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

The Goloshes Of Fortune - Part 1

IN a house in Copenhagen, not far from the king's new
market, a very large party had assembled, the host and his
family expecting, no doubt, to receive invitations in return.
One half of the company were already seated at the
card-tables, the other half seemed to be waiting the result of
their hostess's question, 'Well, how shall we amuse
ourselves?'

Conversation followed, which, after a while, began to
prove very entertaining. Among other subjects, it turned upon
the events of the middle ages, which some persons maintained
were more full of interest than our own times. Counsellor
Knapp defended this opinion so warmly that the lady of the
house immediately went over to his side, and both exclaimed
against Oersted's Essays on Ancient and Modern Times, in which
the preference is given to our own. The counsellor considered
the times of the Danish king, Hans, as the noblest and
happiest.

The conversation on this topic was only interrupted for a
moment by the arrival of a newspaper, which did not, however,
contain much worth reading, and while it is still going on we
will pay a visit to the ante-room, in which cloaks, sticks,
and goloshes were carefully placed. Here sat two maidens, one
young, and the other old, as if they had come and were waiting
to accompany their mistresses home; but on looking at them
more closely, it could easily be seen that they were no common
servants. Their shapes were too graceful, their complexions
too delicate, and the cut of their dresses much too elegant.
They were two fairies. The younger was not Fortune herself,
but the chambermaid of one of Fortune's attendants, who
carries about her more trifling gifts. The elder one, who was
named Care, looked rather gloomy; she always goes about to
perform her own business in person; for then she knows it is
properly done. They were telling each other where they had
been during the day. The messenger of Fortune had only
transacted a few unimportant matters; for instance, she had
preserved a new bonnet from a shower of rain, and obtained for
an honest man a bow from a titled nobody, and so on; but she
had something extraordinary to relate, after all.

'I must tell you,' said she, 'that to-day is my birthday;
and in honor of it I have been intrusted with a pair of
goloshes, to introduce amongst mankind. These goloshes have
the property of making every one who puts them on imagine
himself in any place he wishes, or that he exists at any
period. Every wish is fulfilled at the moment it is expressed,
so that for once mankind have the chance of being happy.'

No,' replied Care; 'you may depend upon it that whoever
puts on those goloshes will be very unhappy, and bless the
moment in which he can get rid of them.'

'What are you thinking of?' replied the other. 'Now see; I
will place them by the door; some one will take them instead
of his own, and he will be the happy man.'

This was the end of their conversation.
COUNSELLOR

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE COUNSELLOR

IT was late when Counsellor Knapp, lost in thought about
the times of King Hans, desired to return home; and fate so
ordered it that he put on the goloshes of Fortune instead of
his own, and walked out into the East Street. Through the
magic power of the goloshes, he was at once carried back three
hundred years, to the times of King Hans, for which he had
been longing when he put them on. Therefore he immediately set
his foot into the mud and mire of the street, which in those
days possessed no pavement.

'Why, this is horrible; how dreadfully dirty it is!' said
the counsellor; and the whole pavement has vanished, and the
lamps are all out.'

The moon had not yet risen high enough to penetrate the
thick foggy air, and all the objects around him were confused
together in the darkness. At the nearest corner, a lamp hung
before a picture of the Madonna; but the light it gave was
almost useless, for he only perceived it when he came quite
close and his eyes fell on the painted figures of the Mother
and Child.

'That is most likely a museum of art,' thought he, 'and
they have forgotten to take down the sign.'

Two men, in the dress of olden times, passed by him.

'What odd figures!' thought he; 'they must be returning
from some masquerade.'

Suddenly he heard the sound of a drum and fifes, and then
a blazing light from torches shone upon him. The counsellor
stared with astonishment as he beheld a most strange
procession pass before him. First came a whole troop of
drummers, beating their drums very cleverly; they were
followed by life-guards, with longbows and crossbows. The
principal person in the procession was a clerical-looking
gentleman. The astonished counsellor asked what it all meant,
and who the gentleman might be.

'That is the bishop of Zealand.'

'Good gracious!' he exclaimed; 'what in the world has
happened to the bishop? what can he be thinking about?' Then
he shook his head and said, 'It cannot possibly be the bishop
himself.'

While musing on this strange affair, and without looking
to the right or left, he walked on through East Street and
over Highbridge Place. The bridge, which he supposed led to
Palace Square, was nowhere to be found; but instead, he saw a
bank and some shallow water, and two people, who sat in a
boat.

'Does the gentleman wish to be ferried over the Holm?'
asked one.

'To the Holm!' exclaimed the counsellor, not knowing in
what age he was now existing; 'I want to go to Christian's
Haven, in Little Turf Street.' The men stared at him. 'Pray
tell me where the bridge is!' said he. 'It is shameful that
the lamps are not lighted here, and it is as muddy as if one
were walking in a marsh.' But the more he talked with the
boatmen the less they could understand each other.

'I don't understand your outlandish talk,' he cried at
last, angrily turning his back upon them. He could not,
however, find the bridge nor any railings.

'What a scandalous condition this place is in,' said he;
never, certainly, had he found his own times so miserable as
on this evening. 'I think it will be better for me to take a
coach; but where are they?' There was not one to be seen! 'I
shall be obliged to go back to the king's new market,' said
he, 'where there are plenty of carriages standing, or I shall
never reach Christian's Haven.' Then he went towards East
Street, and had nearly passed through it, when the moon burst
forth from a cloud.

'Dear me, what have they been erecting here?' he cried, as
he caught sight of the East gate, which in olden times used to
stand at the end of East Street. However, he found an opening
through which he passed, and came out upon where he expected
to find the new market. Nothing was to be seen but an open
meadow, surrounded by a few bushes, through which ran a broad
canal or stream. A few miserable-looking wooden booths, for
the accommodation of Dutch watermen, stood on the opposite
shore.

'Either I behold a fata morgana, or I must be tipsy,'
groaned the counsellor. 'What can it be? What is the matter
with me?' He turned back in the full conviction that he must
be ill. In walking through the street this time, he examined
the houses more closely; he found that most of them were built
of lath and plaster, and many had only a thatched roof.

'I am certainly all wrong,' said he, with a sigh; and yet
I only drank one glass of punch. But I cannot bear even that,
and it was very foolish to give us punch and hot salmon; I
shall speak about it to our hostess, the agent's lady. Suppose
I were to go back now and say how ill I feel, I fear it would
look so ridiculous, and it is not very likely that I should
find any one up.' Then he looked for the house, but it was not
in existence.

'This is really frightful; I cannot even recognize East
Street. Not a shop to be seen; nothing but old, wretched,
tumble-down houses, just as if I were at Roeskilde or
Ringstedt. Oh, I really must be ill! It is no use to stand
upon ceremony. But where in the world is the agent's house.
There is a house, but it is not his; and people still up in
it, I can hear. Oh dear! I certainly am very queer.' As he
reached the half-open door, he saw a light and went in. It was
a tavern of the olden times, and seemed a kind of beershop.
The room had the appearance of a Dutch interior. A number of
people, consisting of seamen, Copenhagen citizens, and a few
scholars, sat in deep conversation over their mugs, and took
very little notice of the new comer.

'Pardon me,' said the counsellor, addressing the landlady,
'I do not feel quite well, and I should be much obliged if you
will send for a fly to take me to Christian's Haven.' The
woman stared at him and shook her head. Then she spoke to him
in German. The counsellor supposed from this that she did not
understand Danish; he therefore repeated his request in
German. This, as well as his singular dress, convinced the
woman that he was a foreigner. She soon understood, however,
that he did not find himself quite well, and therefore brought
him a mug of water. It had something of the taste of seawater,
certainly, although it had been drawn from the well outside.
Then the counsellor leaned his head on his hand, drew a deep
breath, and pondered over all the strange things that had
happened to him.

'Is that to-day's number of the Day?' he asked, quite
mechanically, as he saw the woman putting by a large piece of
paper. She did not understand what he meant, but she handed
him the sheet; it was a woodcut, representing a meteor, which
had appeared in the town of Cologne.

'That is very old,' said the counsellor, becoming quite
cheerful at the sight of this antique drawing. 'Where did you
get this singular sheet? It is very interesting, although the
whole affair is a fable. Meteors are easily explained in these
days; they are northern lights, which are often seen, and are
no doubt caused by electricity.'

Those who sat near him, and heard what he said, looked at
him in great astonishment, and one of them rose, took off his
hat respectfully, and said in a very serious manner, 'You must
certainly be a very learned man, monsieur.'

'Oh no,' replied the counsellor; 'I can only discourse on
topics which every one should understand.'

'Modestia is a beautiful virtue,' said the man. 'Moreover,
I must add to your speech mihi secus videtur; yet in this case
I would suspend my judicium.'

'May I ask to whom I have the pleasure of speaking?'

'I am a Bachelor of Divinity,' said the man. This answer
satisfied the counsellor. The title agreed with the dress.

'This is surely,' thought he, 'an old village
schoolmaster, a perfect original, such as one meets with
sometimes even in Jutland.'

'This is not certainly a locus docendi,' began the man;
'still I must beg you to continue the conversation. You must
be well read in ancient lore.'

'Oh yes,' replied the counsellor; 'I am very fond of
reading useful old books, and modern ones as well, with the
exception of every-day stories, of which we really have more
than enough.

'Every-day stories?' asked the bachelor.

'Yes, I mean the new novels that we have at the present
day.'

'Oh,' replied the man, with a smile; 'and yet they are
very witty, and are much read at Court. The king likes
especially the romance of Messeurs Iffven and Gaudian, which
describes King Arthur and his knights of the round table. He
has joked about it with the gentlemen of his Court.'

'Well, I have certainly not read that,' replied the
counsellor. 'I suppose it is quite new, and published by
Heiberg.'

'No,' answered the man, 'it is not by Heiberg; Godfred von
Gehman brought it out.'

'Oh, is he the publisher? That is a very old name,' said
the counsellor; 'was it not the name of the first publisher in
Denmark?'

'Yes; and he is our first printer and publisher now,'
replied the scholar.

So far all had passed off very well; but now one of the
citizens began to speak of a terrible pestilence which had
been raging a few years before, meaning the plague of 1484.
The counsellor thought he referred to the cholera, and they
could discuss this without finding out the mistake. The war in
1490 was spoken of as quite recent. The English pirates had
taken some ships in the Channel in 1801, and the counsellor,
supposing they referred to these, agreed with them in finding
fault with the English. The rest of the talk, however, was not
so agreeable; every moment one contradicted the other. The
good bachelor appeared very ignorant, for the simplest remark
of the counsellor seemed to him either too bold or too
fantastic. They stared at each other, and when it became worse
the bachelor spoke in Latin, in the hope of being better
understood; but it was all useless.

'How are you now?' asked the landlady, pulling the
counsellor's sleeve.

Then his recollection returned to him. In the course of
conversation he had forgotten all that had happened
previously.

'Goodness me! where am I?' said he. It bewildered him as
he thought of it.

'We will have some claret, or mead, or Bremen beer,' said
one of the guests; 'will you drink with us?'

Two maids came in. One of them had a cap on her head of
two colors. They poured out the wine, bowed their heads, and
withdrew.

The counsellor felt a cold shiver run all over him. 'What
is this? what does it mean?' said he; but he was obliged to
drink with them, for they overpowered the good man with their
politeness. He became at last desperate; and when one of them
said he was tipsy, he did not doubt the man's word in the
least- only begged them to get a droschky; and then they
thought he was speaking the Muscovite language. Never before
had he been in such rough and vulgar company. 'One might
believe that the country was going back to heathenism,' he
observed. 'This is the most terrible moment of my life.'

Just then it came into his mind that he would stoop under
the table, and so creep to the door. He tried it; but before
he reached the entry, the rest discovered what he was about,
and seized him by the feet, when, luckily for him, off came
the goloshes, and with them vanished the whole enchantment.
The counsellor now saw quite plainly a lamp, and a large
building behind it; everything looked familiar and beautiful.
He was in East Street, as it now appears; he lay with his legs
turned towards a porch, and just by him sat the watchman
asleep.

'Is it possible that I have been lying here in the street
dreaming?' said he. 'Yes, this is East Street; how beautifully
bright and gay it looks! It is quite shocking that one glass
of punch should have upset me like this.'

Two minutes afterwards he sat in a droschky, which was to
drive him to Christian's Haven. He thought of all the terror
and anxiety which he had undergone, and felt thankful from his
heart for the reality and comfort of modern times, which, with
all their errors, were far better than those in which he so
lately found himself.

THE WATCHMAN'S ADVENTURES

'Well, I declare, there lies a pair of goloshes,' said the
watchman. 'No doubt, they belong to the lieutenant who lives
up stairs. They are lying just by his door.' Gladly would the
honest man have rung, and given them in, for a light was still
burning, but he did not wish to disturb the other people in
the house; so he let them lie. 'These things must keep the
feet very warm,' said he; 'they are of such nice soft
leather.' Then he tried them on, and they fitted his feet
exactly. 'Now,' said he, 'how droll things are in this world!
There's that man can lie down in his warm bed, but he does not
do so. There he goes pacing up and down the room. He ought to
be a happy man. He has neither wife nor children, and he goes
out into company every evening. Oh, I wish I were he; then I
should be a happy man.'

As he uttered this wish, the goloshes which he had put on
took effect, and the watchman at once became the lieutenant.
There he stood in his room, holding a little piece of pink
paper between his fingers, on which was a poem,- a poem
written by the lieutenant himself. Who has not had, for once
in his life, a moment of poetic inspiration? and at such a
moment, if the thoughts are written down, they flow in poetry.
The following verses were written on the pink paper:-


'OH WERE I RICH!

'Oh were I rich! How oft, in youth's bright hour,
When youthful pleasures banish every care,
I longed for riches but to gain a power,
The sword and plume and uniform to wear!
The riches and the honor came for me;
Yet still my greatest wealth was poverty:
Ah, help and pity me!

'Once in my youthful hours, when gay and free,
A maiden loved me; and her gentle kiss,
Rich in its tender love and purity,
Taught me, alas! too much of earthly bliss.
Dear child! She only thought of youthful glee;
She loved no wealth, but fairy tales and me.
Thou knowest: ah, pity me!

'Oh were I rich! again is all my prayer:
That child is now a woman, fair and free,
As good and beautiful as angels are.
Oh, were I rich in lovers' poetry,
To tell my fairy tale, love's richest lore!
But no; I must be silent- I am poor.
Ah, wilt thou pity me?

'Oh were I rich in truth and peace below,
I need not then my poverty bewail.
To thee I dedicate these lines of woe;
Wilt thou not understand the mournful tale?
A leaf on which my sorrows I relate-
Dark story of a darker night of fate.
Ah, bless and pity me!'

'Well, yes; people write poems when they are in love, but
a wise man will not print them. A lieutenant in love, and
poor. This is a triangle, or more properly speaking, the half
of the broken die of fortune.' The lieutenant felt this very
keenly, and therefore leaned his head against the
window-frame, and sighed deeply. 'The poor watchman in the
street,' said he, 'is far happier than I am. He knows not what
I call poverty. He has a home, a wife and children, who weep
at his sorrow and rejoice at his joy. Oh, how much happier I
should be could I change my being and position with him, and
pass through life with his humble expectations and hopes! Yes,
he is indeed happier than I am.'

At this moment the watchman again became a watchman; for
having, through the goloshes of Fortune, passed into the
existence of the lieutenant, and found himself less contented
than he expected, he had preferred his former condition, and
wished himself again a watchman. 'That was an ugly dream,'
said he, 'but droll enough. It seemed to me as if I were the
lieutenant up yonder, but there was no happiness for me. I
missed my wife and the little ones, who are always ready to
smother me with kisses.' He sat down again and nodded, but he
could not get the dream out of his thoughts, and he still had
the goloshes on his feet. A falling star gleamed across the
sky. 'There goes one!' cried he. 'However, there are quite
enough left; I should very much like to examine these a little
nearer, especially the moon, for that could not slip away
under one's hands. The student, for whom my wife washes, says
that when we die we shall fly from one star to another. If
that were true, it would be very delightful, but I don't
believe it. I wish I could make a little spring up there now;
I would willingly let my body lie here on the steps.'

There are certain things in the world which should be
uttered very cautiously; doubly so when the speaker has on his
feet the goloshes of Fortune. Now we shall hear what happened
to the watchman.

Nearly every one is acquainted with the great power of
steam; we have proved it by the rapidity with which we can
travel, both on a railroad or in a steamship across the sea.
But this speed is like the movements of the sloth, or the
crawling march of the snail, when compared to the swiftness
with which light travels; light flies nineteen million times
faster than the fleetest race-horse, and electricity is more
rapid still. Death is an electric shock which we receive in
our hearts, and on the wings of electricity the liberated soul
flies away swiftly, the light from the sun travels to our
earth ninety-five millions of miles in eight minutes and a few
seconds; but on the wings of electricity, the mind requires
only a second to accomplish the same distance. The space
between the heavenly bodies is, to thought, no farther than
the distance which we may have to walk from one friend's house
to another in the same town; yet this electric shock obliges
us to use our bodies here below, unless, like the watchman, we
have on the goloshes of Fortune.

In a very few seconds the watchman had travelled more than
two hundred thousand miles to the moon, which is formed of a
lighter material than our earth, and may be said to be as soft
as new fallen snow. He found himself on one of the circular
range of mountains which we see represented in Dr. Madler's
large map of the moon. The interior had the appearance of a
large hollow, bowl-shaped, with a depth about half a mile from
the brim. Within this hollow stood a large town; we may form
some idea of its appearance by pouring the white of an egg
into a glass of water. The materials of which it was built
seemed just as soft, and pictured forth cloudy turrets and
sail-like terraces, quite transparent, and floating in the
thin air. Our earth hung over his head like a great dark red
ball. Presently he discovered a number of beings, which might
certainly be called men, but were very different to ourselves.
A more fantastical imagination than Herschel's must have
discovered these. Had they been placed in groups, and painted,
it might have been said, 'What beautiful foliage!' They had
also a language of their own. No one could have expected the
soul of the watchman to understand it, and yet he did
understand it, for our souls have much greater capabilities
then we are inclined to believe. Do we not, in our dreams,
show a wonderful dramatic talent? each of our acquaintance
appears to us then in his own character, and with his own
voice; no man could thus imitate them in his waking hours. How
clearly, too, we are reminded of persons whom we have not seen
for many years; they start up suddenly to the mind's eye with
all their peculiarities as living realities. In fact, this
memory of the soul is a fearful thing; every sin, every sinful
thought it can bring back, and we may well ask how we are to
give account of 'every idle word' that may have been whispered
in the heart or uttered with the lips. The spirit of the
watchman therefore understood very well the language of the
inhabitants of the moon. They were disputing about our earth,
and doubted whether it could be inhabited. The atmosphere,
they asserted, must be too dense for any inhabitants of the
moon to exist there. They maintained that the moon alone was
inhabited, and was really the heavenly body in which the old
world people lived. They likewise talked politics.

But now we will descend to East Street, and see what
happened to the watchman's body. He sat lifeless on the steps.
His staff had fallen out of his hand, and his eyes stared at
the moon, about which his honest soul was wandering.

'What is it o'clock, watchman?' inquired a passenger. But
there was no answer from the watchman.

The man then pulled his nose gently, which caused him to
lose his balance. The body fell forward, and lay at full
length on the ground as one dead.

All his comrades were very much frightened, for he seemed
quite dead; still they allowed him to remain after they had
given notice of what had happened; and at dawn the body was
carried to the hospital. We might imagine it to be no jesting
matter if the soul of the man should chance to return to him,
for most probably it would seek for the body in East Street
without being able to find it. We might fancy the soul
inquiring of the police, or at the address office, or among
the missing parcels, and then at length finding it at the
hospital. But we may comfort ourselves by the certainty that
the soul, when acting upon its own impulses, is wiser than we
are; it is the body that makes it stupid.

As we have said, the watchman's body had been taken to the
hospital, and here it was placed in a room to be washed.
Naturally, the first thing done here was to take off the
goloshes, upon which the soul was instantly obliged to return,
and it took the direct road to the body at once, and in a few
seconds the man's life returned to him. He declared, when he
quite recovered himself, that this had been the most dreadful
night he had ever passed; not for a hundred pounds would he go
through such feelings again. However, it was all over now.

The same day he was allowed to leave, but the goloshes
remained at the hospital.

THE EVENTFUL MOMENT - A MOST UNUSUAL JOURNEY

Every inhabitant of Copenhagen knows what the entrance to
Frederick's Hospital is like; but as most probably a few of
those who read this little tale may not reside in Copenhagen,
we will give a short description of it.


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