the^front of wings." That is to say, the water had to come forward
so far. But when, on the other hand, the same interior scene remained
Our Aunt. 885
through five acts, he used to pronounce it a sensible, well-written play,
a resting play, which performed itself, without putting up scenes.
In earlier times, by which name our aunt used to designate thirty
years ago, she and the before-mentioned Herr Sivertsen had been younger.
At that time he had already been connected with the machinery, and was,
as she said, her benefactor. It used to be the custom in those days that
in the evening performances in the only theatre the town possessed,
spectators were admitted to the part called the " flies," over the stage,
and every machinist had one or two places to give away. Often the flies
were quite full of good company ; it was said that generals' wives and
privy councillors' wives had been up there. It was too interesting to
look down behind the scenes, and to see how the people walked to and
fro on the stage when the curtain was down.
Our aunt had been there several times, as well when there was a tra-
gedy as when there was a ballet ; for the pieces in which there were the
greatest number of characters on the stage were the most interesting to
see from the flies. One sat pretty much in the dark up there, and most
people took their supper up with them. Once three apples and a great
bit of bread and butter and sausage fell down right into the dungeon
of Ugolino, where that unhappy man was to be starved to death ; and
there was great laughter among the audience. The sausage was one of
the weightiest reasons why the worthy management refused in future to
have any spectators up in the flies.
" But I was there seven and thirty times," said our aunt, i: and I shall
always remember Mr. Sivertsen for that."
On the very last evening when the flies were still open to the public
the " Judgment of Solomon " was performed, as our aunt remembered
very well. She had, through the influence of her benefactor, Herr
Sivertsen, procured a free admission for the Agent Fabs, although he did
not deserve it in the least ; for he was always cutting his jokes about
the theatre and teasing our aunt ; but she had procured him a free
admission to the flies for all that. He wanted to look at this player-stuff
from the other side.
" Those were his own words, and they were just like him," said our
He looked down from above, on the " Judgment of Solomon," and
fell asleep over it : one would have thought he had come from a dinner
where many toasts were given. He went to sleep, and was locked in ;
and there he sat through the dark night in the flies, and when he woke
he told a story, but our aunt would not believe it.
" The ' Judgment of Solomon ' was over," he said, " and all the
people had gone away, upstairs and downstairs ; but now the real play
began, the after-piece, which was the best of all," said the agent. " Then
life came into the affair. It was not the ' Judgment of Solomon' that
was performed ; no, a real court of judgment was held upon the stage."
And Agent Fabs had the impudence to try and make our aunt believe
nil this : that was the thanks she got for n-aving got him a place in the
886 Stories fo) the Household.
"What did the agent say ? Why, it was curious enough to hear, but
there was malice and satire in it.
" It looked dark enough up there," said the agent ; " but then the
rnagic business began a great performance, ' The Judgment in the
Theatre.' The box-keepers were at their posts, and every spectator had
to show his ghostly pass-book, that it might be decided if he was to be
admitted with hands loose or bound, and with or without a muzzle.
Grand people who came too late, when the performance had begun, and
young people, who could not always watch the time, tvere tied up out-
side, and had list slippers put on their feet, with which they were
allowed to go in before the beginning of the next act, and they had
muzzles too. And then the ' Judgment on the Stage ' began."
" All malice, and not a bit of truth in it," said our aunt.
The painter, who wanted to get to Paradise, had to go up a staircase
which he had himself painted, but which no man could mount : that
was to expiate his sins against perspective. All the plants and buildings,
which the property-man had placed, with infinite pains, in countries to
which they did not belong, the poor fellow was obliged to put in their
right places before cockcrow, if he wanted to get into Paradise. Let
Herr Fabs see how he would get in himself; but what he said cf the
performers, tragedians and comedians, singers and dancers, that was the
most rascally of all. Mr. Fabs, indeed ! Flabs ! He did not deserve
to be admitted at all, and our aunt would not soil her lips with what
he said. And he said, did Flabs, that the whole was written down, and
it should be printed when he was dead and buried, but not before, for
he would not risk having his arms and legs broken.
Once our aunt had been in fear and trembling in her temple of hap-
piness, the theatre. It was on a winter day, one of those days in which
one has a couple of hours of daylight, with a grey sky. It was terribly
cold and snowy, but aunt must go to the theatre. A little opera and a
great ballet were performed, and a prologue and an epilogue into the
bargain; and that would last till late at night. Our aunt must needs
go; so she borrowed a pair of fur boots of her lodger, boots with fur
inside and out, and which reached far up her legs.
She got to the theatre, and to her box ; the boots were warm, and she
kept them on. Suddenly there was a cry of " Fire ! " smoke was coming
from one of the side scenes, and streamed down from the flies, and there
was a terrible panic. The people came rushing out, and our aunt was
the last in the box, " on the second tier, left-hand side, for from there
the scenery looks best," she used to say : ' ; the scenes are always so
arranged that they look best from the King's side." Aunt wanted to
come out, but the people before h^r, in their fright and heedlessness,
slammed the door of the box ; and there sat our aunt, and couldn't get
out, and couldn't get in; that is to say. she couldn't get into the next
box, for the partition was too high for her. She called out, and no one
heard her ; she looked down into the tier of boxes below her, and it was
empty, and low, and looked quite near, and aunt in her terror felt quite
young and light. She thought of jumping down, and had got one leg
over the partition, the other resting on the bench. There she sat astride,
as if on horseback, well wrapped up in her flowered cloak, with one leg
hanging out a leg in a tremendous fur boot. That was a sight to
behold ; and when it was beheld, our aunt was heard tco, and was saved
from burning, for the theatre was not burned down.
That was the most memoi'able evening of her life, and she was glad
that she could not see herself, for she would have died with confusion.
Her benefactor in the machinery department, Herr Sivertsen, visited
her every Sunday, but it was a long time from Sunday to Sunday. In
the latter time, therefore, she used to have in a little child " for the
scraps ; " that is to say, to eat up tne remains of the dinner. It was
THE BALLET GIRL.
a child employed in the ballet, one that certainly wanted feeding. The
little one used to appear, sometimes as an elf, sometimes as a. page ; the
most difficult part she had to play was the lion's hind leg in the " Magic
Flute ; " but as she grew larger she could represent the fore-feet of the
lion. She certainly only got half a guilder for that, whereas the hind
legs were paid for with a vhoie guilder ; but then she had to walk bent,
and to do without fresh air. " That was all very interesting to hear,"
said our aunt.
She deserved to live as long as the theatre stood, but she could not
last so long ; and she did not die in the theatre, but respectably in her
bed. Her last words were, moreover, not without meaning. She asked,
" What will the play be to-morrow ? "
At her death she left about five hundred dollars. "We presume this
from the interest, which came to twenty dollars. This our aunt had
destined as a legacy for a worthy old spinster who had no friends ; it
888 Stories for the Household.
was to be devoted to a yearly subscription for a place in the second
tier, on the left side, for the Saturday evening, " for on that evening two
pieces were always given," it said in the will ; and the only condition
laid upon the person who enjoyed the legacy was, that she should think,
every Saturday evening, of our aunt, who was lying in her grave.
This was our aunt's rdigion.
"VV r E are travelling to Paris, to the Exhibition.
Now we are there. That was a journey, a flight without magic. "We
flew on the wings of steam over the sea and across the land.
Yes, our time is the time of fairy tales.
We are in the midst of Paris, in a great hotel. Blooming flowers
ornament the staircases, and soft carpets the floors.
Our room is a very cosy one, and through the open balcony door
we have a view of a great square. Spring lives down there ; it has come
to Paris, and arrived at the same time with us. It has come in the
shape of a glorious young chestnut tree, with delicate leaves newly
opened. How the tree gleams, dressed in its spring garb, before all
the other trees in the place ! One of these latter has been struck out
of the list of living trees. It lies on the ground with roots exposed.
On the place where it stood, the young chestnut tree is to be planted,
and to flourish.
It still stands towering aloft on the heavy waggon which has brought
it this morning a distance of several miles to Paris. For years it had
stood there, in the protection of a mighty oak tree, under which the old
venerable clergyman had often sat, with children listening to his stories.
The young chestnut tree had also listened to the stories ; for the Dryad
who lived in it was a child also. She remembered the time when the
tree was so little that it only projected a short way above the grass and
ferns around. These were as tall as they would ever be ; but the tree
grew every year, nnd enjoyed the air and the sunshine, and drank the
dew and the rain. Several times it was also, as it must be, well shaken
by the w r ind and the rain ; for that is a part of education.
The Dryad rejoiced in her life, and rejoiced in the sunshine, and the
singing of the birds ; but she was most rejoiced at human voices ; she
understood the language of men as well as she understood that of
Butterflies, cockchafers, dragon-flies, everything that could fly came
THE OLD CLERGYMAN AXD THE CHILPEEX
to pay a visit. They could all talk. They told of the village, of the
vineyard, of the forest, of the old castle with its parks and canals and
ponds. Down in the water dwelt also living beings, which, in their way,
could fly under the water from one place to another beings with
knowledge and delineation. They said nothing at all ; they were so
And the swallow, who had dived, told about the pretty little goldfish,
of the thick turbot, the fat brill, and the old carp. The swallow could
describe all that very well, but, " Self is the man," she said. " One
ought to see these things oneself." But how was the Dryad ever to see
such beings ? She was obliged to be satisfied with being able to look
over the beautiful country and see the busy industry of men.
It was glorious ; but most glorious of all when the old clergyman sat
under the oak tree and talked of France, and of the great deeds of her
sons and daughters, whose names will be mentioned with admiration
through all time.
Then the Dryad heard of the shepherd girl, Joan of Arc, and of
Charlotte Corday ; she heard about Henry the Fourth and Napoleon
the First; she heard names whose echo sounds in the hearts of the
890 >ries for the Household.
The village children listened attentively, and the Dryad no less atten-
tively : she became a school-child with the rest. In the clouds that
went sailing by she saw, picture by picture, everything that she heard
talked about. The cloudy sky was her picture-book.
She felt so happy in beautiful France, the fruitful land of genius,
with the crater of freedom. But in her heart the sting remained that
the bird, that every animal that could fly, was much better off than she.
Even the fly could look about more in the world, far beyond the Dryad's
Prance was so great and so glorious, but she could only look across a
little piece of it. The land stretched out, world-wide, with vineyards,
forests, and great cities. Of all these Paris was the most splendid and
the mightiest. The birds could get there ; but she, never !
Among the village children was a little ragged, poor girl, but a pretty
one to look at. She was always laughing or singing and twining red
flowers in her black hair.
" Don't go to Paris ! " the old clergyman warned her. " Poor child !
if you go there, it will be your ruin.' :
But she went for all that.
The Dryad often thought of her ; for she had the same wish, and felt
the same longing for the great city.
The Dryad's tree was bearing its first chestnut blossoms ; the birds
were twittering round them in the most beautiful sunshine. Then a
stately carriage came rolling along that way, and in it sat a grand lady
driving the spirited, light-footed horses. On the back seat a little
smart groom balanced himself. The Dryad knew the lady, and the old
clergyman knew her also. He shook his head gravely when he saw her,
" So you went there after ail, and it was your ruin, poor Mary ! "
" That one poor ? " thought the Dryad. " jS^o ; she wears a dress fit for
a Countess" (she had become one in the city of magic changes). " Oh, if
I were only there, amid all the splendour and pomp ! They shine up into
the very clouds at night : when I look up, I can tell in what direction
the town lies."
Towards that direction the Dryad looked every evening. She saw in
the dark night the gleaming cloud on the horizon ; in the clear moon-
light nights she missed the sailing clouds, which showed her pictures of
the city and pictures from history.
The child grasps at the picture-books, the Dryad grasped at the cloud-
world, her thought-book. A sunny, cloudless sky was for her a blank
leaf; and for several days she had only had such leaves before her.
It was in the warm summer-time ; not a breeze moved through the
glowing hot davs. Every leaf, every flower, lay as if it were torpid, and
the people seemed torpid too.
Then the clouds arose and covered the region round about where the
gleaming mist announced "Here lies Paris."
The clouds piled themselves up like a chain of mountains, hurried on
The Dryad 891
through the air, and spread themselves abroad over the whole landscape,
so far as the Dryad's eye could reach.
Like enormous blue-black blocks of rock the clouds lay piled over one
another. Gleams of lightning shot forth from them.
" These also are the servants of the Lord God," the old clergyman
had said. And there came a bluish dazzling flash of lightning, a light
ing up as if of the sun itself, which could burst blocks of rock asunder.
The lightning struck and split to the roots the old venerable oak. The
crown fell asunder : it seemed as if the tree were stretching forth its
arms to clasp the messengers of the light.
No bronze cannon can sound over the land at the birth of a royal
child as the thunder sounded at the death of the old oak. The rain
streamed down ; a refreshing wind was blowing ; the storm had gone
by, and there was quite a holiday glow on all things. The old clergy-
man spoke a few words for honourable remembrance, and a painter made
a drawing, as a lasting record of the tree.
"Everything passes away," said the Dryad; "passes away like a
cloud, and never comes back ! "
The old clergyman, too, did not come back. The green roof of his
school was gone, and his teaching-chair had vanished. The children did
not come ; but autumn came, and winter came, and then spring also.
In all this change of seasons the Dryad looked toward the region where,
at night, Paris gleamed with its bright mist far on the horizon.
Forth from the town rushed engine after engine, train after train,
whistling and screaming at all hours in the day. In the evening, towards
midnight, at daybreak, and all the day through, came the trains. Out
of each one, and into each one, streamed people from the country of
every king : a new wonder of the world had summoned them to Paris.
In what form did this wonder exhibit itself?
"A splendid blossom of art and industry," said one, " has unfolded
itself in the Champ de Mars a gigantic sunflower, from whose petals
one can learn geography and statistics, and can become as wise as a lord
mayor, and raise oneself to the level of art and poetry, and study the
greatness and power of the various lands."
"A fairy tale flower," said another, "a many-coloured lotus-plant, which
spreads out its green leaves like a velvet carpet over the sand. The
opening spring has brought it forth, the summer will see it in all its
splendour, the autumn winds will sweep it away, so that not a leaf, not
a fragment of its root shall remain."
In front of the Military School extends in times of peace the arena of
war a field without a blade of grass, a piece of sandy steppe, as if cut
out of the Desert of Africa, where Fata Morgana displays her wondrous
airy castles and hanging gardens. In the Champ de Mars, however,
these were to be seen more splendid, more wonderful than in the East,
for human art had converted the airy deceptive scenes into reality.
" The Aladdin's Palace of the present has been built," it was said.
" Day by day, hour by hour, it unfolds more of its wonderful splendour."
892 Stories for ike Household.
The endless halls shine in marble and many colours. " Master Blood-
less " here moves his limbs of steel and iron in the great circular hall of
machinery. Works of art in metal, in stone, in Gobelins tapestry
announce the vitality of mind that is stirring in every land. Halls of
paintings, splendour of flowers, everything that mind and skill can
create in the workshop of the artizan has been placed here for show.
Even the memorials of ancient days, out of old graves and turf-moors,
have appeared at this general meeting.
The overpowering great variegated whole must be divided into small
portions, and pressed together like a plaything, if it is to be understood
Like a great table on Christmas Eve, the Champ de Mars carried a
wonder-castle of industry and art ; and around this knicknacks from all
countries had been ranged knicknacks on a grand scale, for every
nation found some remembrance of home.
Here stood the royal palace of Egypt, there the Caravanserai of the
desert land. The Bedouin had quitted his sunny country, and hastened
by on his camel. Here stood the Eussian stables, with the fiery glo-
rious horses of the steppe. Here stood the simple straw-thatched
dwelling of the Danish peasant, with the Daunebrog flag, next to
Gustavus Vasa's wooden house from Dalarne, with its wonderful
carvings. American huts, English cottages, French pavilions, kiosks,
theatres, churches, all strewn around, and between them the fresh green
turf, the clear springing water, blooming bushes, rare trees, hothouses,
in which one might fancy oneself transported into the tropical forest ;
whole gardens brought from Damascus, and blooming under one roof.
What colours, what fragrance !
Artificial grottoes surrounded bodies of fresh or of salt water, and
gave a glimpse into the empire of the fishes ; the visitor seemed to
wander at the bottom of the sea, among fishes and polypi.
"All this," they said, " the Champ de Mars offers ; " and around the
great richly-spread table the crowd of human beings moves like a busy
swarm of ants, on foot or in little carriages, for not all feet are equal to
such a fatiguing journey.
Hither they swarm from morning till late in the evening. Steamer
after steamer, crowded with people, glides down the Seine. The number
of carriages is continually on the increase. The swarm of people on foot
and on horseback grows more and more dense. Carriages and omnibuses
are crowded, stuffed and embroidered with people. All these tributary
streams flow in one direction towards the Exhibition. On every entrance
the flag of France is displayed ; around the world's bazaar wave the flags
of all nations. There is a humming and a murmuring from the hall of
the machines ; from the towers the melody of the chimes is heard; with
the tones of the organs in the chvrches mingle the hoarse nasal songs
from the cafes of the East. It is a, kingdom of Babel, a wonder of the
In very truth it was. That 's what all the reports said, and who did
not hear them ? The Dryad knew everything that is told here of the
new wonder in the city of cities.
" Fly away, ye birds ! fly away to see, and then come back and tell
me," said the Dryad.
The wish became an intense desire became the one thought of a life.
Then, in the quiet silent night, while the full moon was shining, the
Dryad saw a spark fly out of the moon's disc, and fall like a shooting
star. And before the tree, whose leaves waved to and fro as if they
were stirred by a tempest, stood a noble, mighty, and grand figure. In
tones that were at once rich and strong, like the trumpet of the Last
Judgment bidding farewell to life and summoning to the great account,
DIGGING UP THE TREE.
" Thou shalt go to the city of magic ; thou shalt take root there, and
enjoy the mighty rushing breezes, the air, and the sunshine there. But
the time of thy life shall then be shortened; the line of years that
awaited thee here amid the free nature shall shrink to but a small tale.
Poor Dryad ! it shall be thy destruction. Thy yearning and longing
will increase, thy desire will grow more stormy, the tree itself will be as
a prison to thee, thou wilt quit thy cell and give up thy nature to fly out
and mingle among men. Then the years that would have belonged to
tKee will be contracted to half the span of the ephemeral fly, that lives
but a day: one night, and thy life-taper shall be blown out the leaves
of the tree will wither and be blown away, to become green never
again ! "
Thus the words sounded. And the light vanished away, but not the
longing of the Dryad : she trembled in the wild fever of expectation.
"I shall go there!" she cried, rejoicingly. "Life is beginning and
swells like a cloud ; nobody knows whither it is hastening."
PQJL Stories for the Household.
AY hen the grey dawn arose, aud the moon turned pale and the clouds
were tinted red, the wished-for hour struck. The words of promise
People appeared with spades and poles ; they dug round the roots of
the tree, deeper and deeper, and beneath it. A waggon was brought out,
drawn by many horses, and the tree was lifted up, with its roots and the
lumps of earth that adhered to them ; matting was placed around the
roots, as though the tree had its feet in a warm bag. And now the tree
was lifted on the waggon and secured with chains. The journey began,
the journey to Paris. There the tree was to grow as an ornament to the
city of French glory.
The twigs and the leaves of the chestnut tree trembled in the first
moments of its being moved ; and the Dryad trembled in the pleasurable
feeling of expectation.
"Away! away!" it sounded in every beat of her pulse. "Away!
away !" sounded in words that flew trembling along. The Dryad forgot
to bid farewell to the regions of home ; she thought not of the waving
grass and of the innocent daisies, which had looked up to her as to a
great lady, a young Princess playing at being a shepherdess out in the
The chestnut tree stood upon the waggon, and nodded his branches :
whether this meant " farewell " or " forward," the Dryad knew not ; she
dreamed only of the marvellous new things, that seemed yet so familiar,
and that were to unfold themselves before her. Xo child's heart rejoic-
ing in innocence no heart whose blood danced with passion had set
out on the journey to Paris more full of expectation than she.
Her " farewell " sounded in the words " Away ! away ! "
The wheels turned ; the distant approached ; the present vanished.
The region was changed, even as the clouds change. Xew vineyards,
forests, villages, villas appeared came nearer vanished !