street : the young beautiful lady lay in the decorated hearse, in a coffin
adorned with flowers and wreaths ; and a number of torches quite
darkened my light. The people stood in crowds by the houses, and
all followed the procession. But when the torches had passed from
before my face, and I looked round, a single person stood leaning
ngainst my post, weeping. I shall never forget the mournful eyes that
looked up to me ! "
This and similar thoughts occupied the old Street Lantern, which
shone to-night for the last time.
The sentry relieved from his post, at least knows who is to succeed
him, and may whisper a few words to him ; but the Lamp did not know
its successor ; and yet it might have given a few useful hints with
respect to rain and fog, and some information as to how far the rays of
the moon lit up the pavement, from what direction the wind usually
came, and much more of the same kind.
208 Stories for the Household.
On the bridge of the gutter stood three persons who wished to intro-
duce themselves to the Lamp, for they thought the Lamp itself could
appoint its successor. The first was a herring's head, that could gleam
with light in the darkness. He thought it would be a great saving of
oil if they put him up on the post. Number two was a piece of rotten
wood, which also glimmers in the dark. He conceived himself descended
from an old stem, once the pride of the forest. The third person was
a glow-worm. Where this one had come from the Lamp could not
imagine ; but there it was, and it could give light. But the rotten wood
and the herring's head swore by all that was good that it only gave
light at certain times, and could not be brought into competition with
The old Lamp declared that not one of them gave sufficient light to
fill the office of a street lamp ; but not one of them would believe this.
AVhen they heard that the Lamp had not the office to give away, they
were very glad of it, and declared that the Lamp was too decrepit to
make a good choice.
At the same moment the Wind came careering from the corner of the
street, and blew through the air-holes of the old Street Lamp.
" What 's this I hear ? " he asked. " Are you to go away to-morrow ?
Do I see you for the last time ? Then I must make you a present at
parting. I will blow into your brain-box in such a way that you shall
be able in future not only to remember everything you have seen and
heard, but that you shall have such light within you as shall enable you
to see all that is read of or spoken of in your presence."
" Yes, that is really much, very much ! " said the old Lamp. " I
thank you heartily. I only hope I shall not be melted down."
" That is not likely to happen at once," said the Wind. "Now I will
blow a memory into you : if you receive several presents of this kind,
you may pass your old days very agreeably."
" If I am only not melted down ! " said the Lamp again. ' Or should
I retain my memory even in that case ? "
" Be sensible, old Lamp," said the Wind. And he blew, and at that
moment the Moon stepped forth from behind the clouds,
" What will you give the old Lamp ? " asked the Wind.
" I '11 give nothing," replied the Moon. " I am on the wane, and the
lamps never lighted me ; but, on the contrary, I 've often given light for
And with these words the Moon hid herself again behind the clouds,
to be safe from further importunity.
A drop now fell upon the Lamp, as if from the roof; but the drop
explained that it came from the clouds, and was a present perhaps
the best present possible.
" I shall penetrate you so completely that you shall receive the faculty,
if you wish it, to turn into rust in one night, and to crumble into dust."
The Lamp considered this a bad present, and the Wind thought so too.
' Does no one give more ? does no one give more ? " it blew as loud
as it could.
THE OLD STEEET LAMP IN GOOD QUARTERS.
Then a bright shooting star fell down, forming a long bright stripe.
" What was that ? " cried the Herring's Head. " Did not a star fall ?
I really think it went into the Lamp ! Certainly if such high-born
personages try for this office, we may say good-night and betake our-
And so they did, all three. But the old Lamp shed a marvellous
strong light around.
" That was a glorious present," it said. " The bright stars which. I
have always admired, and which shine as I could never shine though I
shone with all my might, have noticed me, a poor old lamp, and have
sent me a present, by giving me the faculty that all I remember and see
as clearly as if it stood before me, shall also be seen by all whom I love.
And in this lies the true pleasure ; for joy that we cannot share with
others is only half enjoyed."
" That sentiment does honour to your heart," said the Wind. " But
for that wax lights are necessary. If these are not lit up in you, your
rare faculties will be of no use to others. Look you, the stars did not
210 Stories for the Household.
think of that ; they take you and every other light for wax. But I will
go down." And he went down.
" Good heavens ! wax lights ! " exclaimed the Lamp. " I never had
those till now, nor am. I likely to get them ! If I am only not melted
The next day yes, it will be best that we pass over the next day,
The next evening the Lamp was resting in a grandfather's chair. And
guess where ! In the watchman's dwelling. He had begged as a favour
of the mayor and the council that he might keep the Street Lamp, in
consideration of his long and faithful service, for he himself had put up
and lit the lantern for the first time on the first day of entering on his
duties four and twenty years ago. He looked upon it as his child, for
he had no other. And the Lamp was given to him.
Xow it lay in the great arm-chair by the warm, stove. It seemed as
if the Lamp had grown bigger, now that it occupied the chair all alone.
The old people sat at supper, and looked kindly at the old Lamp, to
whom they would willingly have granted a place at their table.
Their dwelling was certainly only a cellar two yards below the foot-
way, and one had to cross a stone passage to get into the room. But
within it was very comfortable and warm, and strips of list had been
nailed to the door. Everything looked clean and neat, and there were
curtains round the bed and the little windows. On the window-sill stood
two curious flower-pots, which sailor Christian had brought home from
the East or West Indies. They were only of clay, and represented two
elephants. The backs of these creatures had been cut oft' ; and instead
of them there bloomed from within the earth with which one elephant
was filled, some very excellent chives, and that was the kitchen garden ;
out of the other grew a great geranium, and that was the flower gar-
den. On the wall hung a great coloured print representing the Con-
gress of Vienna. There you had all the Kings and Emperors at once.
A clock with heavy weights went " tick ! tick ! " and in fact it always
went too fast ; but the old people declared this was far better than if it
went too slow. They ate their supper, and the Street Lamp lay, as I
have said, in the arm-chair close beside the stove. It seemed to the
Lamp as if the whole world had been turned round. But when the
old watchman looked at it, and spoke of all that they two had gone
through in rain and in fog, in the bright short nights of summer and
in the long winter nights, when the snow beat down, and one longed to
be at home in the cellar, then the old Lamp found its wits again. It
saw everything as clearly as if it was happening then ; yes, the AVind
had kindled a capital light for it.
The old people were very active and industrious ; not a single hour
was wasted in idleness. On Sunday afternoon some book or other was
brought out ; generally a book of travels. And the old man read aloud
about Africa, about the great woods, with elephants running about wild;
and the old woman listened intently, and looked furtively at the clay
elephants which served for flower-pots.
" I can almost imagine it to mvself ! " said she.
The Old Street Lamp. 211
And the Lamp wished particularly that a wax candle had been there,
and could be lighted up in it ; for then the old woman would be able to
see everything to the smallest detail, just as the Lamp saw it the tall
trees with great branches all entwined, the naked black men on horse-
back, and whole droves of elephants crashing through the reeds with
their broad clumsy feet.
" Of what use are all my faculties if I can't obtain a wax light ? "
sighed the Lamp. " They have only oil and tallow candles, and that 's
One day a great number of wax candle ends came down into the
cellar : the larger pieces were burned, and the smaller ones the old
woman used for waxing her thread. So there were wax candles enough ;
but no one thought of putting a little piece into the Lamp.
" Here I stand with my rare faculties ! " thought the Lamp. " I
carry everything within me, and cannot let them partake of it ; they
don't know that I am able to cover these white walls with the most gor-
geous tapestry, to change them into noble forests, and all that they can
The Lamp, however, was kept neat and clean, and stood all shining in
a corner, where it caught the eyes of all. Strangers considered it a bit
of old rubbish ; but the old people did not care for that ; they loved the
One day it was the old watchman's birthday the old woman ap-
proached the Lantern, smiling to herself, and said,
" I '11 make an illumination to-day, in honour of my old man ! "
And the Lamp rattled its metal cover, for it thought, " Well, at last
there will be a light within me." But only oil was produced, and no
wax light appeared. The Lamp burned throughout the whole evening,
but now understood, only too well, that the gift of the stars would be
a hidden treasure for all its life. Then it had a dream .- for one possess-
ing its rare faculties to dream was not difficult. It seemed as if the old
people were dead, and that itself had been taken to the iron foundry to
be melted down. It felt as much alarmed as on that day when it was to
appear in the council-house to be inspected by the mayor and council.
But though the power had been given to it to fall into rust and dust at
will, it did not use this power. It was put into the furnace, and turned
into an iron candlestick, as fair a candlestick as you would desire one
on which wax lights were to be burned. It had received the form of an
angel holding a great nosegay ; and the wax light was to be placed in
the middle of the nosegay.
The candlestick had a place assigned to it on a green writing table.
The room was very comfortable ; many books stood round about the
wails, which were hung with beautiful pictures ; it belonged to a poet.
Everything that he wrote or composed showed itself round about him.
Nature appeared sometimes in thick dark forests, sometimes in beautiful
meadows, where the storks strutted about, sometimes again in a ship
sailing on the foaming ocean, or in the blue sky with all its stars.
"What faculties lie hidden in me !" said the old Lamp, when it awoke.
212 Stories for the Household.
" I could almost wish to be melted down ! But, no ! that must not be
so long as the old people live. They love me for myself; they have
cleaned me and brought me oil. I am as well off now as the whole
Congress, in looking at which they also take pleasure."
And from that time it enjoyed more inward peace ; and the honest
old Street Lamp had well deserved to enjoy it.
BY THE ALMSHOUSE WINDOW.
NEAB the grass-covered rampart which encircles Copenhagen lies a
great red house ; balsams and other flowers greet us from the long rows
of windows in the house, whose interior is sufficiently poverty-stricken ;
and poor and old are the people who inhabit it. The building is the
Look ! at the window there leans an old maid : she plucks the withered
leaf from the balsam, and looks at the grass-covered rampart, on which
many children are playing. AVhat is the old maid thinking of? A
whole life drama is unfolding itself before her inward gaze.
" The poor little children, how happy they are, how merrily they play
and romp together ! What red cheeks and what angels' eyes ! but they
have no shoes nor stockings. They dance on the green rampart, just
on the place where, according to the old story, the ground always sank
in, and where a sportive frolicsome child had been lured by means of
flowers, toys, and sweetmeats into an open grave ready dug for it, and
which was afterwards closed over the child; and from that moment,
the old story says, the ground gave way no longer, the mound remained
firm and fast, and was quickly covered with fine green turf. The little
people who now play on that spot know nothing of the old tale, else
would they fancy they heard the child crying deep below the earth, and
the dew-drops on each blade of grass would be to them tears of woe.
Nor do they know anything of the Danish King, who here, in the face
of the coming foe, took an oath before all his trembling courtiers that
he would hold out with the citizens of his capital, and die here in his
nest : they know nothing of the men who have fought here, or of the
women who from here have drenched with boiling water the enemy, clad
in white, and 'biding in the snow to surprise the city.
" No ! the poor little ones are playing with light childish spirits. Play
on, play on, thou little maiden ! Soon the years will come yes, those
glorious years. The priestly hands have been laid on the candidates
for confirmation ; hand in hand they walk on the green rampart : thou
hast a white frock on it has cost thy mother much labour, and yet it is
only cut down for thee out of an old larger dress ! You will afso wear
a red shawl ; and what if it bang too far down ? People will only see
how large, how very large it is. You are thinking of your dress, and of
the Giver of all good ; so glorious is it to wander on the green rampart.
By the Aimshouse I Window.
" And the years roll by ; they have no lack of dark days, but you have
your cheerful young spirit, and you have gained a friend, you know not
how. You met, Oh, how often ! You walk together on the rampart in
the fresh spring, on the high days and holidays, when all the world
come out to walk upon the ramparts, and all the bells of the church
steeples seem to be singing a song of praise for the coming spring.
THE OLD PENSIONER.
"Scarcely have the violets come forth, but there on the rampart,
just opposite the beautiful Castle of Eosenberg, there is a tree bright
with the first green buds. Every year this tree sends forth fresh green
shoots. Alas ! it is not so with the human heart ! Dark mists, more
in number than those that cover the northern skies, cloud the human
heart. Poor child thy friend's bridal chamber is a black coffin, and
thou becornest an old maid. From the almshouse window behind the
214 Stories for the Household.
balsams thou shalt look on the merry children at play, and shalt see thy
own history renewed."
And that is the life drama that passes before the old maid while she
looks out upon the rampart, the green sunny rampart, where the chil-
dren with their red cheeks and bare shoeless feet arc rejoicing merrily,
like the other free little birds.
A WHIP-TOP and a little Ball were together in a drawer among some
other toys ; and the Top said to the Ball,
" Shall we not be bridegroom and bride, as we live together in the
same box ? "
But the Ball, which had a coat of morocco leather, and was just as
conceited as any fine lady, would make no answer to such a proposal.
Next day the little boy came to whom the toys belonged : he painted
the top red and yellow, and hammered a brass nail into it ; and it looked
splendid when the top turned round !
" Look at me !" he cried to the little Ball. " "What do you say now ?
Shall we not be engaged to each other ? We suit one another so well !
You jump and I dance ! No one could be happier than we two should
"Indeed? Do you think so?" replied the little Ball. "Perhaps
you do not know that my papa and my mamma were morocco slippers,
and that I have a Spanish cork inside me?"
"Yes, but I am made of mahogany," said the Top ; "and the mayor
himself turned me. He has a turning lathe of his own, and it amuses
" Can I depend upon that ?" asked the little Ball.
" May I never be whipped again if it is not true!" replied the Top.
" You can speak well for yourself," observed the Ball, " but I cannot
grant your request. I am as good as engaged to a swallow : every time
I leap up into the air she puts her head out of her nest and says, ' Will
you ?' And now I have silently said 'Yes,' and that is as good as half
engaged ; but I promise I will never forget you."
" Yes, that will be much good ! " said the Top.
And they spoke no more to each other.
Next day the Ball was taken out by the boy. The Top saw how it
flew high into the air, like a bird ; at last one could no longer see it.
Each time it came back again, but gave a high leap when it touched the
earth, and that was done either from its longing to mount up again, or
because it had a Spanish cork in its body. But the ninth time the little
Ball remained absent, and did not come back again ; and the boy sought
and sought, but it was gone.
THE 3IAID FINDS THE WHIP-TOP.
"I know very well where it is!" sighed the Top. "It is in the
swallow's nest, and has married the swallow !"
The more the Top thought of this, the more it longed for the Ball.
Just because it could not get the Ball, its love increased ; aud the fact
that the Ball had chosen another, formed a peculiar feature in the case.
So the Top danced round and hummed, but always thought of the little
Ball, which became more and more beautiful in his fancy. Thus several
years went by, and now it was an old love.
And the Top was no longer young ! But one day he was gilt all
over ; never had he looked so handsome ; he was now a golden Top, and
sprang till he hummed again. Tes, that was something worth seeing !
But all at once he sprang too high, and he was gone !
They looked and looked, even in the cellar, but he was not to be
found. Where could he be ?
He had jumped into the dust-box, where all kinds of things were
lying : cabbage stalks, sweepings, and dust that had fallen down from
216 Stories for the Household.
" Here 's a nice place to lie in ! The gliding will soon leave me here.
Among what a rabble have I alighted ! "
And then he looked sideways at a long leafless cabbage stump, and at
a curious round thing that looked like an old apple ; but it was not an
apple it was an old Ball, which had lain for years in the gutter on the
roof, and was quite saturated with water.
" Thank goodness, here comes one of us, with whom one can talk!"
said the little Ball, and looked at the gilt Top. " I am really morocco,
worked by maidens' hands, and have a Spanish cork within me ; but no
one would think it, to look at me. I was very nearly marrying a swallow,
but I fell into the gutter on the roof, and have lain there full five years,
and become quite wet through. You may believe me, that 's a long time
for a young girl."
But the Top said nothing. He thought of his old love ; and the more
he heard, the clearer it became to him that this was she.
Then came the servant-girl, and wanted to turn out the dust-box.
" Aha ! there 's a gilt top !" she cried.
And so the Top was brought again to notice and honour, but nothing
was heard of the little Ball. And the Top spoke no more of his old
love ; for that dies away when the beloved object has lain for five
years in a roof-gutter and got wet through ; yes, one does not know
her again when one meets her in the dust-box.
AT evening, in the narrow streets of the great city, when the sun
went down and the clouds shone like gold among the chimneys, there
was frequently heard, sometimes by one, and sometimes by another, a
strange tone, like the sound of a church bell ; but it was only heard for
a moment at a time, for in the streets there was a continual rattle of
carriages, and endless cries of men and women and that is a sad inter-
ruption. Then people said, " Now the evening bell sounds, now the
sun is setting."
Those who were walking outside the city, where the Louses stood
farther from each other, with gardens and little fields between, saw the
evening sky looking still more glorious, and heard the sound of the bell
far more clearly. It was as though the tones came from a church, deep
in the still quiet fragrant wood, and people looked in that direction, and
became quite meditative.
Now a certain time passed, and one said to another, " Is there not a
church out yonder in the wood ? That bell has a peculiarly beautiful
sound ! Shall we not go out and look at it more closely ? ' And rich
people drove out, and poor people walked ; but the way seemed marvel-
lously long to them ; and when they came to a number of willow trees
that grew on the margin of the forest, they sat down and looked up to
THE PBINCE GOES IS SEARCH OF THE BELL.
the long branches, and thought they were now really in the green wood.
The pastrycook from the town carne there too, and pitched his tent ;
but another pastrycook came and hung up a bell just over his own tent,
a bell, in fact, that had been tarred so as to resist the rain, but it had no
clapper. And when the people went home again, they declared the
whole affair had been very romantic, and that meant much more than
merely that they had taken tea. Three persons declared that they had
penetrated into the wood to where it ended, and that they had always
heard the strange sound of bells, but it had appeared to them as if it
came from the town. One of the three wrote a song about it, and said
that the sound was like the song of a mother singing to a dear good
child ; no melody could be more beautiful than the sound of that bell.
The Emperor of that country was also informed of it, and promised
that the person who could really find out whence the sound came should
have the title of Bell-finder, even if it should turn out not to be a bell.
Many went to the forest, on account of the good entertainment there ;
but there was only one who came back with a kind of explanation. No
f.,18 Stories for the Household.
one had penetrated deep enough into the wood, nor had he ; but he said
that the sound came from a very great owl in a hollow tree ; it was an owl
of wisdom, that kept knocking its head continually against the tree, but
whether the sound came from the owl's head, or from the trunk of the
tree, he could not say with certainty. He was invested with the title
of Bell-finder, and every year wrote a short treatise upon the owl ; and
people were just as wise after reading his works as they were before.
On a certain day a confirmation was held. The old clergyman had
spoken well and impressively, and the candidates for confirmation were
quite moved. It was an important day for them ; for from being chil-
dren they became grown-up people, and' the childish soul was as it were
to be transformed to that of a more sensible person. The sun shone
gloriously as the confirmed children marched out of the to\vu, and from
the wood the great mysterious bell sounded with peculiar strength.
They at once wished to go out to it, and all felt this wish except three.
One of these desired to go home, to try on her ball dress ; the second
was a poor boy, who had borrowed the coat and boots in which he was
confirmed from the son of his landlord, and he had to give them back
at an appointed time ; the third said he never went to a strange place
unless his parents went with him, that he had always been an obedient
son, and would continue to be so, even after he was confirmed, and they
were not to laugh at him. But they did laugh at him, nevertheless.
So these three did not go, but the others trotted on. The sun shone,
and the birds sang, and the young people sang too, and held each other
by the hand, for they had not yet received any office, and were all alike
before Heaven on that day. But two of the smallest soon became weary
and returned to the town, and two little girls sat down to bind wreaths,
and did not go with the rest. And when the others came to the willow
trees where the pastrycook lived, they said, " "Well, now we are out here,
the bell does not really exist it is only an imaginary thing."