Part 6 out of 8
him away, and did; and he and the dog fought and struggled, and he did
not want to throw the dog overboard; but as they were struggling, there
came a tall green sea, and walked in over the weather side of the ship,
and swept them both into the waves.
And the poor little dog?
Why, after he had kicked and coughed a little, he sneezed so hard, that
he sneezed himself clean out of his skin, and turned into a water dog,
and jumped and danced around Tom, and ran over the crests of the waves,
and snapped at the jellyfish and the mackerel, and followed Tom the
whole way to the Other-end-of-Nowhere.
Then they went on again, till they began to see the peak of Jan Mayen's
Land, standing up like a white sugar loaf, two miles above the clouds.
And there they fell in with a whole flock of mollymocks, [Footnote: The
mollymocks, or mallemawks, are petrels, larger than the stormy petrels.]
who were feeding on a dead whale.
"These are the fellows to show you the way," said Mother Carey's
chickens; "we cannot help you farther north. We don't like to get among
the ice pack, for fear it should nip our toes; but the mollys dare fly
So the petrels called to the mollys; but they were so busy and greedy,
gobbling and packing and spluttering and fighting over the blubber, that
they did not take the least notice.
"Come, come," said the petrels, "you lazy, greedy lubbers, this young
gentleman is going to Mother Carey, and if you don't attend to him, you
won't earn your discharge from her, you know."
"Greedy we are," said a great, fat old molly, "but lazy we ain't; and as
for lubbers, we're no more lubbers than you. Let's have a look at the
And he flapped right into Tom's face, and stared at him in the most
impudent way (for the mollys are audacious fellows, as all whalers
know), and then asked him where he hailed from, and what land he sighted
And when Tom told him, he seemed pleased, and said he was a good plucked
one to have got so far.
"Come along, lads," he said to the rest, "and give this little chap a
cast over the pack, for Mother Carey's sake. We've eaten blubber enough
for to-day, and we'll e'en work out a bit of our time by helping the
So the mollys took Tom up on their backs, and flew off with him,
laughing and joking--and oh, how they did smell of train oil!
And now they came to the edge of the pack, and beyond it they could see
Shiny Wall looming, through mist, and snow, and storm. But the pack
rolled horribly upon the swell, and the ice giants fought and roared,
and leapt upon each other's backs, and ground each other to powder, so
that Tom was afraid to venture among them, lest he should be ground to
But the good mollys took Tom and his dog up, and flew with them safe
over the pack and the roaring ice giants, and set them down at the foot
of Shiny Wall.
"And where is the gate?" asked Tom.
"There is no gate," said the mollys.
"No gate?" cried Tom, aghast.
"None; never a crack of one, and that's the whole of the secret, as
better fellows, lad, than you have found to their cost; and if there had
been, they'd have killed by now every right whale [Footnote: A right
whale is a whale which yields much whalebone and much oil; it is so
called because it is the "right" whale to take.] that swims the sea."
"What am I to do, then?"
"Dive under the floe, to be sure, if you have pluck,"
"I've not come so far to turn now," said Tom; "so here goes for a
"A lucky voyage to you, lad," said the mollys; "we knew you were one of
the right sort. So good-bye." "Why don't you come too?" asked Tom.
But the mollys only wailed sadly, "We can't go yet, we can't go yet,"
and flew away over the pack.
So Tom dived under the great white gate which never was opened yet, and
went on in black darkness, at the bottom of the sea, for seven days and
seven nights. And yet he was not a bit frightened. Why should he be? He
was a brave English lad, whose business is to go out and see all the
And at last he saw the light, and clear, clear water overhead; and up he
came a thousand fathoms, among clouds of sea moths, which fluttered
round his head. There were moths with pink heads and wings and opal
bodies, that flapped about slowly; moths with brown wings that flapped
about quickly; yellow shrimps that hopped and skipped most quickly of
all; and jellies of all the colours in the world, that neither hopped
nor skipped, but only dawdled and yawned, and would not get out of his
way. The dog snapped at them till his jaws were tired; but Tom hardly
minded them at all, he was so eager to get to the top of the water, and
see the pool where the good whales go.
And a very large pool it was, miles and miles across, though the air was
so clear that the ice cliffs on the opposite side looked as if they were
close at hand. All round it the ice cliffs rose, in walls and spires and
battlements, and caves and bridges, and stories and galleries, in which
the ice fairies live, and drive away the storms and clouds, that Mother
Carey's pool may lie calm from year's end to year's end. And the sun
acted policeman, and walked round outside every day, peeping just over
the top of the ice wall, to see that all went right; and now and then he
played conjuring tricks, or had an exhibition of fireworks, to amuse the
ice fairies. For he would make himself into four or five suns at once,
or paint the sky with rings and crosses and crescents of white fire, and
stick himself in the middle of them, and wink at the fairies; and I
daresay they were very much amused, for anything's fun in the country.
And there the good whales lay, the happy, sleepy beasts, upon the still
oily sea. They were all right whales, you must know, and finners, and
razor-backs, and bottle-noses, and spotted sea unicorns with long ivory
horns. But the sperm whales are such raging, ramping, roaring,
rumbustious fellows, that, if Mother Carey let them in, there would be
no more peace in Peacepool. So she packs them away in a great pond by
themselves at the South Pole, two hundred and sixty-three miles south-
southeast of Mount Erebus, the great volcano in the ice; and there they
butt each other with their ugly noses, day and night from year's end to
Tom swam up to the nearest whale, and asked the way to Mother Carey.
"There she sits in the middle," said the whale.
Tom looked; but he could see nothing in the middle of the pool but one
peaked iceberg, and he said so.
"That's Mother Carey," said the whale, "as you will find when you get to
her. There she sits making old beasts into new all the year round."
"How does she do that?"
"That's her concern, not mine," said the old whale; and yawned so wide
(for he was very large) that there swam into his mouth 943 sea moths,
13,846 jellyfish no bigger than pins' heads, a string of salpae nine
yards long, and forty-three little ice crabs, who gave each other a
parting pinch all round, tucked their legs under their stomachs, and
determined to die decently, like Julius Caesar.
"I suppose," said Tom, "she cuts up a great whale like you into a whole
shoal of porpoises?"
At which the old whale laughed so violently that he coughed up all the
creatures; who swam away again, very thankful at having escaped out of
that terrible whalebone net of his, from which bourne no traveler
returns; and Tom went on to the iceberg, wondering.
And when he came near it, it took the form of the grandest old lady he
had ever seen--a white marble lady, sitting on a white marble throne.
And from the foot of the throne there swam away, out and out into the
sea, millions of newborn creatures, of more shapes and colours than man
ever dreamed. And they were Mother Carey's children, whom she makes out
of the sea water all day long.
She sat quite still with her chin upon her hand, looking down into the
sea with two great, grand blue eyes, as blue as the sea itself. Her hair
was as white as the snow, for she was very, very old--in fact, as old as
anything which you are likely to come across, except the difference
between right and wrong. And when she saw Tom, she looked at him very
"What do you want, my little man? It is long since I have seen a water
Tom told her his errand, and asked the way to the Other-end-of-Nowhere.
"You ought to know yourself, for you have been there already,"
"Have I, ma'am? I'm sure I forgot all about it."
"Then look at me."
And as Tom looked into her great blue eyes, he recollected the way
Now, was not that strange?
"Thank you, ma'am," said Tom. "Then I won't trouble your ladyship any
more; I hear you are very busy."
"And now, my pretty little man," said Mother Carey, "you are sure you
know the way to the Other-end-of-Nowhere?" Tom thought; and behold, he
had forgotten it utterly.
"That is because you took your eyes off me."
Tom looked at her again, and recollected; and then looked away, and
forgot in an instant.
"But what am I to do, ma'am? For I can't keep looking at you when I am
"You must do without me, as most people have to do, for nine hundred and
ninety-nine thousandths of their lives; and look at the dog instead; for
he knows the way well enough, and will not forget it. Besides, you may
meet some very queer-tempered people there, who will not let you pass
without this passport of mine, which you must hang round your neck and
take care of; and, of course, as the dog will always go behind you, you
must go the whole way backward."
"Backward!" cried Tom. "Then I shall not be able to see my way."
"On the contrary, if you look forward, you will not see a step before
you, and be certain to go wrong; but if you look behind you, and watch
carefully whatever you have passed, and especially keep your eye on the
dog, who goes by instinct, and therefore can't go wrong, then you will
know what is coming next, as plainly as if you saw it in a looking-
Tom was very much astonished; but he obeyed her, for he had learnt
always to believe what the fairies told him.
Tom was very sorely tried; for though, by keeping the dog to heels (or
rather to toes, for he had to walk backward), he could see pretty well
which way the dog was hunting, yet it was much slower work to go
backwards than to go forwards.
But I am proud to say that, though Tom had not been to Cambridge--for if
he had he would have certainly been senior wrangler--he was such a
little dogged, hard, gnarly, foursquare brick of an English boy, that he
never turned his head round once all the way from Peacepool to the
Other-end-of-Nowhere; but kept his eye on the dog, and let him pick out
the scent, hot or cold, straight or crooked, wet or dry, up hill or down
dale; by which means he never made a mistake, or had to retrace a single
CHAPTER VIII AND LAST
Now, as soon as Tom had left Peacepool, he came to the white lap of the
great sea mother, ten thousand fathoms deep; where she makes world-pap
all day long, for the steam giants to knead, and the fire giants to
bake, till it has risen and hardened into mountain-loaves and island-
And there Tom was very near being kneaded up in the world-pap, and
turned into a fossil water baby; which would have astonished the
Geological Society of New Zealand some hundreds of thousands of years
For as he walked along in the silence of the sea twilight, on the soft
white ocean floor, he was aware of a hissing, and a roaring, and a
thumping, and a pumping, as of all the steam engines in the world at
once. And when he came near, the water grew boiling hot; not that that
hurt him in the least; but it also grew as foul as gruel; and every
moment he stumbled over dead shells, and fish, and sharks, and seals,
and whales, which had been killed by the hot water.
And at last he came to the great sea serpent himself, lying dead at the
bottom; and as he was too thick to scramble over, Tom had to walk round
him three quarters of a mile and more, which put him out of his path
sadly; and when he had got round, he came to the place called Stop. And
there he stopped, and just in time.
For he was on the edge of a vast hole in the bottom of the sea, up which
was rushing and roaring clear steam enough to work all the engines in
the world at once; so clear, indeed, that it was quite light at moments,
and Tom could see almost up to the top of the water above, and down
below into the pit for nobody knows how far.
But as soon as he bent his head over the edge, he got such a rap on the
nose from pebbles, that he jumped back again; for the steam, as it
rushed up, rasped away the sides of the hole, and hurled it up into the
sea in a shower of mud and gravel and ashes; and then it spread all
around, and sank again, and covered in the dead fish so fast, that
before Tom had stood there five minutes he was buried in silt up to his
ankles, and began to be afraid that he should have been buried alive.
And perhaps he would have been, but that while he was thinking, the
whole piece of ground on which he stood was torn up and blown upwards,
and away flew Tom a mile up through the sea, wondering what was coming
At last he stopped--thump! and found himself tight in the legs of the
most wonderful bogy which he had ever seen.
It had I don't know how many wings, as big as the sails of a windmill,
and spread out in a ring like them; and with them it hovered over the
steam which rushed up, as a ball hovers over the top of a fountain. And
for every wing before it had a leg below, with a claw like a comb at the
tip, and a nostril at the root; and in the middle it had no stomach and
one eye; and as for its mouth, that was all on one side, as the
madreporiform tubercle in a starfish is. Well, it was a very strange
beast; but no stranger than some dozens which you may see.
"What do you want here," it cried quite peevishly, "getting in my way?"
and it tried to drop Tom; but he held on tight to its claws, thinking
himself safer where he was.
So Tom told him who he was, and what his errand was. And the thing
winked its one eye, and sneered:
"I am too old to be taken in in that way. You are come after gold--I
know you are."
"Gold! What is gold!" And really Tom did not know; but the suspicious
old bogy would not believe him.
But after a while Tom began to understand a little. For, as the vapours
came up out of the hole, the bogy smelt them with his nostrils, and
combed them and sorted them with his combs; and then, when they steamed
up through them against his wings, they were changed into showers and
streams of metal. From one wing fell gold dust, and from another silver,
and from another copper, and from another tin, and from another lead,
and so on, and sank into the soft mud, into veins and cracks, and
hardened there. Whereby it comes to pass that the rocks are full of
But, all of a sudden, somebody shut off the steam below, and the hole
was left empty in an instant; and then down rushed the water into the
hole, in such a whirlpool that the bogy spun round and round as fast as
a teetotum. But that was all in his day's work, like a fair fall with
the hounds; so all he did was to say to Tom:
"Now is your time, youngster, to get down, if you are in earnest, which
I don't believe."
"You'll soon see," said Tom; and away he went, as bold as Baron
Munchausen, and shot down the rushing cataract like a salmon at
And when he got to the bottom, he swam till he was washed on shore safe
upon the Other-end-of-Nowhere; and he found it, to his surprise, as most
other people do, much more like This-end-of-Somewhere than he had been
in the habit of expecting.
There Tom saw ploughs drawing horses, nails driving hammers, birds'
nests taking boys, books making authors, bulls keeping china shops,
monkeys shaving cats, dead dogs drilling live lions, and, in short,
every one set to do something which he had not learnt, because in what
he had learnt, or pretended to learn, he had failed.
On the borders of that island he found Gotham, where the wise men live;
the same who dragged the pond because the moon had fallen into it, and
planted a hedge round the cuckoo, to keep spring all the year. And he
found them bricking up the town gate, because it was so wide that little
folks could not get through.
So he went on, for it was no business of his; only he could not help
saying that in his country if the kitten could not get in at the same
hole as the cat, she might stay outside and mew.
Then Tom came to a very famous island, which was called, in the days of
the great traveler Captain Gulliver, the Isle of Laputa. [Footnote:
Swift describes, in Gulliver's Travels, a flying island, called Laputa.
The inhabitants were quacks, so absorbed in their false science that
they had eyes and ears for nothing else, and were therefore followed
about by servants who "flapped" them with a blown-up bladder, when they
were expected to hear or to see or to say anything.] But Mrs.
Bedonebyasyoudid has named it over again, the Isle of Tomtoddies, all
heads and no bodies.
And when Tom came near it, he heard such a grumbling and grunting and
growling and wailing and weeping and whining that he thought people must
be ringing little pigs, or cropping puppies' ears, or drowning kittens;
but when he came nearer still, he began to hear words among the noise;
which was the Tomtoddies' song which they sing morning and evening, and
all night too, to their great idol Examination--
"I CAN'T LEARN MY LESSON; THE EXAMINER'S COMING!"
And that was the only song which they knew.
And when Tom got on shore the first thing he saw was a great pillar, on
one side of which was inscribed, "Playthings not allowed here;" at which
he was so shocked that he would not stay to see what was written on the
other side. Then he looked round for the people of the island; but
instead of men, women, and children, he found nothing but turnips and
radishes, beets and mangold wurzel, without a single green leaf among
them, and half of them burst and decayed, with toadstools growing out of
them. Those which were left began crying to Tom, in half a dozen
different languages at once, and all of them badly spoken, "I can't
learn my lesson; do come and help me!"
"And what good on earth would it do you if I did help you?" quoth Tom.
Well, they didn't know that; all they knew was the examiner was coming.
Then Tom stumbled on the hugest and softest nimblecomequick turnip you
ever saw filling a hole in a crop of swedes, and it cried to him, "Can
you tell me anything at all about anything you like?"
"About what?" says Tom.
"About anything you like; for as fast as I learn things I forget them
again. So my mamma says that my intellect is not adapted for methodic
science, and says that I must go in for general information."
Tom told him that he did not know general information, nor any officers
in the army; only he had a friend once that went for a drummer; but he
could tell him a great many strange things which he had seen in his
So he told him prettily enough, while the poor turnip listened very
carefully; and the more he listened, the more he forgot, and the more
water ran out of him.
Tom thought he was crying; but it was only his poor brains running away,
from being worked so hard; and as Tom talked, the unhappy turnip
streamed down all over with juice, and split and shrank till nothing was
left of him but rind and water; whereat Tom ran away in a fright, for he
thought he might be taken up for killing the turnip.
But, on the contrary, the turnip's parents were highly delighted, and
considered him a saint and a martyr, and put up a long inscription over
his tomb about his wonderful talents, early development, and
unparalleled precocity. Were they not a foolish couple? But there was
still a more foolish couple next to them, who were beating a wretched
little radish, no bigger than my thumb, for sullenness and obstinacy and
wilful stupidity, and never knew that the reason why it couldn't learn
or hardly even speak was, that there was a great worm inside it eating
out all its brains. But even they are no foolisher than some hundred
score of papas and mammas, who fetch the rod when they ought to fetch a
new toy, and send to the dark cupboard instead of to the doctor.
Tom was so puzzled and frightened with all he saw, that he was longing
to ask the meaning of it; and at last he stumbled over a respectable old
stick lying half covered with earth. But a very stout and worthy stick
it was, for it belonged to good Roger Ascham [Footnote: Roger Ascham was
a famous English scholar and writer of the sixteenth century. He was
teacher of languages to Princess, afterward Queen, Elizabeth, and later,
was Latin secretary to both Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth.] in old
"You see," said the stick, "they were as pretty little children once as
you could wish to see, and might have been so still if they had been
only left to grow up like human beings, and then handed over to me; but
their foolish fathers and mothers, instead of letting them pick flowers,
and make dirt-pies, and get birds' nests, and dance round the gooseberry
bush, as little children should, kept them always at lessons, working,
working, working, learning week-day lessons all week-days, and Sunday
lessons all Sunday, and weekly examinations every Saturday, and monthly
examinations every month, and yearly examinations every year, everything
seven times over, as if once was not enough, and enough as good as a
feast--till their brains grew big, and their bodies grew small, and they
were all changed into turnips, with little but water inside; and still
their foolish parents actually pick the leaves off them as fast as they
grow, lest they should have anything green about them."
"Ah!" said Tom, "if Mrs. Doasyouwouldbedoneby knew of it she would send
them a lot of tops, and balls, and marbles, and nine-pins, and make them
all as jolly as sand-boys."
"It would be no use," said the stick. "They can't play now, if they
tried. Don't you see how their legs have turned to roots and grown into
the ground, by never taking any exercise, but sapping and moping always
in the same place.
"But here comes the Examiner-of-all-Examiners. So you had better get
away, I warn you, or he will examine you and your dog into the bargain,
and set him to examine all the other dogs, and you to examine all the
other water babies. There is no escaping out of his hands, for his nose
is nine thousand miles long, and can go down chimneys, and through
keyholes, upstairs, downstairs, in my lady's chamber, examining all
little boys, and the little boys' tutors likewise. But when he is
thrashed--so Mrs. Bedonebyasyoudid has promised me--I shall have the
thrashing of him; and if I don't lay it on with a will it's a pity."
Tom went off, but rather slowly and surlily; for he was somewhat minded
to face this same Examiner-of-all-Examiners, who came striding among the
poor turnips, binding heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and laying
them on little children's shoulders, like the Scribes and Pharisees of
old, and not touching the same with one of his fingers; for he had
plenty of money, and a fine house to live in; which was more than the
poor turnips had.
And next he came to Oldwisefabledom, where the folks were all heathens,
and worshipped a howling ape.
And there he found a little boy sitting in the middle of the road, and
"What are you crying for?" said Tom.
"Because I am not so frightened as I could wish to be."
"Not frightened? You are a queer little chap; but, if you want to be
frightened, here goes--Boo!"
"Ah," said the little boy, "that is very kind of you; but I don't feel
that it has made any impression."
Tom offered to upset him, punch him, stamp on him, fettle him over the
head with a brick, or anything else whatsoever which would give him the
But he only thanked Tom very civilly, in fine long words which he had
heard other folk use, and which, therefore, he thought were fit and
proper to use himself; and cried on till his papa and mamma came.
Then Tom came to a very quiet place, called Leaveheavenalone. And there
the sun was drawing water out of the sea to make steam-threads, and the
wind was twisting them up to make cloud-patterns, till they had worked
between them the loveliest wedding veil of Chantilly lace, and hung it
up in their own Crystal Palace for any one to buy who could afford it;
while the good old sea never grudged, for she knew they would pay her
back honestly. So the sun span, and the wind wove, and all went well
with the great steam loom; as is likely, considering--and considering--
And at last, after innumerable adventures, each more wonderful than the
last, Tom saw before him a huge building.
He walked towards it, wondering what it was, and having a strange fancy
that he might find Mr. Grimes inside it, till he saw running toward him,
and shouting "Stop!" three or four people, who, when they came nearer,
were nothing else than policemen's truncheons, running along without
legs or arms.
Tom was not astonished. He was long past that. Neither was he
frightened; for he had been doing no harm.
So he stopped; and when the foremost truncheon came up and asked his
business, he showed Mother Carey's pass; and the truncheon looked at it
in the oddest fashion; for he had one eye in the middle of his upper
end, so that when he looked at anything, being quite stiff, he had to
slope himself, and poke himself, till it was a wonder why he did not
tumble over; but, being quite full of the spirit of justice (as all
policemen, and their truncheons, ought to be), he was always in a
position of stable equilibrium, whichever way he put himself.
"All right--pass on," said he at last. And then he added: "I had better
go with you, young man." And Tom had no objection, for such company was
both respectable and safe; so the truncheon coiled its thong neatly
round its handle, to prevent tripping itself up--for the thong had got
loose in running--and marched on by Tom's side.
"Why have you no policeman to carry you?" asked Tom after a while.
"Because we are not like those clumsy-made truncheons in the land world,
which cannot go with-out having a whole man to carry them about. We do
our own work for ourselves; and do it very well, though I say it who
"Then why have you a thong to your handle?" asked Tom.
"To hang ourselves up by, of course, when we are off duty."
Tom had got his answer, and had no more to say, till they came up to the
great iron door of the prison. And there the truncheon knocked twice,
with its own head.
A wicket in the door opened, and out looked a tremendous old brass
blunderbuss charged up to the muzzle with slugs, who was the porter; and
Tom started back a little at the sight of him.
"What case is this?" he asked in a deep voice, out of his broad bell
"If you please, sir, it is no case; only a young gentleman from her
ladyship, who wants to see Grimes, the master sweep."
"Grimes?" said the blunderbuss. And he pulled in his muzzle, perhaps to
look over his prison lists.
"Grimes is up chimney No. 345," he said from inside. "So the young
gentleman had better go on to the roof."
Tom looked up at the enormous wall, which seemed at least ninety miles
high, and wondered how he should ever get up; but when he hinted that to
the truncheon, it settled the matter in a moment. For it whisked round,
and gave him such a shove behind as sent him up to the roof in no time,
with his little dog under his arm.
And there he walked along the leads, till he met another truncheon, and
told him his errand.
"Very good," it said. "Come along; but it will be of no use. He is the
most unremorseful, hard-hearted, foul-mouthed fellow I have in charge;
and thinks about nothing but beer and pipes, which are not allowed here,
So they walked along over the leads, and very sooty they were, and Tom
thought the chimneys must want sweeping very much. But he was surprised
to see that the soot did not stick to his feet, or dirty them in the
least. Neither did the live coals, which were lying about in plenty,
burn him; for he was a water baby.
And at last they came to chimney No. 345. Out of the top of it, his head
and shoulders just showing, stuck poor Mr. Grimes, so sooty, and
bleared, and ugly, that Tom could hardly bear to look at him. And in his
mouth was a pipe; but it was not alight, though he was pulling at it
with all his might.
"Attention, Mr. Grimes," said the truncheon; "here is a gentleman come
to see you."
But Mr. Grimes only said bad words, and kept grumbling, "My pipe won't
draw. My pipe won't draw."
"Keep a civil tongue, and attend!" said the truncheon; and popped up
just like Punch, hitting Grimes such a crack over the head with itself,
that his brains rattled inside like a dried walnut in its shell. He
tried to get his hands out, and rub the place; but he could not, for
they were stuck fast in the chimney. Now he was forced to attend.
"Hey!" he said, "why, it's Tom! I suppose you have come here to laugh at
me, you spiteful little atomy?"
Tom assured him he had not, but only wanted to help him.
"I don't want anything except beer, and that I can't get; and a light to
this bothering pipe, and that I can't get either."
"I'll get you one," said Tom; and he took up a live coal (there were
plenty lying about) and put it to Grimes' pipe; but it went out
"It's no use," said the truncheon, leaning itself up against the chimney
and looking on. "I tell you, it is no use. His heart is so cold that it
freezes everything that comes near him, You will see that presently,
"Oh, of course, it's my fault. Everything's always my fault," said
Grimes. "Now don't go to hit me again" (for the truncheon started
upright, and looked very wicked); "you know, if my arms were only free,
you daren't hit me then."
The truncheon leant back against the chimney, and took no notice of the
personal insult, like a well-trained policeman as it was, though it was
ready enough to avenge any transgression against morality or order.
"But can't I help you in any other way? Can't I help you to get out of
this chimney?" said Tom.
"No," interposed the truncheon; "he has come to the place where
everybody must help himself; and he will find it out, I hope, before he
has done with me."
"Oh, yes," said Grimes, "of course it's me. Did I ask to be brought here
into the prison? Did I ask to be set to sweep your foul chimneys? Did I
ask to have lighted straw put under me to make me go up? Did I ask to
stick fast in the very first chimney of all, because it was so
shamefully clogged up with soot? Did I ask to stay here--I don't know
how long--a hundred years, I do believe, and never get my pipe, nor my
beer, nor nothing fit for a beast, let alone a man?"
"No," answered a solemn voice behind. "No more did Tom, when you behaved
to him in the very same way."
It was Mrs. Bedonebyasyoudid. And when the truncheon saw her, it started
bolt upright--Attention!--and made such a low bow, that if it had not
been full of the spirit of justice, it must have tumbled on its end, and
probably hurt its one eye. And Tom made his bow too.
"Oh, ma'am," he said, "don't think about me; that's all past and gone,
and good times and bad times and all times pass over. But may not I help
poor Mr. Grimes? Mayn't I try and get some of these bricks away, that he
may move his arms?"
"You may try, of course," she said.
So Tom pulled and tugged at the bricks, but he could not move one. And
then he tried to wipe Mr. Grimes' face, but the soot would not come off.
"Oh, dear!" he said. "I have come all this way, through all these
terrible places, to help you, and now I am of no use at all."
"You had best leave me alone," said Grimes; "you are a good-natured,
forgiving little chap, and that's truth; but you'd best be off. The
hail's coming on soon, and it will beat the eyes out of your little
"Why, hail that falls every evening here; and till it comes close to me,
it's like so much warm rain; but then it comes to hail over my head, and
knocks me about like small shot."
"That hail will never come any more," said the strange lady. "I have
told you before what it was. It was your mother's tears, those which she
shed when she prayed for you by her bedside; but your cold heart froze
it into hail. But she is gone to heaven now, and will weep no more for
her graceless son."
Then Grimes was silent awhile; and then he looked very sad.
"So my old mother's gone, and I never there to speak to her! Ah! a good
woman she was, and might have been a happy one, in her little school
there in Vendale, if it hadn't been for me and my bad ways."
"Did she keep the school at Vendale?" asked Tom. And then he told Grimes
all the story of his going to her house, and how she could not abide the
sight of a chimney-sweep, and then how kind she was, and how he turned
into a water baby.
"Ah!" said Grimes, "good reason she had to hate the sight of a chimney-
sweep. I ran away from her and took up with the sweeps, and never let
her know where I was, nor sent her a penny to help her, and now it's too
late--too late!" said Mr. Grimes.
And he began crying and blubbering like a great baby, till his pipe
dropped out of his mouth, and broke all to bits.
"Oh, dear, if I was but a little chap in Vendale again, to see the clear
beck, and the apple orchard, and the yew hedge, how different I would go
on! But it's too late now. So you go along, you kind little chap, and
don't stand to look at a man crying, that's old enough to be your
father, and never feared the face of man, nor of worse neither. But I'm
beat now, and beat I must be. I've made my bed, and I must lie on it.
Foul I would be, and foul I am. as an Irishwoman said to me once; and
little I heeded it. It's all my own fault: but it's too late." And he
cried so bitterly that Tom began crying too.
"Never too late," said the fairy, in such a strange soft, new voice that
Tom looked up at her; and she was so beautiful for the moment, that Tom
half fancied she was her sister.
No more was it too late. For as poor Grimes cried and blubbered on, his
own tears did what his mother's could not do, and Tom's could not do,
and nobody's on earth could do for him; for they washed the soot off his
face and off his clothes; and then they washed the mortar away from
between the bricks; and the chimney crumbled down; and Grimes began to
get out of it.
Up jumped the truncheon, and was going to hit him on the crown a
tremendous thump, and drive him down again like a cork into a bottle.
But the strange lady put it aside.
"Will you obey me if I give you a chance?"
"As you please, ma'am. You're stronger than me--that I know too well,
and wiser than me, I know too well also. And as for being my own master,
I've fared ill enough with that as yet. So whatever your ladyship
pleases to order me; for I'm beat, and that's the truth."
"Be it so then--you may come out. But remember, disobey me again, and
into a worse place still you go."
"I beg pardon, ma'am, but I never disobeyed you that I know of. I never
had the honour of setting eyes upon you till I came to these ugly
"Never saw me? Who said to you, 'Those that will, be foul, foul they
Grimes looked up; and Tom looked up too; for the voice was that of the
Irishwoman who met them the day that they went out together to
Harthover. "I gave you your warning then, but you gave it yourself a
thousand times before and since. Every bad word that you said--every
cruel and mean thing that you did--every time that you got tipsy--every
day that you went dirty--you were disobeying me, whether you knew it or
"If I'd only known, ma'am---"
"You knew well enough that you were disobeying something, though you did
not know it was me. But come out and take your chance. Perhaps it may be
So Grimes stepped out of the chimney, and really, if it had not been for
the scars on his face, he looked as clean and respectable as a master
sweep need look.
"Take him away," she said to the truncheon, "and give him his ticket of
"And what is he to do, ma'am?"
"Get him to sweep out the crater of Etna; he will find some very steady
men working out their time there, who will teach him his business: but
mind, if that crater gets choked again, and there is an earthquake in
consequence, bring them all to me, and I shall investigate the case very
So the truncheon marched off Mr. Grimes, looking as meek as a drowned
And for aught I know, or do not know, he is sweeping the crater of Etna
to this very day.
"And now," said the fairy to Tom, "your work here is done. You may as
well go back again."
"I should he glad enough to go," said Tom, "but how am I to get up that
great hole again, now the steam has stopped blowing?"
"I will take you up the back stairs, but I must bandage your eyes first;
for I never allow anybody to see those back stairs of mine."
"I am sure I shall not tell anybody about them, ma'am, if you bid me
"Aha! So you think, my little man. But you would soon forget your
promise if you got back into the land world. I never put things into
little folks' heads which are but too likely to come there of
themselves. So come--now I must bandage your eyes."
So she tied the bandage on his eyes with one hand, and with the other
she took it off.
"Now," she said, "you are safe up the stairs." Tom opened his eyes very
wide, and his mouth, too; for he had not, as he thought, moved a single
step. But, when he looked round him, there could be no doubt that he was
safe up the back stairs, whatsoever they may be, which no man is going
to tell you, for the plain reason that no man knows.
The first thing which Tom saw was the black cedars, high and sharp
against the rosy dawn; and Saint Brandan's Isle reflected double in the
still, broad, silver sea. The wind sang softly in the cedars, and the
water sang among the caves: the sea birds sang as they streamed out into
the ocean, and the land birds as they built among the boughs; and the
air was so full of song that it stirred Saint Brandan and her hermits,
as they slumbered in the shade; and they moved their good old lips, and
sang their morning hymn amid their dreams. But among all the songs one
came across the water more sweet and clear than all; for it was the song
of a young girl's voice.
And what was the song which she sang? Ah, my little man, I am too old to
sing that song, and you too young to understand it. But have patience,
and keep your eye single, and your hands clean, and you will learn some
day to sing it yourself, without needing any man to teach you.
And as Tom neared the island, there sat upon a rock the most graceful
creature that ever was seen, looking down, with her chin upon her hand,
and paddling with her feet in the water. And when they came to her she
looked up, and behold, it was Ellie.
"Oh, Miss Ellie," said he, "how you are grown!"
"Oh, Tom," said she, "how you are grown, too!"
And no wonder; they were both quite grown up--he into a tall man, and
she into a beautiful woman.
"Perhaps I may be grown," she said. "I have had time enough; for I have
been sitting here waiting for you many a hundred years, till I thought
you were never coming."
"Many a hundred years?" thought Tom; but he had seen so much in his
travels that he had quite given up being astonished; and, indeed, he
could think of nothing but Ellie. So he stood and looked at Ellie, and
Ellie looked at him; and they liked the employment so much that they
stood and looked for seven years more, and neither spoke nor stirred.
At last they heard the fairy say, "Attention, children. Are you never
going to look at me again?"
"We have been looking at you all this while," they said. And so they
thought they had been.
"Then look at me once more," she said.
They looked--and both of them cried out at once, "Oh, who are you, after
"You are our dear Mrs. Doasyouwouldbedoneby."
"No, you are good Mrs. Bedonebyasyoudid; but you are grown quite
"To you," said the fairy. "But look again."
"You are Mother Carey," said Tom, in a very low, solemn voice; for he
had found out something which made him very happy, and yet frightened
him more than all that he had ever seen.
"But you are grown quite young again."
"To you," said the fairy. "Look again."
"You are the Irishwoman who met me the day I went to Harthover!"
And when they looked she was neither of them, and yet all of them at
"My name is written in my eyes, if you have eyes to see it there."
And they looked into her great, deep, soft eyes, and they changed again
and again into every hue, as the light changes in a diamond.
"Now read my name," said she, at last.
And her eyes flashed, for one moment, clear, white, blazing light; but
the children could not read her name; for they were dazzled, and hid
their faces in their hands.
"Not yet, young things, not yet," said she, smiling; and then she turned
"You may take him home with you now on Sundays, Ellie. He has won his
spurs in the great battle, and become fit to go with you and be a man,
because he has done the thing he did not like."
So Tom went home with Ellie on Sundays, and sometimes on week-days, too;
and he is now a great man of science, and can plan railroads, and steam
engines, and electric telegraphs, and rifled guns, and so forth; and
knows everything about everything, except why a hen's egg doesn't turn
into a crocodile, and two or three other little things. And all this
from what he learnt when he was a water baby, underneath the sea.
"And of course Tom married Ellie?"
My dear child, what a silly notion! Don't you know that no one ever
marries in a fairy tale, under the rank of a prince or a princess?
"And Tom's dog?"
Oh, you may see him any clear night in July; for the old dog star was so
worn out by the last three hot summers that there have been no dog days
since; so that they had to take him down and put Tom's dog up in his
place. Therefore, as new brooms sweep clean, we may hope for some warm
weather this year. And that is the end of my story.
And now, my dear little man, what should we learn from this parable?
We should learn thirty-seven or thirty-nine things, I am not exactly
sure which; but one thing, at least, we may learn, and that is this--
when we see efts in the pond, never to throw stones at them, or catch
them with crooked pins. For these efts are nothing else but the water
babies who are stupid and dirty, and will not learn their lessons and
keep themselves clean; and therefore, their skulls grow flat, their jaws
grow out, and their brains grow small, and their tails grow long, and
their skins grow dirty and spotted, and they never get into the clear
rivers, much less into the great wide sea, but hang about in dirty
ponds, and live in the mud, and eat worms, as they deserve to do.
But that is no reason why you should ill-use them; but only why you
should pity them, and be kind to them, and hope that some day they will
wake up, and be ashamed of their nasty, dirty, lazy, stupid life, and
try to amend, and become something better once more. For, perhaps, if
they do so, then after 379,423 years, nine months, thirteen days, two
hours, and twenty-one minutes, if they work very hard and wash very hard
all that time, their brains may grow bigger, and their jaws grow
smaller, and their tails wither off, and they will turn into water
babies again, and perhaps after that into land babies; and after that
perhaps into grown men.
Meanwhile, do you learn your lessons, and thank God that you have plenty
of cold water to wash in; and wash in it too, like a true Englishman.
And then, if my story is not true, something better is; and if I am not
quite right, still you will be, as long as you stick to hard work and
But remember always, as I told you at first, that this is all a fairy
tale, and only fun and pretence; and, therefore, you are not to believe
a word of it, even if it is true.
By Jeffreys Taylor
A milkmaid, who poised a full pail on her head,
Thus mused on her prospects in life, it is said:
"Let me see,--I should think that this milk will procure
One hundred good eggs, or fourscore, to be sure.
"Well then,--stop a bit,--it must not be forgotten,
Some of these may be broken, and some may be rotten;
But if twenty for accident should be detached,
It will leave me just sixty sound eggs to be hatched.
"Well, sixty sound eggs,--no, sound chickens, I mean:
Of these some may die,--we'll suppose seventeen;
Seventeen! not so many,--say ten at the most,
Which will leave fifty chickens to boil or to roast.
"But then there's their barley; how much will they need?
Why, they take but one grain at a time when they feed,--
So that's a mere trifle; now then, let us see,
At a fair market price how much money there'll be.
"Six shillings a pair--five--four--three-and-six--
To prevent all mistakes, that low price I will fix;
Now what will that make? fifty chickens, I said,--
Fifty times three-and-sixpence--I'LL ASK BROTHER NED.
"Oh, but stop,--three-and-sixpence a PAIR I must sell 'em;
Well, a pair is a couple,--now then let us tell 'em;
A couple in fifty will go (my poor brain!)
Why, just a score times, and five pair will remain.
"Twenty-five pair of fowls--now how tiresome it is
That I can't reckon up so much money as this!
Well, there's no use in trying, so let's give a guess,--
I'll say twenty pounds, AND IT CAN'T BE NO LESS.
"Twenty pounds, I am certain, will buy me a cow,
Thirty geese, and two turkeys,--eight pigs and a sow;
Now if these turn out well, at the end of the year,
I shall fill both my pockets with guineas, 'tis clear."
Forgetting her burden, when this she had said,
The maid superciliously tossed up her head:
When, alas for her prospects! her milk-pail descended,
And so all her schemes for the future were ended.
This moral, I think, may be safely attached,--
"Reckon not on your chickens before they are hatched."
This amusing little poem may be made to seem even funnier if we stop to
think what an absurd little milkmaid she really was! Let us ask
ourselves a few questions:
How many quarts of milk were probably in the pail? How many dozen eggs
in a hundred? What is milk worth a quart? What are eggs worth a dozen?
Was she carrying enough milk to buy a hundred, or even fourscore, good
Does a farmer count on having sixty out of eighty eggs hatch
successfully? If he has sixty chickens hatched, can he count with
certainty on fifty growing big enough to boil or roast?
Is it true that the cost of the grain to feed them is a mere trifle?
How much is an English shilling in our money? Is a dollar and a half a
pair too much to expect for good chickens? Is eighty-seven and a half
cents too small a price for a pair? Is twenty pounds too much or too
little for twenty-five pairs of chickens at three shillings and sixpence
If she could get twenty pounds for her chickens, could she buy a cow,
thirty geese, two turkeys and a sow with a litter of eight pigs for the
By Hans Christian Andersen
NOTE.--The first paragraphs of this story contain an old Danish legend
which Hans Christian Andersen uses very skilfully. We can imagine that
the story would mean a great deal more to boys of Denmark than it does
to us, for they would be a great deal more familiar with the people
referred to than we are; but there is so much in the story that is not
confined to Denmark, and it is told in such a fascinating way, that even
the boys of the United States will find it interesting.
In Denmark there lies a castle named Kronenburgh. It lies close by the
Oer Sound, where the ships pass through by hundreds every day--English,
Russian, and likewise Prussian ships. And they salute the old castle
with cannons--'Boom!' And the castle answers with a 'Boom!' for that's
what the cannons say instead of 'Good day' and 'Thank you!' In winter no
ships sail there, for the whole sea is covered with ice quite across to
the Swedish coast; but it has quite the look of a highroad. There wave
the Danish flag and the Swedish flag, and Danes and Swedes say 'Good
day' and 'Thank you!' to each other, not with cannons, but with a
friendly grasp of the hand; and one gets white bread and biscuits from
the other--for strange fare tastes best.
"But the most beautiful of all is the old Kronenburgh; and here it is
that Holger Danske sits in the deep, dark cellar, where nobody goes. He
is clad in iron and steel, and leans his head on his strong arm; his
long beard hangs down over the marble table, and has grown into it. He
sleeps and dreams, but in his dreams he sees everything that happens up
there in Denmark. Every Christmas Eve comes an angel, and tells him that
what he has dreamed is right, and that he may go to sleep in quiet, for
that Denmark is not yet in any real danger; but when once such a danger
comes, then old Holger Danske will rouse himself, so that the table
shall burst when he draws out his beard! Then he will come forth and
strike, so that it shall be heard in all the countries in the world."
An old grandfather sat and told his little grandson all this about
Holger Danske; and the little boy knew that what his grandfather told
him was true. And while the old man sat and told his story, he carved an
image which was to represent Holger Danske, and to be fastened to the
prow of a ship; for the old grandfather was a carver of figureheads,
that is, one who cuts out the figures fastened to the front of ships,
from which every ship is named. And here he had cut out Holger Danske,
who stood there proudly with his long beard, and held the broad battle-
sword in one hand, while with the other he leaned upon the Danish arms.
And the old grandfather told him so much about distinguished men and
women, that it appeared at last to the little grandson as if he knew as
much as Holger Danske himself, who, after all, could only dream; and
when the little fellow was in his bed, he thought so much of it, that he
actually pressed his chin against the coverlet, and fancied he had a
long beard that had grown fast to it.
But the old grandfather remained sitting at his work, and carved away at
the last part of it; and this was the Danish coat of arms. When he had
finished, he looked at the whole, and thought of all he had read and
heard, and that he had told this evening to the little boy; and he
nodded, and wiped his spectacles, and put them on again, and said:
"Yes, in my time Holger Danske will probably not come; but the boy in
the bed yonder may get to see him, and be there when the struggle really
And the good old grandfather nodded again; and the more he looked at
Holger Danske, the more plain did it become to him that it was a good
image he had carved. It seemed really to gain color, and the armor
appeared to gleam like iron and steel; the hearts in the Danish arms
became redder and redder, and the lions with the golden crowns on their
heads leaped up. [Footnote: The Danish arms consist of three lions and
"That's the most beautiful coat of arms there is in the world!" said the
old man. "The lions are strength, and the heart is gentleness and love!"
And he looked at the uppermost lion, and thought of King Canute, who
bound great England to the throne of Denmark; and he looked at the
second lion, and thought of Waldemar, who united Denmark and conquered
the Wendish lands; and he glanced at the third lion, and remembered
Margaret, who united Denmark, Sweden and Norway. But while he looked at
the red hearts, they gleamed more brightly than before; they became
flames, and his heart followed each of them.
[Illustration: HOLGER DANSKE]
The first heart led him into a dark, narrow prison; there sat a
prisoner, a beautiful woman, the daughter of King Christian IV, Eleanor
Ulfeld; [Footnote: This princess was the wife of Corfitz Ulfeld, who was
accused of high treason. Her only crime was the most faithful love to
her unhappy consort; but she was compelled to pass twenty-two years in a
horrible dungeon, until her persecutor, Queen Sophia Amelia, was dead.]
and the flame, which was shaped like a rose, attached itself to her
bosom and blossomed, so that it became one with the heart of her, the
noblest and best of all Danish women.
And his spirit followed the second flame, which led him out upon the
sea, where the cannons thundered and the ships lay shrouded in smoke;
and the flame fastened itself in the shape of a ribbon of honor on the
breast of Hvitfeld, as he blew himself and his ship into the air, that
he might save the fleet.[Footnote: In the naval battle in Kjoge Bay
between the Danes and the Swedes, in 1710, Hvitfeld's ship, the
Danebrog, took fire. To save the town of Kjoge, and the Danish fleet,
which was being driven by the wind toward his vessel, he blew himself
and his whole crew into the air.]
And the third flame led him to the wretched huts of Greenland, where the
preacher Hans Egede [Footnote: Hans Egede went to Greenland in 1721, and
toiled there during fifteen years among incredible hardships and
privations. Not only did he spread Christianity, but exhibited in
himself a remarkable example of a Christian man.] wrought, with love in
every word and deed; the flame was a star on his breast, another heart
in the Danish arms.
And the spirit of the old grandfather flew on before the waving flames,
for his spirit knew whither the flames desired to go. In the humble room
of the peasant woman stood Frederick VI., writing his name with chalk on
the beam.[Footnote: On a journey on the west coast of Jutland, the King
visited an old woman. When he had already quitted her house, the woman
ran after him, and begged him, as a remembrance, to write his name upon
a beam; the King turned back, and complied. During his whole lifetime he
felt and worked for the peasant class; therefore the Danish peasants
begged to be allowed to carry his coffin to the royal vault at
Roeskilde, four Danish miles from Copenhagen.] The flame trembled on his
breast, and trembled in his heart; in the peasant's lowly room his
heart, too, became a heart in the Danish arms. And the old grandfather
dried his eyes, for he had known King Frederick with the silvery locks
and honest blue eyes, and had lived for him; he folded his hands, and
looked in silence straight before him.
Then came the daughter-in-law of the old grandfather, and said it was
late, and he ought now to rest; for the supper table was spread.
"But it is beautiful, what you have done, grandfather!" said she.
"Holger Danske, and all our old coat of arms! It seems to me just as if
I had seen that face before!"
"No, that can scarcely be," replied the old grandfather; "but I have
seen it, and I have tried to carve it in wood as I have kept it in my
memory. It was when the English lay in front of the wharf, on the Danish
2d of April [Footnote: On the 2d of April, 1801, occurred the naval
battle between the Danes and the English, under Sir Hyde Parker and
Nelson.] when we showed that we were old Danes. In the Denmark, on board
which I was, in Steen Bille's squadron, I had a man at my side--it
seemed as if the bullets were afraid of him! Merrily he sang old songs,
and shot and fought as if he were something more than a man. I remember
his face yet; but whence he came, and whither he went, I know not--
nobody knows. I have often thought he might have been old Holger Danske
himself, who had swum down from the Kronenburgh, and aided us in the
hour of danger; that was my idea, and there stands his picture."
And the statue threw its great shadow up against the wall, and even over
part of the ceiling; it looked as though the real Holger Danske were
standing behind it, for the shadow moved, but this might have been
because the flame of the candle did not burn steadily.
And the daughter-in-law kissed the old grandfather, and led him to the
great armchair by the table; and she and her husband, who was the son of
the old man, and father of the little boy in bed, sat and ate their
supper; and the grandfather spoke of the Danish lions and of the Danish
hearts, of strength and of gentleness; and quite clearly did he explain
that there was another strength besides the power that lies in the
sword; and he pointed to the shelf on which were the old books, where
stood the plays of Kolberg, which had been read so often, for they were
very amusing; one could almost fancy one recognized the people of bygone
days in them.
"See, he knew how to strike, too," said the grandfather; "he scourged
the foolishness and prejudice of the people so long as he could." And
the grandfather nodded at the mirror, above which stood the calendar,
with the "Round Tower" [Footnote: The astronomical observatory at
Copenhagen.] on it, and said, "Tycho Brahe was also one who used the
sword, not to cut into flesh and bone, but to build up a plainer way
among all the stars of heaven. And then HE, whose father belonged to my
calling, the son of the figurehead carver, he whom we have ourselves
seen, with his silver hairs and his broad shoulders, he whose name is
spoken of in all lands! Yes, HE was a sculptor; _I_ am only a carver.
Yes, Holger Danske may come in many forms, so that one hears in every
country of Denmark's strength. Shall we now drink the health of Bertel?"
[Footnote: Bertel Thorwaldsen, the great Danish sculptor.]
[Illustration: THE FIGUREHEAD]
But the little lad in the bed saw plainly the old Kronenburgh, with the
Oer Sound, and the real Holger Danske, who sat deep below, with his
beard grown through the marble table, dreaming of all that happens up
here. Holger Danske also dreamed of the little, humble room where the
carver sat; he heard all that passed, and nodded in his sleep, and said:
"Yes, remember me, ye Danish folk; remember me. I shall come in the hour
And without, by the Kronenburgh, shone the bright day, and the wind
carried the note of the hunting horn over from the neighboring land; the
ship sailed past, and saluted, "Boom! boom!" and from the Kronenburgh
came the reply, "Boom! boom!" But Holger Danske did not awake, however
loudly they shot, for it was only "Good day" and "Thank you!"
There must be another kind of shooting before he awakes; but he will
awake, for there is faith in Holger Danske.
Can you see Holger Danske "clad in iron and steel?" Where have you seen
a picture of such clothing? Is it not curious that his beard is said to
have grown into the marble? He must have been sitting there for many
centuries for such a thing to happen! Do you not understand that the
little boy did not KNOW that Holger Danske was in the deep cellar, but
merely believed it to be true? If so, why does the story say he KNEW it?
When you read that the Danish Arms consist of "three lions and nine
hearts," what do you see? Has the United States any arms? What are they?
Do you know a legend about King Canute and the waves of the sea? Can you
find out anything more about Waldemar and Margaret?
Do you think the man whose face was carved into a figurehead was really
Holger Danske? Do you think it possible that the grandfather could mean
that every brave man who fights for his country is a Holger Danske? Can
you imagine the great figure of Holger Danske throwing its shadow on the
wall and seeming to move about in the candle light? Does the grandfather
believe that such heroes can do other things than fight?
What do you know about Thorwaldsen? Did you ever see a picture of his
beautiful statue of Christ? Did the little boy see any other Holger
Danske than the one whose beard was grown into the marble table?
Has a Holger ever come to save this United States from great danger?
Would you call Washington and Longfellow and Hawthorne, Holgers? Why?
Can you name a few men whom the grandfather, had he been an American,
might have said were Holgers? Do you not believe that if the people of
the United States need a great man he will be forthcoming if we have
faith that he will come?
Do you not think that the little Danish boy, by his dreaming about
Holger Danske, might have come to be the very one to aid his country
most? Is it worth while for each of us to try to be a Holger?
WHAT THE OLD MAN DOES IS ALWAYS RIGHT
By Hans Christian Andersen
I will tell you the story which was told to me when I was a little boy.
Every time I thought of the story it seemed to me to become more and
more charming; for it is with stories as it is with many people--they
become better as they grow older.
I take it for granted that you have been in the country, and have seen a
very old farmhouse with a thatched roof, and mosses and small plants
growing wild upon the thatch. There is a stork's nest on the summit of
the gable; for we can't do without the stork. The walls of the house are
sloping, and the windows are low, and only one of the latter is made so
that it will open. The baking-oven sticks out of the wall like a little
fat body. The elder tree hangs over the paling, and beneath its
branches, at the foot of the paling, is a pool of water in which a few
ducks are disporting themselves. There is a yard dog, too, who barks at
Just such a farmhouse stood out in the country; and in this house dwelt
an old couple--a peasant and his wife. Small as was their property,
there was one article among it that they could do without--a horse, that
lived on the grass it found by the side of the highroad. The old peasant
rode into the town on this horse; and often his neighbors borrowed it of
him, and rendered the old couple some service in return for the loan of
it. But they thought it would be best if they sold the horse, or
exchanged it for something that might be more useful to them. But what
might this SOMETHING be?
"You'll know that best, old man," said the wife. "It is fair day to-day,
so ride into town, and get rid of the horse for money, or make a good
exchange; whichever you do will be right to me. Ride off to the fair."
And she fastened his neckerchief for him, for she could do that better
than he could; and she tied it in a double bow, for she could do that
very prettily. Then she brushed his hat round and round with the palm of
her hand, and gave him a kiss. So he rode away upon the horse that was
to be sold or to be bartered for something else. Yes, the old man knew
what he was about.
The sun shone hotly down, and not a cloud was to be seen in the sky. The
road was very dusty, for many people, who were all bound for the fair,
were driving, or riding, or walking upon it. There was no shelter
anywhere from the sunbeams.
Among the rest, a man was trudging along, driving a cow to the fair. The
cow was as beautiful a creature as any cow can be.
"She gives good milk, I'm sure," said the peasant. "That would be a very
good exchange--the cow for the horse."
"Hallo, you there with the cow!" he said; "I tell you what--I fancy a
horse costs more than a cow, but I don't care for that; a cow would be
more useful to me. If you like, we'll exchange."
"To be sure I will," returned the man; and they exchanged accordingly.
So that was settled, and the peasant might have turned back, for he had
done the business he came to do; but as he had once made up his mind to
go to the fair, he determined to proceed, merely to have a look at it;
and so he went on to the town with his cow.
Leading the animal, he strode sturdily on; and after a short time he
overtook a man who was driving a sheep. It was a good fat sheep, with a
fine fleece on its back.
"I should like to have that fellow," said our peasant to himself. "He
would find plenty of grass by our palings, and in the winter we could
keep him in the room with us. Perhaps it would be more practical to have
a sheep instead of a cow. Shall we exchange?"
The man with the sheep was quite ready, and the bargain was struck. So
our peasant went on in the highroad with his sheep.
Soon he overtook another man, who came into the road from a field,
carrying a great goose under his arm.
"That's a heavy thing you have there. It has plenty of feathers and
plenty of fat, and would look well tied to a string, and paddling in the
water at our place. That would be something for my old woman; she could
make much profit out of it. How often she has said, 'If we only had a
goose!' Now, perhaps, she can have one. Shall we exchange? I'll give you
my sheep for your goose, and thank you into the bargain."
The other man had not the least objection; and accordingly they
exchanged, and our peasant became the owner of the goose.
By this time he was very near the town. The crowd on the highroad became
greater and greater; there was quite a crush of men and cattle. They
walked in the road, and close by the paling; and at the barrier they
even walked into the tollman's potato field, where his own fowl was
strutting about with a string to its legs, lest it should take fright at
the crowd, and stray away, and so be lost. This fowl had short tail
feathers, and winked with both its eyes, and looked very cunning.
"Cluck! cluck!" said the fowl. What it thought when it said this I
cannot tell you; but as soon as our good man saw it, he thought, "That's
the finest fowl I've ever seen in my life! Why, it's finer than our
parson's brood hen. On my word, I should like to have that fowl. A fowl
can always find a grain or two, and can almost keep itself. I think it
would be a good exchange if I could get that in exchange for my goose.
Shall we exchange?" he asked the toll taker.
"Exchange!" repeated the man; "well, that would not be a bad thing."
And so they exchanged; the toll taker at the barrier kept the goose, and
the peasant carried away the fowl.
Now, he had done a good deal of business on his way to the fair, and he
was hot and tired. He wanted something to eat and to drink; and soon he
was in front of the inn. He was just about to step in, when the hostler
came out; so they met at the door. The hostler was carrying a sack.
"What have you in that sack?" asked the peasant.
"Rotten apples," answered the hostler; "a whole sackful of them--enough
to feed the pigs with."
"Why, that's terrible waste! I should like to take them to my old woman
at home. Last year the old tree by the turf-hole only bore a single
apple, and we kept it in the cupboard till it was quite rotten and
spoiled, 'It was always property,' my old woman said; but here she could
see a quantity of property--a whole sackful. Yes, I shall be glad to
show them to her."
"What will you give me for the sackful?" asked the hostler.
"What will I give? I will give my fowl in exchange."
And he gave the fowl accordingly, and received the apples, which he
carried into the guest room. He leaned the sack carefully by the stove,
and then went to the table. But the stove was hot; he had not thought of
that. Many guests were present--horse dealers, ox-herds, and two
Englishmen--and the two Englishmen were so rich that their pockets
bulged out with gold coins, and almost burst; and they could wager, too,
as you shall hear.
Hiss-s-s! hiss-s-s! What was that by the stove? The apples were
beginning to roast.
"What is that?"
"Why, do you know---" said our peasant.
And he told the whole story of the horse that he had exchanged for a
cow, and all the rest of it down to the apples.
"Well, your old woman will give it you well when you get home," said one
of the Englishmen. "There will be a disturbance."
"What?--give me what?" said the peasant.
"She will kiss me, and say, 'What the old man does is always right.'"
"Shall we wager?" said the Englishman. "We'll wager coined gold by the
ton--a hundred pounds to the hundredweight!"
"A bushel will be enough," replied the peasant. "I can only set the
bushel of apples against it; and I'll throw myself and my old woman into
the bargain--and I fancy that's piling up the measure."
And the bet was made. The host's carriage came up, and the Englishmen
got in, and the peasant got in; away they went, and soon they stopped
before the peasant's hut.
"Good evening, old woman."
"Good evening, old man."
"I've made exchange."
"Yes, you understand what you're about," said the woman.
And she embraced him, and paid no attention to the stranger guests, nor
did she notice the sack.
"I got a cow in exchange for the horse," said he.
"Heaven be thanked!" said she. "What glorious milk we shall now have,
and butter and cheese upon the table! That was a most capital exchange!"
"Yes, but I exchanged the cow for a sheep."
"Ah, that's better still!" cried the wife. "You always think of
everything; we have just pasture enough for a sheep. Ewe's milk and
cheese, and woolen jackets and stockings! The cow cannot give those, and
her hairs will only come off. How you think of everything!"
"But I changed away the sheep for a goose."
"Then this year we shall have really roast goose to eat, my dear old
man. You are always thinking of something to give me pleasure. How
charming that is! We can let the goose walk about with a string to her
leg, and she'll grow fatter still before we roast her."
"But I gave away the goose for a fowl," said the man.
[Illustration: "MY DEAR GOOD HUSBAND!"]
"A fowl? That WAS a good exchange!" replied the woman. "The fowl will
lay eggs and hatch them, and we shall soon have chickens; we shall have
a whole poultry yard! Oh, that's just what I was wishing for."
"Yes, but I exchanged the fowl for a sack of shriveled apples."
"What!--I must positively kiss you for that," exclaimed the wife, "My
dear, good husband! Now I'll tell you something. Do you know, you had
hardly left me this morning, before I began thinking how I could give
you something very nice this evening. I thought it should be pancakes
with savory herbs. I had eggs, and bacon too; but I wanted herbs. So I
went over to the schoolmaster's--they have herbs there, I know--but the
schoolmistress is a mean woman, though she looks so sweet. I begged her
to lend me a handful of herbs, 'Lend!' she answered me; 'nothing at all
grows in our garden, not even a shriveled apple. I could not even lend
you a shriveled apple, my dear woman.' But now _I_ can lend HER twenty,
or a whole sackful. That I'm very glad of; that makes me laugh!" And
with that she gave him a sounding kiss.
"I like that!" exclaimed both the Englishmen together. "Always going
downhill, and always merry; that's worth the money."
So they paid a hundredweight of gold to the peasant, who was not
scolded, but kissed.
Yes, it always pays, when the wife sees and always asserts that her
husband knows best, and that whatever he does is right.
You see, that is my story. I heard it when I was a child; and now you
have heard it too, and know that "What the old man does is always
THE FAIRIES OF THE CALDON-LOW
By Mary Howitt
"And where have you been, my Mary,
And where have you been from me?"
"I've been to the top of the Caldon-Low,
The midsummer night to see!"
"And what did you see, my Mary,
All up on the Caldon-Low?"
"I saw the blithe sunshine come down,
And I saw the merry winds blow."
"And what did you hear, my Mary,
All up on the Caldon-Hill?"
"I heard the drops of water made,
And I heard the corn-ears fill."
"Oh, tell me all, my Mary--
All, all that ever you know;
For you must have seen the fairies
Last night on the Caldon-Low."
"Then take me on your knee, mother,
And listen, mother of mine:
A hundred fairies danced last night,
And the harpers they were nine;
"And merry was the glee of the harp-strings,
And their dancing feet so small;
But, oh! the sound of their talking
Was merrier far than all!"
"And what were the words, my Mary,
That you did hear them say?"
"I'll tell you all, my mother,
But let me have my way.
"And some they played with the water,
And rolled it down the hill;
'And this,' they said, 'shall speedily turn
The poor old miller's mill;
"'For there has been no water
Ever since the first of May;
And a busy man shall the miller be
By the dawning of the day!
"'Oh, the miller, how he will laugh,
When he sees the milldam rise!
The jolly old miller, how he will laugh,
Till the tears fill both his eyes!'
"'And some they seized the little winds,
That sounded over the hill,
And each put a horn into his mouth,
And blew so sharp and shrill!
"'And there,' said they, 'the merry winds go
Away from every horn;
And those shall clear the mildew dank
From the blind old widow's corn:
"'Oh, the poor blind widow--
Though she has been blind so long,
She'll be merry enough when the mildew's gone,
And the corn stands stiff and strong!'
"And some they brought the brown linseed,
And flung it down from the Low;
'And this,' said they, 'by the sunrise,
In the weaver's croft shall grow!
"'Oh, the poor lame weaver!
How will he laugh outright
When he sees his dwindling flax field
All full of flowers by night!'
"And then up spoke a brownie,
With a long beard on his chin;
'I have spun up all the tow,' said he,
'And I want some more to spin.
"'I've spun a piece of hempen cloth,
And I want to spin another--
A little sheet for Mary's bed
And an apron for her mother!'
"And with that I could not help but laugh,
And I laughed out loud and free;
And then on the top of the Caldon-Low
There was no one left but me.
"And all on the top of the Caldon-Low
The mists were cold and gray,
And nothing I saw but the mossy stones
That round about me lay.
"But as I came down from the hilltop,
I heard, afar below,
How busy the jolly miller was,
And how merry the wheel did go.
"And I peeped into the widow's field,
And, sure enough, was seen
The yellow ears of the mildewed corn
All standing stiff and green!
"And down by the weaver's croft I stole,
To see if the flax were high;
But I saw the weaver at his gate
With the good news in his eye!
"Now, this is all that I heard, mother,
And all that I did see;
So, prithee, make my bed, mother,
For I'm tired as I can be!"
WHO STOLE THE BIRD'S NEST?
By L. Maria Child
"To-whit! to-whit! to-whee!
Will you listen to me?
Who stole four eggs I laid,
And the nice nest I made?"
"Not I," said the cow; "Moo-oo!
Such a thing I'd never do.
I gave you a wisp of hay,
But didn't take your nest away.
Not I," said the cow; "Moo-oo!
Such a thing I'd never do."
"To-whit! to-whit! to-whee!
Will you listen to me?
Who stole four eggs I laid,
And the nice nest I made?"
Now, what do you think?
Who stole a nest away
From the plum tree, to-day?"
"Not I," said the dog; "Bow-wow!
I wouldn't be so mean, anyhow!
I gave hairs the nest to make,
But the nest I did not take.
Not I," said the dog; "Bow-wow!
I'm not so mean, anyhow."
"To-whit I to-whit! to-whee!
Will you listen to me?
Who stole four eggs I laid,
And the nice nest I made?"
Now what do you think?
Who stole a nest away
From the plum tree, to-day?"
"Coo-coo! Coo-coo! Coo-coo!
Let me speak a word, too!
Who stole that pretty nest
From little yellow-breast?"
"Not I," said the sheep; "Oh, no!
I wouldn't treat a poor bird so.
I gave wool the nest to line,
But the nest was none of mine.
Baa! Baa!" said the sheep; "Oh, no.
I wouldn't treat a poor bird so."
"To-whit! to-whit! to-whee!
Will you listen to me?
Who stole four eggs I laid,
And the nice nest I made?"
Now, what do you think?
Who stole a nest away
From the plum tree, to-day?"
"Coo-coo! Coo-coo! Coo-coo!
Let me speak a word, too!
Who stole that pretty nest
From little yellow-breast?"
"Caw! Caw!" cried the crow;
"I should like to know
What thief took away
A bird's nest to-day?"
"Cluck! Cluck!" said the hen,
"Don't ask me again.
Why, I haven't a chick
Would do such a trick.
We all gave her a feather,
And she wove them together.
I'd scorn to intrude
On her and her brood.
Cluck! Cluck!" said the hen,
"Don't ask me again."
All the birds make a stir!
Let us find out his name,
And all cry, 'For shame!'"
"I would not rob a bird,"
Said little Mary Green;
"I think I never heard
Of anything so mean."
"It is very cruel, too,"
Said little Alice Neal;
"I wonder if he knew
How sad the bird would feel?"
A little boy hung down his head,
And went and hid behind the bed;
For HE stole that pretty nest
From poor little yellow-breast;
And he felt so full of shame,
He didn't like to tell his name.
In this little dialogue, what part do the birds take? What part do the
THE FIRST SNOWFALL
By James Russell Lovell
The snow had begun in the gloaming,
And busily all the night
Had been heaping field and highway
With a silence deep and white.
Every pine and fir and hemlock
Wore ermine too dear for an earl,
And the poorest twig on the elm tree
Was ridged inch deep with pearl.
From sheds new-roofed with Carrara
Came Chanticleer's muffled crow,
The stiff rails were softened to swan's-down,
And still fluttered down the snow.
I stood and watched by the window
The noiseless work of the sky,
And the sudden flurries of snowbirds,
Like brown leaves whirling by.
I thought of a mound in sweet Auburn
Where a little headstone stood;
How the flakes were folding it gently,
As did robins the babes in the wood.
Up spoke our own little Mabel,
Saying, "Father, who makes it snow?"
And I told of the good All-father
Who cares for us here below.
Again I looked at the snowfall,
And thought of the leaden sky
That arched o'er our first great sorrow,
When that mound was heaped so high.
I remembered the gradual patience
That fell from that cloud like snow,
Flake by flake, healing and hiding
The scar of our deep-plunged woe.
And again to the child I whispered,
"The snow that husheth all,
Darling, the merciful Father
Alone can make it fall!"
Then, with eyes that saw not, I kissed her;
And she, kissing back, could not know
That MY kiss was given to her sister,
Folded close under deepening snow.
[Footnote: Lowell refers here to a daughter, Blanche, who died shortly
before the birth of his daughter Rosa.]
THE KING OF THE GOLDEN RIVER
By John Ruskin
In a secluded and mountainous part of Styria there was, in old time, a
valley of the most surprising and luxuriant fertility. It was surrounded
on all sides by steep and rocky mountains, rising into peaks, which were
always covered with snow, and from which a number of torrents descended
in constant cataracts. One of these fell westward, over the face of a
crag so high that, when the sun had set to everything else, and all
below was darkness, his beams still shone full upon this waterfall, so
that it looked like a shower of gold. It was therefore called by the
people of the neighborhood the Golden River. It was strange that none of
these streams fell into the valley itself. They all descended on the
other side of the mountains, and wound away through broad plains and by
populous cities. But the clouds were drawn so constantly to the snowy
hills, and rested so softly in the circular hollow, that, in time of
drought and heat, when all the country round was burned up, there was
still rain in the little valley; and its crops were so heavy, and its
hay so high, and its apples so red, and its grapes so blue, and its wine
so rich, and its honey so sweet, that it was a marvel to every one who
beheld it, and was commonly called the Treasure Valley.
The whole of this little valley belonged to three brothers, called
Schwartz, Hans, and Gluck. Schwartz and Hans, the two elder brothers,
were very ugly men, with overhanging eyebrows and small, dull eyes,
which were always half shut, so that you couldn't see into them, and
always fancied they saw very far into you. They lived by farming the
Treasure Valley, and very good farmers they were. They killed everything
that did not pay for its eating. They shot the blackbirds, because they
pecked the fruit; and killed the hedgehogs, lest they should suck the
cows; they poisoned the crickets for eating the crumbs in the kitchen;
and smothered the cicadas, which used to sing all summer in the lime
trees. They worked their servants without any wages, till they would not
work any more, and then quarrelled with them, and turned them out of
doors without paying them. It would have been very odd if, with such a
farm, and such a system of farming, they hadn't got very rich; and very
rich they did get. They generally contrived to keep their corn by them
till it was very dear, and then sell it for twice its value; they had
heaps of gold lying about on their floors, yet it was never known that
they had given so much as a penny or a crust in charity; they never went
to mass; grumbled perpetually at paying tithes; and were, in a word, of
so cruel and grinding a temper, as to receive from all those with whom
they had any dealings, the nickname of the "Black Brothers."
The youngest brother, Gluck, was as completely opposed, in both
appearance and character, to his seniors as could possibly be imagined
or desired. He was not above twelve years old, fair, blue-eyed. and kind
in temper to every living thing. He did not, of course, agree
particularly well with his brothers, or, rather, they did not agree with
him. He was usually appointed to the honorable office of turnspit, when
there was anything to roast, which was not often; for, to do the
brothers justice, they were hardly less sparing upon themselves than
upon other people. At other times he used to clean the shoes, the
floors, and sometimes the plates, occasionally getting what was left on
them, by way of encouragement, and a wholesome quantity of dry blows, by
way of education.
Things went on in this manner for a long time. At last came a very wet
summer, and everything went wrong in the country round. The hay had
hardly been got in, when the haystacks were floated bodily down to the
sea by an inundation; the vines were cut to pieces with the hail; the
corn was all killed by a black blight; only in the Treasure Valley, as
usual, all was safe. As it had rain when there was rain nowhere else, so
it had sun when there was sun nowhere else. Everybody came to buy corn
at the farm, and went away pouring maledictions on the Black Brothers.
They asked what they liked, and got it, except from the poor people, who
could only beg, and several of whom were starved at their very door,
without the slightest regard or notice.
It was drawing toward winter, and very cold weather, when one day the
two elder brothers had gone out, with their usual warning to little
Gluck, who was left to mind the roast, that he was to let nobody in, and
give nothing out. Gluck sat down quite close to the fire, for it was
raining very hard, and the kitchen walls were by no means dry or
comfortable looking. He turned and turned, and the roast got nice and
brown. "What a pity," thought Gluck, "my brothers never ask anybody to
dinner. I'm sure, when they've got such a nice piece of mutton as this,
and nobody else has got so much as a piece of dry bread, it would do
their hearts good to have somebody to eat it with them."
Just as he spoke, there came a double knock at the house door, yet heavy
and dull, as though the knocker had been tied up--more like a puff than
"It must be the wind," said Gluck; "nobody else would venture to knock
double knocks at our door."
No; it wasn't the wind; there it came again very hard, and, what was
particularly astounding, the knocker seemed to be in a hurry, and not to
be in the least afraid of the consequences. Gluck went to the window,
opened it, and put his head out to see who it was.
It was the most extraordinary-looking little gentleman he had ever seen
in his life. He had a very large nose, slightly brass-colored; his
cheeks were very round and very red, and might have warranted a
supposition that he had been blowing a refractory fire for the last
eight-and-forty hours; his eyes twinkled merrily through long silky
eyelashes, his mustaches curled twice round like a corkscrew on each
side of his mouth, and his hair, of a curious mixed pepper-and-salt
color, descended far over his shoulders. He was about four feet six in
height, and wore a conical-pointed cap of nearly the same altitude,
decorated with a black feather some three feet long. His doublet was
prolonged behind into something resembling a violent exaggeration of
what is now termed a "swallow-tail," but was much obscured by the
swelling folds of an enormous black, glossy-looking cloak, which must
have been very much too long in calm weather, as the wind, whistling
round the old house, carried it clear out from the wearer's shoulders to
about four times his own length.
[Illustration: "HELLO, I'M WET, LET ME IN"]
Gluck was so perfectly paralyzed by the singular appearance of his
visitor that he remained fixed without uttering a word, until the old
gentleman, having performed another and a more energetic concerto on the
knocker, turned round to look after his fly-away cloak. In so doing he
caught sight of Gluck's little yellow head jammed in the window, with
his mouth and eyes very wide open indeed.
"Hello!" said the little gentleman, "that's not the way to answer the
door; I'm wet, let me in."
To do the little gentleman justice, he was wet. His feather hung down
between his legs like a beaten puppy's tail, dripping like an umbrella;
and from the ends of his mustaches the water was running into his waist
coat pockets, and out again like a mill-stream.
"I beg pardon, sir," said Gluck; "I'm very sorry, but I really can't."
"Can't what?" said the old gentleman,
"I can't let you in, sir--I can't indeed; my brothers would beat me to
death, sir, if I thought of such a thing. What do you want, sir?"
"Want?" said the old gentleman petulantly; "I want fire and shelter; and
there's your great fire there blazing, crackling, and dancing on the
walls, with nobody to feel it. Let me in, I say; I only want to warm
Gluck had had his head, by this time, so long out of the window that he
began to feel it was really unpleasantly cold, and when he turned, and
saw the beautiful fire rustling and roaring, and throwing long bright
tongues up the chimney, as if it were licking its chops at the savory
smell of the leg of mutton, his heart melted within him that it should
be burning away for nothing. "He does look very wet," said little Gluck;
"I'll just let him in for a quarter of an hour." Round he went to the
door, and opened it; and as the little gentleman walked in, through the
house came a gust of wind that made the old chimneys totter.
"That's a good boy," said the little gentleman. "Never mind your
brothers. I'll talk to them."
"Pray, sir, don't do any such thing," said Gluck. "I can't let you stay
till they come; they'd be the death of me!"
"Dear me," said the old gentleman, "I'm very sorry to hear that. How
long may I stay?"
"Only till the mutton's done, sir," replied Gluck, "and it's very
Then the old gentleman walked into the kitchen, and sat himself down on
the hob, with the top of his cap accommodated up the chimney, for it was
a great deal too high for the roof.
"You'll soon dry there, sir," said Gluck, and sat down again to turn the
mutton. But the old gentleman did NOT dry there, but went on drip, drip,
dripping among the cinders, and the fire fizzed and sputtered, and began
to look very black and uncomfortable; never was such a cloak; every fold
in it ran like a gutter.
"I beg pardon, sir," said Gluck at length, after watching the water