Hans Christian Andersen. (18051875) Tales. The Harvard Classics. 190914.
IT is in the hot lands that the sun burns, sure enough! there the people become quite mahogany brown, aye, and in the hottest lands they are burnt to negroes. But now it was only to the hot lands that a learned man had come from the cold; there he thought that he could run about just as when at home, but he soon found out his mistake.
The learned man from the cold landshe was a young man, and seemed to be a clever mansat in a glowing oven; it took effect on him, he became quite meagreeven his shadow shrunk in, for the sun had also an effect on it. It was first toward evening, when the sun was down, that they began to freshen up again.
In the warm lands every window has a balcony, and the people come out on all the balconies in the streetfor one must have air, even if one be accustomed to be mahogany! It was lively both up and down the street. Tailors, and shoemakers, and all the folks, moved out into the street; chairs and tables were brought forth; and candles burntyes, above a thousand lights were burning; and the one talked and the other sung, and people walked and church-bells rang, and asses went along with a dingle-dingle-dong! for they too had bells on. The street boys were screaming and hooting, and shouting and shooting, with devils and detonating balls: and there came corpse bearers and hood wearers,for there were funerals with psalm and hymn; and then the din of carriages driving and company arriving,yes, it was, in truth, lively enough down in the street. Only in that single house, which stood opposite that in which the learned foreigner lived, it was quite still; and yet some one lived there, for there stood flowers in the balconythey grew so well in the suns heat!and that they could not do unless they were watered; and some one must water themthere must be somebody there. The door opposite was also opened late in the evening, but it was dark within, at least in the front room; further in there was heard the sound of music. The learned foreigner thought it quite marvelous, but nowit might be that he only imagined it, for he found everything marvelous out there in the warm lands, if there had only been no sun. The strangers landlord said that he didnt know who had taken the house opposite, one saw no person about, and as to the music, it appeared to him to be extremely tiresome. It is as if some one sat there and practiced a piece that he could not masteralways the same piece. I shall master it! says he; but yet he cannot master it, however long he plays.
One night the stranger awokehe slept with the doors of the balcony openthe curtain before it was raised by the wind, and he thought that a strange lustre came from the opposite neighbors house; all the flowers shone like flames, in the most beautiful colors, and in the midst of the flowers stood a slender, graceful maiden,it was as if she also shone; the light really hurt his eyes. He now opened them quite wideyes, he was quite awake; with one spring he was on the floor; he crept gently behind the curtain, but the maiden was gone; the flowers shone no longer, but there they stood, fresh and blooming as ever: the door was ajar, and, far within, the music sounded so soft and delightful, one could really melt away in sweet thoughts from it. Yet it was like a piece of enchantment. And who lived there? Where was the actual entrance? The whole of the ground-floor was a row of shops, and there people could not always be running through.
One evening, the stranger sat out on the balcony. The light burnt in the room behind him; and thus it was quite natural that his shadow should fall on his opposite neighbors wall. Yes, there it sat, directly opposite, between the flowers on the balcony; and when the stranger moved, the shadow also moved: for that it always does.
I think my shadow is the only living thing one sees over there, said the Learned Man. See! how nicely it sits between the flowers. The door stands half-open: now the shadow should be cunning, and go into the room, look about, and then come and tell me what it has seen. Come, now! be useful, and do me a service, said he, in jest. Have the kindness to step in. Now! art thou going? and then he nodded to the Shadow, and the Shadow nodded again. Well, then, go! but dont stay away.
The stranger rose, and his Shadow on their opposite neighbors balcony rose also; the stranger turned round, and the Shadow also turned around. Yes! if any one had paid particular attention to it, they would have seen, quite distinctly, that the Shadow went in through the half-open balcony-door of their opposite neighbor, just as the stranger went into his own room, and let the long curtain fall down after him.
This annoyed him: not so much because the shadow was gone, but because he knew there was a story about a man without a shadow. It was known to everybody at home, in the cold lands; and if the Learned Man now came there and told his story, they would say that he was imitating it, and that he had no need to do. He would, therefore, not talk about it at all; and that was wisely thought.
In the evening, he went out again on the balcony. He had placed the light directly behind him, for he knew that the shadow would always have its master for a screen, but he could not entice it. He made himself little; he made himself great; but no shadow came again. He said, Hem! hem! but it was of no use.
It was vexatious; but in the warm lands everything grows so quickly; and after the lapse of eight days he observed, to his great joy, that a new shadow came in the sunshine. In the course of three weeks he had a very fair shadow, which, when he set out for his home in the northern lands, grew more and more in the journey, so that at last it was so long and so large that it was more than sufficient.
Come in! said he; but no one came in; so he opened the door, and there stood before him such an extremely lean man, that he felt quite strange. As to the rest, the man was very finely dressed,he must be a gentleman.
Yes, I thought as much, said the fine man. I thought you would not know me. I have got so much body. I have even got flesh and clothes. You certainly never thought of seeing me so well off. Do you not know your old Shadow? You certainly thought I should never more return. Things have gone on well with me since I was last with you. I have, in all respects, become very well off. Shall I purchase my freedom from service? If so, I can do it; and then he rattled a whole bunch of valuable seals that hung to his watch, and he stuck his hand in the thick gold chain he wore around his neck;nay! how all his fingers glittered with diamond rings; and then all were pure gems.
Something common it is not, said the Shadow: but you yourself do not belong to the common order; and I, as you know well, have from a child followed in your footsteps. As soon as you found I was capable to go out alone in the world, I went my own way. I am in the most brilliant circumstances, but there came a sort of desire over me to see you once more before you die;you will die, I suppose? I also wished to see this land again,for you know we always love our native land. I know you have got another Shadow again; have I anything to pay to it or you? If so, you will oblige me by saying what it is.
How canst thou talk so? said the Learned Man; what debt is there total about? Make thyself as free as any one else. I am extremely glad to her of thy good fortune: sit down, old friend, and tell me a little how it has gone with thee, and what thou hast seen at our opposite neighbors therein the warm lands.
Yes, I will tell you all about it, said the Shadow, and sat down: but then you must also promise me, that, wherever you may meet me, you will never say to any one here in the town that I have been your shadow. I intend to get betrothed, for I can provide for more than one family.
It was really quite astonishing how much of a man it was. It was dressed entirely in black, and of the very finest cloth; it had patent leather boots, and a hat that could be folded together, so that it was bare crown and brim; not to speak of what we already know it hadseals, gold neck-chain, and diamond rings; yes, the Shadow was well-dressed, and it was just that which made it quite a man.
Now I shall tell you my adventures, said the Shadow; and then he sat, with the polished boots on, as heavily as he could on the arm of the Learned Mans new shadow, which lay like a poodle-dog at his feet. Now this was perhaps from arrogance; and the shadow on the ground kept itself so still and quiet, that it might hear all that passed: it wished to know how it could get free, and work its way up, so as to become its own master.
Do you know who lived in our opposite neighbors house? said the Shadow; it was the most charming of all beings, it was Poetry! I was there for three weeks, and that has as much effect as if one had lived three thousand years, and read all that was composed and written; that is what I say, and it is right. I have seen everything, and I know everything!
Poetry! cried the Learned Man; yes, yes, she is often an anchoret in the large towns! Poetry! yes, I have seen her,a single, short moment, but sleep came into my eyes! She stood on the balcony and shone as the aurora borealis shines. Go on, go on!thou wert on the balcony, and went through the door-way, and then
Then I was in the antechamber, said the Shadow. You always sat and looked over the antechamber. There was no light; there was a sort of twilight, but the one door stood open directly opposite the other through a long row of rooms and saloons, and there it was lighted up. I should have been completely killed if I had gone over to the maiden, but I was circumspect, I took time to think, and that one must always do.
I saw everything, and I shall tell all to you; but,it is no pride on my part,as a free man, and with the knowledge I have, not to speak of my position in life, my excellent circumstances,I certainly wish that you would say you to me!
How did it look in the furthest saloon? asked the Learned Man. Was it there as in the fresh woods? Was it there as in a holy church? Were the saloons like the starlit firmament when we stand on the high mountains?
Everything was there! said the Shadow. I did not to quite in; I remained in the foremost room, in the twilight, but I stood there quite well; I saw everything, and I know everything! I have been in the antechamber at the court of Poetry.
I tell you I was there, and you can conceive that I saw everything there was to be seen. Had you come over there, you would not have been a man; but I became so! And besides, I learned to know my inward nature, my innate qualities, the relationship I had with Poetry. At the time I was with you, I thought not of that, but alwaysyou know it wellwhen the sun rose, and when the sun went down, I became so strangely great; in the moonlight I was very near being more distinct than yourself; at that time I did not understand my nature; it was revealed to me in the antechamber! I became a man! I came out matured; but you were no longer in the warm lands: as a man I was ashamed to go as I did. I was in want of boots, of clothes, of the whole human varnish that makes a man perceptible. I took my wayI tell it to you, but you will not put it in any bookI took my way to the cake womanI hid myself behind her; the woman didnt think how much she concealed. I went out first in the evening; I ran about the streets in the moonlight; I made myself long up the wallsit tickles the back so delightfully! I ran up, and I ran down, peeped into the highest windows, into the saloons, and on the roofs. I peeped in where no one could peep, and I saw what no one else saw, what no one should see! This is, in fact, a base world! I would not be a man if it were not now once accepted and regarded as something to be so! I saw the most unimaginable things with the women, with the men, with parents, and with the sweet, matchless children; I saw said the Shadow, what no human being must know, but what they would all so willingly knowwhat is bad in their neighbor. Had I written a newspaper, it would have been read! but I wrote direct to the persons themselves, and there was consternation in all the towns where I came. They were so afraid of me, and yet they were so excessively fond on me. The professor made a professor of me; the tailors gave me new clothesI am well furnished; the master of the mint struck new coin for me, and the women said I was so handsome! and so I became the man I am. And I now bid you farewell;here is my cardI live on the sunny side of the street, and am always at home in rainy weather! And so away went the Shadow.
But I dont! said the Shadow; I become fat, and it is that one wants to become! You do not understand the world. You will become ill by it. You must travel! I shall make a tour this summer; will you go with me? I should like to have a travelling companion! will you go with me, as shadow? It will be a great pleasure for me to have you with me,I shall pay the travelling expenses!
The Learned Man was not at all in the most enviable state; grief and torment followed him, and what he said about the true, and the good, and the beautiful was, to most persons, like roses for a cow!he was quite ill at last.
You must go to a watering-place! said the Shadow, who came and visited him; there is nothing else for it! I will take you with me for old acquaintance sake; I will pay the travelling expenses, and you write the descriptionsand you may make them amusing if you please. I will go to a watering-place,my beard does not grow out as it oughtthat is also a sickness, and one must have a beard. Now you be wise and accept the offer; we shall travel as comrades!
And so they travelled; the Shadow was master, and the master was the Shadow; they drove with each other, they rode and walked together, side by side, before and behind, just as the sun was; the Shadow always took care to keep itself in the masters place. Now the Learned Man didnt think much about that; he was a very kind-hearted man, and particularly mild and friendly, and so he said one day to the Shadow: As we have now become companions, and in this way have grown up together from childhood, shall we not drink thou together? it is more familiar.
You are right! said the Shadow, who was now the proper master. It is said in a very straightforward and well-meant manner. You, as a learned man, certainly know how strange nature is. Some persons cannot bear to touch gray paper, or they become ill; others shiver in every limb if one rub a pane of glass with a nail: I have just such a feeling on hearing you say thou to me; I feel myself as if pressed to the earth in my first situation with you. You see that it is a feeling; that it is not pride. I cannot allow you to say thou to me, but I will willingly say thou to you, so it is half done!
She directly observed that the stranger who had just come was quite a different sort of person to all the others: He has come here in order to get his beard to grow, they say; but I see the real cause, he cannot cast a shadow.
She had become inquisitive; and so she entered into conversation directly with the strange gentleman, on their promenades. As the daughter of a king, she needed not to stand upon trifles, so she said, Your complaint is, that you cannot cast a shadow?
Your royal highness must be improving considerably, said the Shadow. I know your complaint is, that you see too clearly; but it has decreased, you are cured, I just happen to have a very unusual shadow! Do you not see that person who always goes with me? Other persons have a common shadow, but I do not like what is common to all. We give our servants finer cloth for their livery than we ourselves use, and so I had my shadow trimmed up into a man: yes, you see I have even given him a shadow. It is somewhat expensive, but I like to have something for myself!
What! thought the Princess, should I really be cured! These baths are the first in the world! In our time water has wonderful powers. But I shall not leave the place, for it now begins to be amusing here. I am extremely fond of that stranger. Would that his beard should not grow, for in that case he will leave us.
In the evening the Princess and the Shadow danced together in the large ball-room. She was light, but he was still lighter; she had never had such a partner in the dance. She told him from what land she came, and he knew that land; he had been there, but then she was not at home; he had peeped in at the window above and belowhe had seen both the one and the other, so he could answer the Princess, and make insinuations, so that she was quite astonished; he must be the wisest man in the whole world! she felt such respect for what he knew! So that when they again danced together she fell in love with him; and that the Shadow could remark, for she almost pierced him through with her eyes. So they danced once more together; and she was about to declare herself, but she was discreet; she thought of her country and kingdom, and of the many persons she would have to reign over.
I will not say for a certainty that he can, said the Shadow, but I think so; he has now followed me for so many years, and listened to my conversationI should think it possible. But your royal highness will permit me to observe, that he is so proud of passing himself off for a man, that when he is to be in a proper humorand he must be so to answer wellhe must be treated quite like a man.
Listen, my good friend! said the Shadow to the Learned Man. I have now become as happy and mighty as any one can be; I will, therefore, do something particular for thee! Thou shalt always live with me in the palace, drive with me in my royal carriage, and have ten thousand pounds a year; but then thou must submit to be called shadow by all and every one; thou must not say that thou hast ever been a man; and once a year, when I sit on the balcony in the sunshine, thou must lie at my feet, as a shadow shall do! I must tell thee: I am going to marry the kings daughter, and the nuptials are to take place this evening!
Nay, this is going too far! said the Learned Man; I will not have it; I will not do it. It is to deceive the whole country and the Princess too! I will tell everything!that I am a man and that thou art a shadowthou art only dressed up!
I have lived to see the most cruel thing that any one can live to see! said the Shadow. Only imagineyes, it is true, such a poor shadow-skull cannot bear muchonly think, my shadow has become mad: he thinks that he is a man, and that Inow only thinkthat I am his shadow!
Poor shadow! said the Princess, he is very unfortunate; it would be a real work of charity to deliver him from the little life he has, and when I think properly over the matter, I am of opinion that it will be necessary to do away with him in all stillness!
The whole city was illuminated in the evening, and the cannons went off with a bum! bum! and the soldiers presented arms. That was a marriage! The Princess and the Shadow went out on the balcony to show themselves, and get another hurrah!