When People told themselves their past with stories,
explained their present with stories,
foretold the future with stories,
the best place by the fire was kept for ...

~The Toad

The well was deep, and therefore the rope had to be a long one; it was heavy work turning the handle when any one had to raise a bucketful of water over the edge of the well. Though the water was clear, the sun never looked down far enough into the well to mirror itself in the waters; but as far as its beams could reach, green things grew forth between the stones in the sides of the well.

Down below dwelt a family of the Toad race. They had, in fact, come head-over-heels down the well, in the person of the old Mother-Toad, who was still alive. The green Frogs, who had been established there a long time, and swam about in the water, called them “well-guests.” But the new-comers seemed determined to stay where they were, for they found it very agreeable living “in a dry place,” as they called the wet stones.

The Mother-Frog had once been a traveller. She happened to be in the water-bucket when it was drawn up, but the light became too strong for her, and she got a pain in her eyes. Fortunately she scrambled out of the bucket; but she fell into the water with a terrible flop, and had to lie sick for three days with pains in her back. She certainly had not much to tell of the things up above, but she knew this, and all the Frogs knew it, that the well was not all the world. The Mother-Toad might have told this and that, if she had chosen, but she never answered when they asked her anything, and so they left off asking.
“She’s thick, and fat and ugly,” said the young green Frogs;|
“and her children will be just as ugly as she is.”
“That may be,” retorted the mother-Toad, “but one of them has a jewel in his head, or else I have the jewel.”

The young frogs listened and stared; and as these words did not please them, they made grimaces and dived down under the water. But the little Toads kicked up their hind legs from mere pride, for each of them thought that he must have the jewel;
and then they sat and held their heads quite still.
But at length they asked what it was that made them so proud, and what kind of a thing a jewel might be. “Oh, it is such a splendid and precious thing, that I cannot describe it,” said the Mother-Toad.
“It’s something which one carries about for one’s own pleasure, and that makes other people angry. But don’t ask me any questions, for I shan’t answer you.”
“Well, I haven’t got the jewel,” said the smallest of the Toads;
she was as ugly as a toad can be. “Why should I have such a precious thing? And if it makes others angry, it can’t give me any pleasure. No, I only wish I could get to the edge of the well, and look out; it must be beautiful up there.”
“You’d better stay where you are,” said the old Mother-Toad,
“for you know everything here, and you can tell what you have. Take care of the bucket, for it will crush you to death; and even if you get into it safely, you may fall out. And it’s not every one who falls so cleverly as I did, and gets away with whole legs and whole bones.”

“Quack!” said the little Toad; and that’s just as if one of us were to say, “Aha!” She had an immense desire to get to the edge of the well, and to look over; she felt such a longing for the green, up there; and the next morning, when it chanced that the bucket was being drawn up, filled with water, and stopped for a moment just in front of the stone on which the Toad sat, the little creature’s heart moved within it, and our Toad jumped into the filled bucket, which presently was drawn to the top, and emptied out.
“Ugh, you beast!” said the farm laborer who emptied the bucket, when he saw the toad. “You’re the ugliest thing I’ve seen for one while.” And he made a kick with his wooden shoe at the toad, which just escaped being crushed by managing to scramble into the nettles which grew high by the well’s brink.
Here she saw stem by stem, but she looked up also; the sun shone through the leaves, which were quite transparent; and she felt as a person would feel who steps suddenly into a great forest, where the sun looks in between the branches and leaves.
“It’s much nicer here than down in the well! I should like to stay here my whole life long!” said the little Toad.
So she lay there for an hour, yes, for two hours.
“I wonder what is to be found up here? As I have come so far,
I must try to go still farther.”
And so she crawled on as fast as she could crawl, and got out upon the highway, where the sun shone upon her, and the dust powdered her all over as she marched across the way.

“I’ve got to a dry place. now, and no mistake,” said the Toad.
“It’s almost too much of a good thing here; it tickles one so.”
She came to the ditch; and forget-me-nots were growing there, and meadow-sweet; and a very little way off was a hedge of whitethorn, and elder bushes grew there, too, and bindweed with white flowers. Gay colors were to be seen here, and a butterfly, too, was flitting by. The Toad thought it was a flower which had broken loose that it might look about better in the world, which was quite a natural thing to do.

“If one could only make such a journey as that!” said the Toad. “Croak! how capital that would be.”
Eight days and eight nights she stayed by the well, and experienced no want of provisions. On the ninth day she thought, “Forward! onward!” But what could she find more charming and beautiful? Perhaps a little toad or a few green frogs. During the last night there had been a sound borne on the breeze, as if there were cousins in the neighborhood.

“It’s a glorious thing to live! glorious to get out of the well, and to lie among the stinging-nettles, and to crawl along the dusty road. But onward, onward! that we may find frogs or a little toad.
We can’t do without that; nature alone is not enough for one.”
And so she went forward on her journey.
She came out into the open field, to a great pond, round about which grew reeds; and she walked into it.

“It will be too damp for you here,” said the Frogs; “but you are very welcome! Are you a he or a she? But it doesn’t matter;
you are equally welcome.”

And she was invited to the concert in the evening—the family concert; great enthusiasm and thin voices; we know the sort of thing. No refreshments were given, only there was plenty to drink, for the whole pond was free.
“Now I shall resume my journey,” said the little Toad; for she always felt a longing for something better.

She saw the stars shining, so large and so bright, and she saw the moon gleaming; and then she saw the sun rise, and mount higher and higher. “Perhaps after all, I am still in a well, only in a larger well. I must get higher yet; I feel a great restlessness and longing.” And when the moon became round and full, the poor creature thought, “I wonder if that is the bucket which will be let down, and into which I must step to get higher up? Or is the sun the great bucket? How great it is! how bright it is! It can take up all.
I must look out, that I may not miss the opportunity.
Oh, how it seems to shine in my head! I don’t think the jewel can shine brighter. But I haven’t the jewel; not that I cry about that—no, I must go higher up, into splendor and joy! I feel so confident, and yet I am afraid. It’s a difficult step to take, and yet it must be taken. Onward, therefore, straight onward!”

She took a few steps, such as a crawling animal may take, and soon found herself on a road beside which people dwelt; but there were flower gardens as well as kitchen gardens. And she sat down to rest by a kitchen garden.
“What a number of different creatures there are that I never knew! and how beautiful and great the world is! But one must look round in it, and not stay in one spot.” And then she hopped into the kitchen garden. “How green it is here! how beautiful it is here!” “I know that,” said the Caterpillar, on the leaf, “my leaf is the largest here. It hides half the world from me, but I don’t care for the world.”

“Cluck, cluck!” And some fowls came. They tripped about in the cabbage garden. The Fowl who marched at the head of them had a long sight, and she spied the Caterpillar on the green leaf, and pecked at it, so that the Caterpillar fell on the ground, where it twisted and writhed.
The Fowl looked at it first with one eye and then with the other, for she did not know what the end of this writhing would be.
“It doesn’t do that with a good will,” thought the Fowl, and lifted up her head to peck at the Caterpillar.

The Toad was so horrified at this, that she came crawling straight up towards the Fowl. “Aha, it has allies,” quoth the Fowl.
“Just look at the crawling thing!” And then the Fowl turned away. “I don’t care for the little green morsel; it would only tickle my throat.” The other fowls took the same view of it, and they all turned away together.
“I writhed myself free,” said the Caterpillar. “What a good thing it is when one has presence of mind! But the hardest thing remains to be done, and that is to get on my leaf again. Where is it?”
And the little Toad came up and expressed her sympathy.
She was glad that in her ugliness she had frightened the fowls.

“What do you mean by that?” cried the Caterpillar. “I wriggled myself free from the Fowl. You are very disagreeable to look at. Cannot I be left in peace on my own property? Now I smell cabbage; now I am near my leaf. Nothing is so beautiful as property. But I must go higher up.”
“Yes, higher up,” said the little Toad; “higher-up! She feels just as I do; but she’s not in a good humor to-day. That’s because of the fright. We all want to go higher up.” And she looked up as high as ever she could.

The stork sat in his nest on the roof of the farm-house. He clapped with his beak, and the Mother-stork clapped with hers.
“How high up they live!” thought the Toad. “If one could only get as high as that!”
In the farm-house lived two young students; the one was a poet and the other a scientific searcher into the secrets of nature.
The one sang and wrote joyously of everything that God had created, and how it was mirrored in his heart. He sang it out clearly, sweetly, richly, in well-sounding verses; while the other investigated created matter itself, and even cut it open where need was. He looked upon God’s creation as a great sum in arithmetic—subtracted, multiplied, and tried to know it within and without, and to talk with understanding concerning it; and that was a very sensible thing; and he spoke joyously and cleverly of it. They were good, joyful men, those two,

“There sits a good specimen of a toad,” said the naturalist.
“I must have that fellow in a bottle of spirits.”
“You have two of them already,” replied the poet.
“Let the thing sit there and enjoy its life.”
“But it’s so wonderfully ugly,” persisted the first.
“Yes, if we could find the jewel in its head,” said the poet,
“I too should be for cutting it open.”
“A jewel!” cried the naturalist. “You seem to know a great deal about natural history.” “But is there not something beautiful in the popular belief that just as the toad is the ugliest of animals,
it should often carry the most precious jewel in its head?
Is it not just the same thing with men? What a jewel that was that Aesop had, and still more, Socrates!”

The Toad did not hear any more, nor did she understand half of what she had heard. The two friends walked on, and thus she escaped the fate of being bottled up in spirits.
“Those two also were speaking of the jewel,” said the Toad to herself. “What a good thing that I have not got it! I might have been in a very disagreeable position.”

Now there was a clapping on the roof of the farm-house.
Father-Stork was making a speech to his family, and his family was glancing down at the two young men in the kitchen garden.
“Man is the most conceited creature!” said the Stork.
“Listen how their jaws are wagging; and for all that they can’t clap properly. They boast of their gifts of eloquence and their language! Yes, a fine language truly! Why, it changes in every day’s journey we make. One of them doesn’t understand another. Now, we can speak our language over the whole earth—up in the North and in Egypt. And then men are not able to fly, moreover. They rush along by means of an invention they call ’railway;’
but they often break their necks over it. It makes my beak turn cold when I think of it. The world could get on without men.
We could do without them very well, so long as we only keep frogs and earth-worms.”

“That was a powerful speech,” thought the little Toad.
“What a great man that is yonder! and how high he sits!
Higher than ever I saw any one sit yet; and how he can swim!”
she cried, as the Stork soared away through the air with outspread pinions.
And the Mother-Stork began talking in the nest, and told about Egypt and the waters of the Nile, and the incomparable mud that was to be found in that strange land; and all this sounded new and very charming to the little Toad.
“I must go to Egypt!” said she. “If the Stork or one of his young ones would only take me! I would oblige him in return.
Yes, I shall get to Egypt, for I feel so happy!
All the longing and all the pleasure that I feel is much better than having a jewel in one’s head.”

And it was just she who had the jewel. That jewel was the continual striving and desire to go upward—ever upward.
It gleamed in her head, gleamed in joy, beamed brightly in her longing. Then, suddenly, up came the Stork.
He had seen the Toad in the grass, and stooped down and seized the little creature anything but gently.
The Stork’s beak pinched her, and the wind whistled; it was not exactly agreeable, but she was going upward—upward towards Egypt— and she knew it; and that was why her eyes gleamed, and a spark seemed to fly out of them.

The body was dead—the Toad was killed! But the spark that had shot forth from her eyes; what became of that?
The sunbeam took it up; the sunbeam carried the jewel from the head of the toad. Whither?
Ask not the naturalist; rather ask the poet. He will tell it thee under the guise of a fairy tale; and the Caterpillar on the cabbage, and the Stork family belong to the story. Think!
The Caterpillar is changed, and turns into a beautiful butterfly; the Stork family flies over mountains and seas, to the distant Africa, and yet finds the shortest way home to the same country—to the same roof. Nay, that is almost too improbable; and yet it is true. You may ask the naturalist, he will confess it is so; and you know it yourself, for you have seen it.

But the jewel in the head of the toad?
Seek it in the sun; see it there if you can.
The brightness is too dazzling there. We have not yet such eyes as can see into the glories which God has created, but we shall receive them by-and-by; and that will be the most beautiful story of all, and we shall all have our share in it.

by Hans Christian Andersen

~The Portuguese Duck

A duck once arrived from Portugal, but there were some who said she came from Spain, which is almost the same thing.
At all events, she was called the “Portuguese,” and she laid eggs, was killed, and cooked, and there was an end of her.
But the ducklings which crept forth from the eggs were also called “Portuguese,” and about that there may be some question. But of all the family one only remained in the duckyard, which may be called a farmyard, as the chickens were admitted, and the cock strutted about in a very hostile manner.
“He annoys me with his loud crowing,” said the Portuguese duck; “but, still, he’s a handsome bird, there’s no denying that, although he’s not a drake. He ought to moderate his voice,
like those little birds who are singing in the lime-trees over there in our neighbor’s garden, but that is an art only acquired in polite society. How sweetly they sing there; it is quite a pleasure to listen to them! I call it Portuguese singing.
If I had only such a little singing-bird, I’d be kind and good as a mother to him, for it’s in my nature, in my Portuguese blood.”

While she was speaking, one of the little singing-birds came tumbling head over heels from the roof into the yard.
The cat was after him, but he had escaped from her with a broken wing, and so came tumbling into the yard.
“That’s just like the cat, she’s a villain,” said the Portuguese duck. “I remember her ways when I had children of my own.
How can such a creature be allowed to live, and wander about upon the roofs. I don’t think they allow such things in Portugal.” She pitied the little singing-bird, and so did all the other ducks who were not Portuguese.
“Poor little creature!” they said, one after another, as they came up. “We can’t sing, certainly; but we have a sounding-board, or something of the kind, within us; we can feel that, though we don’t talk about it.”
“But I can talk,” said the Portuguese duck; “and I’ll do something for the little fellow; it’s my duty;” and she stepped into the water-trough, and beat her wings upon the water so strongly that the bird was nearly drowned by a shower-bath; but the duck meant it kindly. “That is a good deed,” she said; “I hope the others will take example by it.”

“Tweet, tweet!” said the little bird, for one of his wings being broken, he found it difficult to shake himself; but he quite understood that the bath was meant kindly, and he said,
“You are very kind-hearted, madam;” but he did not wish for a second bath.
“I have never thought about my heart,” replied the Portuguese duck, “but I know that I love all my fellow-creatures, except the cat, and nobody can expect me to love her, for she ate up two of my ducklings. But pray make yourself at home; it is easy to make one’s self comfortable. I am myself from a foreign country, as you may see by my feathery dress. My drake is a native of these parts; he’s not of my race; but I am not proud on that account. If any one here can understand you, I may say positively I am that person.”

“She’s quite full of ‘Portulak,’” said a little common duck, who was witty. All the common ducks considered the word “Portulak” a good joke, for it sounded like Portugal. They nudged each other, and said, “Quack! that was witty!”
Then the other ducks began to notice the little bird.
“The Portuguese had certainly a great flow of language,” they said to the little bird. “For our part we don’t care to fill our beaks with such long words, but we sympathize with you quite as much. If we don’t do anything else, we can walk about with you everywhere, and we think that is the best thing we can do.”
“You have a lovely voice,” said one of the eldest ducks;
“it must be great satisfaction to you to be able to give so much pleasure as you do. I am certainly no judge of your singing so I keep my beak shut, which is better than talking nonsense, as others do.”
“Don’t plague him so,” interposed the Portuguese duck;
“he requires rest and nursing. My little singing-bird do you wish me to prepare another bath for you?”

“Oh, no! no! pray let me dry,” implored the little bird.
“The water-cure is the only remedy for me, when I am not well,” said the Portuguese. “Amusement, too, is very beneficial. The fowls from the neighborhood will soon be here to pay you a visit. There are two Cochin Chinese amongst them; they wear feathers on their legs, and are well educated.
They have been brought from a great distance, and consequently I treat them with greater respect than I do the others.”
Then the fowls arrived, and the cock was polite enough to-day to keep from being rude. “You are a real songster,” he said, “you do as much with your little voice as it is possible to do; but there requires more noise and shrillness in any one who wishes it to be known who he is.”

The two Chinese were quite enchanted with the appearance of the singing-bird. His feathers had been much ruffled by his bath, so that he seemed to them quite like a tiny Chinese fowl.
“He’s charming,” they said to each other, and began a conversation with him in whispers, using the most aristocratic Chinese dialect: “We are of the same race as yourself,” they said. “The ducks, even the Portuguese, are all aquatic birds, as you must have noticed. You do not know us yet,—very few know us, or give themselves the trouble to make our acquaintance, not even any of the fowls, though we are born to occupy a higher grade in society than most of them. But that does not disturb us, we quietly go on in our own way among the rest, whose ideas are certainly not ours; for we look at the bright side of things, and only speak what is good, although that is sometimes very difficult to find where none exists. Except ourselves and the cock there is not one in the yard who can be called talented or polite.
It cannot even be said of the ducks, and we warn you, little bird, not to trust that one yonder, with the short tail feathers, for she is cunning; that curiously marked one, with the crooked stripes on her wings, is a mischief-maker, and never lets any one have the last word, though she is always in the wrong.
That fat duck yonder speaks evil of every one, and that is against our principles. If we have nothing good to tell, we close our beaks. The Portuguese is the only one who has had any education, and with whom we can associate, but she is passionate, and talks too much about ‘Portugal.’”

“I wonder what those two Chinese are whispering about,” whispered one duck to another; “they are always doing it, and it annoys me. We never speak to them.”
Now the drake came up, and he thought the little singing-bird was a sparrow. “Well, I don’t understand the difference,”
he said; “it appears to me all the same. He’s only a plaything, and if people will have playthings, why let them, I say.”

“Don’t take any notice of what he says,” whispered the Portuguese; “he’s very well in matters of business, and with him business is placed before everything. But now I shall lie down and have a little rest. It is a duty we owe to ourselves that we may be nice and fat when we come to be embalmed with sage and onions and apples.” So she laid herself down in the sun and winked with one eye; she had a very comfortable place, and felt so comfortable that she fell asleep. The little singing-bird busied himself for some time with his broken wing, and at last he lay down, too, quite close to his protectress. The sun shone warm and bright, and he found out that it was a very good place.
But the fowls of the neighborhood were all awake, and, to tell the truth, they had paid a visit to the duckyard, simply and solely to find food for themselves. The Chinese were the first to leave, and the other fowls soon followed them.
The witty little duck said of the Portuguese, that the old lady was getting quite a “doting ducky,” All the other ducks laughed at this. “Doting ducky,” they whispered. “Oh, that’s too ‘witty!’” And then they repeated the former joke about “Portulak,” and declared it was most amusing. Then they all lay down to have a nap. They had been lying asleep for some time, when suddenly something was thrown into the yard for them to eat. It came down with such a bang, that the whole company started up and clapped their wings. The Portuguese awoke too, and rushed over to the other side: in so doing she trod upon the little singing-bird.

“Tweet,” he cried; “you trod very hard upon me, madam.”
“Well, then, why do you lie in my way?” she retorted,
“you must not be so touchy. I have nerves of my own, but I do not cry ‘tweet.’”
“Don’t be angry,” said the little bird; “the ‘tweet’ slipped out of my beak unawares.” The Portuguese did not listen to him, but began eating as fast as she could, and made a good meal.
When she had finished, she lay down again, and the little bird, who wished to be amiable, began to sing,—

Chirp and twitter,
The dew-drops glitter,
In the hours of sunny spring,
I’ll sing my best,
Till I go to rest,
With my head behind my wing.”

“Now I want rest after my dinner,” said the Portuguese;
“you must conform to the rules of the house while you are here.
I want to sleep now.”
The little bird was quite taken aback, for he meant it kindly. When madam awoke afterwards, there he stood before her with a little corn he had found, and laid it at her feet; but as she had not slept well, she was naturally in a bad temper.
“Give that to a chicken,” she said, “and don’t be always standing in my way.” “Why are you angry with me?” replied the little singing-bird, “what have I done?”
“Done!” repeated the Portuguese duck, “your mode of expressing yourself is not very polite. I must call your attention to that fact.” “It was sunshine here yesterday,” said the little bird, “but to-day it is cloudy and the air is close.”

“You know very little about the weather, I fancy,” she retorted, “the day is not over yet. Don’t stand there, looking so stupid.” “But you are looking at me just as the wicked eyes looked when I fell into the yard yesterday.”

“Impertinent creature!” exclaimed the Portuguese duck: “would you compare me with the cat—that beast of prey? There’s not a drop of malicious blood in me. I’ve taken your part, and now I’ll teach you better manners.” So saying, she made a bite at the little singing-bird’s head, and he fell dead on the ground.
“Now whatever is the meaning of this?” she said; “could he not bear even such a little peck as I gave him? Then certainly he was not made for this world. I’ve been like a mother to him, I know that, for I’ve a good heart.” Then the cock from the neighboring yard stuck his head in, and crowed with steam-engine power.
“You’ll kill me with your crowing,” she cried, “it’s all your fault. He’s lost his life, and I’m very near losing mine.”
“There’s not much of him lying there,” observed the cock.
“Speak of him with respect,” said the Portuguese duck,
“for he had manners and education, and he could sing.
He was affectionate and gentle, and that is as rare a quality in animals as in those who call themselves human beings.”

Then all the ducks came crowding round the little dead bird. Ducks have strong passions, whether they feel envy or pity. There was nothing to envy here, so they all showed a great deal of pity, even the two Chinese. “We shall never have another singing-bird again amongst us; he was almost a Chinese,”
they whispered, and then they wept with such a noisy, clucking sound, that all the other fowls clucked too, but the ducks went about with redder eyes afterwards. “We have hearts of our own,” they said, “nobody can deny that.”
“Hearts!” repeated the Portuguese, “indeed you have, almost as tender as the ducks in Portugal.”

“Let us think of getting something to satisfy our hunger,” said the drake, “that’s the most important business. If one of our toys is broken, why we have plenty more.”

by Hans Christian Andersen

~The Last Pearl

We are in a rich, happy house, where the master, the servants,
the friends of the family are full of joy and felicity.
For on this day a son and heir has been born, and mother and child are doing well. The lamp in the bed-chamber had been partly shaded, and the windows were covered with heavy curtains of some costly silken material. The carpet was thick and soft, like a covering of moss. Everything invited to slumber, everything had a charming look of repose; and so the nurse had discovered, for she slept; and well she might sleep, while everything around her told of happiness and blessing.
The guardian angel of the house leaned against the head of the bed; while over the child was spread, as it were, a net of shining stars, and each star was a pearl of happiness.
All the good stars of life had brought their gifts to the newly born; here sparkled health, wealth, fortune, and love; in short, there seemed to be everything for which man could wish on earth.

“Everything has been bestowed here,” said the guardian angel.

“No, not everything,” said a voice near him—the voice of the good angel of the child; “one fairy has not yet brought her gift, but she will, even if years should elapse, she will bring her gift;
it is the last pearl that is wanting.”

“Wanting!” cried the guardian angel; “nothing must be wanting here; and if it is so, let us fetch it; let us seek the powerful fairy;
let us go to her.”
“She will come, she will come some day unsought!”

“Her pearl must not be missing; it must be there, that the crown, when worn, may be complete. Where is she to be found?

Where does she dwell?” said the guardian angel.
“Tell me, and I will procure the pearl.”
“Will you do that?” replied the good angel of the child.
“Then I will lead you to her directly, wherever she may be.
She has no abiding place; she rules in the palace of the emperor, sometimes she enters the peasant’s humble cot; she passes no one without leaving a trace of her presence.
She brings her gift with her, whether it is a world or a bauble.
To this child she must come. You think that to wait for this time would be long and useless. Well, then, let us go for this pearl—
the only one lacking amidst all this wealth.”

Then hand-in-hand they floated away to the spot where the fairy was now lingering. It was in a large house with dark windows and empty rooms, in which a peculiar stillness reigned.
A whole row of windows stood open, so that the rude wind could enter at its pleasure, and the long white curtains waved to and fro in the current of air. In the centre of one of the rooms stood an open coffin, in which lay the body of a woman, still in the bloom of youth and very beautiful. Fresh roses were scattered over her. The delicate folded hands and the noble face glorified in death by the solemn, earnest look, which spoke of an entrance into a better world, were alone visible. Around the coffin stood the husband and children, a whole troop, the youngest in the father’s arms. They were come to take a last farewell look of their mother.
The husband kissed her hand, which now lay like a withered leaf, but which a short time before had been diligently employed in deeds of love for them all. Tears of sorrow rolled down their cheeks, and fell in heavy drops on the floor, but not a word was spoken. The silence which reigned here expressed a world of grief. With silent steps, still sobbing, they left the room.
A burning light remained in the room, and a long, red wick rose far above the flame, which fluttered in the draught of air. Strange men came in and placed the lid of the coffin over the dead, and drove the nails firmly in; while the blows of the hammer resounded through the house, and echoed in the hearts that were bleeding.

“Whither art thou leading me?” asked the guardian angel.
“Here dwells no fairy whose pearl could be counted amongst the best gifts of life.”


“Yes, she is here; here in this sacred hour,” replied the angel, pointing to a corner of the room; and there,—where in her life-time, the mother had taken her seat amidst flowers and pictures: in that spot, where she, like the blessed fairy of the house, had welcomed husband, children, and friends, and, like a sunbeam, had spread joy and cheerfulness around her, the centre and heart of them all,—there, in that very spot, sat a strange woman, clothed in long, flowing garments, and occupying the place of the dead wife and mother. It was the fairy, and her name was “Sorrow.” A hot tear rolled into her lap, and formed itself into a pearl, glowing with all the colors of the rainbow. The angel seized it: the, pearl glittered like a star with seven-fold radiance. The pearl of Sorrow, the last, which must not be wanting, increases the lustre, and explains the meaning of all the other pearls.

“Do you see the shimmer of the rainbow, which unites earth to heaven?” So has there been a bridge built between this world and the next. Through the night of the grave we gaze upwards beyond the stars to the end of all things.
Then we glance at the pearl of Sorrow, in which are concealed the wings which shall carry us away to eternal happiness.

by Hans Christian Andersen

~The Flea and the Professor

There was once an aƫronaut with whom things went badly; the balloon burst, tumbled the man out, and broke into bits.
His boy he had two minutes before sent down with a parachute,—that was the boy’s luck; he was unhurt and went about with knowledge enough to make him an aĆ«ronaut too, but he had no balloon and no means of acquiring one.

But live he must, and so he applied himself to the art of legerdemain and to talking in his stomach; in fact he became a ventriloquist, as they say. He was young, good-looking, and when he got a moustache and had his best clothes on, he could be taken for a nobleman’s son. The ladies seemed to think well of him;
one young lady even was so taken with his charms and his great dexterity that she went off with him to foreign parts.
There he called himself Professor—he could scarcely do less.

His constant thought was how to get himself a balloon and go up into the air with his little wife, but as yet they had no means.

“They’ll come yet,” said he.
“If only they would,” said she.

“We are young folks,” said he, “and now I am Professor.”
She helped him faithfully, sat at the door and sold tickets to the exhibition, and it was a chilly sort of pleasure in winter time.
She also helped him in the line of his art. He put his wife in a table-drawer, a large table-drawer; then she crawled into the back part of the drawer, and so was not in the front part,—quite an optical illusion to the audience. But one evening when he drew the drawer out, she was also out of sight to him: she was not in the front drawer, not in the back one either, not in the house itself—nowhere to be seen or heard— that was her feat of legerdemain, her entertainment. She never came back again; she was tired of it all, and he grew tired of it, lost his good-humor, could not laugh or make jokes;—and so the people stopped coming,
his earnings became scanty, his clothes gave out; and finally he only owned a great flea, which his wife had left him, and so he thought highly of it. And he dressed the flea and taught it to perform, to present arms and to fire a cannon off,—but it was a little cannon.

The Professor was proud of the flea, and the flea was proud of himself; he had learned something, and had human blood, and had been besides to the largest cities, had been seen by princes and princesses, had received their high praise, and it was printed in the newspapers and on placards.
Plainly it was a very famous flea and could support a Professor and his entire family.

The flea was proud and famous, and yet when he and the Professor traveled they took fourth-class carriages on the railway; they went just as quickly as the first class.
They were betrothed to each other; it was a private engagement that would never come out; they never would marry, the flea would remain a bachelor and the Professor a widower.
That made it balance.

“Where one has the best luck,” said the Professor,
“there one ought to go twice.” He was a good judge of character, and that is also a science of itself. At last he had traveled over all countries except the wild ones, and so he wanted to go there. They eat Christian men there, to be sure, the Professor knew, but then he was not properly Christian and the flea was not properly a man, so he thought they might venture to travel there and have good success.

They traveled hy steamship and by sailing vessel ; the flea performed his tricks, and so they got a free passage on the way and arrived at the wild country. Here reigned a little Princess.
She was only eight years old, but she was reigning.
She had taken away the power from her father and mother, for she had a will, and then she was extraordinarily beautiful—and rude.

Just as soon as the flea had presented arms and fired off the cannon, she was so enraptured with him that she said,
“Him or nobody!” She became quite wild with love and was already wild in other ways.

“Sweet, little, sensible child!” said her own father.
“If one could only first make a man of him!”

“Leave that to me, old man,” said she, and that was not well said by a little Princess when talking with her father, but she was wild. She set the flea on her white hand.

“Now you are a man, reigning with me, but you shall do what I want you to, or else i’ll kill you and eat the Professor.”
The Professor had a great hall to live in. The walls were made of sugar-cane, and he could lick them, but he was not a sweet-tooth. He had a hammock to sleep in. It was as if he were lying in a balloon, such as he had always wished for himself—that was his constant thought.

The flea lived with the Princess, sat upon her delicate hand and upon her white neck. She had taken a hair from her head and made the Professor tie it to the flea’s leg, and so she kept him tied to the great red coral drop which she wore in her ear-tip.
What a delightful time the Princess had, and the flea too, she thought, but the Professor was not very comfortable.
He was a traveler; he liked to drive from town to town, and read about his perseverance and cleverness in teaching a flea to do what men do. But he got out of and into his hammock, lounged about and had good feeding, fresh bird’s-eggs, elephant’s eyes and roast giraffe. People that eat men do not live entirely on cooked men—no, that is a great delicacy.

“Shoulder of children with sharp sauce,” said the Princess’s mother, “is the most delicate.”

The Professor was tired of it all and would rather go away from the wild land, but he must have his flea with him, for that was his prodigy, and his bread and butter. How was he to get hold of him? That was no easy matter. He strained all his wits, and then he said,

“Now I have it.”

“Princess’s Father! grant me a favor. May I summon your subjects to present themselves before your Royal Highness?
That is what is called a Ceremony in the high and mighty countries of the world.

“Can I, too, learn to do that?” asked the Princess’s father.

“That is not quite proper,” replied the Professor; “but I shall teach your wild Fathership to fire a cannon off. It goes off with a bang. One sits high up aloft, and then off it goes or down he comes.”

“Let me crack it off!” said the Princess’s father.
But in all the land there was no cannon except the one the flea had brought, and that was so very small.

“I will cast a bigger one!” said the Professor.
“Only give me the means. I must have fine silk stuff, needle and thread, rope and cord, together with cordial drops for the balloon, they blow one up so easily and give one the heaves;
they are what make the report in the cannons s inside.”

“By all means,” said the Princess’s father, and gave him what he called for. All the court and the entire population came together to see the great cannon cast. The Professor did not summon them before he had the balloon entirely ready to be filled and go up: The flea sat on the Princess’s hand and looked on.
The balloon was filled, it bulged out and could scarcely be held down, so violent did it become.

“I must have it up in the air before it can be cooled off,” said the Professor, and took his seat in the car which hung below.
“But I cannot manage and steer it alone. I must have a skillful companion along to help me. There is no one here that can do that except the flea.”

“I am not very willing to let him,” said the Princess, but still she reached out and handed the flea to the Professor, who placed him on his hand.

“Let go the cords and ropes,” he shouted. “Now the balloon’s going.” They thought he said “the cannon,” and so the balloon went higher and higher, up above the clouds, far away from the wild land.

The little Princess, all the family and the people sat and waited—they are waiting still; and if you do not believe it, just take a journey to the wild land; every child there talks about the Professor and the flea, and believes that they are coming back when the cannon is cooled off; but they will not come, they are at home with us, they are in their native country, they travel on the railway, first class, not fourth; they have good success, a great balloon. Nobody asks how they got their balloon or where it came from: they are rich folks now, quite respectable folks, indeed—
the flea and the Professor!

by Hans Christian Andersen

~By the Almshouse Window

Near the grass-covered rampart which encircles Copenhagen lies a great red house. Balsams and other flowers greet us from the long rows of windows in the house, whose interior is sufficiently poverty-stricken; and poor and old are the people who inhabit it. The building is the Warton Almshouse.

Look! at the window there leans an old maid.
She plucks the withered leaf from the balsam, and looks at the grass-covered rampart, on which many children are playing. What is the old maid thinking of? A whole life drama is unfolding itself before her inward gaze.

  by A Hassam

“The poor little children, how happy they are—how merrily they play and romp together! What red cheeks and what angels’ eyes! but they have no shoes nor stockings.
They dance on the green rampart, just on the place where, according to the old story, the ground always sank in,
and where a sportive, frolicsome child had been lured by means of flowers, toys and sweetmeats into an open grave ready dug for it, and which was afterwards closed over the child; and from that moment, the old story says, the ground gave way no longer,
the mound remained firm and fast, and was quickly covered with the green turf. The little people who now play on that spot know nothing of the old tale, else would they fancy they heard a child crying deep below the earth, and the dewdrops on each blade of grass would be to them tears of woe.
Nor do they know anything of the Danish King who here, in the face of the coming foe, took an oath before all his trembling courtiers that he would hold out with the citizens of his capital, and die here in his nest; they know nothing of the men who have fought here, or of the women who from here have drenched with boiling water the enemy, clad in white, and ’biding in the snow to surprise the city.

“No! the poor little ones are playing with light, childish spirits. Play on, play on, thou little maiden! Soon the years will come—yes, those glorious years. The priestly hands have been laid on the candidates for confirmation; hand in hand they walk on the green rampart. Thou hast a white frock on; it has cost thy mother much labor, and yet it is only cut down for thee out of an old larger dress! You will also wear a red shawl; and what if it hang too far down? People will only see how large, how very large it is. You are thinking of your dress, and of the Giver of all good—so glorious is it to wander on the green rampart!

“And the years roll by; they have no lack of dark days, but you have your cheerful young spirit, and you have gained a friend—you know not how. You met, oh, how often!
You walk together on the rampart in the fresh spring, on the high days and holidays, when all the world come out to walk upon the ramparts, and all the bells of the church steeples seem to be singing a song of praise for the coming spring.

“Scarcely have the violets come forth, but there on the rampart, just opposite the beautiful Castle of Rosenberg, there is a tree bright with the first green buds. Every year this tree sends forth fresh green shoots. Alas! It is not so with the human heart!
Dark mists, more in number than those that cover the northern skies, cloud the human heart. Poor child! thy friend’s bridal chamber is a black coffin, and thou becomest an old maid.
From the Almshouse Window, behind the balsams, thou shalt look on the merry children at play, and shalt see thine own history renewed.”

And that is the life drama that passes before the old maid while she looks out upon the rampart, the green, sunny rampart,
where the children, with their red cheeks and bare shoeless feet, are rejoicing merrily, like the other free little birds.

by Hans Christian Andersen


There was once a woman who wished very much to have a little child, but she could not obtain her wish.
At last she went to a fairy, and said, "I should so very much like to have a little child. Can you tell me where I can find one?"
"Oh, that can be easily managed," said the fairy. "Here is a barleycorn of a different kind to those which grow in the farmer's fields, and which the chickens eat; put it into a flower- pot, and see what will happen."

"Thank you," said the woman, and she gave the fairy twelve shillings, which was the price of the barleycorn.
Then she went home and planted it, and immediately there grew up a large handsome flower, something like a tulip in appearance, but with its leaves tightly closed as if it were still a bud.
"It is a beautiful flower," said the woman, and she kissed the red and golden- colored leaves, and while she did so the flower opened, and she could see that it was a real tulip.
Within the flower, upon the green velvet stamens, sat a very delicate and graceful little maiden.
She was scarcely half as long as a thumb, and they gave her the name of "Thumbelina," or Tiny, because she was so small.
A walnut- shell, elegantly polished, served her for a cradle;
her bed was formed of blue violet- leaves, with a rose- leaf for a counterpane. Here she slept at night, but during the day she amused herself on a table, where the woman had placed a plateful of water. Round this plate were wreaths of flowers with their stems in the water, and upon it floated a large tulip- leaf, which served Thumbelina for a boat. Here the little maiden sat and rowed herself from side to side, with two oars made of white horse- hair.

thumbelina by sara butcher 

It really was a very pretty sight. Thumbelina could, also, sing so softly and sweetly that nothing like her singing had ever before been heard. One night, while she lay in her pretty bed, a large, ugly, wet toad crept through a broken pane of glass in the window, and leaped right upon the table where Thumbelina lay sleeping under her rose- leaf quilt. "What a pretty little wife this would make for my son, said the toad, and she took up the walnut- shell in which little Thumbelina lay asleep, and jumped through the window with it into the garden.
In the swampy margin of a broad stream in the garden lived the toad, with her son. He was uglier even than his mother, and when he saw the pretty little maiden in her elegant bed, he could only cry, "Croak, croak, croak."
"Don't speak so loud, or she will wake," said the toad, "and then she might run away, for she is as light as swan's down.
We will place her on one of the water- lily leaves out in the stream; it will be like an island to her, she is so light and small,
and then she cannot escape; and, while she is away, we will make haste and prepare the state- room under the marsh, in which you are to live when you are married."

Far out in the stream grew a number of water- lilies, with broad green leaves, which seemed to float on the top of the water.
The largest of these leaves appeared farther off than the rest, and the old toad swam out to it with the walnut- shell, in which little Thumbelina lay still asleep. The tiny little creature woke very early in the morning, and began to cry bitterly when she found where she was, for she could see nothing but water on every side of the large green leaf, and no way of reaching the land. Meanwhile the old toad was very busy under the marsh, decking her room with rushes and wild yellow flowers, to make it look pretty for her new daughter- in- law. Then she swam out with her ugly son to the leaf on which she had placed poor little Tiny.
She wanted to fetch the pretty bed, that she might put it in the bridal chamber to be ready for her.
The old toad bowed low to her in the water, and said,
"Here is my son, he will be your husband, and you will live happily in the marsh by the stream."

thumbelina by mabel lucie attwell

"Croak, croak, croak," was all her son could say for himself;
so the toad took up the elegant little bed, and swam away with it, leaving Thumbelina all alone on the green leaf, where she sat and wept. She could not bear to think of living with the old toad,
and having her ugly son for a husband.
The little fishes, who swam about in the water beneath, had seen the toad, and heard what she said, so they lifted their heads above the water to look at the little maiden. As soon as they caught sight of her, they saw she was very pretty, and it made them very sorry to think that she must go and live with the ugly toads.
"No, it must never be!" so they assembled together in the water, round the green stalk which held the leaf on which the little maiden stood, and gnawed it away at the root with their teeth. Then the leaf floated down the stream, carrying Thumbelina far away out of reach of land.

Thumbelina sailed past many towns, and the little birds in the bushes saw her, and sang, "What a lovely little creature;" so the leaf swam away with her farther and farther, till it brought her to other lands. A graceful little white butterfly constantly fluttered round her, and at last alighted on the leaf.
Thumbelina pleased him, and she was glad of it, for now the toad could not possibly reach her, and the country through which she sailed was beautiful, and the sun shone upon the water, till it glittered like liquid gold. She took off her girdle and tied one end of it round the butterfly, and the other end of the ribbon she fastened to the leaf, which now glided on much faster than ever, taking little Thumbelina with it as she stood.
Presently a large cockchafer flew by; the moment he caught sight of her, he seized her round her delicate waist with his claws, and flew with her into a tree. The green leaf floated away on the brook, and the butterfly flew with it, for he was fastened to it, and could not get away.

Oh, how frightened little Thumbelina felt when the cockchafer flew with her to the tree! But especially was she sorry for the beautiful white butterfly which she had fastened to the leaf, for if he could not free himself he would die of hunger.
But the cockchafer did not trouble himself at all about the matter. He seated himself by her side on a large green leaf, gave her some honey from the flowers to eat, and told her she was very pretty, though not in the least like a cockchafer.
After a time, all the cockchafers turned up their feelers, and said, "She has only two legs! how ugly that looks."

"She has no feelers," said another. "Her waist is quite slim.
Pooh! she is like a human being."

"Oh! she is ugly," said all the lady cockchafers, although Thumbelina was very pretty. Then the cockchafer who had run away with her, believed all the others when they said she was ugly, and would have nothing more to say to her, and told her she might go where she liked. Then he flew down with her from the tree, and placed her on a daisy, and she wept at the thought that she was so ugly that even the cockchafers would have nothing to say to her. And all the while she was really the loveliest creature that one could imagine, and as tender and delicate as a beautiful rose- leaf.
During the whole summer poor little Thumbelina lived quite alone in the wide forest. She wove herself a bed with blades of grass, and hung it up under a broad leaf, to protect herself from the rain. She sucked the honey from the flowers for food, and drank the dew from their leaves every morning.
So passed away the summer and the autumn, and then came the winter,- the long, cold winter. All the birds who had sung to her so sweetly were flown away, and the trees and the flowers had withered. The large clover leaf under the shelter of which she had lived, was now rolled together and shriveled up, nothing remained but a yellow withered stalk. She felt dreadfully cold, for her clothes were torn, and she was herself so frail and delicate, that poor little Thumbelina was nearly frozen to death.

It began to snow too; and the snow- flakes, as they fell upon her, were like a whole shovelful falling upon one of us, for we are tall, but she was only an inch high. Then she wrapped herself up in a dry leaf, but it cracked in the middle and could not keep her warm, and she shivered with cold.
Near the wood in which she had been living lay a corn- field, but the corn had been cut a long time; nothing remained but the bare dry stubble standing up out of the frozen ground.
It was to her like struggling through a large wood.
Oh! how she shivered with the cold. She came at last to the door of a field- mouse, who had a little den under the corn- stubble.
There dwelt the field- mouse in warmth and comfort, with a whole roomful of corn, a kitchen, and a beautiful dining room.
Poor little Thumbelina stood before the door just like a little beggar- girl, and begged for a small piece of barley- corn, for she had been without a morsel to eat for two days.
"You poor little creature," said the field- mouse, who was really a good old field- mouse, "come into my warm room and dine with me." She was very pleased with Tiny, so she said,
"You are quite welcome to stay with me all the winter, if you like; but you must keep my rooms clean and neat, and tell me stories, for I shall like to hear them very much."
And Thumbelina did all the field- mouse asked her, and found herself very comfortable.

Thumbelina by carl wilson

"We shall have a visitor soon," said the field- mouse one day;
"my neighbor pays me a visit once a week. He is better off than
I am; hehas large rooms, and wears a beautiful black velvet coat.
If you could only have him for a husband, you would be well provided for indeed. But he is blind, so you must tell him some of your prettiest stories.
But Thumbelina did not feel at all interested about this neighbor, for he was a mole. However, he came and paid his visit dressed in his black velvet coat.
"He is very rich and learned, and his house is twenty times larger than mine," said the field- mouse.
He was rich and learned, no doubt, but he always spoke slightingly of the sun and the pretty flowers, because he had never seen them. Thumbelina was obliged to sing to him,
"Lady- bird, lady- bird, fly away home," and many other pretty songs. And the mole fell in love with her because she had such a sweet voice; but he said nothing yet, for he was very cautious.
A short time before, the mole had dug a long passage under the earth, which led from the dwelling of the field- mouse to his own, and here she had permission to walk with Thumbelina whenever she liked. But he warned them not to be alarmed at the sight of a dead bird which lay in the passage.
It was a perfect bird, with a beak and feathers, and could not have been dead long, and was lying just where the mole had made his passage. The mole took a piece of phosphorescent wood in his mouth, and it glittered like fire in the dark; then he went before them to light them through the long, dark passage.

When they came to the spot where lay the dead bird, the mole pushed his broad nose through the ceiling, the earth gave way,
so that there was a large hole, and the daylight shone into the passage. In the middle of the floor lay a dead swallow, his beautiful wings pulled close to his sides, his feet and his head drawn up under his feathers; the poor bird had evidently died of the cold. It made little Thumbelina very sad to see it, she did so love the little birds; all the summer they had sung and twittered for her so beautifully. But the mole pushed it aside with his crooked legs, and said, "He will sing no more now.
How miserable it must be to be born a little bird!
I am thankful that none of my children will ever be birds, for they can do nothing but cry, 'Tweet, tweet,' and always die of hunger in the winter."
"Yes, you may well say that, as a clever man!" exclaimed the field- mouse, "What is the use of his twittering, for when winter comes he must either starve or be frozen to death.
Still birds are very high bred."

Thumbelina said nothing; but when the two others had turned their backs on the bird, she stooped down and stroked aside the soft feathers which covered the head, and kissed the closed eyelids. "Perhaps this was the one who sang to me so sweetly in the summer," she said; "and how much pleasure it gave me, you dear, pretty bird."

The mole now stopped up the hole through which the daylight shone, and then accompanied the lady home.
But during the night Thumbelina could not sleep; so she got out of bed and wove a large, beautiful carpet of hay; then she carried it to the dead bird, and spread it over him; with some down from the flowers which she had found in the field- mouse's room.
It was as soft as wool, and she spread some of it on each side of the bird, so that he might lie warmly in the cold earth.
"Farewell, you pretty little bird," said she, "farewell; thank you for your delightful singing during the summer, whenall the trees were green, and the warm sun shone upon us.
Then she laid her head on the bird's breast, but she was alarmed immediately, for it seemed as if something inside the bird went "thump, thump." It was the bird's heart; he was not really dead, only benumbed with the cold, and the warmth had restored him to life. In autumn, all the swallows fly away into warm countries, but if one happens to linger, the cold seizes it, it becomes frozen, and falls down as if dead; it remains where it fell, and the cold snow covers it. Thumbelina trembled very much; she was quite frightened, for the bird was large, a great deal larger than herself,- she was only an inch high. But she took courage, laid the wool more thickly over the poor swallow, and then took a leaf which she had used for her own counterpane, and laid it over the head of the poor bird.

The next morning she again stole out to see him.
He was alive but very weak; he could only open his eyes for a moment to look at Tiny, who stood by holding a piece of decayed wood in her hand, for she had no other lantern.
"Thank you, pretty little maiden," said the sick swallow;
"I have been so nicely warmed, that I shall soon regain my strength, and be able to fly about again in the warm sunshine."

"Oh," said she, "it is cold out of doors now; it snows and freezes. Stay in your warm bed; I will take care of you."

Then she brought the swallow some water in a flower- leaf, and after he had drank, he told her that he had wounded one of his wings in a thorn- bush, and could not fly as fast as the others, who were soon far away on their journey to warm countries.
Then at last he had fallen to the earth, and could remember no more, nor how he came to be where she had found him.
The whole winter the swallow remained underground, and Thumbelina nursed him with care and love.
Neither the mole nor the field- mouse knew anything about it, for they did not like swallows.

Very soon the spring time came, and the sun warmed the earth. Then the swallow bade farewell to Tiny, and she opened the hole in the ceiling which the mole had made.
The sun shone in upon them so beautifully, that the swallow asked her if she would go with him; she could sit on his back, he said, and he would fly away with her into the green woods.
But Thumbelina knew it would make the field- mouse very grieved if she left her in that manner, so she said, "No, I cannot."
"Farewell, then, farewell, you good, pretty little maiden," said the swallow; and he flew out into the sunshine.
Thumbelina looked after him, and the tears rose in her eyes.
She was very fond of the poor swallow.

"Tweet, tweet," sang the bird, as he flew out into the green woods, and Thumbelina felt very sad. She was not allowed to go out into the warm sunshine. The corn which had been sown in the field over the house of the field- mouse had grown up high into the air, and formed a thick wood to Tiny, who was only an inch in height.
"You are going to be married, Tiny," said the field- mouse.
"My neighbor has asked for you. What good fortune for a poor child like you. Now we will prepare your wedding clothes.
They must be both woolen and linen.
Nothing must be wanting when you are the mole's wife."

Thumbelina had to turn the spindle, and the field- mouse hired four spiders, who were to weave day and night.
Every evening the mole visited her, and was continually speaking of the time when the summer would be over.
Then he would keep his wedding- day with Tiny; but now the heat of the sun was so great that it burned the earth, and made it quite hard, like a stone. As soon, as the summer was over, the wedding should take place. But Thumbelina was not at all pleased;
for she did not like the tiresome mole. Every morning when the sun rose, and every evening when it went down, she would creep out at the door, and as the wind blew aside the ears of corn, so that she could see the blue sky, she thought how beautiful and bright it seemed out there, and wished so much to see her dear swallow again. But he never returned; for by this time he had flown far away into the lovely green forest.
When autumn arrived, Thumbelina had her outfit quite ready; and the field- mouse said to her,
"In four weeks the wedding must take place."
Then Thumbelina wept, and said she would not marry the disagreeable mole.
"Nonsense," replied the field- mouse. "Now don't be obstinate, or I shall bite you with my white teeth.
He is a very handsome mole; the queen herself does not wear more beautiful velvets and furs. His kitchen and cellars are quite full. You ought to be very thankful for such good fortune."

So the wedding- day was fixed, on which the mole was to fetch Thumbelina away to live with him, deep under the earth, and never again to see the warm sun, because he did not like it.
The poor child was very unhappy at the thought of saying farewell to the beautiful sun, and as the field- mouse had given her permission to stand at the door, she went to look at it once more.
"Farewell bright sun," she cried, stretching out her arm towards it; and then she walked a short distance from the house; for the corn had been cut, and only the dry stubble remained in the fields. "Farewell, farewell," she repeated, twining her arm round a little red flower that grew just by her side. "Greet the little swallow from me, if you should see him again."

"Tweet, tweet," sounded over her head suddenly.
She looked up, and there was the swallow himself flying close by. As soon as he spied Tiny, he was delighted; and then she told him how unwilling she felt to marry the ugly mole, and to live always beneath the earth, and never to see the bright sun any more.
And as she told him she wept.
"Cold winter is coming," said the swallow, "and I am going to fly away into warmer countries. Will you go with me?
You can sit on my back, and fasten yourself on with your sash. Then we can fly away from the ugly mole and his gloomy rooms,- far away, over the mountains, into warmer countries, where the sun shines more brightly- than here; where it is always summer, and the flowers bloom in greater beauty.
Fly now with me, dear little Tiny; you saved my life when I lay frozen in that dark passage."
"Yes, I will go with you," said Tiny; and she seated herself on the bird's back, with her feet on his outstretched wings, and tied her girdle to one of his strongest feathers.

Then the swallow rose in the air, and flew over forest and over sea, high above the highest mountains, covered with eternal snow. Thumbelina would have been frozen in the cold air, but she crept under the bird's warm feathers, keeping her little head uncovered, so that she might admire the beautiful lands over which they passed. At length they reached the warm countries, where the sun shines brightly, and the sky seems so much higher above the earth. Here, on the hedges, and by the wayside, grew purple, green, and white grapes; lemons and oranges hung from trees in the woods; and the air was fragrant with myrtles and orange blossoms. Beautiful children ran along the country lanes, playing with large gay butterflies; and as the swallow flew farther and farther, every place appeared still more lovely.
At last they came to a blue lake, and by the side of it, shaded by trees of the deepest green, stood a palace of dazzling white marble, built in the olden times. Vines clustered round its lofty pillars, and at the top were many swallows' nests, and one of these was the home of the swallow who carried Tiny.
"This is my house," said the swallow; "but it would not do for you to live there- you would not be comfortable.
You must choose for yourself one of those lovely flowers, and I will put you down upon it, and then you shall have everything that you can wish to make you happy."
"That will be delightful," she said, and clapped her little hands for joy. A large marble pillar lay on the ground, which, in falling, had been broken into three pieces. Between these pieces grew the most beautiful large white flowers; so the swallow flew down with Tiny, and placed her on one of the broad leaves. But how surprised she was to see in the middle of the flower, a tiny little man, as white and transparent as if he had been made of crystal! He had a gold crown on his head, and delicate wings at his shoulders, and was not much larger than Thumbelina herself. He was the angel of the flower; for a tiny man and a tiny woman dwell in every flower; and this was the king of them all.
"Oh, how beautiful he is!" whispered Thumbelina to the swallow.
The little prince was at first quite frightened at the bird, who was like a giant, compared to such a delicate little creature as himself; but when he saw Tiny, he was delighted, and thought her the prettiest little maiden he had ever seen. He took the gold crown from his head, and placed it on hers, and asked her name, and if she would be his wife, and queen over all the flowers.

This certainly was a very different sort of husband to the son of a toad, or the mole, with my black velvet and fur; so she said,
"Yes," to the handsome prince. Then all the flowers opened, and out of each came a little lady or a tiny lord, all so pretty it was quite a pleasure to look at them. Each of them brought Thumbelina a present; but the best gift was a pair of beautiful wings, which had belonged to a large white fly and they fastened them to Thumbellina's shoulders, so that she might fly from flower to flower. Then there was much rejoicing, and the little swallow who sat above them, in his nest, was asked to sing a wedding song, which he did as well as he could; but in his heart he felt sad for he was very fond of Tiny, and would have liked never to part from her again. "You must not be called Thumbelina any more," said the spirit of the flowers to her. "It is an ugly name, and you are so very pretty. We will call you Maia."
"Farewell, farewell," said the swallow, with a heavy heart as he left the warm countries to fly back into Denmark.
There he had a nest over the window of a house in which dwelt the writer of fairy tales. The swallow sang,

"Tweet, tweet," and from his song came the whole story.

by Hans Christian Andersen

~The Goblin and the Huckster

There was once a regular student, who lived in a garret, and had no possessions. And there was also a regular huckster, to whom the house belonged, and who occupied the ground floor.
A goblin lived with the huckster, because at Christmas he always had a large dish full of jam, with a great piece of butter in the middle. The huckster could afford this; and therefore the goblin remained with the huckster, which was very cunning of him.

One evening the student came into the shop through the back door to buy candles and cheese for himself, he had no one to send, and therefore he came himself; he obtained what he wished, and then the huckster and his wife nodded good evening to him, and she was a woman who could do more than merely nod, for she had usually plenty to say for herself.
The student nodded in return as he turned to leave, then suddenly stopped, and began reading the piece of paper in which the cheese was wrapped. It was a leaf torn out of an old book, a book that ought not to have been torn up, for it was full of poetry.

“Yonder lies some more of the same sort,” said the huckster:
“I gave an old woman a few coffee berries for it; you shall have the rest for sixpence, if you will.”

“Indeed I will,” said the student; “give me the book instead of the cheese; I can eat my bread and butter without cheese.
It would be a sin to tear up a book like this.
You are a clever man; and a practical man; but you understand no more about poetry than that cask yonder.”

This was a very rude speech, especially against the cask; but the huckster and the student both laughed, for it was only said in fun. But the goblin felt very angry that any man should venture to say such things to a huckster who was a householder and sold the best butter. As soon as it was night, and the shop closed, and every one in bed except the student, the goblin stepped softly into the bedroom where the huckster’s wife slept, and took away her tongue, which of course, she did not then want.
Whatever object in the room he placed his tongue upon immediately received voice and speech, and was able to express its thoughts and feelings as readily as the lady herself could do.
It could only be used by one object at a time, which was a good thing, as a number speaking at once would have caused great confusion. The goblin laid the tongue upon the cask, in which lay a quantity of old newspapers.

“Is it really true,” he asked, “that you do not know what poetry is?”

“Of course I know,” replied the cask: “poetry is something that always stand in the corner of a newspaper, and is sometimes cut out; and I may venture to affirm that I have more of it in me than the student has, and I am only a poor tub of the huckster’s.”

Then the goblin placed the tongue on the coffee mill; and how it did go to be sure! Then he put it on the butter tub and the cash box, and they all expressed the same opinion as the waste-paper tub; and a majority must always be respected.

“Now I shall go and tell the student,” said the goblin; and with these words he went quietly up the back stairs to the garret where the student lived. He had a candle burning still, and the goblin peeped through the keyhole and saw that he was reading in the torn book, which he had brought out of the shop.
But how light the room was! From the book shot forth a ray of light which grew broad and full, like the stem of a tree, from which bright rays spread upward and over the student’s head.
Each leaf was fresh, and each flower was like a beautiful female head; some with dark and sparkling eyes, and others with eyes that were wonderfully blue and clear. The fruit gleamed like stars, and the room was filled with sounds of beautiful music.
The little goblin had never imagined, much less seen or heard of, any sight so glorious as this. He stood still on tiptoe, peeping in, till the light went out in the garret.
The student no doubt had blown out his candle and gone to bed; but the little goblin remained standing there nevertheless, and listening to the music which still sounded on, soft and beautiful,
a sweet cradle-song for the student, who had lain down to rest.

“This is a wonderful place,” said the goblin; “I never expected such a thing. I should like to stay here with the student;”
and the little man thought it over, for he was a sensible little spirit. At last he sighed, “but the student has no jam!”
So he went down stairs again into the huckster’s shop, and it was a good thing he got back when he did, for the cask had almost worn out the lady’s tongue; he had given a description of all that he contained on one side, and was just about to turn himself over to the other side to describe what was there, when the goblin entered and restored the tongue to the lady.
But from that time forward, the whole shop, from the cash box down to the pinewood logs, formed their opinions from that of the cask; and they all had such confidence in him, and treated him with so much respect, that when the huckster read the criticisms on theatricals and art of an evening, they fancied it must all come from the cask.

But after what he had seen, the goblin could no longer sit and listen quietly to the wisdom and understanding down stairs;
so, as soon as the evening light glimmered in the garret,
he took courage, for it seemed to him as if the rays of light were strong cables, drawing him up, and obliging him to go and peep through the keyhole; and, while there, a feeling of vastness came over him such as we experience by the ever-moving sea, when the storm breaks forth; and it brought tears into his eyes.
He did not himself know why he wept, yet a kind of pleasant feeling mingled with his tears. “How wonderfully glorious it would be to sit with the student under such a tree;” but that was out of the question, he must be content to look through the keyhole, and be thankful for even that.

There he stood on the old landing, with the autumn wind blowing down upon him through the trap-door. It was very cold; but the little creature did not really feel it, till the light in the garret went out, and the tones of music died away.
Then how he shivered, and crept down stairs again to his warm corner, where it felt home-like and comfortable.
And when Christmas came again, and brought the dish of jam and the great lump of butter, he liked the huckster best of all.

Soon after, in the middle of the night, the goblin was awoke by a terrible noise and knocking against the window shutters and the house doors, and by the sound of the watchman’s horn;
for a great fire had broken out, and the whole street appeared full of flames. Was it in their house, or a neighbor’s?
No one could tell, for terror had seized upon all.
The huckster’s wife was so bewildered that she took her gold
ear-rings out of her ears and put them in her pocket, that she might save something at least. The huckster ran to get his business papers, and the servant resolved to save her blue silk mantle, which she had managed to buy.
Each wished to keep the best things they had.
The goblin had the same wish; for, with one spring, he was up stairs and in the student’s room, whom he found standing by the open window, and looking quite calmly at the fire, which was raging at the house of a neighbor opposite.
The goblin caught up the wonderful book which lay on the table, and popped it into his red cap, which he held tightly with both hands. The greatest treasure in the house was saved; and he ran away with it to the roof, and seated himself on the chimney.
The flames of the burning house opposite illuminated him as he sat, both hands pressed tightly over his cap, in which the treasure lay; and then he found out what feelings really reigned in his heart, and knew exactly which way they tended. And yet,
when the fire was extinguished, and the goblin again began to reflect, he hesitated, and said at last, “I must divide myself between the two; I cannot quite give up the huckster, because of the jam.”

And this is a representation of human nature.
We are like the goblin; we all go to visit the huckster
“because of the jam.”

by Hans Christian Andersen

~The Snow Maiden

Once upon a time there lived a woodcutter and his old wife.
They were poor and had no children.
The old man cut logs in the forest and carried them into town; in this way he eked out a living. As they grew older they became sadder and sadder at being childless.

“We are growing so old. Who will take care of us?” the wife would ask from time to time.

“Do not worry, old woman. God will not abandon us.
He will come to our aid in time,” answered the old man.

One day, in the dead of winter, he went into the forest to chop wood and his wife came along to help him.
The cold was intense and they were nearly frozen.

Snow Maiden

“We have no child,” said the woodcutter to his wife.
“Shall we make a little snow girl to amuse us?”

They began to roll snowballs together, and in a short while they had made a “snegurochka,” a snow maiden, so beautiful that no pen could describe her. The old man and the old woman gazed at her and grew even sadder.
“If only the good Lord had sent us a little girl to share our old age!” said the old woman.
They thought on this so strongly that suddenly a miracle happened. They looked at their snow maiden, and were amazed at what they saw. The eyes of the snow maiden twinkled; a diadem studded with precious stones sparkled like fire on her head;
a cape of brocade covered her shoulders; embroidered boots appeared on her feet.

The old couple looked at her and did not believe their eyes.
Then the mist of breath parted the red lips of Snegurochka;
she trembled, looked around, and took a step forward.
The old couple stood there, stupefied; they thought they were dreaming. Snegurochka came toward them and said:

“Good day, kind folk, do not be frightened!
I will be a good daughter to you, the joy of your old age.
I will honor you as father and mother.”
“My darling daughter, let it be as you desire,” answered the old man. “Come home with us, our longed-for little girl!”
They took her by her white hands and led her from the forest.

As they went, the pine trees swayed goodbye, saying their farewell to Snegurochka, with their rustling wishing her safe journey, happy life.

The old couple brought Snegurochka home to their wooden hut, their ‘isba,’ and she began her life with them, helping them to do the chores. She was always most respectful, she never contradicted them, and they could not praise her enough, nor tire of gazing at her, she was so kind and so beautiful.

Snowmaiden by Meredith Dillman

Snegurochka, nevertheless, worried her adopted parents.
She was not at all talkative and her little face was always pale,
so pale. She did not seem to have a drop of blood, yet her eyes shone like little stars. And her smile! When she smiled she lighted up the isba like a gift of rubles.

They lived together thus for one month, two months; time passed. The old couple could not rejoice enough in their little daughter, gift of God.

One day the old woman said to Snegurochka: “My darling daughter, why are you so shy? You see no friends, you always stay with us, old people; that must be tiresome for you.
Why do you not go out and play with your friends, show yourself and see people? You should not spend all your time with us, aged folk.”
“I have no wish to go out, dear Mother,” answered Snegurochka. “I am happy here.”

Carnival time arrived. The streets were alive with strollers, with singing from early morning until late at night. Snegurochka watched the merrymaking through the little frozen window panes. She watched ... and finally she could resist no longer;
she gave in to the old woman, put on her little cape, and went into the street to join the throng.

In the same village there lived a maiden called Kupava.
She was a true beauty, with hair as black as a raven’s wing, skin like blood and milk, and arching brows.
One day a rich merchant came through town.
His name was Mizgir, and he was young and tall.
He saw Kupava and she pleased him. Kupava was not at all shy; she was saucy and never turned down an invitation to stroll.

Mizgir stopped in the village, called to all the young girls, gave them nuts and spiced bread, and danced with Kupava.
From that moment he never left town, and, it must be said,
he soon became Kupava’s lover.
There was Kupava, the belle of the town, parading around in velvets and silks, serving sweet wines to the youths and the maidens and living the joyful life.

The day Snegurochka first strolled in the street, she met Kupava, who introduced all her friends. From then on Snegurochka came out more often and looked at the youth.
A young boy, a shepherd, pleased her. He was named Lel. Snegurochka pleased him too, and they became inseparable. Whenever the young girls came out to stroll and to sing, Lel would run to Snegurochka’s isba, tap on the window and say: “Snegurochka, dearest, come out and join the dancing.”
Once she appeared, he never left her side.

One day Mizgir came to the village as the maidens were dancing in the street. He joined in with Kupava and made them all laugh.
He noticed Snegurochka and she pleased him; she was so pale and so pretty! From then on Kupava seemed too dark and too heavy. Soon he found her unpleasant. Quarrels and scenes broke out between them and Mizgir stopped seeing her.

Kupava was desolate, but what could she do? One cannot please by force nor revive the past! She noticed that Mizgir often returned to the village and went to the house of Snegurochka’s old parents. The rumor flew that Mizgir had asked for Snegurochka’s hand in marriage.
When Kupava learned this, her heart trembled.
She ran to Snegurochka’s isba, reproached her, insulted her, called her a viper, a traitor, made such a scene that they had to force her to leave.

“I will go to the Tsar!” she cried. “I will not suffer this dishonor. There is no law that allows a man to compromise a maiden, then throw her aside like a useless rag!”
So Kupava went to the Tsar to beg for his help against Snegurochka, who she insisted had stolen her lover.

Tsar Berendei ruled this kingdom; he was a good and gracious Tsar who loved truth and watched over all his subjects.
He listened to Kupava and ordered Snegurochka brought before him.

The Tsar’s envoys arrived at the village with a proclamation ordering Snegurochka to appear before their master.
“Good subjects of the Tsar! Listen well and tell us where the maiden Snegurochka lives. The Tsar summons her!
Let her make ready in haste! If she does not come of her will we will take her by force!”

The old woodcutters were filled with fear.
But the Tsar’s word was law. They helped Snegurochka to make ready and decided to accompany her, to present her to the Tsar.

Tsar Berendei lived in a splendid palace with walls of massive oak and wrought-iron doors; a large stairway led to great halls where Bukhara carpets covered the floors and guardsmen stood in scarlet kaftans with shining axes. All the vast courtyard was filled with people.

Once inside the sumptuous palace, the old couple and Snegurochka stood amazed. The ceilings and arches were covered with paintings, the precious plate was lined up on shelves, along the walls ran benches covered with carpets and brocades, and on these benches were seated the boyars wearing tall hats of bear fur trimmed with gold. Musicians played intricate music on their tympanums. At the far end of the hall, Tsar Berendei himself sat erect on his gilded and sculptured throne.
Around him stood bodyguards in kaftans white as snow, holding silver axes.
Tsar Berendei’s long white beard fell to his belt. His fur hat was the tallest; his kaftan of precious brocade was embroidered all over with jewels and with gold.

Snegurochka was frightened; she did not dare to take a step nor to raise her eyes.
Tsar Berendei said to her: “Come here, young maiden, come closer, gentle Snegurochka. Do not be afraid, answer my questions. Did you commit the sin of separating two lovers, after stealing the heart of Kupava’s beloved? Did you flirt with him and do you intend to marry him? Make sure that you tell me the truth!”

Snegurochka approached the Tsar, curtsied low, knelt before him, and spoke the truth; that she was not at fault, neither in body nor in soul; that it was true that the merchant Mizgir had asked for her in marriage, but that he did not please her and she had refused his hand.

Tsar Benendei took Snegurochka’s hands to help her to rise, looked into her eyes and said: “I see in your eyes, lovely maiden, that you speak the truth, that you are nowhere at fault.
Go home now in peace and do not be upset!”
And the Tsar let Snegurochka leave with her adoptive parents.

When Kupava learned of the Tsar’s decision she went wild with grief. She ripped her sarafan, tore her pearl necklace from her white neck, ran from her isba, and threw herself in the well.
From that day on, Snegurochka grew sadder and sadder.
She no longer went out in the street to stroll, not even when Lel begged her to come.

Meanwhile, spring had returned. The glorious sun rose higher and higher, the snow melted, the tender grass sprouted, the bushes turned green, the birds sang and made their nests.
But the more the sun shone, the paler and sadder Snegurochka grew.
One beautiful spring morning Lel came to Snegurochka’s little window and pleaded with her to come out with him, just once, for just a moment. For a long while Snegurochka refused to listen, but finally her heart could no longer resist Lel’s pleas, and she went with her beloved to the edge of the village.

“Lel, oh my Lel, play your flute for me alone!” she asked.
She stood before Lel, barely alive, her feet tingling, not a drop of blood in her pale face!
Lel took out his flute and began to play Snegurochka’s favorite air.

She listened to the song, and tears rolled down from her eyes. Then her feet melted beneath her; she fell onto the damp earth and suddenly vanished.

Lel saw nothing but a light mist rising from where she had fallen. The vapor rose, rose, and disappeared slowly in the blue sky ...

by A. Ostrovskii
a Russian folk tale

~Golden Ball

Once upon a time there lived two lasses, who were sisters, and as they came from the fair they saw a right handsome young man standing at a house door before them. They had never seen such a handsome young man before. He had gold on his cap, gold on his finger, gold on his neck, gold at his waist! And he had a golden ball in each hand. He gave a ball to each lass, saying she was to keep it; but if she lost it, she was to be hanged.

Now the youngest of the lasses lost her ball, and this is how.
She was by a park paling, and she was tossing her ball, and it went up, and up, and up, till it went fair over the paling; and when she climbed to look for it, the ball ran along the green grass, and it ran right forward to the door of a house that stood there, and the ball went into the house and she saw it no more.
So she was taken away to be hanged by the neck till she was dead, because she had lost her ball.
But the lass had a sweetheart, and he said he would go and get the ball. So he went to the park gate, but ’twas shut; then he climbed the railing, and when he got to the top of it an old woman rose up out of the ditch before him and said that if he wanted to get the ball he must sleep three nights in the house: so he said he would.

Well! when it was evening, he went into the house, and looked everywhere for the ball, but he could not find it, nor any one in the house at all; but when night came on he thought he heard bogles moving about in the courtyard; so he looked out
o’ window, and, sure enough, the yard was full of them!
Presently he heard steps coming upstairs, so he hid behind the door, and was as still as a mouse.
Then in came a big giant five times as tall as the lad, and looked around; but seeing nothing he went to the window and bowed himself to look out; and as he bowed on his elbows to see the bogles in the yard, the lad stepped behind him, and with one blow of his sword he cut him in twain, so that the top part of him fell in the yard, and the bottom part remained standing looking out of the window.
Well! there was a great cry from the bogles when they saw half the giant come tumbling down to them, and they called out,
”There comes half our master; give us the other half.”

Then the lad said, “It’s no use of thee, thou pair of legs, standing alone at the window, as thou hast no eye to see with, so go join thy brother”; and he cast the lower part of the giant after the top part. Now when the bogles had gotten all the giant they were quiet.
Next night the lad went to sleep in the house again, and this time a second giant came in at the door, and as he came in the lad cut him in twain; but the legs walked on to the fire and went straight up the chimney.
“Go, get thee after thy legs,” said the lad to the head, and he cast the other half of the giant up the chimney.
Now the third night nothing happened, so the lad got into bed;
but before he went to sleep he heard the bogles striving under the bed, and he wondered what they were at. So he peeped, and saw that they had the ball there, and were playing with it, casting it to and fro.
Now after a time one of them thrust his leg out from under the bed, and quick as anything the lad brings his sword down, and cuts it off. Then another bogle thrust his arm out at t’other side of the bed, and in a twinkling the lad cuts that off too.
So it went on, till at last he had maimed them all, and they all went off, crying and wailing, and forgot the ball!
Then the lad got out of bed, found the ball, and went off at once to seek his true love.
He heard the bogles striving under the bed

The Golden Ball  by Arthur Rackham

Now the lass had been taken to York to be hanged; she was brought out on the scaffold, and the hangman said,
“Now, lass, thou must hang by the neck till thou be’st dead.”
But she cried out: “Stop, stop, I think I see my mother coming!
O mother, hast thou brought my golden ball
And come to set me free?” And the mother answered:
“I’ve neither brought thy golden ball
Nor come to set thee free,
But I have come to see thee hung Upon this gallows-tree.”
Then the hangman said, “Now, lass, say thy prayers for thou must die.” But she said: “Stop, stop, I think I see my father coming!
O father, hast thou brought my golden ball
And come to set me free?” And the father answered:
“I’ve neither brought thy golden ball Nor come to set thee free,
But I have come to see thee hung Upon this gallows-tree.”

Then the hangman said, “Hast thee done thy prayers?
Now, lass, put thy head into the noose.”
But she answered, “Stop, stop, I think I see my brother coming!” And again she sang her little verse, and the brother sang back the same words. And so with her sister, her uncle, her aunt, and her cousin. But they all said the same: “I’ve neither brought thy golden ball
Nor come to set thee free, But I have come to see thee hung
Upon this gallows-tree.”
Then the hangman said, “I will stop no longer, thou’rt making game of me. Thou must be hung at once.”
But now, at long last, she saw her sweetheart coming through the crowd, so she cried to him: “Stop, stop, I see my sweetheart coming!
Sweetheart, hast thou brought my golden ball
And come to set me free?””
Then her sweetheart held up her golden ball and cried:
“Aye, I have brought to thee thy golden ball
And come to set thee free; I have not come to see thee hung
Upon this gallows-tree.”
So he took her home, then and there, and they lived happy ever after.

~The Seller Of Dreams

Once upon a time a mother called her only son into the kitchen, gave him a basket of fine, fresh eggs, and bade him carry them to his Aunt Jane, who lived a few miles down the valley.
The son, a lively lad about twelve years of age, obeyed his mother with joy, and clapping his little green hat on his head, stepped forth into the road. It was a beautiful clear morning in the spring, and the earth, released from the icy chains of winter, was rejoicing in her freedom and the return of the sun.
A few birds, just back from the southland, rocked on twigs swollen with bursting buds, a thousand rills flowing from everywhere and in every direction sparkled and sang, and the air was sweet with the odor of ploughed fields.

The boy, whose name was Peter, walked along whistling.
Suddenly he saw a spot on the road shining as dazzlingly as if a bit of the sun itself had fallen to the earth. “A bit of glass,” thought Peter. But it was not a bit of glass after all, but a fine golden florin which must have dropped from somebody’s purse.
Peter stooped, picked up the gold piece, put it in his pocket, and walked off whistling louder than ever. In a little while he came to a place where the road wound down a little hill, and Peter saw, trudging up this hill, a very strange looking old man.
He was a very old man; his face was puckered up into a thousand wrinkles like the skin of a shrunken apple, and he had long,
snow-white hair and a white beard which reached almost to his waist. Moreover, he was strangely dressed in a robe of cherry scarlet, and wore golden shoes.
From a kind of belt hung two horns on silver chains, one an ordinary cow’s horn, the other a beautiful horn carved of the whitest ivory, and decorated with little figures of men and animals.

“Dreams to sell! Dreams to sell!” called out the old man as soon as he caught sight of Peter. “Don’t you want to buy a dream, young man?”
“What kind of dreams have you?” asked Peter.
“Good, bad, true, false–all kinds,” replied the seller of dreams.
“I have even a few thrilling nightmares. Dreams to sell!
Dreams to sell!”
“How much does a dream cost?” asked Peter.
“A golden florin,” answered the merchant.
“I’ll have one, please,” said Peter; and he handed over the florin he had found.
The old man took a kind of wonderful sugarplum out of the ivory horn, and gave it to Peter to eat.
“You will have the dream next time you sleep,” said he, and trudged on.

So Peter continued his journey, stopping every once in a while to look back at the strange old man, who was slowly climbing the hill. At length Peter came to a little quiet grove of pines, and there he sat down on a big stone and ate the luncheon which his mother had prepared for him. The sun was high in the heavens;
it was close on to high noon.
Now, as Peter was contentedly munching his bread and cheese,
he heard, at first far away, then quite near at hand, the clear notes of a coachman’s horn. The notes of the second call died away in a great pattering of hoofs and tinkling of little bells, and suddenly, arriving in a great swirl of yellow dust, came a magnificent coach drawn by twelve white horses.
A lady, very richly dressed and wearing many sparkling diamonds, sat within the coach. To Peter’s astonishment,
the lady was his Aunt Jane.
The coach stopped with a great jingling of the twelve harnesses, and Aunt Jane leaned out of the window, and said to Peter,
“What are you doing here, child?”
“I was on my way to your cottage with a basket of fine fresh eggs,” answered Peter.
“Well, it’s fortunate I found you,” said Aunt Jane, “for I have given up living in the cottage, and have now got a castle of my own. Jump in, Peter, and don’t forget your basket.”

So Peter climbed into the coach, closed the door behind him, and was driven away. The coach went over hill and down dale; it went through strange forests from whose branches green parrots whooped and shrieked; it rolled through valleys in strange shining mountains. Peter stole a look at Aunt Jane and saw that she was wearing a crown.
“Are you a queen, Aunt Jane?” he asked.
“Indeed, I am,” replied his aunt. “You see, Peter, two days ago, while I was looking for my white cow who had strayed away,
I came upon the magnificent castle to which we are now going.
It has four beautiful towers, and a door set with diamonds.
‘Whose castle is this?’ I said to the lodge-keeper.
‘It’s nobody’s, marm,’ said he.
‘What,’ said I; ‘do you mean to say that nobody owns this fine castle?’
‘That’s just what I mean to say, marm,’ answered he; ‘the castle belongs to anyone who wants it.’

“So into the castle I walked, and I did n’t go out, you may be sure, till I had been into every room that I could find.
Then I put on these clothes and these diamonds, which I found in a cupboard, and went down and told the servants I intended to be queen. You see, Peter dear, there’s nothing that a woman of determination and energy can’t accomplish.”
The coach rolled on, and soon Peter caught sight of Aunt Jane’s castle. It was rather large, and had an enormous round tower at each corner–a thing which brought to Peter’s mind the picture of an elephant lying on its back. Peter and Aunt Jane, accompanied by a train of servants dressed in blue-and-buff livery, walked into the castle through the diamond-studded door.

“Do you think you could eat a little more of something?” said Aunt Jane, taking off her white-kid gloves; “because if you can I’ll have a place set for you at the luncheon table.”
And Peter, who like all boys, could eat a little more anywhere and at any time, readily answered, “Yes.”
So Peter and Aunt Jane sat down to a wonderful little table covered with a snow-white cloth.
“Draw your chair nearer, Peter dear,” said Aunt Jane.
“I can’t” said Peter, “it’s stuck to the floor.”
And so it was; the chair was stuck to the floor, and no amount of pushing or pulling could budge it
“That’s odd,” said Aunt Jane; “but never mind, I’ll push the table over to the chair.”

But like the chair, the table refused to budge.
Peter then tried to slide his plate of soup closer to him, but the plate, which the servant had placed on the cloth but an instant before, had evidently frozen to the table in some extraordinary manner and could not be moved an inch.
The soup in the plate, however, was not fastened to the dish, nor were the wonderful strawberry-cakes and the delicious ices with which the dinner closed.
“You don’t suppose this castle is enchanted, do you, Aunt Jane?” asked Peter.
“Not a bit of it,” replied Aunt Jane. “And even if it were,” she continued recklessly, “I should n’t mind, for there’s nothing that a woman of determination and energy can’t accomplish.”
There was a pause, and then Aunt Jane added, “I am going to have some guests to dinner this evening, so run round and amuse yourself as well as you can. There’s ever so much to see in the castle, and in the garden there’s a pond with swans in it.”

Attended by her servants, Aunt Jane majestically walked away. Peter spent the afternoon exploring the castle.
He went through room after room; he scurried through the attics like a mouse, and was even lost for a while in the cellars. And everywhere he went, he found everything immovable. The beds, tables, and chairs could neither be moved about nor lifted up, and even the clocks and vases were mysteriously fastened to their places on the shelves.
The night came on. Coach after coach rolled up to the diamond door, which sparkled in the moonlight. When the guests had all arrived, a silver trumpet sounded, and Aunt Jane, dressed in a wonderful gown of flowering brocade edged with pearls, came solemnly down the great stairway of the castle hall.
Two little black boys, dressed in oriental costume and wearing turbans, held up her gorgeous train, and she looked very grand indeed. Peter, to his great surprise, found himself dressed in a wonderful suit of plum-colored velvet.
“Welcome, my friends,” said Queen Jane, who had opened a wonderful ostrich-feather fan. “Are we not fortunate in having so beautiful a night for our dinner?”
And the Queen, giving her arm to a splendid personage in the uniform of an officer of the King’s dragoons, led the way to the banquet-hall.

The wonderful party, all silks and satins, and gleaming with jewels, swept like a peacock’s tail behind her.
Soon dinner was over, and the guests began to stray by twos and threes to the ballroom. Aunt Jane and the soldier led off the grand march; then came wonderful, stately minuets, quadrilles, and sweet old-fashioned waltzes. The merriment was at its height when somebody ran heavily up the great stairs leading to the ballroom, and the guests, turning round to see whence came the clatter, saw standing in the doorway a strange old man dressed in a robe of cherry scarlet and wearing golden shoes.
It was the seller of dreams. His white hair was disheveled,
his robe was awry, and there was dust on his golden shoes.
“Foolish people!” screamed the old seller of dreams, his voice rising to a shriek, “Run your lives! This castle lies under a terrible enchantment; in a few minutes it will turn upside-down.
Have you not seen that everything is fastened to the floor?
Run for your lives!”

Immediately there was a great babble of voices, some shrieks, and more confusion, and the guests ran pell-mell down the great stairs and out the castle door. To Peter’s dismay, Aunt Jane was not among them. So into the castle he rushed again, calling at the top of his voice, “Aunt Jane! Aunt Jane!” He ran through the brilliantly lit and deserted ballroom; he saw himself running in the great mirrors of the gallery. “Aunt Jane!” he cried; but no Aunt Jane replied.
Peter rushed up the stairs leading to the castle tower, and emerged upon the balcony. He saw the black shadow of the castle thrown upon the grass far below by the full moon; he saw the great forest, so bright above and so dark and mysterious below, and the long snow-clad range of the Adamant Mountains. Suddenly a voice, louder than the voice of any human being, a voice deep, ringing, and solemn as the sound of a great bell, cried,– ‘T is time!”

Immediately everything became as black as ink, people shrieked, the enchanted castle rolled like a ship at sea, and leaning far to one side, began to turn upside-down.
Peter felt the floor of the balcony tip beneath him; he tried to catch hold of something, but could find nothing; suddenly,
with a scream, he fell. He was falling, falling, falling, falling, falling.

When Peter came to himself, instead of its being night, it was still noonday, and he was sitting on the same stone in the same quiet roadside grove from which he had caught sight of his Aunt Jane in her wonderful coach. A blue jay screamed at him from overhead. For Aunt Jane, the coach, and the enchanted castle had been only a dream. Peter, you see, had fallen asleep under the pines, and while he slept, he had dreamed the dream he purchased from the seller of dreams.

Very glad to be still alive, Peter rubbed his eyes, took up his basket of eggs, and went down the road whistling.

by Henry Beston