The Story of the Wind

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

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