Fairy tales and stories (Andersen, Tegner)/The Flying Trunk

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Fairy tales and stories (Andersen, Tegner).djvu

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THERE was once upon a time a merchant who was so rich that he could have paved the whole street with silver coins, and even have enough over for a narrow lane ; but he did not do anything of the kind. He knew how to make use of his money in quite a different way; if he paid out a shilling, he got back a dollar. That was the kind of merchant he was — and then he died.

The son now got all this money, and began to lead a merry life; he went to masquerades every night; made paper kites out of dollar notes, and played ducks and drakes across the lakes with gold coins instead of stones, and money soon comes to an end in this way, which it did. At last he had only four pennies left, and no other clothes than a pair of slippers and an old dressing-gown. His friends no longer cared for him, as they could not very well be seen with him in the streets; but one of them, who was of a kind disposition, sent him an old trunk with the message, "Pack up." That was all very well, but he had nothing to pack, and so he sat down in the trunk.

It was a wonderful trunk! As soon as you pressed the lock, the trunk could fly. He pressed the lock, and off the trunk flew with him, up through the chimney and high above the clouds, farther and farther away. The bottom of the trunk began to creak, and he was afraid it would go to pieces. What a curious descent that would be! Heaven preserve him!

And so he came to the land of the Turks. He hid the trunk in the forest under some dried leaves and then went into the town. He could very well do that, for in Turkey everybody goes about in dressing-gowns and slippers, just as he did

He then met a nurse with a little child. "I say, you Turkish nurse!" he said, "what big palace is that close to the town, with the windows placed so high?"

"The princess lives there," she said. "It has been foretold that she will be unfortunate in love. And therefore nobody is allowed to come near her unless the king and the queen are present."

"Thank you," said the merchant's son; and so he went back to the forest, sat down in the trunk, flew to the roof of the palace, and crept through the window into the princess's room.

She was lying asleep on the sofa; she was so beautiful that the merchant's son could not resist kissing her. She awoke, and was very much frightened, but he said he was the god of the Turks, who had come down to her through the air, at which she was much pleased.

So they sat down, side by side, and he began telling her stories about her eyes: they were the most beautiful dark lakes, in which her thoughts were swimming about like mermaids. And he told her about her forehead: it was a snowy mountain with the most magnificent halls and pictures. And he told her about the stork who brings the sweet little children.

Yes, they were really delightful stories. And so he asked the princess if she would marry him, and she said "Yes" at once.

"But you must come here on Saturday," she said; "the king and queen will then be here to tea. They will be very proud to hear that I am going to marry the god of the Turks, but mind you are prepared with a really beautiful fairy tale, for my parents are particularly fond of stories. My mother prefers those with a moral and some romance, and mv father the merry ones which make one laugh."

"Very well. I shall bring no other wedding present than a fairy tale," he said, and then they parted; but the princess gave him a saber which was mounted with gold coins, and these especially would come in very useful.

He then flew away, bought a new dressing-gown, and then sat in the forest, making up the fairy tale. It had to be ready by Saturday, so it was not an easy task.

By the time he had finished it, it was Saturday.

The king, the queen, and the whole court were at tea with the princess, waiting for him. He was most graciously received.

"I hope you will tell us a fairy tale," said the queen — "one that is profound and instructive."

"But one that we can laugh at," said the king.
Fairy tales and stories (Andersen, Tegner).djvu

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"With pleasure," he said, and so he began. We must now listen attentively.

"There was once a bundle of matches that were exceedingly proud because of their high degree. Their genealogical tree — that is to say, the big fir-tree of which each was a little piece — had been a big old tree in the forest. The matches were now lying on the shelf between a tinder-box and an old iron pot, to whom they were telling all about their early days. 'Yes, when we were green branches,' they said, 'we were indeed well off. Every morning and evening we had diamond tea, — that's what we called the dew, — and all day we had sunshine whenever the sun was shining, while all the little birds had to tell us stories. We could easily tell that we were well off, for the other trees wore leaves only in the summer, while our family could afford green clothes both summer and winter. But then came the wood-cutter, like the great revolution, and our family was split up. The head of the family got an appointment as mainmast on a splendid ship, which could sail round the whole world if it liked; and the other branches of the family came to different places, and we were now consigned to the task of providing light for the lower classes; that's the reason we people of high degree came to he here in the kitchen.'

"'Well, my fate has been quite a different one,' said the iron pot, near which the matches were lying. ' From the very first I have been scoured and have cooked ever so many meals. I look after the material welfare of the household and am really of first importance in the house. My only pleasure is, when dinner is over, to lie clean and bright on my shelf and have a good talk with my comrades. With the exception of the water-pail, which now and then is taken down into the yard, we all spend our lite indoors. Our only messenger that brings news from the outer world is the market-basket, but she talks so violently about the government and the people! Why, the other day an old pot became so frightened at her talk that he fell down and broke in pieces! She is very outspoken, I must tell you — '

"'You talk a good deal too much! ' said the tinder-box, and the steel struck the flint a blow so that the sparks flew about. Come, let us have a merry evening.'

"'Yes, let us discuss who is of the best family, ' said the matches.

"'No, I don't like to talk about myself,' said the earthen pot; 'let us get up an entertainment. I will begin — I will tell you about something which has happened to all of you, so that you can easily enter into it, and then it is all the more amusing: On the shores of the Baltic, in the shelter of the Danish beeches — '

"'That's a very pretty beginning!' said all the plates; 'that is sure to be a story we shall like.'

"'Well, there I spent my youth with a quiet family; the furniture was polished and the floors washed, and clean curtains were put up every fortnight.'

"'What an interesting way you have of telling stories!' said the broom. 'One can hear at once it is a lady who is telling stories, there is something so true about it all.'

"'Yes, one can feel that,' said the water-pail; and in his joy he made a jump and the water splashed all over the floor.

"And the pot went on with her story and the end was as good as the beginning.

"All the plates rattled with delight, and the broom took green parsley from the sand-hole and crowned the pot with it, for he knew it would amuse the others, and 'If I crown her to-day,' he thought, 'she will crown me to-morrow.'

"'I want to have a dance,' said the fire-tongs, and began dancing. Good heavens! How the tongs kicked high in the air! The old chair- cover over in the corner split at the sight. 'Ought I not to be crowned too?' said the fire-tongs, and so this was done.

"'They are a common lot, after all!' thought the matches.

"The tea-urn was now going to sing, but she had a cold, she said, and could not sing except when she was at boiling-point; but it vas only affectation. She would not sing unless she was standing on the table in the parlor.

"Over in the window lay an old quill pen which the servant-girl used to write with; there was nothing remarkable about him except that he had been dipped too far into the inkstand, but of this he was very proud. 'If the tea-urn won't sing,' he said, 'she may leave it alone! Outside in a cage hangs a nightingale who can sing; he has not learned much, but we won't say anything disparaging about that this evening.'

"'I think it most improper,' said the tea-kettle, who was singer to the kitchen utensils and half-sister to the tea-urn, 'that a foreign bird should be allowed to sing. Is it patriotic? I shall let the market-basket decide the point."

"'I am very much annoyed,' said the market-basket; 'I am more annoyed than any one can imagine. Is this the proper way to spend an evening? Would it not be more sensible to put the house in order? Every one should then be in his proper place, and I would manage the whole affair. Then things would be quite different.'

"'Yes, let us make a disturbance,' they all cried. Just at that moment the door opened. It was the servant-girl, and so they all became silent; no one muttered a sound. But there was not a pot among them who did not know what he could have done and how grand he was. 'If I had had my way,' they all thought, 'we should have had a really merry evening.'

"The servant-girl took the matches and lighted the fire with them.

Gracious me! How they sputtered and blazed up!

"'Well, now,' they thought, 'all can now see that we are of the first importance. How we shine! What a light we give!' — and then they went out."

"What a capital story!" said the queen, "I felt just as if I were in the kitchen with the matches. Well, thou shalt have our daughter."

"Yes, of course!" said the king. "Thou shalt marry our daughter on Monday." They called him "thou" now that he was going to be one of the family.


The wedding was thus settled, and the evening before the whole town was illuminated. Buns and fancy bread were thrown among the people; the street boys stood on tiptoe and shouted, "Hurrah!" and whistled through their fingers. It was altogether very fine.

"Well, I suppose I shall have to do something as well," said the merchant's son, and so he bought some rockets, crackers, and all the fireworks he could think of, put them on his trunk and then flew up into the air with it.

Crack! Off went the fireworks, spurting and flashing in all directions. All the Turks were delighted and jumped so high that their slippers flew about their ears. Such a vision in the sky they had never seen before. Now they could understand that it was the god of the Turks himself who was going to marry the princess.

As soon as the merchant's son had descended into the wood with his trunk he thought to himself: "I will go into the town and hear what people think of it all!" And it was only natural he should like to know.

How the people were talking! Every one he inquired of had seen it in his own way, but all thought it was a splendid sight. "I saw the god of the Turks myself," said one; "his eyes were like glittering stars, and his beard like a falling waterfall."

"He flew away in a cloak of fire," said another; "the loveliest cherubs were peeping out from among its folds."

Yes, he heard the most wonderful things, and the following day he was to be married.

He then went back to the forest to sit in his trunk — but where was it? The trunk was burned. A spark from the fireworks had set fire to the trunk, which was burned to ashes. He could not fly any more and could not get to his bride any more.

She stood the whole day on the roof waiting tor him. She is still waiting for him; but he goes about all over the world telling stories, though they are no longer as funny as that he told about the matches.