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

The Story Of The Wind

'NEAR the shores of the great Belt, which is one of the
straits that connect the Cattegat with the Baltic, stands an
old mansion with thick red walls. I know every stone of it,'
says the Wind. 'I saw it when it was part of the castle of
Marck Stig on the promontory. But the castle was obliged to be
pulled down, and the stone was used again for the walls of a
new mansion on another spot- the baronial residence of
Borreby, which still stands near the coast. I knew them well,
those noble lords and ladies, the successive generations that
dwelt there; and now I'm going to tell you of Waldemar Daa and
his daughters. How proud was his bearing, for he was of royal
blood, and could boast of more noble deeds than merely hunting
the stag and emptying the wine-cup. His rule was despotic: 'It
shall be,' he was accustomed to say. His wife, in garments
embroidered with gold, stepped proudly over the polished
marble floors. The tapestries were gorgeous, and the furniture
of costly and artistic taste. She had brought gold and plate
with her into the house. The cellars were full of wine. Black,
fiery horses, neighed in the stables. There was a look of
wealth about the house of Borreby at that time. They had three
children, daughters, fair and delicate maidens- Ida, Joanna,
and Anna Dorothea; I have never forgotten their names. They
were a rich, noble family, born in affluence and nurtured in
luxury.

'Whir-r-r, whir-r-r!' roared the Wind, and went on, 'I did
not see in this house, as in other great houses, the high-born
lady sitting among her women, turning the spinning-wheel. She
could sweep the sounding chords of the guitar, and sing to the
music, not always Danish melodies, but the songs of a strange
land. It was 'Live and let live,' here. Stranger guests came
from far and near, music sounded, goblets clashed, and I,'
said the Wind, 'was not able to drown the noise. Ostentation,
pride, splendor, and display ruled, but not the fear of the
Lord.

'It was on the evening of the first day of May,' the Wind
continued, 'I came from the west, and had seen the ships
overpowered with the waves, when all on board persisted or
were cast shipwrecked on the coast of Jutland. I had hurried
across the heath and over Jutland's wood-girt eastern coast,
and over the island of Funen, and then I drove across the
great belt, sighing and moaning. At length I lay down to rest
on the shores of Zeeland, near to the great house of Borreby,
where the splendid forest of oaks still flourished. The young
men of the neighborhood were collecting branches and brushwood
under the oak-trees. The largest and dryest they could find
they carried into the village, and piled them up in a heap and
set them on fire. Then the men and maidens danced, and sung in
a circle round the blazing pile. I lay quite quiet,' said the
Wind, 'but I silently touched a branch which had been brought
by one of the handsomest of the young men, and the wood blazed
up brightly, blazed brighter than all the rest. Then he was
chosen as the chief, and received the name of the Shepherd;
and might choose his lamb from among the maidens. There was
greater mirth and rejoicing than I had ever heard in the halls
of the rich baronial house. Then the noble lady drove by
towards the baron's mansion with her three daughters, in a
gilded carriage drawn by six horses. The daughters were young
and beautiful- three charming blossoms- a rose, a lily, and a
white hyacinth. The mother was a proud tulip, and never
acknowledged the salutations of any of the men or maidens who
paused in their sport to do her honor. The gracious lady
seemed like a flower that was rather stiff in the stalk. Rose,
lily, and hyacinth- yes, I saw them all three. Whose little
lambs will they one day become? thought I; their shepherd will
be a gallant knight, perhaps a prince. The carriage rolled on,
and the peasants resumed their dancing. They drove about the
summer through all the villages near. But one night, when I
rose again, the high-born lady lay down to rise again no more;
that thing came to her which comes to us all, in which there
is nothing new. Waldemar Daa remained for a time silent and
thoughtful. 'The loftiest tree may be bowed without being
broken,' said a voice within him. His daughters wept; all the
people in the mansion wiped their eyes, but Lady Daa had
driven away, and I drove away too,' said the Wind. 'Whir-r-r,
whir-r-r-!

'I returned again; I often returned and passed over the
island of Funen and the shores of the Belt. Then I rested by
Borreby, near the glorious wood, where the heron made his
nest, the haunt of the wood-pigeons, the blue-birds, and the
black stork. It was yet spring, some were sitting on their
eggs, others had already hatched their young broods; but how
they fluttered about and cried out when the axe sounded
through the forest, blow upon blow! The trees of the forest
were doomed. Waldemar Daa wanted to build a noble ship, a
man-of-war, a three-decker, which the king would be sure to
buy; and these, the trees of the wood, the landmark of the
seamen, the refuge of the birds, must be felled. 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 anger. I could well understand how they
felt. Crows and ravens croaked, as if in scorn, while the
trees were cracking and falling around them. Far in the
interior of the wood, where a noisy swarm of laborers were
working, stood Waldemar Daa and his three daughters, and all
were laughing at the wild cries of the birds, excepting one,
the youngest, Anna Dorothea, who felt grieved to the heart;
and when they made preparations to fell a tree that was almost
dead, and on whose naked branches the black stork had built
her nest, she saw the poor little things stretching out their
necks, and she begged for mercy for them, with the tears in
her eyes. So the tree with the black stork's nest was left
standing; the tree itself, however, was not worth much to
speak of. Then there was a great deal of hewing and sawing,
and at last the three-decker was built. The builder was a man
of low origin, but possessing great pride; his eyes and
forehead spoke of large intellect, and Waldemar Daa was fond
of listening to him, and so was Waldemar's daughter Ida, the
eldest, now about fifteen years old; and while he was building
the ship for the father, he was building for himself a castle
in the air, in which he and Ida were to live when they were
married. This might have happened, indeed, if there had been a
real castle, with stone walls, ramparts, and a moat. But in
spite of his clever head, the builder was still but a poor,
inferior bird; and how can a sparrow expect to be admitted
into the society of peacocks?

'I passed on in my course,' said the Wind, 'and he passed
away also. He was not allowed to remain, and little Ida got
over it, because she was obliged to do so. Proud, black
horses, worth looking at, were neighing in the stable. And
they were locked up; for the admiral, who had been sent by the
king to inspect the new ship, and make arrangements for its
purchase, was loud in admiration of these beautiful horses. I
heard it all,' said the Wind, 'for I accompanied the gentlemen
through the open door of the stable, and strewed stalks of
straw, like bars of gold, at their feet. Waldemar Daa wanted
gold, and the admiral wished for the proud black horses;
therefore he praised them so much. But the hint was not taken,
and consequently the ship was not bought. It remained on the
shore covered with boards,- a Noah's ark that never got to the
water- Whir-r-r-r- and that was a pity.

'In the winter, when the fields were covered with snow,
and the water filled with large blocks of ice which I had
blown up to the coast,' continued the Wind, 'great flocks of
crows and ravens, dark and black as they usually are, came and
alighted on the lonely, deserted ship. Then they croaked in
harsh accents of the forest that now existed no more, of the
many pretty birds' nests destroyed and the little ones left
without a home; and all for the sake of that great bit of
lumber, that proud ship, that never sailed forth. I made the
snowflakes whirl till the snow lay like a great lake round the
ship, and drifted over it. I let it hear my voice, that it
might know what the storm has to say. Certainly I did my part
towards teaching it seamanship.

'That winter passed away, and another winter and summer
both passed, as they are still passing away, even as I pass
away. The snow drifts onwards, the apple-blossoms are
scattered, the leaves fall,- everything passes away, and men
are passing away too. But the great man's daughters are still
young, and little Ida is a rose as fair to look upon as on the
day when the shipbuilder first saw her. I often tumbled her
long, brown hair, while she stood in the garden by the
apple-tree, musing, and not heeding how I strewed the blossoms
on her hair, and dishevelled it; or sometimes, while she stood
gazing at the red sun and the golden sky through the opening
branches of the dark, thick foliage of the garden trees. Her
sister Joanna was bright and slender as a lily; she had a tall
and lofty carriage and figure, though, like her mother, rather
stiff in back. She was very fond of walking through the great
hall, where hung the portraits of her ancestors. The women
were represented in dresses of velvet and silk, with tiny
little hats, embroidered with pearls, on their braided hair.
They were all handsome women. The gentlemen appeared clad in
steel, or in rich cloaks lined with squirrel's fur; they wore
little ruffs, and swords at their sides. Where would Joanna's
place be on that wall some day? and how would he look,- her
noble lord and husband? This is what she thought of, and often
spoke of in a low voice 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 large, deep, blue eyes had a dreamy look,
but a childlike smile still played round her mouth. I was not
able to blow it away, neither did I wish to do so. We have met
in the garden, in the hollow lane, in the field and meadow,
where she gathered herbs and flowers which she knew would be
useful to her father in preparing the drugs and mixtures he
was always concocting. Waldemar Daa was arrogant and proud,
but he was also a learned man, and knew a great deal. It was
no secret, and many opinions were expressed on what he did. In
his fireplace there was a fire, even in summer time. He would
lock himself in his room, and for days the fire would be kept
burning; but he did not talk much of what he was doing. The
secret powers of nature are generally discovered in solitude,
and did he not soon expect to find out the art of making the
greatest of all good things- the art of making gold? So he
fondly hoped; therefore the chimney smoked and the fire
crackled so constantly. Yes, I was there too,' said the Wind.
''Leave it alone,' I sang down the chimney; 'leave it alone,
it will all end in smoke, air, coals, and ashes, and you will
burn your fingers.' But Waldemar Daa did not leave it alone,
and all he possessed vanished like smoke blown by me. The
splendid black horses, where are they? What became of the cows
in the field, the old gold and silver vessels in cupboards and
chests, and even the house and home itself? It was easy to
melt all these away in the gold-making crucible, and yet
obtain no gold. And so it was. Empty are the barns and
store-rooms, the cellars and cupboards; the servants decreased
in number, and the mice multiplied. First one window became
broken, and then another, so that I could get in at other
places besides the door. 'Where the chimney smokes, the meal
is being cooked,' says the proverb; but here a chimney smoked
that devoured all the meals for the sake of gold. I blew round
the courtyard,' said the Wind, 'like a watchman blowing his
home, but no watchman was there. I twirled the weather-cock
round on the summit of the tower, and it creaked like the
snoring of a warder, but no warder was there; nothing but mice
and rats. 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 everywhere; so that
I could go in and out at pleasure, and that is how I know all
about it. Amid smoke and ashes, sorrow, and sleepless nights,
the hair and beard of the master of the house turned gray, and
deep furrows showed themselves around his temples; his skin
turned pale and yellow, while his eyes still looked eagerly
for gold, the longed-for gold, and the result of his labor was
debt instead of gain. I blew the smoke and ashes into his face
and beard; I moaned through the broken window-panes, and the
yawning clefts in the walls; I blew into the chests and
drawers belonging to his daughters, wherein lay the clothes
that had become faded and threadbare, from being worn over and
over again. Such a song had not been sung, at the children's
cradle as I sung now. The lordly life had changed to a life of
penury. I was the only one who rejoiced aloud in that castle,'
said the Wind. 'At last I snowed them up, and they say snow
keeps people warm. It was good for them, for they had no wood,
and the forest, from which they might have obtained it, had
been cut down. The frost was very bitter, and I rushed through
loop-holes and passages, over gables and roofs with keen and
cutting swiftness. The three high-born daughters were lying in
bed because of the cold, and their father crouching beneath
his leather coverlet. Nothing to eat, nothing to burn, no fire
on the hearth! Here was a life for high-born people! 'Give it
up, give it up!' But my Lord Daa would not do that. 'After
winter, spring will come,' he said, 'after want, good times.
We must not lose patience, we must learn to wait. Now my
horses and lands are all mortgaged, it is indeed high time;
but gold will come at last- at Easter.'

'I heard him as he thus spoke; he was looking at a
spider's web, and he continued, 'Thou cunning little weaver,
thou dost teach me perseverance. Let any one tear thy web, and
thou wilt begin again and repair it. Let it be entirely
destroyed, thou wilt resolutely begin to make another till it
is completed. So ought we to do, if we wish to succeed at
last.'

'It was the morning of Easter-day. The bells sounded from
the neighboring church, and the sun seemed to rejoice in the
sky. The master of the castle 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 burnt out, but he did not observe it. I blew
up the fire in the coals on the hearth, and it threw a red
glow on his ghastly white face, lighting it up with a glare,
while his sunken eyes looked out wildly from their cavernous
depths, and appeared to grow larger and more prominent, as if
they would burst from their sockets. 'Look at the alchymic
glass,' he cried; 'something glows in the crucible, pure and
heavy.' He lifted it with a trembling hand, and exclaimed in a
voice of agitation, 'Gold! gold!' He was quite giddy, I could
have blown him down,' said the Wind; 'but I only fanned the
glowing coals, and accompanied him through the door to the
room where his daughter sat shivering. His coat was powdered
with ashes, and there were ashes in his beard and in his
tangled hair. He stood erect, and held high in the air the
brittle glass that contained his costly treasure. 'Found!
found! Gold! gold!' he shouted, again holding the glass aloft,
that it might flash in the sunshine; but his hand trembled,
and the alchymic glass fell from it, clattering to the ground,
and brake in a thousand pieces. The last bubble of his
happiness had burst, with a whiz and a whir, and I rushed away
from the gold-maker's house.

'Late in the autumn, when the days were short, and the
mist sprinkled cold drops on the berries and the leafless
branches, I came back in fresh spirits, rushed through the
air, swept the sky clear, and snapped off the dry twigs, which
is certainly no great labor to do, yet it must be done. There
was another kind of sweeping taking place at Waldemar Daa's,
in the castle of Borreby. His enemy, Owe Ramel, of Basnas, was
there, with the mortgage of the house and everything it
contained, in his pocket. I rattled the broken windows, beat
against the old rotten doors, and whistled through cracks and
crevices, so that Mr. Owe Ramel did not much like to remain
there. Ida and Anna Dorothea wept bitterly, Joanna stood, pale
and proud, biting her lips till the blood came; but what could
that avail? Owe Ramel offered Waldemar Daa permission to
remain in the house till the end of his life. No one thanked
him for the offer, and I saw the ruined old gentleman lift his
head, and throw it back more proudly than ever. Then I rushed
against the house and the old lime-trees with such force, that
one of the thickest branches, a decayed one, was broken off,
and the branch fell at the entrance, and remained there. It
might have been used as a broom, if any one had wanted to
sweep the place out, and a grand sweeping-out there really
was; I thought it would be so. It was hard for any one to
preserve composure on such a day; but these people had strong
wills, as unbending as their hard fortune. There was nothing
they could call their own, excepting the clothes they wore.
Yes, there was one thing more, an alchymist's glass, a new
one, which had been lately bought, and filled with what could
be gathered from the ground of the treasure which had promised
so much but failed in keeping its promise. Waldemar Daa hid
the glass in his bosom, and, taking his stick in his hand, the
once rich gentleman passed with his daughters out of the house
of Borreby. I blew coldly upon his flustered cheeks, I stroked
his gray beard and his long white hair, and I sang as well as
I was able, 'Whir-r-r, whir-r-r. Gone away! Gone away!' Ida
walked on one side of the old man, and Anna Dorothea on the
other; Joanna turned round, as they left the entrance. Why?
Fortune would not turn because she turned. She looked at the
stone in the walls which had once formed part of the castle of
Marck Stig, and perhaps she thought of his daughters and of
the old song,-

'The eldest and youngest, hand-in-hand,
Went forth alone to a distant land.'

These were only two; here there were three, and their father
with them also. They walked along the high-road, where once
they had driven in their splendid carriage; they went forth
with their father as beggars. They wandered across an open
field to a mud hut, which they rented for a dollar and a half
a year, a new home, with bare walls and empty cupboards. Crows
and magpies fluttered about them, and cried, as if in
contempt, 'Caw, caw, turned out of our nest- caw, caw,' as
they had done in the wood at Borreby, when the trees were
felled. Daa and his daughters could not help hearing it, so I
blew about their ears to drown the noise; what use was it that
they should listen? So they went to live in the mud hut in the
open field, and I wandered away, over moor and meadow, through
bare bushes and leafless forests, to the open sea, to the
broad shores in other lands, 'Whir-r-r, whir-r-r! Away, away!'
year after year.'

And what became of Waldemar Daa and his daughters? Listen;
the Wind will tell us:

'The last I saw of them was the pale hyacinth, Anna
Dorothea. She was old and bent then; for fifty years had
passed and she had outlived them all. She could relate the
history. Yonder, on the heath, near the town of Wiborg, in
Jutland, stood the fine new house of the canon. It was built
of red brick, with projecting gables. It was inhabited, for
the smoke curled up thickly from the chimneys. The canon'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? Their glances fell
upon a stork's nest, which was built upon an old tumbledown
hut. The roof, as far as one existed at all, was covered with
moss and lichen. The stork's nest covered the greater part of
it, and that alone was in a good condition; for it was kept in
order by the stork himself. That is a house to be looked at,
and not to be touched,' said the Wind. 'For the sake of the
stork's nest it had been allowed to remain, although it is a
blot on 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 allowed to stay. She had the Egyptian
bird to thank for that; or was it perchance her reward for
having once interceded for the preservation of the nest of its
black brother in the forest of Borreby? At that time she, the
poor woman, was a young child, a white hyacinth in a rich
garden. She remembered that time well; for it was Anna
Dorothea.

''O-h, o-h,' she sighed; for people can sigh like the
moaning of the wind among the reeds and rushes. 'O-h, o-h,'
she would say, 'no bell sounded at thy burial, Waldemar Daa.
The poor school-boys did not even sing a psalm when the former
lord of Borreby was laid in the earth to rest. O-h, everything
has an end, even misery. Sister Ida became the wife of a
peasant; that was the hardest trial which befell our father,
that the husband of his own daughter should be a miserable
serf, whom his owner could place for punishment on the wooden
horse. I suppose he is under the ground now; and Ida- alas!
alas! it is not ended yet; miserable that I am! Kind Heaven,
grant me that I may die.'

'That was Anna Dorothea's prayer in the wretched hut that
was left standing for the sake of the stork. I took pity on
the proudest of the sisters,' said the Wind. 'Her courage was
like that of a man; and in man's clothes she served as a
sailor on board ship. She was of few words, and of a dark
countenance; but she did not know how to climb, so I blew her
overboard before any one found out that she was a woman; and,
in my opinion, that was well done,' said the Wind.

On such another Easter morning as that on which Waldemar
Daa imagined he had discovered the art of making gold, I heard
the tones of a psalm under the stork's nest, and within the
crumbling walls. It was Anna Dorothea's last song. There was
no window in the hut, only a hole in the wall; and the sun
rose like a globe of burnished gold, and looked through. With
what splendor he filled that dismal dwelling! Her eyes were
glazing, and her heart breaking; but so it would have been,
even had the sun not shone that morning on Anna Dorothea. The
stork's nest had secured her a home till her death. I sung
over her grave; I sung at her father's grave. I know where it
lies, and where her grave is too, but nobody else knows it.

'New times now; all is changed. The old high-road is lost
amid cultivated fields; the new one now winds along over
covered graves; and soon the railway will come, with its train
of carriages, and rush over graves where lie those whose very
names are forgoten. All passed away, passed away!

'This is the story of Waldemar Daa and his daughters. Tell
it better, any of you, if you know how,' said the Wind; and he
rushed away, and was gone.


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