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THE MARSH KING'S DAUGHTER

By Sylvia Marshall,2014-11-30 10:29
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    ?????à??Ö?ÖÎÁÆÐÂ?øÕ? TPGÁÆ??ÖÎÁÆ?ùÍ??à??Ö?ºä??Ò?Ñ???ÌÚÑ?Å?ÐÔ?? ????http://lady.qq.com/a/20121123/000215.htm FAIRY TALES OF HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN THE MARSH KING'S DAUGHTER by Hans Christian Andersen THE storks relate to their little ones a great many stories, andthey are all about moors and reed banks, and suited to their age andcapacity. The youngest of them are quite satisfied with "kribble,krabble," or such nonsense, and think it very grand; but the elderones want something with a deeper meaning, or at least something abouttheir own family. We are only acquainted with one of the two longest and oldeststories which the storks relate- it is about Moses, who was exposed byhis mother on the banks of the Nile, and was found by the king'sdaughter, who gave him a good education, and he afterwards became agreat man; but where he was buried is still unknown. Every one knows this story, but not the second; very likelybecause it is quite an inland story. It has been repeated from mouthto mouth, from one stork-mamma to another, for thousands of years; andeach has told it better than the last; and now we mean to tell itbetter than all. The first stork pair who related

    it lived at the time it happened,and had their summer residence on the rafters of the Viking's house,which stood near the wild moorlands of Wendsyssell; that is, tospeak more correctly, the great moorheath, high up in the north ofJutland, by the Skjagen peak. This wilderness is still an immense wildheath of marshy ground, about which we can read in the "OfficialDirectory." It is said that in olden times the place was a lake, theground of which had heaved up from beneath, and now the moorlandextends for miles in every direction, and is surrounded by dampmeadows, trembling, undulating swamps, and marshy ground coveredwith turf, on which grow bilberry bushes and stunted trees. Mistsare almost always hovering over this region, which, seventy years ago,was overrun with wolves. It may well be called the Wild Moor; andone can easily imagine, with such a wild expanse of marsh and lake,how lonely and dreary it must have been a thousand years ago. Manythings may be noticed now that existed then. The reeds grow to thesame height, and bear the same kind of long, purple-brown leaves, withtheir feathery tips. There still stands the birch, with its white barkand its delicate, loosely hanging leaves; and with regard to theliving beings who frequented this spot, the fly still wears a gauzydress of the same cut, and the favorite colors of the stork are white,with black and red for stockings. The people, certainly, in thosedays, wore very different dresses to those they now wear, but if anyof them, be he huntsman or squire, master or servant, ventured onthe wavering, undulating, marshy ground of the moor, they met with thesame fate a thousand years ago as they would now. The wanderer sank,and went down to the Marsh King, as he is named, who rules in thegreat moorland empire beneath. They also called him "Gunkel King," butwe like the name of "Marsh King" better, and we will give him thatname as the storks do. Very little is known of the Marsh King'srule, but that, perhaps, is a good thing. In the neighborhood of the moorlands, and not far from the greatarm of the North Sea and the Cattegat which is called theLumfjorden, lay the castle of the Viking, with its water-tight stonecellars, its tower, and its three projecting storeys. On the ridgeof the roof the stork had built his nest, and there the stork-mammasat on her eggs and felt sure her hatching would come to something. One evening, stork-papa stayed out rather late, and when he camehome he seemed quite busy, bustling, and important. "I havesomething very dreadful to tell you," said he to the stork-mamma. "Keep it to yourself then," she replied. "Remember that I amhatching eggs; it may agitate me, and will affect them." "You must know it at once," said he. "The daughter of our hostin Egypt has arrived here. She has ventured to take this journey,and now she is lost." "She who sprung from the race of the fairies, is it?" cried themother stork. "Oh, tell me all about it; you know I cannot bear tobe kept waiting at a time when I am hatching eggs." "Well, you see, mother," he replied,

    "she believed what thedoctors said, and what I have heard you state also, that themoor-flowers which grow about here would heal her sick father; and shehas flown to the north in swan's plumage, in company with some otherswan-princesses, who come to these parts every year to renew theiryouth. She came, and where is she now!" "You enter into particulars too much," said the mamma stork,"and the eggs may take cold; I cannot bear such suspense as this." "Well," said he, "I have kept watch; and this evening I went amongthe rushes where I thought the marshy ground would bear me, andwhile I was there three swans came. Something in their manner offlying seemed to say to me, 'Look carefully now; there is one notall swan, only swan's feathers.' You know, mother, you have the sameintuitive feeling that I have; you know whether a thing is right ornot immediately." "Yes, of course," said she; "but tell me about the princess; Iam tired of hearing about the swan's feathers." "Well, you know that in the middle of the moor there issomething like a lake," said the stork-papa. "You can see the edgeof it if you raise yourself a little. Just there, by the reeds and thegreen banks, lay the trunk of an elder-tree; upon this the three swansstood flapping their wings, and looking about them; one of themthrew off her plumage, and I immediately recognized her as one ofthe princesses of our home in Egypt. There she sat, without anycovering but her long, black hair. I heard her tell the two othersto take great care of the swan's plumage, while she dipped down intothe water to pluck the flowers which she fancied she saw there. Theothers nodded, and picked up the feather dress, and took possession ofit. I wonder what will become of it? thought I, and she most likelyasked herself the same question. If so, she received an answer, a verypractical one; for the two swans rose up and flew away with her swan'splumage. 'Dive down now!' they cried; 'thou shalt never more fly inthe swan's plumage, thou shalt never again see Egypt; here, on themoor, thou wilt remain.' So saying, they tore the swan's plumageinto a thousand pieces, the feathers drifted about like a snow-shower,and then the two deceitful princesses flew away." "Why, that is terrible," said the stork-mamma; "I feel as if Icould hardly bear to hear any more, but you must tell me what happenednext." "The princess wept and lamented aloud; her tears moistened theelder stump, which was really not an elder stump but the Marsh Kinghimself, he who in marshy ground lives and rules. I saw myself how thestump of the tree turned round, and was a tree no more, while long,clammy branches like arms, were extended from it. Then the poorchild was terribly frightened, and started up to run away. Shehastened to cross the green, slimy ground; but it will not bear anyweight, much less hers. She quickly sank, and the elder stump divedimmediately after her; in fact, it was he who drew her down. Greatblack bubbles rose up out of the moor-slime, and with these everytrace of the two vanished. And now the princess is buried

    in thewild marsh, she will never now carry flowers to Egypt to cure herfather. It would have broken your heart, mother, had you seen it." "You ought not to have told me," said she, "at such a time asthis; the eggs might suffer. But I think the princess will soon findhelp; some one will rise up to help her. Ah! if it had been you orI, or one of our people, it would have been all over with us." I mean to go every day," said he, "to see if anything comes topass;" and so he did. A long time went by, but at last he saw a green stalk shootingup out of the deep, marshy ground. As it reached the surface of themarsh, a leaf spread out, and unfolded itself broader and broader, andclose to it came forth a bud. One morning, when the stork-papa was flying over the stem, hesaw that the power of the sun's rays had caused the bud to open, andin the cup of the flower lay a charming child- a little maiden,looking as if she had just come out of a bath. The little one was solike the Egyptian princess, that the stork, at the first moment,thought it must be the princess herself, but after a little reflectionhe decided that it was much more likely to be the daughter of theprincess and the Marsh King; and this explained also her beingplaced in the cup of a water-lily. "But she cannot be left to liehere," thought the stork, "and in my nest there are already so many.But stay, I have thought of something: the wife of the Viking has nochildren, and how often she has wished for a little one. People alwayssay the stork brings the little ones; I will do so in earnest thistime. I shall fly with the child to the Viking's wife; whatrejoicing there will be!" And then the stork lifted the little girl out of the flower-cup,flew to the castle, picked a hole with his beak in thebladder-covered, window, and laid the beautiful child in the bosomof the Viking's wife. Then he flew back quickly to the stork-mamma andtold her what he had seen and done; and the little storks listenedto it all, for they were then quite old enough to do so. "So you see,"he continued, "that the princess is not dead, for she must have senther little one up here; and now I have found a home for her." "Ah, I said it would be so from the first," replied thestork-mamma; "but now think a little of your own family. Ourtravelling time draws near, and I sometimes feel a little irritationalready under the wings. The cuckoos and the nightingale are alreadygone, and I heard the quails say they should go too as soon as thewind was favorable. Our youngsters will go through all themanoeuvres at the review very well, or I am much mistaken in them." The Viking's wife was above measure delighted when she awoke thenext morning and found the beautiful little child lying in herbosom. She kissed it and caressed it; but it cried terribly, andstruck out with its arms and legs, and did not seem to be pleased atall. At last it cried itself to sleep; and as it lay there so stilland quiet, it was a most beautiful sight to see. The Viking's wife wasso delighted,

    that body and soul were full of joy. Her heart felt solight within her, that it seemed as if her husband and his soldiers,who were absent, must come home as suddenly and unexpectedly as thelittle child had done. She and her whole household therefore busiedthemselves in preparing everything for the reception of her lord.The long, colored tapestry, on which she and her maidens had workedpictures of their idols, Odin, Thor, and Friga, was hung up. Theslaves polished the old shields that served as ornaments; cushionswere placed on the seats, and dry wood laid on the fireplaces in thecentre of the hall, so that the flames might be fanned up at amoment's notice. The Viking's wife herself assisted in the work, sothat at night she felt very tired, and quickly fell into a soundsleep. When she awoke, just before morning, she was terribly alarmedto find that the infant had vanished. She sprang from her couch,lighted a pine-chip, and searched all round the room, when, at last,in that part of the bed where her feet had been, lay, not the child,but a great, ugly frog. She was quite disgusted at this sight, andseized a heavy stick to kill the frog; but the creature looked ather with such strange, mournful eyes, that she was unable to strikethe blow. Once more she searched round the room; then she started athearing the frog utter a low, painful croak. She sprang from the couchand opened the window hastily; at the same moment the sun rose, andthrew its beams through the window, till it rested on the couchwhere the great frog lay. Suddenly it appeared as if the frog'sbroad mouth contracted, and became small and red. The limbs movedand stretched out and extended themselves till they took a beautifulshape; and behold there was the pretty child lying before her, and theugly frog was gone. "How is this?" she cried, "have I had a wickeddream? Is it not my own lovely cherub that lies there." Then shekissed it and fondled it; but the child struggled and fought, andbit as if she had been a little wild cat. The Viking did not return on that day, nor the next; he was,however, on the way home; but the wind, so favorable to the storks,was against him; for it blew towards the south. A wind in favor of oneis often against another. After two or three days had passed, it became clear to theViking's wife how matters stood with the child; it was under theinfluence of a powerful sorcerer. By day it was charming in appearanceas an angel of light, but with a temper wicked and wild; while atnight, in the form of an ugly frog, it was quiet and mournful, witheyes full of sorrow. Here were two natures, changing inwardly andoutwardly with the absence and return of sunlight. And so ithappened that by day the child, with the actual form of its mother,possessed the fierce disposition of its father; at night, on thecontrary, its outward appearance plainly showed its descent on thefather's side, while inwardly it had the heart and mind of its mother.Who would be able to loosen this wicked charm which the sorcerer hadworked upon it? The wife

    of the Viking lived in constant pain andsorrow about it. Her heart clung to the little creature, but she couldnot explain to her husband the circumstances in which it was placed.He was expected to return shortly; and were she to tell him, hewould very likely, as was the custom at that time, expose the poorchild in the public highway, and let any one take it away who would.The good wife of the Viking could not let that happen, and shetherefore resolved that the Viking should never see the childexcepting by daylight. One morning there sounded a rushing of storks' wings over theroof. More than a hundred pair of storks had rested there during thenight, to recover themselves after their excursion; and now theysoared aloft, and prepared for the journey southward. "All the husbands are here, and ready!" they cried; "wives andchildren also!" "How light we are!" screamed the young storks in chorus."Something pleasant seems creeping over us, even down to our toes,as if we were full of live frogs. Ah, how delightful it is to travelinto foreign lands!" "Hold yourselves properly in the line with us," cried papa andmamma. "Do not use your beaks so much; it tries the lungs." And thenthe storks flew away. About the same time sounded the clang of the warriors' trumpetsacross the heath. The Viking had landed with his men. They werereturning home, richly laden with spoil from the Gallic coast, wherethe people, as did also the inhabitants of Britain, often cried inalarm, "Deliver us from the wild northmen." Life and noisy pleasure came with them into the castle of theViking on the moorland. A great cask of mead was drawn into thehall, piles of wood blazed, cattle were slain and served up, that theymight feast in reality, The priest who offered the sacrifice sprinkledthe devoted parishioners with the warm blood; the fire crackled, andthe smoke rolled along beneath the roof; the soot fell upon themfrom the beams; but they were used to all these things. Guests wereinvited, and received handsome presents. All wrongs and unfaithfulnesswere forgotten. They drank deeply, and threw in each other's faces thebones that were left, which was looked upon as a sign of goodfeeling amongst them. A bard, who was a kind of musician as well aswarrior, and who had been with the Viking in his expedition, andknew what to sing about, gave them one of his best songs, in whichthey heard all their warlike deeds praised, and every wonderful actionbrought forward with honor. Every verse ended with this refrain,- "Gold and possessions will flee away, Friends and foes must die one day; Every man on earth must die, But a famous name will never die."And with that they beat upon their shields, and hammered upon thetable with knives and bones, in a most outrageous manner. The Viking's wife sat upon a raised cross seat in the open hall.She wore a silk dress, golden bracelets, and large amber beads. Shewas in costly attire, and the bard named her in his song, and spoke ofthe rich treasure of gold which she

    had brought to her husband. Herhusband had already seen the wonderfully beautiful child in thedaytime, and was delighted with her beauty; even her wild ways pleasedhim. He said the little maiden would grow up to be a heroine, with thestrong will and determination of a man. She would never wink her eyes,even if, in joke, an expert hand should attempt to cut off hereye-brows with a sharp sword. The full cask of mead soon became empty, and a fresh one wasbrought in; for these were people who liked plenty to eat and drink.The old proverb, which every one knows, says that "the cattle knowwhen to leave their pasture, but a foolish man knows not the measureof his own appetite." Yes, they all knew this; but men may know whatis right, and yet often do wrong. They also knew "that even thewelcome guest becomes wearisome when he sits too long in the house."But there they remained; for pork and mead are good things. And soat the Viking's house they stayed, and enjoyed themselves; and atnight the bondmen slept in the ashes, and dipped their fingers inthe fat, and licked them. Oh, it was a delightful time! Once more in the same year the Viking went forth, though thestorms of autumn had already commenced to roar. He went with hiswarriors to the coast of Britain; he said that it was but an excursionof pleasure across the water, so his wife remained at home with thelittle girl. After a while, it is quite certain the foster-motherbegan to love the poor frog, with its gentle eyes and its deepsighs, even better than the little beauty who bit and fought withall around her. The heavy, damp mists of autumn, which destroy the leaves of thewood, had already fallen upon forest and heath. Feathers of pluckedbirds, as they call the snow, flew about in thick showers, andwinter was coming. The sparrows took possession of the stork's nest,and conversed about the absent owners in their own fashion; andthey, the stork pair and all their young ones, where were they stayingnow? The storks might have been found in the land of Egypt, wherethe sun's rays shone forth bright and warm, as it does here atmidsummer. Tamarinds and acacias were in full bloom all over thecountry, the crescent of Mahomet glittered brightly from the cupolasof the mosques, and on the slender pinnacles sat many of the storks,resting after their long journey. Swarms of them took dividedpossession of the nests- nests which lay close to each other betweenthe venerable columns, and crowded the arches of temples inforgotten cities. The date and the palm lifted themselves as ascreen or as a sun-shade over them. The gray pyramids looked likebroken shadows in the clear air and the far-off desert, where theostrich wheels his rapid flight, and the lion, with his subtle eyes,gazes at the marble sphinx which lies half buried in sand. Thewaters of the Nile had retreated, and the whole bed of the river wascovered with frogs, which was a most acceptable prospect for the storkfamilies. The young storks thought their eyes deceived them,everything around appeared so

    beautiful. "It is always like this here, and this is how we live in ourwarm country," said the stork-mamma; and the thought made the youngones almost beside themselves with pleasure. "Is there anything more to see?" they asked; "are we going fartherinto the country?" "There is nothing further for us to see," answered thestork-mamma. "Beyond this delightful region there are immense forests,where the branches of the trees entwine round each other, whileprickly, creeping plants cover the paths, and only an elephant couldforce a passage for himself with his great feet. The snakes are toolarge, and the lizards too lively for us to catch. Then there is thedesert; if you went there, your eyes would soon be full of sand withthe lightest breeze, and if it should blow great guns, you wouldmost likely find yourself in a sand-drift. Here is the best placefor you, where there are frogs and locusts; here I shall remain, andso must you." And so they stayed. The parents sat in the nest on the slender minaret, and rested,yet still were busily employed in cleaning and smoothing theirfeathers, and in sharpening their beaks against their red stockings;then they would stretch out their necks, salute each other, andgravely raise their heads with the high-polished forehead, and soft,smooth feathers, while their brown eyes shone with intelligence. Thefemale young ones strutted about amid the moist rushes, glancing atthe other young storks and making acquaintances, and swallowing a frogat every third step, or tossing a little snake about with their beaks,in a way they considered very becoming, and besides it tasted verygood. The young male storks soon began to quarrel; they struck at eachother with their wings, and pecked with their beaks till the bloodcame. And in this manner many of the young ladies and gentlemen werebetrothed to each other: it was, of course, what they wanted, andindeed what they lived for. Then they returned to a nest, and therethe quarrelling began afresh; for in hot countries people are almostall violent and passionate. But for all that it was pleasant,especially for the old people, who watched them with great joy: allthat their young ones did suited them. Every day here there wassunshine, plenty to eat, and nothing to think of but pleasure. Butin the rich castle of their Egyptian host, as they called him,pleasure was not to be found. The rich and mighty lord of the castlelay on his couch, in the midst of the great hall, with its manycolored walls looking like the centre of a great tulip; but he wasstiff and powerless in all his limbs, and lay stretched out like amummy. His family and servants stood round him; he was not dead,although he could scarcely be said to live. The healing moor-flowerfrom the north, which was to have been found and brought to him by herwho loved him so well, had not arrived. His young and beautifuldaughter who, in swan's plumage, had flown over land and seas to thedistant north, had never returned. She is dead, so the twoswan-maidens had said when they came home; and they made up

    quite astory about her, and this is what they told,- "We three flew away together through the air," said they: "ahunter caught sight of us, and shot at us with an arrow. The arrowstruck our young friend and sister, and slowly singing her farewellsong she sank down, a dying swan, into the forest lake. On theshores of the lake, under a spreading birch-tree, we laid her in thecold earth. We had our revenge; we bound fire under the wings of aswallow, who had a nest on the thatched roof of the huntsman. Thehouse took fire, and burst into flames; the hunter was burnt withthe house, and the light was reflected over the sea as far as thespreading birch, beneath which we laid her sleeping dust. She willnever return to the land of Egypt." And then they both wept. Andstork-papa, who heard the story, snapped with his beak so that itmight be heard a long way off. 'Deceit and lies!" cried he; "I should like to run my beak deepinto their chests." "And perhaps break it off," said the mamma stork, "then what asight you would be. Think first of yourself, and then of yourfamily; all others are nothing to us." "Yes, I know," said the stork-papa; "but to-morrow I can easilyplace myself on the edge of the open cupola, when the learned and wisemen assemble to consult on the state of the sick man; perhaps they maycome a little nearer to the truth." And the learned and wise menassembled together, and talked a great deal on every point; but thestork could make no sense out of anything they said; neither werethere any good results from their consultations, either for the sickman, or for his daughter in the marshy heath. When we listen to whatpeople say in this world, we shall hear a great deal; but it is anadvantage to know what has been said and done before, when we listento a conversation. The stork did, and we know at least as much ashe, the stork. "Love is a life-giver. The highest love produces the highest life.Only through love can the sick man be cured." This had been said bymany, and even the learned men acknowledged that it was a wise saying. "What a beautiful thought!" exclaimed the papa stork immediately. "I don't quite understand it," said the mamma stork, when herhusband repeated it; "however, it is not my fault, but the fault ofthe thought; whatever it may be, I have something else to think of." Now the learned men had spoken also of love between this one andthat one; of the difference of the love which we have for ourneighbor, to the love that exists between parents and children; of thelove of the plant for the light, and how the germ springs forth whenthe sunbeam kisses the ground. All these things were so elaboratelyand learnedly explained, that it was impossible for stork-papa tofollow it, much less to talk about it. His thoughts on the subjectquite weighed him down; he stood the whole of the following day on oneleg, with half-shut eyes, thinking deeply. So much learning wasquite a heavy weight for him to carry. One thing, however, the papastork could understand. Every one, high and low, had from their inmosthearts

    expressed their opinion that it was a great misfortune for somany thousands of people- the whole country indeed- to have this manso sick, with no hopes of his recovery. And what joy and blessing itwould spread around if he could by any means be cured! But wherebloomed the flower that could bring him health? They had searchedfor it everywhere; in learned writings, in the shining stars, in theweather and wind. Inquiries had been made in every by-way that couldbe thought of, until at last the wise and learned men has asserted, aswe have been already told, that "love, the life-giver, could alonegive new life to a father;" and in saying this, they had overdoneit, and said more than they understood themselves. They repeated it,and wrote it down as a recipe, "Love is a life-giver." But how couldsuch a recipe be prepared- that was a difficulty they could notovercome. At last it was decided that help could only come from theprincess herself, whose whole soul was wrapped up in her father,especially as a plan had been adopted by her to enable her to obtain aremedy. More than a year had passed since the princess had set out atnight, when the light of the young moon was soon lost beneath thehorizon. She had gone to the marble sphinx in the desert, shakingthe sand from her sandals, and then passed through the long passage,which leads to the centre of one of the great pyramids, where themighty kings of antiquity, surrounded with pomp and splendor, lieveiled in the form of mummies. She had been told by the wise men, thatif she laid her head on the breast of one of them, from the head shewould learn where to find life and recovery for her father. She hadperformed all this, and in a dream had learnt that she must bring hometo her father the lotus flower, which grows in the deep sea, nearthe moors and heath in the Danish land. The very place and situationhad been pointed out to her, and she was told that the flower wouldrestore her father to health and strength. And, therefore, she hadgone forth from the land of Egypt, flying over to the open marsh andthe wild moor in the plumage of a swan. The papa and mamma storks knew all this, and we also know itnow. We know, too, that the Marsh King has drawn her down tohimself, and that to the loved ones at home she is forever dead. Oneof the wisest of them said, as the stork-mamma also said, "That insome way she would, after all, manage to succeed;" and so at last theycomforted themselves with this hope, and would wait patiently; infact, they could do nothing better. "I should like to get away the swan's feathers from those twotreacherous princesses," said the papa stork; "then, at least, theywould not be able to fly over again to the wild moor, and do morewickedness. I can hide the two suits of feathers over yonder, tillwe find some use for them." "But where will you put them?" asked the mamma stork. "In our nest on the moor. I and the young ones will carry themby turns during our flight across; and as we return, should they provetoo heavy for us, we shall be sure to find

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