Wind Tells About Waldemar Daa and His
By Hans Christian Andersen
When the wind sweeps across the grass, the
field has a ripple like a pond, and when it
sweeps across the corn the field waves to
and fro like a sea. That is called the
wind's dance ; but hear it tell stories ; it
sings them out, and how different it sounds
in the tree-tops in the forest, and through
the loopholes and clefts and cracks in walls
Do you see how the wind drives the clouds up
yonder, like a flock of sheep ? Do you hear
how the wind howls down here through the
open gate, like a watchman blowing his horn
? With wonderful tones he whistles and
screams down the chimney and into the
fireplace ! The fire crackles and flares up,
and shines far into the room, and the little
place is warm and snug, and it is pleasant
to sit there listening to the sounds. Let
the Wind speak, for he knows plenty of
stories and fairy tales, many more than are
known to any of us. Just hear what the Wind
' Huh uh ush ! roar along ! ' That is the
burden of the song.
' By the shores of the Great Belt lies an
old mansion with thick red walls says the
Wind. ' I know every stone in it ; I saw it
when it still belonged to the castle of
Marsk Stig on the promontory. But it had to
be pulled down, and the stone was used again
for the walls of a new mansion in another
place, the baronial mansion of Borreby,
which still stands by the coast.
' I knew them, the noble lords and ladies,
the changing races that dwelt there, and now
I'm going to tell about Waldemar Daa and his
daughters. How proudly he carried himself he
was of royal blood ! He could do more than
merely hunt the stag and empty the wine-can.
" It shall be done," he was accustomed to
' His wife walked proudly in
gold-embroidered garments over the polished
marble floors. The tapestries were gorgeous,
the furniture was expensive and artistically
carved. She had brought gold and silver
plate with her into the house, and there was
German beer in the cellar. Black fiery
horses neighed in the stables. There was a
wealthy look about the house of Borreby at
when wealth was still at Kome there.
' Children dwelt there also ; three dainty
maidens, Ida, Joanna, and Anna Dorothea : I
have never forgotten their names.
' They were rich people, noble people, born
in affluence, nurtured in affluence.
' Huh sh ! roar along ! ' sang the Wind ;
and then he continued :
' I did not see here, as in other great
noble houses, the high-born lady sitting
among her women in the great hall turning
the spinning-wheel : she played on the
sounding lute, and sang to the sound, but
not always old Danish melodies, but songs of
a strange land. Here was life and
hospitality : distinguished guests came from
far and near, the music sounded, the goblets
clashed, and I was not able to drown the
noise,' said "the Wind. ' Ostentation, and
haughtiness, and splendour, and display, and
rule were there, but the fear of the Lord
was not there.
* And it was just on the evening of the
first day of May,' the Wind continued. ' I
came from the west, and had seen how the
ships were being crushed by the waves, on
the west coast of Jutland. I had hurried
across the heath, and the wood-girt coast,
and over the Island of Fyen, and now I drove
over the Great Belt, groaning and sighing.
' Then I lay down to rest on the shore of
Zealand, in the neighbourhood of the great
house of Borreby, where the forest, the
splendid oak forest, still rose.
' The young men-servants of the
neighbourhood were collecting branches and
brushwood under the oak trees ; the largest
and driest they could find they carried into
the village, and piled them up in a heap,
and set them on fire ; and men and maids
danced, singing in a circle round the
' I lay quite quiet,' continued the Wind ; e
but I quietly touched a branch, which had
been brought by the handsomest of the men
-servants, and the wood blazed up brightly,
blazed up higher than all the rest ; and now
he was the chosen one, and bore the name of
Street-goat, and might choose his
Street-lamb first from among the maids ; and
there was mirth and rejoicing, greater than
there was in the rich mansion of Borreby.
' And the noble lady drove towards the
mansion, with her three daughters, in a
gilded carriage drawn by six horses. The
daughters were young and fair three charming
blossoms, rose, lily, and pale hyacinth. The
mother was a proud tulip, and never
acknowledged the salutation of one of the
men or maids who paused in their sport to do
her honour : the gracious lady seemed a
flower that was rather stiff in the stalk.
' Rose, lily, and pale hyacinth ; yes, I saw
them all three ! Whose lambkins will they
one day become ? thought I ; their
Street-goat will be a gallant knight,
perhaps a Prince. Huh sh ! hurry along !
hurry along !
' Yes, the carriage rolled on with them, and
the peasant people resumed their dancing.
They rode that summer through all the
villages round about. But in the night, when
I rose again,' said the Wind, ' the very
noble lady lay down, to rise again no more :
that thing came upon her which comes upon
all there is nothing new in that.
' Waldemar Baa stood for a space silent and
thoughtful. " The proudest tree can be bowed
without being broken," said a voice within
him. His daughters wept, and all the people
in the mansion wiped their eyes ; but Lady
Daa had driven away and I drove away too,
and rushed along, huh sh ! ' said the Wind.
I returned again ; I often returned again
over the Island of Fyen and the shores of
the Belt, and I sat down by Borreby, by the
splendid oak wood ; there the heron made his
nest, and wood -pigeons haunted the place,
and blue ravens, and even the black stork.
It was still spring ; some of them were yet
sitting on their eggs, others had already
hatched their young. But how they flew up,
how they cried ! The axe sounded, blow upon
blow : the wood was to be felled. Waldemar
Daa wanted to build a noble ship, a
man-of-war, a three-decker, which the King
would be sure to buy ; and therefore the
wood must be felled, the landmark of the
seamen, the refuge of the birds. The hawk
started up and flew away, for its nest was
destroyed ; the heron and all the birds of
the forest became homeless, and flew about
in fear and in anger : I could well
understand how they felt. Crows and jackdaws
croaked aloud as if in scorn. " From the
nest ! from the nest, far, far ! " ' Far in
the interior of the wood, where the swarm of
labourers were working, stood Waldemar Daa
and his three daughters ; and all laughed at
the wild cries of
the birds ; only one, the youngest, Anna
Dorothea, felt grieved in her heart ; and
when they made preparations to fell a tree
that was almost dead, and on whose naked
branches the black stork had built his nest,
whence the little storks were stretching out
their heads, she begged for mercy for the
little things, and tears came into her eyes.
Therefore the tree with the black stork's
nest was left standing. The tree was not
worth speaking of 'There was a great hewing
and sawing, and a threedecker was built. The
architect was of low origin, but of great
pride ; his eyes and forehead told how
clever he was, and Waldemar Daa was fond of
listening to him, and so was
Waldemar's daughter Ida, the eldest, who was
now fifteen years old ; and while he built a
ship for the father, he was building for
himself a castle in the air, into which he
and Ida were to go as a married couple which
might indeed have happened, if the castle
had been of stone walls, and ramparts, and
moats with forest and garden. But in spite
of his wise head, the architect remained but
a poor bird ; and, indeed, what business has
a sparrow to take part in a dance of cranes
? Huh sh ! I careered away, and he careered
away too, for he was not allowed to stay ;
and little Ida got over it, because she was
obliged to get over it.
' The proud black horses were neighing in
the stable ; they were worth looking at, and
they were looked at. The admiral, who had
been sent by the King himself to inspect the
new ship and take measures for its purchase,
spoke loudly in admiration of the beautiful
' 1 heard all that/ said the Wind. ' I
accompanied the gentlemen through the open
door, and strewed blades of straw like bars
of gold before their feet. Waldemar Daa
wanted to have gold, and the admiral wished
for the black horses, and that is why he
praised them so much ; but the
hint was not taken, and consequently the
ship was not bought. It remained on the
shore covered over with boards, a Noah's ark
that never got to the water Huh sh ! rush
away ! away ! and that was a pity.
' In the winter, when the fields were
covered with snow, and the water with large
blocks of ice that I blew up on to the coast,'
continued the Wind, ' crows and ravens came,
all as black as might be, great flocks of
them, and alighted on the dead, deserted,
lonely ship by the shore, and croaked in
hoarse accents of the wood that was no more,
of the many pretty birds' nests destroyed,
and the old and young ones left without a
home ; and all for the sake of that great
of lumber, that proud ship that never sailed
' I made the snow-flakes whirl, and the snow
lay like great waves high around the ship,
"and drifted over it. I let it hear my voice,
that it might know what a storm has to say.
Certainly I did my part towards teaching it
seamanship. Huh sh ! push along !
' And the winter passed away ; winter and
summer, both passed away, and they are still
passing away, even as I pass away ; as the
snow whirls along, and the appleblossom
whirls along, and the leaves fall away !
away ! away ! and men are passing away too !
' But the daughters were still young, and
little Ida was a rose, as fair to look upon
as on the day when the architect saw her. I
often seized her long brown hair, when she
stood in the garden by the apple-tree,
musing, and not heeding how I strewed
blossoms on her hair, and loosened it,
while she was gazing at the red sun and the
golden sky, through the dark underwood and
the trees of the garden.
' Her sister was bright and slender as a
lily. Joanna had height and stateliness, but
was like her mother, rather stiff in the
stalk. She was very fond of walking through
the great hall, where hung the portraits of
her ancestors. The women were painted in
dresses of silk and velvet, with
a tiny little hat, embroidered with pearls,
on their plaited hair. They were handsome
women. Their husbands were in steel, or in
costly cloaks lined with squirrel's skin ;
they wore little ruffs, and swords at their
sides, but not buckled to their hips. Where
would Joanna's picture find its place on
that wall some day ? and how would he look,
her noble lord and husband ? This is what
she thought of, and of this she spoke softly
to herself. I heard it as I swept into the
long hall and turned round to come out again.
' Anna Dorothea, the pale hyacinth, a child
of fourteen, was quiet and thoughtful ; her
great deep-blue eyes had a musing look, but
the childlike smile still played around her
lips : I was not able to blow it away, nor
did I wish to do so.
' We met in the garden, in the hollow lane,
in the field and meadow ; she gathered herbs
and flowers which she knew would be useful
to her father in concocting the drinks and
drops he distilled. Waldemar Daa was
arrogant and proud, but he was also a
learned man, and knew a great deal. That was
no secret, and many opinions were expressed
concerning it. In his chimney there was fire
even in summertime. He would lock the door
of his room, and for days the fire would be
poked and raked ; but of this he did not
talk much the forces of nature must be
conquered in silence ; and soon he would
discover the art of making the best thing of
all the red gold.
' That is why the chimney was always
smoking, therefore the flames crackled so
frequently. Yes, I was there too,' said the
Wind. " Let it go," I sang down through the
chimney : "it will end in smoke, air, coals
and ashes ! You will burn yourself !
Hu-uh-ush ! drive away ! drive away ! " But
Waldemar Daa did not drive it away.
' The splendid black horses in the stable
what became of them ? what became of the old
gold and silver vessels in cupboards and
chests, the cows in the fields, and the
houses and home itself ? Yes, they may melt,
may melt in the golden crucible, and yet
yield no gold.
' Empty grew the barns and store-rooms, the
cellars and magazines. The servants
decreased, and the mice multiplied. Then a
window broke, and then another, and I could
get in elsewhere besides at the door,' said
the Wind. " Where the chimney smokes the
meal is being cooked," the proverb says. But
here the chimney smoked that devoured all
the meals, for the sake of the red gold.
' I blew through the courtyard gate like a
watchman blowing his horn,' the Wind went on,
' but no watchman was there. I twirled the
weathercock round on the summit of the tower,
and it creaked like the snoring of the
warder, but no warder was there ; only mice
and rats were there.
Poverty laid the table-cloth ; poverty sat
in the wardrobe and in the larder ; the door
fell off its hinges, cracks and fissures
made their appearance, and I went in and out
at pleasure ; and that is how I know all
' Amid smoke and ashes, amid sorrow and
sleepless nights, the hair became grey, in
his beard and around his temples ; his skin
turned pale and yellow, as his eyes looked
greedily for the gold, the desired gold.
'I blew the smoke and ashes into his face
and beard : debt came instead of gold. I
sang through the broken window-panes and the
yawning clefts in the walls. I blew into the
chests of drawers belonging to the daughters,
wherein lay the clothes that had become
faded and threadbare from being worn over
and over again. That was not the song that
had been sung at the children's cradle. The
lordly life had changed to a life of penury.
I was the only one who sang aloud in that
castle,' said the Wind. ' I snowed them up,
and they say snow keeps people warm. They
had no wood, and the forest from which they
might have brought it was cut down. It was a
biting frost. I
rushed in through loopholes and passages,
over gables and roofs, that I might be brisk.
They were lying in bed because of the cold,
the three high-born daughters, and their
father was crouching under his leathern
coverlet. Nothing to bite, nothing to burn
there was a life for high-
born people ! Huh-sh ! let it go ! But that
is what my Lord Daa could not do he could
not let it go.
' " After winter comes spring," he said. "
After want, good times will come, but they
must be waited for ! Now my house and lands
are mortgaged, it is indeed high time ; and
the gold will soon come. At Easter ! "
' I heard how he spoke thus, looking at a
spider's web. " Thou diligent little weaver,
thou dost teach me perseverance. Let them
tear thy web, and thou wilt begin it again
and complete it. Let them destroy it again,
and thou wilt resolutely begin to work again
again ! That is what we must do, and that
will repay itself at last."
It was the morning of Easter-day. The bells
and the sun seemed to rejoice in the sky.
The master had watched through the night in
feverish excitement, and had been melting
and cooling, distilling and mixing. I heard
him sighing like a soul in despair ; I heard
him praying, and I noticed how he held his
breath. The lamp was burned out, but he did
not notice it. I blew at the fire of coals,
and it threw its red glow upon his ghastly
white face, lighting it up with a glare, and
his sunken eyes looked forth wildly out of
their deep sockets but they became larger
and larger, as though they would burst.
' Look at the alchemic glass ! It glows in
the crucible, red-hot, and pure and heavy !
He lifted it with a trembling hand, and
cried with a trembling voice, " Gold ! gold
' He was quite dizzy I could have blown him
down said the Wind ; ' but I only fanned the
glowing coals, and accompanied him through
the door to where his daughters sat
shivering. His coat was powdered with ashes,
and there were ashes in his beard and in his
He stood straight up, and held his costly
treasure on high, in the brittle glass. "
Found, found ! Gold, gold ! " he shouted,
and again held aloft the glass to let it
flash in the sunshine ; but his hand
trembled, and the alchemic glass fell
clattering to the ground, and broke into a
thousand pieces ; and the last bubble of his
happiness had burst ! Hu-uh-ush ! rushing
away ! and I rushed away from the
4 Late in autumn, when the days are short,
and the mist comes and strews cold drops
upon the berries and leafless branches, I
came back in fresh spirits, rushed through
the air, swept the sky clear, and snapped
the dry twigs which is certainly no great
labour, but yet it must be done. Then there
was another kind of sweeping clean at
Waldemar Daa's, in the mansion of Borreby.
His enemy, Ove Ramel, of Basnas, was there
with the mortgage of the house and
everything it contained in his pocket. I
drummed against the broken window-panes,
beat against the old rotten doors, and
whistled through cracks and rifts huh-sh !
Ove Ramel was not to be encouraged to stay
there. Ida and Anna Dorothea wept bitterly ;
Joanna stood pale and proud, and bit her
thumb till it bled but what could that avail
? Ove Ramel offered to allow Waldemar Daa to
remain in the mansion till the end of his
life, but no thanks were given him for his
offer. I listened to hear what occurred. I
saw the ruined gentleman lift his head and
throw it back prouder than ever, and I
rushed against the house and the old lime
trees with such force, that one of the
thickest branches broke, one that was not
decayed ; and the branch remained lying at
the entrance as a broom when any one wanted
to sweep the place out : and a grand
sweeping out there was I thought it would be
'It was hard on that day to preserve one's
composure ; but their will was as hard as
' There was nothing they could .call their
own except the clothes they wore : yes,
there was one thing more the alchemist's
glass, a new one thafc had lately been
bought, and filled with what had been
gathered up from the ground, the treasure
which promised so much but never kept its
promise. Waldemar Daa hid the glass in his
bosom, and taking his stick in his hand, the
gentleman passed with his daughters out of
the house of Borreby. I blew cold upon his
heated cheeks, I stroked his grey beard and
his long white hair, and I sang as well as I
could, " Huh-sh ! gone away ! gone away ! "
And that was the end of the wealth and
' Ida walked on one side of the old man, and
Anna Dorothea on the other. Joanna turned
round at the entrance why ? Fortune would
not turn because she did so. She looked at
the old walls of what had once been the
castle of Marsk Stig, and perhaps she
thought of his daughters :
The eldest gave the youngest her hand, And
forth they went to the far-off land.
Was she thinking of this old song ? Here
were three of them, and their father was
with them too. They walked along the road on
which they had once driven in their splendid
carriage they walked forth as beggars, with
their father, and wandered out into the open
field, and into a mud hut, which they rented
for ten marks a year into their new house
with the empty rooms and empty vessels.
Crows and jackdaws fluttered above them, and
cried, as if in contempt, " From the nest !
from the nest ! far ! far ! " as they had
done in the wood at Borreby when the trees
' Daa and his daughters could not help
hearing it. I blew about their ears for what
use would it be that they should listen ?
' And they went to live in the mud hut on
the open field, and I wandered away over
moor and field, through bare bushes and
leafless forests, to the open waters, to
other lands huh-uh-ush ! away, away ! year
after year ! '
And how did Waldemar Daa and his daughters
prosper ? The Wind tells us :
'The one I saw last, yes, for the last time,
was Anna Dorothea, the pale hyacinth : then
she was old and bent, for it was fifty years
afterwards. She lived longer than the rest ;
she knew all.
' Yonder on the heath, by the town of
Wiborg, stood the fine new house of the
Dean, built of red bricks with projecting
gables ; the smoke came up thickly from the
chimney. The Dean's gentle lady and her
beautiful daughters sat in the bay window,
and looked over the hawthorn hedge of the
garden towards the brown heath. What were
they looking at ? They looked on the stork's
nest out there, on the hut, which was almost
falling in ; the roof consisted of moss and
houseleek, in so far as a roof existed there
at all the stork's nest covered the greater
part of it, and that alone was in proper
condition, for it was kept in order by the
' That is a house to be looked at, but not
to be touched : I must deal gently with it,'
said the Wind. ' For the sake of the stork's
nest the hut has been allowed to stand,
though it was a blot upon the landscape.
They did not like to drive the stork away,
therefore the old shed was left
standing, and the poor woman who dwelt in it
was allowed to stay : she had the Egyptian
bird to thank for that ; or was it perchance
her reward, because she had once interceded
for the nest of its black brother in the
forest of Borreby ? At that time she, the
poor woman, was a young child, a pale
hyacinth in the rich garden. She remembered
all that right well, did Anna Dorothea.
' " Oh ! oh ! " Yes, people can sigh like
the wind moaning in the rushes and reeds. "
Oh ! oh ! " she sighed, " no bells sounded
at thy burial, Waldemar Daa ! The poor
schoolboys did not even sing a psalm when
the former lord of Borreby was laid in the
earth to rest ! Oh, everything has an end,
even misery. Sister Ida became the wife of a
peasant. That was the hardest trial that
befell our father, that the husband of a
daughter of his should be a miserable serf,
whom the proprietor could mount on the
wooden horse for punishment ! I suppose he
is under the ground now. And thou, Ida ?
Alas, alas ! it is not ended yet, wretch
that I am ! Grant me that I may die, kind
Heaven ! "
1 That was Anna Dorothea's prayer in the
wretched hut which was left standing for the
sake of the stork.
'I took pity on the fairest of the sisters,'
said the Wind. ' Her courage was like that
of a man, and in man's clothes she took
service as a sailor on board '"a ship. She
was sparing of words, and of a dark
countenance, but willing at her work. But
she did not know how to climb ; so I blew
her overboard before anybody found out that
she was a woman, and that was well done of
me ! ' said the Wind.
' On such an Easter morning as that on which
Waldemar Daa had fancied that he had found
the red gold, I heard the tones of a psalm
under the stork's nest, among the crumbling
walls it was Anna Dorothea's last song.
' There was no window, only a hole in the
wall. The sun rose up like a mass of gold,
and looked through. What a splendour he
diffused ! Her eyes and her heart were
breaking but that they would have done, even
if the sun had not shone that morning on
' The stork covered her hut till her death.
I sang at her grave ! ' said the Wind. ' I
sang at her father's grave ; I know where
his grave is, and where hers is, and nobody
else knows it.
' New times, changed times ! The old high
road now runs through cultivated fields ;
the new road winds among the trim ditches,
and soon the railway will come with its
train of carriages, and rush over the graves
which are forgotten like the names hu-ush !
passed away ! passed away !
' That is the story of Waldemar Daa and his
daughters. Tell it better, any of you, if
you know how,' said the Wind, and turned
away and he was gone.