Part 3 out of 3
This the pewter soldier did not believe.
THE HAPPY FAMILY
Really, the largest green leaf in this country is a dockleaf; if one holds it
before one, it is like a whole apron, and if one holds it over one's head in
rainy weather, it is almost as good as an umbrella, for it is so immensely
large. The burdock never grows alone, but where there grows one there always
grow several: it is a great delight, and all this delightfulness is snails'
food. The great white snails which persons of quality in former times made
fricassees of, ate, and said, "Hem, hem! how delicious!" for they thought it
tasted so delicate--lived on dockleaves, and therefore burdock seeds were
Now, there was an old manor-house, where they no longer ate snails, they were
quite extinct; but the burdocks were not extinct, they grew and grew all over
the walks and all the beds; they could not get the mastery over them--it was a
whole forest of burdocks. Here and there stood an apple and a plum-tree, or
else one never would have thought that it was a garden; all was burdocks, and
there lived the two last venerable old snails.
They themselves knew not how old they were, but they could remember very well
that there had been many more; that they were of a family from foreign lands,
and that for them and theirs the whole forest was planted. They had never been
outside it, but they knew that there was still something more in the world,
which was called the manor-house, and that there they were boiled, and then
they became black, and were then placed on a silver dish; but what happened
further they knew not; or, in fact, what it was to be boiled, and to lie on a
silver dish, they could not possibly imagine; but it was said to be
delightful, and particularly genteel. Neither the chafers, the toads, nor the
earth-worms, whom they asked about it could give them any information--none of
them had been boiled or laid on a silver dish.
The old white snails were the first persons of distinction in the world, that
they knew; the forest was planted for their sake, and the manor-house was
there that they might be boiled and laid on a silver dish.
Now they lived a very lonely and happy life; and as they had no children
themselves, they had adopted a little common snail, which they brought up as
their own; but the little one would not grow, for he was of a common family;
but the old ones, especially Dame Mother Snail, thought they could observe how
he increased in size, and she begged father, if he could not see it, that he
would at least feel the little snail's shell; and then he felt it, and found
the good dame was right.
One day there was a heavy storm of rain.
"Hear how it beats like a drum on the dock-leaves!" said Father Snail.
"There are also rain-drops!" said Mother Snail. "And now the rain pours right
down the stalk! You will see that it will be wet here! I am very happy to
think that we have our good house, and the little one has his also! There is
more done for us than for all other creatures, sure enough; but can you not
see that we are folks of quality in the world? We are provided with a house
from our birth, and the burdock forest is planted for our sakes! I should like
to know how far it extends, and what there is outside!"
"There is nothing at all," said Father Snail. "No place can be better than
ours, and I have nothing to wish for!"
"Yes," said the dame. "I would willingly go to the manorhouse, be boiled, and
laid on a silver dish; all our forefathers have been treated so; there is
something extraordinary in it, you may be sure!"
"The manor-house has most likely fallen to ruin!" said Father Snail. "Or the
burdocks have grown up over it, so that they cannot come out. There need not,
however, be any haste about that; but you are always in such a tremendous
hurry, and the little one is beginning to be the same. Has he not been
creeping up that stalk these three days? It gives me a headache when I look up
"You must not scold him," said Mother Snail. "He creeps so carefully; he will
afford us much pleasure--and we have nothing but him to live for! But have
you not thought of it? Where shall we get a wife for him? Do you not think
that there are some of our species at a great distance in the interior of the
"Black snails, I dare say, there are enough of," said the old one. "Black
snails without a house--but they are so common, and so conceited. But we might
give the ants a commission to look out for us; they run to and fro as if they
had something to do, and they certainly know of a wife for our little snail!"
"I know one, sure enough--the most charming one!" said one of the ants. "But I
am afraid we shall hardly succeed, for she is a queen!"
"That is nothing!" said the old folks. "Has she a house?"
"She has a palace!" said the ant. "The finest ant's palace, with seven hundred
"I thank you!" said Mother Snail. "Our son shall not go into an ant-hill; if
you know nothing better than that, we shall give the commission to the white
gnats. They fly far and wide, in rain and sunshine; they know the whole forest
here, both within and without."
"We have a wife for him," said the gnats. "At a hundred human paces from here
there sits a little snail in her house, on a gooseberry bush; she is quite
lonely, and old enough to be married. It is only a hundred human paces!"
"Well, then, let her come to him!" said the old ones. "He has a whole forest
of burdocks, she has only a bush!"
And so they went and fetched little Miss Snail. It was a whole week before she
arrived; but therein was just the very best of it, for one could thus see that
she was of the same species.
And then the marriage was celebrated. Six earth-worms shone as well as they
could. In other respects the whole went off very quietly, for the old folks
could not bear noise and merriment; but old Dame Snail made a brilliant
speech. Father Snail could not speak, he was too much affected; and so they
gave them as a dowry and inheritance, the whole forest of burdocks, and
said--what they had always said--that it was the best in the world; and if
they lived honestly and decently, and increased and multiplied, they and their
children would once in the course of time come to the manor-house, be boiled
black, and laid on silver dishes. After this speech was made, the old ones
crept into their shells, and never more came out. They slept; the young couple
governed in the forest, and had a numerous progeny, but they were never
boiled, and never came on the silver dishes; so from this they concluded that
the manor-house had fallen to ruins, and that all the men in the world were
extinct; and as no one contradicted them, so, of course it was so. And the
rain beat on the dock-leaves to make drum-music for their sake, and the sun
shone in order to give the burdock forest a color for their sakes; and they
were very happy, and the whole family was happy; for they, indeed were so.
THE STORY OF A MOTHER
A mother sat there with her little child. She was so downcast, so afraid that
it should die! It was so pale, the small eyes had closed themselves, and it
drew its breath so softly, now and then, with a deep respiration, as if it
sighed; and the mother looked still more sorrowfully on the little creature.
Then a knocking was heard at the door, and in came a poor old man wrapped up
as in a large horse-cloth, for it warms one, and he needed it, as it was the
cold winter season! Everything out-of-doors was covered with ice and snow, and
the wind blew so that it cut the face.
As the old man trembled with cold, and the little child slept a moment, the
mother went and poured some ale into a pot and set it on the stove, that it
might be warm for him; the old man sat and rocked the cradle, and the mother
sat down on a chair close by him, and looked at her little sick child that
drew its breath so deep, and raised its little hand.
"Do you not think that I shall save him?" said she. "Our Lord will not take
him from me!"
And the old man--it was Death himself--he nodded so strangely, it could just
as well signify yes as no. And the mother looked down in her lap, and the
tears ran down over her cheeks; her head became so heavy--she had not closed
her eyes for three days and nights; and now she slept, but only for a minute,
when she started up and trembled with cold.
"What is that?" said she, and looked on all sides; but the old man was gone,
and her little child was gone--he had taken it with him; and the old clock in
the corner burred, and burred, the great leaden weight ran down to the floor,
bump! and then the clock also stood still.
But the poor mother ran out of the house and cried aloud for her child.
Out there, in the midst of the snow, there sat a woman in long, black clothes;
and she said, "Death has been in thy chamber, and I saw him hasten away with
thy little child; he goes faster than the wind, and he never brings back what
"Oh, only tell me which way he went!" said the mother. "Tell me the way, and I
shall find him!"
"I know it!" said the woman in the black clothes. "But before I tell it, thou
must first sing for me all the songs thou hast sung for thy child! I am fond
of them. I have heard them before; I am Night; I saw thy tears whilst thou
"I will sing them all, all!" said the mother. "But do not stop me now--I may
overtake him--I may find my child!"
But Night stood still and mute. Then the mother wrung her hands, sang and
wept, and there were many songs, but yet many more tears; and then Night said,
"Go to the right, into the dark pine forest; thither I saw Death take his way
with thy little child!"
The roads crossed each other in the depths of the forest, and she no longer
knew whither she should go! then there stood a thorn-bush; there was neither
leaf nor flower on it, it was also in the cold winter season, and ice-flakes
hung on the branches.
"Hast thou not seen Death go past with my little child?" said the mother.
"Yes," said the thorn-bush; "but I will not tell thee which way he took,
unless thou wilt first warm me up at thy heart. I am freezing to death; I
shall become a lump of ice!"
And she pressed the thorn-bush to her breast, so firmly, that it might be
thoroughly warmed, and the thorns went right into her flesh, and her blood
flowed in large drops, but the thornbush shot forth fresh green leaves, and
there came flowers on it in the cold winter night, the heart of the afflicted
mother was so warm; and the thorn-bush told her the way she should go.
She then came to a large lake, where there was neither ship nor boat. The lake
was not frozen sufficiently to bear her; neither was it open, nor low enough
that she could wade through it; and across it she must go if she would find
her child! Then she lay down to drink up the lake, and that was an
impossibility for a human being, but the afflicted mother thought that a
miracle might happen nevertheless.
"Oh, what would I not give to come to my child!" said the weeping mother; and
she wept still more, and her eyes sunk down in the depths of the waters, and
became two precious pearls; but the water bore her up, as if she sat in a
swing, and she flew in the rocking waves to the shore on the opposite side,
where there stood a mile-broad, strange house, one knew not if it were a
mountain with forests and caverns, or if it were built up; but the poor mother
could not see it; she had wept her eyes out.
"Where shall I find Death, who took away my little child?" said she.
"He has not come here yet!" said the old grave woman, who was appointed to
look after Death's great greenhouse! "How have you been able to find the way
hither? And who has helped you?"
"OUR LORD has helped me," said she. "He is merciful, and you will also be so!
Where shall I find my little child?"
"Nay, I know not," said the woman, "and you cannot see! Many flowers and trees
have withered this night; Death will soon come and plant them over again!
You certainly know that every person has his or her life's tree or flower,
just as everyone happens to be settled; they look like other plants, but they
have pulsations of the heart. Children's hearts can also beat; go after yours,
perhaps you may know your child's; but what will you give me if I tell you
what you shall do more?"
"I have nothing to give," said the afflicted mother, "but I will go to the
world's end for you!"
"Nay, I have nothing to do there!" said the woman. "But you can give me your
long black hair; you know yourself that it is fine, and that I like! You shall
have my white hair instead, and that's always something!"
"Do you demand nothing else?" said she. "That I will gladly give you!" And she
gave her her fine black hair, and got the old woman's snow-white hair instead.
So they went into Death's great greenhouse, where flowers and trees grew
strangely into one another. There stood fine hyacinths under glass bells, and
there stood strong-stemmed peonies; there grew water plants, some so fresh,
others half sick, the water-snakes lay down on them, and black crabs pinched
their stalks. There stood beautiful palm-trees, oaks, and plantains; there
stood parsley and flowering thyme: every tree and every flower had its name;
each of them was a human life, the human frame still lived--one in China, and
another in Greenland--round about in the world. There were large trees in
small pots, so that they stood so stunted in growth, and ready to burst the
pots; in other places, there was a little dull flower in rich mould, with moss
round about it, and it was so petted and nursed. But the distressed mother
bent down over all the smallest plants, and heard within them how the human
heart beat; and amongst millions she knew her child's.
"There it is!" cried she, and stretched her hands out over a little blue
crocus, that hung quite sickly on one side.
"Don't touch the flower!" said the old woman. "But place yourself here, and
when Death comes--I expect him every moment--do not let him pluck the flower
up, but threaten him that you will do the same with the others. Then he will
be afraid! He is responsible for them to OUR LORD, and no one dares to pluck
them up before HE gives leave."
All at once an icy cold rushed through the great hall, and the blind mother
could feel that it was Death that came.
"How hast thou been able to find thy way hither?" he asked. "How couldst thou
come quicker than I?"
"I am a mother," said she.
And Death stretched out his long hand towards the fine little flower, but she
held her hands fast around his, so tight, and yet afraid that she should touch
one of the leaves. Then Death blew on her hands, and she felt that it was
colder than the cold wind, and her hands fell down powerless.
"Thou canst not do anything against me!" said Death.
"But OUR LORD can!" said she.
"I only do His bidding!" said Death. "I am His gardener, I take all His
flowers and trees, and plant them out in the great garden of Paradise, in the
unknown land; but how they grow there, and how it is there I dare not tell
"Give me back my child!" said the mother, and she wept and prayed. At once she
seized hold of two beautiful flowers close by, with each hand, and cried out
to Death, "I will tear all thy flowers off, for I am in despair."
"Touch them not!" said Death. "Thou say'st that thou art so unhappy, and now
thou wilt make another mother equally unhappy."
"Another mother!" said the poor woman, and directly let go her hold of both
"There, thou hast thine eyes," said Death; "I fished them up from the lake,
they shone so bright; I knew not they were thine. Take them again, they are
now brighter than before; now look down into the deep well close by; I shall
tell thee the names of the two flowers thou wouldst have torn up, and thou
wilt see their whole future life--their whole human existence: and see what
thou wast about to disturb and destroy."
And she looked down into the well; and it was a happiness to see how the one
became a blessing to the world, to see how much happiness and joy were felt
everywhere. And she saw the other's life, and it was sorrow and distress,
horror, and wretchedness.
"Both of them are God's will!" said Death.
"Which of them is Misfortune's flower and which is that of Happiness?" asked
"That I will not tell thee," said Death; "but this thou shalt know from me,
that the one flower was thy own child! it was thy child's fate thou
saw'st--thy own child's future life!"
Then the mother screamed with terror, "Which of them was my child? Tell it me!
Save the innocent! Save my child from all that misery! Rather take it away!
Take it into God's kingdom! Forget my tears, forget my prayers, and all that I
"I do not understand thee!" said Death. "Wilt thou have thy child again, or
shall I go with it there, where thou dost not know!"
Then the mother wrung her hands, fell on her knees, and prayed to our Lord:
"Oh, hear me not when I pray against Thy will, which is the best! hear me not!
hear me not!"
And she bowed her head down in her lap, and Death took her child and went with
it into the unknown land.
THE FALSE COLLAR
There was once a fine gentleman, all of whose moveables were a boot-jack and a
hair-comb: but he had the finest false collars in the world; and it is about
one of these collars that we are now to hear a story.
It was so old, that it began to think of marriage; and it happened that it
came to be washed in company with a garter.
"Nay!" said the collar. "I never did see anything so slender and so fine, so
soft and so neat. May I not ask your name?"
"That I shall not tell you!" said the garter.
"Where do you live?" asked the collar.
But the garter was so bashful, so modest, and thought it was a strange
question to answer.
"You are certainly a girdle," said the collar; "that is to say an inside
girdle. I see well that you are both for use and ornament, my dear young
"I will thank you not to speak to me," said the garter. "I think I have not
given the least occasion for it."
"Yes! When one is as handsome as you," said the collar, "that is occasion
"Don't come so near me, I beg of you!" said the garter. "You look so much like
"I am also a fine gentleman," said the collar. "I have a bootjack and a
But that was not true, for it was his master who had them: but he boasted.
"Don't come so near me," said the garter: "I am not accustomed to it."
"Prude!" exclaimed the collar; and then it was taken out of the washing-tub.
It was starched, hung over the back of a chair in the sunshine, and was then
laid on the ironing-blanket; then came the warm box-iron. "Dear lady!" said
the collar. "Dear widow-lady! I feel quite hot. I am quite changed. I begin to
unfold myself. You will burn a hole in me. Oh! I offer you my hand."
"Rag!" said the box-iron; and went proudly over the collar: for she fancied
she was a steam-engine, that would go on the railroad and draw the waggons.
"Rag!" said the box-iron.
The collar was a little jagged at the edge, and so came the long scissors to
cut off the jagged part. "Oh!" said the collar. "You are certainly the first
opera dancer. How well you can stretch your legs out! It is the most graceful
performance I have ever seen. No one can imitate you."
"I know it," said the scissors.
"You deserve to be a baroness," said the collar. "All that I have is a fine
gentleman, a boot-jack, and a hair-comb. If I only had the barony!"
"Do you seek my hand?" said the scissors; for she was angry; and without more
ado, she CUT HIM, and then he was condemned.
"I shall now be obliged to ask the hair-comb. It is surprising how well you
preserve your teeth, Miss," said the collar. "Have you never thought of being
"Yes, of course! you may be sure of that," said the hair-comb. "I AM
betrothed--to the boot-jack!"
"Betrothed!" exclaimed the collar. Now there was no other to court, and so he
A long time passed away, then the collar came into the rag chest at the paper
mill; there was a large company of rags, the fine by themselves, and the
coarse by themselves, just as it should be. They all had much to say, but the
collar the most; for he was a real boaster.
"I have had such an immense number of sweethearts!" said the collar. "I could
not be in peace! It is true, I was always a fine starched-up gentleman! I had
both a boot-jack and a hair-comb, which I never used! You should have seen me
then, you should have seen me when I lay down! I shall never forget MY FIRST
LOVE--she was a girdle, so fine, so soft, and so charming, she threw herself
into a tub of water for my sake! There was also a widow, who became glowing
hot, but I left her standing till she got black again; there was also the
first opera dancer, she gave me that cut which I now go with, she was so
ferocious! My own hair-comb was in love with me, she lost all her teeth from
the heart-ache; yes, I have lived to see much of that sort of thing;
but I am extremely sorry for the garter--I mean the girdle--that went into the
water-tub. I have much on my conscience, I want to become white paper!"
And it became so, all the rags were turned into white paper; but the collar
came to be just this very piece of white paper we here see, and on which the
story is printed; and that was because it boasted so terribly afterwards of
what had never happened to it. It would be well for us to beware, that we may
not act in a similar manner, for we can never know if we may not, in the
course of time, also come into the rag chest, and be made into white paper,
and then have our whole life's history printed on it, even the most secret,
and be obliged to run about and tell it ourselves, just like this collar.
It is in the hot lands that the sun burns, sure enough! there the people
become quite a mahogany brown, ay, and in the HOTTEST lands they are burnt to
Negroes. But now it was only to the HOT lands that a learned man had come from
the cold; there he thought that he could run about just as when at home, but
he soon found out his mistake.
He, and all sensible folks, were obliged to stay within doors--the
window-shutters and doors were closed the whole day; it looked as if the whole
house slept, or there was no one at home.
The narrow street with the high houses, was built so that the sunshine must
fall there from morning till evening--it was really not to be borne.
The learned man from the cold lands--he was a young man, and seemed to be a
clever man--sat in a glowing oven; it took effect on him, he became quite
meagre--even his shadow shrunk in, for the sun had also an effect on it. It
was first towards evening when the sun was down, that they began to freshen up
In the warm lands every window has a balcony, and the people came out on all
the balconies in the street--for one must have air, even if one be accustomed
to be mahogany!* It was lively both up and down the street. Tailors, and
shoemakers, and all the folks, moved out into the street--chairs and tables
were brought forth--and candles burnt--yes, above a thousand lights were
burning--and the one talked and the other sung; and people walked and
church-bells rang, and asses went along with a dingle-dingle-dong! for they
too had bells on. The street boys were screaming and hooting, and shouting and
shooting, with devils and detonating balls--and there came corpse bearers and
hood wearers--for there were funerals with psalm and hymn--and then the din of
carriages driving and company arriving: yes, it was, in truth, lively enough
down in the street. Only in that single house, which stood opposite that in
which the learned foreigner lived, it was quite still; and yet some one lived
there, for there stood flowers in the balcony--they grew so well in the sun's
heat! and that they could not do unless they were watered--and some one must
water them--there must be somebody there. The door opposite was also opened
late in the evening, but it was dark within, at least in the front room;
further in there was heard the sound of music. The learned foreigner thought
it quite marvellous, but now--it might be that he only imagined it--for he
found everything marvellous out there, in the warm lands, if there had only
been no sun. The stranger's landlord said that he didn't know who had taken
the house opposite, one saw no person about, and as to the music, it appeared
to him to be extremely tiresome. "It is as if some one sat there, and
practised a piece that he could not master--always the same piece. 'I shall
master it!' says he; but yet he cannot master it, however long he plays."
* The word mahogany can be understood, in Danish, as having two meanings.
In general, it means the reddish-brown wood itself; but in jest, it signifies
"excessively fine," which arose from an anecdote of Nyboder, in Copenhagen,
(the seamen's quarter.) A sailor's wife, who was always proud and fine, in her
way, came to her neighbor, and complained that she had got a splinter in her
finger. "What of?" asked the neighbor's wife. "It is a mahogany splinter,"
said the other. "Mahogany! It cannot be less with you!" exclaimed the
woman--and thence the proverb, "It is so mahogany!"--(that is, so excessively
One night the stranger awoke--he slept with the doors of the balcony open--the
curtain before it was raised by the wind, and he thought that a strange lustre
came from the opposite neighbor's house; all the flowers shone like flames, in
the most beautiful colors, and in the midst of the flowers stood a slender,
graceful maiden--it was as if she also shone; the light really hurt his eyes.
He now opened them quite wide--yes, he was quite awake; with one spring he was
on the floor; he crept gently behind the curtain, but the maiden was gone; the
flowers shone no longer, but there they stood, fresh and blooming as ever; the
door was ajar, and, far within, the music sounded so soft and delightful, one
could really melt away in sweet thoughts from it. Yet it was like a piece of
enchantment. And who lived there? Where was the actual entrance? The whole of
the ground-floor was a row of shops, and there people could not always be
One evening the stranger sat out on the balcony. The light burnt in the room
behind him; and thus it was quite natural that his shadow should fall on his
opposite neighbor's wall. Yes! there it sat, directly opposite, between the
flowers on the balcony; and when the stranger moved, the shadow also moved:
for that it always does.
"I think my shadow is the only living thing one sees over there," said the
learned man. "See, how nicely it sits between the flowers. The door stands
half-open: now the shadow should be cunning, and go into the room, look about,
and then come and tell me what it had seen. Come, now! Be useful, and do me a
service," said he, in jest. "Have the kindness to step in. Now! Art thou
going?" and then he nodded to the shadow, and the shadow nodded again. "Well
then, go! But don't stay away."
The stranger rose, and his shadow on the opposite neighbor's balcony rose
also; the stranger turned round and the shadow also turned round. Yes! if
anyone had paid particular attention to it, they would have seen, quite
distinctly, that the shadow went in through the half-open balcony-door of
their opposite neighbor, just as the stranger went into his own room, and let
the long curtain fall down after him.
Next morning, the learned man went out to drink coffee and read the
"What is that?" said he, as he came out into the sunshine. "I have no shadow!
So then, it has actually gone last night, and not come again. It is really
This annoyed him: not so much because the shadow was gone, but because he knew
there was a story about a man without a shadow.* It was known to everybody at
home, in the cold lands; and if the learned man now came there and told his
story, they would say that he was imitating it, and that he had no need to do.
He would, therefore, not talk about it at all; and that was wisely thought.
*Peter Schlemihl, the shadowless man.
In the evening he went out again on the balcony. He had placed the light
directly behind him, for he knew that the shadow would always have its master
for a screen, but he could not entice it. He made himself little; he made
himself great: but no shadow came again. He said, "Hem! hem!" but it was of no
It was vexatious; but in the warm lands everything grows so quickly; and after
the lapse of eight days he observed, to his great joy, that a new shadow came
in the sunshine. In the course of three weeks he had a very fair shadow,
which, when he set out for his home in the northern lands, grew more and more
in the journey, so that at last it was so long and so large, that it was more
The learned man then came home, and he wrote books about what was true in the
world, and about what was good and what was beautiful; and there passed days
and years--yes! many years passed away.
One evening, as he was sitting in his room, there was a gentle knocking at the
"Come in!" said he; but no one came in; so he opened the door, and there stood
before him such an extremely lean man, that he felt quite strange. As to the
rest, the man was very finely dressed--he must be a gentleman.
"Whom have I the honor of speaking?" asked the learned man.
"Yes! I thought as much," said the fine man. "I thought you would not know
me. I have got so much body. I have even got flesh and clothes. You certainly
never thought of seeing me so well off. Do you not know your old shadow? You
certainly thought I should never more return. Things have gone on well with me
since I was last with you. I have, in all respects, become very well off.
Shall I purchase my freedom from service? If so, I can do it"; and then he
rattled a whole bunch of valuable seals that hung to his watch, and he stuck
his hand in the thick gold chain he wore around his neck--nay! how all his
fingers glittered with diamond rings; and then all were pure gems.
"Nay; I cannot recover from my surprise!" said the learned man. "What is the
meaning of all this?"
"Something common, is it not," said the shadow. "But you yourself do not
belong to the common order; and I, as you know well, have from a child
followed in your footsteps. As soon as you found I was capable to go out alone
in the world, I went my own way. I am in the most brilliant circumstances, but
there came a sort of desire over me to see you once more before you die; you
will die, I suppose? I also wished to see this land again--for you know we
always love our native land. I know you have got another shadow again; have I
anything to pay to it or you? If so, you will oblige me by saying what it is."
"Nay, is it really thou?" said the learned man. "It is most remarkable: I
never imagined that one's old shadow could come again as a man."
"Tell me what I have to pay," said the shadow; "for I don't like to be in any
sort of debt."
"How canst thou talk so?" said the learned man. "What debt is there to talk
about? Make thyself as free as anyone else. I am extremely glad to hear of thy
good fortune: sit down, old friend, and tell me a little how it has gone with
thee, and what thou hast seen at our opposite neighbor's there--in the warm
"Yes, I will tell you all about it," said the shadow, and sat down: "but then
you must also promise me, that, wherever you may meet me, you will never say
to anyone here in the town that I have been your shadow. I intend to get
betrothed, for I can provide for more than one family."
"Be quite at thy ease about that," said the learned man; "I shall not say to
anyone who thou actually art: here is my hand--I promise it, and a man's bond
is his word."
"A word is a shadow," said the shadow, "and as such it must speak."
It was really quite astonishing how much of a man it was. It was dressed
entirely in black, and of the very finest cloth; it had patent leather boots,
and a hat that could be folded together, so that it was bare crown and brim;
not to speak of what we already know it had--seals, gold neck-chain, and
diamond rings; yes, the shadow was well-dressed, and it was just that which
made it quite a man.
"Now I shall tell you my adventures," said the shadow; and then he sat, with
the polished boots, as heavily as he could, on the arm of the learned man's
new shadow, which lay like a poodle-dog at his feet. Now this was perhaps from
arrogance; and the shadow on the ground kept itself so still and quiet, that
it might hear all that passed: it wished to know how it could get free, and
work its way up, so as to become its own master.
"Do you know who lived in our opposite neighbor's house?" said the shadow. "It
was the most charming of all beings, it was Poesy! I was there for three
weeks, and that has as much effect as if one had lived three thousand years,
and read all that was composed and written; that is what I say, and it is
right. I have seen everything and I know everything!"
"Poesy!" cried the learned man. "Yes, yes, she often dwells a recluse in
large cities! Poesy! Yes, I have seen her--a single short moment, but sleep
came into my eyes! She stood on the balcony and shone as the Aurora Borealis
shines. Go on, go on--thou wert on the balcony, and went through the doorway,
"Then I was in the antechamber," said the shadow. "You always sat and looked
over to the antechamber. There was no light; there was a sort of twilight, but
the one door stood open directly opposite the other through a long row of
rooms and saloons, and there it was lighted up. I should have been completely
killed if I had gone over to the maiden; but I was circumspect, I took time to
think, and that one must always do."
"And what didst thou then see?" asked the learned man.
"I saw everything, and I shall tell all to you: but--it is no pride on my
part--as a free man, and with the knowledge I have, not to speak of my
position in life, my excellent circumstances--I certainly wish that you would
say YOU* to me!"
* It is the custom in Denmark for intimate acquaintances to use the
second person singular, "Du," (thou) when speaking to each other. When a
friendship is formed between men, they generally affirm it, when occasion
offers, either in public or private, by drinking to each other and exclaiming,
"thy health," at the same time striking their glasses together. This is called
drinking "Duus": they are then, "Duus Brodre," (thou brothers) and ever
afterwards use the pronoun "thou," to each other, it being regarded as more
familiar than "De," (you). Father and mother, sister and brother say thou to
one another--without regard to age or rank. Master and mistress say thou to
their servants the superior to the inferior. But servants and inferiors do not
use the same term to their masters, or superiors--nor is it ever used when
speaking to a stranger, or anyone with whom they are but slightly acquainted
--they then say as in English--you.
"I beg your pardon," said the learned man; "it is an old habit with me. YOU
are perfectly right, and I shall remember it; but now you must tell me all YOU
"Everything!" said the shadow. "For I saw everything, and I know everything!"
"How did it look in the furthest saloon?" asked the learned man. "Was it there
as in the fresh woods? Was it there as in a holy
church? Were the saloons like the starlit firmament when we stand on the high
"Everything was there!" said the shadow. "I did not go quite in, I remained in
the foremost room, in the twilight, but I stood there quite well; I saw
everything, and I know everything! I have been in the antechamber at the court
"But WHAT DID you see? Did all the gods of the olden times pass through the
large saloons? Did the old heroes combat there? Did sweet children play there,
and relate their dreams?"
"I tell you I was there, and you can conceive that I saw everything there was
to be seen. Had you come over there, you would not have been a man; but I
became so! And besides, I learned to know my inward nature, my innate
qualities, the relationship I had with Poesy. At the time I was with you, I
thought not of that, but always--you know it well--when the sun rose, and when
the sun went down, I became so strangely great; in the moonlight I was very
near being more distinct than yourself; at that time I did not understand my
nature; it was revealed to me in the antechamber! I became a man! I came out
matured; but you were no longer in the warm lands; as a man I was ashamed to
go as I did. I was in want of boots, of clothes, of the whole human varnish
that makes a man perceptible. I took my way--I tell it to you, but you will
not put it in any book--I took my way to the cake woman--I hid myself behind
her; the woman didn't think how much she concealed. I went out first in the
evening; I ran about the streets in the moonlight; I made myself long up the
walls--it tickles the back so delightfully! I ran up, and ran down, peeped
into the highest windows, into the saloons, and on the roofs, I peeped in
where no one could peep, and I saw what no one else saw, what no one else
should see! This is, in fact, a base world! I would not be a man if it were
not now once accepted and regarded as something to be so! I saw the most
unimaginable things with the women, with the men, with parents, and with the
sweet, matchless children; I saw," said the shadow, "what no human being must
know, but what they would all so willingly know--what is bad in their
neighbor. Had I written a newspaper, it would have been read! But I wrote
direct to the persons themselves, and there was consternation in all the
towns where I came. They were so afraid of me, and yet they were so
excessively fond of me. The professors made a professor of me; the tailors
gave me new clothes--I am well furnished; the master of the mint struck new
coin for me, and the women said I was so handsome! And so I became the man I
am. And I now bid you farewell. Here is my card--I live on the sunny side of
the street, and am always at home in rainy weather!" And so away went the
shadow. "That was most extraordinary!" said the learned man. Years and days
passed away, then the shadow came again. "How goes it?" said the shadow.
"Alas!" said the learned man. "I write about the true, and the good, and the
beautiful, but no one cares to hear such things; I am quite desperate, for I
take it so much to heart!"
"But I don't!" said the shadow. "I become fat, and it is that one wants to
become! You do not understand the world. You will become ill by it. You must
travel! I shall make a tour this summer; will you go with me? I should like to
have a travelling companion! Will you go with me, as shadow? It will be a
great pleasure for me to have you with me; I shall pay the travelling
"Nay, this is too much!" said the learned man.
"It is just as one takes it!" said the shadow. "It will do you much good to
travel! Will you be my shadow? You shall have everything free on the journey!"
"Nay, that is too bad!" said the learned man.
"But it is just so with the world!" said the shadow, "and so it will be!" and
away it went again.
The learned man was not at all in the most enviable state; grief and torment
followed him, and what he said about the true, and the good, and the
beautiful, was, to most persons, like roses for a cow! He was quite ill at
"You really look like a shadow!" said his friends to him; and the learned man
trembled, for he thought of it.
"You must go to a watering-place!" said the shadow, who came and visited him.
"There is nothing else for it! I will take you with me for old acquaintance'
sake; I will pay the travelling expenses, and you write the descriptions--and
if they are a little amusing for me on the way! I will go to a
watering-place--my beard does not grow out as it ought--that is also a
sickness--and one must have a beard! Now you be wise and accept the offer; we
shall travel as comrades!"
And so they travelled; the shadow was master, and the master was the shadow;
they drove with each other, they rode and walked together, side by side,
before and behind, just as the sun was; the shadow always took care to keep
itself in the master's place. Now the learned man didn't think much about
that; he was a very kind-hearted man, and particularly mild and friendly, and
so he said one day to the shadow: "As we have now become companions, and in
this way have grown up together from childhood, shall we not drink 'thou'
together, it is more familiar?"
"You are right," said the shadow, who was now the proper master. "It is said
in a very straight-forward and well-meant manner. You, as a learned man,
certainly know how strange nature is. Some persons cannot bear to touch grey
paper, or they become ill; others shiver in every limb if one rub a pane of
glass with a nail: I have just such a feeling on hearing you say thou to me; I
feel myself as if pressed to the earth in my first situation with you. You see
that it is a feeling; that it is not pride: I cannot allow you to say THOU to
me, but I will willingly say THOU to you, so it is half done!"
So the shadow said THOU to its former master.
"This is rather too bad," thought he, "that I must say YOU and he say THOU,"
but he was now obliged to put up with it.
So they came to a watering-place where there were many strangers, and amongst
them was a princess, who was troubled with seeing too well; and that was so
She directly observed that the stranger who had just come was quite a
different sort of person to all the others; "He has come here in order to get
his beard to grow, they say, but I see the real cause, he cannot cast a
She had become inquisitive; and so she entered into conversation directly with
the strange gentleman, on their promenades. As the daughter of a king, she
needed not to stand upon trifles, so she said, "Your complaint is, that you
cannot cast a shadow?"
"Your Royal Highness must be improving considerably," said the shadow, "I know
your complaint is, that you see too clearly, but it has decreased, you are
cured. I just happen to have a very unusual shadow! Do you not see that person
who always goes with me? Other persons have a common shadow, but I do not like
what is common to all. We give our servants finer cloth for their livery than
we ourselves use, and so I had my shadow trimmed up into a man: yes, you see I
have even given him a shadow. It is somewhat expensive, but I like to have
something for myself!"
"What!" thought the princess. "Should I really be cured! These baths are the
first in the world! In our time water has wonderful powers. But I shall not
leave the place, for it now begins to be amusing here. I am extremely fond of
that stranger: would that his beard should not grow, for in that case he will
In the evening, the princess and the shadow danced together in the large
ball-room. She was light, but he was still lighter; she had never had such a
partner in the dance. She told him from what land she came, and he knew that
land; he had been there, but then she was not at home; he had peeped in at the
window, above and below--he had seen both the one and the other, and so he
could answer the princess, and make insinuations, so that she was quite
astonished; he must be the wisest man in the whole world! She felt such
respect for what he knew! So that when they again danced together she fell in
love with him; and that the shadow could remark, for she almost pierced him
through with her eyes. So they danced once more together; and she was about to
declare herself, but she was discreet; she thought of her country and kingdom,
and of the many persons she would have to reign over.
"He is a wise man," said she to herself--"It is well; and he dances
delightfully--that is also good; but has he solid knowledge? That is just as
important! He must be examined."
So she began, by degrees, to question him about the most difficult things she
could think of, and which she herself could not have answered; so that the
shadow made a strange face.
"You cannot answer these questions?" said the princess.
"They belong to my childhood's learning," said the shadow. "I really believe
my shadow, by the door there, can answer them!"
"Your shadow!" said the princess. "That would indeed be marvellous!"
"I will not say for a certainty that he can," said the shadow, "but I think
so; he has now followed me for so many years, and listened to my
conversation--I should think it possible. But your royal highness will permit
me to observe, that he is so proud of passing himself off for a man, that when
he is to be in a proper humor--and he must be so to answer well--he must be
treated quite like a man."
"Oh! I like that!" said the princess.
So she went to the learned man by the door, and she spoke to him about the sun
and the moon, and about persons out of and in the world, and he answered with
wisdom and prudence.
"What a man that must be who has so wise a shadow!" thought she. "It will be a
real blessing to my people and kingdom if I choose him for my consort--I will
They were soon agreed, both the princess and the shadow; but no one was to
know about it before she arrived in her own kingdom.
"No one--not even my shadow!" said the shadow, and he had his own thoughts
Now they were in the country where the princess reigned when she was at home.
"Listen, my good friend," said the shadow to the learned man. "I have now
become as happy and mighty as anyone can be; I will, therefore, do something
particular for thee! Thou shalt always live with me in the palace, drive with
me in my royal carriage, and have ten thousand pounds a year; but then thou
must submit to be called SHADOW by all and everyone; thou must not say that
thou hast ever been a man; and once a year, when I sit on the balcony in the
sunshine, thou must lie at my feet, as a shadow shall do! I must tell thee: I
am going to marry the king's daughter, and the nuptials are to take place this
"Nay, this is going too far!" said the learned man. "I will not have it; I
will not do it! It is to deceive the whole country and the princess too! I
will tell everything! That I am a man, and that thou art a shadow--thou art
only dressed up!"
"There is no one who will believe it!" said the shadow. "Be reasonable, or I
will call the guard!"
"I will go directly to the princess!" said the learned man.
"But I will go first!" said the shadow. "And thou wilt go to prison!" and
that he was obliged to do--for the sentinels obeyed him whom they knew the
king's daughter was to marry.
"You tremble!" said the princess, as the shadow came into her chamber. "Has
anything happened? You must not be unwell this evening, now that we are to
have our nuptials celebrated."
"I have lived to see the most cruel thing that anyone can live to see!" said
the shadow. "Only imagine--yes, it is true, such a poor shadow-skull cannot
bear much--only think, my shadow has become mad; he thinks that he is a man,
and that I--now only think--that I am his shadow!"
"It is terrible!" said the princess; "but he is confined, is he not?"
"That he is. I am afraid that he will never recover."
"Poor shadow!" said the princess. "He is very unfortunate; it would be a real
work of charity to deliver him from the little life he has, and, when I think
properly over the matter, I am of opinion that it will be necessary to do away
with him in all stillness!"
"It is certainly hard," said the shadow, "for he was a faithful servant!" and
then he gave a sort of sigh.
"You are a noble character!" said the princess.
The whole city was illuminated in the evening, and the cannons went off with a
bum! bum! and the soldiers presented arms. That was a marriage! The princess
and the shadow went out on the balcony to show themselves, and get another
The learned man heard nothing of all this--for they had deprived him of life.
THE LITTLE MATCH GIRL
Most terribly cold it was; it snowed, and was nearly quite dark, and evening--
the last evening of the year. In this cold and darkness there went along the
street a poor little girl, bareheaded, and with naked feet. When she left home
she had slippers on, it is true; but what was the good of that? They were very
large slippers, which her mother had hitherto worn; so large were they; and
the poor little thing lost them as she scuffled away across the street,
because of two carriages that rolled by dreadfully fast.
One slipper was nowhere to be found; the other had been laid hold of by an
urchin, and off he ran with it; he thought it would do capitally for a cradle
when he some day or other should have children himself. So the little maiden
walked on with her tiny naked feet, that were quite red and blue from cold.
She carried a quantity of matches in an old apron, and she held a bundle of
them in her hand. Nobody had bought anything of her the whole livelong day; no
one had given her a single farthing.
She crept along trembling with cold and hunger--a very picture of sorrow, the
poor little thing!
The flakes of snow covered her long fair hair, which fell in beautiful curls
around her neck; but of that, of course, she never once now thought. From all
the windows the candles were gleaming, and it smelt so deliciously of roast
goose, for you know it was New Year's Eve; yes, of that she thought.
In a corner formed by two houses, of which one advanced more than the other,
she seated herself down and cowered together. Her little feet she had drawn
close up to her, but she grew colder and colder, and to go home she did not
venture, for she had not sold any matches and could not bring a farthing of
money: from her father she would certainly get blows, and at home it was cold
too, for above her she had only the roof, through which the wind whistled,
even though the largest cracks were stopped up with straw and rags.
Her little hands were almost numbed with cold. Oh! a match might afford her a
world of comfort, if she only dared take a single one out of the bundle, draw
it against the wall, and warm her fingers by it. She drew one out. "Rischt!"
how it blazed, how it burnt! It was a warm, bright flame, like a candle, as
she held her hands over it: it was a wonderful light. It seemed really to the
little maiden as though she were sitting before a large iron stove, with
burnished brass feet and a brass ornament at top. The fire burned with such
blessed influence; it warmed so delightfully. The little girl had already
stretched out her feet to warm them too; but--the small flame went out, the
stove vanished: she had only the remains of the burnt-out match in her hand.
She rubbed another against the wall: it burned brightly, and where the light
fell on the wall, there the wall became transparent like a veil, so that she
could see into the room. On the table was spread a snow-white tablecloth; upon
it was a splendid porcelain service, and the roast goose was steaming famously
with its stuffing of apple and dried plums. And what was still more capital to
behold was, the goose hopped down from the dish, reeled about on the floor
with knife and fork in its breast, till it came up to the poor little girl;
when--the match went out and nothing but the thick, cold, damp wall was left
behind. She lighted another match. Now there she was sitting under the most
magnificent Christmas tree: it was still larger, and more decorated than the
one which she had seen through the glass door in the rich merchant's house.
Thousands of lights were burning on the green branches, and gaily-colored
pictures, such as she had seen in the shop-windows, looked down upon her.
The little maiden stretched out her hands towards them when--the match went
out. The lights of the Christmas tree rose higher and higher, she saw them now
as stars in heaven; one fell down and formed a long trail of fire.
"Someone is just dead!" said the little girl; for her old grandmother, the
only person who had loved her, and who was now no more, had told her, that
when a star falls, a soul ascends to God.
She drew another match against the wall: it was again light, and in the lustre
there stood the old grandmother, so bright and radiant, so mild, and with such
an expression of love.
"Grandmother!" cried the little one. "Oh, take me with you! You go away when
the match burns out; you vanish like the warm stove, like the delicious roast
goose, and like the magnificent Christmas tree!" And she rubbed the whole
bundle of matches quickly against the wall, for she wanted to be quite sure of
keeping her grandmother near her. And the matches gave such a brilliant light
that it was brighter than at noon-day: never formerly had the grandmother been
so beautiful and so tall. She took the little maiden, on her arm, and both
flew in brightness and in joy so high, so very high, and then above was
neither cold, nor hunger, nor anxiety--they were with God.
But in the corner, at the cold hour of dawn, sat the poor girl, with rosy
cheeks and with a smiling mouth, leaning against the wall--frozen to death on
the last evening of the old year. Stiff and stark sat the child there with her
matches, of which one bundle had been burnt. "She wanted to warm herself,"
people said. No one had the slightest suspicion of what beautiful things she
had seen; no one even dreamed of the splendor in which, with her grandmother
she had entered on the joys of a new year.
THE DREAM OF LITTLE TUK
Ah! yes, that was little Tuk: in reality his name was not Tuk, but that was
what he called himself before he could speak plain: he meant it for Charles,
and it is all well enough if one does but know it. He had now to take care of
his little sister Augusta, who was much younger than himself, and he was,
besides, to learn his lesson at the same time; but these two things would not
do together at all. There sat the poor little fellow, with his sister on his
lap, and he sang to her all the songs he knew; and he glanced the while from
time to time into the geography-book that lay open before him. By the next
morning he was to have learnt all the towns in Zealand by heart, and to know
about them all that is possible to be known.
His mother now came home, for she had been out, and took little Augusta on her
arm. Tuk ran quickly to the window, and read so eagerly that he pretty nearly
read his eyes out; for it got darker and darker, but his mother had no money
to buy a candle.
"There goes the old washerwoman over the way," said his mother, as she looked
out of the window. "The poor woman can hardly drag herself along, and she must
now drag the pail home from the fountain. Be a good boy, Tukey, and run across
and help the old woman, won't you?"
So Tuk ran over quickly and helped her; but when he came back again into the
room it was quite dark, and as to a light, there was no thought of such a
thing. He was now to go to bed; that was an old turn-up bedstead; in it he lay
and thought about his geography lesson, and of Zealand, and of all that his
master had told him. He ought, to be sure, to have read over his lesson again,
but that, you know, he could not do. He therefore put his geography-book under
his pillow, because he had heard that was a very good thing to do when one
wants to learn one's lesson; but one cannot, however, rely upon it entirely.
Well, there he lay, and thought and thought, and all at once it was just as if
someone kissed his eyes and mouth: he slept, and yet he did not sleep; it was
as though the old washerwoman gazed on him with her mild eyes and said, "It
were a great sin if you were not to know your lesson tomorrow morning. You
have aided me, I therefore will now help you; and the loving God will do so at
all times." And all of a sudden the book under Tuk's pillow began scraping and
"Kickery-ki! kluk! kluk! kluk!"--that was an old hen who came creeping along,
and she was from Kjoge. "I am a Kjoger hen,"* said she, and then she related
how many inhabitants there were there, and about the battle that had taken
place, and which, after all, was hardly worth talking about.
* Kjoge, a town in the bay of Kjoge. "To see the Kjoge hens," is an
expression similar to "showing a child London," which is said to be done by
taking his head in both bands, and so lifting him off the ground. At the
invasion of the English in 1807, an encounter of a no very glorious nature
took place between the British troops and the undisciplined Danish militia.
"Kribledy, krabledy--plump!" down fell somebody: it was a wooden bird, the
popinjay used at the shooting-matches at Prastoe. Now he said that there were
just as many inhabitants as he had nails in his body; and he was very proud.
"Thorwaldsen lived almost next door to me.* Plump! Here I lie capitally."
* Prastoe, a still smaller town than Kjoge. Some hundred paces from it lies
the manor-house Ny Soe, where Thorwaldsen, the famed sculptor, generally
sojourned during his stay in Denmark, and where he called many of his immortal
works into existence.
But little Tuk was no longer lying down: all at once he was on horseback. On
he went at full gallop, still galloping on and on. A knight with a gleaming
plume, and most magnificently dressed, held him before him on the horse, and
thus they rode through the wood to the old town of Bordingborg, and that was a
large and very lively town. High towers rose from the castle of the king, and
the brightness of many candles streamed from all the windows; within was dance
and song, and King Waldemar and the young, richly-attired maids of honor
danced together. The morn now came; and as soon as the sun appeared, the whole
town and the king's palace crumbled together, and one tower after the other;
and at last only a single one remained standing where the castle had been
before,* and the town was so small and poor, and the school boys came along
with their books under their arms, and said, "2000 inhabitants!" but that was
not true, for there were not so many.
*Bordingborg, in the reign of King Waldemar, a considerable place, now an
unimportant little town. One solitary tower only, and some remains of a wall,
show where the castle once stood.
And little Tukey lay in his bed: it seemed to him as if he dreamed, and yet as
if he were not dreaming; however, somebody was close beside him.
"Little Tukey! Little Tukey!" cried someone near. It was a seaman, quite a
little personage, so little as if he were a midshipman; but a midshipman it
"Many remembrances from Corsor.* That is a town that is just rising into
importance; a lively town that has steam-boats and stagecoaches: formerly
people called it ugly, but that is no longer true. I lie on the sea," said
Corsor; "I have high roads and gardens, and I have given birth to a poet who
was witty and amusing, which all poets are not. I once intended to equip a
ship that was to sail all round the earth; but I did not do it, although I
could have done so: and then, too, I smell so deliciously, for close before
the gate bloom the most beautiful roses."
*Corsor, on the Great Belt, called, formerly, before the introduction of
steam-vessels, when travellers were often obliged to wait a long time for a
favorable wind, "the most tiresome of towns." The poet Baggesen was born here.
Little Tuk looked, and all was red and green before his eyes; but as soon as
the confusion of colors was somewhat over, all of a sudden there appeared a
wooded slope close to the bay, and high up above stood a magnificent old
church, with two high pointed towers. From out the hill-side spouted fountains
in thick streams of water, so that there was a continual splashing; and close
beside them sat an old king with a golden crown upon his white head: that was
King Hroar, near the fountains, close to the town of Roeskilde, as it is now
called. And up the slope into the old church went all the kings and queens of
Denmark, hand in hand, all with their golden crowns; and the organ played and
the fountains rustled. Little Tuk saw all, heard all. "Do not forget the
diet," said King Hroar.*
*Roeskilde, once the capital of Denmark. The town takes its name from
King Hroar, and the many fountains in the neighborhood. In the beautiful
cathedral the greater number of the kings and queens of Denmark are interred.
In Roeskilde, too, the members of the Danish Diet assemble.
Again all suddenly disappeared. Yes, and whither? It seemed to him just as if
one turned over a leaf in a book. And now stood there an old peasant-woman,
who came from Soroe,* where grass grows in the market-place. She had an old
grey linen apron hanging over her head and back: it was so wet, it certainly
must have been raining. "Yes, that it has," said she; and she now related many
pretty things out of Holberg's comedies, and about Waldemar and Absalon; but
all at once she cowered together, and her head began shaking backwards and
forwards, and she looked as she were going to make a spring. "Croak! croak!"
said she. "It is wet, it is wet; there is such a pleasant deathlike stillness
in Sorbe!" She was now suddenly a frog, "Croak"; and now she was an old woman.
"One must dress according to the weather," said she. "It is wet; it is wet. My
town is just like a bottle; and one gets in by the neck, and by the neck one
must get out again! In former times I had the finest fish, and now I have
fresh rosy-cheeked boys at the bottom of the bottle, who learn wisdom, Hebrew,
* Sorbe, a very quiet little town, beautifully situated, surrounded by woods
and lakes. Holberg, Denmark's Moliere, founded here an academy for the sons of
the nobles. The poets Hauch and Ingemann were appointed professors here. The
latter lives there still.
When she spoke it sounded just like the noise of frogs, or as if one walked
with great boots over a moor; always the same tone, so uniform and so tiring
that little Tuk fell into a good sound sleep, which, by the bye, could not do
him any harm.
But even in this sleep there came a dream, or whatever else it was: his little
sister Augusta, she with the blue eyes and the fair curling hair, was suddenly
a tall, beautiful girl, and without having wings was yet able to fly; and she
now flew over Zealand--over the green woods and the blue lakes.
"Do you hear the cock crow, Tukey? Cock-a-doodle-doo! The cocks are flying up
from Kjoge! You will have a farm-yard, so large, oh! so very large! You will
suffer neither hunger nor thirst! You will get on in the world! You will be a
rich and happy man! Your house will exalt itself like King Waldemar's tower,
and will be richly decorated with marble statues, like that at Prastoe. You
understand what I mean. Your name shall circulate with renown all round the
earth, like unto the ship that was to have sailed from Corsor; and in
"Do not forget the diet!" said King Hroar.
"Then you will speak well and wisely, little Tukey; and when at last you sink
into your grave, you shall sleep as quietly--"
"As if I lay in Soroe," said Tuk, awaking. It was bright day, and he was now
quite unable to call to mind his dream; that, however, was not at all
necessary, for one may not know what the future will bring.
And out of bed he jumped, and read in his book, and now all at once he knew
his whole lesson. And the old washerwoman popped her head in at the door,
nodded to him friendly, and said, "Thanks, many thanks, my good child, for
your help! May the good ever-loving God fulfil your loveliest dream!"
Little Tukey did not at all know what he had dreamed, but the loving God knew
THE NAUGHTY BOY
Along time ago, there lived an old poet, a thoroughly kind old poet. As he was
sitting one evening in his room, a dreadful storm arose without, and the rain
streamed down from heaven; but the old poet sat warm and comfortable in his
chimney-comer, where the fire blazed and the roasting apple hissed.
"Those who have not a roof over their heads will be wetted to the skin," said
the good old poet.
"Oh let me in! Let me in! I am cold, and I'm so wet!" exclaimed suddenly a
child that stood crying at the door and knocking for admittance, while the
rain poured down, and the wind made all the windows rattle.
"Poor thing!" said the old poet, as he went to open the door. There stood a
little boy, quite naked, and the water ran down from his long golden hair; he
trembled with cold, and had he not come into a warm room he would most
certainly have perished in the frightful tempest.
"Poor child!" said the old poet, as he took the boy by the hand. "Come in,
come in, and I will soon restore thee! Thou shalt have wine and roasted
apples, for thou art verily a charming child!" And the boy was so really. His
eyes were like two bright stars; and although the water trickled down his
hair, it waved in beautiful curls. He looked exactly like a little angel, but
he was so pale, and his whole body trembled with cold. He had a nice little
bow in his hand, but it was quite spoiled by the rain, and the tints of his
many-colored arrows ran one into the other.
The old poet seated himself beside his hearth, and took the little fellow on
his lap; he squeezed the water out of his dripping hair, warmed his hands
between his own, and boiled for him some sweet wine. Then the boy recovered,
his cheeks again grew rosy, he jumped down from the lap where he was sitting,
and danced round the kind old poet.
"You are a merry fellow," said the old man. "What's your name?"
"My name is Cupid," answered the boy. "Don't you know me? There lies my bow;
it shoots well, I can assure you! Look, the weather is now clearing up, and
the moon is shining clear again through the window."
"Why, your bow is quite spoiled," said the old poet.
"That were sad indeed," said the boy, and he took the bow in his hand and
examined it on every side. "Oh, it is dry again, and is not hurt at all; the
string is quite tight. I will try it directly." And he bent his bow, took aim,
and shot an arrow at the old poet, right into his heart. "You see now that my
bow was not spoiled," said he laughing; and away he ran.
The naughty boy, to shoot the old poet in that way; he who had taken him into
his warm room, who had treated him so kindly, and who had given him warm wine
and the very best apples!
The poor poet lay on the earth and wept, for the arrow had really flown into
"Fie!" said he. "How naughty a boy Cupid is! I will tell all children about
him, that they may take care and not play with him, for he will only cause
them sorrow and many a heartache."
And all good children to whom he related this story, took great heed of this
naughty Cupid; but he made fools of them still, for he is astonishingly
cunning. When the university students come from the lectures, he runs beside
them in a black coat, and with a book under his arm. It is quite impossible
for them to know him, and they walk along with him arm in arm, as if he, too,
were a student like themselves; and then, unperceived, he thrusts an arrow to
their bosom. When the young maidens come from being examined by the clergyman,
or go to church to be confirmed, there he is again close behind them. Yes, he
is forever following people. At the play, he sits in the great chandelier and
burns in bright flames, so that people think it is really a flame, but they
soon discover it is something else. He roves about in the garden of the palace
and upon the ramparts: yes, once he even shot your father and mother right in
the heart. Ask them only and you will hear what they'll tell you. Oh, he is a
naughty boy, that Cupid; you must never have anything to do with him. He is
forever running after everybody. Only think, he shot an arrow once at your old
grandmother! But that is a long time ago, and it is all past now; however, a
thing of that sort she never forgets. Fie, naughty Cupid! But now you know
him, and you know, too, how ill-behaved he is!
THE RED SHOES
There was once a little girl who was very pretty and delicate, but in summer
she was forced to run about with bare feet, she was so poor, and in winter
wear very large wooden shoes, which made her little insteps quite red, and
that looked so dangerous!
In the middle of the village lived old Dame Shoemaker; she sat and sewed
together, as well as she could, a little pair of shoes out of old red strips
of cloth; they were very clumsy, but it was a kind thought. They were meant
for the little girl. The little girl was called Karen.
On the very day her mother was buried, Karen received the red shoes, and wore
them for the first time. They were certainly not intended for mourning, but
she had no others, and with stockingless feet she followed the poor straw
coffin in them.
Suddenly a large old carriage drove up, and a large old lady sat in it: she
looked at the little girl, felt compassion for her, and then said to the
"Here, give me the little girl. I will adopt her!"
And Karen believed all this happened on account of the red shoes, but the old
lady thought they were horrible, and they were burnt. But Karen herself was
cleanly and nicely dressed; she must learn to read and sew; and people said
she was a nice little thing, but the looking-glass said: "Thou art more than
nice, thou art beautiful!"
Now the queen once travelled through the land, and she had her little daughter
with her. And this little daughter was a princess, and people streamed to the
castle, and Karen was there also, and the little princess stood in her fine
white dress, in a window, and let herself be stared at; she had neither a
train nor a golden crown, but splendid red morocco shoes. They were certainly
far handsomer than those Dame Shoemaker had made for little Karen. Nothing in
the world can be compared with red shoes.
Now Karen was old enough to be confirmed; she had new clothes and was to have
new shoes also. The rich shoemaker in the city took the measure of her little
foot. This took place at his house, in his room; where stood large
glass-cases, filled with elegant shoes and brilliant boots. All this looked
charming, but the old lady could not see well, and so had no pleasure in them.
In the midst of the shoes stood a pair of red ones, just like those the
princess had worn. How beautiful they were! The shoemaker said also they had
been made for the child of a count, but had not fitted.
"That must be patent leather!" said the old lady. "They shine so!"
"Yes, they shine!" said Karen, and they fitted, and were bought, but the old
lady knew nothing about their being red, else she would never have allowed
Karen to have gone in red shoes to be confirmed. Yet such was the case.
Everybody looked at her feet; and when she stepped through the chancel door on
the church pavement, it seemed to her as if the old figures on the tombs,
those portraits of old preachers and preachers' wives, with stiff ruffs, and
long black dresses, fixed their eyes on her red shoes. And she thought only of
them as the clergyman laid his hand upon her head, and spoke of the holy
baptism, of the covenant with God, and how she should be now a matured
Christian; and the organ pealed so solemnly; the sweet children's voices sang,
and the old music-directors sang, but Karen only thought of her red shoes.
In the afternoon, the old lady heard from everyone that the shoes had been
red, and she said that it was very wrong of Karen, that it was not at all
becoming, and that in future Karen should only go in black shoes to church,
even when she should be older.
The next Sunday there was the sacrament, and Karen looked at the black shoes,
looked at the red ones--looked at them again, and put on the red shoes.
The sun shone gloriously; Karen and the old lady walked along the path through
the corn; it was rather dusty there.
At the church door stood an old soldier with a crutch, and with a wonderfully
long beard, which was more red than white, and he bowed to the ground, and
asked the old lady whether he might dust her shoes. And Karen stretched out
her little foot.
"See, what beautiful dancing shoes!" said the soldier. "Sit firm when you
dance"; and he put his hand out towards the soles.
And the old lady gave the old soldier alms, and went into the church with
And all the people in the church looked at Karen's red shoes, and all the
pictures, and as Karen knelt before the altar, and raised the cup to her
lips, she only thought of the red shoes, and they seemed to swim in it; and
she forgot to sing her psalm, and she forgot to pray, "Our Father in Heaven!"
Now all the people went out of church, and the old lady got into her carriage.
Karen raised her foot to get in after her, when the old soldier said,
"Look, what beautiful dancing shoes!"
And Karen could not help dancing a step or two, and when she began her feet
continued to dance; it was just as though the shoes had power over them. She
danced round the church corner, she could not leave off; the coachman was
obliged to run after and catch hold of her, and he lifted her in the carriage,
but her feet continued to dance so that she trod on the old lady dreadfully.
At length she took the shoes off, and then her legs had peace.
The shoes were placed in a closet at home, but Karen could not avoid looking
Now the old lady was sick, and it was said she could not recover. She must be
nursed and waited upon, and there was no one whose duty it was so much as
Karen's. But there was a great ball in the city, to which Karen was invited.
She looked at the old lady, who could not recover, she looked at the red
shoes, and she thought there could be no sin in it; she put on the red shoes,
she might do that also, she thought. But then she went to the ball and began
When she wanted to dance to the right, the shoes would dance to the left, and
when she wanted to dance up the room, the shoes danced back again, down the
steps, into the street, and out of the city gate. She danced, and was forced
to dance straight out into the gloomy wood.
Then it was suddenly light up among the trees, and she fancied it must be the
moon, for there was a face; but it was the old soldier with the red beard; he
sat there, nodded his head, and said, "Look, what beautiful dancing shoes!"
Then she was terrified, and wanted to fling off the red shoes, but they clung
fast; and she pulled down her stockings, but the shoes seemed to have grown to
her feet. And she danced, and must dance, over fields and meadows, in rain and
sunshine, by night and day; but at night it was the most fearful.
She danced over the churchyard, but the dead did not dance--they had
something better to do than to dance. She wished to seat herself on a poor
man's grave, where the bitter tansy grew; but for her there was neither peace
nor rest; and when she danced towards the open church door, she saw an angel
standing there. He wore long, white garments; he had wings which reached from
his shoulders to the earth; his countenance was severe and grave; and in his
hand he held a sword, broad and glittering.
"Dance shalt thou!" said he. "Dance in thy red shoes till thou art pale and
cold! Till thy skin shrivels up and thou art a skeleton! Dance shalt thou from
door to door, and where proud, vain children dwell, thou shalt knock, that
they may hear thee and tremble! Dance shalt thou--!"
"Mercy!" cried Karen. But she did not hear the angel's reply, for the shoes
carried her through the gate into the fields, across roads and bridges, and
she must keep ever dancing.
One morning she danced past a door which she well knew. Within sounded a
psalm; a coffin, decked with flowers, was borne forth. Then she knew that the
old lady was dead, and felt that she was abandoned by all, and condemned by
the angel of God.
She danced, and she was forced to dance through the gloomy night. The shoes
carried her over stack and stone; she was torn till she bled; she danced over
the heath till she came to a little house. Here, she knew, dwelt the
executioner; and she tapped with her fingers at the window, and said, "Come
out! Come out! I cannot come in, for I am forced to dance!"
And the executioner said, "Thou dost not know who I am, I fancy? I strike bad
people's heads off; and I hear that my axe rings!"
"Don't strike my head off!" said Karen. "Then I can't repent of my sins! But
strike off my feet in the red shoes!"
And then she confessed her entire 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 wood.
And he carved out little wooden feet for her, and crutches, taught her the
psalm criminals always sing; and she kissed the hand which had wielded the
axe, and went over the heath.
"Now I have suffered enough for the red shoes!" said she. "Now I will go into
the church that people may see me!" And she hastened towards the church door:
but when she was near it, the red shoes danced before her, and she was
terrified, and turned round. The whole week she was unhappy, and wept many
bitter tears; but when Sunday returned, she said, "Well, now I have suffered
and struggled enough! I really believe I am as good as many a one who sits in
the church, and holds her head so high!"
And away she went boldly; but she had not got farther than the churchyard gate
before she saw the red shoes dancing before her; and she was frightened, and
turned back, and repented of her sin from her heart.
And she went to the parsonage, and begged that they would take her into
service; she would be very industrious, she said, and would do everything she
could; she did not care about the wages, only she wished to have a home, and
be with good people. And the clergyman's wife was sorry for her and took her
into service; and she was industrious and thoughtful. She sat still and
listened when the clergyman read the Bible in the evenings. All the children
thought a great deal of her; but when they spoke of dress, and grandeur, and
beauty, she shook her head.
The following Sunday, when the family was going to church, they asked her
whether she would not go with them; but she glanced sorrowfully, with tears in
her eyes, at her crutches. The family went to hear the word of God; but she
went alone into her little chamber; there was only room for a bed and chair to
stand in it; and here she sat down with her Prayer-Book; and whilst she read
with a pious mind, the wind bore the strains of the organ towards her, and she
raised her tearful countenance, and said, "O God, help me!"
And the sun shone so clearly, and straight before her stood the angel of God
in white garments, the same she had seen that night at the church door; but he
no longer carried the sharp sword, but in its stead a splendid green spray,
full of roses. And he touched the ceiling with the spray, and the ceiling rose
so high, and where he had touched it there gleamed a golden star. And he
touched the walls, and they widened out, and she saw the organ which was
playing; she saw the old pictures of the preachers and the preachers' wives.
The congregation sat in cushioned seats, and sang out of their Prayer-Books.
For the church itself had come to the poor girl in her narrow chamber, or else
she had come into the church. She sat in the pew with the clergyman's family,
and when they had ended the psalm and looked up, they nodded and said, "It is
right that thou art come!"
"It was through mercy!" she said.
And the organ pealed, and the children's voices in the choir sounded so sweet
and soft! The clear sunshine streamed so warmly through the window into the
pew where Karen sat! Her heart was so full of sunshine, peace, and joy, that
it broke. Her soul flew on the sunshine to God, and there no one asked after
the RED SHOES.
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