Tm Bdwi Lbrry
)~ v -'
THE MARSH KING'S
AND OTHER STORIES.
HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN.
H. W. DULCKEN, PH.D.
ILLUSTRATED WITH EIGHTEEN PICTURES.
GEORGE ROUTLEDGE AND SONS,
BROADWAY, LUDGATE HILL.
NEW YORK: 416 BROOME STREET.
THE HANS ANDERSEN LIBRARY
FOR THE YOUNG.
Crown, 8vo, Cloth Gilt, price Is. each.
z. THE RED SHOES. 16 Pictures.
2. THE SILVER SHILLING. 18 Pictures.
3. THE LITTLE MATCH GIRL. .6 Pictures.
4. THE DARNING-NEEDLE. 18 Pictures.
5. THE TINDER-BOX. x7 Pictures.
6. THE GOLOSHES OF FORTUNE. r3Pictures.
7. THE MARSH KING'S DAUGHTER. 18
8. EVERYTHING IN-ITS RIGHT PLACE.
9. TH WILD SWANS zo Pictures.
uo. UNDER THE WILLOW TREE. T4 Pictures,
zz. THE OLD CHURCH BELL. 14 Pictures.
12. THE ICE MAIDEN. 9 Pictures.
13. THE WILL-O'-THE-WISP. .9 Pictures.
14. POULTRY MEG'S FAMILY. n Pictures.
u5. PUT OFF IS NOT DONE WITH. 16Pictures.
16. THE SNOW MAN. 14 Pictures.
s7. IN SWEDEN. 16 Pictures.
18. THE SNOW QUEEN. 14 Pictures.
19. HARDY TIN SOLDIER. 14 Pictures.
so. WHAT THE GRASS STALKS SAID. 5S
GEORGE ROUTLEDGE & SONS,
BROADWAY, LUDGATE HILL.
NEW YORK: 416 BROOME STREET.
DALZIEL BROTHERS, CAMDEN FRESS, LONDON, N.W
THE MARSH KING'S DAUGHTER I
TWELVE BY THE MAIL So
THE SHADOW 89
THE HAPPY FAMILY 112
THE MARSH KING'S DAUGHTER.
HE storks tell their little ones very
many stories, all of the moor and the
marsh. These stories are generally
adapted to the age and capacity of
the hearers. The youngest are content if they are
told "Kribble-krabble, plurre-murre" as a story,
and find it charming; but the older ones want
something with a deeper meaning, or at any rate
something relating to the family. Of the two
oldest and longest stories that have been preserved
among the storks, we are only acquainted with
one, namely, that of Moses, who was exposed by
his mother on the banks of the Nile, and whom
the King's daughter found, and who afterwards
became a great man and a prophet. That history
is very well known.
The second story is not known yet, perhaps,
because it is quite an inland story. It has been
handed down from mouth to mouth, from stork-
2 The Marsh King's Daughter.
mamma to stork-mamma, for thousands of years,
and each of them has told it better and better;
and now we'll tell it best of all.
The first stork pair who told the story had their
summer residence on the wooden house of the
Viking, which lay near the wild moor in Wend-
syssel; that is to say, if we are to speak out of
the abundance of our knowledge, hard by the
great moor in the circle of HjIrring, high up by
the Skagen, the northern point of Jutland. The
wilderness there is still a great wide moor-heath,
about which we can read in the official description
of .districts. It is said that in old times there was
here a sea, whose bottom was upheaved; now the
moorland extends for miles on all sides, surrounded
by damp meadows, and unsteady shaking swamp,
and turfy moor, with blueberries and stunted trees.
Mists are almost always hovering over this region,
which seventy years ago was still inhabited by
wolves. It is certainly rightly called the "wild
moor;" and one can easily think how dreary and
lonely it must have been, and how much marsh
and lake there was here a thousand years ago.
Yes, in detail, exactly the same things were seen
then that may yet be beheld. The reeds had the
same height, and bore the same kind of long leaves
The Marsh King's Daughter. 3
and bluish-brown feathery plumes that they bear
now; the birch stood there, with its white bark
and its fine loosely-hanging leaves, just as now;
and as regards the living creatures that dwelt here
--hy, the fly wore its gauzy dress of the same
cut that it wears now; and the favourite colours
of tle stork were white picked out with black, and
red stockings. The people certainly wore coats of a
different cut from those they now wear; but who-
ever stepped out on the shaking moorland, be he
huntsnan or follower, master or servant, met with
the sane fate a thousand years ago that he would
meet 7ith to-day. He sank and went down to the,
MarsH King, as they called him, who ruled below
in the| great moorland empire. They also called
him tIe Gungel King; but we like the name of
MarshjKing better, and by that we'11 call him, as
the st'ks did. Very little is known of the Marsh
King's rule; but perhaps that is a good thing.
In tie neighbourhood of the moorland, hard by
the grit arm of the German Ocean and the Cat-
tegat, which is called the Liimfjorden, lay the
wooden house of the Viking, with its stone water-
tight cllars, with its tower, and its three project-
ing storeys. On the roof the Stork had built his
nest; ind Stork-mamma there hatched the eggs,
4 The Marsh King's Daughter.
and felt sure that her hatching would come 't
One evening Stork-papa stayed out very long;
and when he came home he looked very bustling
and important. /
"I've something very terrible to tell you,' he
said to the Stork-mamma.
"Let that be," she replied; "remember that
I'm hatching the eggs, and you might agitate me,
and I might do them a mischief."
"You must know it," he continued. Shp has
arrived here-the daughter of our host in Egpt-
she has dared to undertake the journey here-and
"She who came 'from the race of the fries ?
Oh, tell me all about it! You know I can'l bear
to be kept long in suspense when I'm hatching
"You see, mother, she believed in whit the
doctor said, and you told me true. She b ieved
that the moor flowers would bring healing o her
sick father, and she has flown all the way I re in
swan's plumage, in company with the other swan-
princesses, who come to the North every year to
renew their youth. She has come here, aid she
is gone !"
The Marsh King's Daughter. 5
"You are much too long-winded!" exclaimed
the Stork-mamma, "and the eggs might catch
cold. I can't bear being kept in such suspense !"
"I have kept watch," said the Stork-papa;
" and to-night, when I went into the reeds-there
where the marsh ground will bear me-three swans
came. Something in their flight seemed to say to
me, 'Look out! That's not altogether swan-it's
only swan's feathers!' Yes, mother, you have a
feeling of intuition just as I have; you know
whether a thing is right or wrong."
"Yes, certainly," she replied; "but tell me
about the Princess. I'm sick of hearing of the
Well, you know that in the middle of the moor
there is something like a lake," continued Stork-
papa. "You can see one corner of it if you raise
yourself a little. There, by the reeds and the green
mud, lay a great elder stump; and on this the three
swans sat, flapping their wings and looking about
them. One of them threw off her plumage, and I
immediately recognized her as our house Princess
from Egypt! There she sat, with no covering but
her long black hair. I heard her tell the others to
pay good heed to the swan's plumage, while she
dived down into the water to pluck the flowers
6 The Marsh King's Daughter.
which she fancied she saw growing there. The
others nodded, and picked up the empty feather
dress and took care of it. 'I wonder what they
will do with it ? thought I; and perhaps she asked
herself the same question. If so, she soon got an
answer-a very practical answer-for the two rose
up and flew away with her swan's plumage. 'Do
thou dive down,' they cried; thou shalt never see
Egypt again! Remain thou here in the moor!'
And so saying, they tore the swan's plumage into
a thousand pieces, so that the feathers whirled
about like a snow-storm; and away they flew-the
two faithless Princesses!"
c"Why, that is terrible !" said Stork-mamma.
"I can't bear to hear any more of it. But now
tell me what happened next."
"The Princess wept and lamented aloud. Her
tears fell fast on the elder stump, and the latter
moved; for it was not a regular elder stump, but
the Marsh King-he who lives and rules in the
depths of the moor! I myself saw it-how the
stump of the tree turned round, and ceased to be
a tree stump; long thin branches grew forth from
it like arms. Then the poor Ghild was terribly
frightened, and sprang up to flee away. She ran
across to the soft, green, slimy ground; but that
and it -was he -who drew her down. Great black
Sr u o o t ,
trace of both of them vanished when these burst.
Now the Princess is buried in the wild moor, and
never more will she bear away a flower to Egypt.
Your heart would have burst, mother, if you had
8 The Marsh King's Daughter.
"You ought not to tell me anything of the kind
at such a time as this," said Stork-mamma; the
eggs might suffer by it. The Princess will find
some way of escape; some one will come to help
her. If it had been you or I, or one of our people,
it would certainly have been all over with us."
"But I shall go and look every day to see if
anything happens," said Stork-papa.
And he was as good as his word.
A long time had passed, when at last lie saw a
green stalk shooting up out of the deep moor-
ground. When it reached the surface, a leaf spread
out and unfolded itself broader and broader; close
by it, a bud came out. And one morning, when
Stork-papa flew over the stalk, the bud opened
through the power of the strong sunbeams, and in
the cup of the flower lay a beautiful child-a little
girl-looking just as if she had risen out of the
bath. The little one so closely resembled the Prin-
cess from Egypt, that at the first moment the Stork
thought it must be the Princess herself; but on
second thoughts, it appeared more probable that it
must be the daughter of the Princess and of the
Marsh King; and that also explained her being
placed in the cup of the water-lily.
"But she cannot possibly be left lying there,"
The Marsh King's Daughter. 9
thought the Stork-papa; "and in my nest there
are so many persons already. But stay, I have a
thought. The wife of the Viking has no children,
and how often has she not wished for a little one !
People always say, 'The stork has brought a little
one;' and I will do so in earnest this time. I shall
fly with the child to the Viking's wife. What re-
joicing there will be yonder "
And the Stork lifted the little girl out of the
flower-cup, flew to the wooden house, picked a hole
with his beak in the bladder-covered window, laid
the charming child on the bosom of the Viking's
wife, and then hurried up to the Stork-mamma,
and told her what he had seen and done; and the
little storks listened to the story, for they were big
enough to do so now.
So, you see," he concluded, the Princess is
not dead, for she must have sent the little one up
here; and now that is provided for too."
Ah, I said it would be so, from the very begin-
ning !" said the Stork-mamma; "but now think
a little of your own family. Our travelling time
is drawing on; sometimes I feel quite restless in
my wings already. The cuckoo and the nightingale
have started; and I heard the quails saying that
they were going too, so soon as the wind was fa-
Io The Marsh King's Daughter.
vourable. Our young ones will behave well at the
exercising, or I am much deceived in them."
The Viking's wife was extremely glad when she
woke next morning and found the charming infant
lying in her arms. She kissed and caressed it;
but it cried violently, and struggled with its arms
and legs, and did not seem rejoiced at all. At
length it cried itself to sleep; and as it lay there
still and tranquil, it looked exceedingly beautiful.
The Viking's wife was in high glee: she felt light
in body and soul; her heart leaped within her;
and it seemed to her as if her husband and his
warriors, who were absent, must return quite as
suddenly and unexpectedly as the little one had
Therefore she and the whole household had
enough to do in preparing everything for the re-
ception of her lord. The long coloured curtains
of tapestry, which she and her maids had. worked,
and on which they had woven pictures of their
idols, Odin, Thor, and Friga, were hung up; the
slaves polished the old shields that served as orna-
ments; and cushions were placed on the benches,
and dry wood laid on the fireplace in the midst of
the hall, so that the flame might be fanned up at a
moment's notice. The Viking's wife herself as-
The Marsh King's Daugkter. I
sisted in the work, so that towards evening she was
very tired, and went to sleep quickly and lightly.
When she awoke towards morning, she was vio-
lently alarmed, for the infant had vanished She
sprang from her couch, lighted a pine torch, and
searched all round about; and, behold, in the part
of the bed where she had stretched her feet, lay, not
the child, but a great ugly frog She was horror-
struck at the sight, and seized a heavy stick to kill
the frog; but the creature looked at her with such
strange, mournful eyes, that she was not able to
strike the blow. Once more she looked round
the room-the frog uttered a low, wailing croak,
and she started, sprang from the couch, and ran to
the window and opened it. At that moment the
sun shone forth, and flung its beams through the
window on the couch and on the great frog; and
suddenly it appeared as though the frog's great
mouth contracted and became small and red, and
its limbs moved and stretched and became beauti-
fully symmetrical, and it was no longer an ugly
frog which lay there, but her pretty child !
"What is this?" she said. Have I had a
bad dream ? Is it not my own lovely cherub lying
there ?" And she kissed and hugged it; but the
child struggled and fought like a little wild cat.
12 The Marsh Kings Daughter.
Not on this day nor on the morrow did the Vi-
king return, although he certainly was on his way
home; but the wind was against him, for it blew
towards the south, favourably for the storks. A
good wind for one is a contrary wind for another.
When one or two more days and nights had
gone, the Viking's wife clearly understood how the
case was with her child-that a terrible power of
sorcery was upon it. By day it was charming as an
angel of light, though it had a wild, savage temper;
but at night it became an ugly frog, quiet and
mournful, with sorrowful eyes. Here were two
natures changing inwardly as well as outwardly
with the sunlight. The reason of this was that by
day the child had the form of its mother, but the
disposition of its father; while, on the contrary,
at night the paternal descent became manifest in
its bodily appearance, though the mind and heart
of the mother then became dominant in the child.
Who might be able to loosen this charm that
wicked sorcery had worked ?
The wife of the Viking lived in care and sorrow
about it; and yet her heart yearned towards the
little creature, of whose condition she felt she
should not dare tell her husband on his return;
for he would, probably, according to the custom
The Marsh King's Daughter. 13
which then prevailed, expose the poor child on
the public highway, and let whoever listed take it
away. The good Viking woman could not find it
in her heart to allow this, and she therefore deter-
mined that the Viking should never see the child
except by daylight.
One morning the wings of Storks were heard
rushing over the roof; more than a hundred pairs
of those birds had rested from their exercise during
the previous night, and now they soared aloft, to
"All males here, and ready," they cried; and
the wives and children too."
How light we feel !" screamed all the young
Storks in chorus : "it seems to be creeping all over
us, down into our very toes, as if we were filled
with frogs. Ah, how charming it is, travelling to
foreign lands !"
Mind you keep close to us during your flight,"
said papa and mamma. Don't use your beaks too
much, for that tires the chest."
And the Storks flew away.
At the same time the sound of the trumpets
rolled across the heath, for the Viking had landed
with his warriors; they were returning home,
richly laden with spoil, from the Gallic coast, where
14 The Marsh King's Daughter.
the people, as in the land of the Britons, sang in
"Deliver us from the wild Northmen !"
And life and tumultuous joy came with them
into the Viking's castle on the moorland. The
great mead-tub was brought into the hall, the pile
of wood was set ablaze, horses were killed, and a
great feast was to begin. The officiating priest
sprinkled the slaves with the warm blood; the fire
crackled, the smoke rolled along beneath the roof;
but they were accustomed to that. Guests were
invited, and received handsome gifts: all feuds and
all malice were forgotten. And the company drank
deep, and threw the bones of the feast in each
other's faces, and this was considered a sign of
good humour. The bard, a kind of minstrel, but
who was also a warrior and had been on the expe-
dition with the rest, sang them a song, in which
they heard all their warlike deeds praised, and
everything remarkable specially noticed. Every
verse ended with the burden:
"Goods and gold, friends and foes will die; every man
must one day die;
Bat a famous name will never die !"
And with that they beat upon their shields, and
4 . .. ',4,4 1. ,
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ThI~re 1 Fa~
16 The Marsh King's Daughter.
hammered the table in glorious fashion with bones
The Viking's wife sat upon the high seat in the
open hall. She wore a silken dress, and golden
armlets, and great amber beads: she was in her
costliest garb. And the bard mentioned her in
his song, and sang of the rich treasure she had
brought her brave husband. The latter was de-
lighted with the beautiful child, which he had seen
in the day-time in all its loveliness; and the savage
ways of the little creature pleased him especially.
He declared that the girl might grow up to be a
stately heroine, strong and determined as a man.
She would not wink her eyes when a practised
hand cut off her eyebrows with a sword by way of
The full mead-barrel was emptied, and a fresh
one brought in; for these were people who liked to
enjoy all things plentifully. The old proverb was
indeed well known, -which says, The cattle know
when they should quit the pasture, but a foolish
man knoweth not the measure of his own appetite."
Yes, they knew it well enough; but one knows one
thing, and one does another. They also knew that
" even the welcome guest becomes wearisome when
he sitteth long in the house;" but for all that
The Marsh King's Daughter. 17
they sat still, for pork and mead are good things;
and there was high carousing, and at night the
bondmen slept among the warm ashes, and dipped
their fingers in the fat grease and licked them.
Those were glorious times, they thought.
Once more in the year the Viking sallied forth,
though the storms of autumn had already began to
roar: he went with his warriors to the shores of
Britain, for he declared that was but an excursion
across the water; and his wife stayed at home with
the little girl. And thus much is certain, that the
poor lady soon got to love the frog with its gentle
eyes and its sorrowful sighs, almost better than the
pretty child that bit and beat all around her.
The rough damp mist of autumn, which devours
the leaves of the forest, had already descended
upon thicket and heath. Birds featherless," as
they called the snow, flew in thick masses, and
winter was coming on fast. The sparrows took
possession of the storks' nests, and talked about
the absent proprietors according to their fashion;
but these-the stork pair, with all the young ones
-what had become of them ?
The storks were now in the land of Egypt,
where the sun sent forth warm rays, as it does here
18 The Marsh King's Daughter.
on a fine midsummer day. Tamarinds and acacias
bloomed in the country around; the crescent of
Mahomet glittered from the cupolas of the temples,
and on the slender towers sat many a stork pair
resting after their long journey. Great troops di-
vided the nests, built close together on venerable
pillars, and in fallen temple arches of forgotten
cities. The date palm lifted up its screen as if it
would be a sunshade; the greyish-white pyramids
stood like masses of shadow in the clear air of the
far desert, where the ostrich ran his swift career,
and the lion gazed with his great grave eyes at the
marble sphinx which lay half buried in the sand.
The waters of the Nile had fallen, and the whole
river bed was crowded with frogs, and this spec-
tacle was just according to the taste of the Stork
family. The young Storks thought it was optical
illusion, they found everything so glorious.
Yes, it's delightful here; and it's always like
this in our warm country," said the Stork-mamma.
And the young ones felt quite frisky on the
strength of it.
Is there anything more to be seen ?" they
asked. "Are we to go much farther into the
"There's nothing further to be seen," answered
The Marsh King's Daughter. 19
the Stork-mamma. Behind this delightful region
there are luxuriant forests, whose branches are
interlaced with one another, while prickly climbing
plants close up the paths-only the elephant can
force a way for himself with his great feet; and
the snakes are too big and the lizards too quick for
us. If you go into the desert, you'll get your
eyes full of sand when there's a light breeze, but
when it blows great guns you may get into the
middle of a pillar of sand. It is best to stay here,
where there are frogs and locusts. I shall stay
here, and you shall stay too."
And there they remained. The parents sat in
the nest on the slender minaret, and rested, and
yet were busily employed smoothing and cleaning
their feathers, and whetting their beaks against
their red stockings. Now and then they stretched
out their necks, and bowed gravely, and lifted their
heads with their high foreheads and fine smooth
feathers, and looked very clever with their brown
eyes. The female young ones strutted about in
the juicy reeds, looked slily at the other young
storks, made acquaintances, and swallowed a frog
at every third step, or rolled a little snake to and
fro in their bills, which they thought became them
well, and, moreover, tasted nice. The young male
20 The Marsh King's Daughter.
Storks began a quarrel, beat each other with their
wings, struck with their beaks, and even pricked
each other till the blood came. And in this way
sometimes one couple was betrothed, and some-
times another, of the young ladies and gentlemen,
and that was just what they wanted, and their chief
object in life : then they took to a new nest, and
began new quarrels, for in hot countries people
are generally.hot tempered and passionate. But it
was pleasant for all that, and the old people espe-
cially were much rejoiced, for all that young people
do seems to suit them well. There was sunshine
every day, and every day plenty to eat, and nothing
to think of but pleasure. But in the rich castle,
at the Egyptian host's, as they called him, there
was no pleasure to be found.
The rich mighty lord reclined on his divan, in
the midst of the great hall of the many-coloured
walls, looking as if he were sitting in a tulip; but
he was stiff and powerless in all his limbs, and lay
stretched out like a mummy. His family and
servants surrounded him, for he was not dead,
though one could not exactly say that he was alive.
The healing moor flower from the North, which
was to have been found and brought home by her
who loved him best, never appeared. His beau-
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22 The Marsh King's Daughter.
teous young daughter, who had flown in the swan's
plumage over sea and land to the far North, was
never to come back again. She is dead !" the
two remaining swan-maiden's had said, and they
had concocted a complete story, which ran in this
We three together flew high up in the air: a
hunter saw us, and shot his arrow at us; it struck
our young companion and friend; and slowly,
singing her farewell song, she sank down, a dying
swan, into the woodland lake. By the shore of
the lake, under a weeping birch tree, we laid her
in the cool earth. But we had our revenge. We
bound fire under the wings of the swallow who had
built her nest beneath the huntsman's thatch; the
house burst into flames, the huntsman was burned
in the house, and the glare shone over the sea as
far as the hanging birch beneath which she sleeps.
Never will she return to the land of Egypt."
And then the two wept. And when Stork-papa
heard the story, he clapped with his beak so that
it could be heard a long way off.
"Treachery and lies !" he cried. "I should
like to run my beak deep into their chests."
"And perhaps break it off," interposed the
Stork.mamma; and then you would look well.
The Marsh King's Daughter. 23
Think first of yourself, and then of your family,
and all the rest does not concern you."
But to-morrow I shall seat myself at the edge
of the open cupola when the wise and learned men
assemble to consult on the sick man's state : per-
haps they may come a little nearer the truth."
And the learned and wise men came together
and spoke a great deal, out of which the Stork
could make no sense-and it had no result, either
for the sick man or for the daughter in the swampy
waste. But for all that we may listen to what the
people said, for we have to listen to a great deal of
talk in the world.
But then it's an advantage to hear what went
before, what has been said; and in this case we are
well informed, for we know just as much about it
"Love gives life the highest love gives the
highest life i Only through love can his life be
That is what they all said, and the learned men
said it was very cleverly and beautifully spoken.
"That is a beautiful thought," Stork-papa said
"I don't quite understand it," Stork-mamma
24 The Marsh King's Daughter.
replied; and that's not my fault, but the fault
of the thought. But let it be as it will, I've some-
thing else to think of."
And now the learned men had spoken of love to
this one and that one, and of the difference be-
tween the love of one's neighbour and love between
parents and children, of the love of plants for the
light, when the sunbeam kisses the ground and.
the germ springs forth from it. Everything was
so fully and elaborately explained that it was quite
impossible for Stork-papa to take it in, much less
to repeat it. He felt quite weighed down with
thought, and half shut his eyes, and the whole of
the following day he stood thoughtfully on one
leg: it was quite heavy for him to carry, all that
But one thing the Stork-papa understood. All,
high and low, had spoken out of their inmost
hearts, and said that it was a great misfortune for
thousands of people, yes, for the whole country,
that this man was lying sick and could not get
well, and that it would spread joy and pleasure
abroad if he should recover. But where grew the
flower that could restore him to health? They
had all searched for it, consulted learned books,
the twinkling stars, the weather and the wind;
The Marsh King's Daughter. 25
they had made inquiries in every byway of which
they could think; and at length the wise men and
the learned men had said, as we have already told,
that "Love begets life-it will restore a father's
life;" and upon this occasion they had surpassed
themselves, and said more than they understood.
They repeated it, and wrote down as a recipe, "Love
begets life." But how was the thing to be pre-
pared according to the recipe? That was a point
they could not get over. At last they were decided
upon the point that help must come by means of
the Princess, through her who dave to her father
with her whole soul; and at last a method had
been devised whereby help could be procured in
this dilemma. Yes, it was already more than a
year ago since the Princess had sallied forth by
night, when the brief rays of the new moon were
waning: she had gone out to the marble sphinx,
had shaken the dust from her sandals, and gone
onward through the long passage which leads into
the midst of one of the great pyramids, where one
of the mighty Kings of antiquity, surrounded by
pomp and treasure, lay swathed in mummy cloths.
There she was to incline her ear to the breast of
Sthe dead King; for thus, said the wise men, it
should be made manifest to her where she might
26 The Marsh King's Daughter.
find life and health for her father. She had ful-
filled all these injunctions, and had seen in a vision
that she was to bring home from the deep lake in
the northern moorland-the very place had .been
accurately described to her-the lotus flower which
grows in the depths of the waters, and then her
father would regain health and strength.
And therefore she had gone forth in the swan's
plumage out of the land of Egypt to the open
heath, to the woodland moor. And the Stork-
papa and Stork-mamma knew all this; and now
we also know it more accurately than we knew it
before. We know that the Marsh King had drawn
her down to himself, and know that to her loved
ones at home she is dead for ever. One of the
wisest of them said, as the Stork-mamma said too,
" She will manage to help herself;" and at last
they quieted their minds with that, and resolved to
wait and sec what would happen, for they knew of
nothing better that they could do.
I should like to take away the swan's lfai;ll:!-.
from the two faithless Princesses," said the Stork-
papa; then, at any rate, they will not be able to
fly up again to the wild moor and do mischief.
I'11 hide the two swan-feather suits up there till
somebody has occasion for them."
The Marsh King's Daughter. 27
"But where do you intend to hide them'?"
"Up in our nest in the moor," answered he.
"I and our young ones will take turns in carrying
them up yonder on our return, and if that should
prove too difficult for us, there are places enough
on the way where we can conceal them till our
next journey. Certainly one suit of swan's feathers
would be enough for the Princess, but two are
always better. In those northern countries no one
can have too many wraps."
No one will thank you for it," quoth Stork-
mamma; "but you're the master. Except at
breeding-time, I have nothing to say."
In the Viking's castle by the wild moor, whither
the storks bent their flight when the spring ap-
proached, they had given the little girl the name
of Helga; but this name was too soft for a temper
like that which was associated with her beauteous
form. Every month this temper showed itself in
sharper outlines; and in the course of years-
during which the storks made the same journey
over and over again, in autumn to the Nile, in
spring back to the moorland lake-the child grew
to be a great girl; and before people were aware
of it, she was a beautiful maiden in her sixteenth
,28 The Marsh King's Daughter.
year. The shell was splendid, but the kernel was
harsh and hard; and she was hard, as indeed were
most people in those dark, gloomy times. It was
a pleasure to her to splash about with her white
hands in the blood of the horse that had been slain
in sacrifice. In her wild mood she bit off the neck
of the black cock the priest was about to offer up;
and to her father she said in perfect seriousness,
If thy enemy should pull down the roof of thy
house while thou wert sleeping in careless safety;
if I felt it or heard it, I would not wake thee even
if I had the power. I should never do it, for my
ears still tingle with the blow that thou gavest me
years ago-thou I have never forgotten it."
But the Viking took her words in jest; for, like
all others, he was bewitched with her beauty, and
he knew not how temper and form changed in
Helga. Without a saddle she sat upon a horse as
if she were part of it, while it rushed along in full
career; nor would she spring from the horse when
it quarrelled and fought with the other horses.
Often she would throw herself, in her clothes, from
the high shore into the sea, and swim to meet the
Viking when his boat steered near home; and she
cut the longest lock of her hair, and twisted it into
a string for her bow.
T/e l11..,Ish King's Daughter. 29
j-',I-.ll i -. .I1 is well achieved," she said.
The Viking's wife was strong of character and of
will, according to the custom of the times; but,
compared to her daughter, she appeared as a feeble
timid woman; for she knew that an evil charm
weighed heavily upon the unfortunate child.
It seemed as if, out of mere malice, when her
mother stood on the threshold or came out into
the yard, Helga would often seat herself on the
margin of the well, and wave her arms in the air;
then suddenly she would dive into the deep well,
when her frog nature enabled her to dive and rise,
down and up, until she climbed forth again like a
cat, and came back into the hall dripping with
water, so that the green leaves strewn upon the
ground floated and turned in the streams that
flowed from her garments.
But there was one thing that imposed a check
upon Helga, and that was the evening twilight.
When that came she was quiet and thoughtful,
and would listen to reproof and advice; and then
a secret feeling seemed to draw her towards her
mother. And when the sun sank, and the usual
transformation of body and spirit took place in
her, she would sit quiet and mournful, shrunk to
the shape of the frog, her body indeed much larger
30 The Mars/ Kings Daughter.
than that of the animal whose likeness she took,
and for that reason much more hideous to behold,
for she looked like a wretched dwarf with a frog's
head and webbed fingers. Her eyes then assumed
a very melancholy expression. She had no voice,
and could only utter a hollow croaking that sounded
like the stifled sob of a dreaming child. Then the
Viking's wife took her on her lap, and forgot the
ugly form as she looked into the mournful eyes,
"I could almost wish that thou wert always my
poor dumb frog-child, for thou art only the more
terrible when thy nature is veiled in a form of
And the Viking woman wrote Runic characters
against sorcery and spells of sickness, and threw
them over the wretched child; but she could not
see that they worked any good.
"One can scarcely believe that she was ever so
small that she could lie in the cup of a water-lily,"
said Stork-papa, '" now she's grown up the image
of her Egyptian mother. Ah! we shall never see
that poor lady again. Probably she did not know
how to help herself, as you and the learned men
said. Year after year I have flown to and fro,
across and across the great moorland, and she has
Te tranormed Pr incess
Yes, I may as well tell you that every year, when
I came here a few days before you to repair the
nest and attend to various matters, I spent a whole
32 The MVarsh KiZng's Dazlghter.
night in flying to and fro over the lake, as if I had
been an owl or a bat, but every time in vain. The
two suits of swan's feathers which I and the young
ones dragged up here out of the land of the Nile
have consequently not been used: we had trouble
enough with them to bring them hither in three
journeys; and now they lie down here in the nest,
and if it should happen that a fire broke out, and
the wooden house were burned, they would be
And our good nest would be destroyed too,"
said Stork-mamma; "but you think less of that
than of your plumage stuff and of your moor-
princess. You'd best go down into the mud and
stay there with her. You're a bad father to your
own children, as I said already when I hatched our
first brood. I only hope neither we nor our chil-
dren will get an arrow in our wings through that
wild girl. Helga doesn't know in the least what
she does. I wish she would only remember'that
we have lived here longer than she, and that we
have never forgotten our duty, and have given our
toll every year, a feather, an egg, and a young
one, as it was right we should do. Do you think
I can now wander about in the courtyard and
every where, as I was wont in former days, and as
The Marsh King's Daughter. 33
I still do in Egypt, where I am almost the play-
fellow of the people, and that I can press into pot
and kettle as I can yonder ? No, I sit up here
and am angry at her, the stupid chit And I am
angry at you too. You should just have left her
lying in the water-lily, and she would have been
dead long ago."
"You are much better than your words," said
Stork-papa. I know you better than you know
And with that he gave a hop, and flapped his
wings heavily twice, stretched out his legs behind
him, and flew away, or rather sailed away, without
moving his wings. He had already gone some
distance, when he gave a great flap The sun
shone upon his grand plumage, and his head and
neck were stretched forth proudly. There was
power in it, and dash!
"After all, he's handsomer than any of them,"
said Stork-mamma to herself; "but I won't tell
Early in that autumn the Viking came home,
laden with booty and bringing prisoners with him.
Among these was a young Christian priest, one of
those who contemned the gods of the North.
34 The Miarsh Kizng's Daughter.
Often in those later times there had been a talk,
in hall and chamber, of the new faith that was
spreading far and wide in the South, and which,
by means of Saint Ansgarius, had penetrated as
far as H-edeby on the Schlei. Even Helga had
heard of this belief in One who, from love to men
and for their redemption, had sacrificed His life;
but with her all this had, as the saying is, gone in
at one ear and come out at the other. It seemed
as if she only understood the meaning of the word
"love," when she crouched in a corner of the
chamber in the form of a miserable frog; but the
Viking's wife had listened to the mighty history
that was told throughout the lands, and had felt
strangely moved thereby.
On their return from their voyage, the men told
of the splendid temples and of their hewn stones,
raised for the worship of Him whose worship is
love. Some massive vessels, made with cunning
art, of gold, had been brought home among the
booty, and each one had a peculiar fragrance; for
they were incense vessels, which had been swung
by Christian priests before the altar.
In the deep cellars of the Viking's house the
young priest had been immured, his hands and feet
bound with strips of bark. The Viking's wife de-
The Marsh King's Daughter. 35
dared that he was beautiful as Bulder to behold,
and his misfortune touched her heart; but Helga
declared that it would be right to tie ropes to his
heels, and fasten him to the tails of wild oxen.
And she exclaimed,
Then I would let loose the dogs-hurrah !-
over the moor and across the swamp That would
be a spectacle for the gods And yet finer would
it be to follow him in his career."
But the Viking would not suffer him to die such
a death: he purposed to sacrifice the priest on the
morrow, on the death-stone in the grove, as a de-
spiser and foe of the high gods.
For the first time a man was to be sacrificed
IIelga begged, as a boon, that she might sprinkle
the image of the god and the assembled multitude
with the blood of the priest. She sharpened her
glittering knife, and when one of the great savage
dogs, of whom a number were running about near
the Viking's abode, ran by her, she thrust the
knife into his side, "merely to try its sharpness,"
as she said. And the Viking's wife looked mourn-
fully at the wild, evil-disposed girl; and when
night came on and the maiden exchanged beauty
of form for gentleness of soul, she spoke in eloquent
36 The Marsh King's Daughter.
words to Helga of the sorrow that was deep in her
The ugly frog, in its monstrous form, stood be-
fore her, and fixed its brown eyes upon her face,
listening to her words, and seeming to comprehend
them with human intelligence.
Never, not even to my lord and husband, have
I allowed my lips to utter a word concerning the
sufferings I have to undergo through thee," said
the V1l a, wife "my heart is full'of woe con-
cerning thee: more powerful, and greater than I
ever fancied it, is the love of a mother But love
never entered into thy heart-thy heart that is like
the wet, cold moorland plants."
Then the miserable form trembled, and it was
as though these words touched an invisible bond
between body and soul, and great tears came into
the mournful eyes.
Thy hard time will come," said the Viking's
wife, and it will be terrible to me too. It had
been better if thou hadst been set out by the high
road, and the night wind had lulled thee to sleep."
And the Viking's wife wept bitter tears, and
went away full of wrath and bitterness of spirit,
vanishing behind the curtain of furs that hung
loose over the beam and divided the hall.
The -i. rshi King's Daughter. 37
The wrinkled frog crouched in the corner alone.
A deep silence reigned around; but at intervals a
half-stifled sigh escaped from its breast, from the
breast of Helga. It seemed as though a painful
new life were arising in her inmost heart. She
came forward and listened; and, stepping forward
again, grasped with her clumsy hands the heavy
pole that was laid across before the door. Silently
and laboriously she pushed back the pole, silently
drew back the bolt, and took up the flickering lamp
which stood in the ante-chamber of the hall. It
seemed as if a strong hidden will gave her strength.
She drew back the iron bolt from the closed cellar
door, and crept in to the captive. He was asleep;
and when he awoke and saw the hideous form, he
shuddered as though he had beheld a wicked ap-
parition. She drew her knife, cut the bonds that
confined his hands and feet, and beckoned him to
He uttered some holy names, and made the sign
of the cross; and when the form remained mo-
tionless at his side, he said,
"Who art thou? Whence this animal shape
that thou bearest, while yet thou art full of gentle
The frog-woman beckoned him to follow, and
38 The iM -sh King's Daughter.
led him through corridors shrouded with curtains,
into the stables, and there pointed to a horse. He
mounted on its back, but she also sprang up before
him, holding fast by the horse's mane. The pri-
soner understood her meaning, and in a rapid trot
they rode on a way which he would never have
found, out on to the open heath.
He thought not of her hideous form, but felt how
the mercy and loving-kindness of the Almighty
were working by means of this monstrous appari-
tion; he prayed pious pl.,,i,-i, and sang songs of
praise. Then she trembled. Was it the power of
song and of prayer that worked in her, or was she
shuddering at the cold morning twilight that was
approaching ? What were her feelings ? She
raised herself up, and wanted to stop the horse and
to alight; but the C'I!h -in i, priest held her back
with all his strength, and sang a pious song, as if
that would have the power to loosen the charm
that turned her into the hideous semblance of a
frog. And the horse gallopped on more wildly
than ever: the sky turned red, the first sunbeam
pierced through the clouds, and as the flood of
light came streaming down, the frog changed its
nature. Helga was again the beautiful maiden
with the wicked, demoniac spirit. He held a beau-
tiful maiden in his arms, but was horrified at the
sight: he swung himself from the horse, and com-
terrible sorcery; but Helga likewise leaped from
4' '" '
i... i hisarm, ,h d
sight : he swung himself from the horse, and com-
pelled it to stand. This seemed to him a new and
terrible sorcery; but Helga likewise leaped from
40 The Marsh King's Daughter.
the saddle and stood on the ground. The child's
short garment reached only to her knee. She
plucked the sharp knife from her girdle, and quick
as lightning she rushed in upon the astonished
Let me get at thee !" she screamed; let me
get at thee, and plunge this knife in thy body!
Thou art pale as straw, thou beardless slave !"
She pressed in upon him. They struggled to-
gether in a hard strife, but an invisible power
seemed given to the ('li;i:i i captive. -He held
her fast and the old oak tree beneath which they
stood came to his assistance, for its roots, which
projected over the ground, held fast the maiden's
feet that had become entangled in it. Quite close
to them gushed a spring; and he sprinkled Helga's
face and neck with the fresh water, and commanded
the unclean spirit to come forth, and blessed her in
the Christian fashion; but the water of faith has
no power when the well-spring of faith flows not
And yet the Christian showed his power even
now, and opposed more than the mere might of
a man against the evil that struggled within the
girl. His holy action seemed to overpower her:
she dropped her hands, and gazed with frightened
_-. ._.. /I.
The Ch6'istian Priest's spell.
eyes and pale cheeks upon him who appeared to
her a mighty magician learned in secret arts; he
seemed to her to speak in a dark Runic tongue,
and to be making cabalistic signs in the air. She
would not have winked had he swung a sharp
knife or a glittering axe against her; but she
trembled when he signed her with the sign of the
cross on her brow and her bosom, and she sat
there like a tame bird with bowed head.
421 The 1Marsh King's Daughter.
Then he spoke to her in gentle words of the
kindly deed she had done for him in the past night,
when she came to him in the form of the hideous
frog, to loosen his bonds and to lead him out to
life and light; and he told her that she too was
bound in closer bonds than those that had confined
him, and that she should be released by his means.
He would take her to Hedeby (Schleswig), to the
holy Ansgarius, and yonder in the Christian city
the spell that bound her would be loosed. But he
would not let her sit before him on the horse,
though of her own accord she offered to do so.
Thou must sit behind me, not before me," he
said. Thy magic beauty hath a power that comes
of evil, and I fear it; and yet I feel that the vic-
tory is sure to him who hath faith."
And he knelt down and prayed fervently. It
seemed as though the woodland scenes were con-
secrated as a holy church by his prayer. The birds
sang as though they belonged to the new congre-
gation, the wild flowers smelt sweet as incense;
and while he spoke the horse that had carried them
both in headlong career stood still before the tall
bramble bushes, and plucked at them, so that the
ripe juicy berries fell down upon Helga's hands,
offering themselves for her refreshment.
The Marsh King's Daughter. 43
Patiently she suffered the priest to lift her on
the horse, and sat like a somnambulist, neither
completely asleep nor wholly awake. The Chris-
tian bound two branches together with bark, in
the form of a cross, which he held up high as they
rode through the forest. The wood became thicker
as they went on, and at last became a trackless wil-
The wild sloe grew across the way, so that they
had to ride round the bushes. The bubbling spring
became not a stream but a standing marsh, round
which likewise they were obliged to lead the horse.
There was strength and refreshment in the cool
forest breeze; and no small power lay in the gentle
words, which were spoken in faith and in Christian
love, from a strong inward yearning to lead the
poor lost one into the way of light and life.
They say the rain-drops can hollow the hard
stone, and the waves of the sea can smooth and
round the sharp edges of the rocks. Thus did the
dew of mercy, that dropped upon Helga, smooth
what was rough and penetrate what was hard in
her. The effects did not yet appear, nor was she
aware of them herself; but doth the seed in the
bosom of earth know, when the refreshing dew and
the quickening sunbeams fall upon it, that it hath
44 The l,/r'ss King's Daughier,
within itself the power of growth and blossoming ?
As the song of the mother penetrates into the
heart of the child, and it babbles the words after
her without understanding their import until they
afterwards engender thought, and come forward in
due time clearer and more clearly, so here also did
the Word work, that is powerful to create.
They rode forth from the dense forest, across
the heath, and then again through pathless roads;
and towards evening they encountered a band of
Where hast thou stolen that beauteous girl?"
cried the robbers.
And they seized the horse's bridle, and dragged
the two riders from its back. The priest had no
weapon save the knife he had taken from Helga,
and with this he tried to defend himself. One of
the robbers lifted his axe to slay him, but the
young priest sprang aside and eluded the blow,
which struck deep into the horse's neck, so that
the blood spurted forth, and the creature sank
down on the ground. Then Helga seemed sud-
denly to wake from her long reverie, and threw
herself hastily upon the gasping animal. The
priest stood before her to protect and defend her,
but one of the robbers swung his iron hammer
.. :7 -- i .
li q ,- .- .. :
,A l -f f
I I v..
Jid~gra2 ( 7d UICPic~St atbo lcd by llobbL;.
46 The Marsh King's Daughter.
over the Christian's head, and brought it down
with such a crash that his blood and brains were
scattered around, and the priest sank to the earth,
Then the robbers seized beautiful Helga by her
white arms and her slender waist; but the sun
went down, and its last ray disappeared at that
moment, and she was changed into the form of a
frog. A white-green mouth spread over half her
face, her arms became thin and slimy, and broad
hands with webbed fingers spread out upon them
like fans. Then the robbers were seized with terror,
and let her go. She stood, a hideous monster,
amongst them; and as it is the nature of the frog
to do, she hopped up high, and disappeared in the
thicket. Then the robbers saw that this must be
a bad prank of the spirit Loke, or the evil power
of magic, and in great affright they hurried away
from the spot.
The full moon was already rising. Presently it
shone with splendid radiance over the earth, and
poor Helga crept forth from the thicket in the
wretched frog's shape. She stood still beside the
corpse of the priest and the carcase of the slain
horse. She looked at them with eyes that appeared
to weep, and from the frog mouth came forth a
The Marsh King's Daughter. 47
croaking like the voice of a child bursting into
tears. She leaned first over the one, then over the
other, brought water in her hollow hand, which had
become larger and more capacious by the webbed
skin, and poured it over them; but dead they were,
and dead they would remain, she at last understood.
Soon wild beasts would come and tear their dead
bodies; but no, that must not be so she dug up
the earth as well as she could, in the endeavour to
prepare a grave for them. She had nothing to
work with but a stake and her two hands encum-
bered with the webbed skin that grew between the
fingers, and which were torn by the labour, so that
the blood flowed over them. At last she saw that
her endeavours would not succeed. Then she
brought water and washed the dead man's face,
and covered it with fresh green leaves; she brought
green boughs and laid them upon him, scattering
dead leaves in the spaces between. Then she
brought the heaviest stones she could carry and
laid them over the dead body, stopping up the in-
terstices with moss. And now she thought the
grave-hill would be strong and secure. The night
had passed away in this difficult work-the sun
broke through the clouds, and beautiful Helga
stood there in all her loveliness, with bleeding
48 The Marsh King's -. .ghter.
hands, and with the first tears flowing that had
ever bedewed her maiden cheeks.
Then in this transformation it seemed as if two
natureswere striving within her. Her whole frame
trembled,'and she looked around as if she had just
awoke from a troubled dream. Then she ran
towards the slender tree, clung to it for support,
and in another moment she had climbed to the
summit of the tree, and held fast. There she sat
like a startled squirrel, and remained the whole day
long in the silent solitude of the wood, where
everything is quiet, and, as they say, dead. But-
terflies fluttered around in sport, and in the neigh-
bourhood were several ant-hills, each with its
hundreds of busy little occupants moving briskly
to and fro. In the air danced a number of gnats,
swarm upon swarm, and hosts of buzzing flies,
ladybirds, gold beetles, and other little winged
creatures; the worm crept forth from the damp
ground, the moles came out; but except these all
was silent around-silent, and, as people say, dead
-for they speak of things as they understand them.
No one noticed Helga, but some flocks of crows,
that flew screaming about the top of the tree on
which she sat: the birds hopped close up to her on
the twigs with pert curiosity; but when the glance
He7lga in the Tree.
of her eye fell upon them, it was a signal for their
flight. But they could not understand her-nor,
indeed, could she understand herself.
When the evening twilight came on, and the
sun was sinking, the time of her transformation
roused her to fresh activity. She glided down from
the tree, and as the last sunbeam vanished she
stood in the wrinkled form of a frog, with the torn
webbed skin on her hands; but her eyes now
o5 The Marsh King's Daughter,
gleamed with a splendour of beauty that had
scarcely been theirs when she wore her garb of love-
liness, for they were a pair of pure, pious, maidenly
eyes that shone out of the frog-face. They bore
witness of depth of feeling, of the gentle human
heart; and the beauteous eyes overflowed in tears,
weeping precious drops that lightened the heart.
On the sepulchral mound she had raised there
yet lay the cross of boughs, the last work of him
who slept beneath. Helga lifted up the cross, in
pursuance of a sudden thought that came upon her.
She planted it upon the burial mound, over the
priest and the dead horse. The sorrowful remem-
brance of him called fresh tears into her eyes,
and in this tender frame of mind she marked the
same sign in the sand around the grave; and as
she wrote the sign with both her hands, the webbed
skin fell from them like a torn glove; and when
she washed her hands in the woodland spring, and
gazed in wonder at their snowy whiteness, she
again made the holy sign in the air between herself
and the dead man; then her lips trembled, the
holy name that had been preached to her during
the ride from the forest came to her mouth, and
she pronounced it audibly.
Then the frog-skin fell from her, and she was
The -1..., '. King's Daughter. 51
once more the beauteous maiden. But her head
sank wearily, her tired limbs required rest, and she
fell into a deep slumber.
Her sleep, however, was short. Towards mid-
night she awoke. Before her stood the dead horse,
beaming and full of life, which gleamed forth from
his eyes and from his wounded neck; close beside
the creature stood the murdered Christian priest,
" more beautiful than Bulder," the Viking woman
would have said; and yet he seemed to stand in a
flame of fire.
Such gravity, such an air of justice, such a
piercing look shone out of his great mild eyes,
that their glance seemed to penetrate every corner
of her heart. Beautiful Helga trembled at the
look, and her remembrance awoke as though she
stood before the tribunal of judgment. Every
good deed that had been done for her, every loving
word that had been spoken, seemed endowed with
life. She understood that it had been love that kept
her here during the days of trial, during which the
creature formed of dust and spirit, soul and earth,
combats and struggles; she acknowledged that she
had only followed the leading of temper, and had
done nothing for herself; everything had been
given her, everything had happened as it were oy
52 The .!, "sh King's Daughter,
the interposition of Providence. She bowed her-
self humbly, confessing her own deep imperfection
in the presence of the Power that can read every
thought of the heart-and then the priest spoke.
Thou daughter of the moorland," he said,
"out of the earth, out of the moor, thou camest;
but from the earth thou shalt arise. I come from
the land of the dead. Thou, too, shalt pass through
the deep valleys into the beaming mountain region,
where dwell mercy and completeness. I cannot
lead thee to I-Iedeby, that thou mayest receive
Christian baptism; for, first, thou must burst the
veil of waters over the deep moorland, and draw
forth the living source of thy being and of thy
birth; thou must exercise thy faculties in deeds
before the consecration can be given thee."
And he lifted her upon the horse, and gave her
a golden censer similar to the one she had seen in
the Viking's castle. The open wound in the fore-
head of the slain Ch'! i-:.t i' shone like a diadem.
He took the cross from the grave and held it aloft.
And now they rode through the air, over the rust-
ling wood, over the hills where the old heroes lay
buried, each on his dead war-horse; and the iron
figures rose up and gallopped forth, and stationed
themselves on the summits of the hills. The golden
-_' M' ,., '
elgat is taken back to the _Jaqs .
hoop on the forehead of each glea ed in the moon-
light, and their mantles floated in the night breeze.
The dragon that guards buried treasures likewise
lifted up his head and gazed after the riders. The
54 The Marsh King's Daughter.
gnomes and wood spirits peeped forth from beneath
the hills and from between the furrows of the
fields, and flitted to and fro with red, blue, and
green torches, like the sparks in the ashes of a
Over woodland and heath, over river and marsh
they fled away, up to the wild moor; and over this
they hovered in wide circles. The Christian priest
held the cross aloft-it gleamed like gold; and
from his lips dropped pious prayers. Beautiful
Helga joined in the hymns he sang, like a child
joining in its mother's song. She swung the censer,
and a wondrous fragrance of incense streamed
forth thence, so that the reeds and grass of the
moor burst forth into blossom. Every germ came
forth from the deep ground. All that had life
lifted itself up. A veil of water-lilies spread itself
forth like a carpet of wrought flowers, and upon
this carpet lay a sleeping woman, young and beau-
tiful. Helga thought it was her own likeness she
saw upon the mirror of the calm waters; but it
was her mother whom she beheld, the Moor King's
wife, the Princess from the banks of the Nile.
The dead priest commanded that the slumbering
woman should be lifted up on the horse; but the
horse sank under the burden, as though its body
=- =-- --- -- _--- ,'l
j "' 'I
Helga' vz \ A.r jler "inr. -3f rsb
]Ielga meets with 1he' fothler in thes 3Ia'rslt.
56 The _i,.'.. King's .Daughter.
had been a cloth fluttering in the wind. But the
holy sign gave strength to the airy phantom, and
then the three rode from the moor to the firm land
near the castle of the Viking.
Then the cock crowed in the Viking's castle,
and the phantom shapes dissolved and floated away
in air; but mother and daughter stood opposite
Am I really looking at my own image from
beneath the deep waters?" asked the mother.
"Is it myself that I see reflected on the clear
mirror ?" exclaimed the daughter.
And they approached one another and embraced.
The heart of the mother beat quickest, and she
understood the quickening pulses.
My child thou flower of my own heart my
lotus flower of the deep waters !"
And she embraced her child anew, and wept;
and the tears were as a new baptism of life and
love to Helga.
"In the swan's plumage came I hither," said
the mother, and here also I threw off my dress of
feathers. I sank through the shaking moorland,
far down into the black slime, which closed like a
wall around me. But soon I felt a fresher stream:
a power drew me down, deeper and ever deeper.
The Marsh King's Daughter. 57
I felt the weight of sleep upon my eyelids; I
slumbered, and dreams hovered round me. It
seemed to me that I was again in the pyramid in
Egypt, and yet the waving willow trunk that had
frightened me up in the moor was ever before me.
I looked at the clefts and wrinkles in the stem,
and they shone forth in colours, and took the form
of hieroglyphics-it was the case of the mummy
at which I was gazing; at last the case burst, and
forth stepped the thousand-year-old King, the
mummiecd form, black as pitch, shining black as
the wood snail or the fat mud of the swamp:
whether it was the Marsh King or the mummy of
the pyramids I knew not. He seized me in his
arms, and I felt as if I must die. When I re-
turned to consciousness a little bird was sitting on
my bosom, beating with its wings, and twittering
and singing. The bird flew 'away from me up to-
wards the heavy dark covering; but a long green
band still fastened him to me. I heard and under-
stood his longing tones: 'Freedom! sunlight to
my father !' Then I thought of my father and the
sunny land of my birth, my life, and my love; and
I loosened the band and let the bird soar away
home to the father. Since that hour I have
dreamed no more. I have slept a sleep, a long
58 The Marsh King's Daughter.
and heavy sleep, till within this hour; harmony
and incense awoke me and set me free."
The green band from the heart of the mother
to the bird's wings, where did it flatter now?
whither had it been wafted ? Only the Stork had
seen it. The band was the green stalk, the bow at
the end, the beauteous flower, the cradle of the
child that had now bloomed into beauty, and was
once more resting on its mother's heart.
And while the two were locked in each other's
embrace, the old Stork flew round them in smaller
and smaller circles, and at length shot away in
swift flight towards his nest, whence he brought
out the swan-feather suits he had preserved there
for years, throwing one to each of them, and the
feathers closed around them, so that they soared
up from the earth in the semblance of two white
"And now we will speak with one another,"
quoth Stork-papa, "now we understand each other,
though the beak of one bird is differently shaped
from that of another. It happens more than for-
tunately that you came to-night. To-morrow we
should have been gone-mother, myself, and the
young ones; for we're flying southward. Yes,
only look at me I I am an old friend from the land
The Marsh King's Daughter. 59
of the Nile, and mother has a heart larger than
her beak. She always declared the Princess would
find a way to help herself; and I and the young
ones carried the swan's feathers up here. But how
glad I am and how fortunate that I am here still!
At dawn of day we shall move hence, a great com-
pany of storks. We '11 fly first, and do you follow
us; thus you cannot miss your way; moreover, I
and the youngsters will keep a sharp eye on you."
And the lotus flower which I was to bring with
me," said the Egyptian Princess, she is flying by
my side in the swan's plumage I bring with me
the flower of my heart; and thus the riddle has
been read. Homeward! homeward!"
But Helga declared she could not quit the Dan-
ish land before she had once more seen her foster-
mother, the affectionate Viking woman. Every
:.n.:.i f6l, recollection, every kind word, every tear
that her foster-mother had wept for her, rose up
in her memory, and in that moment she almost
felt as if she loved the Viking woman best of all.
"Yes, we must go to the Viking's castle," said
Stork-papa; "mother and the youngsters are wait-
ing for us there. How they will turn up their
eyes and flap their wings Yes, you see, mother
doesn't speak much-she's short and dry, but she
60 The Marsh King's Daughter.
means all the better. I'll begin clapping at once,
that they may know we're coming."
And Stork-papa clapped in first-rate style, and
they all flew away towards the Viking's castle.
In the castle every one was sunk in deep sleep.
The Viking's wife had not retired to rest until it
was late. She was anxious about Helga, who had
vanished with a Christian priest three days before:
she knew Helga must have assisted him in his
flight, for it was the girl's horse that had been
missed from the stables; but how all this had been
effected was a mystery to her. The Viking woman
had heard of the miracles told of the Christian
priest, and which were said to be wrought by him
and by those who believed in his words and fol-
lowed him. Her passing thoughts formed them-
selves into a dream, and it seemed to her that she
was still lying awake on her couch, and that deep
darkness reigned without. The storm drew near:
she heard the sea roaring and rolling to the east
and to the west, like the waves of the North Sea
and the Cattegat. The immense snake which was
believed to surround the span of the earth in the
depths of the ocean was trembling in convulsions;
she dreamed that the night of the fall of the gods
had. come-Ragnarok, as the heathen called the
The Marsh King's Daughter. 61
last day, when everything was to pass away, even
the great gods themselves. The war-trumpet was
sounded, and the gods rode over the rainbow, clad
in steel, to fight the last battle. The winged
Valkyrs rode before them, and the dead warriors
closed the train. The whole firmament was ablaze
with Northern Lights, and yet the darkness seemed
to predominate. It was a terrible hour.
And close by the terrified Viking woman Helga
seemed to be crouching on the floor in the hideous
frog form, trembling and pressing close to her
foster-mother, who took her on her lap and em-
braced her affectionately, hideous though she was.
The air resounded with the blows of clubs and
swords, and with the hissing of arrows, as if a
hail-storm were passing across it. The hour was
come when earth and sky were to burst, the stars
to fall, and all things to be swallowed up in Surtur's
sea of fire; but she knew that there would be a
new heaven and a new earth, that the corn-fields
then would wave where now the ocean rolled over
the desolate tracks of sand, and that the unutter-
able God would reign; and up to Him rose Bulder
the gentle, the affectionate, delivered from the
kingdom of the dead; he came; the Viking wo-
man saw him, and recognized his countenance; it
62 The Marsh King's Daughter.
was that of the captive Christian priest. White
Christian !" she cried aloud, and with these words
she pressed a kiss upon the forehead of the hideous
frog-child. Then the frog-skin fell off, and Helga
stood revealed in all her beauty, lovely and gentle
as she had never appeared, and with beaming eyes.
She kissed her foster-mother's hands, blessed her
for all the care and affection lavished during the
days of bitterness and trial, for the thoughts she
had awakened and cherished in her, for naming
the name, which she repeated, "White Christian;"
and beauteous Helga arose in the form of a mighty
swan, and spread her white wings with a rushing
like the sound of a troop of birds of passage wing.
ing their way through the air.
The Viking woman awoke; and she heard the
same noise still continuing without. She knew it
was the time for the storks to depart, and that it
must be those birds whose wings she heard. She
wished to see them once more, and to bid them
farewell as they set forth on their journey. There-
fore she rose from her couch and stepped out upon
the threshold, and on the top of the gable she saw
stork ranged behind stork, and around the castle,
over the high trees, flew bands of storks wheeling
in wide circles; but opposite the threshold where
l --- -
_ ~ -}''-- _- "
The disguised Princesses bid farewell to the Viking Ioman,
she stood, by the well where Helga had often sat
and alarmed her with her wildness, sat two white
swans gazing at her with intelligent eyes. And
she remembered her dream, which still filled her
soul as if it were reality. She thought of Helga
in the shape of a swan, and of the Christian
64 Tlhe Mlarsh s Daug/er.
priest; and suddenly she felt her heart rejoice
The swans flapped their wings and arched their
necks, as if they would send her a greeting, and
the Viking's wife spread out her arms towards
them as if she felt all this, and smiled through
her tears, and then stood sunk in deep thought.
Then all the storks arose, flapping their wings
and clapping with their beaks, to start on their
voyage towards the South.
We will not wait for the swans," said Stork-
mamma: "if they want to go with us they had
better come. We can't sit here till the plovers
start. It is a fine thing, after all, to travel in this
way, in families, not like the finches and part-
ridges, where the male and female birds fly in
separate bodies, which appears to me a very unbe-
coming thing. What are yonder swans flapping
their wings for ?"
"Well, every one flies in his own fashion," said
Stork-papa: "the swaws in an oblique line, the
cranes in a triangle, and the plovers in a snake's
"Don't talk about snakes while we are flying
up here," said Stork-mamma. It only puts ideas
into the children's heads which can't be gratified."
The Marsh King's Daughter. 65
"Are those the high mountains of which I have
heard tell?" asked Helga, in the swan's plumage.
They are storm clouds driving on beneath us,"
replied her mother.
"What are yonder white clouds that rise so
high ?" asked Helga again
They are the mountains covered with perpetual
snow which you see yonder," replied her mother.
And they flew across the lofty Alps towards the
"Africa's land! Egypt's strand!" sang, rejoic-
ingly, in her swan's plumage, the daughter of the
Nile, as from the lofty air she saw her native land
looming in the form of a yellowish wavy stripe of
And all the birds gladly caught sight of it, and
hastened their flight.
"I can scent the Nile mud and wet frogs," said
Stork-mamma; "I begin to feel quite hungry.
Yes, now you shall taste something nice; and you
will see the maraboo bird, the crane, and the ibis.
They all belong to our family, though they are not
nearly so beautiful as we. They give themselves
great airs, especially the ibis. He has been quite
spoiled by the Egyptians, for they make a mummy
of him and stuff him with spices. I would rather
66 The 3l" r'sh King's Daughter.
be stuffed with live frogs, and so would you, and
so you shall. Better have something in one's in-
side while one is alive than to be made a fuss with
after one is dead. That's my opinion, and I am
"Now the storks are come," said the people in
the rich house on the banks of the Nile, where
the royal lord lay in the open hall on the downy
cushions, covered with a leopard-skin, not alive and
yet not dead, but waiting and hoping for the lotos
flower from the deep moorland in the far North.
Friends and servants stood around his couch.
And into the hall flew two beauteous swans.
They had come with the storks. They threw off
their dazzling white plumage, and two lovely female
forms were revealed, as like each other as two dew-
drops. They bent over the old, pale, sick man,
they put back their long hair, and while Helga
bent over her grandfather, his white cheeks red-
dened, his eyes brightened, and life came back to
his wasted limbs. The old man rose up cheerful
and well; and daughter and granddaughter em-
braced him joyfully, as if they were giving him a
morning greeting after a long heavy dream.
And joy reigned through the whole house, and
likewise in the Stork's nest, though there the chief
P; ,/iiii~ II '~ ~~` 1
The Kivg o~f EgyptVi v'ecovery,
68 The Marsh King's Daughter.
cause was certainly the good food, especially the
numberless frogs, which seemed to spring up in
heaps out of the ground. And while the learned
men wrote down hastily, in flying characters, p
sketch of the history of the two Princesses, and of
the flower of health that had been a source of joy
for the home and the land, the Stork pair told the
story to their family in their own fashion, but not
till all had eaten their fill, otherwise the youngsters
would have found something more interesting td
do than to listen to stories.
"Now, at last, you will become something,"
whispered Stork-mamma, there's no doubt about
"What should I become?" asked Stork-papa.
"What have I done? Nothing at all!"
You have done more than the rest. But for
you and the youngsters the two Princesses would
never have seen Egypt again, or have effected the
old man's cure. You will turn out something!
They must certainly give you a doctor's degree,
and our youngsters will inherit it, and so will their
children after them, and so on. You already look
like an Egyptian doctor-at least in my eyes."
I cannot quite repeat the words as they were
spoken," said Stork-papa, who had listened from
The Marsh King's Daughter. 69
the roof to the report of these events, made by the
learned men, and was now telling it again to his
own family. "What they said was so confused, it
was so wise and learned, that they immediately
received rank and presents; even the head cook
received an especial mark of distinction-probably
.for the soup."
"And what did you receive?" asked Stork-
mamma. "Surely they ought not to forget the
most important person of all; and you are certainly
he The learned men have done nothing through-
out the whole affair but used their tongues; but
you will doubtless receive what is due to you."
Late in the night, when the gentle peace of sleep
rested upon the now happy house, there was one
who still watched. It was not Stork-papa, though
he stood upon one leg and slept on guard-it was
Helga who watched. She bowed herself forward
over the balcony, and looked into the clear air,
gazed at the great gleaming stars, greater and
purer in their lustre than she had ever seen them
in the North, and yet the same orbs. She thought
of the Vilking woman in the wild moorland, of
the gentle eyes of her foster-mother, and of the
tears which the kind soul had wept over the poor
frog-child that now lived in splendour under the
70 The Marsh King's Daughter.
gleaming stars, in the beauteous spring air on the
banks of the Nile. She thought of the love that
dwelt in the breast of the heathen woman, the love
that had been shown to a wretched creature, hateful
in human form, and hideous in its transformation.
She looked at the gleaming stars, and thought of
the glory that had shone upon the forehead of the
dead man, when she flew with him through the
forest and across the moorland; sounds passed
through her memory, words she had heard pro-
nounced as they rode onward, and when she was
borne wondering and trembling through the air,
words from the great Fountain of love that em-
braces all human kind.
Yes, great things had been achieved and won !
Day and night beautiful Helga was absorbed in the
contemplation of the great sum of her happiness,
and stood in the contemplation of it like a child
that turns hurriedly from the giver to gaze on the
splendours of the gifts it has received. She seemed
to lose herself in the increasing happiness, in con-
templation of what might come, of what would
come. Had she not been borne by miracle to
greater and greater bliss? And in this idea she
one day lost herself so completely, that she thought
no more of the Giver. It was the exuberance of
The Marsh King's Daughter. 71
youthful courage, unfolding its wings for a bold
flight Her eyes were gleaming with courage,
when suddenly a loud noise in the courtyard below
recalled her thoughts from their wandering flight.
There she saw two great ostriches running round
rapidly in a narrow circle. Never before had she
seen such creatures-great clumsy things they
were, with wings that looked as if they had been
clipped, and the birds themselves looking as if they
had suffered violence of some kind; and now for
the first time she heard the legend which the
Egyptians tell of the ostrich.
Once, they say, the ostriches were a beautiful
glorious race of birds, with strong large wings; and
one evening the larger birds of the forest said to
the ostrich, Brother, shall we fly to-morrow, God
willing, to the river to drink ? And the ostrich
answered, "I will." At daybreak, accordingly,
they winged their flight from thence, flying first
up on high, towards the sun, that gleamed like the
eye of God-higher and higher, the ostrich far in
advance of all the other birds. Proudly the ostrich
flew straight towards the light, boasting of his
strength, and not thinking of the Giver or saying,
" God willing!" Then suddenly the avenging
angel drew aside the veil from the flaming ocean
z2, The Marsh Kings Daughter.
of sunlight, and in a moment the wings of the
proud bird were scorched and shriv.elled up, and
he sank miserably to the ground. Since that time
the ostrich has never again been able to raise him-
self in the air, but flees timidly along the ground,
and runs round in a narrow circle. And this is a
warning for us men, that in all our thoughts and
schemes, in all our doings and devices, we should
say, God willing." And Helga bowed her head
thoughtfully and gravely, and looked at the circling
ostrich, noticing its timid fear, and its stupid
pleasure at sight of its own great shadow cast upon
the white sunlit wall. And seriousness struck its
roots deep into her mind and heart. A rich life in
the present and future happiness was given and
won; and what was yet to come? the best of all,
" God "-- :....
In early spring, when the storks flew again to-
wards the North, beautiful Helga took off. her
golden bracelet, and scratched her name upon it;
and beckoning to the Stork-father, she placed the
golden hoop around his neck, and begged him to
deliver it to the Vilking woman, so that the latter
might see that her adopted daughter was well, and
had not forgotten her.
"That's heavy to carry," thought the Stork-
:i I' \I r# I11
A Message to the Viking Woman.
the street. The stork brings good fortune; they '11
be obliged to acknowledge that over yonder."
FF- ", Alt ,)v ii '
V !WI T,
papa, whn 'g
be obliged to acknowledge that over yonder."
74 The Marsh King's Daughter.
"You lay gold and I lay eggs," said the Stork-
mamma. "But with you it's only once in a way,
whereas I lay eggs every year; but neither of us
is appreciated-that's very disheartening."
Still one has one's own inward consciousness,
mother," replied Stork-papa.
"But you can't hang that round your neck,"
Stork-mamma retorted; and it won't give you a
good wind or a good meal."
The little nightingale, singing yonder in the
tamarind tree, will soon be going north too. Helga
the fair had often heard the sweet bird sing up
yonder by the wild moor; now she wanted to give
it a message to carry, for she had learned the
language of birds when she flew in the swan's
plumage; she had often conversed with stork and
with swallow, and she knew the nightingale would
understand her. So she begged the little bird to
fly to the beech wood on the peninsula of Jutland,
where the grave-hill had been reared with stones
and branches, and begged the nightingale to per-
suade all other little birds that they might build
their nests around the place, so that the song of
birds should resound over that sepulchre for ever-
more. And the nightingale flew away-and time
The Marsh King's Daugihter. 75
In autumn the eagle stood upon the pyramid and
saw a stately train of richly laden camels approach-
ing, and richly attired armed men on foaming Arab
steeds, shining white as silver, with pink trembling
nostrils, and thick manes hanging down almost
over their slender legs. Wealthy guests, a royal
Prince of Arabia, handsome as a Prince should
be, came into the proud mansion on whose roof
the Stork's nest now stood empty: those who had
inhabited the nest were away now in the far north;
but they would soon return. And, indeed, they
returned on that very day that was so rich in joy
and gladness. Here a marriage was celebrated,
and fair Helga was the bride, shining in jewels and
silk. The bridegroom was the young Arab Prince,
and bride and bridegroom sat together at the upper
end of the table, between mother and grandfather.
But her gaze was not fixed upon the bridegroom,
with his manlysun-burned cheeks, round which a
black beard curled; she gazed not at his dark fiery
eyes that were fixed upon her-but far away at a
gleaming star that shone down from the sky.
Then strong wings were heard beating the air.
The storks were coming home, and however tired
the old Stork pair might be from the journey, and
however much they needed repose, they did not
76 The Marsh King's Daughter.
fail to come down at once to the balustrades of the
verandah, for they knew what feast was being
celebrated. Already on the frontier of the land
they had heard that Helga had caused their figures
to be painted on the wall-for did they not belong
to her history?
"That's very pretty and suggestive," said Stork-
"But it's very little," observed Stork-mamma.
"They could not possibly have done less."
And when Helga saw them, she rose and came
out on the verandah, to stroke the backs of the
Storks. The old pair waved their heads and bowed
their necks, and even the youngest among the
young ones felt highly honoured by the reception.
And Helga looked up to the gleaming star,
which seemed to glow purer and purer; and be-
tween the star and herself there floated a form,
purer than the air, and visible through it: it floated
quite close to her. It was the spirit of the dead
Christian priest: he too was coming to her wedding
feast-coming from heaven.
"The glory and brightness yonder outshines
everything that is known on earth! he said.
And fair Helga begged so fervently, so beseech-
ingly, as she had never yet prayed, that it might
The Marsh King's Daughter. 77
be permitted her to gaze in there for one single
moment, that she might be allowed to cast but a
single glance into the brightness that beamed in
Then he bore her up amid splendour and glory.
Not only around her, but within her, sounded
voices and beamed a brightness that words cannot
"Now we must go back; thou wilt be missed,"
Only one more look !" she begged. "But one
short minute more !"
"We must go back to the earth. The guests
will all depart."
Only one more look-the last."
And Helga stood again in the verandah; but
the marriage lights without had vanished, and the
lamps in the hall were extinguished, and the storks
were gone-nowhere a guest to be seen-no bride-
groom-all seemed to have been swept away in
those few short minutes I
Then a great dread came upon her. Alone she
went through the great empty hall into the next
chamber. Strange warriors slept yonder. She
opened a side door which led into her own chamber;
and, as she thought to step in there, she suddenly
78 The Marsh King's Daughter.
found herself in the garden; but yet it had not
looked thus here before-the sky gleamed red-
the morning dawn was come.
Three minutes only in heaven, and a whole night
on earth had passed away !
Then she saw the Storks again. She called to
them, spoke their language; and Stork-papa turned
his head towards her, listened to her words, and
"You speak our language," he said; "what do
you wish? Why do you appear here-you, a
"It is I-it is Helga-dost thou not know me ?
Three minutes ago we were speaking together
yonder in the verandah "
"That's a mistake," said the Stork; you must
have dreamed all that! "
"No, no!" she persisted. And she reminded
him of the Viking's castle, and of the great ocean,
and of the journey hither.
Then Stork-papa winked with his eyes, and said,
Why, that's an old story which I heard from
the time of my great-grandfather. There cer-
tainly was here in Egypt a Princess of that kind
from the Danish land, but she vanished on the
evening of her wedding-day, many hundred years
The Marsh King's Daughter. 79
ago, and never came back You may read about
it yourself yonder on the monument in the garden;
there you'll find swans and storks sculptured, and
at the top you are yourself in white marble!"
And thus it was. Helga saw it, and understood
it, and sank on her knees.
The sun burst forth in glory; and as, in time of
yore, the frog-shape had vanished in its beams and
the beautiful form had stood displayed, so now in
the light a beauteous form, clearer, purer than air
-a beam of brightness-flew up into heaven !
The body crumbled to dust, and a faded lotos
flower lay on the spot where Helga had stood.
"Well, that's a new ending to the story," said
Stork-papa. "I had certainly not expected it.
But I like it very well."
"But what will the young ones say to it ?" said
"Yes, certainly, that's the important point,"
TWELVE BY THE MAIL.
T was bitterly cold; the sky gleamed with
stars, and not a breeze was stirring.
"Bump an old pot was thrown at the neigh-
bour's house doors. "Bang, bang !" went the
gun; for they were welcoming the New Year. It
was New Year's-eve The church clock was
"Tan-ta-ra-ra !" the mail came lumbering up.
The great carriage stopped at the gate of the town.
There were twelve persons in it; all the places
"Hurrah! hurrah!" sang the people in the
houses of the town; for the New Year was being
welcomed, and as the clock struck they stood up
with the filled glass in their hand, to drink success
to the new comer.
"Happy New Year !" was the cry. "A pretty
wife! plenty of money and no sorrow or care!"
The arrival of the Mail.
This wish was passed round, and then glasses
were clashed together till they rang again, and in
front of the town gate the post-carriage stopped
with the strange guests, the twelve travellers.
And who were these strangers? Each of them
had his passport and his luggage with him; they
even brought presents for me, and for you, and for
all the people of the little town. Who were they ?
What did they want, and what did they bring with
82 Twelve by the Mail.
Good morning they cried to the sentry at
the town gate.
Good morning !" replied the sentry, for the
clock had struck twelve. Your name and profes-
sion ?" the sentry inquired of the one who alighted
first from the carriage.
See yourself, in the passport," replied the
man: "I am myself! And a capital fellow he
looked, arrayed in a bear-skin and fur boots. I
am the man on whom many persons fix their hopes.
Come to me to-morrow, and I'll give you a New
Year's present. I throw pence and dollars among
the people; I even give balls-thirty-one balls; but
I cannot devote more than thirty-one nights to this.
My ships are frozen in, but in my office it is warm
and comfortable. I'm a great merchant. My name
is JANUARY, and I only carry accounts with me.
Now the second alighted. He was a merry com-
panion; he was a theatre director, manager of the
masque balls and all the amusements one can
imagine. His luggage consisted of a great tub.
We '1 dance the cat out of the tub at carnival
time," said he. "I'11 prepare a merry tune for
you and for myself too. I have not a long time
to live-the shortest, in fact, of my whole family,
for I only become twenty-eight days old. Some-
Twelve by the Mail. 83
times they pop me in an extra day, but I trouble
myself very little about that-hurrah !"
You must not shout so," said the sentry.
"Certainly, I may shout," retorted the man.
"I'm Prince Carnival, travelling under the name
The third now got out. He looked like fasting
itself, but carried his nose very high, for he was
related to the Forty Knights," and was a weather
prophet. But that's not a profitable office, and
that's why he praised fasting. In his button-hole
he had a little bunch of violets, but they were very
MARCH! MARCH !" the fourth called after
him, and slapped him on the shoulder, "do you
smell nothing ? Go quickly into the guard-room;
there they're drinking punch, your favourite drink;
I can smell it out here already. Forward, Master
But it was not true; the speaker only wanted to
let him feel the influence of his own name, and
make an APRIL fool of him; for with that the
fourth began his career. He looked very jovial,
did little work, but had the more holidays.
"If it were only a little more steady in the
world! said he; but sometimes one is in a good
84 Twelve by the Mail.
humour, sometimes in a bad one, according to cir-
cumstances; now rain, now sunshine. I am a kind
of house or office-letting agent, also a manager of
funerals; I can laugh or cry, according to circum-
stances. Here in this box I have my summer
wardrobe, but it would be very foolish to put it on.
.Here I am now. On Sundays I go out walking in
shoes and white silk stockings, and with a muff."
After him, a lady came out of the carriage. She
called herself Miss MAY. She wore a summer
costume and overshoes, a light green dress, and
anemones in her hair, and she was so scented with
wild thyme that the sentry had to sneeze. God
bless you," she said, and that was her salutation.
How pretty she was and she was a singer--not a
theatre singer nor a ballad singer, but a singer of
the woods, for she roamed through the gay green
forest and sang there for her own amusement.
"Now comes the young dame," said those in
And the young dame stepped out, delicate,
proud, and pretty. It was easy to see that she
was Mistress JUNE, accustomed to be served by
drowsy marmots. She gave a great feast on the
longest day of the year, that the guests might
have time to partake of the many dishes at her
,, I ,r,'i .0- I, ,'l'
t I I nii-~- L 'ii I,' II'I
I I .' ~ -
,, 'i* i ----
table. She, indeed, kept her own carriage; but
still she travelled in the mail with the rest, because
she wanted to show that she was not high minded.
But she was not without protection, for her elder
brother JULY was with her.
He was a plump young fellow, clad in summer
garments, and with a Panama hat. He had but
little baggage with him, because it was cumbersome
in the great heat; therefore he had only provided
himself with swimming trousers, and those are
86 Twelve by the Mail.
Then came the mother herself, Madam AUGUST,
wholesale fruit dealer and proprietress of a large
number of fish-ponds, and land cultivator, in a great
crinoline. She was fat and hot, could use her
hands well, and would herself carry out beer to the
workmen in the fields.
"In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread,"
said she: "that is written in the Book. After-
wards come the excursions, dances, and playing in
the green wood, and the harvest feasts."
She was a thorough housewife.
After her, a man came out of the coach a
painter, Mr. Master-Colourer SEPTEMBER ; all the
forest trees had to receive him; the leaves were to
change their colours, but how beautifully when he
wished it: soon the wood gleamed with red, yellow,
and brown. The master whistled like the black
magpie, was a quick workman, and wound the
brown green hop plants round his beer-jug. That
was an ornament for the jug, and he had a good
idea of ornament. There he stood with his colour-
pot, and that was his whole luggage.
The landed proprietor followed him, one who
cared for the ploughing and preparing of the land,
and also for field sports. Squire OCTOBER brought
his dog and his gun with him, and had nuts in his
Twelve by the Mail. 87
game-bag. "Crack crack!" He had much bag-
gage, even his English plough, and he spoke of
farming, but one could scarcely hear what he said
for the coughing and gasping of his neighbour.
It was NovEMBER who coughed so violently as
he got out. He was very much plagued by a cold;
he was constantly having recourse to his pocket-
handkerchief, and yet, he said, he was obliged to
accompany the servant girls, and initiate them into
their new winter service. He said he should get
rid of his cold when he went out wood-cutting,
and had to saw and split wood, for he was sawyer-
master to the firewood guild. Ho spent his evenings
cutting the wooden soles for skates, for he knew,
he said, that in a few weeks there would be occa-
sion to use these amusing shoes.
At length appeared the last passenger, old Mo-
ther DECEMBER, with her fire stool: the old lady
was cold, but her eyes glistened like two bright
stars. She carried under her arm a flower-pot,
in which a little fir tree was growing.
This tree I will guard and cherish, that it may
grow large by Christmas-eve, and may reach from
the ground to the ccilin., and may rear itself up-
ward with flaming candles, golden apples, and
little carved figures. The fire stool warms like a
88 Twelve by the Mail.
stove. I bring the story-book out of my pocket,
and read aloud, so that all the children in the room
become quite quiet, but the little figures on the
trees become lively, and the little waxen angel on
the top spreads out his wings of gold leaf, flies
down from his green perch, and kisses great and
small in the room, yes, even the poor children who
stand out in the passage and in the street, singing
the carol about the Star of Bethlehem."
"Well, now the coach may drive away," said
the sentry: we have the whole twelve. Let the
chaise drive up."
First let all the twelve come in to me," said
the captain on duty, "one after the other. The
passports I will keep here. Each of them is avail-
able for a month; when that has passed, I shall
write their behaviour on each passport. Mr. JAN-
UARY, have the goodness to come here."
And Mr. JANUARY stepped forward.
When a year has passed I think I shall be able
to tell you what the twelve have brought me, and
you, and all of us. Now I do not know it, and
they don't know it themselves, probably, for we
live in strange times."
N hot countries the sun burns very strongly:
there the people become quite mahogany
brown, and in the very hottest countries they are
even burned into negroes. But this time it was
only to the hot countries that a learned man out of
the cold regions had come. He thought he could
roam about there just as he had been accustomed
to do at home, but he soon altered his opinion.
He and all sensible people had to remain at home,
where the shutters and doors were shut all day
long, and it looked as if all the inmates were
asleep or had gone out. The narrow street with
the high houses in which he lived was, however,
built in such a way that the sun shone upon it from
morning till evening-it was really unbearable!
The learned man from the cold regions was a
young man and a clever man: it seemed to him as
if he was sitting in a glowing oven that exhausted
him greatly, and he became quite thin; even his
90 The Shadow.
Shadow shrivelled up and became much smaller
than it had been at home; the sun even took the
Shadow away, and it did not return till the evening
when the sun went down. It was really a plea-
sure to see this. So soon as a light was brought
into the room the Shadow stretched itself quite up
the wall, farther even than the ceiling, so tall did
it make itself; it was obliged to stretch to get
strength again. The learned man went out into
the balcony to stretch himself; and so soon as the
stars came out in the beautiful clear sky, he felt
himself reviving. On all the balconies in the
streets -and in the hot countries there is a balcony
to every window-young people now appeared, for
one must breathe fresh air, even if one has got
used to becoming mahogany brown; then it became
lively above and below. The tinkers and tailors-
by which we mean all kinds of people-sat below
in the street; then tables and chairs were brought
out, and candles burned, yes, more than a thou-
sand candles; one talked and then sang, and the
people walked to and fro; carriages drove past,
mules trotted, "Kling-ling-ling!" for they had
bells on their harness. Dead people were buried
with solemn songs; the church bells rang, and it
was indeed very lively in the street. Only in one
The Shadow. 91
house, just opposite to that in which the learned
man dwelt, it was quite quiet, and yet somebody
lived there, for there were flowers on the balcony,
blooming beautifully in the hot sun, and they could
not have done this if they had not been watered,
so that some one must have watered them; there-
fore there must be people in that house. Towards
evening the door was half opened, but it was dark,
at least in the front room; farther back, in the in-
terior, music was heard. The strange learned man
thought this music very lovely, but it was quite
possible that he only imagined this, for out there
in the hot countries he found everything requisite,
if only there had been no sun. The stranger's
landlord said he did not know who had taken the
opposite house-one saw nobody there, and so far
as the music was concerned, it seemed very mono.
tonous to him.
C It was just," he said, as if some one sat there
always practising a piece that he could not manage
--always the same piece. He seemed to say, I
shall manage it, after all;' but he did not manage
it, however long he played."
Will the stranger awake at night? He slept
with the balcony door open: the wind lifted up
the curtain before it, and he fancied that a wonder-
92 The Shadow.
ful radiance came from the balcony of the house
opposite; all the flowers appeared like flames of
the most gorgeous colours, and in the midst, among
the flowers, stood a beautiful slender maiden: it
seemed as if a radiance came from her also. His
eyes were quite dazzled; but he had only opened
them too wide just when he awoke out of his sleep.
With one leap he was out of bed; quite quietly he
crept behind the curtain; but the maiden was gone,
the splendour was gone, the flowers gleamed no
longer, but stood there as beautiful as ever. The
.door was ajar, and from within sounded music, so
lovely, so charming, that one fell into sweet thought
at the sound. It was just like magic work. But
who lived there? Where was the real entrance?
for towards the street and towards the lane at the
side the whole ground floor was shop by shop, and
the people could not always run through there.
One evening the stranger sat upon his balcony
in the room just behind him a light was burning,
and so it was quite natural t0at his Shadow fell
on the wall of the opposite house; yes, it sat just
among the flowers on the balcony, and when the
stranger moved, his Shadow moved too.
I think my Shadow is the only living thing we
see yonder," said the learned man. Look how
The Shadow. 93
gracefully it sits among the flowers. The door is
only ajar, but the Shadow ought to be sensible
enough to walk in and look round, and then come
back and tell me what it has seen.
Yes, you would thus make yourself very use-
ful !" said he, as if in sport. "Be so good as to slip
in. Now, will you go?" And then he nodded at
the Shadow, and the Shadow nodded back at him.
"Now go, but don't stay away altogether."
And the stranger stood up, and the Shadow on
the balcony opposite stood up too, and the stranger
moved round, and if any one had noticed closely he
would have remarked how the Shadow went away
in the same moment, straight through the half-
opened door of the opposite house, as the stranger
returned into his room and let the curtain fall.
Next morning the learned man went out to
drink coffee and read the papers.
What is this ?" said he, when he came out into
the sunshine. "I have no Shadow! So it really
went away yesterday evening, and did not come
back. That's very tiresome."
And that fretted him, but not so much because
the Shadow was gone as because he knew that
there was a story of a man without a shadow. All
the people in the house knew this story, and if the
94 The Shadow.
learned man came home and told his own history,
they would say that it was only an imitation, and
he did not choose them to say that of him. So
he would not speak of it at all, and that was a
very sensible idea of his.
In the evening he again went out on his balcony:
he had placed the light behind him, for he knew
that a shadow always wants its master for a screen,
but he could not coax it forth. He made himself
little and he made himself long, but there was no
shadow, and no shadow came. He said, Here !
here !" but that did no good.
That was vexatious, but in the warm countries
everything grows very quickly, and after the lapse
of a week he remarked to his great joy that a new
shadow was growing out of his legs when he went
into the sunshine, so that the root must have re-
mained behind. After three weeks he had quite
a respectable shadow, which, when he started on
his return to the North, grew more and more, so
that at last it was so long and great that he could
very well have parted with half of it.
When the learned man got home he wrote books
about what is true in the world, and what is good,
and what is pretty; and days went by, and years
went by, many years,