By Hans Christian Andersen
Have you ever seen a maiden ? I mean what
our paviours call a maiden, a thing with
which they ram down paving-stones in the
roads. A maiden of this kind is made
altogether of wood, broad below, and 'girt
round with iron rings ; at the top she is
narrow, and has a stick passed across
through her waist ; and this stick forms the
arms of the maiden.
In the shed stood two Maidens of this kind.
They had their place among shovels,
hand-carts, wheelbarrows, and measuring
tapes ; and to all this company the news had
come that the Maidens were no longer to be
called ' maidens ', but ' hand -rammers ' ;
which word was the
newest and the only correct designation
among the paviours for the thing we all know
from the old times by the name of ' the
Now, there are among us human creatures
certain individuals who are known as '
emancipated women ' ; as, for instance,
principals of institutions, dancers who
stand professionally on one leg, milliners,
and sick nurses ; and with this class of
emancipated women the two maidens in the
shed associated themselves. They were '
maidens ' among the paviour folk, and
determined not to give up this honourable
appellation, and let themselves be miscalled
' Maiden is a human name, but rammer is a
thing, and we won't be called things that is
'My lover would be ready to give up his
engagement,' said the youngest, who was
betrothed to a pile-driver ; and that is a
large machine which drives great piles into
the earth, and therefore does on a large
scale what the maiden does on a small one. '
He wants to marry me as a Maiden,
but whether he would have me, were I a
rammer, is a question ; so I won't have my
' And I,' said the elder one, ' would rather
have both my arms broken off.'
But the Wheelbarrow was of a different
opinion ; and the Wheelbarrow was looked
upon as of some consequence, for he
considered himself a quarter of a coach,
because he went about upon one wheel.
' I must remark,' he said, ' that the name "
maiden " is common enough, and not nearly so
refined as " rammer ", or " stamper ", which
latter has also been proposed, and through
which you would be introduced into the
category of seals ; and only think of the
great stamp of state, which
impresses the royal seal that gives effect
to the laws ! No, in your case I would
surrender my maiden name.'
' No, certainly not ! ' exclaimed the elder.
' I am too old for that.'
' I presume you have never heard of what is
called " European necessity " ? ' observed
the honest Measuring Tape. ' One must be
able to adapt oneself to time and
circumstances, and if there is a law that
the " maiden " is to be called " rammer ",
why, she must be called " ram-
mer ", for everything has its measure.
' No ; if there must be a change,' said the
younger, ' I should prefer to be called "
Missy ", for that reminds one a little of
But I would rather be chopped to bits,' said
At last they all went to work. The Maidens
rode that is, they were put in a wheelbarrow,
an<j^ that was a distinction ; but still
they were called ' hand-rammers '.
' Mai ! ' they said, as they were bumped
upon the pavement. ' Mai ! ' and they were
very nearly pronouncing the whole word '
maiden ' ; but they broke off short, and
swallowed the last syllable ; for they
considered it beneath their dignity to
protest. But they always called each other '
maiden ', and praised the good old days in
which everything had been called by its
right name, and those who were maidens were
called maidens. And they remained as they
were ; for the pile-driver really broke off
his engagement with the younger one, for he
would have nothing to do with a rammer.