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 some one near. It was a seaman, quite a little personage, so little as if he were a midshipman; but a midshipman it was not.
"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. 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 marketplace.
 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.
 Soroe, 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.
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 death-like stillness in Soroe!" 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, Greek,—Croak!" 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 Roeskilde"——
"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 it.
THE NAUGHTY BOY.
A long 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-corner, 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 his heart.
"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 heart-ache."
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 for ever 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 for ever 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 TWO NEIGHBORING FAMILIES.
We really might have thought something of importance was going on in the duck-pond, but there was nothing going on. All the ducks that were resting tranquilly on the water, or were standing in it on their heads—for that they were able to do—swam suddenly to the shore: you could see in the wet ground the traces of their feet, and hear their quacking far and near. The water, which but just now was smooth and bright as a mirror, was quite put into commotion. Before, one saw every tree reflected in it, every bush that was near: the old farm-house, with the holes in the roof and with the swallow's nest under the eaves; but principally, however, the great rose-bush, sown, as it were, with flowers. It covered the wall, and hung forwards over the water, in which one beheld the whole as in a picture, except that everything was upside down; but when the water was agitated, all swam away and the picture was gone. Two duck's feathers, which the fluttering ducks had lost, were rocking to and fro: suddenly they flew forwards as if the wind were coming, but it did not come: they were, therefore, obliged to remain where they were, and the water grew quiet and smooth again, and again the roses reflected themselves—they were so beautiful, but that they did not know, for nobody had told them. The sun shone in between the tender leaves—all breathed the most beautiful fragrance; and to them it was as with us, when right joyfully we are filled with the thought of our happiness.
"How beautiful is existence!" said each rose. "There is but one thing I should wish for,—to kiss the sun, because it is so bright and warm.* The roses yonder, too, below in the water, the exact image of ourselves—them also I should like to kiss, and the nice little birds below in their nest. There are some above, too; they stretch out their heads and chirrup quite loud: they have no feathers at all, as their fathers and mothers have. They are good neighbors, those below as well as those above. How beautiful existence is!"
The young birds above and below—those below of course the reflection only in the water—were sparrows: their parents were likewise sparrows; and they had taken possession of the empty swallow's nest of the preceding year, and now dwelt therein as if it had been their own property.
"Are those little duck children that are swimming there?" asked the young sparrows, when they discovered the duck's feathers on the water.
* In Danish the sun is of the feminine gender, and not, as with us, when personified, spoken of as "he." We beg to make this observation, lest the roses' wish "to kiss the sun," be thought unmaidenly. We are anxious, also, to remove a stumbling block, which might perchance trip up exquisitely-refined modern notions, sadly shocked, no doubt, as they would be, at such an apparent breach of modesty and decorum.—(Note of the Translator.)
"If you will ask questions, do let them be a little rational at least," said the mother. "Don't you see that they are feathers, living stuff for clothing such as I wear, and such as you will wear also? But ours is finer. I should, however, be glad if we had it up here in our nest, for it keeps one warm. I am curious to know at what the ducks were so frightened; at us, surely not; 'tis true I said 'chirp,' to you rather loud. In reality, the thick-headed roses ought to know, but they know nothing; they only gaze on themselves and smell: for my part, I am heartily tired of these neighbors."
"Listen to the charming little birds above," said the roses, "they begin to want to sing too, but they cannot as yet. However, they will do so by and by: what pleasure that must afford! It is so pleasant to have such merry neighbors!"
Suddenly two horses came galloping along to be watered. A peasant boy rode on one, and he had taken off all his clothes except his large broad black hat. The youth whistled like a bird, and rode into the pond where it was deepest; and as he passed by the rosebush he gathered a rose and stuck it in his hat; and now he fancied himself very fine, and rode on. The other roses looked after their sister, and asked each other, "Whither is she going?" but that no one knew.
"I should like to go out into the world," thought one; "yet here at home amid our foliage it is also beautiful. By day the sun shines so warm, and in the night the sky shines still more beautifully: we can see that through all the little holes that are in it." By this they meant the stars, but they did not know any better.
"We enliven the place," said the mamma sparrow; "and the swallow's nest brings luck, so people say, and therefore people are pleased to have us. But our neighbors! Such a rose-bush against the wall produces damp; it will doubtless be cleared away, and then, perhaps, some corn at least may grow there. The roses are good for nothing except to look at and to smell, and, at most to put into one's hat. Every year—that I know from my mother—they fall away; the peasants wife collects them together and strews salt among them; they then receive a French name which I neither can nor care to pronounce, and are put upon the fire, when they are to give a pleasant odor. Look ye, such is their life; they are only here to please the eye and nose! And so now you know the whole matter."
As the evening came on, and the gnats played in the warm air and in the red clouds, the nightingale came and sang to the roses; sang that the beautiful is as the sunshine in this world, and that the beautiful lives for ever. But the roses thought that the nightingale sang his own praise, which one might very well have fancied; for that the song related to them, of that they never thought: they rejoiced in it, however, and meditated if perhaps all the little sparrows could become nightingales too.
"I understood the song of that bird quite well," said the young sparrows; "one word only was not quite clear to me. What was the meaning of 'the beautiful?'"
"That is nothing," said the mamma sparrow, "that is only something external. Yonder at the mansion, where the pigeons have a house of their own, and where every day peas and corn is strewn before them—I have myself eaten there with them, and you shall, too, in time; tell me what company you keep, and I'll tell you who you are—yes, yonder at the mansion they have got two birds with green necks and a comb on their head; they can spread out their tail like a great wheel, and in it plays every color, that it quite hurts one's eyes to look at it. These birds are called peacocks, and that is 'THE BEAUTIFUL.' They only want to be plucked a little, and then they would not look at all different from the rest of us. I would already have plucked them, if they had not been quite so big."
"I will pluck them," chirped the smallest sparrow, that as yet had not a single feather.
In the peasant's cottage dwelt a young married couple; they loved each other dearly, and were industrious and active: everything in their house looked so neat and pretty. On Sunday morning early the young woman came out, gathered a handful of the most beautiful roses, and put them into a glass of water, which she placed on the shelf.
"Now I see that it is Sunday," said the man, and kissed his little wife. They sat down, read in the hymn-book, and held each other by the hand: the sun beamed on the fresh roses and on the young married couple.
"This is really too tiring a sight," said the mamma sparrow, who from her nest could look into the room, and away she flew.
The next Sunday it was the same, for every Sunday fresh roses were put in the glass: yet the rose-tree bloomed on equally beautiful. The young sparrows had now feathers, and wanted much to fly with their mother; she, however, would not allow it, so they were forced to remain. Off she flew; but, however, it happened, before she was aware, she got entangled in a springe of horse-hair, which some boys had set upon a bough. The horse-hair drew itself tightly round her leg, so tightly as though it would cut it in two. That was an agony, a fright! The boys ran to the spot and caught hold of the bird, and that too in no very gentle manner.
"It's only a sparrow," said they; but they, nevertheless, did not let her fly, but took her home with them, and every time she cried they gave her a tap on the beak.
There stood in the farm-yard an old man, who knew how to make shaving-soap and soap for washing, in square cakes as well as in round balls. He was a merry, wandering old man. When he saw the sparrow that the boys had caught, and which, as they said, they did not care about at all, he asked, "Shall we make something very fine of him?" Mamma sparrow felt an icy coldness creep over her. Out of the box, in which were the most beautiful colors, the old man took a quantity of gold leaf, and the boys were obliged to go and fetch the white of an egg, with which the sparrow was painted all over; on this the gold was stuck, and mamma sparrow was now entirely gilded; but she did not think of adornment, for she trembled in every limb. And the soap-dealer tore a bit off the lining of his old jacket, cut scollops in it so that it might look like a cock's comb, and stuck it on the head of the bird.
"Now, then, you shall see master gold-coat fly," said the old man, and let the sparrow go, who, in deadly fright, flew off, illumined by the beaming sun. How she shone! All the sparrows, even a crow, although an old fellow, were much frightened at the sight; they, however flew on after him, in order to learn what foreign bird it was.
Impelled by anguish and terror, he flew homewards: he was near falling exhausted to the earth. The crowd of pursuing birds increased; yes, some indeed even tried to peck at him.
"Look! there's a fellow! Look! there's a fellow!" screamed they all.
"Look! there's a fellow! Look! there's a fellow!" cried the young sparrows, as the old one approached the nest. "That, for certain, is a young peacock; all sorts of colors are playing in his feathers: it quite hurts one's eyes to look at him, just as our mother told us. Chirp! chirp! That is the beautiful!" And now they began pecking at the bird with their little beaks, so that it was quite impossible for the sparrow to get into the nest: she was so sadly used that she could not even say "Chirrup," still less, "Why, I am your own mother!" The other birds, too, now set upon the sparrow, and plucked out feather after feather; so that at last she fell bleeding in the rose-bush below.
"Oh! poor thing!" said all the roses, "be quieted; we will hide you. Lean your little head on us."
The sparrow spread out her wings once more, then folded them close to her body, and lay dead in the midst of the family who were her neighbors,—the beautiful fresh roses.
"Chirp! chirp!" sounded from the nest. "Where can our mother be? It is quite inconceivable! It cannot surely be a trick of hers by which she means to tell us that we are now to provide for ourselves? She has left us the house as an inheritance; but to which of us is it exclusively to belong, when we ourselves have families'?"
"Yes, that will never do that you stay here with me when my household is increased by the addition of a wife and children," said the smallest.
"I shall have, I should think, more wives and children than you," said the second.
"But I am the eldest," said the third. They all now grew passionate; they beat each other with their wings, pecked with their beaks, when, plump! one after the other was tumbled out of the nest. There they lay with their rage; they turned their heads on one side, and winked their eyes as they looked upward: that was their way of playing the simpleton. They could fly a little, and by practice they learned to do so still better; and they finally were unanimous as to a sign by which, when at some future time they should meet again in the world, they might recognise each other. It was to consist in a "Chirrup!" and in a thrice-repeated scratching on the ground with the left leg.
The young sparrow that had been left behind in the nest spread himself out to his full size. He was now, you know, a householder; but his grandeur did not last long: in the night red fire broke through the windows, the flames seized on the roof, the dry thatch blazed up high, the whole house was burnt, and the young sparrow with it; but the young married couple escaped, fortunately, with life. When the sun rose again, and every thing looked so refreshed and invigorated, as after a peaceful sleep, there was nothing left of the cottage except some charred black beams leaning against the chimney, which now was its own master. A great deal of smoke still rose from the ground, but without, quite uninjured, stood the rose-bush, fresh and blooming, and mirrored every flower, every branch, in the clear water.
"Oh! how beautifully the roses are blooming in front of the burnt-down house!" cried a passer-by. "It is impossible to fancy a more lovely picture. I must have that!"
And the man took a little book with white leaves out of his pocket: he was a painter, and with a pencil he drew the smoking house, the charred beams, and the toppling chimney, which now hung over more and more. But the large and blooming rose-tree, quite in the foreground, afforded a magnificent sight; it was on its account alone that the whole picture had been made.
Later in the day two of the sparrows who had been born here passed by. "Where is the house?" asked they. "Where the nest? Chirp! chirp! All is burnt down, and our strong brother,—that is what he has got for keeping the nest. The roses have escaped well; there they are yet standing with their red cheeks. They, forsooth, do not mourn at the misfortune of their neighbors. I have no wish whatever to address them; and, besides, it is very ugly here, that's my opinion." And off and away they flew.
On a beautiful, bright, sunny autumn day—one might almost have thought it was still the middle of summer—the pigeons were strutting about the dry and nicely-swept court-yard in front of the great steps—black and white and party-colored—and they shone in the sunshine. The old mamma pigeon said to the young ones: "Form yourselves in groups, form yourselves in groups, for that makes a much better appearance."
"What little brown creatures are those running about amongst us?" asked an old pigeon, whose eyes were green and yellow. "Poor little brownies! poor little brownies!"
"They are sparrows: we have always had the reputation of being kind and gentle; we will, therefore, allow them to pick up the grain with us. They never mix in the conversation, and they scrape a leg so prettily."
"Yes, they scratched three times with their leg, and with the left leg too, and said also "Chirrup!" It is by this they recognised each other; for they were three sparrows out of the nest of the house that had been burnt down.
"Very good eating here," said one of the sparrows. The pigeons strutted round each other, drew themselves up, and had inwardly their own views and opinions.
"Do you see the cropper pigeon?" said one of the others. "Do you see how she swallows the peas? She takes too many, and the very best into the bargain!"—"Coo! coo!"—"How she puts up her top-knot, the ugly, mischievous creature!" "Coo! coo! coo!"
And every eye sparkled with malice. "Form yourselves in groups! form yourselves in groups! Little brown creatures! Poor little brownies! Coo! coo!" So it went on unceasingly, and so will they go on chattering in a thousand years to come.
The sparrows ate right bravely. They listened attentively to what was said, and even placed themselves in a row side by side, with the others. It was not at all becoming to them, however. They were not satisfied, and they therefore quitted the pigeons, and exchanged opinions about them; nestled along under the garden palisades, and, as they found the door of the room open that led upon the lawn, one of them, who was filled to satiety, and was therefore over-bold, hopped upon the threshold. "Chirrup!" said he, "I dare to venture!"
"Chirrup!" said another, "I dare, too, and more besides!" and he hopped into the chamber. No one was present: the third saw this, and flew still further into the room, calling out, "Either all or nothing! However, 'tis a curious human nest that we have here; and what have they put up there? What is that?"
Close in front of the sparrows bloomed the roses; they mirrored themselves in the water, and the charred rafters leaned against the over-hanging chimney. But what can that be? how comes this in the room of the mansion? And all three sparrows were about to fly away over the roses and the chimney, but they flew against a flat wall. It was all a picture, a large, beautiful picture, which the painter had executed after the little sketch.
"Chirrup!" said the sparrows, "it is nothing! It only looks like something. Chirrup! That is beautiful! Can you comprehend it? I cannot!" And away they flew, for people came into the room.
Days and months passed, the pigeons had often cooed, the sparrows had suffered cold in winter, and in summer lived right jollily; they were all betrothed and married, or whatever you choose to call it. They had young ones, and each naturally considered his the handsomest and the cleverest: one flew here, another there; and if they met they recognised each other by the "Chirrup?" and by the thrice-repeated scratching with the left leg. The eldest sparrow had remained an old maid, who had no nest and no family; her favorite notion was to see a large town, so away she flew to Copenhagen.
There one beheld a large house, painted with many bright colors, quite close to the canal, in which lay many barges laden with earthen pots and apples. The windows were broader below than above, and when the sparrow pressed through, every room appeared like a tulip, with the most varied colors and shades, but in the middle of the tulip white men were standing: they were of marble, some, too, were of plaister; but when viewed with a sparrow's eyes, they are the same. Up above on the roof stood a metal chariot, with metal horses harnessed to it; and the goddess of victory, also of metal, held the reins. It was Thorwaldsen's Museum.
"How it shines! How it shines!'' said the old maiden sparrow. That, doubtless, is 'the beautiful.' Chirrup! But here it is larger than a peacock!" She remembered still what her mother, when she was a child, had looked upon as the grandest among all beautiful things. The sparrow fled down into the court: all was so magnificent. Palms and foliage were painted on the walls. In the middle of the court stood a large, blooming rose-tree; it spread out its fresh branches, with its many roses, over a grave. Thither flew the old maiden sparrow, for she saw there many of her sort. "Chirrup!" and three scrapes with the left leg. Thus had she often saluted, from one year's end to the other, and nobody had answered the greeting—for those who are once separated do not meet again every day—till at last the salutation had grown into a habit. But to-day, however, two old sparrows and one young one answered with a "Chirrup!" and with a thrice-repeated scrape of the left leg.
"Ah, good day, good day!" It was two old birds from the nest, and a little one besides, of the family. "That we should meet here! It is a very grand sort of place, but there is nothing to eat here: that is 'the beautiful!' Chirrup!"
And many persons advanced from the side apartments, where the magnificent marble figures stood, and approached the grave that hid the great master who had formed the marble figures. All stood with, glorified countenances around Thorwaldsen's grave, and some picked up the shed rose-leaves and carefully guarded them. They had come from far—one from mighty England, others from Germany and France: the most lovely lady gathered one of the roses and hid it in her bosom. Then the sparrows thought that the roses governed here, and that the whole house had been built on account of them. Now, this seemed to them, at all events, too much; however, as it was for the roses that the persons showed all their love, they would remain no longer. "Chirrup!" said they, and swept the floor with their tails, and winked with one eye at the roses. They had not looked at them long before they convinced themselves that they were their old neighbors. And they really were so. The painter who had drawn the rose-bush beside the burned-down house, had afterwards obtained permission to dig it up, and had given it to the architect—for more beautiful roses had never been seen—and the architect had planted it on Thorwaldsen's grave, where it bloomed as a symbol of the beautiful, and gave up its red fragrant leaves to be carried to distant lands as a remembrance.
"Have you got an appointment here in town?" asked the sparrows.
And the roses nodded: they recognised their brown neighbors, and rejoiced to see them again. "How delightful it is to live and to bloom, to see old friends again, and every day to look on happy faces! It is as if every day were a holy-day."
"Chirrup!" said the sparrows. "Yes, it is in truth our old neighbors; their origin—from the pond—is still quite clear in our memory! Chirrup! How they have risen in the world! Yes, Fortune favors some while they sleep! Ah! there is a withered leaf that I see quite plainly." And they pecked at it so long till the leaf fell off; and the tree stood there greener and more fresh, the roses gave forth their fragrance in the sunshine over Thorwaldsen's grave, with whose immortal name, they were united.
There was once upon a time a darning needle, that imagined itself so fine, that at last it fancied it was a sewing-needle.
"Now, pay attention, and hold me firmly!" said the darning-needle to the fingers that were taking it out. "Do not let me fall! If I fall on the ground, I shall certainly never be found again, so fine am I."
"Pretty well as to that," answered the fingers; and so saying, they took hold of it by the body.
"Look, I come with a train!" said the darning-needle, drawing a long thread after it, but there was no knot to the thread.
The fingers directed the needle against an old pair of shoes belonging to the cook. The upper-leather was torn, and it was now to be sewed together.
"That is vulgar work," said the needle; "I can never get through it. I shall break! I shall break!" And it really did break. "Did I not say so?" said the needle; "I am too delicate."
"Now it's good for nothing," said the fingers, but they were obliged to hold it still; the cook dropped sealing-wax upon it, and pinned her neckerchief together with it.
"Well, now I am a breast-pin," said the darning-needle. "I was sure I should be raised to honor: if one is something, one is sure to get on!" and at the same time it laughed inwardly; for one can never see when a darning-needle laughs. So there it sat now as proudly as in a state-carriage, and looked around on every side.
"May I take the liberty to inquire if you are of gold?" asked the needle of a pin that was its neighbor. "You have a splendid exterior, and a head of your own, but it is small, however. You must do what you can to grow, for it is not every one that is bedropped with sealing-wax!" And then the darning-needle drew itself up so high that it fell out of the kerchief, and tumbled right into the sink, which the cook was at that moment rinsing out.
"Now we are going on our travels," said the needle. "If only I do not get lost!" But it really did get lost.
"I am too delicate for this world!" said the needle, as it lay in the sink, "but I know who I am, and that is always a consolation;" and the darning-needle maintained its proud demeanor, and lost none of its good-humor.
And all sorts of things swam over it—shavings, straws, and scraps of old newspapers.
"Only look how they sail by," said the needle. "They do not know what is hidden below them! I stick fast here: here I sit. Look! there goes a shaving: it thinks of nothing in the world but of itself—but of a shaving! There drifts a straw; and how it tacks about, how it turns round! Think of something else besides yourself, or else perhaps you'll run against a stone! There swims a bit of a newspaper. What's written there is long ago forgotten, and yet out it spreads itself, as if it were mighty important! I sit here patient and still: I know who I am, and that I shall remain after all!"
One day there lay something close beside the needle. It glittered so splendidly, that the needle thought it must be a diamond: but it was only a bit of a broken bottle, and because it glittered the darning-needle addressed it, and introduced itself to the other as a breast-pin.
"You are, no doubt, a diamond?"
"Yes, something of that sort." And so each thought the other something very precious, and they talked together of the world, and of how haughty it is.
"I was with a certain miss, in a little box," said the darning-needle, "and this miss was cook; and on each hand she had five fingers. In my whole life I have never seen anything so conceited as these fingers! And yet they were only there to take me out of the box and to put me back into it again!"
"Were they, then, of noble birth?" asked the broken bottle.
"Noble!" said the darning-needle; "no, but high-minded! There were five brothers, all descendants of the 'Finger' family. They always kept together, although they were of different lengths. The outermost one, little Thumb, was short and stout; he went at the side, a little in front of the ranks: he had, too, but one joint in his back, so that he could only make one bow; but he said, if a man were to cut him off, such a one were no longer fit for military service. Sweet-tooth, the second finger, pryed into what was sweet, as well as into what was sour, pointed to the sun and moon, and he it was that gave stress when they wrote. Longman, the third brother, looked at the others contemptuously over his shoulder. Goldrim, the fourth, wore a golden girdle round his body! and the little Peter Playallday did nothing at all, of which he was very proud. 'Twas boasting, and boasting, and nothing but boasting, and so away I went."
"And now we sit here and glitter," said the broken glass bottle.
At the same moment more water came along the gutter; it streamed over the sides and carried the bit of bottle away with it.
"Well, that's an advancement," said the darning-needle. "I remain where I am: I am too fine; but that is just my pride, and as such is to be respected." And there it sat so proudly, and had many grand thoughts.
"I should almost think that I was born of a sunbeam, so fine am I! It seems to me, too, as if the sunbeams were always seeking me beneath the surface of the water. Ah! I am so fine, that my mother is unable to find me! Had I my old eye that broke, I verily think I could weep; but I would not—weep! no, it's not genteel to weep!"
One day two boys came rummaging about in the sink, where they found old nails, farthings, and such sort of things. It was dirty work; however, they took pleasure in it.
"Oh!" cried one who had pricked himself with the needle, "there's a fellow for you."
"I am no fellow, I am a lady!" said the darning-needle; but no one heard it. The sealing-wax had worn off, and it had become quite black; but black makes one look more slender, and the needle fancied it looked more delicate than ever.
"Here comes an egg-shell sailing along!" said the boys; and then they stuck the needle upright in the egg-shell.
"The walls white and myself black," said the needle. "That is becoming! People can see me now! If only I do not get seasick, for then I shall snap."
But it was not sea-sick, and did not snap.
"It is good for sea-sickness to have a stomach of steel, and not to forget that one is something more than a human being! Now my sea-sickness is over. The finer one is, the more one can endure!"
"Crack!" said the egg-shell: a wheel went over it.
"Good heavens! how heavy that presses!" said the needle. "Now I shall be sea-sick! I snap!" But it did not snap, although a wheel went over it. It lay there at full length, and there it may lie still.
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 trees: 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.
"Some one 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 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 sate 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 sate in it: she looked at the little girl, felt compassion for her, and then said to the clergyman:
"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 traveled 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 every one 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 an alms, and went into the church with Karen.
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 at them.
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 to dance.
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 sate 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 sate still and listened when the clergyman read the Bible in the evenings. All the children thought a 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 sate 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 sate 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 sate! 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.
TO THE YOUNG READERS
Here is another volume of Andersen's charming stories for you; and I am sure you will be glad to get it. For my part, I am always delighted to find one that I do not happen to have yet seen; and as I know the others pleased you—for I have heard so, both directly and indirectly, from a great many people, there can be no doubt that you all will be overjoyed to have a few more of these stories told you.
And there is no one who participates in this delight more than—whom do you think? Why, than Andersen himself! He is so happy that his Tales have been thus joyfully received, and that they have found their way to the hearts and sympathies of you all. He speaks of it with evident pleasure; and it is not vanity, but his kind affectionate nature, which inclines him to mention such little occurrences as prove how firm a hold his writings have taken on the minds of the young and gentle-natured. "So much praise might," he says, "spoil a man, and make him vain. Yet no, it does not spoil him: on the contrary, it makes him better; it purifies his thoughts, and this must give one the impulse and the will to deserve it all." He was so pleased to hear, and I, you may be sure, was equally pleased to tell him, what had been written to me by a friend a short time before—that several little boys and girls, Miss Edgeworth's nephews and nieces were so delighted with the "**Tales From Denmark**," that they not only read and re-read them continually, but used to act the stories together in their play-hours!
And a certain little dark-eyed thing of my acquaintance, "little Nelly," or "the little gipsey," as I sometimes call her, knows the whole story of "Ellie and the Pretty Swallow," by heart; and another "wee thing," that cannot yet read, but is always wanting to have stories told her, knows all about Kay and Gerda, and the flower-garden, and how Gerda went to look for her brother, inquiring of every body she met, and how at last the good sister found him.
In Copenhegan, as Andersen himself told me, all the children know him. "And," he said, with such a countenance that showed such homage was dearer to him than the more splendid honors paid as tributes to his genius, "as I walk along the street, the little darlings nod and kiss their hands to me; and they say to one another, 'There's Andersen!' and then some more run and wave their hands. Oh yes, they all know me. But sometimes, if there be one who does not, then, perhaps, his mamma will say, 'Look, that is he who wrote the story you read the other day, and that you liked so much;' and so we soon get acquainted." And this popularity delights him more than anything; and you surely cannot call it vanity.
In the account he has written of his life, he relates a circumstance that happened to him at Dresden; and it is so pretty that I insert it here. He writes: "An evening that for me was particularly interesting I spent with the royal family, who received me most graciously. Here reigned the same quiet that is found in private life in a happy family. A whole troop of amiable children, all belonging to Prince John, were present. The youngest of the princesses, a little girl who knew that I had written the story of 'The Fir-tree,' began familiarly her conversation with me in these words: 'Last Christmas we also had a fir-tree, and it stood here in this very room.' Afterwards, when she was taken to bed earlier than the others, and had wished her parents and the king and queen 'Good night,' she turned round once more at the half-closed door, and nodded to me in a friendly manner, and as though we were old acquaintance. I was her prince of the fairy tale."
But it is not the praise of the great, or the admiration of a court, on which he sets most value, as you will see by the following extract from a letter which I received from him to-day, only an hour or two ago. It is about his stay in England, and his visit to the north, after I had left him, and I am sure he will not mind my sharing thus much of what he writes to me with you. "The hearty welcome I met with in Scotland moved me greatly. My writings were so well known, I found so many friends, that I can hardly take in so much happiness. But I must relate you one instance: in Edinburgh I went with a party of friends to Heriot's Hospital, where orphan children are taken care of and educated. We were all obliged to inscribe our names in the visitors' book. The porter read the names, and asked if that was Andersen the author: and when some one answered 'Yes,' the old man folded his hands and gazed quite in ecstacy at an old gentleman who was with us, and said: 'Yes, yes! he is just as I had always fancied him to myself—the venerable white hair—the mild expression—yes, that is Andersen!' They then explained to him that I was the person. 'That young man!' he exclaimed; 'Why generally such people, when one hears about them, are either dead or very old.' When the story was told me, I at first thought it was a joke; but the porter came up to me in a most touching manner, and told me how he and all the boys entered so entirely and heartily into my stories. It so affected me that I almost shed tears."
This is indeed popularity!
Now I dare say you thought that the little princes and princesses in a king's palace had tastes and feelings very different from a poor charity-boy; but you see, although so different in rank, they were alike in one thing—they were both children; and childhood, if left to itself, is in all situations the same.
And do you know, too, my little friends, that you are very excellent critics? Yes, most sage and excellent critics; though I dare say not one of you even ever dreamt of such a thing. But it is, nevertheless, true; and not some, but all of you, whether in England, Scotland, or Ireland—the little boys in Heriot's Hospital, and the little princess at Dresden who knew the story of "The Fir-Tree." For without one dissentient voice you have passed favorable judgment on these stories: in your estimation of them your were unanimous.
Yet when they first appeared in Denmark some of the critics by profession found fault with them, and wondered, as they said, how an author who had written works of greater pretension, could think of making his appearance with something so childish as these tales. And some kind friends, grown-up people, whose opinion was not unimportant, advised him by all means to give up writing such stories as he had no talent for them; and it was only later, that, to use Andersen's own words, "every door and heart in Denmark was open to them." But all of you, not critics by profession, you welcomed them at once; as soon as you saw them you perceived their beauty—you cherished and gave them a place in your heart. And this is the reason why I say that you are sage and excellent critics; and if you can preserve the same simple-heartedness, finding pleasure in what is natural and truthful, and allow yourselves to be guided by the instincts of your pure uncorrupted nature, you may always be so.
You will like to know that Thorwaldsen, the great Thorwaldsen, loved to hear Andersen repeat these tales. It is true he has quite a peculiar way of relating them, which adds greatly to their charm. I begged him one day to tell me the story of "The Top and Ball," and he immediately sat down on the sofa and began. Though I knew it by heart from beginning to end, so often had I read it over, yet it now seemed quite new, from his manner of telling it; and I was as amused and laughed as much as though I had never heard it before. That very pretty one, "Ole Luckoie," was written when in the society of Thorwaldsen; and "often at dusk," so Andersen relates, "when the family circle were sitting in the summer house, would Thorwaldsen glide gently in, and, tapping me on the shoulder, ask, 'Are we little ones to have no story tonight?' It pleased him to hear the same story over and over again; and often, while employed on his grandest works, he would stand with a smiling countenance and listen to the tale of 'Top and Ball,' and 'The Ugly Duck.'" The last is my favorite also.
From Rome, where this occurred, you must now take a jump with me to Hamburg; for I have to tell you an anecdote that happened there to Andersen, also, about his stories which he relates in his "Life." He had gone to see Otto Speckter, whose clever and characteristic pictures most of you will certainly know, and he intended to go afterwards to the play. Speckter accompanied him. "We passed an elegant house. 'We must first go in here, my dear friend,' said he; 'a very rich family lives there, friends of mine, friends of your tales; the children will be overjoyed—' 'But the opera,' said I. 'Only for two minutes,' he replied, and drew me into the house, told my name, and the circle of children collected round me. 'And now repeat a story,' he said: 'only a single one.' I did so, and hurried to the theatre. 'That was a strange visit,' I said. 'A capital one! a most excellent one!' shouted he. 'Only think! the children are full of Andersen and his fairy tales: all of a sudden he stands in the midst of them, and relates one himself, and then he is gone—vanished. Why, that very circumstance is a fairy tale for the children, and will remain vividly in their memory.' It amused me too."
You will be getting impatient, I am afraid. However, before I finish I must tell you something about the stories in this volume. The translation of them I had begun in Andersen's room, and when he came in we began talking about them, one of which, "The Little Girl with the Matches," I had read in his absence. I told him how delighted I was with it—that I found it most exquisitely narrated; but that how such a thing came into his head, I could not conceive. He then said, "That was written when I was on a visit at The Duke of Augustenburg's. I received a letter from Copenhagen from the editor of a Danish almanac for the people, in which he said he was very anxious to have something of mine for it, but that the book was already nearly printed. In the letter were two woodcuts, and these he wished to make use of, if only I would write something to which they might serve as illustrations. One was the picture of a little match-girl, exactly as I have described her. It was from the picture that I wrote the story—wrote it surrounded by splendor and rejoicing, at the castle of Grauenstein, in Schleswig."
"And Little Tuk," said I.—"Oh! 'Little Tuk,'" answered he, laughing; "I will tell you all about him. When in Oldenburg I lived for some time at the house of a friend, the Counsellor von E***. The children's names were Charles and Gustave (Augusta?) but the little boy always called himself 'Tuk.' He meant to say 'Charles,' but he could not pronounce it otherwise. Now once I promised the dear little things that I would put them in a fairy tale, and so both of them appeared, but as poor children in the story of 'Little Tuk.' So you see, as reward for all the hospitality I received in Germany, I take the German children and make Danes of them."
You see he can make a story out of anything. "They peep over his shoulder," as he once wrote to me, a long time ago. And one time, when he was just going to set off on a journey, his friend said to him, "My little Erich possesses two leaden soldiers, and he has given one of them to me for you, that you may take it with you on your travels."
Now I should not at all wonder if this were the very "Resolute Leaden Soldier" you read of in the "**Tales From Denmark**;" but this one, it is true, was a Turk, and I don't think the other was. And then, too, there is nothing said about this one having but one leg. However, it may be the same, after all.
As to the tale called "The Naughty Boy," that, it is true, is an old story. The poet Anacreon wrote it long, long ago; but Andersen has here re-told it in so humorous a manner, that it will no doubt amuse you as much as though it had been written originally by him. He has given the whole, too, quite another dress; and "the naughty boy" himself he has tricked out so drolly, and related such amusing tricks of him, that I think Mr. Andersen had better take care the young rogue does not play him a sly turn some day or other, for the little incorrigible rascal respects nobody.
Before I say farewell, there is one thing I must tell you; which is, there are two persons you certainly little think of, to whom you owe some thanks for the pretty tales of Anderson that have so greatly delighted you, as well as for those he may still write. You will never guess who they are, so I will tell you. They are Frederick VI., the late, and Christian VIII., the present King of Denmark. The former gave Andersen a pension to relieve him from the necessity of depending on his pen for bread; so that, free from cares, he was able to pursue his own varied fancies. Though not much, it was sufficient; but the present king, who has always been most kind to your friend Andersen—for so you surely consider him—increased his pension considerably, in order that, he might be able to travel, and follow in full liberty the bent of his genius.
Now do you not like a king who thus holds out his hand to genius, who delights to honor the man who has done honor to their common country, and who is proud to interest himself in his fate as in that of a friend? And this King Christian VIII. does. Am I not right, then, in saying that you owe him your thanks?
Farewell, my little friends, and believe that I am always ready and willing to serve you.
Donau Stauf, near Ratisbon.
* By whom several of the stories in this volume were translated
Published by James Miller, New York.
RED BOOK OF APPIN:
A Fairy Tale of the Middle Ages.
By the Author of "Alchemy and the Alchemists," "Swedenborg a Hermetic Philosopher," and "Christ the Spirit."
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THE ICE MAIDEN,
And other Tales.
By Hans Christian Andersen.
Translated by Fanny Fuller. Price 75 cents.
CHARACTER AND INFLUENCE
By M. Guizot.
FRIENDS IN COUNCIL.
A SERIES OF READINGS, AND DISCOURSES THEREON.
4 vols. 12mo.
And other Tales.
BY HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN.
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