Little Tuk

Author: Andersen Hans Christian | Genre: Tale | Year: | Catalogue: Global database Все варианты сказки на сайте

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.