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

The Shadow - Part 2

'This is all very remarkable,' said the learned man.

Years passed, days and years went by, and the shadow came
again. 'How are you going on now?' he asked.

'Ah!' said the learned man; 'I am writing about the true,
the beautiful, and the good; but no one cares to hear anything
about it. I am quite in despair, for I take it to heart very
much.'

'That is what I never do,' said the shadow; 'I am growing
quite fat and stout, which every one ought to be. You do not
understand the world; you will make yourself ill about it; you
ought to travel; I am going on a journey in the summer, will
you go with me? I should like a travelling companion; will you
travel with me as my shadow? It would give me great pleasure,
and I will pay all expenses.'

'Are you going to travel far?' asked the learned man.

'That is a matter of opinion,' replied the shadow. 'At all
events, a journey will do you good, and if you will be my
shadow, then all your journey shall be paid.'

'It appears to me very absurd,' said the learned man.

'But it is the way of the world,' replied the shadow, 'and
always will be.' Then he went away.

Everything went wrong with the learned man. Sorrow and
trouble pursued him, and what he said about the good, the
beautiful, and the true, was of as much value to most people
as a nutmeg would be to a cow. At length he fell ill. 'You
really look like a shadow,' people said to him, and then a
cold shudder would pass over him, for he had his own thoughts
on the subject.

'You really ought to go to some watering-place,' said the
shadow on his next visit. 'There is no other chance for you. I
will take you with me, for the sake of old acquaintance. I
will pay the expenses of your journey, and you shall write a
description of it to amuse us by the way. I should like to go
to a watering-place; my beard does not grow as it ought, which
is from weakness, and I must have a beard. Now do be sensible
and accept my proposal; we shall travel as intimate friends.'

And at last they started together. The shadow was master
now, and the master became the shadow. They drove together,
and rode and walked in company with each other, side by side,
or one in front and the other behind, according to the
position of the sun. The shadow always knew when to take the
place of honor, but the learned man took no notice of it, for
he had a good heart, and was exceedingly mild and friendly.

One day the master said to the shadow, 'We have grown up
together from our childhood, and now that we have become
travelling companions, shall we not drink to our good
fellowship, and say thee and thou to each other?'

'What you say is very straightforward and kindly meant,'
said the shadow, who was now really master. 'I will be equally
kind and straightforward. You are a learned man, and know how
wonderful human nature is. There are some men who cannot
endure the smell of brown paper; it makes them ill. Others
will feel a shuddering sensation to their very marrow, if a
nail is scratched on a pane of glass. I myself have a similar
kind of feeling when I hear any one say thou to me. I feel
crushed by it, as I used to feel in my former position with
you. You will perceive that this is a matter of feeling, not
pride. I cannot allow you to say thou to me; I will gladly say
it to you, and therefore your wish will be half fulfilled.'
Then the shadow addressed his former master as thou.

'It is going rather too far,' said the latter, 'that I am
to say you when I speak to him, and he is to say thou to me.'
However, he was obliged to submit.

They arrived at length at the baths, where there were many
strangers, and among them a beautiful princess, whose real
disease consisted in being too sharp-sighted, which made every
one very uneasy. She saw at once that the new comer was very
different to every one else. 'They say he is here to make his
beard grow,' she thought; 'but I know the real cause, he is
unable to cast a shadow.' Then she became very curious on the
matter, and one day, while on the promenade, she entered into
conversation with the strange gentleman. Being a princess, she
was not obliged to stand upon much ceremony, so she said to
him without hesitation, 'Your illness consists in not being
able to cast a shadow.'

'Your royal highness must be on the high road to recovery
from your illness,' said he. 'I know your complaint arose from
being too sharp-sighted, and in this case it has entirely
failed. I happen to have a most unusual shadow. Have you not
seen a person who is always at my side? Persons often give
their servants finer cloth for their liveries than for their
own clothes, and so I have dressed out my shadow like a man;
nay, you may observe that I have even given him a shadow of
his own; it is rather expensive, but I like to have things
about me that are peculiar.'

'How is this?' thought the princess; 'am I really cured?
This must be the best watering-place in existence. Water in
our times has certainly wonderful power. But I will not leave
this place yet, just as it begins to be amusing. This foreign
prince- for he must be a prince- pleases me above all things.
I only hope his beard won't grow, or he will leave at once.'

In the evening, the princess and the shadow danced
together in the large assembly rooms. She was light, but he
was lighter still; she had never seen such a dancer before.
She told him from what country she had come, and found he knew
it and had been there, but not while she was at home. He had
looked into the windows of her father's palace, both the upper
and the lower windows; he had seen many things, and could
therefore answer the princess, and make allusions which quite
astonished her. She thought he must be the cleverest man in
all the world, and felt the greatest respect for his
knowledge. When she danced with him again she fell in love
with him, which the shadow quickly discovered, for she had
with her eyes looked him through and through. They danced once
more, and she was nearly telling him, but she had some
discretion; she thought of her country, her kingdom, and the
number of people over whom she would one day have to rule. 'He
is a clever man,' she thought to herself, 'which is a good
thing, and he dances admirably, which is also good. But has he
well-grounded knowledge? that is an important question, and I
must try him.' Then she asked him a most difficult question,
she herself could not have answered it, and the shadow made a
most unaccountable grimace.

'You cannot answer that,' said the princess.

'I learnt something about it in my childhood,' he replied;
'and believe that even my very shadow, standing over there by
the door, could answer it.'

'Your shadow,' said the princess; 'indeed that would be
very remarkable.'

'I do not say so positively,' observed the shadow; 'but I
am inclined to believe that he can do so. He has followed me
for so many years, and has heard so much from me, that I think
it is very likely. But your royal highness must allow me to
observe, that he is very proud of being considered a man, and
to put him in a good humor, so that he may answer correctly,
he must be treated as a man.'

'I shall be very pleased to do so,' said the princess. So
she walked up to the learned man, who stood in the doorway,
and spoke to him of the sun, and the moon, of the green
forests, and of people near home and far off; and the learned
man conversed with her pleasantly and sensibly.

'What a wonderful man he must be, to have such a clever
shadow!' thought she. 'If I were to choose him it would be a
real blessing to my country and my subjects, and I will do
it.' So the princess and the shadow were soon engaged to each
other, but no one was to be told a word about it, till she
returned to her kingdom.

'No one shall know,' said the shadow; 'not even my own
shadow;' and he had very particular reasons for saying so.

After a time, the princess returned to the land over which
she reigned, and the shadow accompanied her.

'Listen my friend,' said the shadow to the learned man;
'now that I am as fortunate and as powerful as any man can be,
I will do something unusually good for you. You shall live in
my palace, drive with me in the royal carriage, and have a
hundred thousand dollars a year; but you must allow every one
to call you a shadow, and never venture to say that you have
been a man. And once a year, when I sit in my balcony in the
sunshine, you must lie at my feet as becomes a shadow to do;
for I must tell you I am going to marry the princess, and our
wedding will take place this evening.'

'Now, really, this is too ridiculous,' said the learned
man. 'I cannot, and will not, submit to such folly. It would
be cheating the whole country, and the princess also. I will
disclose everything, and say that I am the man, and that you
are only a shadow dressed up in men's clothes.'

'No one would believe you,' said the shadow; 'be
reasonable, now, or I will call the guards.'

'I will go straight to the princess,' said the learned
man.

'But I shall be there first,' replied the shadow, 'and you
will be sent to prison.' And so it turned out, for the guards
readily obeyed him, as they knew he was going to marry the
king's daughter.

'You tremble,' said the princess, when the shadow appeared
before her. 'Has anything happened? You must not be ill
to-day, for this evening our wedding will take place.'

'I have gone through the most terrible affair that could
possibly happen,' said the shadow; 'only imagine, my shadow
has gone mad; I suppose such a poor, shallow brain, could not
bear much; he fancies that he has become a real man, and that
I am his shadow.'

'How very terrible,' cried the princess; 'is he locked
up?'

'Oh yes, certainly; for I fear he will never recover.'

'Poor shadow!' said the princess; 'it is very unfortunate
for him; it would really be a good deed to free him from his
frail existence; and, indeed, when I think how often people
take the part of the lower class against the higher, in these
days, it would be policy to put him out of the way quietly.'

'It is certainly rather hard upon him, for he was a
faithful servant,' said the shadow; and he pretended to sigh.

'Yours is a noble character,' said the princess, and bowed
herself before him.

In the evening the whole town was illuminated, and cannons
fired 'boom,' and the soldiers presented arms. It was indeed a
grand wedding. The princess and the shadow stepped out on the
balcony to show themselves, and to receive one cheer more. But
the learned man heard nothing of all these festivities, for he
had already been
executed.



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