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Fabulous Fairy Tales for children and adults. From our vast collection of old traditional fairy tales and fables.

Little Tuk

YES, they called him Little Tuk, but it was not his real
name; he had called himself so before he could speak plainly,
and he meant it for Charles. It was all very well for those
who knew him, but not for strangers.

Little Tuk was left at home to take care of his little
sister, Gustava, who was much younger than himself, and he had
to learn his lessons at the same time, and the two things
could not very well be performed together. The poor boy sat
there with his sister on his lap, and sung to her all the
songs he knew, and now and then he looked into his geography
lesson that lay open before him. By the next morning he had to
learn by heart all the towns in Zealand, and all that could be
described of them.

His mother came home at last, and took little Gustava in
her arms. Then Tuk ran to the window, and read so eagerly that
he nearly read his eyes out; for it had become darker and
darker every minute, and his mother had no money to buy a
light.

'There goes the old washerwoman up the lane,' said the
mother, as she looked out of the window; 'the poor woman can
hardly drag herself along, and now she had to drag a pail of
water from the well. Be a good boy, Tuk, and run across and
help the old woman, won't you?'

So Tuk ran across quickly, and helped her, but when he
came back into the room it was quite dark, and there was not a
word said about a light, so he was obliged to go to bed on his
little truckle bedstead, and there he lay and thought of his
geography lesson, and of Zealand, and of all the master had
told him. He ought really to have read it over again, but he
could not for want of light. So he put the geography book
under his pillow, for he had heard that this was a great help
towards learning a lesson, but not always to be depended upon.
He still lay thinking and thinking, when all at once it seemed
as if some one kissed him on his eyes and mouth. He slept and
yet he did not sleep; and it appeared as if the old
washerwoman looked at him with kind eyes and said, 'It would
be a great pity if you did not know your lesson to-morrow
morning; you helped me, and now I will help you, and
Providence will always keep those who help themselves;' and at
the same time the book under Tuk's pillow began to move about.
'Cluck, cluck, cluck,' cried a hen as she crept towards him.
'I am a hen from Kjoge,' and then she told him how many
inhabitants the town contained, and about a battle that had
been fought there, which really was not worth speaking of.

'Crack, crack,' down fell something. It was a wooden bird,
the parrot which is used as a target as Prastoe. He said there
were as many inhabitants in that town as he had nails in his
body. He was very proud, and said, 'Thorwalsden lived close to
me, and here I am now, quite comfortable.'

But now little Tuk was no longer in bed; all in a moment
he found himself on horseback. Gallop, gallop, away he went,
seated in front of a richly-attired knight, with a waving
plume, who held him on the saddle, and so they rode through
the wood by the old town of Wordingburg, which was very large
and busy. The king's castle was surrounded by lofty towers,
and radiant light streamed from all the windows. Within there
were songs and dancing; King Waldemar and the young
gayly-dressed ladies of the court were dancing together.
Morning dawned, and as the sun rose, the whole city and the
king's castle sank suddenly down together. One tower after
another fell, till at last only one remained standing on the
hill where the castle had formerly been.

The town now appeared small and poor, and the school-boys
read in their books, which they carried under their arms, that
it contained two thousand inhabitants; but this was a mere
boast, for it did not contain so many.

And again little Tuk lay in his bed, scarcely knowing
whether he was dreaming or not, for some one stood by him.

'Tuk! little Tuk!' said a voice. It was a very little
person who spoke. He was dressed as a sailor, and looked small
enough to be a middy, but he was not one. 'I bring you many
greetings from Corsor. It is a rising town, full of life. It
has steamships and mail-coaches. In times past they used to
call it ugly, but that is no longer true. I lie on the
sea-shore,' said Corsor; 'I have high-roads and
pleasure-gardens; I have given birth to a poet who was witty
and entertaining, which they are not all. I once wanted to fit
out a ship to sail round the world, but I did not accomplish
it, though most likely I might have done so. But I am fragrant
with perfume, for close to my gates most lovely roses bloom.'

Then before the eyes of little Tuk appeared a confusion of
colors, red and green; but it cleared off, and he could
distinguish a cliff close to the bay, the slopes of which were
quite overgrown with verdure, and on its summit stood a fine
old church with pointed towers. Springs of water flowed out of
the cliff in thick waterspouts, so that there was a continual
splashing. Close by sat an old king with a golden crown on his
white head. This was King Hroar of the Springs and near the
springs stood the town of Roeskilde, as it is called. Then all
the kings and queens of Denmark went up the ascent to the old
church, hand in hand, with golden crowns on their heads, while
the organ played and the fountains sent forth jets of water.

Little Tuk saw and heard it all. 'Don't forget the names
of these towns,' said King Hroar.

All at once everything vanished; but where! It seemed to
him like turning over the leaves of a book. And now there
stood before him an old peasant woman, who had come from Soroe
where the grass grows in the market-place. She had a green
linen apron thrown over her head and shoulders, and it was
quite wet, as if it had been raining heavily. 'Yes, that it
has,' said she, and then, just as she was going to tell him a
great many pretty stories from Holberg's comedies, and about
Waldemar and Absalom, she suddenly shrunk up together, and
wagged her head as if she were a frog about to spring.
'Croak,' she cried; 'it is always wet, and as quiet as death
in Soroe.' Then little Tuk saw she was changed into a frog.
'Croak,' and again she was an old woman. 'One must dress
according to the weather,' said she. 'It is wet, and my town
is just like a bottle. By the cork we must go in, and by the
cork we must come out again. In olden times I had beautiful
fish, and now I have fresh, rosy-cheeked boys in the bottom of
the bottle, and they learn wisdom, Hebrew and Greek.'

'Croak.' How it sounded like the cry of the frogs on the
moor, or like the creaking of great boots when some one is
marching,- always the same tone, so monotonous and wearing,
that little Tuk at length fell fast asleep, and then the sound
could not annoy him. But even in this sleep came a dream or
something like it. His little sister Gustava, with her blue
eyes, and fair curly hair, had grown up a beautiful maiden all
at once, and without having wings she could fly. And they flew
together over Zealand, over green forests and blue lakes.

'Hark, so you hear the cock crow, little Tuk.
'Cock-a-doodle-doo.' The fowls are flying out of Kjoge. You
shall have a large farm-yard. You shall never suffer hunger or
want. The bird of good omen shall be yours, and you shall
become a rich and happy man; your house shall rise up like
King Waldemar's towers, and shall be richly adorned with
marble statues, like those at Prastoe. Understand me well;
your name shall travel with fame round the world like the ship
that was to sail from Corsor, and at Roeskilde,- Don't forget
the names of the towns, as King Hroar said,- you shall speak
well and clearly little Tuk, and when at last you lie in your
grave you shall sleep peacefully, as-'

'As if I lay in Soroe,' said little Tuk awaking. It was
bright daylight, and he could not remember his dream, but that
was not necessary, for we are not to know what will happen to
us in the future. Then he sprang out of bed quickly, and read
over his lesson in the book, and knew it all at once quite
correctly. The old washerwoman put her head in at the door,
and nodded to him quite kindly, and said, 'Many thanks, you
good child, for your help yesterday. I hope all your beautiful
dreams will come true.'

Little Tuk did not at all know what he had dreamt, but One
above did.




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