening;
    to-morrow, after you are gone, shall be able to weep undisturbed.”

    It was very quickly known among the inhabitants of the town that another suitor
    had arrived for the princess, and there was great sorrow in consequence. The
    theatre remained closed, the women who sold sweetmeats tied crape round the
    sugar-sticks, and the king and the priests were on their knees in the church.
    There was a great lamentation, for no one expected John to succeed better than
    those who had been suitors before.

    In the evening John’s comrade prepared a large bowl of punch, and said, “Now
    let us be merry, and drink to the health of the princess.” But after drinking
    two glasses, John became so sleepy, that he could not keep his eyes open, and
    fell fast asleep. Then his fellow-traveller lifted him gently out of his chair,
    and laid him on the bed; and as soon as it was quite dark, he took the two large
    wings which he had cut from the dead swan, and tied them firmly to his own shoulders.
    Then he put into his pocket the largest of the three rods which he had obtained
    from the old woman who had fallen and broken her leg. After this he opened the
    window, and flew away over the town, straight towards the palace, and seated
    himself in a corner, under the window which looked into the bedroom of the princess.

    The town was perfectly still when the clocks struck a quarter to twelve. Presently
    the window opened, and the princess, who had large black wings to her shoulders,
    and a long white mantle, flew away over the city towards a high mountain. The
    fellow-traveller, who had made himself invisible, so that she could not possibly
    see him, flew after her through the air, and whipped the princess with his rod,
    so that the blood came whenever he struck her. Ah, it was a strange flight through
    the air! The wind caught her mantle, so that it spread out on all sides, like
    the large sail of a ship, and the moon shone through it. “How it hails, to be
    sure!” said the princess, at each blow she received from the rod; and it served
    her right to be whipped.

    At last she reached the side of the mountain, and knocked. The mountain opened
    with a noise like the roll of thunder, and the princess went in. The traveller
    followed her; no one could see him, as he had made himself invisible. They went
    through a long, wide passage. A thousand gleaming spiders ran here and there
    on the walls, causing them to glitter as if they were illuminated with fire.
    They next entered a large hall built of silver and gold. Large red and blue
    flowers shone on the walls, looking like sunflowers in size, but no one could
    dare to pluck them, for the stems were hideous poisonous snakes, and the flowers
    were flames of fire, darting out of their jaws. Shining glow-worms covered the
    ceiling, and sky-blue bats flapped their transparent wings. Altogether the place
    had a frightful appearance. In the middle of the floor stood a throne supported
    by four skeleton horses, whose harness had been made by fiery-red spiders. The
    throne itself was made of milk-white glass, and the cushions were little black
    mice, each biting the other’s tail. Over it hung a canopy of rose-colored spider’s
    webs, spotted with the prettiest little green flies, which sparkled like precious
    stones. On the throne sat an old magician with a crown on his ugly head, and
    a sceptre in his hand. He kissed the princess on the forehead, seated her by
    his side on the splendid throne, and then the music commenced. Great black grasshoppers
    played the mouth organ, and the owl struck herself on the body instead of a
    drum. It was altogether a ridiculous concert. Little black goblins with false
    lights in their caps danced about the hall; but no one could see the traveller,
    and he had placed himself just behind the throne where he could see and hear
    everything. The courtiers who came in afterwards looked noble and grand; but
    any one with common sense could see what they really were, only broomsticks,
    with cabbages for heads. The magician had given them life, and dressed them
    in embroidered robes. It answered very well, as they were only wanted for show.
    After there had been a little dancing, the princess told the magician that she
    had a new suitor, and asked him what she could think of for the suitor to guess
    when he came to the castle the next morning.

    “Listen to what I say,” said the magician, “you must choose something very
    easy, he is less likely to guess it then. Think of one of your shoes, he will
    never imagine it is that. Then cut his head off; and mind you do not forget
    to bring his eyes with you to-morrow night, that I may eat them.”

    The princess curtsied low, and said she would not forget the eyes.

    The magician then opened the mountain and she flew home again, but the traveller
    followed and flogged her so much with the rod, that she sighed quite deeply
    about the heavy hail-storm, and made as much haste as she could to get back
    to her bedroom through the window. The traveller then returned to the inn where
    John still slept, took off his wings and laid down on the bed, for he was very
    tired. Early in the morning John awoke, and when his fellow-traveller got up,
    he said that he had a very wonderful dream about the princess and her shoe,
    he therefore advised John to ask her if she had not thought of her shoe. Of
    course the traveller knew this from what the magician in the mountain had said.

    “I may as well say that as anything,” said John. “Perhaps your dream may come
    true; still I will say farewell, for if I guess wrong I shall never see you

    Then they embraced each other, and John went into the town and walked to the
    palace. The great hall was full of people, and the judges sat in arm-chairs,
    with eider-down cushions to rest their heads upon, because they had so much
    to think of. The old king stood near, wiping his eyes with his white pocket-handkerchief.
    When the princess entered, she looked even more beautiful than she had appeared
    the day before, and greeted every one present most gracefully; but to John she
    gave her hand, and said, “Good morning to you.”

    Now came the time for John to guess what she was thinking of; and oh, how kindly
    she looked at him as she spoke. But when he uttered the single word shoe, she
    turned as pale as a ghost; all her wisdom could not help her, for he had guessed
    rightly. Oh, how pleased the old king was! It was quite amusing to see how he
    capered about. All the people clapped their hands, both on his account and John’s,
    who had guessed rightly the first time. His fellow-traveller was glad also,
    when he heard how successful John had been. But John folded his hands, and thanked
    God, who, he felt quite sure, would help him again; and he knew he had to guess
    twice more. The evening passed pleasantly like the one preceding. While John
    slept, his companion flew behind the princess to the mountain, and flogged her
    even harder than before; this time he had taken two rods with him. No one saw
    him go in with her, and he heard all that was said. The princess this time was
    to think of a glove, and he told John as if he had again heard it in a dream.
    The next day, therefore, he was able to guess correctly the second time, and
    it caused great rejoicing at the palace. The whole court jumped about as they
    had seen the king do the day before, but the princess lay on the sofa, and would
    not say a single word. All now depended upon John. If he only guessed rightly
    the third time, he would marry the princess, and reign over the kingdom after
    the death of the old king: but if he failed, he would lose his life, and the
    magician would have his beautiful blue eyes. That evening John said his prayers
    and went to bed very early, and soon fell asleep calmly. But his companion tied
    on his wings to his shoulders, took three rods, and, with his sword at his side,
    flew to the palace. It was a very dark night, and so stormy that the tiles flew
    from the roofs of the houses, and the trees in the garden upon which the skeletons
    hung bent themselves like reeds before the wind. The lightning flashed, and
    the thunder rolled in one long-continued peal all night. The window of the castle
    opened, and the princess flew out. She was pale as death, but she laughed at
    the storm as if it were not bad enough. Her white mantle fluttered in the wind
    like a large sail, and the traveller flogged her with the three rods till the
    blood trickled down, and at last she could scarcely fly; she contrived, however,
    to reach the mountain. “What a hail-storm!” she said, as she entered; “I have
    never been out in such weather as this.”

    “Yes, there may be too much of a good thing sometimes,” said the magician.

    Then the princess told him that John had guessed rightly the second time, and
    if he succeeded the next morning, he would win, and she could never come to
    the mountain again, or practice magic as she had done, and therefore she was
    quite unhappy. “I will find out something for you to think of which he will
    never guess, unless he is a greater conjuror than myself. But now let us be

    Then he took the princess by both hands, and they danced with all the little
    goblins and Jack-o’-lanterns in the room. The red spiders sprang here and there
    on the walls quite as merrily, and the flowers of fire appeared as if they were
    throwing out sparks. The owl beat the drum, the crickets whistled and the grasshoppers
    played the mouth-organ. It was a very ridiculous ball. After they had danced
    enough, the princess was obliged to go home, for fear she should be missed at
    the palace. The magician offered to go with her, that they might be company
    to each other on the way. Then they flew away through the bad weather, and the
    traveller followed them, and broke his three rods across their shoulders. The
    magician had never been out in such a hail-storm as this. Just by the palace
    the magician stopped to wish the princess farewell, and to whisper in her ear,
    “To-morrow think of my head.”

    But the traveller heard it, and just as the princess slipped through the window
    into her bedroom, and the magician turned round to fly back to the mountain,
    he seized him by the long black beard, and with his sabre cut off the wicked
    conjuror’s head just behind the shoulders, so that he could not even see who
    it was. He threw the body into the sea to the fishes, and after dipping the
    head into the water, he tied it up in a silk handkerchief, took it with him
    to the inn, and then went to bed. The next morning he gave John the handkerchief,
    and told him not to untie it till the princess asked him what she was thinking
    of. There were so many people in the great hall of the palace that they stood
    as thick as radishes tied together in a bundle. The council sat in their arm-chairs
    with the white cushions. The old king wore new robes, and the golden crown and
    sceptre had been polished up so that he looked quite smart. But the princess
    was very pale, and wore a black dress as if she were going to a funeral.

    “What have I thought of?” asked the princess, of John. He immediately untied
    the handkerchief, and was himself quite frightened when he saw the head of the
    ugly magician. Every one shuddered, for it was terrible to look at; but the
    princess sat like a statue, and could not utter a single word. At length she
    rose and gave John her hand, for he had guessed rightly.

    She looked at no one, but sighed deeply, and said, “You are my master now;
    this evening our marriage must take place.”

    “I am very pleased to hear it,” said the old king. “It is just what I wish.”

    Then all the people shouted “Hurrah.” The band played music in the streets,
    the bells rang, and the cake-women took the black crape off the sugar-sticks.
    There was universal joy. Three oxen, stuffed with ducks and chickens, were roasted
    whole in the market-place, where every one might help himself to a slice. The
    fountains spouted forth the most delicious wine, and whoever bought a penny
    loaf at the baker’s received six large buns, full of raisins, as a present.
    In the evening the whole town was illuminated. The soldiers fired off cannons,
    and the boys let off crackers. There was eating and drinking, dancing and jumping
    everywhere. In the palace, the high-born gentlemen and beautiful ladies danced
    with each other, and they could be heard at a great distance singing the following

    “Here are maidens, young and fair,
    Dancing in the summer air;
    Like two spinning-wheels at play,
    Pretty maidens dance away-
    Dance the spring and summer through
    Till the sole falls from your shoe.”
    But the princess was still a witch, and she could not love John. His fellow-traveller
    had thought of that, so he gave John three feathers out of the swan’s wings,
    and a little bottle with a few drops in it. He told him to place a large bath
    full of water by the princess’s bed, and put the feathers and the drops into
    it. Then, at the moment she was about to get into bed, he must give her a little
    push, so that she might fall into the water, and then dip her three times. This
    would destroy the power of the magician, and she would love him very much. John
    did all that his companion told him to do. The princess shrieked aloud when
    he dipped her under the water the first time, and struggled under his hands
    in the form of a great black swan with fiery eyes. As she rose the second time
    from the water, the swan had become white, with a black ring round its neck.
    John allowed the water to close once more over the bird, and at the same time
    it changed into a most beautiful princess. She was more lovely even than before,
    and thanked him, while her eyes sparkled with tears, for having broken the spell
    of the magician. The next day, the king came with the whole court to offer their
    congratulations, and stayed till quite late. Last of all came the travelling
    companion; he had his staff in his hand and his knapsack on his back. John kissed
    him many times and told him he must not go, he must remain with him, for he
    was the cause of all his good fortune. But the traveller shook his head, and
    said gently and kindly, “No: my time is up now; I have only paid my debt to
    you. Do you remember the dead man whom the bad people wished to throw out of
    his coffin? You gave all you possessed that he might rest in his grave; I am
    that man.” As he said this, he vanished.

    The wedding festivities lasted a whole month. John and his princess loved each
    other dearly, and the old king lived to see many a happy day, when he took their
    little children on his knees and let them play with his sceptre. And John became
    king over the whole country.

    The Goblin and the Huckster

    There was once a regular student, who lived in a garret, and had no possessions.
    And there was also a regular huckster, to whom the house belonged, and who occupied
    the ground floor. A goblin lived with the huckster, because at Christmas he always
    had a large dish full of jam, with a great piece of butter in the middle. The
    huckster could afford this; and therefore the goblin remained with the huckster,
    which was very cunning of him.

    One evening the student came into the shop through the back door to buy candles
    and cheese for himself, he had no one to send, and therefore he came himself;
    he obtained what he wished, and then the huckster and his wife nodded good evening
    to him, and she was a woman who could do more than merely nod, for she had usually
    plenty to say for herself. The student nodded in return as he turned to leave,
    then suddenly stopped, and began reading the piece of paper in which the cheese
    was wrapped. It was a leaf torn out of an old book, a book that ought not to
    have been torn up, for it was full of poetry.

    “Yonder lies some more of the same sort,” said the huckster: “I gave an old
    woman a few coffee berries for it; you shall have the rest for sixpence, if
    you will.”

    “Indeed I will,” said the student; “give me the book instead of the cheese;
    I can eat my bread and butter without cheese. It would be a sin to tear up a
    book like this. You are a clever man; and a practical man; but you understand
    no more about poetry than that cask yonder.”

    This was a very rude speech, especially against the cask; but the huckster
    and the student both laughed, for it was only said in fun. But the goblin felt
    very angry that any man should venture to say such things to a huckster who
    was a householder and sold the best butter. As soon as it was night, and the
    shop closed, and every one in bed except the student, the goblin stepped softly
    into the bedroom where the huckster’s wife slept, and took away her tongue,
    which of course, she did not then want. Whatever object in the room he placed
    his tongue upon immediately received voice and speech, and was able to express
    its thoughts and feelings as readily as the lady herself could do. It could
    only be used by one object at a time, which was a good thing, as a number speaking
    at once would have caused great confusion. The goblin laid the tongue upon the
    cask, in which lay a quantity of old newspapers.

    “Is it really true,” he asked, “that you do not know what poetry is?”

    “Of course I know,” replied the cask: “poetry is something that always stand
    in the corner of a newspaper, and is sometimes cut out; and I may venture to
    affirm that I have more of it in me than the student has, and I am only a poor
    tub of the huckster’s.”

    Then the goblin placed the tongue on the coffee mill; and how it did go to
    be sure! Then he put it on the butter tub and the cash box, and they all expressed
    the same opinion as the waste-paper tub; and a majority must always be respected.

    “Now I shall go and tell the student,” said the goblin; and with these words
    he went quietly up the back stairs to the garret where the student lived. He
    had a candle burning still, and the goblin peeped through the keyhole and saw
    that he was reading in the torn book, which he had brought out of the shop.
    But how light the room was! From the book shot forth a ray of light which grew
    broad and full, like the stem of a tree, from which bright rays spread upward
    and over the student’s head. Each leaf was fresh, and each flower was like a
    beautiful female head; some with dark and sparkling eyes, and others with eyes
    that were wonderfully blue and clear. The fruit gleamed like stars, and the
    room was filled with sounds of beautiful music. The little goblin had never
    imagined, much less seen or heard of, any sight so glorious as this. He stood
    still on tiptoe, peeping in, till the light went out in the garret. The student
    no doubt had blown out his candle and gone to bed; but the little goblin remained
    standing there nevertheless, and listening to the music which still sounded
    on, soft and beautiful, a sweet cradle-song for the student, who had lain down
    to rest.

    “This is a wonderful place,” said the goblin; “I never expected such a thing.
    I should like to stay here with the student;” and the little man thought it
    over, for he was a sensible little spirit. At last he sighed, “but the student
    has no jam!” So he went down stairs again into the huckster’s shop, and it was
    a good thing he got back when he did, for the cask had almost worn out the lady’s
    tongue; he had given a description of all that he contained on one side, and
    was just about to turn himself over to the other side to describe what was there,
    when the goblin entered and restored the tongue to the lady. But from that time
    forward, the whole shop, from the cash box down to the pinewood logs, formed
    their opinions from that of the cask; and they all had such confidence in him,
    and treated him with so much respect, that when the huckster read the criticisms
    on theatricals and art of an evening, they fancied it must all come from the

    But after what he had seen, the goblin could no longer sit and listen quietly
    to the wisdom and understanding down stairs; so, as soon as the evening light
    glimmered in the garret, he took courage, for it seemed to him as if the rays
    of light were strong cables, drawing him up, and obliging him to go and peep
    through the keyhole; and, while there, a feeling of vastness came over him such
    as we experience by the ever-moving sea, when the storm breaks forth; and it
    brought tears into his eyes. He did not himself know why he wept, yet a kind
    of pleasant feeling mingled with his tears. “How wonderfully glorious it would
    be to sit with the student under such a tree;” but that was out of the question,
    he must be content to look through the keyhole, and be thankful for even that.

    There he stood on the old landing, with the autumn wind blowing down upon him
    through the trap-door. It was very cold; but the little creature did not really
    feel it, till the light in the garret went out, and the tones of music died
    away. Then how he shivered, and crept down stairs again to his warm corner,
    where it felt home-like and comfortable. And when Christmas came again, and
    brought the dish of jam and the great lump of butter, he liked the huckster
    best of all.

    Soon after, in the middle of the night, the goblin was awoke by a terrible
    noise and knocking against the window shutters and the house doors, and by the
    sound of the watchman’s horn; for a great fire had broken out, and the whole
    street appeared full of flames. Was it in their house, or a neighbor’s? No one
    could tell, for terror had seized upon all. The huckster’s wife was so bewildered
    that she took her gold ear-rings out of her ears and put them in her pocket,
    that she might save something at least. The huckster ran to get his business
    papers, and the servant resolved to save her blue silk mantle, which she had
    managed to buy. Each wished to keep the best things they had. The goblin had
    the same wish; for, with one spring, he was up stairs and in the student’s room,
    whom he found standing by the open window, and looking quite calmly at the fire,
    which was raging at the house of a neighbor opposite. The goblin caught up the
    wonderful book which lay on the table, and popped it into his red cap, which
    he held tightly with both hands. The greatest treasure in the house was saved;
    and he ran away with it to the roof, and seated himself on the chimney. The
    flames of the burning house opposite illuminated him as he sat, both hands pressed
    tightly over his cap, in which the treasure lay; and then he found out what
    feelings really reigned in his heart, and knew exactly which way they tended.
    And yet, when the fire was extinguished, and the goblin again began to reflect,
    he hesitated, and said at last, “I must divide myself between the two; I cannot
    quite give up the huckster, because of the jam.”

    And this is a representation of human nature. We are like the goblin; we all
    go to visit the huckster “because of the jam.”

    The Storks

    On the last house in a little village the storks had built a nest, and the mother
    stork sat in it with her four young ones, who stretched out their necks and pointed
    their black beaks, which had not yet turned red like those of the parent birds.
    A little way off, on the edge of the roof, stood the father stork, quite upright
    and stiff; not liking to be quite idle, he drew up one leg, and stood on the other,
    so still that it seemed almost as if he were carved in wood. “It must look
    very grand,” thought he, “for my wife to have a sentry guarding her
    nest. They do not know that I am her husband; they will think I have been commanded
    to stand here, which is quite aristocratic;” and so he continued standing
    on one leg.

    In the street below were a number of children at play, and when they caught
    sight of the storks, one of the boldest amongst the boys began to sing a song
    about them, and very soon he was joined by the rest. These are the words of
    the song, but each only sang what he could remember of them in his own way.

    “Stork, stork, fly away,
    Stand not on one leg, I pray,
    See your wife is in her nest,
    With her little ones at rest.
    They will hang one,
    And fry another;
    They will shoot a third,
    And roast his brother.”
    “Just hear what those boys are singing,” said the young storks;
    “they say we shall be hanged and roasted.”

    “Never mind what they say; you need not listen,” said the mother.
    “They can do no harm.”

    But the boys went on singing and pointing at the storks, and mocking at them,
    excepting one of the boys whose name was Peter; he said it was a shame to make
    fun of animals, and would not join with them at all. The mother stork comforted
    her young ones, and told them not to mind. “See,” she said, “How
    quiet your father stands, although he is only on one leg.”

    “But we are very much frightened,” said the young storks, and they
    drew back their heads into the nests.

    The next day when the children were playing together, and saw the storks, they
    sang the song again—

    “They will hang one,
    And roast another.”
    “Shall we be hanged and roasted?” asked the young storks.

    “No, certainly not,” said the mother. “I will teach you to
    fly, and when you have learnt, we will fly into the meadows, and pay a visit
    to the frogs, who will bow themselves to us in the water, and cry ‘Croak,
    croak,’ and then we shall eat them up; that will be fun.”

    “And what next?” asked the young storks.

    “Then,” replied the mother, “all the storks in the country
    will assemble together, and go through their autumn manoeuvres, so that it is
    very important for every one to know how to fly properly. If they do not, the
    general will thrust them through with his beak, and kill them. Therefore you
    must take pains and learn, so as to be ready when the drilling begins.”

    “Then we may be killed after all, as the boys say; and hark! they are
    singing again.”

    “Listen to me, and not to them,” said the mother stork. “After
    the great review is over, we shall fly away to warm countries far from hence,
    where there are mountains and forests. To Egypt, where we shall see three-cornered
    houses built of stone, with pointed tops that reach nearly to the clouds. They
    are called Pyramids, and are older than a stork could imagine; and in that country,
    there is a river that overflows its banks, and then goes back, leaving nothing
    but mire; there we can walk about, and eat frogs in abundance.”

    “Oh, o—h!” cried the young storks.

    “Yes, it is a delightful place; there is nothing to do all day long but
    eat, and while we are so well off out there, in this country there will not
    be a single green leaf on the trees, and the weather will be so cold that the
    clouds will freeze, and fall on the earth in little white rags.” The stork
    meant snow, but she could not explain it in any other way.

    “Will the naughty boys freeze and fall in pieces?” asked the young

    “No, they will not freeze and fall into pieces,” said the mother,
    “but they will be very cold, and be obliged to sit all day in a dark,
    gloomy room, while we shall be flying about in foreign lands, where there are
    blooming flowers and warm sunshine.”

    Time passed on, and the young storks grew so large that they could stand upright
    in the nest and look about them. The father brought them, every day, beautiful
    frogs, little snakes, and all kinds of stork-dainties that he could find. And
    then, how funny it was to see the tricks he would perform to amuse them. He
    would lay his head quite round over his tail, and clatter with his beak, as
    if it had been a rattle; and then he would tell them stories all about the marshes
    and fens.

    “Come,” said the mother one day, “Now you must learn to fly.”
    And all the four young ones were obliged to come out on the top of the roof.
    Oh, how they tottered at first, and were obliged to balance themselves with
    their wings, or they would have fallen to the ground below.

    “Look at me,” said the mother, “you must hold your heads
    in this way, and place your feet so. Once, twice, once, twice—that is
    it. Now you will be able to take care of yourselves in the world.”

    Then she flew a little distance from them, and the young ones made a spring
    to follow her; but down they fell plump, for their bodies were still too heavy.

    “I don’t want to fly,” said one of the young storks, creeping
    back into the nest. “I don’t care about going to warm countries.”

    “Would you like to stay here and freeze when the winter comes?”
    said the mother, “or till the boys comes to hang you, or to roast you?—Well
    then, I’ll call them.”

    “Oh no, no,” said the young stork, jumping out on the roof with
    the others; and now they were all attentive, and by the third day could fly
    a little. Then they began to fancy they could soar, so they tried to do so,
    resting on their wings, but they soon found themselves falling, and had to flap
    their wings as quickly as possible. The boys came again in the street singing
    their song:—

    “Stork, stork, fly away.”
    “Shall we fly down, and pick their eyes out?” asked the young storks.

    “No; leave them alone,” said the mother. “Listen to me; that
    is much more important. Now then. One-two-three. Now to the right. One-two-three.
    Now to the left, round the chimney. There now, that was very good. That last
    flap of the wings was so easy and graceful, that I shall give you permission
    to fly with me to-morrow to the marshes. There will be a number of very superior
    storks there with their families, and I expect you to show them that my children
    are the best brought up of any who may be present. You must strut about proudly—it
    will look well and make you respected.”

    “But may we not punish those naughty boys?” asked the young storks.

    “No; let them scream away as much as they like. You can fly from them
    now up high amid the clouds, and will be in the land of the pyramids when they
    are freezing, and have not a green leaf on the trees or an apple to eat.”

    “We will revenge ourselves,” whispered the young storks to each
    other, as they again joined the exercising.

    Of all the boys in the street who sang the mocking song about the storks, not
    one was so determined to go on with it as he who first began it. Yet he was
    a little fellow not more than six years old. To the young storks he appeared
    at least a hundred, for he was so much bigger than their father and mother.
    To be sure, storks cannot be expected to know how old children and grown-up
    people are. So they determined to have their revenge on this boy, because he
    began the song first and would keep on with it. The young storks were very angry,
    and grew worse as they grew older; so at last their mother was obliged to promise
    that they should be revenged, but not until the day of their departure.

    “We must see first, how you acquit yourselves at the grand review,”
    said she. “If you get on badly there, the general will thrust his beak
    through you, and you will be killed, as the boys said, though not exactly in
    the same manner. So we must wait and see.”

    “You shall see,” said the young birds, and then they took such
    pains and practised so well every day, that at last it was quite a pleasure
    to see them fly so lightly and prettily. As soon as the autumn arrived, all
    the storks began to assemble together before taking their departure for warm
    countries during the winter. Then the review commenced. They flew over forests
    and villages to show what they could do, for they had a long journey before
    them. The young storks performed their part so well that they received a mark
    of honor, with frogs and snakes as a present. These presents were the best part
    of the affair, for they could eat the frogs and snakes, which they very quickly

    “Now let us have our revenge,” they cried.

    “Yes, certainly,” cried the mother stork. “I have thought
    upon the best way to be revenged. I know the pond in which all the little children
    lie, waiting till the storks come to take them to their parents. The prettiest
    little babies lie there dreaming more sweetly than they will ever dream in the
    time to come. All parents are glad to have a little child, and children are
    so pleased with a little brother or sister. Now we will fly to the pond and
    fetch a little baby for each of the children who did not sing that naughty song
    to make game of the storks.”

    “But the naughty boy, who began the song first, what shall we do to him?”
    cried the young storks.

    “There lies in the pond a little dead baby who has dreamed itself to
    death,” said the mother. “We will take it to the naughty boy, and
    he will cry because we have brought him a little dead brother. But you have
    not forgotten the good boy who said it was a shame to laugh at animals: we will
    take him a little brother and sister too, because he was good. He is called
    Peter, and you shall all be called Peter in future.”

    So they all did what their mother had arranged, and from that day, even till
    now, all the storks have been called Peter.