Fairy Tales

by Archibald Lampman

Edited by D.M.R. Bentley


The Fairy Fountain.
A Fairy Tale


 

     Once in a northern city, my children, far away from here, 
there dwelt a cobbler whose name was Anders Chris-
tensen. He was very young, being scarcely twenty years of
age. His parents were both dead. He was their only child.
Since his mother’s death, his father and he had lived entirely
 

 

5

alone, and for several years had worked at their trade very dil- igently together. Their days had drifted by them in a shadow
of quiet dreamy toil. They had had few pleasures: for his father though a kindly was a sombre man: only once in a great while
it had pleased him to take his son and go forth out of the town
10
gate into the green country beyond. There under the shade of great elms in warm pasture lands, or lying beneath cool pines
on breezy slopes, the child had passed many a happy hour, lis- tening to the stories which the white-haired man had gathered
in his youth. After his father’s death Anders had but one friend
15
left. This was the parish priest, who had taken a fancy to him
long before, on account of his strange dark eyes and pale dreamy forehead. He had taught him to read and had given
him a few books, which the boy had read over and over, till he almost knew them by heart. The great thoughts and visions
20
which he got from some of these books were ever before him while he was at work—so that the neighbours would call him
the grey-haired child, seeing how still and patient he was.
More than ever now that his father was gone were they a
delight to him in his loneliness, and often after his day’s work
25
was done, he would light his candle and go slowly over them again till he fell asleep sometimes, dreaming strangely
between the lines.
     One evening as he sat so, he came to a passage in an old poem, telling of green fields and the mirth and beauty of the
30
summer hills and valleys. At this he fell to thinking, that it was
long since he had seen these things with his own eyes, and he determined to make the next day a holiday, and spend it all by himself in the sweet places, which his father had taught him to love. Early in the morning, before it was sunrise, he got up and
35
packed a loaf of bread in his wallet and set out. The sun was
not quite risen yet when he reached the highway; but all the
East was white, and the birds were breaking into sweet muf-
fled songs in the cool grey of the morning.
     Hour after hour he journeyed on, ever lighter of heart, and
40
it was high noon and the sun was very hot, when he reached
the hills and came into a narrow valley, with a small beautiful stream running through it. It seemed to him that he had never been in this valley before, so he kept along one side of it, determined to get as far into the cheery depth of it as possible.
45
At last in a quiet hidden place he came to a fountain, from
which a very small stream flowed away into the brook below.
It was strangely made; for it was built against a high rock—a round deep basin, and a smoothe wall behind—and on the
wall was carved the figure of a fairy blowing a horn, and from
50
the horn the water leaped into the basin and from this it ran
down sparkling and murmuring over the slope. Anders felt
quite tired now and the place was very beautiful. He sat down
on the rim of the fountain and looked over into the chrystal
water. It was very deep but he could see every pebble at the
55
bottom glimmering as with a circle of pearl, and the stream falling from the horn seemed to call to him to drink: so he took
out his bread and ate and drank of the water. Then he began to feel wonderfully bright and joyous. The voices of the brook
sang like so many hundred silver bells in his ears. All the
60
leaves of the fair trees, as the wind blew through them, seemed to be talking strangely to one another, and then seemed to look at him now and then, as the sun caught them, with innum-
erable eyes. The birds came close about him and sang so won- derfully, that Anders thought that he could guess at the happy
65
things they were saying. Grasshoppers piped thinly in the hot thick grass, and farther down in the reeds by the stream the
clear voices of the lizards melted dreamily into his ears. A
great quiet came over him and after he had eaten and drunk,
he still sat on the rim of the fountain and rested his head upon
70
his hand and gazed at the stone figure of the fairy. It was so beautiful, that he thought that he would fain sit there in revery forever. But as he gazed it seemed to him that the fairy was no longer of stone, but living flesh, and her lips were like those of
a living being. She took the horn from her mouth, and the
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water ceased to flow. Then the quiet lips moved, and the sense
of words came into Anders’ heart so softly that he could
hardly tell whether it were a voice or not:
     "Long have I looked for you, Anders Christensen, and happy are you, having at last reached the rim of my fountain.
80
Few of those, whose eyes look upon beautiful things, find me;
but when they do, they behold more than ever they dreamed
of." Then she put the horn back to her lips again, and the water rustled down as before: but Anders saw that a little gold key dropped from the horn’s mouth into the basin, and he bared his
85
arm, and leaned over, and drew it out. But knowing not as yet what it meant, he looked again dreamily into the strange stone face and saw that the fairy’s eyes were fixed kindly upon his.
He saw that the eyes turned slowly to the left along the wall,
and Anders following that direction also with his, marked a
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small gold padlock that hung on the face of the rock, only a lit-
tle way from where he sat. He got up and put the key into the
lock and turned it. Immediately a stone gate swung open and Anders went in. He found himself on a wide plain, covered
with thick soft grass and so closely sprinkled with daisies that
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his feet trod them down at every step. Anders walked on and
on and he was carelessly happy like one in a quiet dream; till
he came suddenly to the end of the plain; for here it sloped
down into a great stretch of level cornland, covered with fields and farm-houses, gardens and orchards as far as the eye could
100
see. And here and there a great way off were many castles with grey towers and walls shining in the sunlight, and away
against the horizon a vast city, with hundreds of spires, glitter-
ing like silver. On the slope were many trees, and the sheep were lying under them, chewing the cud and sheltered from
105
the heat. Anders sat down on a grey stone bewildered; for he had never seen any country so beautiful in his life before, nei- ther had he ever dreamed of anything like it.
     He sat there looking long over the rich fields, wherein
many were at work reaping the harvest, and gazing at the fair
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castles and the slender city spires, and the green rustling
woods, till the sun went down, a ball of gold over the still yel-
low West, and then he felt drowsy and laid himself on the grass and watched the stars come out, larger and more lustrous than he had ever seen them before. Finally he fell asleep, dreaming
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of many strange and beautiful things. While he had sat awake
the birds had sung to one another for hours and he had under- stood what they sang. Now in his dreams he followed still the sweet things they told of among the sunny fields and through
the shadowy woods.
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     When Anders awoke in the morning, he could do nothing
for some time but rub his eyes and stare about him in bewil- derment. He was no longer on the slope, but lying in a corner
of a great cornfield. Half of the wheat was mowed and bound
in shiefs, the other half still standing, and Anders found that
125
his clothing was changed; for he had on the rough homespun garb of a husbandman. Presently he saw coming towards him half a dozen men and girls and they had sickles and rakes in their hands. They came into the field and the men began to cut the corn and the women to bind it. One of the girls was very 130
beautiful, and she gave orders to the rest where they were to bind and where to stack the shocks. Her hair was golden, and bound in two long braids behind her back. Her dress was coarse, but neat and graceful. Anders had never seen any fine lady whom he thought so lovely, and in spite of himself he 135
drew nearer and nearer to her, till at last he was among the binders and almost at her side. Then the maiden looked up and said to him,
     "Ah, Anders Christensen, thou hast better hands for bind-
ing than I; here get thee to work and I will talk to thee. There
140
is none here, that would not buy my talk with a little hard
labour." And Anders took the corn and tried to bind it, but was very clumsy; not because he was ignorant, for somehow he seemed suddenly to know all about it: but because he could
not keep his eyes from the maiden, and her voice fell on his
145
ears like a strange music and bewildered him. He was wonder-
ing too how it was that she came to know him. She seeing how
ill at ease he was with the shieves, began again to bind, and the two went on working together, talking pleasantly all the while;
and the maiden told him many things about the farm and many 
150
stories of what had happened to the labourers.
     When it was noon, one came across the fields, bearing an earthern jar of milk and a basket of bread; and the maiden took Anders and led him to a great elm tree, that overshadowed the midst of the field. There they all ate and drank together and all 
155
seemed to know Anders and talked to him as friends. After
this they went on binding again till night came and Anders was very happy; for the toil with the shieves was new to him, the
sight of the yellow corn, with the labourers in it was pleasing
to him, and the maiden talked all the while, and he could look
160
at her as much as he liked. When it was evening the men and
the girls gathered the sickles and rakes together and left
Anders and went away, and the maiden thanked him and bad him good-night. Anders went back to the corner of the field, where he had found himself in the morning, and lay down
165
under a hedge, and the night wind blew the scent of musk
roses over his face, till he fell asleep and dreamed of the har- vest, the farm tales and the lovely maiden.
     When Anders awoke he found everything more strange
even than before. He was no longer lying under the hedge by
170
the side of the cornfield, but in the depth of a great park or straggling forest. All around him were mighty oaks and the
grass was deep and green beneath him. His clothing was changed, and when he looked down over his limbs, they
seemed to him to be all glowing with rich cloth and lovely
175
colour. His jacket was of velvet and satin, his hose of shining
silk and a silken baldrick with a hunting horn was lying by his side. On his hands were long gloves. On one of his wrists was
a falcon, who seemed to be sitting there, as naturally as if Anders had never made a shoe in his life. After Anders had
180
surveyed himself awhile in contented wonder, he began to
look about him among the trees. A little way off a horse was standing, quietly cropping up the grass. He knew that it was
his horse, though he had never seen it before. Everything was half strange, half natural. Presently Anders got up, and flung
185
the baldrick round his neck, and, going to the horse, leaped lightly upon its back, though he had never done such a thing before in his life.
     So he rode away among the oaks, thinking that perhaps he might somewhere find the maiden and her companions at
190
work. The sun was risen, but the dew was still quivering on the crisp leaves in thousands of little silver beads. The cool wind blew into Anders’ face and seemed to stroke his hair. Every- where the thrushes and robins were singing their sweetest car- ols to the morning among the moist branches and in the sunny 195
glades. A few small white clouds were hanging in the sky, but they never seemed to move. All things were so blithe and joy- ous, that Anders thought he had never been so happy before in his life. He lifted the horn from his side, and blew a great blast, that echoed far away among the gnarled trunks. Again and 200
again he blew the horn, and at length as he stopped once to lis-
ten to the echoes, he heard an answer borne to him softly from the depth of the wood. Again blowing the horn he rode on in
the direction of the sound, and the answers drew nearer and nearer, till he beheld a fair company, coming toward him
205
through an open space between the trees—a lady and maidens and a troupe of squires, some with hawks and others leading hounds in long leashes, the women having falcons on their gloved wrists. When Anders came near, he could look at noth-
ing but the lady, for she was the same as the maiden he had
210
helped the day before in the harvest field, the same face and figure, the same eyes and hair. She wore a riding dress of the fairest green silk, and her horse was wonderfully trapped.
When Anders came up to them, the lady said in a voice so
sweet and clear, that he heard no more of the songs of the
215
thrushes, though they were the richest he had ever heard.
     "Ah! Anders Christensen, I am glad you think this is no morning to be making shoes. Come ride with me, and you
shall be merry as the day is long." Then he kissed the lady’s hand and they went on together, talking merrily all the while.
220
       The morning passed away and Anders never left the lady’s side. Sometimes they followed in the chace of the deer
through the noisy woods and listened to the music of the hounds—and sometimes watched the herons killed by the margin of a reedy fen. At noon they all came back together to
225
a place where a stream murmured among the trees. Thither servants had come, and had pitched a tent and laid a repast on the soft grass: and the ladies and the squires and Anders with them sat down there and ate and drank in much happiness, and there was great jesting and laughing, and many sweet stories 230
were told to pass the time more joyously.
     Anders knew that it was not real, but only like a very vivid dream, yet he joined with them in their talk and gave himself
up to the brightness and beauty of everything; and he could
never get enough of looking into the strange lady’s face and
235
hearing the wonderful music of her voice.
     So the hours fled, till it was time to journey home. Then
they all got to horse again and rode back through the forest,
now golden with the sinking sun. At last they came to a great meadow, sloping away to the westward. At the end of the
240
meadow was a castle, with towers grey and old against the sunset, and shaggy with ivy. As they rode slowly towards the castle, the talk grew more quiet, for the meadow became ever more still and dreamy, as the light fell, and the shadows of the scattered trees lengthened and darkened in the evening. Then 245
they came all together to the gate and went into the courtyard and the lady and her maidens left them, and Anders and the squires passed presently into a great hall. The floor was of
stone, and the roof, vaulted far over head was brown and won-
derful to behold. There were great pointed windows, and
250
between the windows torches fastened against the stone, and they flung a red flare over all the hall. A broad board was laid
in the midst. Then came an old knight with grey beard and hair and the lady with him. The knight was the same as the chief of those who had labored the day before in the harvest field, only
255
now he was more reverend and was richly clad. He sat at the head of the board and the lady by his side, and she called to Anders and had him sit at her right hand.
      After they had feasted to their hearts content, the youths
and maidens began to dance and afterwards the minstrels sang
260
their lays and recited parts of beautiful legends. In the end the
old knight took Anders by the hand and led him to a chamber, where he lay upon soft skins and covered with a silken cover-
let. Long he lay awake, still wandering in thought among the great oaks or watching the falcons shoot down upon the long-
265
winged herons or he thought of the beautiful lady as they sat
by the stream in the forest or danced and listened to the min-
strel tales in the sombre red-lighted hall. Sleep overcame him
at last, but it seemed only a moment till he was awake again
and the day was shining upon his eyes once more.
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     Everything had changed again, and Anders felt for a
moment a sharp pang of regret, as he looked about him and
saw that he was no longer lying in the brown old chamber,
with the thick skins and the silken coverlet; but in the corner
of a great market-place, and his head propped upon a low
275
stone seat, and his limbs a little chilly with the morning air. All was noise and bustle in the market-place, for the merchants were opening their stalls, the pedlars were already hawking
their wares with innumerable cries. The country folk were dis- posing their carts, putting up awnings here and there and lay-
280
ing out their goods. There was a fair fountain in the midst of
the place, and there were already gathered about it many beg-
gars and nimble-fingered boys.
     Then Anders became aware that there was a stall close beside him, roofed with canvas and there were boards laid all
285
round it upon trestles, and they were covered with garden
stuffs, together with fruits and bunches of flowers. A maiden
was standing there behind the boards in the stall, with her back turned to him, and it seemed to him that he knew the head and the light fair figure. Anders had hardly noted all these things,
290
when the maiden turned and, seeing him, smiled and cried,
     "Ah, Anders Christensen, it is no time for you to be lying asleep in corners, when folks are busy. Come, take this pitcher, and bring me water from the fountain, for I must get my flow-
ers in order." So he went to the fountain and brought the water, 
295
and poured it into the earthen vases, which she had there, and, while he did this, the maiden arranged the flowers, and talked
to him with the same musical voice, and looked at him with
the same strange eyes as the lady in the forest and the maiden in the harvest field.
300
   When Anders had awakened there was a harp laid near him against the wall, and he now went to it and began to touch the strings. All the beautiful things that had happened to him came
to his mind, the sweet tales that he had heard, and a sense of
the beauty and strangeness of everything around him. Imme-  
305
diately he began to fashion a song out of these things, and the song took possession of his heart and carried him away. So he played and sang there, till the people gathered about him, and were touched with his words. Some of them gave him money, which at night he distributed to the beggars at the fountain. 310
     When it was evening two of the maiden’s kinsmen came
with a cart and took away the trestles and the awning, and the things that were not sold, and the maiden bade good-night to Anders and went with them. When she was gone Anders sat down on the stone bench that was round the fountain, and lis-
315
tened to the murmur of the water, till there was no longer any
one left in the square. Then he laid himself down to rest with
the harp beside him and the noise of the fountain soothed him
to sleep.
     The next morning when he woke the scene was more
320
wildly changed than ever. He was lying on a great plain, near
to a fire, which was falling into embers. There were hundreds
of mighty men around him with stern rough faces, and they
were girding on their armour. Hoarse horns were blowing in every direction, and not far away was a tent of skins, and one
325
taller and slimmer than the rest, was standing in front of it,
giving orders in a loud deep voice. Those who were about Anders were already on their feet, and he observed that they
had rude harps and were wild-eyed storm-beaten looking men. Presently the man before the tent looked to where Anders sat,
330
with his hand upon his harp,—for he too had one and called to him, "Come hither, Anders Christensen, I have great work for your eyes and ears to do this day." And one of his companions said,
     "Hasten, Anders, for the King calls you"—and Anders
sprang up and came before the King, who laid his hand upon
335
his shoulder and said to him,
     "You and your brother scalds—there be nine of you—shall stand in the ring of shields with me to-day, and see with your
own eyes the terrible deeds that I shall do,—so you shall sing them the better, when the victory is won, and I come to feast
340
with my servants in hall."
     And Anders now understood where he was, and seemed to know as much about it as if he had been the King’s scald all
his life,—and he went to his brother harpers and they armed themselves and took their harps.
345
    Then the King’s host marshalled itself in a long line, with shining helmets and jingling mail, and in the midst was a great banner, and round it a circle of mighty warriors, taller and
fiercer than Anders had ever dreamed of; and within the circle was the King, with his hand leaning upon a long straight
350
sword, that stood from his shoulder down to his feet. Then Anders and the scalds came and placed themselves behind the King within the ring of horses, and they all moved on together with heavy feet and clanging armour into the battle.
     All that day Anders moved on behind the King, and many
355
times the circle was broken and the King was hewed at by innumerable swords;—and often Anders had to fight for his
life, and some of the scalds were killed at his side; and though
it was all strange and unreal like a dream, yet he seemed to be filled with a fierce ardour and fought so wonderfully that at
360
times he was before the King and warded off blows from him.
     But at length the King’s enemy was stricken down, and all
his warriors, slain or wounded or put to flight. The whole field
was covered with the dead and the victors pursued after their enemies with terrible shouts. As night fell the King stayed his
365
men from the chase, and halted in a lonely valley, and leaned upon what was left of his sword—for it was broken—very
weary. In front of them was a great castle of stone and the lord
of it came and yielded up the keys and invited the King to
come there. So they went many of them into the castle, and a
370
feast was made in the great hall, and when they had eaten and drank, the King made Anders take his harp and sing about the battle. A fierce wild glow came over him and he seemed to feel strangely that he was indeed a scald, and he held the harp in
his hands, and touched the strings, and chanted a wonderful
375
song. Such a song it was that the battle ardour came upon all who heard it. The King’s eyes burned like fire, and his war-
riors seized their swords and hewed the table and benches to pieces, and only ceased from their fury, when wine and wea- riness overcame them, and one by one they fell upon the floor
380
and slept.
     And then was Anders weary too, and the harp dropped
from his hands: but at that moment a lady came into the hall,
and drew near to him, stepping lightly among those that lay asleep, and she brought Anders a goblet of water, and this
385
revived him. The lady sat down beside him and talked to him
and made him sing to her other songs than the one he had just finished. At last, when all the torches had flickered out and
only the pale moonshine from the narrow windows rested on
the sombre figures of those that slept, the lady brought a great
390
skin and laid it on the floor at his feet and bade him good-night and went away. And then Anders, being very weary, lay down too, and remembered no more.
     The next day brought him new scenes of wonder and
beauty, but everything seemed to him dimmer and more unreal
395
than before. The faces and figures about him were more like those in dreams and he could barely hold the meaning of what
he heard. Three more days were passed in adventures no less strange than those already recorded. But every day Anders thought himself to be moving more and more among unreal
400
shadows. All things about him were beautiful, but his mind
could keep no hold of them. His eyes could no longer see, nor his ears hear. At last he seemed to go about painfully as one striving to steady himself in a stupor. At the end of the third
day, as he was walking in the narrow street of a strange town,
405
that appeared to be filled with a thin mist, through which came
a murmuring like that of waves upon sand, he saw a cobbler at work in his stall, and immediately he remembered his former
life. A great longing came upon him to be away from dreams
and shadows, and once more working patiently among living
410
men; and he said to himself, "Ah, Anders, you have had
enough of changing clothes, lodging and manners seven times a-week. You would fain go back to your stall, if you could but
find the way." So saying he sat down dreamily on a stone-
bench, that was in front of the cobbler’s shop and leaned his
415
forehead on his hands and tried to think. His eyes were fixed upon the pavement, and he saw that the earth beneath him was no longer covered with stone, but with thick green grass. He started and looked up, and, behold, there was the great wheat-
land before him, with the fields and the orchards, the castles
420
and the far slender spires. The harvest was reaped now and the fields were rough with the stubble, and a soft haze of gold was over them from the setting sun. Anders turned and saw that the smoothe plain was behind him with the grass and the daisies— and not far away was the wall; and he looked once more for a 425
moment half-regretfully over the sweet country he was leav-
ing, for it was marvelously beautiful, and then got up and went cheerily back to the gate. The gold key was hanging in the golden padlock and he turned it and went out.
     The fountain was murmuring just as he had left it, and
430
Anders sat down on the brink, and looked at the stone-figure, and, as he looked, he saw that the form and face of the fairy were the same as those of the strange maiden, who had so haunted him in the land beyond the wall. The eyes were look-
ing kindly at him, and they seemed not to be of stone, but soft
435
living ones. She took the horn from her mouth and the water ceased to flow, and again the sweet voice crept into his ears so softly that it was like a thought that came to him from the stone lips without the help of words.
     "Whenever thou desirest the life of fables, of songs and of
440
dreams, come thou to my fountain, and drink. Yet remember, none but the simple and free shall be made glad with my water. He that hath the yoke of care shall not easily enter into my
land; and he, that is of the world, shall drink of me in vain."
     Then the horn went back to the mouth, and the water fell
445
and the stream ran down over the slope. The gold key slipped from Anders’ hand into the basin and disappeared. The sun
was now almost set, as Anders turned away slowly from the beautiful fountain, and went along the valley. Before he
reached the high road, the round moon was shining and it was
450
deep night when he at last entered the door of his little shop in the town, and, flinging himself upon his bed, fell fast asleep, weary with his walk and tired with much thinking.
     The next day found him busily at work with his shoes, for
he imagined that he had lost many days, and would have hard
455
toil to make it up. Presently a neighbour of his came in—an
old woman, who had been wont to cook his meals for him and take care of his shop. As she began to set herself to work, she said,
     "It is long since you have taken a holiday, Anders; and
460
when I saw you going out yesterday in the dawning, I was both glad and sorry. I was glad because you would cheer yourself, being so sad and lonely here—yet sorry, that your father might
no longer bear you company."
     Anders stared amazed, but said nothing; for now he saw
465
that the days he had spent in the world beyond the wall were
in reality not half so many hours.
     When the day’s work was over, Anders remembered the songs and lays he had made and sung in the fairy world, and
he took up the old harp that had been his father’s, and, which
470
his father had taught him to play, and began to touch the
strings, endeavouring to recollect. As he did so, he seemed to be borne back again to those strange and beautiful scenes; and the matter of the lays returned to him; but he could not remem- ber the words. Then a great longing came over him to sing
475
them again for he recalled that they were beautiful, and he
could hear echoes of them still lingering in his heart. Day by
day the longing grew, till at last it seemed to him that life
would be a miserable thing, if he could not remould the lays,
and know them as he had known them in dreams. He deter-
480
mined to labour at them when the day’s cobbling was over,
and fashion them all afresh and copy them down that they
might not be forgotten. So day by day he worked at his shoes until the evening, and then lit his candle, and fashioned bit by
bit the fairy lays; and, as he made them, he wrote them down.
485
One evening, as he was labouring thus, his friend the village priest came in, and Anders told him what he had done, saying nothing of the fountain or the world beyond the wall, and then
he recited to him one of the lays he had made. After this the priest came often to his shop, bringing with him many who
490
were skilled in minstrellsy, and they too heard the beautiful
songs and covered them with praise. Soon it was noised
abroad what wonderful things Anders Christensen the cobbler had done: and the people came to him in crowds, and besought him that they also might hear his songs: so it was that once a
495
week Anders sat on a bench in front of his stall, and recited
and sang to the townsmen with his harp and sent them away happy. In course of time the wandering minstrells, who passed through the town on their journeys, hearing of Anders, came
to him, and learned his songs, and carried them abroad about
500
the country and even into foreign lands, everywhere letting
that they were the songs of AndersChristensen the cobbler.
     In the meantime, when Anders had written out all the lays,
he began to feel a great desire to visit the fairy world once
more. He remembered what the stone figure had said to him
505
and repaired one morning early to the fountain. He found the golden key as before, and, entering the gate, once again trod down the wonderful grass and the daisies. He remained many days in the fairy world, and each day brought him new and beautiful adventures. They were visions, dreamy and yet real, 510
in which he seemed to take part, and at the same time watched himself acting; scenes sometimes of labour and patience, at others of anger or courage or fear, of mirth or sadness, of weeping or revelry. Sometimes he was in towns, watching, as
in a vivid dream, the pomp of processions, the toil of artizans
515
and all the changes and sad and lovely things of life. Some- times he was among huts and cornfields, at other times among palaces and parks: sometimes with outlaws and cragsmen
upon lofty mountains, or with woodsmen and hunters in the
depth of forests—often in strange lands and in ages, long
520
passed away. When at last he grew weary again of dreams and shadows he wished himself back in the shop, and immed- iately he was near to the gate, and went out, and returned to his
home, freighted with strange thoughts and imaginings. These
he fashioned into other lays, ever more beautiful than before.
525
In this way three years of Anders’ life went by in much happi- ness, divided between the daily task of cobbling and the mak- ing of his songs, and now and then he went to the world
beyond the wall, and lost himself for shadowy days in the life
of dreams.
530
     One day he received a bidding to go to the house of a
scholar in a distant part of the town, as there was one there
who wished to be measured for a pair of shoes. Anders had never seen the old scholar, though he knew his name: all he could tell of him was that he had lived very secludedly and
535
was supposed to possess much wealth. Anders however failed not to appear at his new customer’s house at the appointed
hour. An old servant met him at the gate and brought him to a chamber looking into a walled garden, where the master and
the lady his daughter were seated. As Anders passed the
540
threshold, he started and stood still, having no power to move. The old master sat beside the window in a tall chair with a
great book in his hands, and the maiden sat a little way off in front of the window. Anders gazed at her in dreamy wonder. It was true: she was no other than his beautiful friend in the fairy
545
world. The old servant said to the master, "This is the cobbler, Anders Christensen," and then the maiden looked up at him
with the fair face he seemed to remember so well and said. "It
is I, Anders Christensen, that desire the shoes to be made. You may take the measure of my foot": and Anders knelt down and
550
measured the delicate foot, while the maiden went on with her knitting. After Anders had taken the measure, he still
remained at the maiden’s feet, leaning with one hand on the floor, and looking up like one enchanted into the beautiful
face. It was the same in every feature as the sweet stone one at
555
the fountain, but, as Anders thought, many times more lovely. Then Anders spoke to the maiden, he knew not how—and
when he had done, he scarcely knew what he had said.
     "Oh, Lady, have we not known each other before? Have we not been together for days in places far away from here? Tell 
560
me. Do you remember?"
     But the maiden only smiled and looked down wondering
into his face, and said gravely,
     "You must have been dreaming, Anders Christensen; and I would not permit you to speak so to me, were you not, as I
565
have heard people say, a maker of minstrellsy, and a dreamer
by trade. There: let me have the shoes done in two days; and when you come with them, my father desires that you will not refuse him a specimen of your song-making, for he is a lover
of such things, and so indeed am I."
570
     And Anders bowed low—not daring to touch the maiden’s hand, for she was so great and beautiful, and went away like
one in a trance. He saw nothing of what passed before him in
the narrow streets, and the faces of men and women went by
him like shadows. He saw only the face of the scholar’s daugh-
575
ter. The only sound he could hear was her voice. He had loved
in many of his songs to tell the beauty of the maiden who was
so often with him in the fairy world; but he only knew of that
figure as a beautiful fancy; neither the figure nor his worship
of it had been real. But now the dream was made mortal, and
580
Anders had seen her among men, even fairer than she was among dreams, and he could not choose but love her.
     When he came to his shop, he entered in and sat down, and then the brown gloom of the little cramped dusty place fell
coldly on his spirit, and he laid his head upon his hands and
585
cried, "Ah me, that I ever went to the scholar’s house; for now
I am undone." And then Anders went to work drearily at the shoes: but he found that he had taken the measure so badly that he could not hope to make them aright. And this gave him a gleam of pleasure, for he said, "I must go and fit them on, and
590
so get the measure again. Thus will I have seen the maiden
three times instead of once." That day and the next he wrought upon the shoes, and on the third he took them, and went again
to the scholar’s house. He found them as before, the old man beside the window and the beautiful maiden—near to him.
595
Anders tried on the shoes, and found them much amiss, and he promised to have them done the next day. Then the maiden
rose, and brought him a harp and gave it to him, and the old
man placed him on a stool by the window, and she said, "Sing
to us, Master Christensen: for we have heard much of your
600
song-making." And Anders took the harp and sang to them
many of the songs he had made about things he had seen and heard in the fairy world. And as he sang the songs seemed
more beautiful to him than ever before, and once or twice the scholar’s daughter looked up from her work, and there was a
605
flush on her cheek and her eyes flashed. Anders became more and more in love with her with every word that he sang; for she was wonderfully lovely. When it was evening he bade good
bye to the old master and the maiden, and returned to his shop, and wrought once more at the shoes.
610
     Next day he carried the shoes again to the scholar’s house, and they were found to be the fairest that he had ever made.
He took the harp and sang to them again, and the old man praised him, and would have given him money for his singing, but he would not take it. Then the maiden said to him, "When-
615
ever you would pass an hour with two lonely people, come
hither to us, Master Christensen, and you and your songs shall be welcome." And Anders dared then to kiss the maiden’s
hand, and returned to his shop, burdened with many thoughts.
     Then he took up leather and thread, and began to work at
620
his shoes, and he worked on steadily till night came, heavy of heart—and at his work he thought of the room where he had sung to the maiden and her father; he thought of the beauty
and comfort of everything about them; of the fair large room
with its soft matting and rich wainscots; the heavy and costly
625
furniture; the spacious garden with its trees and flowers: then
he gazed blankly through the close gloom of the scant poor
place that was his, and the hot tears came into his eyes; for he loved the maiden, and his life was low and needy, and he could never hope to win her. Day after day he laboured patiently, and
630
at night he tried to win sleep and a little comfort from his harp,
but the songs would not come. Now and then, as the maiden
had bade him, he came to her house in the even- ings after his work, and went over his songs and lays to her: but it brought
him no hope. They were very sweet and kind to him, but they
635
were grand in their manner and he knew in every word and motion, that they were not of the same life with him.
     Yet ever more and more he loved the maiden, and often,
when he had not been invited by her, his feet carried him, he knew not how, to the scholar’s house; and if he might not enter
640
in, yet would he stand at the wicket and look wistfully into the beautiful garden, sometimes warm and golden with the sunset, sometimes still and dark-shadowed in the moonlight; and if
there was light of a candle in any window, he would lean upon
the gate, and watch it till it was gone, and then turn drearily
645
back to the little shop, and work at his shoemaking patiently
into the night.
     Once instead of going home he remained at the gate, hav-
ing no heart to turn away, and when every light was gone from
the house flung himself down on the grass by the wall, and laid
650
his head upon his arm, and wept till he grew aweary, and fell
fast asleep. It was grey morning when he awoke stiff and
chilly. The carts of the country folk were coming in to the mar-
ket, and the heavy creaking of their wooden wheels had star-
tled him from his sleep. He got up slowly and haggardly, and
655
went away toward home, and as he went he cried suddenly to himself.
     "I will waste no more time with song-making and these
idle dreams. I will make myself rich and mighty, that I may
win her who is noble and rich."
660
     If any of his friends had been abroad so early in the morn-
ing and had met him in the narrow streets, they would have wondered to see how his brow was furrowed with deep lines, and his lips hardened themselves together, and his eyes were set with stern thought.
665
     After this Anders toiled day and night at his trade, and
thought no more of his songs. The more work he did, the more customers he got; for his skill in shoemaking was hardly less than his skill in minstrellsy. He lived hardly and denied him-
self, and the money he made he laid away. Day by day his
670
earnings grew, and day by day he watched them growing, till
his eyes became quite greedy, and he himself was startled sometimes to think how like a miser he had become. But he hardened himself and began to lend the money at interest and added the interest to his earnings and lent them again, till soon
675
he saw that he would indeed become rich. The more his trea-
sure increased, the more eager he became; and he dealt hardly with those that borrowed of him—till at length all the town knew him for a usurer.
     He made no more songs; for he deemed it waste of time;
680
and when the people came to his stall, as they had been wont,
to hear his minstrellsy, he drove them away with curt words,
and went on bitterly with his shoes or turned with weary eyes
to his account books. Only now and then, as often as he could, he went to the scholar’s house, and once more, sitting near the 
685
maiden’s feet, forgot for a time his money-making and lost himself in his songs. But they were always the same songs
over again, and because he never made any new ones, but thought only of money, his heart became more and more
dulled even to them, and he put ever less and less life and
690
beauty into them. But what pained him most was that some-
how the maiden was growing colder to him, and the old
scholar gave him fewer invitations. Sometimes she asked him quite sternly how it was that he never made any new songs, but always sang them the old ones: and he answered in great grief,
695
that he would make no more new songs for a time, that he was
at work upon a great and wise undertaking, and after that was accomplished, he would work at his minstrellsy again. But the maiden became daily colder, till at length she scarcely noticed him at all.
700
     Yet in spite of his hard labour, Anders could not resist
going again to the land beyond the wall; for there he should
see the maiden, and talk to her; even if it were only in a dream. One day several weeks after he had begun to lend his money,
he went early in the morning to the fountain, and sat down, as
705
had been his wont, upon the stone brink. The fairy seemed not
to regard him at all, but stared at him blankly with her rocky
eyes, and the water fell with a heavy murmur into the basin.
After he had sat for a long while, Anders clasped his hands,
and entreated the fairy to give him the key, that he might go
710
again into the hidden world, and forget his care. Then the
water ceased to flow, and the stone lips moved a little, but Anders could not hear, only at last he seemed to catch the words, which she had spoken to him once before, "He, that is
of the world, shall drink of me in vain." Then the gold key fell,
715
and slid down so far into the basin, that he could scarcely get
it out: but he went with it to the gate, and opened it, and 
entered in.
     It seemed to him that the beautiful plain, which had been
so covered with the thick grass and the daisies, was now rough
720
and wild with heather, and, when he came to the slope, low clouds were hanging over the great wheatland: the wind was blowing bleak and dreary: the far castles loomed up gray and chilly: there was no light on the city spires, no colour of fruit
in the orchards and vineyards. He threw himself down on the
725
slope, and gazed hopelessly over the changed land, till at last
the night fell, and sleep came over him and made him forget.
     Anders did not stay many days in the fairy world. He had
the same strange sort of adventures as before; but they brought him no delight. Again he was near to the maiden, and she was 
730
ever his companion; but it only made him more sick at heart,
for she had no kind words for him, but came and went like a
chilly shadow. Often as of old he was in the fairest places, and among the strangest and loveliest scenes, but he could find no beauty in anything. Day by day everything grew duller and 
735
more lifeless, till at last he seemed to wander he knew not whither, as in a stupor, and could see nothing any- where in the gloom, but a dim beautiful face, clouded with scorn.
     When he could bear it no longer, Anders went out weary
and heavy-hearted from the hidden land, and dropped the gold
740
key into the fountain, and went home, and laboured at his trade more diligently than ever. Once or twice again he went to the fountain, hoping that he might find peace, but the world
beyond the wall was now full of bitterness. He seemed to pass dreary days there in which nothing ever happened to him. He
745
looked over beautiful landscapes, fields and gardens, cities
and forests, but they were to him only blurs on the earth’s sur-
face, so many marks that had no meaning. He wandered, all alone, in the streets of busy towns, and the people that passed him seemed no more than breaths of wind. Sometimes he sat
750
in gloomy places with hardly any light and shadows and
visions of the lovely things he had seen there in former days, came to him and flitted about him and scoffed at him.
     The last time that Anders went to the fountain, the stone
figure took no heed of him whatever, and he did not get the
755
key. After he had sat bitterly until it was evening, he went back
to his shop and gave himself wholly to his money, thinking no more of the fairy world.
     Year after year, Anders toiled with his trade and his riches.
At the end of the fourth year, he went into a beautiful street of
760
town and bought three old houses and tore them down, and
built for himself a great dwelling like the one that the scholar
had, and made a spacious garden about it in the likeness of his. He hired servants to keep the gate and attend to the household matters, and filled the chambers of the house with rich and
765
costly things. There he took up his abode at night and in the morning returned to his stall and laboured far into the dark
over his shoes and his money-making.
     At the end of another year he made up all his accounts one evening, and found that he was rich. Then he threw himself
770
back in his chair, and his hands trembled, and his heart beat heavily, and he said, "Now will I ask for the maiden, for I am
as rich and powerful as she, and I have a fairer house." The
next evening he dressed himself in his best, and went away unbidden to the scholar’s house. There he found the maiden,
775
now a full grown woman, alone in the room, where he had so often sung to her his songs. He took the old harp, and sat on a stool at her feet, and touched the strings, and some of the old- time spirit came back upon him so that he sang, as he had not done for many a day. Then he looked up into the lady’s face, 780
and she was watching him strangely, and she said, "How
comes it Anders that you sing with more spirit than usual to-night?" Then Anders said to her trembling,
     "Lady, it is because I have accomplished that great under-
taking, which once I told you of: for know, that, when I first 
785
saw you, I loved you, but I was too poor and mean to win you,
and I said that I would make myself rich, that I might be wor-
thy of you. This have I done, and I am now indeed as wealthy
as any in this town. Oh, Lady, do not refuse me!"
     But his heart died within him as he looked into the lady’s
790
face; for it was pale, and the lips were curled with scorn and
then she said,
     "Anders Christensen, once I loved you, and it was because you were not like other men. Your life was nobler and fairer
than theirs. Now you are become as the rest. Why should I
795
love you? I might find an hundred such [as] you, walking any
day in the streets. Yet, Anders, I pity you and would fain see
you happy; go back then to your trade and traffic, and forget
me, for indeed I do not love you."
     Then she rose, and went away and left him. Anders bent his
800
head upon his clasped hands, and moaned. After awhile he got up, and trudged away blindly to his great house, and laid him-
self upon his bed, but could not sleep. All night long he tossed
in bitter agony, for his grief was too sharp for tears— and when
it was morning he rose and locked up the house, and sent away
805
the servants. Then he went to his cobbler’s stall and locked up that too, and putting the keys into his pocket turned away out
the town, thinking that he could never live there again. So he wandered out upon the high-road, he knew not where, and his feet bore him to the hills, and he turned into a narrow valley.
810
Then he seemed to awake for a moment from his misery, for
he knew that it was the valley of the fountain, and a gleam of hope came to him. "Perhaps the fairy will now give me the
key," he said, "and I will go into the hidden land— whether it
be for joy or pain—and never return." There was a  grey cloud
815
over the valley, and a fog along the stream. The wind moaned drearily among the trees, and the birds hardly sang. When he came to the fountain, he sat down upon the brink, and looked
at the stone figure; but there was no form or feature in it. The
fairy was veiled with stone from head to foot, and from under
820
her hood the horn ran out, and the water fell in jets with a
sound like that of sobs. Anders waited long, but no key came. Then he looked up, and, behold the gate was wide open; so he arose, and entered; and it closed behind him. And- ers walked on till he came to the slope, and there, hardly looking about
825
him, he threw himself down upon the grass, and wept and he
was so weary, that at last he sobbed himself asleep.
     When he woke in the morning, he was lying on the floor of
a cobbler’s stall, very much like his own, and he lifted himself
on his hands, and looked out into the street. It was a broad one, 
830
and many people, all in black, were going to and fro, with their heads bent, as if they too were in great misery, and there was
a grey wintery sky overhead. Then Anders said, "I will make shoes here for the rest of my life; for this gloom and penury
are pleasing to me." So he got up and went to the stool and 
835
took leather and thread, and made shoes all that day.
     The next morning he went on, as before; but, after a little
while, a figure came into the shop, that was the same as the stone fairy at the fountain, veiled from head to foot, and the
figure bore a tray with food and drink upon it, and laid it down
840
on the bench beside Anders, and said, "Eat, and drink,Anders, for you are weary and starved." Then the figure went to work
and swept the room, and made everything neat and tidy and went away, Anders being too sad and heartsick to question her or say any word to her. At evening she came again with drink
845
and food; and laid a soft rug for him in an alcove of the shop,
and went away. The next day several customers came in, and asked if their shoes were done, and Anders gave them the shoes, and they offered him money, but he said, "Nay, give no money; take it away, for I cannot bear to see it"—but the men 
850
looked coldly upon him and took the shoes and left the money. Then Anders rose and flung the coins into the street.
     Many days and months and years, as it seemed to Anders, passed slowly by in this manner. The veiled woman came
twice every day with food and drink, and took care of his shop, 
855
and disappeared, he knew not whither. The customers came
and ordered shoes and gave him money, and Anders flung it
out always into the street: and what surprised him much was
that no one ever picked up the coins, only some would turn
them curiously with their toes, and look at them for a moment, 
860
and then pass on indifferently.
     But at length as the years went on, Anders found that a change came very gradually over everything. The grey win-
tery clouds began to break now and then, and the bright sun-
shine would come down into the street, or gleam for a moment
865
upon the tiles. The people outside began to move about less sorrowfully, and some of them seemed to wear happy faces. Sometimes he would catch the sound of pleasant talk, or even hear afar off the laughter of children. He found himself able to endure his lot with patience, and at last he was quite contented 870
with it. The old heart-rending agony wore itself away into a
quiet smoothe sadness; and these things grew more and more, till the grey clouds were almost gone, and the streets were
filled with life, and light, and the sound of mirth and business. Happy children went by his stall, and men and women came
875
often to chat with him and cheer him at his toil. He found him-
self taking more and more interest in life, often watching the passers by, and sometimes laughing heartily at the merry
things, that happened in the street beyond his stall. He began
to leave his work sometimes, and roam about the town, sadly
880
at first, but in the end with every greater delight. Then he made his way beyond the gates into the open country, and wandered for days in the fields, and among the hills and forests, and
these things brought a great peace to him, and quieted his
heart, till he had almost forgotten his grief.
885
     One evening he took up his harp and began to recall the songs he had fashioned long ago; but they did not please him. They were songs of bright and youthful things, often of mirth
and revelry, and many of them of happy love, and grated upon
his saddened heart; so he laid the harp aside; but not for long.
890
His wanderings in the town and in the quiet country soon
awoke in him again the old love for his harp and he took it up once more, and set himself gradually to fashioning new things, that answered to his mood. He began to make lays on grave
and touching themes, deeds of courage and generosity of faith
895
and patience, and sweet and quiet songs of the deep and sol-
emn things of life. The grey clouds were all gone now, and his eyes rested upon the stir and sunshine of the little city with a sweet peace. Often he would sit all day with his hand upon his harp, dreaming. He saved also, of the money that was given to
900
him, a little, that he might buy parchment and writing material
to copy these things down upon.
     At last one evening, after many long years had gone by, he was sitting at the door of his stall, with the quiet shadow of the houses around him, and his hand was on his harp—when the
905
veiled woman came to him for the third time that day, and
stood before him, and, lifting up her two white hands, threw
back the veil from her face, and Anders saw, that she was the maiden, who had been his friend of old, only now no longer a
girl, but a grave and beautiful woman. She smiled kindly and
910
said,
     "Anders Christensen, you have entered again into your inheritance. As your youth was true and beautiful, so now is
your manhood deep and noble. You need stay no longer here, but journey back to your town, and receive what awaits you
915
there. To-morrow, take your wallet, and follow out this street
to the westward. After seven days, you shall reach the wall of
the fountain."
     Anders had great joy, when he heard this, and he was too moved to speak; but he kissed the lady’s hand, wondering, for
920
she was the same as the scholar’s daughter, only older and queenlier looking, than when he last saw her.
     Anders slept little that night, and, early in the morning, put
his wallet upon his back, and set out. Seven days he journeyed upon the highway, past villages and castles, gardens and corn-
925
fields, till at last he came to the slope, that led him up to the
wall. There he sat down to dream and gaze about him for a space, before he should turn away, and a serene happiness came over him, as he looked across the beautiful plain. There were the wheatfields, and the orchards, with the fair fruit in
930
them, the grey castles and the far city walls, all quiet and joy-
ous in the mellow sunshine. The birds were singing about him, and the laborers toiling in the harvest, just as when he first
came, a boy, into this wonderful world. He felt not now the
mirth and buoyancy he had known then; but this grave and sol-
935
emn happiness was sweeter still. Then Anders rose, and went
on to the gate and it was open. There too was the fountain, and the stone figure was still veiled, but the veil was thrown back,
just as the fair woman’s had been, when she spoke to him last: and the eyes were looking into his kindly, like living ones.
940
Anders leaned over and kissed the hem of the stone veil, and turned away down the valley, dreaming once more of the scholar’s daughter.
     Late at night he came to the town, and went through the
silent streets to the great house, which he had locked up, as it
945
seemed to him, so many years before. It was standing silent
and grey, just as he had left it. The lock in the great gate would hardly turn, for it was very rusty, and, when he went in, the spacious garden was lying bright and shadowy in the moon- shine, and Anders could see that it was rank and choked with
950
weeds and thorns. Then he went into the house, and the creak-
ing of the doors, scared out hundreds of bats, that were shel-
tered in the crannies of the walls. Groping about he found at
last his old-time sleeping chamber, and throwing himself upon the mouldy bed, fell fast asleep, for he was weary.
955
     Next morning he ate what was left in his wallet, and deter- mined to go at once, and search for the scholar’s daughter, for he thought that by this time he had patience to endure what-
ever might befall him. His beard was grown long and bushy,
and his garments were old and worn; but he cared not now for
960
these things and so he set out as he was. It was not long till he came to the well known gate, and his hand trembled as he knocked. The old porter came to the gate, and opened it with hands more pale and aged even than of yore, and Anders entered in—and, lifting up his eyes, he saw that a lady was sit 965
ting under a tree in the garden, not many paces before him, and he went toward her, with his eyes fixed upon her face. When
he was near the lady rose, and looked at him, and she was pale and trembling, and she cried, "Anders Christensen, is it you?" and Anders answered,
970
     "Lady, it is I. I went away from here, because you scorned
me, being a rich man. Now am I returned to see if you will take me, being a poor one. You see, I am changed."
     Then the fair lady looked long into the sad grave face and
she too saw that he was much changed, and she said, "Anders,
975
I thought not to drive you away with those harsh words of
mine. I would not marry you, when you had so hard a name
for your bargaining, and when I knew that you had justly
earned it. I thought that my scornful speech would only turn
you away from what was spoiling you, and make you as you
980
had been before. Indeed, Anders, I have paid bitterly with my tears for what I said; for I loved you."
     Then Anders took her in his arms and kissed her, and that very afternoon Anders sought out his old friend, the parish
priest, and he came to the scholar’s house, and the three went
985
away together to the church, and the old man married them.
     And now will I tell you of the life that Anders led in the
years that followed his marriage. On the very day after his
return he went into the town, and opened his old stall and
wrought at his cobbler’s trade as before. And this he did ever
990
afterward, for he made it a condition with his wife that he
should make his own living. All the day he spent at his shop
and returned in the evening to his wife’s house where she was mistress, for the old scholar was dead. Often during the day’s labour, she would come, and sit near to him with her work, or
995
in the after years she would bring her children there, and teach them in the sight of their father.
     Anders also resumed his old custom of singing with his
harp to the people on certain days before his shop, and the
fame of his later songs and lays spread far and wide over the
1000
land, till he was far more renowned than any other of his kind. Once every week he went to the valley of the fountain, and
saw in the fairy world the beautiful things, that were told in his songs.
     After a time he found that there were still some of his old
1005
riches left, but he took the money, and gave it together with his great house to the council of the town, to be used for a chari- table hospital forever; so was Anders Christensen’s name hauled down, no less for his charity than for his greatness in song. 1010