By Hans Christian Andersen
Alfred the sculptor you know him ? We all
know him : he won the gold medal, went to
Italy, and then came home again. He was
young in those days, and indeed he is young
yet, though he is ten years older than he
After his return he visited one of the
little provincial towns on the island of
Zealand. The whole town knew who the
stranger was, and one of the richest persons
gave a party in honour of him, and all who
were of any consequence, or possessed any
property, were invited. It was quite an
event, and all the town knew of it without
its being announced by beat of drum.
Apprentice boys, and children of poor
people, and even some of the poor people
themselves, stood in front of the house, and
looked at the lighted curtain ; and the
watchman could fancy that he
was giving a party, so many people were in
the streets. There was quite an air of
festivity about, and in the house was
festivity also, for Mr. Alfred the sculptor
He talked, and told anecdotes, and all
listened to him with pleasure and a certain
kind of awe ; but none felt such respect for
him as did the elderly widow of an official
: she seemed, so far as Mr. Alfred was
concerned, like a fresh piece of blotting
paper, that absorbed all that was spoken,
and asked for more. She was very receptive
and incredibly ignorant a kind of female
' I should like to see Rome,' she said. ' It
must be a lovely city, with all the
strangers who are continually arriving
there. Now, do give us a description of
Rome. How does the city look when you come
in by the gate ? '
' I cannot very well describe it,' replied
the sculptor. ' A great open place, and in
the midst of it an obelisk, which is four
thousand years old.'
An organist ! ' exclaimed the lady, who had
never met with the word obelisk. A few of
the guests could hardly keep from laughing,
nor could the sculptor quite keep his
countenance ; but the smile that rose to his
lips faded away, for he saw, close by the
inquisitive dame, a pair of dark-blue eyes
they belonged to the daughter of the
speaker, and any one who has such a daughter
cannot be silly ! The mother was like a
fountain of questions, and the daughter, who
listened but never spoke, might pass for the
beautiful Naiad of the fountain. How
charming she was ! She was a study for the
sculptor to contemplate, but not to converse
with ; and, indeed, she did not speak, or
only very seldom.
Has the Pope a large family ? ' asked the
lady. And the young man answered, as if the
question could have been better put, 'No, he
does not come of a great family.' ' That 's
not what I mean,' the widow persisted. ' I
mean, has he a wife and children ? ' ' The
Pope is not allowed to marry,' said the
gentleman. ' I don't like that,' was the
lady's comment. She certainly might have put
more sensible questions ; but if she had not
spoken in just the manner she used,
would her daughter have leaned so gracefully
upon her shoulder, looking straight out with
the almost mournful smile upon her face ?
Then Mr. Alfred spoke again, and told of the
glory of colour in Italy, of the purple
hills, the blue Mediterranean, the azure sky
of the South, whose brightness and glory was
only to be surpassed in the North by a
maiden's deepblue eyes. And this he said
with a peculiar application ; but she who
should have understood his meaning, looked
as if she were quite unconscious of it, and
that again was charming !
Italy ! ' sighed a few of the guests.
' Oh, to travel ! ' sighed others.
' Charming ! charming ! '
' Yes, if I win fifty thousand dollars in
said the head tax-collector's lady, ' then
we will travel.
I and my daughter, and you, Mr. Alfred ; you
our guide. We'll all three travel together,
and one or two
good friends more.' And she nodded in such a
way at the company, that each one might
imagine he or
she was the person who was to be taken to
Italy. ' Yes,
we will go to Italy ! but not to those parts
where there are
robbers we '11 keep to Rome, and to the
great high roads
where one is safe.'
And the daughter sighed very quietly. And
may lie in one little sigh, or be placed in
it ! The young
man placed a great deal in it. The two blue
eyes, lit up
that evening in honour of him, must conceal
treasures of the heart and mind richer than
glories of Rome ; and when he left the party
that night he
had lost his heart lost it completely, to
the young lady.
The house of the widow was now the one which
Mr.Alfred the sculptor frequented ; and it was
that his visits were not intended for that
lady, though he
and she were the people who kept up the
he came for the daughter's sake. They called
Her name was really Karen Malena, and these
had been contracted into the one name, Kala.
beautiful ; but a few said she was rather
dull, and slept
late of a morning.
She has always been accustomed to that/
said. ' She 's a beauty, and they always are
She sleeps rather late, but that makes her
eyes so clear.'
What a power lay in those bright eyes ! '
run deep.' The young man felt the truth of
and his heart had sunk into the depths. He
told his adventures, and the mamma was as
eager in her questioning as on the first
evening of their
It was a pleasure to hear Alfred describe
spoke of Naples, of excursions to Mount
showed coloured prints of several of the
the widow had never heard of them before, or
to consider the question.
' Good heavens ! ' she exclaimed. ' So that
is a burning
mountain ! But is it not dangerous to the
about ? '
' Whole cities have been destroyed,' he
answered ; ' for
instance, Pompeii and Herculaneum.'
' But the poor people ! And you saw all that
own eyes ? '
No, I did not see any of the eruptions
these pictures, but I will show you a
picture of my own of
an eruption I saw.'
He laid a pencil sketch upon the table, and
who had been .absorbed in the contemplation
of the highly
coloured prints, threw a glance at the pale
cried in astonishment,
' Did you see it throw up white fire ? '
For a moment Alfred's respect for Kala's
suffered a sudden diminution ; but, dazzled
by the light
that illumined Kala, he soon found it quite
the old lady should have no eye for colour.
After all, it
was of no consequence, for Kala's mamma had
the best of
all things namely, Kala herself.
And Alfred and Kala were betrothed, which
enough, and the betrothal was announced in
newspaper of the town. Mamma purchased
of the paper, that she might cut out the
send it to their friends and acquaintances.
betrothed pair were happy, and the
was happy too, for it seemed like connecting
' For you are a continuation of Thorvaldsen/
And it seemed to Alfred that mamma had in
said a clever thing. Kala said nothing ; but
shone r her lips smiled, her every movement
Yes, she was beautiful ; that cannot be too
Alfred undertook to make a bust of Kala and
mother-in-law. They sat to him accordingly,
how he moulded and smoothed the soft clay
' I suppose it 's only on our account,' said
mamma-inlaw, ' that you undertake this commonplace
don't leave your servant to do all that
sticking together? '
' It is necessary that I should mould the
clay myself,' he
' Ah, yes, you are so very polite, retorted
mamma ; and
Kala silently pressed his hand, still soiled
by the clay.
And he unfolded to both of them the
loveliness of nature
in creation, how the living stood above the
plant above the mineral, the animal above
the plant, and
man above the animal. How mind and beauty
manifest in outward form, and how the
that beauty its manifestation in his works.
Kala stood silent, and nodded approbation of
expressed thought, while mamma-in-law made
' It 's difficult to follow all that. But I
hobble after you with my thoughts, though
round and round, but I contrive to hold them
And Kala's beauty held Alfred fast, filled
soul, and seized and mastered him. Beauty
from Kala's every feature from her look,
from the corners
of her mouth, and in every movement of her
Alfred the sculptor saw this : he spoke only
of her, thought
only of her, and the two became one ; and
thus it may be
said that she spoke much, for he spoke very
Such was the betrothal ; and now came the
with bridesmaids and wedding presents, all
in the wedding speech.
Mamma-in-law had set up Thorwaldsen's bust
end of the table, attired in a
dressing-gown, for he was to
be a guest ; such was her whim. Songs were
cheers were given, for it was a gay wedding,
and they were
a handsome pair. ' Pygmalion received his
one of the songs said.
Ah, that 's your mythology,' said
Next day the youthful pair started for
where they were to live. Mamma-in-law
them, ' to take care of the commonplace,' as
meaning the domestic economy. Kala was like
a doll in
a doll's house, all was so bright, so new,
and so fine. There
they sat, all three ; and as for Alfred, to
use a proverb
that will describe his position, we may say
that he sat like
the friar in the goose-yard.
The magic of form had enchanted him. He had
looked at the case, and cared not to inquire
what the case contained, and that omission
brings unhappiness, much unhappiness, into married life ; for the case
may be broken
and the gilt may come off, and then the
repent his bargain. In a large party it is
to observe that one's buttons are giving
way, and that
there are no buckles to fall back upon ; but
it is worse
still in a great company to become aware
that wife and
mother-in-law are talking nonsense and that
depend upon oneself for a happy piece of wit
to carry off
the stupidity of the thing.
The young married pair often sat hand in
hand, he speaking and she letting fall a word here and
there the same
melody, the same two or three tones of the
bell. It was
a mental relief when Sophy, one of her
friends, came to
pay a visit.
Sophy was not pretty. She was certainly free
bodily deformity, though Kala always
asserted she was
a little crooked ; but no eye save a
friend's would have
remarked it. She was a very sensible girl,
and it never
occurred to her that she might become at all
here. Her appearance was like a pleasant
breath of air in
the doll's house ; and air was certainly
required there, as
they all acknowledged. They felt they wanted
airing, and consequently they came out into
the air, and mamma-inlaw and the young couple travelled to Italy.
' Thank Heaven that we are in our own four
again/ was the exclamation of mother and
they came home a year after.
' There 's no pleasure in travelling,' said
mamma-inlaw. ' To tell the truth, it 's very
wearisome I beg
pardon for saying so. I found the time hang
although I had my children with me ; and it
work, travelling, very expensive ! And all
one has to see, and the quantity of things
you are obliged
to run after ! You must do it for decency's
you're sure to be asked when you come back ;
you're sure to be told that you've omitted
to see what was best worth seeing. I got
tired at last of those endless Madonnas : one seemed to be turning a
oneself ! '
' And what bad living you get ! ' said Kala.
Yes,' replied mamma, ' no such thing as an
meat soup. It 's miserable trash, their
And the travelling fatigued Kala : she was
fatigued, that was the worst of it. Sophy
was taken into
the house, and she did good there.
Mamma-in-law acknowledged that Sophy
both housewifery and art, though a knowledge
of the latter
could not be expected from a person of her
limited means ;
and she was, moreover, an honest, faithful
girl : she
showed that thoroughly while Kala lay ill
Where the case is everything, the case
should be strong,
or else all is over. And all was over with
the case Kala
' She was beautiful,' said mamma ; ' she was
different from the antiques, for they are so
Kala was whole, and a beauty should be
Alfred wept, and mamma wept, and both of
mourning. The black dress suited mamma very
she wore mourning the longest. Moreover, she
to experience another grief in seeing Alfred
marry Sophy, who had no appearance at all.
' He 's gone to the very extreme,' cried
1 he has gone from the most beautiful to the
has forgotten his first wife. Men have no
husband was of a different stamp, and he
died before me.'
' Pygmalion received his Galatea,' said
Alfred : ' yes,
that 's what they said in the wedding song.
I had once
really fallen in love with the beautiful
statue, which awoke
to life in my arms ; but the kindred soul
sends down to us, the angel who can feel and
with and elevate us, I have not found and
won till now.
You came, Sophy, not in the glory of outward
though you are fair, fairer than is needful.
The chief thing
remains the chief. You came to teach the
his work is but clay and dust, only an
outward form in
a fabric that passes away, and that we must
essence, the eternal spirit. Poor Kala !
ours was but
wayfarers' life. Yonder, where we shall know
by sympathy, we shall be half strangers.'
That was not lovingly spoken,' said Sophy,
spoken like a true Christian. Yonder, where
there is no
giving in marriage, but where, as you say,
each other by sympathy ; there where
develops itself and is elevated, her soul
may acquire such
completeness that it may sound more
harmoniously than mine ; and you will then
once more utter the first rapturous exclamation of your love, " Beautiful
beautiful ! " '