By Hans Christian Andersen
' Now I shall tell a story,' said the Wind.
' No, excuse me' said the Bain, ' now it is
my turn ! You have stood long enough at the
street corner and howled all that you could
howl ! '
' Is that your thanks,' said the Wind, ' for
my having, in your honour, turned many an
umbrella outside in ; yes, even broken them,
when people would have nothing to do with
you ! '
' I am going to tell one,' said the Sunshine,
' be quiet ; ' and it was said with dignity
and majesty, so that the Wind laid itself
down all its length, but the Rain drizzled
in the Wind, and said, ' Must we stand this
! She always breaks through, this Madam
Sunshine. We shall not listen to her ! it is
not worth the trouble to listen ! '
And the Sunshine said :
' There flew a swan over the rolling sea :
every feather on it shone like gold ; one
feather fell down on the big merchant ship
which glided past under full sail. The
feather fell on the curly hair of the young
man who had charge of the cargo, the "
Super-cargo " they called him. The feather
of the bird of Fortune touched his forehead,
and became a pen in his hand, and he soon
became a rich merchant, who could easily buy
himself spurs of gold, and change gold plate
into a nobleman's shield. I have shone upon
it,' said the Sunshine.
' The swan flew away over the green meadow,
where the little shepherd, a boy of seven
years old, had laid himself to rest under
the shadow of the single old tree there. And
the swan in its flight kissed a leaf of the
tree ; it fell into the boy's hand, and the
one leaf became three, then ten, then a
whole book, and he read in it about the
wonders of nature, about his mother-tongue,
and about faith and knowledge. At bedtime he
laid the book under his head, so that he
should not forget what he had read, and the
book took him to the school bench and the
desk of learning. I have read his name among
those of the learned ! ' said the Sunshine.
' The swan flew into the loneliness of the
forest, rested there on the still, dark
lakes, where the water-lilies and the wild
apples grow, where the cuckoo and the
wood-pigeon have their homes.
' A poor woman gathered fallen branches for
firewood, and carried them on her back ; she
bore her child in her arms, and was on her
way home. She saw the golden swan, the swan
of Fortune, fly up from the rush-grown bank.
What shone there ? A golden egg ; she laid
it in her bosom, and the warmth remained ;
there was certainly life in the egg. Yes,
there was a tapping inside the shell ; she
noticed it, and thought it was the beating
of her own heart.
' At home in her poor room she took out the
golden egg, " Tick, tick," it said, as if it
were a valuable gold watch, but it was an
egg with living life. The egg burst, and a
little cygnet, feathered like pure gold,
stuck its head out ; it had four rings round
its neck, and as the poor woman had
just four boys, three at home, and the
fourth which she had carried with her in the
forest, she understood at once that here was
a ring for each of the children ; and just
as she understood it, the little golden bird
' She kissed each ring, and let each of the
children kiss one of the rings, laid it on
the child's heart, and placed it on the
' I saw it ! ' said the Sunshine, ' I saw
what followed this !
' The one boy seated himself in the clay pit,
took a lump of clay in his hand, turned it
with the fingers, and it became a figure of
Jason, who fetched the golden fleece.
' The second boy ran out at once into the
meadow where the flowers stood with all the
colours one could think of : he plucked a
handful, clutched them so firmly that the
sap sprang into his eyes and wetted the ring
; there came life and movement into his
thoughts and into his hand,
and after a year and a day, the great town
talked of the great painter.
'The third of the boys held the ring so fast
in his mouth that it gave out a sound, an
echo from the bottom of his heart. Thoughts
and feelings lifted themselves in melody,
lifted themselves like singing swans, dived
like swans down into the deep sea, the deep
sea of thought. He became the
great master of melody. Every country may
now think " He belongs to me ! "
' The fourth little one ; ah, he was the
outcast. They said he " had the pip ", and
ought to have pepper and butter, like the
sick chickens ! " Pepper and bootter," was
how they said it, and he got that ; but from
me he got a sunshine kiss,' said the
Sunshine, ' he got ten kisses for one.
He had a poet's nature and got both knocks
and kisses ; but he had the ring of Fortune
from Fortune's golden swan. His thoughts
flew out like a golden butterfly, the symbol
immortality ! '
' That was a long story ! J said the Wind.
' And tiresome ! ' said the Rain ; ' blow on
me so that I may come to myself again.'
And the Wind blew, and the Sunshine went on
: ' The swan of Fortune flew away over the
deep bay, where the fishers had spread their
nets. The poorest of them had thought of
getting married, and so he got married.
' The swan brought a piece of amber to him ;
amber attracts to itself, it drew hearts to
the house. Amber is the loveliest incense.
There came a fragrance as from the church ;
there came a fragrance from God's nature.
They felt truly the happiness of home,
content with their lowly
condition, and so their life became a real
'Shall we stop now ? ' said the Wind. '
Sunshine has talked long enough now. I am
tired of it,! '
' I also,' said the Rain.
What do we others, who have heard the
stories, say.We say . . . now they are