" Cannot any one else do that ? " asked the Mouse King.
"No," replied the Mouse. " The power is contained only in the tail
of the Mouse King."
And the water boiled and bubbled, and the Mouse King stood close
beside the kettle there was almost danger in it and he put forth his
tail, as the mice do in the dairy, when they skim the cream from a pan ot
milk, afterwards licking their creamy tails ; but his tail only penetrated
into the hot steam, and then he sprang hastily down from the hearth.
THE MOUSE KING UNDERSTANDS HOW THE SOUP IS MADE.
" Of course certainly you are my Queen," he said. " We'll adjourn
the soup question till our golden wedding in fifty years' time, so that
the poor of my subjects, who will then be fed, may have something to
which they can look forward with pleasure for a long time."
And soon the wedding was held. But many of the mice said, as they
were returning home, that it could not be really called soup on a sausage-
peg, but rather soup on a mouse's tail. They said that some of the
stories had been very cleverly told ; but the whole thing might have
been different. " /should have told it so and so and so ! "
Thus said the critics, who are always wise after the fact.
And this story went out into the wide world, everywhere ; and
opinions varied concerning it, but the story remained as it was. And
that's the best in great things and in small, so also with regard to
soup on a sausage-peg not to expect any thanks for it.
THE WICKED PRINCE.
THEEE was once a wicked Priuce. His aim and object was to conquer
all the countries in the world, and to inspire all men with fear. He went
about with fire and sword, and his soldiers trampled down the corn in
the fields, and set fire to the peasants' houses, so that the red flames
licked the leaves from the trees, and the fruit hung burned on the black
charred branches. With her naked baby in her arms, many a poor
mother took refuge behind the still smoking walls of her burned house ;
but even here the soldiers sought for their victims, and if they found
them, it was new food for their demoniac fury : evil spirits could not
have raged worse than did these soldiers ; but the Prince thought their
deeds were right, and that it must be so. Every day his power in-
creased ; his name was feared by all, and fortune accompanied him in
all his actions. From conquered countries he brought vast treasures
home, and in his capital was heaped an amount of wealth unequalled in
any other place. And he caused gorgeous palaces, churches, and halls
to be built, and every one who saw those great buildings and these vast
treasures cried out respectfully, " What a great Prince ! " They thought
not of the misery he had brought upon other lands and cities ; they
heard not all the sighs and all the meanings that arose from among the
ruins of demolished towns.
The Prince looked upon his gold, and upon his mighty buildings, and
his thoughts were like those of the crowd.
" What a great Prince am I ! But," so his thought ran on, " I must
have more, far more ! No power may be equal to mine, much less
exceed it ! "
And he made war upon all his neighbours, and overcame them all.
The conquered Kings he caused to be bound with fetters of gold to his
chariot, and thus he drove through the streets of his capital ; when he
banqueted, those Kings were compelled to kneel at his feet, and at the
feet of his courtiers, and receive the broken pieces which were thrown
to them from the table.
At last the Prince caused his own statue to be set up in the open
squares and in the royal palaces, and he even wished to place it in the
churches before the altars ; but here the priests stood up against him,
" Priuce, thou art mighty, but Heaven is mightier, and we dare not
fulfil thy commands."
"Good: then," said the Prince, "I will vanquish Heaven likewise."
And in his pride and impious haughtiness he caused a costly ship to
be built, in which he could sail through the air : it was gay and glaring
to behold, like the tail of a peacock, and studded and covered with
thousands of eyes ; but each eye was the muzzle of a gun. The Prince
sat in the midst of the ship, and needed only to press on a spring, and
a thousand bullets flew out on all sides, while the gun barrels were
The Wicked Prince.
re-loaded immediately. Hundreds of eagles were harnessed in front of
the ship, and with the speed of an arrow they flew upwards towards
the sun. How deep the earth lay below them ! With its mountains
and forests, it seemed but a field through which the plough had drawn
its furrows, and along which the green bank rose covered with turf;
soon it appeared only like a flat map with indistinct lines ; and at last it
lay completely hidden in mist and cloud. Ever higher flew the eagles,
up into the air; then one of the innumerable angels appeared. The
wicked Prince hurled thousands of bullets against him ; but the bullets
sprang back from the angel's shining pinions, and fell down like cona-
THE PSIESTS EXIIOETIXG THE WICEED PEINCE.
mon hail-stones ; but a drop of blood, one single drop, fell from one of
the white wing-feathers, and this drop fell upon the ship in which the
Prince sat, and burned its way deep into the ship, and weighing like a
thousand hundredweight of lead, dragged down the ship in headlong
fall towards the earth ; the strongest pinions of the eagles broke ; the
wind roared round the Prince's head, and the aroused clouds formed
from the smoke of burned cities drew themselves together in threaten-
ing shapes, like huge sea crabs stretching forth their claws and nippers
towards him, and piled themselves up in great overshadowing rocks,
with crushing fragments rolling down them, and then to fiery dragons,
till the Prince lay half dead in the ship, which at last was caught with
a terrible shock in the thick branches of a forest.
" I will conquer Heaven ! " said the Prince. " I have sworn it, and
my will must be done ! "
200 Stones for the Household.
And for seven years he caused his men to work at making ships for
sailing through the air, and had thunderbolts made of the hardest steel,
for he wished to storm the fortress of Heaven ; out of all his dominions
he gathered armies together, so that when they were drawn up in rank
and file they covered a space of several miles. The armies went on
board the ships, and the Prince approached his own vessel. Then there
was sent out against him a swarm of gnats, a single swarm of little
gnats. The swarm buzzed round the Prince, and stung his face and
hands : raging with anger, he drew his sword and struck all round him ;
but he only struck the empty air, for he could not hit the gnats. Then
he commanded his people to bring costly hangings, and to wrap them
around him, so that no gnat might further sting him ; and the servants
did as he commanded them. But a single gnat had attached itself to
the inner side of the hangings, and crept into the ear of the Prince,
and stung him. It burned like fire, and the poison penetrated to his
brain : like a madman he tore the hangings from his body and hurled
them far away, tore his clothes and danced about naked before the eyes
of his rude, savage soldiers, who now jeered at the mad Prince who
wanted to overcome Heaven, and who himself was conquered by one
single little gnat.
AND THE CHIMNEY-SWEEPER.
HAVE you ever seen a very old wooden cupboard, quite black with
age, and ornamented with carved foliage and arabesques ? Just such a
cupboard stood in a parlour : it had been a legacy from the great-grand-
mother, and was covered from top to bottom with carved roses and
tulips. There were the quaintest flourishes upon it, and from among these
peered forth little stags' heads with antlers. In the middle of the cup-
board door an entire figure of a man had been cut out : he was certainly
ridiculous to look at, and he grinned, for you could not call it laughing :
he had goat's legs, little horns on his head, and a long beard. The
children in the room always called him the Billygoat-legs-Major-and
Lieutenant-Geueral-War- Commander-Sergeant ; that was a difficult
name to pronounce, and there are not many who obtain this title ; but
it was something to have cut him out. And there he was ! He was
always looking at the table under the mirror, for on this table stood a
lovely little Shepherdess made of china. Her shoes were gilt, her dress
was adorned with a red rose, and besides this she had a golden hat and
a shepherd's crook : she was very lovely. Close by her stood a little
Chimney-Swceper, black as a coal, and also made of porcelain : he was as
clean and neat as any other man, for it was only make-believe that he
was a sweep ; the china-workers might just as well have made a prince
of him, if they had been so minded.
The Shepherdess and the Chimney -Sweeper. 201
There he stood very nattily with his ladder, and with a face as white
and pink as a girl's ; and that was really a fault, for he ought to have
been a little black. He stood quite close to the Shepherdess : they had
both been placed where they stood ; but as they had been placed there
they had become engaged to each other. They suited each other well.
Both were young people, both made of the same kind of china, and both
THE OLD CHINAMAN AND THE YOL'NG COUPLE.
Close to them stood another figure, three times greater than they.
This was an old Chinaman, who could nod. He was also of porcelain,
and declared himself to be the grandfather of the little Shepherdess ;
but he could not prove his relationship. He declared he had authority
over her, and that therefore he had nodded to Mr. Billygoat-legs-Lieu-
tenant-aud-jMajor- General- War-Commander-Sergeant, who was wooing
her for his wife.
202 Stories for the Household.
"Then you will get a husband!" said the old Chinaman, "a man who
I verily believe is made of mahogany. He can make you Billygoat-legs-
Lieutenant-and-Major-General-War-Commander-Sergeant's lady: he has
the whole cupboard full of silver plate, which he hoards up in secret
" I won't go into the dark cupboard ! " said the little Shepherdess.
" I have heard tell that he has eleven porcelain wives in there."
"Then you may become the twelfth," cried the Chinaman. "This
night, so soon as it rattles in the old cupboard, you shall be married, as
true as I am an old Chinaman ! "
And with that he nodded his head and fell asleep. But the little
Shepherdess wept and looked at her heart's beloved, the porcelain
" I should like to beg of you," said she, " to go out with me into the
wide world, for we cannot remain here."
" I '11 do whatever you like," replied the little Chimney-Sweep. " Let
us start directly ! I think I can keep you by exercising my profession."
" If we were only safely down from the table!" said she. "I shall
not be happy until we are out in the wide world."
And he comforted her, and showed her how she must place her little
foot upon the carved corners and the gilded foliage at the foot of the
table ; he brought his ladder, too, to help her, and they were soon
together upon the floor. But when they looked up at the old cup-
board there was great commotion within : all the carved stags were
stretching out their heads, rearing up their antlers, and turning their
necks ; and the Billygoat-legs-Lieutenant-and-Major-General- War-Com-
mander-Sergeant sprang high in the air, and called across to the old
" Now they 're running away ! now they 're running away ! "
Then they were a little frightened, and jumped quickly into the
drawer of the window-seat. Here were three or four packs of cards
which were not complete, and a little puppet-show, which had been
built up as well as it could be done. There plays were acted, and all
the ladies, diamonds, clubs, hearts, and spades, sat in the first row, fanning
themselves ; and behind them stood all the knaves, showing that they
had a head above and below, as is usual in playing-cards. The play was
about two people who were not to be married to each other, and the
Shepherdess wept, because it was just like her own history.
" I cannot bear this ! " said she. " I must go out of the drawer."
But when they arrived on the floor, and looked up at the drawer, the old
Chinaman was awake and was shaking over his whole body for below
he was all one lump.
: Now the old Chinaman 's coming !" cried the little Shepherdess ; and
she fell down upon her porcelain knee, so startled was she.
"I have an idea," said the Chimney-Sweeper. " Shall we creep into
the great pot-pourri vase, which stands in the corner ? Then we can lie
on roses and lavender, and throw salt in his eyes if he comes."
' That will be of no use," she replied. " Besides, I know that the old
The Shepherdess and the Chimney -Sweeper. 203
Chinaman and the pot-pourri vase were once engaged to each other, and
a kind of liking always remains when people have stood in such a relation
to each other. No, there 's nothing left for us but to go out into the
" Have you really courage to go into the wide world with me ? "
asked the Chimney-Sweeper. " Have you considered how wide the
world is, and that we can never couie back here again ? ' :
"I have," replied she.
And the Chimney-Sweeper looked fondly at her, and said,
" My way is through the chimney. If you have really courage to
creep with me through the stove through the iron fire-box as well as
up the pipe, then we can get out into the chimney, and I know how to
find my way through there. We '11 mount so high that they can't catch
us, and quite at the top there 's a hole that leads out into the wide world."
And he led her to the door of the stove.
"It looks very black there," said she; but still she went with him,
through the box and through the pipe, where it was pitch-dark night.
" Now we are in the chimney," said he ; " and look, look ! up yonder
a beautiful star is shining."
And it was a real star in the sky, which shone straight down upon
them, as if it would show them the way. And they clambered and
crept : it was a frightful way, and terribly steep ; but he supported her
and helped her up ; he held her, and shoAved her the best places where
she could place her little porcelain feet ; and thus they reached the
edge of the chimney, and upon that they sat down, for they were despe-
rately tired, as they well might be.
The sky with all its stars was high above, and all the roofs of the
town deep below them. They looked far around far, far out into the
world. The poor Shepherdess had never thought of it as it really was :
she leaned her little head against the Chimney-Sweeper, then she wept so
bitterly that the gold ran down off her girdle.
" That is too much," she said. " I cannot bear that. The world is
too large ! If I were only back upon the table below the nr'rror ! I
shall never be happy until I am there again. Now I have followed you
out into the wide world, you may accompany me back again if you
really love me."
And the Chimney-Sweeper spoke sensibly to her spoke of the old
Chinaman and of the Billygoat-legs-Lieutenant-aud-Major-General-~War-
Commander-Sergeant ; but she sobbed bitterly and kissed her little
Chimney-Sweeper, so that he could not help giving way to her, though
it was foolish.
And so with much labour they climbed down the chimney again.
And they crept through the pipe and the fire-box. That was not pleasant
at all. And there they stood in the dark stove ; there they listened
behind the door, to find out what was going on in the room. Then it
was quite quiet : they looked in ah ! there lay the old Chinaman in the
middle of the floor ! He had fallen down from the table as he was pur-
suing them, and now he lay broken into three pieces ; his back had come
204 Stories for the Household.
off all in one piece, and his head had rolled into a corner. The Billy-
goat-legs-Lieutenant-and - Major - General -War -Commander - Sergeant
stood where he had always stood, considering.
" That is terrible ! " said the little Shepherdess. " The old grandfather
has fallen to pieces, and it is our fault. I shall never survive it ! " And
then she wrung her little hands.
" He can be mended ! he can be mended !" said the Chimney-Sweeper.
" Don't be so violent. If they glue his back together and give him a good
rivet in his neck he will be as good as new, and may say many a dis-
agreeable thing to us yet."
" Do you think so ? " cried she.
So they climbed back upon the table where they used to stand.
"You see, we have come to this," said the Chimney-Sweeper : "we
might have saved ourselves all the trouble we have had."
"If the old grandfather was only riveted!" said the Shepherdess.
" I wonder if that is dear ? "
And he was really riveted. The family had his back cemented, and a
great rivet was passed through his neck : he was as good as new, only
he could no longer nod.
" It seems you have become proud since you fell to pieces," said the
Billy goat -legs- Lieutenant -and- Major- General -War -Commander -Ser-
geant. " I don't think you have any reason to give yourself such airs.
Am I to have her, or am I not ? "
And the Chimney-Sweeper and the little Shepherdess looked at the old
Chinaman most piteously, for they were afraid he might nod. But he
could not do that, and it was irksome to him to tell a stranger that he
always had a rivet in his neck. And so the porcelain people remained
together, and loved one another until they broke.
ON one of the Danish islands where the old Thingstones, the seats of
justice of our forefathers, are found in the fields, and great trees tower
in the beech woods, there lies a little town, whose low houses are covered
with red tiles. In one of these houses wondrous things were brewed
over glowing coals on the open hearth ; there was a boiling in glasses, a
mixing and a distilling, and herbs were cut up and bruised in mortars,
and an elderly man attended to all this.
" One must only do the right thing," s.iid he ; " yes, the right thing.
One must learn the truth about every created particle, and keep close to
In the room with the good housewife sat her two sons, still small,
but with grown-up thoughts. The mother had always spoken to them
of right and justice, and had exhorted them to hold truth fast, declaring
that it was as the countenance of the Almighty in this world.
THE TWO BROTHERS IN THEIR BED-ROOM.
The elder of the boys looked roguish and euterprising. It was his
delight to read of the forces of nature, of the sun and of the stars ; no
fairy tale pleased him so much as these. Oh ! how glorious it must be,
he thought, to go out on voyages of discovery, or to find out how the
wings of birds could be imitated, and then to fly through the air ! yes,
to find that out would be the right thing : father was right, and mother
was right truth keeps the world together.
The younger brother was quieter, and quite lost himself in books.
When he read of Jacob clothing himself in sheep-skins, to be like Esau
and to cheat his brother of his birthright, his little fist would clench in
anger against the deceiver : when he read of tyrants, and of all the
wickedness and wrong that is in the world, the tears stood in his eyes,
and he was quite filled with the thoughts of the right and truth which
must and will at last be triumphant. One evening he already lay in
bed, but the curtains were not yet drawn close, and the light streamed
in upon him : he had taken the book with him to bed, because he
wanted to finish reading the story of Solon.
206 Stories for the Household.
And his thoughts lifted and carried him away marvellously, and it
seemed to him that his bed became a ship, careering onward with swell-
ing sails. Did he dream ? or what was happening to him ? It glided
onward over the rolling waters and the great ocean of time, and he
heard the voice of Solon. In a strange tongue, and yet intelligible to
him, he heard the Danish motto, " With law the land is ruled."
And the Genius of the human race stood in the humble room, and
bent down over the bed, and printed a kiss on the boy's forehead.
" Be thou strong in fame, and strong in the battle of life ! "With the
truth in thy breast, fly thou towards the land of truth ! "
The elder brother was not yet in bed ; he stood at the window gazing
out at the mists that rose from the meadows. They were not elves
dancing there, as the old nurse had told him; he knew better: they
were vapours, warmer than the air, and consequently they mounted.
A shooting star gleamed athwart the sky, and the thoughts of the boy
were roused from the mists of the earth to the shining meteor. The
stara of heaven twinkled, and golden threads seemed to hang from them
down upon the earth.
"Fly with me!" it sang and sounded in the boy's heart; and the
mighty genius, swifter than the bird, than the arrow, than anything that
flie.s with earthly means, carried him aloft to the region w r here rays
stretching from star to star bind the heavenly bodies to each other ; our
earth revolved in the thin air ; the cities on its surface seemed quite
close together; and through the sphere it sounded, " What is near, what
is far to men, when the mighty genius of mind lifts them up ? "
And again the boy stood at the window and gazed forth, and the
younger brother lay in his bed, and their mother called them by their
names, "Anders Sandoe " and "Hans Christian."
Denmark knows them, and the world knows them the two brothers
THE OLD STREET LAMP.
DID you ever hear the story of the old Street Lamp ? It is not very
remarkable, but it may be listened to for once in a way.
It was a very honest old Lamp, that had done its work for many,
many years, but which was now to be pensioned off. It hung for the
last time to its post, and gave light to the street. It felt as an old
dancer at the theatre, who is dancing for the last time, and who to-
morrow will sit forgotten in her garret. The Lamp was in great fear
about the morrow, for it knew that it was to appear in the council-
house, and to be inspected by the mayor and the council, to see if it
were fit for further service or not.
And then it was to be decided whether it was to show ita light in
future for the inhabitants of some suburb, or in the country iu some
The Old Street Lamp. 207
manufactory : perhaps it would have to go at once into an iron foundry
to be melted down. In this last case anything might be made of it ;
but the question whether it would remember, in its new state, that it
had been a Street Lamp, troubled it terribly. AVhatever might happen,
this much was certain, that it would be separated from the watchman
and his wife, whom it had got to look upon as quite belonging to its
family. When the Lamp had been hung up for the first time the watch-
man was a young sturdy man : it happened to be the very evening on
which he entered on his office. Tes, that was certainly a long time ago,
when it first became a Lamp and he a watchman. The wife was a little
proud in those clays. Only in the evening, when she went by, she
deigned to glance at the Lamp ; in the day-time never. But now, in
these latter years, when all three, the watchman, his wife, and the Lamp,
had grown old, the wife had also tended it, cleaned it, and provided it
with oil. The two old people were thoroughly honest ; never had they
cheated the Lamp of a single drop of the oil provided for it.
It was the Lamp's last night in the street, and to-morrow it was to
go to the council-house ; those were two dark thoughts ! JSTo wonder
that it did not burn brightly. But many other thoughts passed through
its brain. On what a number of events had it shone how much it had
seen ! Perhaps as much as the mayor and the whole council had be-
held. But it did not give utterance to these thoughts, for it was a
good honest old Lamp, that would not willingly hurt any one, and least
of all those in authority. Many things passed through its mind, and at
times its light flashed up. In such moments it had a feeling that it,
too, would be remembered.
" There was that handsome young man it is certainly a long while
ago he had a letter on pink paper with a gilt edge. It was so prettily
written, as if by a lady's hand. Twice he read it, and kissed it, and
looked up to me with eyes which said plainly, ' I am the happiest of
men ! ' Only he and I know what was written in this first letter from
his true love. Tes, I remember another pair of eyes. It is wonderful
how our thoughts fly about ! There was a funeral procession in the