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Hans Christian Andersen
Translator: Mary Howitt
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Wonderful Stories for Children
OLÉ LUCKOIÈ, (SHUT-EYE.)
THE NAUGHTY BOY.
THE GARDEN OF PARADISE.
A NIGHT IN THE KITCHEN.
LITTLE IDA'S FLOWERS.
THE CONSTANT TIN SOLDIER.
WONDERFUL STORIESFOR CHILDREN.
HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN,
AUTHOR OF "THE IMPROVISATORE," ETC.
TRANSLATED FROM THE DANISH BY MARY HOWITT.
W I L E Y & P U T N A M,
There is nobody in all this world who knows so many tales as Olé Luckoiè! He can tell tales! In an evening, when a child sits so nicely at the table, or on its little stool, Olé Luckoiè comes. He comes so quietly into the house, for he walks without shoes; he opens the door without making any noise, and then he flirts sweet milk into the children's eyes; but so gently, so very gently, that they cannot keep their eyes open, and, therefore, they never see him; he steals softly behind them and blows gently on their necks, and thus their heads become heavy. Oh yes! But then it does them no harm; for Olé Luckoiè means nothing but kindness to the children, he only wants to amuse them; and the best thing that can be done is for somebody to carry them to bed, where they may lie still and listen to the tales that he will tell them.
Now when the children are asleep, Olé Luckoiè sits down on the bed; he is very well dressed; his coat is of silk, but it is not possible to tell what color it is, because it shines green, and red, and blue, just as if one color ran into another. He holds an umbrella under each arm; one of them is covered all over the inside with pictures, and this he sets over the good child, and it dreams all night long the most beautiful histories. The other umbrella has nothing at all within it; this he sets over the heads of naughty children, and they sleep so heavily, that next morning when they wake they have not dreamed the least in the world.
Now we will hear how Olé Luckoiè came every evening for a whole week to a little boy, whose name was Yalmar, and what he told him. There are seven stories, because there are seven days in a week.
"Just listen!" said Olé Luckoiè, in the evening, when they had put Yalmar in bed; "now I shall make things fine!"—and with that all the plants in the flower-pots grew up into great trees which stretched out their long branches along the ceiling and the walls, till the whole room looked like the most beautiful summer-house; and all the branches were full of flowers, and every flower was more beautiful than a rose, and was so sweet, that if anybody smelt at it, it was sweeter than raspberry jam! The fruit on the trees shone like gold, and great big bunches of raisins hung down—never had any thing been seen like it!—but all at once there began such a dismal lamentation in the table-drawer where Yalmar kept his school-books.
"What is that?" said Olé Luckoiè, and went to the table and opened the drawer. It was the slate that was in great trouble; for there was an addition sum on it that was added up wrong, and the slate-pencil was hopping and jumping about in its string, like a little dog that wanted to help the sum, but it could not! And besides this, Yalmar's copy-book was crying out sadly! All the way down each page stood a row of great letters, each with a little one by its side; these were the copy; and then there stood other letters, which fancied that they looked like the copy; and these Yalmar had written; but they were some one way and some another, just as if they were tumbling over the pencil-lines on which they ought to have stood.
"Look, you should hold yourselves up—thus!" said the copy; "thus, all in a line, with a brisk air!"
"Oh! we would so gladly, if we could," said Yalmar's writing; "but we cannot, we are so miserable!"
"Then we will make you!" said Olé Luckoiè gruffly.
"Oh, no!" cried the poor little crooked letters; but for all that they straightened themselves, till it was quite a pleasure to see them.
"Now, then, cannot we tell a story?" said Olé Luckoiè; "now I can exercise them! One, two! One, two!" And so, like a drill-sergeant, he put them all through their exercise, and they stood as straight and as well-shaped as any copy. After that Olé Luckoiè went his way; and Yalmar, when he looked at the letters next morning, found them tumbling about just as miserably as at first.
No sooner was Yalmar in bed than Olé Luckoiè came with his little wand, and touched all the furniture in the room; and, in a minute, every thing began to chatter; and they chattered all together, and about nothing but themselves. Every thing talked except the old door-mat, which lay silent, and was vexed that they should be all so full of vanity as to talk of nothing but themselves, and think only about themselves, and never have one thought for it which lay so modestly in a corner and let itself be trodden upon.
There hung over the chest of drawers a great picture in a gilt frame; it was a landscape; one could see tall, old trees, flowers in the grass, and a great river, which ran through great woods, past many castles out into the wild sea.
Olé Luckoiè touched the picture with his wand; and with that the birds in the picture began to sing, the tree-branches began to wave, and the clouds regularly to move,—one could see them moving along over the landscape!
Olé Luckoiè now lifted little Yalmar up into the picture; he put his little legs right into it, just as if into tall grass, and there he stood. The sun shone down through the tree-branches upon him. He ran down to the river, and got into a little boat which lay there. It was painted red and white, the sails shone like silk, and six swans, each with a circlet of gold round its neck and a beaming blue star upon its head, drew the little boat past the green-wood,—where he heard the trees talking about robbers, and witches, and flowers, and the pretty little fairies, and all that the summer birds had told them of.
The loveliest fishes, with scales like silver and gold, swam after the boat, and leaped up in the water; and birds, some red and some blue, small and great, flew, in two long rows, behind; gnats danced about, and cockchafers said hum, hum! They all came following Yalmar, and you may think what a deal they had to tell him.
It was a regular voyage! Now the woods were so thick and so dark—now they were like the most beautiful garden, with sunshine and flowers; and in the midst of them there stood great castles of glass and of marble. Upon the balconies of these castles stood princesses, and every one of them were the little girls whom Yalmar knew very well, and with whom he had played. They all reached out their hands to him, and held out the most delicious sticks of barley-sugar which any confectioner could make; and Yalmar bit off a piece from every stick of barley-sugar as he sailed past, and Yalmar's piece was always a very large piece! Before every castle stood little princes as sentinels; they stood with their golden swords drawn, and showered down almonds and raisins. They were perfect princes!
Yalmar soon sailed through the wood, then through a great hall, or into the midst of a city; and at last he came to that in which his nurse lived, she who had nursed him when he was a very little child, and had been so very fond of him. And there he saw her, and she nodded and waved her hand to him, and sang the pretty little verse which she herself had made about Yalmar—
Full many a time I thee have missed,My Yalmar, my delight!I, who thy cherry-mouth have kissed,Thy rosy cheeks, thy forehead white!I saw thy earliest infant mirth—I now must say farewell!May our dear Lord bless thee on earth,Then take thee to his heaven to dwell!
And all the birds sang, too, the flowers danced upon their stems, and the old trees nodded like as Olé Luckoiè did while he told his tales.
How the rain did pour down! Yalmar could hear it in his sleep! and when Olé Luckoiè opened the casement, the water stood up to the very window-sill. There was a regular sea outside; but the most splendid ship lay close up to the house.
"If thou wilt sail with me, little Yalmar," said Olé Luckoiè, "thou canst reach foreign countries in the night, and be here again by to-morrow morning!"
And with this Yalmar stood in his Sunday clothes in the ship, and immediately the weather became fine, and they sailed through the streets, tacked about round the church, and then came out into a great, desolate lake. They sailed so far, that at last they could see no more land, and then they saw a flock of storks, which were coming from home, on their way to the warm countries; one stork after another flew on, and they had already flown such a long, long way. One of the storks was so very much tired that it seemed as if his wings could not support him any longer; he was the very last of all the flock, and got farther and farther behind them; and, at last, he sank lower and lower, with his outspread wings: he still flapped his wings, now and then, but that did not help him; now his feet touched the cordage of the ship; now he glided down the sail, and, bounce! down he came on the deck.
A sailor-boy then took him up, and set him in the hencoop among hens, and ducks, and turkeys. The poor stork stood quite confounded among them all.
"Here's a thing!" said all the hens.
And the turkey-cock blew himself up as much as ever he could, and asked the stork who he was; and the ducks they went on jostling one against the other, saying, "Do thou ask! do thou ask!"
The stork told them all about the warm Africa, about the pyramids, and about the simoom, which sped like a horse over the desert: but the ducks understood not a word about what he said, and so they whispered one to the other, "We are all agreed, he is silly!"
"Yes, to be sure, he is silly," said the turkey-cock aloud. The poor stork stood quite still, and thought about Africa.
"What a pair of beautiful thin legs you have got!" said the turkey-cock; "what is the price by the yard?"
"Ha! ha! ha!" laughed all the ducks; but the stork pretended that he did not hear.
"I cannot help laughing," said the turkey-cock, "it was so very witty; or, perhaps, it was too low for him!—ha! ha! he can't take in many ideas! Let us only be interesting to ourselves!" And with that they began to gobble, and the ducks chattered, "Gik, gak! gik, gak!" It was amazing to see how entertaining they were to themselves.
Yalmar, however, went up to the hencoop, opened the door, and called to the stork, which hopped out to him on the deck. It had now rested itself; and it seemed as if it nodded to Yalmar to thank him. With this it spread out its wings and flew away to its warm countries; but the hens clucked, the ducks chattered, and the turkey-cocks grew quite red in the head.
"To-morrow we shall have you for dinner!" said Yalmar; and so he awoke, and was lying in his little bed.
It was, however, a wonderful voyage that Olé Luckoiè had taken him that night.
"Dost thou know what?" said Olé Luckoiè. "Now do not be afraid, and thou shalt see a little mouse!" and with that he held out his hand with the pretty little creature in it.
"It is come to invite thee to a wedding," said he. "There are two little mice who are going to be married to-night; they live down under the floor of thy mother's store-closet; it will be such a nice opportunity for thee."
"But how can I get through the little mouse-hole in the floor?" asked Yalmar.
"Leave that to me," said Olé Luckoiè; "I shall make thee little enough!" And with that he touched Yalmar with his wand, and immediately he grew less and less, until at last he was no bigger than my finger.
"Now thou canst borrow the tin soldier's clothes," said Olé Luckoiè; "I think they would fit thee, and it looks so proper to have uniform on when people go into company."
"Yes, to be sure!" said Yalmar; and in a moment he was dressed up like the most beautiful new tin soldier.
"Will you be so good as to seat yourself in your mother's thimble," said the little mouse; "and then I shall have the honor of driving you!"
"Goodness!" said Yalmar; "will the young lady herself take the trouble?" and with that they drove to the mouse's wedding.
First of all, after going under the floor, they came into a long passage, which was so low that they could hardly drive in the thimble, and the whole passage was illuminated with touchwood.
"Does it not smell delicious?" said the mouse as they drove along; "the whole passage has been rubbed with bacon-sward; nothing can be more delicious!"
They now came into the wedding-hall. On the right hand stood the little she-mice, and they all whispered and tittered as if they were making fun of one another; on the left hand all the he-mice, and stroked their mustachios with their paws. In the middle of the floor were to be seen the bridal pair, who stood in a hollow cheese-paring; and they kept kissing one another before everybody, for they were desperately in love, and were going to be married directly.
And all this time there kept coming in more and more strangers, till one mouse was ready to trample another to death; and the bridal pair had placed themselves in a doorway, so that people could neither go in nor come out. The whole room, like the passage, had been smeared with sward of bacon; that was all the entertainment: but as a dessert a pea was produced, on which a little mouse of family had bitten the name of the bridal pair,—that is to say, the first letters of their name; that was something quite out of the common way.