. o stx^ ^r^^ r(^ 0 195 (
FEEDING THE PIGEONS.
HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN
ILLUSTRATED BY E. A. LEMANK'
J. B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY.
THE charming Fairy Tales of Hans Christian Andersen
have not hitherto been adequately illustrated. An effort has
been made in the present volume to fill the gap in a manner
worthy of the Great Magician's handiwork, and acceptable to
the myriads of young people who love his stories.
The copyright translation by Madame de Chatelain has
been adopted, by special permission, as being most in sympathy
with the tastes of young readers, and has been carefully revised
for the work.
~1~- ~i~i~ ~lis;4~T~'~i~';N~,~- ~-- --_~ 9 TELL MEWHAT "
DANPELlOrr O'CLOCK r-r IS ~--~c~ll~e
THE LITTLE MERMAID ...
THE DARNING-NEEDLE ...
THE STORKS ... ...
THE ELFIN MOUNT ...
THE NIGHTINGALE ...
A GOOD LEAP
A TALE IN THE TEAPOT ...
THE NAUGHTY BOY ... .
THE BELL .. ... ... ...
LITTLE KLAUS AND BIG KLAUS ...
LITTLE IDA'S FLOWERS ......
THE SHIRT-COLLAR ... ......
COUNTRY NEIGHBOURS ... ...
THE SHEPHERDESS AND THE CHIMNEY-SWEEP ...
THE PRINCE IN DISGUISE ... ...
... .. ... .. 38
... .. ... 53
... ... 66
.. ... ... ... 8i
... ...... 84
... ... ...
... ... ... ... 141
... ... 145
... ... 153
... ... 170
... ... 184
... ... 188
.. ... 211
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
FEEDING THE PIGEONS (Frontispiece). PAGE
THE Six LITTLE PRINCESSES ... ... ... ... ... 3
CHILDREN PLAYING IN THE WATER ... ... ... ... 8
THE LITTLE MERMAID RESCUES THE PRINCE ... ... ... 13
ITS TREES AND BUSHES WERE POLYPI ... ... ... ... 21
THE MERMAIDS VISIT THEIR SISTER ... ... ... ... 27
THE CHILDREN OF THE AIR ... .. .. ... ... 35
THE STORK'S NEST ... .. ... 44
FETCHING THE CHILDREN ..." ... ... ... 49
THE LIZARDS WATCHING THE ELFIN GIRLS ... ... 54
THE ELF KING'S FEAST .. ... .. ... 59
LISTENING TO THE NIGHTINGALE ... ... ... ... 70
THE NIGHTINGALE WITH HER SERVANTS ... ... ... 73
THE EMPEROR CURED BY THE NIGHTINGALE ... ... ... 79
THE OLD MAN AND THE LITTLE BOY ... ... ... ... 85
THE OLD SAILOR AND HIS WIFE ... ... .. ... 87
AT SCHOOL ... ... ... ... ... ... ... 90
THE OLD PEOPLE'S GRANDCHILDREN ... ... ... ... 92
THE WALKING-STICK BECOMES A HORSE ... ... 94
"IT IS BEAUTIFUL HERE IN WINTER!" ... .. ... 97
THE SHARP-SIGHTED PRINCESS AND THE SHADOW ... ... 113
TOTTY FOUND IN THE TULIP ... ... ... ... ... 121
TOTTY CARRIED OFF BY THE TOAD ... .. ... ... 123
ii List of Illustrations.
THE FISHES TAKE PITY ON TOTTY ...
IN THE FIELD-MOUSE'S HOME
TOTTY SAYS GOOD-BYE TO THE SUN ...
THE KING OF THE FLOWER SPIRITS ... .
THE BOY BEGS FOR SHELTER ...
THE BELL SOUNDS IN THE FOREST ...
WATCHING THE SUN SET ...
LITTLE KLAUS ON SUNDAY .. ...
LITTLE KLAUS'S TRICK ...
LITTLE KLAUS DRIVES HIS CATTLE HOME ...
"I KNOW YOU ARE GOING TO A BALL TO-NIGHT"
BURYING IDA'S FLOWERS ...
THE DUCK-POND ... ... ...
ON THE EDGE OF THE CHIMNEY-POT ... .
KISSING THE SWINEHERD ...
... ... 168
... ... 175
... ... 189
THE LITTLE MERMAID.
FAR out at sea, the water is as blue as the prettiest corn-
flowers, and as clear as the purest crystal. But it is very deep
-so deep, indeed, that no rope can fathom it; and many church
steeples need be piled one upon the other to reach from the
bottom to the surface. It is there that the sea-folk dwell.
Nor must it be imagined that there is nothing but a bare,
white, sandy ground below. No, indeed! The soil produces
the most curious trees and flowers, whose leaves and stems are
so flexible that the slightest motion of the waters seems to fluster
them as if they were living creatures. Fishes, great and small,
glide through the branches as birds fly through the trees here
upon earth. In the deepest spot of all stands the sea-king's
T/e Little Mermaid.
palace; its walls are of coral, and its tall pointed windows of
the clearest amber, while the roof is made of mussel-shells, that
open and shut according to the tide. And beautiful they look;
for in each shell lies a pearl, any one of which would be worthy
to be placed in a queen's crown.
The sea-king had been a widower for many years, so his
aged mother kept house for him. She was a very wise woman,
but extremely proud of her' noble birth, which entitled her to
wear twelve oyster-shells on her tail, while other well-born
persons might only wear six. In all other respects she was a
very praiseworthy sort of body; and especially as regards the
care she took of the little princesses her grand-daughters. They
were six pretty children; but the youngest was the prettiest
of all. Her skin was as clear and delicate as a rose-leaf,
and her eyes as blue as the deepest sea; but she had no
feet any more than the others, and her body ended in a fish's
They were free to play about all day long in the vast rooms
of the palace below water, where live flowers grew upon the
walls. The large amber windows were opened, when the fishes
would swim inwards to them just as the swallows fly into our
houses when we open the windows; only the fishes swam right
up to the princesses, ate out of their hands, and allowed
themselves to be stroked.
In front of the palace was a large garden with bright red
and dark blue trees, whose fruit glittered like gold, and whose
blossoms were like fiery sparks, as both stalks and leaves kept
stirring continually. The ground was strewed with the most
delicate sand, but blue as the flames of sulphur. The whole
atmosphere was of a peculiar blue tint that would have led
THE SIX LITTLE PRINCESSES.
Under the Deep Blue Sea. 5
you to believe you were hovering high up in the air, with clouds
above and below you, rather than standing at the bottom of
the sea. When the winds were calm, the sun was visible; and
to those below it looked like a scarlet flower shedding light
from its calyx.
Each of the little princesses had a plot of ground in the
garden where she might dig and plant as she pleased. One
sowed her flowers so as to come up in the shape of a whale;
another preferred the figure of a little mermaid; but the youngest
planted hers in a circle to imitate the sun, and chose flowers as
red as the sun appeared to her. She was a singular child, both
silent and thoughtful; and while her sisters were delighted with
all the strange things that they obtained through the wrecks of
various ships, she had never claimed anything-with the excep-
tion of the red flowers that resembled the sun above-but a
pretty statue, representing a handsome youth, and hewn out of
pure white marble, that had sunk to the bottom of the sea when
a ship foundered. She planted a bright red weeping-willow
beside the statue; and when the tree grew up, its fresh boughs
hung over it nearly down to the blue sands, where the shadow
looked quite violet, and kept dancing about like the branches.
It seemed as if the top of the tree were at play with its roots,
and each trying to snatch a kiss.
There was nothing she delighted in so much as to hear
about the upper world. She was always asking her grand-
mother to tell her all she knew about ships, towns, people, and
animals; what struck her as most beautiful was, that the flowers
of the earth should shed perfumes, which they do not below the
sea; that the forests were green; and that the fishes amongst
the trees should sing so loud and so exquisitely, that it must be a
6 The Little Mermaid.
treat to hear them. It was the little birds that her grandmother
called fishes, or else her young listeners would not have under-
stood her, for they had never seen birds.
"When you have accomplished your fifteenth year," said the
grandmother, "you shall have leave to rise up out of the sea,
and sit on the rocks in the moonshine, and look at the large
ships sailing past. And then you will see both forests and
In the following year one of the sisters would reach the age
of fifteen; but as all the rest were each a year younger than
the other, the youngest would have to wait five years before it
would be her turn to come up from the bottom of the ocean
and see what our world is like. However, the eldest promised
to tell the others what she saw, and what struck her as most
beautiful on the first day; for their grandmother did not tell
them enough, and there were so many things they wanted to
But none of them longed for her turn to come so intensely as
the youngest, who had to wait the longest, and was so reserved
and thoughtful. Many a night did she stand at the open
window, and gaze upwards through the dark blue water, and
watch the fishes as they lashed the sea with their fins and tails.
She could see the moon and stars, that appeared indeed rather
pale, though much larger, seen through the water, than they do
to us. If something resembling a black cloud glided between
the stars and herself, she knew that it was either a whale
swimming overhead, or a ship full of human beings, none of
whom probably dreamed that a lovely little mermaid was stand-
ing below, and stretching forth her white hands towards the keel
of their vessel.
What her Sisters saw. 7
The eldest princess was now fifteen, and was allowed to rise
up to the surface of the sea.
On her return she had a great deal to relate; but the most
delightful thing of all, she said, was to lie upon a sand-bank in
the calm sea, and to gaze upon the large city near the coast,
where lights were shining like hundreds of stars; to listen to
the sounds of music, to the din of carriages, and the busy hum
of the crowd ; and to see the church steeples, and hear the bells
ringing. And she longed after all these things, just because she
could not approach them.
Oh, how attentively her youngest sister listened And later
in the evening, when she stood at the open window, and gazed
up through the dark blue water, how she thought about the
large city with its din and bustle, and even fancied she could
hear the church-bells ringing from below !
In the following year, the second sister obtained leave to rise
up to the surface of the water, and swim about at her pleasure.
She went up just at sunset, which appeared to her the finest
sight of all. She said that the whole sky appeared like gold ;
and as to the clouds, their beauty was beyond all description.
Red and violet clouds sailed rapidly above her head, while a
flock of wild swans, resembling a long, white scarf, flew still
faster than they, across the sea towards the setting sun. She,
too, swam towards it, but the sun sank down, and the rosy
hues vanished from the surface of the water and from the skies.
The year after, the third sister went up. She was the
boldest of them all; so she swam up a river that fell into the
sea. She saw beautiful green hills covered with vines; castles
and citadels peeped out from stately woods; she heard the
birds singing, and the sun felt so warm, that she was frequently
8 The Little Mermaid.
obliged to dive down under the water to cool her burning face.
In a small creek, she met with a whole troop of little human
children. They were naked, and dabbling about in the water.
She wanted to play with them, but they fled away in great
alarm; and there came a little black animal (she meant a dog,
CHILDREN PLAYING IN THE WATER.
only she had never seen one before), who barked at her so
tremendously, that she was frightened, and sought to reach the
open sea. But she should never forget the beautiful forests,
the green hills, or the pretty children, who were able to swim
in the water although they had no fish's tails.
The fourth sister was less daring. She remained in the
What the Fifth Sister saw. 9
midst of the sea, and maintained that it was most beautiful
at that point, because from thence one could see for miles
around, and the sky looked like a glass bell above one's head.
She had seen ships, but only at a distance-they looked like
sea-mews; and the waggish dolphins had thrown somersets,
and the large whales had squirted water through their nostrils,
so that one might fancy there were hundreds of fountains all
It was now the fifth sister's turn. Her birthday was in
the winter, therefore she saw what the others had not seen the
first time they went up. The sea looked quite green, and huge
icebergs were floating about; each looked like a pearl, she said,
only larger than the churches built by human beings. They
were of the oddest shapes, and glittered like diamonds. She
had placed herself upon the largest of them, and all the vessels
scudded past in great alarm, as though fearful of approaching
the spot where she was sitting and letting the wind play with
her long hair; but towards evening, the sky became overcast,
it thundered and lightened, while the dark sea lifted up the
huge icebergs on high, so that they were illuminated by the
bright flashes. All the vessels reefed in their sails, and their
passengers were panic-stricken, while she sat quietly on her
floating block of ice, and watched the blue lightning as it zig-
zagged along the shining sea.
The first time that each of the sisters had successively risen
to the surface of the water, they had been enchanted by the
novelty and beauty of all they saw; but being now grown up,
and at liberty to go above as often as they pleased, they had
grown indifferent to such excursions. They longed to come
back into the water, and at the end of a month they had all
IO The Little Mermaid.
declared that it was far more beautiful down below, and that
it was pleasanter to stay at home.
It frequently happened in the evening, that the five sisters
would entwine their arms, and rise up to the surface of the
water all in a row. They had beautiful voices, far finer than
any human being's; and when a storm was coming on, and
they thought some ship likely to sink, they swam before the
vessel, and sang most sweetly of the delights to be found
beneath the water, begging the sea-farers not to be afraid of
coming down below. But the sailors could not understand
what they said, and mistook their words for the howling of the
tempest; and they never saw all the fine things below, for if
the ship sank, the men were drowned, and their bodies alone
reached the sea-king's palace.
When the sisters rose up arm-in-arm through the water,
the youngest would stand alone, looking after them, and felt
ready to cry; only mermaids have no tears, and therefore suffer
all the more.
How I wish I were fifteen !" said she. "I am sure I shall
love the world above, and the beings that inhabit it."
At last she reached the age of fifteen.
"Well! now you are grown up," said her grandmother, the
widow to the late king. So let me dress you like your sisters."
And she placed in her hair a wreath of white lilies, every leaf
of which was half a pearl; and the old dame ordered eight
large oyster-shells to be fastened to the princess's tail, to denote
her high rank.
"But they hurt me so," said the little mermaid.
"Pride must suffer pain," said the old lady.
Oh, how gladly would she have shaken off all this pomp, and
The Prince's Birthday. II
laid aside her heavy wreath-the red flowers in her garden
adorned her far better-but she could not help herself. Fare-
well !" cried she, rising as lightly as a bubble to the surface of
The sun had just sunk as she raised her head above the
waves, but the clouds were still pink, and fringed with gold ;
and through the fast-vanishing rosy tints of the air beamed
the evening in all its beauty. The atmosphere was mild and
cool, and the sea quite calm. A large ship with three masts
was lying on its surface; only a single sail was hoisted, for not
a breeze was stirring, and the sailors were sitting all about in
the rigging. There were musical instruments playing, and
voices singing; and when the evening grew darker, hundreds
of gay-coloured lanterns were lighted, which swung aloft like
the flags of all the nations in the world. The little mer-
maid swam close to the cabin-window, and as often as the
water lifted her up, she peeped in through the transparent
panes, and saw -a number of well-dressed people. But the
handsomest of all was the prince, with large black eyes; he
could not be above sixteen, and it was his birthday that was
being celebrated with such magnificence. The sailors danced
upon deck; and when the young prince came up, above a
hundred rockets were let off, that lit the air till it'was as bright
as day, and so frightened the little mermaid that she dived
under the water. But she soon popped out her head once more,
when all the stars in heaven seemed to be falling down upon
her. She had never seen such fireworks : large suns were throw-
ing out sparks, beautiful fiery fishes were darting through the
blue air, and all these wonders were reflected in the calm sea
below. The ship itself was thrown into such bright relief, that
The Little Mermaid.
every little cord was distinctly visible, and, of course, each
person still more so. And how handsome the young prince
looked, as he pressed the hands of those present and smiled,
while the music resounded through that lovely night!
It was late. Still the little mermaid could not take her eyes
off the ship or the handsome prince. The variegated lanterns
were now extinguished, the rockets ceased to be let off, and
no more cannons were fired; but there was a rumbling and a
grumbling in the depths of the sea. Still she sat rocking up
and down in the water, so as to peep into the cabin. But
now the ship began to move faster, the sails were unfurled one
after another, the waves ran higher, heavy clouds flitted across
the sky, and flashes of lightning were seen in the distance. A
tremendous storm seemed coming on, so the sailors reefed in
the sails once more. The large ship kept pitching to and fro
in its rapid course across the raging sea; the billows heaved,
like so many gigantic black mountains, threatening to roll over
the topmast; but the ship dived down like a swan between the
high waves, and then rose again on their towering crests.
The little mermaid fancied this was a right pleasant mode
of sailing; but the crew thought differently. The ship kept
cracking and cracking, the thick planks gave way beneath the
repeated lashings of the waves, a leak was s''!uI., the mast
was broken right in twain like a reed, and the vessel drooped
on one side, while the water kept filling the hold. The little
mermaid now perceived that the crew were in danger, and she
was herself obliged to take care not to be hurt by the beams
and planks belonging to the ship, that were dispersed upon the
waters. For one moment it was so pitch dark that she could
see nothing; but when a flash of lightning illumined the sky,
She Rescues the Prince. 13
and enabled her to discern distinctly all on board, she looked
especially for the young prince, whom she perceived sinking
into the water, just as the ship broke asunder. She was then
quite pleased at the thought of his coming down to her, till she
THE LITTLE MERMAID RESCUES THE PRINCE.
reflected that human beings cannot live in water, and that he
would be dead by the time he reached her father's castle. But
die he must not; therefore she swam towards him through
the planks and beams that were driven about on the billows,
; -- ," -
...- ..-~ -" .' 1 '.l i"
reflected that human beings cannot live in after and that he
the planks and beams that were driven about on the billows,
14 The Little Mermaid.
forgetting that they might crush her to atoms. She dived deep
under the water, and then, rising again between the waves, she
managed at length to reach the young prince, who was scarcely
able to buffet any longer with the stormy sea. His arms and
legs began to feel powerless, his beautiful eyes were closed, and
he would have died had not the little mermaid come to his
assistance. She held his head above the water, and then let
the waves carry them whither they pleased.
Towards morning the storm had abated; but not a sign of
the vessel was to be seen. The sun rose red and beaming from
the water, and seemed to infuse life into the prince's cheeks; but
his eyes remained closed. The mermaid kissed his high, polished
forehead, and stroked back his wet hair; she fancied he was like
the marble statue in her garden, and she kissed him again, and
wished that he might live,
They now came in sight of land; and she saw high blue
mountains, on the tops of which the snow looked as dazzlingly
white as though a flock of swans were lying there. Below, near
the coast, were beautiful green forests, and in front stood a
church or a convent-she did not rightly know which-but, at
all events, it was a building. Oranges and lemons were growing
in the garden, and tall palm-trees stood in front of the door.
The sea formed a small bay at this spot, and the water, though
very deep, was quite calm; so she swam with the handsome
prince towards the beach, where the delicate white sands had
formed a heap, and here she laid him down, taking great care
that his head should be placed higher than his body, and in the
The bells now pealed from the large white building, and a
number of girls came into the garden. The little mermaid then
Her Heart is Sad.
swam farther away, and hid herself behind some high rocks
that rose out of the water; and covering her head and bosom
with foam, so that no one could see her little countenance, she
watched whether any one came to the poor prince's assistance.
It was not long before a young maiden approached the spot
where he was lying. She appeared frightened at first, but it was
only for a moment, and then she fetched a number of persons;
and the mermaid saw that the prince came to life again, and
that he smiled on all those around him. But he did not send
her a smile, neither did he know she had saved him: so she felt
quite sad; and when he was led into the large building, she
dived back into the water with a heavy heart, and returned to
her father's castle.
Silent and thoughtful as she had always been, she now grew
still more so. Her sisters inquired what she had seen the first
time she went above, but she did not tell them.
Many an evening, and many a morning, did she rise up to
the spot where she had left the prince. She saw the fruit in the
garden grow ripe, and then she saw it gathered; she saw the
snow melt away from the summits of the high mountains: but
she did not see the prince, and each time she returned home
more sorrowful than ever. Her only consolation was to sit in
her little garden, and to fling her arm round the beauteous
marble statue that was like the prince; but she ceased to tend
her flowers, and they grew like a wilderness all over the paths,
entwining their long stems and leaves with the branches of the
trees, so that it was quite dark beneath their shade.
At length she could resist no longer, and opened her heart
to one of her sisters, from whom all. the others immediately
learned her secret, though they told it to no one else except to
16 The Little Mermaid.
a couple of other mermaids, who divulged it to nobody except
to their most intimate friends. One of these happened to
know who the prince was. She, too, had seen the gala on
ship-board, and informed them whence he came, and where his
"Come, little sister said the other princesses; and, en-
twining their arms, they rose up, in a long row, out of the
sea, at the spot where they knew the prince's palace stood.
This was built of bright yellow, shining stone, with a broad
flight of marble steps, the last of which reached down into
the sea. Gorgeous golden cupolas rose above the roof, and
marble statues, closely imitating life, were placed between the
pillars that surrounded the edifice. One could see, through the
transparent panes of the great windows, right into the mag-
nificent rooms, fitted up with costly silk curtains and splendid
hangings, and ornamented with large pictures on all the walls,
so that it was a pleasure to look at them. In the middle of the
principal room, a large fountain threw up its sparkling jets as
high as the glass cupola in the ceiling, through which the sun
shone down upon the water, and on the beautiful plants growing
in the wide basin that contained it.
Now that she knew where he lived, the little mermaid spent
many an evening on the neighboring water. She swam
much nearer the shore than any of the others had ventured to
do; nay, she even went up the narrow canal, under the hand-
some marble balcony, that threw its long shadow over the water.
Here she would sit, and gaze at the young prince, who thought
himself quite alone in the bright moonshine.
Many an evening did she see him sailing in his pretty boat,
adorned with flags, and enjoying music: then she would listen
She Wishes she were Human.
from amongst the green reeds; and if the wind happened to
seize hold of her long, silvery white veil, those who saw it took
it to be a swan spreading out his wings.
Many a night, too, when fishermen were spreading their nets
by torchlight, she heard them speaking highly of the young
prince; and she rejoiced that she had saved his life, when he
was tossed about, half dead, on the waves. And she remembered
how his head had rested on her bosom, and how heartily she
had kissed him-but of all this he knew nothing, and he could
not even dream about her.
She soon grew to be more and more fond of human beings,
and to long more and more fervently to be able to walk about
amongst them, for their world appeared to her far larger and
more beautiful than her own. They could fly across the sea
upon ships, and scale mountains that towered above the clouds;
and the lands they possessed-their fields and their forests-
stretched far away beyond the reach of her sight.
There was such a deal that she wanted to learn, but her
sisters were not able to answer all her questions; therefore she
applied to her old grandmother, who was well acquainted with
the upper world, which she called, very correctly, the lands
above the sea.
If human beings do not get drowned," asked the little
mermaid, "can they live for ever? Do not they die, as we do
here in the sea ?"
"Yes," said the ancient dame, "they must die as well as we;
and the term of their life is even shorter than ours. We can live
to be three hundred years old; but when we cease to be here,
we shall only be changed into foam, and are not even buried
below among those we love. Our souls are not immortal. We
18 The Little Mermaid.
shall never enter upon a new life. We are like the green reed,
that can never flourish again when it has once been cut through.
Human beings, on the contrary, have a soul that lives eternally
-yea, even after the body has been committed to the earth-
and that rises up through the clear, pure air, to the bright stars
above Like as we rise out of the water, to look at the haunts
of men, so do they rise to unknown and favoured regions that
we shall never be privileged to see."
"And why have we not an immortal soul ?" asked the little
mermaid, sorrowfully. I would willingly give all the hundreds
of years I may have to live, to be a human being but for one day,
and to have the hope of sharing in the joys of the heavenly
You must not think about that," said the old dame. "We
feel we are much happier and better than the human race
So I shall die, and be driven about like foam on the sea,
and cease to hear the music of the waves, and to see the
beautiful flowers, and the red sun ? Is there nothing I can do
to obtain an immortal soul ?"
No," said the old sea-queen ; "unless a human being loved
you so dearly that you were more to him than either father or
mother; if all his thoughts and his love were centred in you,
and he allowed the priest to lay his right hand in yours,
promising to be faithful to you here and hereafter: then would
his soul glide into your body, and you would obtain a share in
the happiness awaiting human beings. He would give you a
soul without forfeiting his own. But this will never happen !
Your fish's tail, which is a beauty amongst us sea-folk, is thought
a deformity on earth, because they know no better,-it is neces-
iThe Court Ball. 19
sary there to have two stout props, that they call legs, in order
to be beautiful!"
The little mermaid sighed as she cast a glance at her fish's
"Let us be merry," said the old dame; "let us jump and
hop about during the three hundred years that we have to live
-which is really quite enough in all conscience. We shall then
be all the more disposed to rest at a later period. To-night we
shall have a court ball."
On these occasions there was a display of magnificence such
as we never see upon earth. The walls and the ceiling of
the large ball-room were of thick though transparent glass.
Hundreds of colossal mussel-shells-some of a deep red, others
as green as grass-were hung in rows on each side, and
contained blue flames that illuminated the whole room, and
shone through the walls, so that the sea was lighted all around.
Countless fishes, great and small, were to be seen swimming
past the glass walls, some of them flaunting in scarlet scales,
while others sparkled like liquid gold or silver.
Through the ball-room flowed a wide stream, on whose
surface the mermen and mermaids danced to their own sweet
singing. Human beings have no such voices. The little mer-
maid sang the sweetest of them all, and the whole court
applauded with their hands and tails; and for a moment she
felt delighted, for she knew that she had the loveliest voice ever
heard upon earth or upon the sea. But her thoughts soon
turned once more to the upper world, for she could not long
forget either the handsome prince, or her grief at not having an
immortal soul like his. She therefore stole out of her father's
palace, where all within was song and festivity, and sat down
20 The Little Mermaid.
sadly in her own little garden. Here she heard a bugle sounding
through the water.
"Now," thought she, "he is surely sailing about up above;
he who incessantly fills all my thoughts, and to whose hands I
would fain entrust the happiness of my existence. I will venture
everything to win him, and to obtain an immortal soul. While
my sisters are dancing yonder in my father's castle, I will go to
the sea-witch, who has always frightened me hitherto, but now,
perhaps, she can advise and help me."
The little mermaid then left her garden, and repaired to the
rushing whirlpool, behind which the sorceress lived. She had
never gone that way before. Neither flowers nor sea-grass grew
there; and nothing but bare, grey, sandy ground led to the
whirlpool, where the waters kept eddying like mill-wheels,
dragging everything they clutched hold of into the fathomless
depth below. Between these whirlpools, that might have
crushed her in their rude grasp, was the mermaid forced to pass
to reach the dominions of the sea-witch; and even here, during
a good part of the way, there was no other road than across a
sheet of warm, bubbling mire, which the witch called her turf-
common. At the back of this lay her house, in the midst of a
most singular forest; its trees and bushes were polypi-half
animal, half plant-they looked like hundred-headed serpents
growing out of the ground; the branches were long, slimy arms
with fingers like flexible worms, and they could move every joint
from the root to the tip. They laid fast hold of whatever they
could snatch from the sea, and never yielded it up again. The
little mermaid was so frightened at the sight of them that her
heart beat with fear, and she was fain to turn back; but then
she thought of the prince, and of the soul that human beings
Visiting the. Sea-Witch. 21
possessed, and she took courage. She knotted up her long,
flowing hair, that the polypi might not seize hold of her locks;
and crossing her hands over her bosom, she darted along, as a
fish shoots through the water, between the ugly polypi, that
-- -:'' -
ITS TREES AND BUSHES WERE POLYPI.
-_ 2 --
stretched forth their flexible arms and fingers behind her. She
perceived how each of them retained what it had seized, with
hundreds of little arms, as strong as iron clasps. Human beings,
who had died at sea, and had sunk below, looked like white
skeletons in the arms of the polypi. They clutched rudders, too,
The Little Mermaid.
and chests, and skeletons of animals belonging to the earth, and
even a little mermaid, whom they had caught and stifled-and
this appeared to her, perhaps, the most shocking of all.
She now approached a vast swamp in the forest, where large,
fat water-snakes were wallowing in the mire, and displaying
their ugly whitish-yellow bodies. In the midst of this loath-
some spot, stood a house built of the bones of shipwrecked
human beings, and within sat the sea-witch, feeding a toad from
her mouth, just as people amongst us give a little canary-bird a
lump of sugar to eat. She called the nasty fat water-snakes her
little chicks, and let them creep all over her bosom.
I know what you want! said the sea-witch. "It is very
stupid of you, but you shall have your way, as it will plunge
you into misfortune, my fair princess. You want to be rid of
your fish's tail, and to have a couple of props such as those
human beings have to walk about upon, in order that the young
prince may fall in love with you, and that you may obtain his
hand and an immortal soul into the bargain !" And then the old
witch laughed so loud and so repulsively, that the toad and the
snakes fell to the ground, where they lay wriggling about.
" You come just at the nick of time," added the witch, for to-
morrow, by sunrise, I should no longer be able to help you till
another year had flown. I will prepare you a potion; and you
must swim ashore with it to-morrow, before sunrise, and then sit
down and drink it. Your tail will then disappear, and shrivel
up into what human beings call neat legs-but mind, it will hurt
you as much as if a sharp sword were thrust through you.
Everybody that sees you will say you are the most beautiful
mortal ever seen. Yoa will retain the floating elegance of your
gait; no dancer will move so lightly as you, but every step you
The Witch's Bargain.
take will be like treading upon such sharp knives, that you
would think your blood must flow. If you choose to put up
with sufferings like these, I have the power to help you."
I do," said the little mermaid, in a trembling voice, as she
thought of the prince and of an immortal soul.
But bethink you well," said the witch: "if once you obtain
a human form, you can never be a mermaid again You will
never be able to dive down into the water to your sisters, or
return to your father's palace; and if you should fail in winning
the prince's love to the degree of his forgetting both father and
mother for your sake, and loving you with his whole soul, and
bidding the priest join your hands in marriage, then you will
never obtain an immortal soul And the very day after he shall
have married another, your heart will break, and you will dissolve
into the foam on the billows."
I am resolved," said the little mermaid, who had turned as
pale as death.
"But you must pay me my dues," said the witch, and it is
no small matter I require. You have the loveliest voice of all
the inhabitants of the deep, and you reckon upon its tones to
charm him into loving you. Now, you must give me this
beautiful voice. I choose to have the best of all you possess in
exchange for my valuable potion. For I must mix my own
blood with it, that it may prove as sharp as a two-edged
But if you take away my voice," said the little mermaid,
"what have I left ?"
"Your lovely form," said the witch; "your airy step, and
your expressive eyes-with these you surely can befool a man's
heart. Well? Has your courage melted away ? Come, put out
24 The Little Mermaid.
your little tongue, and let me cut it off for my fee, and you shall
have the valuable potion."
So be it," said the little mermaid; and the witch put her
cauldron on the fire to prepare the potion. Cleanliness is a
virtue quoth she, scouring the cauldron with the snakes that
she had tied into a knot, after which she pricked her own breast
and let her black blood trickle down into the vessel. The steam
rose up in such fanciful shapes, that no one could have looked
at them without a shudder. The witch kept flinging fresh
materials into the cauldron every moment, and when it began
to simmer it was like the wailings of a crocodile. At length
the potion was ready, and it looked like the purest spring
"Here it is," said the witch, cutting off the little mermaid's
tongue; so now she was dumb, and could neither sing nor
"If the polypi should seize hold of you on your return
through my forest," said the witch, "you need only sprinkle a
single drop of this potion over them, and their arms and fingers
will be shivered to a thousand pieces." But the little mermaid
had no need of this talisman; the polypi drew back in alarm
from her on perceiving the dazzling potion, that shone in her
hand like a twinkling star. So she crossed rapidly through the
forest, the swamp, and the raging whirlpool.
She saw her father's palace-the torches were now extin-
guished in the large ball-room-and she knew the whole family
were asleep within, but she did not dare venture to go and seek
them, now that she was dumb, and was about to leave them for
Sever. Her heart seemed ready to burst with anguish. She stole
into the garden and plucked a flower from each of her sisters
With the Prince at Last. 25
flower-beds, kissed her hand a thousand times to the palace, and
then rose up through the blue waters.
The sun had not yet risen when she saw the prince's castle,
and reached the magnificent marble steps. The moon shone
brightly. The little mermaid drank the sharp and burning
potion, and it seemed as if a two-edged sword was run through
her delicate frame. She fainted away, and remained apparently
lifeless. When the sun rose over the sea, she awoke, and felt a
sharp pang; but just before her stood the handsome young
prince. He gazed at her so intently with his deep black eyes
that she cast hers to the ground, and now perceived that her
fish's tail had disappeared, and that she had a pair of the neatest
little white legs that a maiden could desire. Only having no
clothes on, she was obliged to enwrap herself in her long, thick
hair. The prince inquired who she was, and how she had come
thither; but she could only look at him with her mild but sorrow-
ful deep blue eyes, for speak she could not. He then took her
by the hand, and led her into the palace. Every step she took
was, as the witch had warned her it would be, like treading on
the points of needles and sharp knives ; but she bore it willingly;
and, hand in hand with the prince, she glided in as lightly as a
soap-bubble, so that he, as well as everybody else, marvelled at
her lovely airy tread.
She was now dressed in costly robes of silk and muslin, and
was the most beautiful of all the inmates of the palace; but she
was dumb, and could neither sing nor speak. Handsome female
slaves, attired in silk and gold, came and sang before the prince
and his royal parents; and one of them happening to sing more
beautifully than all the others, the prince clapped his hands and
smiled. This afflicted the little mermaid. She knew that she
The Little Mermaid.
herself had sung much more exquisitely, and thought: Oh, did
he but know that to be near him, I sacrificed my voice to all
The female slaves now performed a variety of elegant, aerial-
looking dances to the sound of the most delightful music. The
little mermaid then raised her beautiful white arms, stood on the
tips of her toes, and floated across the floor in such a way as no
one had ever danced before. Every motion revealed some fresh
beauty, and her eyes appealed still more directly to the heart
than the singing of the slaves had done.
Everybody was enchanted, but most of all the prince, who
called her his little foundling; and she danced on and on,
though every time her foot touched the floor she felt as if she
were treading on sharp knives. The prince declared that he
would never part with her, and she obtained leave to sleep on
a velvet cushion before his door.
He had her dressed in male attire that she might accompany
him on. horseback. They then rode together through the per-
fumed forests, where the green boughs touched their shoulders,
and the little birds sang amongst the cool leaves. She climbed
up mountains by the prince's side; and though her tender feet
bled so that others perceived it, she only laughed at her suffer-
ing.;, and followed him till they could see the clouds rolling
beneath them like a flock of birds bound for some distant land.
At night, when others slept throughout the prince's palace,
she would go and sit on the broad marble steps, for it cooled
her burning feet to bathe them in the sea-water; and then she
thought of those below the deep.
One night her sisters rose up arm-in-arm, and sang so mourn-
fully as they glided over the waters She then made them a
-?~~-i -'i 14
THE MERMAIDS VISIT THEIR SISTER.
Sie Cannot Speak. 29
sign, when they recognized her, and told her how deeply she had
afflicted them all. After that they visited her every night; and
once she perceived at a great distance her aged grandmother,
who had not come up above the surface of the sea for many
years, and the sea-king with his crown on his head. They
stretched out their arms to her, but they did not venture so near
the shore as her sisters.
Each day she grew to love the prince more fondly; and he
loved her just as one loves a dear, good child. But as to choosing
her for his queen, such an idea never entered his head; yet,
unless she became his wife, she would not obtain an immortal
soul, and would melt to foam on the morrow of his wedding
"Don't you love me the best of all ?" would the little mer-
maid's eyes seem to ask, when he embraced her, and kissed her
"Yes, I love you best," said the prince, "for you have the
best heart of any. You are the most devoted to me, and you
resemble a young maiden whom I once saw, but whom I shall
never meet again. I was on board a ship that sank; the billows
cast me near a holy temple, where several young maids were
at their worship; the youngest of them found me on the
shore and saved my life. I saw her only twice. She would be
the only one that I could love in this world; but your features
are like hers, and you have almost driven her image out of my
soul. She belongs to the holy temple; and, therefore, my good
star has sent you to me-and we will never part."
"Alas! he knows not that it was I who saved his life!"
thought the little mermaid. "I bore him across the sea to the
wood where stands the holy temple, and I sat beneath the foam
30 The Little Mermaid.
to watch whether any human beings came to help him. I saw
the pretty girl whom he loves better than he does me." And
the mermaid fetched a deep sigh; for tears she had none to
shed. He says the maiden belongs to the holy temple, and
she will therefore never return to the world. They will not
meet again, while I am by his side and see him every day. I
will take care of him, and love him, and sacrifice my life to
But now came a talk of the prince being about to marry, and
to obtain for his wife the beautiful, daughter of a neighboring
king; and that was why he was fitting out such a magnificent
vessel. The prince was travelling ostensibly on a mere visit to
his neighbour's estates, but, in reality, to see the king's daughter.
He was to be accompanied by a numerous retinue. The little
mermaid shook her head and smiled. She knew the prince's
thoughts better than the others did. I must travel," he had
said to her. "I must see this beautiful princess, because my
parents require it of me; but they will not force me to bring her
home as my bride. I cannot love her. She will not resemble
the beautiful maid in the temple whom you are like; and if I
were compelled to choose a bride, it should sooner be you, my
dumb foundling, with those expressive eyes of yours." And he
kissed her rosy mouth, and played with her long hair, and rested
his head against her heart, which beat high with hopes of human
felicity and of an immortal soul.
"You are not afraid of the sea, my dumb child, are you ?"
said he, as they stood on the magnificent vessel, that was to
carry them to the neighboring king's dominions. And he
talked to her about tempests and calm, of the singular fishes to
be found in the deep, and of the wonderful things the divers saw
The Beautiful Princess. 31
below; and she smiled, for she knew, better than any one else,
what was in the sea below.
During the moonlit night, when all were asleep on board, not
even excepting the helmsman at his rudder, she sat on deck, and
gazed through the clear waters, and fancied she saw her father's
palace. High above it stood her aged grandmother, with her
silver crown on her head, looking up intently at the keel of the
ship. Then her sisters rose up to the surface, and gazed at her
mournfully, and wrung their white hands. She made a sign to
them, smiled, and would fain have told them that she was happy
and well off; but the cabin-boy approached, and the sisters
dived beneath the waves, leaving him to believe that the white
forms he thought he described were only the foam upon the
Next morning, the ship came into port at the neighboring
king's splendid capital. The bells were all set a-ringing,
trumpets sounded flourishes from high turrets; and soldiers,
with flying colours and shining bayonets, stood ready to
welcome the stranger. Every day brought some fresh entertain-
ment: balls and feasts succeeded each other. But the princess
was not yet there; for she had been brought up, people said,
in a far-distant, holy temple, where she had acqutired all manner
of royal virtues. At last she came.
The little mermaid was curious to judge of her beauty, and
she was obliged to acknowledge to herself that she had never
seen a lovelier face. Her skin was delicate and transparent,
and beneath her long, dark lashes sparkled a pair of sincere,
dark blue eyes.
"It is you !" cried the prince,-" you who saved me, when
I lay like a lifeless corpse upon the shore !" And he folded his
32 The Little Mermaid.
blushing bride in his arms. Oh, I am too happy! said he to
the little mermaid: "my fondest dream has come to pass. You
will rejoice at my happiness, for you wish me better than any
of them." And the little mermaid kissed his hand, and felt
already as if her heart was about to break. His wedding
morning would bring her death, and she would be then changed
to foam upon the sea.
All the church-bells were ringing, and the heralds rode
through the streets, and proclaimed the approaching nuptials.
Perfumed oil was burning in costly silver lamps, on all the
altars. The priests were swinging their censers; while the
bride and bridegroom joined their hands, and received the
bishop's blessing. The little mermaid, dressed in silk and gold,
held up the bride's train; but her ears did not hear the solemn
music, neither did her eyes behold the ceremony; she thought
of the approaching gloom of death, and of all she had lost in
That same evening, the bride and bridegroom went on
board. The cannons were roaring, the flags were flying,
and a costly tent of gold and purple, lined with beautiful
cushions, had been prepared on deck for the reception of the
The vessel then set sail, with a favourable wind, and glided
smoothly along the calm sea.
When it grew dark, a number of variegated lamps were
lighted, and the crew danced merrily on deck. The little mer-
maid could not help remembering her first visit to the earth,
when she witnessed similar festivities and magnificence; and
she twirled round in the dance, half poised in the air, like a
swallow when pursued; and all present cheered her in ecstasies,
One More Chance. 33
for never had she danced so enchantingly before. Her tender
feet felt the sharp pangs of knives; but she heeded it not, for
a sharper pang had shot through her heart. She knew this was
the last evening she should ever be able to see him for whom
she had left both her relations and her home, sacrificed her
beautiful voice, and daily suffered most excruciating pains,
without his -having even dreamed that such was the case. It
was the last night on which she might breathe the same air
as he, and gaze on the deep sea and the starry sky. An eternal
night, unenlivened by either thoughts or dreams, now awaited
her; for she had no soul, and could never now obtain one.
Yet all was joy and gaiety on board till long past midnight;
and she was fain to laugh and dance, though the thoughts of
death were in her heart. The prince kissed his beautiful bride,
and she played with his black locks; and then they went, arm-
in-arm, to rest beneath the splendid tent.
All was now quiet on board : the steersman only was sitting
at the helm, as the little mermaid leaned her white arms on the
edge of the vessel, and looked towards the east for the first
blush of morning. The very first sunbeam, she knew, must
kill her. She then saw her sisters rising out of the flood.
They were as pale as herself, and their long and beautiful
locks were no longer streaming to the winds, for they had been
"We gave them to the witch," said they, "to obtain help,
that you might not die to-night. She gave us a knife in
exchange-and a sharp one it is, as you may see. Now, before
sunrise, you must plunge it into the prince's heart; and when
his warm blood shall besprinkle your feet, they will again close
up into a fish's tail, and you will be a mermaid once more, and
34 'Te Little Mermaid.
can come down to us, and live out your three hundred years,
before you turn into lifeless, salt foam. Haste, then! He
or you must die before sunrise! Our old grandmother has
fretted till her white hair has fallen off, as ours has fallen under
the witch's scissors. Haste, then Do you not perceive those
red streaks in the sky ? In a few minutes, the sun will rise,
and then you must die !" And they then fetched a deep, deep
sigh, as they sank down into the waves.
The little mermaid lifted the scarlet curtain of the tent, and
beheld the fair bride resting her head on the prince's breast;
and she bent down and kissed his beautiful forehead, then
looked up at the heavens where the rosy dawn grew brighter
and brighter-then gazed on the sharp knife, and again turned
her eyes towards the prince, who was calling his bride by her
name, in his sleep. She alone filled his thoughts, and the mer-
maid's fingers clutched the knife instinctively-but in another
moment she hurled the blade far away into the waves, that
gleamed redly where it fell, as though drops of blood were
gurgling up from the water. She gave the prince one last,
dying look, and then jumped overboard, and felt her body
dissolving into foam.
The sun now rose out of the sea; its beams threw a kindly
warmth upon the cold foam, and the little mermaid did not
experience the pangs of death. She saw the bright sun, and
above were floating hundreds of transparent, beautiful creatures ;
she could still catch a glimpse of the ship's white sails, and of
the red clouds in the sky, across the swarms of these lovely
beings. Their language was melody, but too ethereal to be
heard by human ears, just as no human eye can discern their
forms. Though without wings, their lightness poises them in
A Child of the Air. 35
the air. The little mermaid saw that she had a body like theirs,
that kept rising higher and higher from out the foam.
Where am I ?" asked she, and her voice sounded like that
THE CHILDREN OF THE AR.
of her companions, so ethereal, that no earthly music could give
an adequate idea of its sweetness.
"Amongst the daughters of the air!" answered they. "A
;ogtteduheso hear! nwrdte."
36 The Little Mermaid.
mermaid has not an immortal soul, and cannot obtain one,
unless she wins the love of some human being-her eternal
welfare depends on the will of another. But the daughters of
the air, although not possessing an immortal soul by nature,
can obtain one by their good deeds. We fly to warm countries,
and fan the burning atmosphere, laden with pestilence, that
destroys the sons of man. We diffuse the perfume of flowers
through the air to heal and to refresh. When we have striven
for three hundred years to do all the good in our power, we
then obtain an immortal soul, and share in the eternal happiness
of the human race. You, poor little mermaid have striven
with your whole heart like ourselves. You have suffered and
endured, and have raised yourself into an aerial spirit, and now
your own good works may obtain you an immortal soul after
the lapse of three hundred years."
And the little mermaid lifted her brightening eyes to the
sun, and for the first time she felt them filled with tears. All
was now astir in the ship, and she could see the prince and
his beautiful bride looking for her, and then gazing sorrow-
fully at the pearly foam, as though they knew that she had
cast herself into the waves. She then kissed the bride's fore-
head, and fanned the prince, unseen by either of them, and
then mounted, together with the other children of the air, on
the rosy cloud that was sailing through the atmosphere.
"Thus shall we glide into the kingdom of heaven, after the
lapse of three hundred years," said she.
"We may reach it sooner," whispered one of the daughters
of the air. "We enter unseen the dwellings of man, and for
each day on which we have met with a good child, who is the
joy of his parents, and deserving of their love, the Almighty
The Time of Probation. 37
shortens the time of our trial. The child little thinks, when we
fly through the room, and smile for joy at such a discovery,
that a year is deducted from the three hundred we have to
live. But when we see an ill-behaved or naughty child, we
shed tears of sorrow, and every tear adds a day to the time
of our probation."
THERE was once a darning-needle that thought so much of
herself that she fancied she was a sewing-needle.
"Only mind you hold me fast," would she say to the fingers
that took hold of her, and don't let me fall on the floor, or
I should never be found again, I am so delicate."
"This will do," said the fingers, taking her up round the
"See, I come with a whole retinue! ", said the darning-
needle, drawing a long thread after her; only there was no
knot at the end of the thread.
The fingers directed the needle towards the cook's slipper.
The upper-leather had cracked, and it was to be sewed together.
This is very coarse work," said the, darning-needle, "I shall
never get through-I shall break-I am breaking."
And sure enough she broke.
Did I not say so ?" said the darning-needle; "I am too
delicate for such work !"
"The needle will be of no further use," said the fingers
C/zanged to a Breast-pin. 39
though they still held it fast; and the cook dropped some wax
on the needle, and fastened her neckerchief with it.
"There! now I am a breast-pin !" said the darning-needle.
" I knew that I should rise in the world. If one has merit, one
is sure to become something or other." And then she laughed
in her sleeve-for nobody ever saw a darning-needle laugh-
and there she stuck as proud as though she were sitting in a
state-coach, looking all about her.
"By your leave-are you made of gold ?" asked she of a
neighboring pin. "You have a very fine appearance, and a
remarkable head, only it is very small! You must try and
grow, for it is not everybody who has wax dropped upon them."
And the darning-needle bridled up so proudly that she toppled
over out of the neckerchief, and fell into the sink, which the
cook was then cleaning out.
Now I am going to travel," said the darning-needle, "but
it is to be hoped I shall not get lost."
But in fact she was lost.
I am too genteel for this place!" said she, as she lay in
the sink. But I know what I am, and that is some little com-
fort." And the darning-needle maintained her proud bearing
and did not lose her good temper.
And all sorts of things swam over her, such as chips of wood,
bits of straw, and pieces of old newspapers.
See how they sail !" said the darning-needle. "They do
not dream of what is sticking below them, though it is I who
am sticking-who am sitting here! There goes a chip who
thinks of nothing in the world but himself-a mere chip There
runs a straw, and how he turns and twists about! Don't be
thinking only of your foolish self, or you will run against a
stone! There swims a piece of newspaper. His contents have
been long since forgotten, and yet he is mightily proud. I
am sitting still and am patient. I know what I am, and that
I shall still remain, come what will."
One day something lay close to her that glittered so splen-
didly that the darning-needle fancied it must be a diamond;
but it was merely a bit of glass, only as it shone so brightly,
the darning-needle spoke to it, giving herself out as a breast-pin.
"You are a diamond, I presume ?"
Something of the kind."
So each imagined the other to be very valuable, and their
conversation turned upon the haughtiness of the world.
"I lived in a damsel's box," said the darning-needle, "and
this damsel happened to be a cook; she had five fingers on
each hand; but anything more arrogant than those fingers I
never saw. And yet they were only there for the express pur-
pose of taking me out of the box, and putting me back into
"Were they, then, of high descent?" inquired' the piece of
"High descent ? Oh dear, no!" said the darning-needle,
"but haughty to the last degree. They were five brothers, all
born fingers. They stood proudly beside each other, although
they were of unequal heights; the outside one, namely, the
thumb, was short and thick, and his position was beside the
limb, and he had only one joint, and could only make a bow,
but he said that any human being who had lost him was not
fit for the army. His next neighbour, a thorough sweet-tooth,
dipped into sweet and sour, pointed to the sun and moon, and
formed the letters when they all wrote. Master Longman, the
Indulging in Grand Thoughts. 41
middle finger, looked down upon all the others. Gold-collet,
the fourth brother, wore a gold circlet round his body, and little
Peter Spielmann did nothing at all, which he was very proud of.
They were a set of boasters, and such they will remain, and that
is why I left them."
"And now we lie here and glitter," said the piece of broken
Just then more water was poured into the sink, which
overflowed, and the broken glass was carried away by the stream.
So, he is off !" said the darning-needle. "I am left lying
here, because I am too genteel-but that's my pride, and a
laudable thing it is."
And she remained proudly stuck where she was, indulging
in mighty grand thoughts.
I could almost fancy that I was born of a sunbeam, I am
so delicate! And it seems as if the sunbeams always tried to
find me under the water. Alas I am so delicate that my own
mother would not be able to find me. If I still possessed my
old eye, which was broken off, I think I should fain weep; but
I will not-because it is not genteel to cry."
One day a couple of boys in the street were paddling in the
gutter, where they turned up old nails, pennies, and such things.
It was dirty work, but they seemed to delight in it.
"La!" cried one of them, who was pricked by the darning-
needle, "here's a fellow !"
"I'm not a fellow, I'm a young lady," said the darning-
needle; but nobody heard her.
The wax had disappeared, and she had grown black, but as
blackness makes things appear slimmer, she fancied she was
genteeler than ever.
"There comes an egg-shell sailing along," said the boys, who
now stuck the darning-needle through the egg-shell.
"White walls and a black dress are very becoming," said the
darning-needle, only I can't see myself! I hope I sha'n't be
sea-sick, for then I am afraid I should break."
But she was not sea-sick, and did not break.
"It is a good preservative against sea-sickness to have a
steel stomach, and to bear in mind that one is something more
than a mere human being! My feeling of sea-sickness is now
over. The genteeler one is, the more one can endure."
"Crash!" said the egg-shell, as a wagon rolled over it.
"Mercy! what a weight !" said the darning-needle. I shall
be sea-sick I shall break !"
But she did not break, though a heavy wagon went over her;
she lay at full length in the road,-and there let her lie.
ON the last house in a little village there was a stork's nest.
The mother stork sat in the nest beside her four little ones,
who were stretching forth their heads with their little black
bills, that had not yet turned red. At a short distance, on the
top of the roof, stood the father stork as stiff and bolt uprigl t
as well could be. He had drawn up one leg under him, in
order not to remain quite idle while he stood sentry. One
might have taken him to be carved out of wood, so motionless
"'It no doubt looks very grand for my wife to have a sentinel
by her nest!" thought he. "They can't know that I am her
husband, and they will of course conclude that I have been
commanded to stand here. It looks so noble!" And he
continued standing on one leg.
A whole swarm of children were playing in the street below;
and when they perceived the stork, the forwardest of the boys
sang the old song about the stork, in which the others soon
joined. Only each sang it just as he happened to recollect it-
"Stork, stork-fly home and rest,
Nor on one leg thus sentry keep I
Your wife is sitting in her.nest,
To lull her little ones to sleep.
There's a halter for one, -
There's a stake for another;
For a third there's a gun,
And a spit for his brother !"
"Only listen to what the boys -
are singing !" said the young storks.
"They say we shall be hanged and
"You shouldn't mind what they say," said the mother stork ;
"if you don't listen it won't hurt you."
THE STORK'S NEST.
But the boys went on singing, and pointing at the stork with
their fingers. Only one boy, whose name was Peter, said it was
The Mother Stork comforts, her Young. 45
a shame to make game of animals, and would not join the rest.
The mother stork comforted her young ones. "Don't trouble
your heads about it," said she; "only see how quiet your father
stands, and that on one leg!"
"We are frightened!" said the young ones, drawing back
their heads into the nest.
Next day, when the children had again assembled to play,
they no sooner saw the storks than they began their song-
"There's a halter for one,
There's a stake for another."
"Are we to be hanged and burned ?" asked the young
No; to be sure not," said the mother. "You shall learn
how to fly, and I'll train you. Then we will fly to the meadows,
and pay a visit to the frogs, who will bow to us in the water, and
sing 'Croak! croak !' And then we'll eat them up, and that
will be a right good treat! "
"And what next ?" asked the youngsters.
"Then all the storks in the land will assemble, and the
autumn manceuvres will begin; and every one must know how
to fly properly, for that is very important. For whoever does
not fly as he ought, is pierced to death by the general's
beak; therefore, mind you learn something when the drilling
"Then we shall be spitted after all, as the boys said-and
hark they are singing it again."
"Attend to me, and not to them," said the mother stork.
"After the principal review, we shall fly to the warm countries,
far from here, over hills and forests. We fly to Egypt, where
46 The Storks.
there are three-cornered, stone houses, one point of which reaches
to the clouds-they are called Pyramids, and are older than a
stork can well imagine. And in that same land there is a river
which overflows its banks, and turns the whole country into
mire. We then go into the mire and eat frogs."
O-oh !" exclaimed all the youngsters.
"It is a delightful place truly! One can eat all day
long, and while we are feasting there, in this country there
is not a green leaf left upon the trees. It is so cold here
that the very clouds freeze in lumps, and fall down in little
rags." It was snow she meant, only she could not explain it
"Will the naughty boys freeze in lumps ?" asked the young
"No, they will not freeze in lumps, but they will be very
near doing so, and they will be obliged to sit moping in a
gloomy room, while you will be flying about in foreign lands,
where there are flowers and warm sunshine."
Some time had now passed by, and the young ones had
grown so big that they could stand upright in the nest, and look
all about them; and the father stork came every day with nice
frogs, little snakes, and all such dainties as storks delight in
that he could find. And how funny it was to see all the clever
feats he performed to amuse them. He would lay his head
right round upon his tail; then he would clatter with his bill
just like a little rattle; and then he would tell them stories, all
relating to swamps and fens.
"Come, you must now learn to fly," said the mother stork,
one day, and the four youngsters were all obliged to come out
on the top of the roof. How they did stagger They tried to
Learning to Fly. 47
balance themselves with their wings, but they nearly fell to the
Look at me," said the mother. "This is the way to hold
your head! And you must place your feet so! Left! right!
Left! right! That's what will help you forward in the world."
She then flew a little way, and the young ones took a little leap
without assistance-but plump down they fell, for their bodies
were still too heavy.
"I won't fly!" said one youngster, creeping back into the
pest. I don't care about going to warm countries."
Would you like to stay and freeze here in the winter?
and wait till the boys came to hang, to burn, or to roast you ?
Well, then, I'll call them."
"Oh, no!" said the young stork, hopping back to the roof
like the others. On the third day they already began to fly a
little, and then they fancied they should be able at once to
hover in the air, upborne by their wings, and this they accord-
ingly attempted, when down they fell, and were then obliged to
flap their wings as quick as they could. The boys now came
into the street below, singing their song-
Stork, stork-fly home and rest."
Shan't we fly down and peck them?" asked the young
"No; leave them alone," said the mother. "Attend to me
-that's far more important-one-two-three! Now let's fly
round to the right. One-two-three! Now to the left, round
the chimney. Now that was very well! That last flap of your
wings was very graceful, and so proper, that you shall have leave
48 'The Storks.
to fly with me to-morrow to the marsh. Several genteel families
of storks are coming thither with their children; now let me see
that mine are the best bred of all, and mind that you strut about
with a due degree of pride, for that looks well, and makes one
"But shan't we take revenge on the naughty boys ?" asked
the young storks.
"Let them scream away as much as they like. You can fly
up to the clouds, and go to the land of the Pyramids, while they
are freezing, and can neither see a green leaf nor eat a sweet
But we wish to be revenged," whispered the young ones
amongst each other; and then they were drilled again.
Of all the boys in the street, none seemed more bent on
singing the song that made game of the storks than the one
who had first introduced it ; and he was a little fellow, scarcely
more than six years old. The young storks, to be sure, fancied
that he was at least a hundred, because he was so much bigger
than their parents; and besides, what did they know about the
ages of children or of grown men ? So their whole vengeance
was to be aimed at this boy, because he had been the first to
begin, and had always persisted in mocking at them. The
young storks were very much exasperated, and when they grew
bigger, they grew still less patient of insults, and their mother
was at length obliged to promise that they should be revenged,
but only on the day of their departure.
"We must first see how you will acquit yourselves at the
great review. If you don't do your duty properly, and the
general runs his beak through your breasts, then the boys will
be in the right, at least so far. So we must wait and see."
FETCHING THE CHILDREN.
The Storks' Revenge.
"Yes, you shall see," said the youngsters; and they took a
deal of pains, and practised every day, till they flew so elegantly
and so lightly that it was a pleasure to see them.
The autumn now set in, when all the storks began to
assemble and to start for the warm countries, leaving winter
behind them. And there were evolutions for you The young
fledgelings were set to fly over forests and villages, to see whether
they could acquit themselves properly, for they had a long
voyage before them. But the young storks gave such proofs of
capacity, that their certificate ran as follows-" Remarkably
well-with the present of a frog and a snake." This was the
most palpable proof of the satisfaction they had given; and
they might now eat the frog and the snake, which they lost no
time in doing.
"Now for our revenge!" said they.
"Yes, assuredly," said the mother stork; and I have found
out what would be the fairest revenge to take. I know where
lies the pond in which all the little human children are waiting
till the storks shall come and bring them to their parents. The
prettiest little children lie sleeping there, and dreaming far more
sweetly than they will ever dream hereafter. Most parents wish
for such a little infant, and most children wish for a sister or a
brother. Now we'll fly to the pond, and fetch one for every
child who did not sing the naughty song, and make game of the
But the naughty, ugly boy, who was the first to begin
singing it," cried the young storks, "what shall we do with
In the pond lies a little infant, who has dreamed itself to
death. We'll take him home to the naughty boy, and then he'll
52, The Storks.
cry, because we've brought him a little dead brother. But as for
the good boy-you have not forgotten him-who said it was a
shame to make game of animals, we will bring him both a
brother and a sister. And as the boy's name is Peter, you shall
all be called Peter after him."
And all was done as agreed upon, and all storks were
henceforth named Peter, and are called so still.
THE ELFIN MOUNT.
SOME large lizards were frisking about near a crevice in an
aged tree ; and they understood each other vastly well, for they
spoke the lizard language.
What a fuss and buzzing there is in the old Elfin Mount,"
said one lizard. I have not been able to sleep a wink these
two nights; I might just as well have had the toothache, for
then I don't sleep either."
"There is something in the wind," said another lizard.
Since cockcrow this morning, the mount has been propped on
four red stakes, and has been thoroughly aired. And the elfin
girls have learned new dances. There is certainly something in
"Ay, I have spoken about it to an earth-worm of my
acquaintance," said the third lizard. "The earth-worm had just
come from the mount, where he had been wriggling about in the
ground both day and night. He had heard a great deal, for
the poor creature can't see, though he is a good hand at stealing
54 The Elfin Mount.
in and listening anywhere. They expect company in the Elfin
Mount, and very grand company, but the earth-worm either
would not or could not say who was coming. All the will-o'-
the-wisps are bespoken for a procession of torches, as they call
it, and the silver and gold, of which there is no lack in the
mount, is to be polished and laid out in the moonshine."
"Who can the guests be ?" asked all the lizards. "What can
be in the wind? Do you hear what a humming and what a
buzzing there is?"
At that moment the Elfin Mount opened, and an old elfin
maiden came tripping out. She was the old elfin king's house-
keeper, was distantly related to the family, and wore an amber
heart on her forehead. Her feet moved so fast! Trip, trip!
-how she did trip it, and right down into the sea to the night
You are invited to the Elfin Mount, and for this very night,"
said she; "but will you do us a great service by undertaking to
deliver the invitations ? You must do something to make your-
self useful, as you don't keep house. We are going to have some
very grand guests-magicians, to wit, who have something to say
for themselves; and therefore the old elfin king wishes to receive
them in great style."
Who is to be invited ?" said the night raven.
"All the world may come to our great ball, even human
beings, provided they but talk in their sleep, or do anything else
1 Formerly, when a ghost made its appearance, the preacher exorcised it,
and made it return into the earth, and a stake was stuck up at the spot where
this took place. At midnight was a cry of Let go !" The stake was
taken out, and the exorcised spirit flew away in the shape of a raven, with a
hole in its left wing. This ghost-like bird was called a night raven.
Sending the Invitations. 55
in our line. But the first party is to be very select, and we shall
only admit persons of the highest rank. I have had a dispute
THE LIZARDS WATCHING THE ELFIN GIRLS.
with the elfin king, for I maintained that we ought not to admit
The Efin Mount.
ghosts. The merman and his daughters are to be invited first,
and, as it may not be agreeable to them to be on dry land, they
shall have a wet stone, or perhaps something even better to sit
upon, and therefore I should think they won't refuse this time.
We must have all the old demons of the first class with tails,
the hobgoblin and the gnomes, and I think we can't omit the
grave-swine, the death-horse,1 and the church-dwarf; it is true
they belong to the ghostly world rather than to our people, but
that is only by virtue of their office: they are nearly related to
us, and visit us frequently."
Caw! said the night raven, as he flew away to invite the
The elfin girls were already dancing on the Elfin Mount, and
they danced with shawls woven with mist and moonshine, which
looked very pretty to those who like such things. The large
ball-room in the middle of the mount was handsomely decorated;
the floor had been washed with moonshine, and the walls rubbed
with witches' grease, so that they glittered like tulip leaves in
the light. In the kitchen a good many dishes were in prepara-
tion, such as roasted frogs, snail-skins, and a salad of mushroom-
seeds, moist snouts of mice, and hemlock; then there was beer
from the brewery of the swamp-wife, and glittering saltpetre
wine from burial vaults. So much for the solid fare ; and
then there were rusty nails and church window glass for
1 According to a popular Danish superstition, a living horse must be
buried under every church that is built; and his ghost is the death-horse
that comes limping on three legs every night towards the house where any-
-body is about to die. Under some churches a living swine was likewise
buried, whose ghost was called the grave-swine.
Tihe Old Norwegian Gnome. 57
The old elfin king had his gold crown furbished up with
pounded slate-pencil; and it was slate of the first layer too,
which it is very difficult for an elfin king to obtain. Curtains
were put up in the bedroom, and looped up with snails' slime.
And a pretty hurry and bustle there was.
"We must now fumigate the place with horse-hair and hogs'-
bristles, and then I think I shall have done my part," said the
"Papa," said the youngest daughter, will you tell me now
who our high-born guests are ? "
"Well, I will," said he. "Two of my daughters must be
prepared to marry, for two of them will certainly be married.
The old gnome from Norway, who lives in the ancient Dovre
Mountains, and who possesses many rocky castles on the cliffs,
besides a gold mine, which is reckoned better still, is coming
down with his two sons, who are looking out for wives. The
old gnome is a true-hearted, honourable old Norwegian, both
cheerful and plain-spoken. I knew him formerly, when we used
to drink to our good-fellowship. He came hither to fetch his
wife, who is now dead, and was daughter to the king of the
chalk-pits of M6n. Oh! how I long to see the old Norwegian
gnome once more! They say the boys are ill-bred, froward
youths; but perhaps justice is not done them, and they may
become better as they grow older. Let me see my family teach
them good manners."
And when are they coming? said one daughter.
"That depends on wind and weather," said the elfin
king. "They travel economically. They will wait for an
opportunity of sailing in some ship. I wanted them to come
across Sweden, but the old man was not inclined to do
58 The Elfin Mount.
so. He does not follow the march of the times, and that I
Two will-o'-the-wisps now came skipping along-one faster
than the other-and so, of course, one came in first.
"They are coming they are coming !" cried they.
"Give me my crown, and let me stand in the moonshine,"
said the elfin king.
The daughters raised their shawls and curtseyed to the
ground. There stood the old gnome of Dovre, with his crown
of hardened ice and polished fir-apples. Besides this, he wore
a bear-skin, and large warm boots, while the sons went with
their necks bare, and without braces; for they were vigorous
Is that a hill ?" asked the youngest of the boys, pointing to
the Elfin Mount. "In Norway we should call it a hole."
"Boys," said the old man, "a hole is scooped in, and a hill
sticks out. Have you no eyes in your head ?"
The only thing that surprised them thereabouts, they said,
was that they could understand the language without more
Mind what you say," said the old man; "one would think
you were unlicked cubs."
And then they entered the Elfin Mount, where the select
company was assembled, as if blown together by the wind.
But the preparations for the different guests were on a neat and
elegant scale. The sea-folks sat at table in large tubs full of
water, and they said it was just like being at home. They all
behaved properly at table, except the two little northern gnomes,
"who sat with their legs on the table, because they thought they
might do anything.
THE ELF KING'S FEAST.
The Elfn Girls Dance. 61
"Feet off from the board !" said the old gnome; and they
obeyed, but not immediately. They tickled the ladies-in-wait-
ing who served them at table, with fir-apples which they carried
in their pockets ; and then took off their boots, in order to sit
more comfortably, and gave them the boots to hold. But their
father, the old gnome of Dovre, was quite different from
them; he told so pleasantly all about the stately northern rocks,
and the waterfalls that dash down amidst white foam with a
noise like thunder and an organ combined; and about the
salmon that leaps up the rushing waters when the water-god
plays on his golden harp; and about the bright winter nights,
when the sledge-bells are tinkling, and boys are running with
burning torches across the smooth ice, that is so transparent
that they can see the startled fish under their feet. He told it
so graphically, that one could see and hear all he described; it
was as if the saw-mills were going, the lads and lasses singing
songs and dancing; and then, all of a sudden, the old gnome
gave the old elfin maiden such a kiss-a regular smack-and yet
they were not related to one another.
The elfin girls were now called upon to dance; and they
danced, first simply, and then with stamping of the feet, which
had a very pretty effect; after which they executed solos ard
pas de caractere. Bless us! how they did shake their legs, and
caper about! There was such a whirling, that one could not
distinguish which were arms and which were legs; it was like
the shavings of a sawing-mill flying about; and then round they
spun like so many teetotums, till the death-horse and the grave-
swine felt so sick and dizzy that they were obliged to leave the
"Whew!" cried the old gnome, "there's a to-do with legs
62 The Efin Mount.
and feet But what can they do besides dancing and twirling
round like a whirlwind?"
That you shall know presently," said the elfin king. And
he then called his youngest daughter. She was nimble, and as
transparent as moonshine, and was the most delicate-looking of
all the sisters. She took a white chip of wood in her mouth, and
then vanished. That was her accomplishment.
But the old gnome said he should not endure such an
accomplishment in his wife, and that he did not suppose his boys
would relish it either.
Another could walk by her own side, just as if she had a
shadow, which gnomes have not.
The third was quite different; she had learned a thing or
two in the swamp-wife's brewery, and had acquired the whole
art and mystery of larding elfin forced-meat balls with glow-
"She will be a good housewife," said the old gnome,
merely bowing over his glass, for he did not wish to drink so
Now came the fourth daughter with a large harp; and no
sooner had she struck the first string, than everybody lifted up
their left leg, for gnomes area left-legged; and when she struck
the second string, everybody was obliged to do just what she
"She's a dangerous woman," said the old gnome. But his
two sons strolled out of the mount, for they had had enough.
"And what can the next daughter do?" asked the old
"I have learned to love everything Norwegian," said she,
"and I will never marry unless it be to go to Norway."
fTe Elfin Maidens' Charms. 63
But the littlest sister whispered in the old man's ear: That
is only because she heard from a Norwegian song that when the
world is swallowed up, the northern cliffs will remain standing
like so many grave-stones, and therefore she wants to be on the
top .of them, because she's so afraid of dying."
"Ho, ho! said the old gnome, "was that the meaning of it?
But what can the seventh and last do ? "
"The sixth comes before the seventh," said the elfin king, for
he could reckon; but the sixth daughter did not put herself
I can only tell people the truth," said she; "nobody troubles
themselves about me, and I have enough to do to sew my
Now came the seventh and last sister, and what could she
do ? Why, she could tell stories, add as many as ever she
"Here are my five fingers," said the old gnome; tell me a
story for each of them."
And she took him by the wrist, and he laughed till he
chuckled again; and when she came to the fourth finger, which
had on a gold ring, just as if it knew that there was to be a
betrothing, the old gnome said: Hold fast what you have got;
the hand is yours. I will marry you myself."
The elfin girl remarked that the story of the ring-finger and
of little Peter Spielmann was still untold.
"We will hear them in the course of the winter," said the
gnome; "and we'll hear all about the fir tree and the birch, and
the presents of the sprites, and the tingling frost. You shall tell
plenty of stories, for nobody can tell them properly up there.
The Elfn Mount.
And we'll sit in the rocky chamber, where pine chips are burn-
ing, and drink mead out of the golden drinking-horns handed
down to us by the old Norwegian kings. The water-god gave
me a couple of them; and while we sit enjoying ourselves,
the water-nymph will come and pay us a visit, and sing you all
the songs of the mountain shepherdesses. That will be right
merry. The salmon, meanwhile, will be leaping in the waterfall,
and lashing the stone walls with his tail-but he won't be able to
come in. Yes, it is vastly pleasant to live in dear old Norway.
But where are the youngsters ?"
Where, indeed 1 They were running about abroad, and
puffing out the will-o'-the-wisps, who had so kindly come to
make up the torch procession.
"What pranks are you after ?" asked the. old gnome. I
have chosen a mother for you, so now you can take one of the
But the youths said they preferred making a speech, and
toasting to their good-fellowship, for they had no inclination to
marry. And then they made a speech, and drank to their
good-fellowship, and turned their cups upside down, to show
that they had drunk to the last drop. They next took off their
coats, and lay down on the table to take a nap, for they made
themselves quite at home. But the old gnome danced round
the room with his young bride, and changed boots with her,
which is genteeler than exchanging rings.
"The cock is crowing !" said the old elfin spinster, who took
care of the household matters. "We must now close the shutters,
not to be scorched by the sun."
And the mount then closed up.
The Mount closes up. 65
But the lizards outside were running up and down the
cracked tree, and saying to one another-" Oh! how the old
Norwegian gnome pleased me!"
"The boys pleased me better," said the earth-worm. iut
then he could not see, poor, miserable animal!
IN China, you know, the emperor is a Chinese, and all those
about him are Chinamen. It is now many years ago-but for
that very reason the story is better worth hearing before it is
quite forgotten-the emperor's palace was the most magnificent
in the whole world; it was built entirely of the finest porcelain,
and was costly to a degree, but so brittle and so delicate, that
one scarcely dared to touch it. In the garden might be seen
the most singular flowers, and to the most beautiful of these
were fastened little silver bells, that kept jingling so that one
could not pass by without observing them. Everything in the
emperor's garden was after the same fashion. The garden
itself extended so far that even the gardener did not know
where it ended. If you went beyond its limits, you reached a
grand forest with lofty trees, and deep lakes. The forest sloped
down to the deep blue sea; large ships could sail under its
branches, in one. of which dwelt a nightingale, that sang so
sweetly that even the poor fishermen, who had something else
to do, were fain to stand still and listen, whenever they heard
her, as they went to spread their nets over-night. "Oh dear,
Show beautiful!" said they; and then they were forced to attend
to their business, and forget the bird. Yet if the bird happened
T'he `'ti:ale's Fame. 67
to sing again on the following night, and any one of the fisher-
men came near the spot, he was sure to say to himself: "Dear
me, how beautiful that is, to be sure!"
Travellers flocked from all parts of the earth to the emperor's
capital, and admired it, as well as the palace and the garden.
Yet when they came to hear the nightingale, they all declared:
This is better still."
And the travellers, on their return home, related what they
had seen, and learned men wrote many volumes upon the town,
the palace, and the garden. Nor did they forget the nightingale,
which was reckoned the most remarkable of all; and those who
could write poetry, penned the most beautiful verses about the
nightingale in the forest near the lake.
The books circulated through the world, and some of them
fell into the emperor's hands. He sat on his golden throne,
and kept reading and reading, and nodding his head every
moment, for he was delighted with the beautiful descriptions of
the town, the palace, and the garden. "But the nightingale is
the most lovely of all !" said the book.
What is that ?" said the emperor. I don't know of any
nightingale! Can there be such a bird in my empire, and in
ny very garden, without my having ever heard of it ? Must
I learn such things from books ?"
He then called his lord-in-waiting, who was so grand a
personage, that if any one of inferior rank to himself dared to
speak to him, or ask him a question, he only answered: "P 1"
which meant nothing at all.
"This must be a very remarkable bird that is called a nightin-
gale," said the emperor. They say it is the finest thing in my
large kingdom. Why was I never told anything about it?"
"I never heard of it before !" said the lord-in-waiting. "She
has never been presented at court."
"I choose that she should come and sing before me this
very evening," said the emperor. "The whole world knows
what I possess, while I myself do not!"
"I never heard her mentioned before," repeated the lord-in-
waiting, but I will seek for her and find her."
But where was she to be found ? The lord-in-waiting ran
up and down all the stairs in the palace, looked through all the
rooms and passages, but none of those whom he met had ever
heard of the nightingale. So the lord-in-waiting returned to
the emperor, and said that it must be a mere fiction invented
by those who wrote the books. "Your imperial majesty is not
to believe all that is written," said he, "these are mere poetical
fancies, and what is called the black art."
"But the book in which I read this," said the emperor, "was
sent to me by the high and mighty Emperor of Japan, and
therefore cannot contain a falsehood. I will hear the nightingale !
She must come hither this, evening. She enjoys my gracious
favour. And if she does not come, the whole court shall have
their bodies trampled upon the moment the supper is over."
"Tsing-pe!" said the lord-in-waiting, and he again ran up
and down all the stairs, and looked through all the rooms and
passages, and half of the courtiers accompanied him in his
search, for they did not relish the thought of being trampled
upon. And there was a mighty inquiry after the wonderful
nightingale, which all the world knew of, except those who
resided at court.
-At last they found a little girl in the kitchen, who said: "Oh
dear! I know the nightingale well enough, and beautifully she
The Nightingale is Discovered. 69
sings I have leave to take home to my poor sick mother the
scraps from the dinner-table; and she lives down by the shore,
and when I come back and am tired, and sit down to rest in the
forest, then I hear the nightingale sing. And the tears come
into my eyes, and it is just as if my mother kissed me."
"Little maid," said the lord-in-waiting, "I will obtain for
you a lasting situation in the kitchen, and permission to see the
emperor dine, if you will show us the way to the nightingale, for
she is bespoken for this evening."
And so they all went out into the forest, where the nightingale
used to sing. Half the court was there. As they walked along,
a cow began lowing.
"Oh," cried some of the young lords of the court, "now
we've found her! What wonderful strength for so small an
animal! I have certainly heard this before !"
"Nay, those are cows a-bellowing," said the little maid.
"We are at a good distance yet from the spot."
The frogs now began to croak in a neighboring marsh.
Magnificent!" said the Chinese court-preacher, "now I hear
her-it sounds like little church-bells."
"Nay, those are frogs," said the little maid, but I think that
we shall soon hear her now."
The nightingale then began to sing.
"There she is," said the little girl. "Hark! hark! And
there she sits," added she, pointing to a little grey bird up
in the boughs.
"Is it possible ?" said the lord-in-waiting. "I should never
have fancied her like that! How simple she looks She has
certainly lost her colour at seeing so many persons of rank
"Little nightingale," cried the little maid aloud, "our most
gracious emperor wishes you to sing before him."
"With the greatest pleasure! said the nightingale, and sang
so exquisitely, that it was a delight to hear her.
It sounds like glass bells," said the lord-in-waiting, and
-. .-& a, -
.I 1 -. ,,-- Y'^-^- ^ "i'-
A "- .: -:' ..' I.. V "'* 6
nightingale, who thought the emperor was there.
--, '- t- ""
Singing to the Emperor. 71
"My sweet little nightingale," said the lord-in-waiting, "I
have the pleasure to invite you to a court assembly for this
evening, at which you will enchant his Imperial Highness with
your delightful singing."
"It is best when heard in the greenwood," said the nightin-
gale; still she went willingly, on hearing the emperor wished it.
The preparations in the palace were magnificent. The walls
and the floor, both of porcelain, were shining in the light of
several thousand gold lamps; the rarest flowers, such as had a
right to ring their bells, were placed in the passages. What
with the running to and fro, and the draught, there was such a
jingling of bells that one could scarcely hear oneself speak.
In the middle of the state-room where the emperor sat there
was a golden perch for the nightingale. The whole court was
present, and the little maid had leave to stand behind the door,
as she had now obtained the title of a real court cook. All
present were dressed in their best, and all eyes were turned
towards the little grey bird, to whom the emperor now made a
sign by nodding his head.
And the nightingale sang so exquisitely that tears came into
the emperor's eyes. The tears rolled down his cheeks, and then
the nightingale sang in still more touching strains, that went to
one's very heart. And the emperor was so enchanted, that he
declared the nightingale should have his golden slipper to wear
round her neck. But the nightingale declined the honour with
thanks: she was sufficiently rewarded already.
I have seen tears in the emperor's eyes, and these are like
the richest treasure to me! An emperor's tears possess a
peculiar virtue! God knows that I am sufficiently rewarded."
And thereupon she sang again in her sweet, melodious voice.
72 The Nightingale.
"This is the prettiest piece of coquetry that I know of," said
the ladies present, and they put water into their mouths, to make
a kind of liquid, clucking sound, when anybody spoke to them.
They then fancied themselves nightingales.. Even the footmen
and chambermaids gave out that they were satisfied with the
performance: and that is saying a great deal, for they are the
most difficult to please. In short, the nightingale's success
She was now invited to take up her abode at court, where
she was to have her own cage, besides the liberty of going out
twice a day, and once in the night; on which occasions she was
attended by twelve servants, each of whom had fastened a
ribbon round her leg to hold her fast. There was no pleasure
to be had in flying after such a fashion as that.
The whole talk of the town ran on no other subject than
the wonderful bird. Eleven old-clothes-men's children were
christened after her, but not one of them could sing a note.
One day the emperor received a large parcel, on which was
written: "The Nightingale."
Here's no doubt a new book about our celebrated bird,"
said the emperor. But instead of a book, it was a piece of
mechanism that lay in a box-an artificial nightingale made to
imitate the living one, only set all over with diamonds, rubies,
and sapphires. As soon as the artificial bird was wound up, it
could sing one of the pieces that the real one sang; and then it
wagged its tail up and down, all sparkling with silver and gold.
Round its neck was slung a little ribbon, on which was written:
"The Emperor of Japan's nightingale is poor indeed compared
to that belonging to the Emperor of China."
This is splendid," said all present, while he who had brought
The Artifcial Nightingale Arrives. 73
the bird was immediately invested with the title of Imperial
"Now they must sing together," said the courtiers, "and
what a duet that will be!"
THE NIGHTINGALE WITH HER SERVANTS.
And they were accordingly set to sing together. But it did
not do, for the real nightingale sang after her fashion, and the
artificial bird according to the barrel. It is not the fault of
the latter," observed the musical conductor," for the bird is a
good timeist, quite after my school." So the artificial bird was
74 The Nightingale.
made to sing alone. It obtained just as much success as the
real bird, and then it was thought so much prettier to look at,
for it sparkled like bracelets and breast-pins.
Three-and-thirty times did it sing the same piece without
being tired. The company would willingly have heard it anew,
but the emperor said that it was time the living nightingale
should take her turn. But where was she? Nobody had
remarked that she had flown out at the open window, and
back to her green woods.
How comes this ?" said the emperor. And all the courtiers
blamed her, and set down the nightingale for a most ungrateful
"But we have the best bird left," said they; and accordingly
the artificial bird was made to sing again, and they heard the
same tune for the four-and-thirtieth time. Only they had not
yet learned it by heart completely, for it was difficult to catch.
And the conductor praised the bird to the skies, and even main-
tained that it was superior to a real nightingale, not only as
regards outward appearance, and the profusion of diamonds, but
in point of artistic merit.
"For you perceive, my gracious lord and emperor of us all,"
said he, "with a real nightingale you can never depend on what
is coming; but with an artificial bird all is laid out beforehand.
One can analyze it, one can open it, and show the human skill
that contrived its mechanism, and how the barrels lie, how they
work, and how one thing proceeds from another."
Those are quite my own thoughts," said all present; and the
musical conductor was allowed to exhibit the bird to the people
on.the following Sunday. And the emperor commanded that the
people should likewise hear it sing. They accordingly heard it,
Whirr Whirr! ah with Mheels !
and were as delighted as though they had got drunk with tea,
for it was so thoroughly Chinese. And they all cried out:
"Oh!" and held up their forefingers, and nodded their heads.
But the poor fisherman, who had heard the real nightingale,
said: It sounds prettily enough, and the melodies are all alike:
but there's a something wanting, though I can't tell what."
The real nightingale was banished from the land.
The artificial bird was placed on a silk cushion beside the
emperor's bed. All the presents of gold and precious stones
which had been showered upon it, lay around, and the bird had
risen to the title of Imperial Toilet-singer, and to the rank of
number one on the left side. For the emperor reckoned the
left side the noblest, as being the seat of the heart; for an
emperor's heart is on the left, just as other people's are. And
the conductor of the music wrote a work in twenty-five volumes
about the artificial bird; which was so learned, and so long, and
so full of the hardest Chinese words, that everybody said they
had read it and understood it, for fear of being thought stupid,
or being trampled to death.
A whole year passed by. The emperor and his court, and
all other Chinese, now knew by heart every little flourish in the
artificial bird's song. But that was the very reason why it
pleased them better than ever, because they could now sing with
the bird-which they accordingly did. The boys in the street
would go about singing: Zi-zi-zi-cluck-cluck-cooo-oo ;" and
the emperor sang.it likewise. It was really quite delightful!
But one evening when the artificial bird was singing its best,
and the emperor lay in bed listening, something inside the bird
seemed to say : "crick Then a spring flew-whirr-r-r-r 1 All
the wheels ran round, and suddenly the music came to a standstill.
The emperor jumped out of bed, and called for his physician.
But of what use could he be ? They next fetched a watch-
maker; and after a deal of talking and examination, he managed
to set the bird in order to a certain degree; but he said it must
be used sparingly, for the uvula was worn away, and it was
impossible to put in a new one so as to be sure not to injure the
music. Here was a cause for deep mourning! The artificial
bird was now only to be heard once a year, and that was almost
too often for its safety. But the conductor of the music made
a speech, consisting of very hard words, in order to prove that it
was just as good as ever; and so, of course, it was considered so.
Five years had now flown past, when a real affliction
threatened the land. The Chinese all loved their emperor, and
he now lay so ill that it was said he could not recover. A new
emperor was already chosen; and the people who stood outside
in the street asked the lord-in-waiting how it fared with their
old emperor ? "P !" said he, shaking his head.
The emperor lay pale and cold in his fine large bed. The
whole court thought he was dead, and everybody had run away
from him to pay their respects to the new emperor. The valets
had run away to prate about the event, and the chambermaids
had a large company to coffee. Cloth coverings had been laid
down in all the rooms and passages, that nobody's step might be
heard, and therefore all was silent as the grave. But the
emperor was not yet dead, though he lay stiff and pale in his
magnificent bed, with its long velvet curtains and heavy gold
tassels. High above was an open window, through which the
moon shone down upon the emperor and the artificial bird.
The poor emperor could scarcely breathe; he felt as if a
weight were lying on his chest; and on opening his eyes he saw
The Emperor's Illness. 77
that it was Death who was sitting on his breast, and had put on
his gold crown, and was holding the'imperial sword in one hand,
and his beautiful banner in the other. Strange heads were
peeping out on all sides from the velvet bed-curtains, some of
which were quite ugly, while others were mild and lovely.
These were the emperor's good and bad actions, which looked
him in the face now that Death was at his heart.
"Do you remember this ?" whispered one after another.
"Do you remember that?" and they told him so many things
that the perspiration stood on his brow.
I never knew it," said the emperor. "Music! music !-the
large Chinese drum !" cried he, "to drown what they say! "
But they went on, and Death nodded to all they said, like a
Music music shouted the emperor ; "you little charming
golden bird, sing away !-sing, can't you! I have given you
gold and precious stones, and I have even hung my golden
slipper round your neck. Sing, I tell you, sing !"
But the bird remained silent. There was nobody there to
wind it up; and without that it could not sing a note. And
Death went on staring at the emperor with his hollow sockets,
and a frightful stillness reigned around.
Suddenly a gust of melody sounded through the window. It
proceeded from the little living nightingale, who sat on a bough.
She had heard of her emperor's danger, and had hastened hither
to sing hope and comfort to his soul. And as she sang, the
phantoms grew fainter and fainter, while the blood began to
circulate faster and faster through the emperor's weak limbs;
and even Death listened, and said: "Go on, little nightingale,
go on !"
78 The Nightingale.
"But will you give me that costly golden sword ? Will you
give me that rich banner? Will you give me the emperor's
And Death gave each of the baubles for a song; and the
nightingale continued singing. She sang of the quiet church-
yard, where the white roses blossom, where the elder sheds its
perfumes, and where the cool grass is moistened by the tears of
the survivors. Then Death longed to go to his garden; and he
floated out through the window, like a cold, white mist.
"Thanks thanks !" said the emperor, "you heavenly little
bird I know you well. I banished you from my dominions;
and yet you have sung away those evil faces from my bedside,
and expelled Death from my heart. How can I reward you ?"
You have rewarded me," said the nightingale. "I beguiled
tears from your eyes the first time I sang,-I shall never forget
that 1 Those are the jewels that rejoice a singer's heart. But
now sleep and grow strong and healthy. I will sing to you."
And she sang, and the emperor fell into a sweet sleep. And
most mild and beneficent was that slumber.
The sun was shining through the window when he awoke
refreshed and restored to health. None of his servants had
returned, for they thought he was dead; but the nightingale
still-sat and sang.
"You must always remain with me," said the emperor. "You
shall only sing when you choose, and I will break the artificial
bird into a thousand pieces.:
"Do not do that," said the nightingale; "the bird did good as
long as it could. Keep it as before. I cannot build my nest
and live in the palace, but let me come when I have a mind;
and I will sit on the bough near the window of an evening, and
The Emperor is Cured. 79
sing to you, that you may be at once glad and thoughtful. I
will sing of the happy, and of those who suffer. I will tell of
the bad and the good that is concealed from you by those about
-. -, -
THE EMPEROR CURED BY THE NIGHTINGALE.
your person. For the little songster flies far around to the poor
fishermen, and to the peasant's humble roof, and to all who live
at so great a distance from yourself and your court. I love
80 The Nightingale.
your heart better than your crown; and yet the crown has a
perfume of sacredness about it too. -I will come and sing to
you; but you must promise me one thing."
"All I possess !" said the emperor, as he stood in his imperial
robes, which he had himself put on, and pressed his sword of
weighty gold to his heart.
One thing only I require of you : that is, to let no one know
you have a little bird who tells you everything; and all will be
for the best."
And away the nightingale flew.
The servants came in to look after their, late emperor. .
When there they stood in amazement, on hearing the emperor
say : "Good-morning 1"
A GOOD LEAP.
THE flea, the grasshopper, and the cricket had once a mind
to see who could leap the highest, so they invited the whole
world, and whomsoever else might choose to come, to see the
sight. And three famous jumpers they were, who were assembled
in the room.
I'll give my daughter to whichever leaps the highest," said
the king; "for it would be too bad if' these folks jumped for
The flea came first. His manners were.very elegant, and he
bowed to everybody, for he had noble blood in his veins on
his mother's side, and was accustomed to the society of human
beings, which makes all the difference.
Then came the grasshopper, who was certainly somewhat
heavier, yet displayed a good figure that was set off by a becom-
ing green uniform. Moreover, this personage maintained that
he belonged to a very ancient family in Egypt, where he was
thought very highly of. He had just been taken out of a field,
and put into a summer-house, three storeys high, made of
playing-cards, with the figured sides turned inwards. There
82 A Good Leap.
were both doors and windows cut out even in the body of the
queen of hearts. I sing so well," said he, "that sixteen native
crickets, who had whistled from their early youth without being
able to obtain a summer-house, fretted themselves still thinner
than they were already when they heard me."
Both the flea and the grasshopper duly proclaimed who
they were, and that they considered themselves fit to marry
The cricket said nothing, but he did not think the less,
it is said, and when the watch-dog had merely sniffed him, he
answered for it that the cricket was of good family, and was
made out of the breastbone of a real goose. The old senator,
who had obtained three orders for holding his tongue, main-
tained that the cricket was endowed with the faculty of pro-
phecy, and that one could tell by his bone whether the winter
would be mild or severe, which one could not ascertain from
the breastbone of him who indites the almanack.
"Ay, I say nothing," observed the old king; "but I go my
own ways, and have my own thoughts like other people."
And now the leap was to be taken. The flea jumped so
high that nobody could see so far, and therefore they maintained
that he had not leaped at all, which was quite contemptible on
The grasshopper only leaped half as high, but jumped right
into the king's face, which his majesty said was not pretty
The cricket stood still a long while, and was lost in thought,
and people began to think at last that he could not jump at all.
"It is to be hoped he is not ill," said the watch-dog, smell-
ing him once more. Whirr! Away he sprang, with a little
The Cricket Wins.
sideways jerk, into the lap of the princess, who was sitting
modestly on a golden stool.
Then the king said: "The highest leap is the one that
aimed at my daughter, for that implies a delicate compliment.
It wanted some head to hit upon such an idea; and the cricket
has shown that he has a head."
So he obtained the princess.
"Yet I jumped the highest," said the flea. "But never mind !
Let her have the goose's bone with the bit of stick and the pitch.
I jumped the highest for all that. Only in this world one wants
a body in order to be seen."
And thereupon the flea went into foreign service and got
killed, it is said.
The grasshopper sat outside in the ditch, musing over the
ways of the world. And he, too, said: Body is everything!
body is everything !" And then he sang his own melancholy
song, from which we borrowed this story, which, although it be
in print, may nevertheless be not quite true.
A TALE IN THE TEAPOT.
THERE was once a little boy who had caught cold by going
out and getting his feet wet; though how he had managed to
wet them nobody could tell, for the weather was quite dry. So
his mother undressed him, and put him to bed, and had the tea-
things brought in, to prepare him a good cup of elder-flower tea,
which warms one so nicely. At the same moment, in came the
friendly old man who lived quite at the top of the house, all
alone-for he had neither wife nor children-but who was very
fond of children, and knew a number of fairy tales' and pretty
stories, which it was a treat to hear him tell.
"Now, if you drink your tea," said the mother, you will
perhaps obtain a story to listen to meanwhile."
Ay, if I did but know a new one," said the old man, nodding
in a friendly manner. But how did the little fellow wet his
feet ? asked he.
"Why, that's what nobody can make out," said the mother.
Shall I have a story ?" asked the boy.
How to Make a Story. 85
i "Yes, provided you
/' ;j first tell me pretty accu-
j rately the depth of the
S/ gutter in the little street where you go
S "As deep as to the middle of my
i calf," said the boy, "supposing I
stood in the deepest hole."
THE OLD MAN AND THE LITTLE BOY.tood in the deepest hole."
"That's where we get our feet
wet," said the old man. "Well, now I ought in turn to tell a
story, only I have none left."
"But you can make one now, presently," said the little boy.
" Mother says that everything you look at can become a story;
and that you can turn everything you touch into a story."
Ay, but that sort of story is good for nothing. The
86 A Tale in the Teapot.
real ones, such as arise of themselves, come and knock at my
forehead, and say, 'Here we are !'"
Won't there soon be a knock ? said the little boy, while
his mother laughed, as she put the elder flowers into the teapot,
and poured boiling water over them. Now, do tell me a story."
"That would be all very easy if a story came of its own
accord, but a story is a grandee that only comes when it chooses
to do so. Stop a bit," added he, presently; "now we have it!
Look, there is one in the teapot."
The little boy looked towards the teapot, and saw the lid
rising higher and higher, while the fresh, white elder flowers
kept sprouting out into long sprigs; and even from the spout
there came forth other shoots, that extended everywhere, till at
last there stood the finest elder bush, or rather tree, that extended
as far as the bed, and pushed the curtains aside; and oh, how
deliciously the blossoms smelt In the middle of the tree sat a
kindly-looking old dame, wearing a very odd dress, that was
green as the leaves of the elder, and trimmed with white elder
flowers; nor could one tell at first sight whether the dress was
made of a texture, or of living green leaves and flowers.
"What is the woman's name?" inquired the boy.
Why, the Greeks and Romans called her a Dryad," said the
old man ; "but we don't understand such words, and we have a
better name for her out there in the suburb, where the sailors
live; she is called among them, the Elder Mother,-and now
you must attend to her; so listen while you look at this beautiful
"Just such another large and blooming tree stands yonder,
in a corner of a shabby little yard ; and one sunny afternoon an
old couple sat under its shade. It was an old sailor and his
Ti :~': .I6SiS
d ., ti C
.i~,*-v *'. *
c~-. ~ J: 1 I -.
THE OLD SAILOR AND HIS WIFE.