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      LUCKY PEER

       

       

      IN the most fashionable street in the city stood a fineold house the wall around it had bits of glass worked intoit so that when the sun or the moon shone it looked as if itwere covered with diamondsThat was a sign of wealth and there was great wealth inside It was said that the merchant was a man rich enough to put two barrels of gold intohis best parlor and could even put a barrel of gold piecesas a savings bank against the future outside the door of theroom where his little son was born

      When the baby arrived in the rich house there was great joy from the cellar up to the garretand up there there was still greater joy an hour or two later The warehouseman and his wife lived in the garret and there tooat the same time a little son arrivedgiven by our Lordbrought by the stork and exhibited by the motherAnd there too was a barrel outside the doorquite accidentally but it was not a barrel of goldit was a barrel of sweepings

      The rich merchant was a very kindfine manHis wife delicate and always dressed in clothes of high qualitywas pious and besideswas kind and good to the poorEverybody rejoiced with these two people on now having a little son who would grow up and be rich and happy like his father When the little boy was baptized he was called Felix which in Latin means"lucky" and thishe was and his parents were even more so

      The warehouseman a fellow who was really good to the core and his wife an honest and industrious womanwere well liked by all who knew them How lucky they were to have their little boy he was called Peer

      The boy on the first floor and the boy in the garret each received the same amount of kisses from his parentsand just as much sunshine from our Lord but still theywere placed a little differentlyone downstairs and oneupPeer sat the highestway up in the garret and he had his own mother for a nurselittle Felix had a strangerfor his nurse but she was good and honestthat was written in her service book The rich child had a prettybaby carriage which was pushed about by his elegantly dressed nurse the child from the garret was carried in thearms of his own nitherboth when she was in her Sunday clothes and when she had her everyday things on and hewas just as happy

      Both children soon began to observe things they were growing and both could show with their hands how tall they were and say single words in their mother tongueThey were equally handsome pettedand equallyfond of sweets As they grew up they both got an equalamount of pleasure out of the merchant's horses and carriagesFelix was allowed to sit by the coachman alongwith his nurse and look at the horses he would fancyhimself drivingPeer was allowed to sit at the garret window and look down into the yard when the master and mistress went out to driveand when they had left hewould place two chairsone in front of the other up there in the room and so he would drive himself he wasthe real coachmanthat was a little more than fancying himself to be the coachman

      They got along splendidly these two yet it was notuntil they were two years old that they spoke to each otherFelix was always elegantly dressed in silk and velvetwith bare knees after the English style"The poor childwill freezer"said the family in the garretPeer had trousers that came down to his ankles but one day his clothes were torn right across his knees so that he got asmuch of a draft and was just as much undressed as the merchant's delicate little boyFelix came along with hismother and was about to go out through the gate when Peer came along with his and wanted to go in

      "Give little Peer your hand"said the merchant'swife"You two should talk to each other"

      And one said"Peer"and the other said"Felix"Yes and that was all they said at that time

      The rich lady coddled her boybut there was one who coddled Peer just as much and that was his grandmother

      She was weaksighted and yet she saw much more in little Peer than his father or mother could see yes more thanany person could

      "The sweet child"she said"is surely going to get on in the worldHe was born with a gold apple in his hand I can see it even with my poor sightWhy there is the shining apple" And she kissed the child's little handHis parents could see nothingand neither could Peerbut as he grew to have more understanding he liked to believe it

      "That is such a story such a fairy tale that Grand- mother tells"said the parents

      Yes Grandmother could tell stories and Peer wasnever tired of hearing always the same onesShe taught him a psalm and the Lord's Prayer as well and he could say it not as gabble but as words that meant something

      she explained every single sentence in it to him He gave particular thought to what Grandmother said about the words"Give us this day our daily bread" he was to un-derstand that it was necessary for one to get wheat breadfor another to get black bread one must have a great housewhen he had many people in his employ another in small circumstances could live quite as happily in a little roomin the garret"So each person has what he calls 'daily bread'"

      Peer of course had his good daily breadand the most delightful days too but they were not to last foreverThe sad years of war began the young men were to goaway and the older men as well Peer's father was amongthose who were called in and soon afterward it was heard that he had been one of the first to fall in battle against thesuperior enemy

      There was bitter grief in the little room in the garretThe mother cried the grandmother and little Peer cried

      and every time one of the neighbors came up to see them they talked about"Papa and then they cried all together

      The widow meanwinle was given permission to stay in hergarret flatrent-freeduring the first yearand afterward she was to pay only a small rent The grandmother stayed with the mother who supported herself by washing forseveral"single elegant gentlemen"as she called themPeer had neither sorrow nor want He had plenty of food and drink and Grandmother told him stories such strangeand wonderful ones about the wide world that he asked herone day if the two of them might not go to foreign lands some Sunday and return home as prince and princess wearing gold crowns

      "I am too old for that"said Grandmother"and youmust first learn a good many things and become big and strong but you must always be a good and affectionate childas you are now"

      Peer rode around the room on hobbyhorses he had two such horses But the mer- chant's son had a real live horse it was so small that it might well have been called a baby horse which in fact Peer called it and it never could become any biggerFe lix rode it in the yard yes and he even rode it outside the gatewhen his father and a riding master from the king's stable were with himFor the first halfhour Peer had not liked his horses and hadn't ridden them for they were not real and then he had asked his mother why he could not have a real horse like little Felix had and his mother had said"Felix lives down onthe first floor close by the stables but you live high upunder the roof One cannot have horses up in the garret except like those you have You should ride on them"

      And so now Peer rodefirst to the chest of drawersthe great mountain with its many treasuresboth Peter'sSunday clothes and his mother's were there and there were the shining silver dollars that she laid aside for rentthen he rode to the stovewhich he called the black bearit slept all summer longbut when winter came it had to be useful to warm the room and cook the meals

      Peer had a godfather who usually came there every Sunday during the winter and got a good warm meal

      Things had gone wrong for him said the mother and the grandmother He had begun as a coachmanHe had been drinking and had fallen asleep at his post and that neither a soldier nor a coachman should do He then had become acabman and driven a cab or sometimes a carriage and often for very elegant peopleBut now he drove a garbage wagon and went from door to door swinging his rattle "snurrerurreud"and from all the houses came the ser vantgirls and housewives with their buckets full and turned these into the wagonrubbish and junk ashes and sweepings were all thrown in

      One day Peer came down from the garret after his mother had gone to town He stood at the open gate andthere outside was Godfather with his wagon"Would you like to take a drive" he asked Yes Peer was willing to indeedbut only as far as the corner His eyes shone as he sat on the seat with Codfather and was allowed to hold the whipPeer drove with real live horsesdrove right to the corner Then his mother came along she looked rather du bious for it was not very nice to see her own little son rid-ing on a garbage wagonShe told him to get down at once

      Stillshe thanked Godfatherbut at home she forbade Peer to drive with him again

      One day he again went down to the gate There was no Codfather there to tempt him with a drive but therewere other temptations Three or four small street urchinswere down in the gutterpoking about to see what they could find that had been lost or had hidden itself thereFrequently they had found a button or a copper coinbut frequently too they had cut themselves on a broken bot tle or pricked themselves with a pin which just now was the casePeer simply had to join them and when he got down among the gutter stones he found a silver coin

      Another day he was again down digging with the other boys they only got dirty fingers  he found a gold ring andthenwith sparkling eyes showed off his lucky findwhereupon the others threw dirt at him and called himLucky PeerThey wouldn't permit him to be with them any more when they poked in the gutter

      Back of the merchant's yard there was some low ground that was to be filled up for building lotsgraveland ashes were carted and dumped out theregreat heaps of it Godfather helped deliver it in his wagon but Peerwas not allowed to drive with him The street urchins dug in the heaps dug with a stick and with their bare handsthey always found one thing or another that seemed worth Picking up

      Then little Peer came along They saw him and cried"Get away from hereLucky Peer"And when despite this he came closer they threw lumps of dirt athim One of these struck against his wooden shoe and crumbled to pieces Something shining rolled out and Peer picked it up it was a little heart made of amber Heran home with it The other boys did not notice that even when they threw dirt at him he was a child of luck

      The silver coin he had found was put away in his savings bank The ring and the amber heart were shown to the merchant's wife downstairs because the mother want-ed to know if they were lost articles that should be returned to the police

      How the eyes of the merchant's wife shone on seeing the ring It was her own engagement ring one that she bad lost three years before That's how long it hadlain in the gutter Peer was well rewarded and the money rattled in his little box The amber heart was a cheap thing the lady saidPeer might just as well keep that

      At night the amber heart lay on the bureauand the grandmother lay in bed

      "My what is it that burns so" she said"It looksas if a small candle is lighted there"She got up to seeand it was the little heart of amberyesGrandmother with her weak sightfrequently saw more than anyone else could seeShe had her own thoughts about itThe next morning she took a narrowstrong ribbondrew it through the opening at the top of the heart and put it around her little grandson's neck

      "You must never take it off except to put a new ribbon into it and you must not show it to the other boys either for then they would take it from you andyou would get a stomachache"That was the only painful sickness little Peer had known so far There was a strange power too in that heart Grandmother showed him that when she rubbed it with her hand and a little straw wasput next to it the straw seemed to be alive and was drawn to the heart of amber and would not let go

       

       

      The merchant's son had a private tutor who taught him his lessons and who took walks with him too Peerwas also to have an education so he went to publicschool with a great number of other boys They played to gether and that was much more fun than going along with a tutor Peer would not have changed places with him

      He was a lucky Peer but Godfather was also a lucky peeralthough his name was not Peer He won a pnize in the lottery of two hundred dollarson a ticket he shared with eleven others He immediately bought some better clothes and he looked very well in them

      Luck never comes alone it always has company and soit did this timeGodfather gave up the garbage wagon and joined the theater

      "What's that" said Grandmother"Is he going into the theater As what"

      As a machinist That was an advancement He be-came quite another person and he enjoyed the plays very much although he always saw them from the top or from the side Most wonderful was the ballet but that gavehim the hardest work and there was always danger of fire They danced both in heaven and on earth That was something for little Peer to see and one evening when there was to be a dress rehearsal of a new ballet inwhich everyone was dressed and made up as on the open ing night when people pay to see all the magnificence he had permission to bring Peer with him and put him in a place where he could see the whole show

      It was a Biblical balletSamson The Philistinesdanced about him and he tumbled the whole house downover them and himself but there were both fire engines and firemen on hand in case of any accident

      Peer had never seen a stage play not to mention a balletHe put on his Sunday clothes and went with God father to the theaterIt was just like a great deying loftwith many curtains and screens big openings in the floor lampsand lights There were so many tricky nooks and corners everywhere from which people appeared just as in a great church with its gallery pews Peer was seated down where the floor slanted steeply and was told to stay there until it was all finished and he was sent forHehad three sandwiches in his pocket so that he need notstarve

      Soon it grew lighter and lighter then up in front just as if straight out of the earth there came a number ofmusicians with both flutes and violins In the seats next toPeer sat people dressed in street clothesbut there also appeared knights with gold helmets beautiful maidens ingauze and flowers even angels all in white with wings on their backsThey seated themselves upstairs and downstairs on the floor and in the balcony seats towatch what was going onThey were all members of the ballet but Peer did not know that He thought they belonged in the fairy tales his grandmother had told him about There then appeared a woman and she was themost beautiful of all with a gold helmet and spear she seemed to be above all the others and sat between an angel and a troll Ah how much there was to see And yet the ballet bad not even begun

      Suddenly everything became quietA man dressed in black moved a little fairy wand over all the musicians and then they began to play the music made a whistling sound through the theater and the whole wall in front be- gan to riseOne looked into a flower garden where the sun shone and all the people danced and leaped Such a wonderful sight Peer had never imagined There weresoldiers marching and there was war and there was a banquet and there were the mighty Samson and his lover

      But she was as wicked as she was beautiful she betrayed him The Philistines plucked his eyes out he was forced togrind in the mill and to be mocked and insulted in the great house it fell and there burst forth wonderful flames of redand green fire

      Peer could have sat there his whole life long and looked on even if the sandwiches were all eatenand they were all eaten

      Now here was something to tell about when he gothomeIt was impossible to get him to go to bedHe stood on one leg and laid the other on the tablethat was what Samson's lover and all the other ladies had done He madea treadmill out of Grandmother's chair and upset two chairsand a pillow over himself to show how the banquet hall had come downHe showed thisyesand he even presented it with the music that belonged to itthere was no talking in the ballet He sang high and low[with words andwithout words] and it was quite incoherent It was like awhole opera The most noticeable thing of all meanwhilewas his beautiful bellclear voice but no one spoke ofthat

      Peer previously had wanted to be a grocer's boy tobe in charge of prunes and powdered sugar Now he foundthere was something much more wonderful and that was toget into the Samson story and dance in the ballet A great many poor children had taken that road said the grandmother and had become fine and honored people yet no little girl of her family would ever be permitted to do sobut a boywell he stood more firmly Peer had not seen a single one of the little girls fall down before the whole house fell and then they all fell together he said

       

       

       Peer wanted toand felt he mustbe a ballet dancer

      "He gives me no rest"said his mother

      At last his grandmother promised to take him to theballet master who was a fine gentleman and had his ownhouse like the merchant Would Peer ever be that richNothing is impossible for our LordPeer had been born with a gold apple luck had been laid in his handsperhaps it was also in his legs

      Peer went to the ballet master and knew him at onceit was Samson himselfHis eyes had not suffered atall at the hands of the Philistines That was only acting inthe play he was told And Samson looked kindly and pleasantly at him and told him to stand up straight lookright at him and show him his anklePeer showed his whole foot and leg too

      "So be got a place in the ballet"said Grandmother

      This was easily arranged with the ballet master

      but before that his mother and grandmother had spo ken with several understanding peoplefirst with the merchant's wife who thought it a good career for ahandsome bonest boy like Peer but without any fu ture Then they had spoken with Miss Frandsen she knew all about the ballet and at one time in Grand-mother's younger days she had been the most beautiful danseuse at the theater she had danced goddesses and princesses had been cheered and applauded wherever she had gone but then she had grown olderweall doand so no longer had she been given principal parts she'd had to dance behind the younger onesand when finally her dancing days had come to an end she had become a wardrobe woman and dressed the others as goddesses and princesses

      "So it goes"said Miss Frandsen"The theater road is a delightful one to travel but it is full of thornsJealousy grows thereJealousy"

      That was a word Peer did not understand at allbut he came to understand it in time

      "No force or power can keep him from the bal let"said his mother

      "A pious Christian childthat he is"said Grandmother

      "And well brought up"said Miss Frandsen

      "Well formed and moral That I was in my heyday"

      And so Peer went to the dancing school and got some summer clothes and thinsoled dancing shoes to make himself lighterAll the older girl dancers kissed him and said that he was a boy good enough to eat

      He had to stand up stick his legs out and hold on to a post so as not to fall while he leaned to kick firstwith his right leg then with his left It was not nearly sodifficult for him as it was for most of the others The ballet master patted him and said that he would soon be in the ballet he was to play the child of a king who was carried on shields and wore a gold crown This was practiced at the dancing school and rehearsed at the theater itself

      The mother and grandmother had to see little Peer in all his glory and when they saw this they both cried although it was such a happy occasion Peer in all his pomp and glory did not see them at all but he did see the merchant's family who sat in the loge nearest the stageLittleFelix was with them[in his best clothes]He wore but toned glovesjust like a grownup gentleman and although he could see perfectly wellhe looked through an opera glass the whole evening just like a grownup gentleman

      He looked at Peer and Peer looked at him Peer was a king's child with a crown of gold This evening brought thetwo children into closer relationship with one another

      A few days laterwhen they met each other at home in the yardFelix went up to Peer and told him he had seen him when he was a prince He knew very well that he was not a prince any longer but then he had worn a prince's clothes and a gold crown"I shall wear them again on Sunday"said Peer

      Felix did not see him Sunday but he thought about it the whole eveningHe would have liked very much to have been in Peer's place he had not heard Miss Frandsen'swarning that the road of the theater was a thorny one and that jealousy grew along it nor did Peer know this yet buthe would very soon learn it

      His young companionsthe dancing childrenwere not all so good as they ought to be although they often played angels and had wings on them There was a little girl Malle Knallerupwho alwayswhen she was dressedas a page and Peer was a pagestepped maliciously on the side of his foot so as to dirty his stockings Therewas a wicked boy who always was sticking pins in his back and one day he ate Peer's sandwichesby mistake but that was impossible for Peer had meat balls onhis sandwiches and the other boy had only bread withoutbutter he could not have made a mistake

      It would be impossible to recite all the annoyances that Peer endured in two yearsand the worst was yet to come

      There was a ballet per formed called The Vampire

      In it the smallest dancing children were dressed as bats wore grayknitted tights that fitted snugly to their bodies

      black gauze wings were stretched from their shoulders

      They were to run on tiptoe as if they were light enough to fly and then they wete to whirl around on the floor

      Peer could do this especially wellbut his trousers and jacketall of one piecewere old and worn and could not stand the strainSo just as he whirled around before the eyes of all the people there was a rip right down his back straight from his neck down to where the legs are fastenedin and all of his short white shirt could be seen Allthe people laughedPeer felt it andknew what had hap pened he whirled and whirled but it grew worse andworsePeople laughed louder and louderthe other vam pires laughed with themand whirled into himand all the more dreadfully when the people clapped and shouted "Bravo"

      "That is for the ripped vampire"said the dancing childrenAnd from then on they always called him Rippy

      Peer cried Miss Frandsen comforted him"It is only jealousy"she said and now Peer knew what jealousywas

      Besides the dancing school they had a regular school at the theater where the cinldren were taught arithmetic and writinghistory and geographyyes and they even had a teacher in religion for it is not enough to know how to dancethere is something more important in the world than wearing out dancing shoes Here too Peer was quick the very quickest of all and got plenty of good marksbut hisfellow students still called him Rippy They were only teas ing himbut at last he could not stand it any longerand he swung and hit one of the boys so that he was black and blue under the left eye and had to have grease paint on it in the evening when he appeared in the balletPeer got a scolding from the dancing masterand a worse one from the sweeping woman for it was her son he had"given asweeping"

       

       

       A good many thoughts went through little Peer's head And one Sunday when he was dressed in his bestclothes he went out without saying a word about it to hismother or his grandmother not even to Miss Frandsen who always gave him good advice he went straight to the orchestra conductor he thought this man was the most impor tant one there was outside the ballet Cheerfully he stepped in and said"I am at the dancing school but there is so much jealousy thereand so I would rather be a player or a singer if you would help me please"

      "Have you a voice"asked the conductor and looked quite pleasantly at him"Seems to me I know you Where have I seen you before Wasn't it you who was ripped down the back" And now he laughed But Peer grew redhe was surely no longer Lucky Peer as his grandmother had called himHe looked down at his feet and wished he were far away

      "Sing me a song"said the conductor"Come nowcheer up my boy"And he tapped him under the chinand Peer looked up into his kind eyes and sang a song "Mercy for Me"which he had heard at the theaterin the opera Robert le Diable

      "That is a difficult songbut you did it pretty well"

      said the conductor"You have an excellent voiceas long as it doesn't rip in the back"And he laughed and calledhis wife She also had to hear Peer sing and she nodded her head and said something in a foreign tongueJust at that moment the singing master of the theater came initwas really to him Peer should have gone if he wanted to be a singer now the singing master came to himquite acci dentally as it were he also heard him sing"Mercy for Me" but he did not laugh and he did not look so kindlyat him as the conductor and his wife still it was decided that Peer should have singing lessons

      "Now he is on the right track"said Miss Frandsen

      "One gets much farther with a voice than with legs If I had had a voice I would have been a great songstress andwould perhaps have been a baroness by now"

      "Or a bookbinder's wife" said Mother"Had you become rich you surely would have taken the book binder"

      We do not understand that hint but Miss Frandsendid

      Peer had to sing for her and sing for the merchant's family when they heard of his new career He was calledin one evening wnen they had company downstairs ana hesang several songs among them"Mercy for Me"All the company clapped their handsand Felix didtoohe had heard him sing before in the stable Peer had sung the entire ballet of Samson and that was the most delightful of all

      "One cannot sing a ballet"said the lady

      "Yes Peer can"said Felix and so they asked him to do it He sang and he talked he drummed and hehummedit was child's playbut fragments of wellknown melodies came forth which really illustrated what the ballet was about All the company found it very entertainingthey laughed and praised it one louder than another

      The merchant's wife gave Peer a huge piece of cake and a silver dollar

      How lucky the boy felt until he discovered a gentleman who stood somewhat in the background and wholooked sternly at him There was something harsh and se vere in the man's black eyes he did not laughhe didnot speak a single friendly word this gentleman was the singing master from the theater

      Next forenoon Peer went to him and he stoodthere quite as severelooking as before

      "What was the matter with you yesterday"he said

      "Could you not understand that they were making a fool of youNever do that againand don't you go running about and singing at doors either inside or outside Nowyou can goI won't give you any singing lesson today"

      When Peer lefthe was dreadfully downcast he had fallen out of the master's good graces On the contrarythe master was really more satisfied with him than ever before In all the absurdity which he had seen him per form there was really some meaning something quite unusual The boy had an ear for music and a voice asclear as a bell and of great compass if it continued likethat then the little fellow's fortune was made

      Now began the singing lessonsPeer was industrious and Peer was clever How much there was to learn howmuch to know The mother toiled and slaved to make an honest living so that her son might be well dressed and neat and not look too shabby among the people to whom he now was invited He was always singing and jubilant

      they had no need at all of a canary bird the mother saidEvery Sunday he had to sing a psalm with his grandmoth er It was delightful to hear his fresh voice lift itself upwith hers"It is much more beautiful than to hear him sing wildly"That's what she called his singing when like a little bird his voice jubilantly gave forth with tonesthat seemed to come of themselves and make such music as they pleased What tones there were in his little throat what wonderful sounds in his little breast In deed he could imitate a whole orchestra There wereboth flute and bassoon in his voice and there were violinand bugle He sang as the birds sing but man's voice is much more charming even a little man's when he cansing like Peer

      But in the winter just as he was to go to the pastor to be prepared for confirmation he caught cold the littlebird in his breast said pip The voice was ripped like thevampire's backpiece

      "It is no great misfortuneafter all"thought Moth er and Grandmother"Now he doesn't go singing trala so he can think more seriously about his religion"

      His voice was changing the singing master saidPeer must not sing at all now How long would it be Ayear perhaps two perhaps the voice would never comeagainThat was a great grief

      "Think only of your confirmation now"said Mother and Grandmother"Practice your music"said the singing master"but keep your mouth shut"

      He thought of his religionand he studied his mu sicit sang and resounded within him He wrote entire melodies down in notes songs without words Finally he wrote the words too

      "You ale a poettoolittle Peer"said the mer chant's wife to whom he carried his text and musicThemerchant received a piece of music dedicated to him a piece without wordsFelix got one too andyes MissFrandsen also didand that went into her scrapbookin which were verses and music by two who were once young lieutenants but now were old majors on half pay the book had been given by"a friend"who had bound it himself

      And Peer was confirmed at EasterFelix presented him with a silver watch It was the first watch Peer had owned he felt that this made him a man for now he didnot have to ask others what time it wasFelix came up to the garret congratulated him and handed him thewatch he himself was not to be confirmed until the au tumn They took each other by the handthese two chil- dren of the houseboth the same ageborn the same day and in the same houseAnd Felix ate a piece of the cake that had been baked in the garret for the occasion of the confirmation

      "It is a happy day with solemn thoughts"saidGrandmother

      "Yesvery solemn"said Mother"If only Father had lived to see Peer today"

      The following Sunday all three of them went to Communion When they came home from church they found a message from the singing master asking Peer to come tosee him and Peer went Some good news awaited himand yet it was serious too While he must give up singingfor a year and his voice must lie fallow like a field as apeasant might sayduring that time he was to further hiseducationnot in the capital where every evening he wouldbe running to the theater from which he could not keepaway but he was to go one hundred and twenty miles fromhome to board with a schoolmaster who boarded a coupleof other young men There he was to learn language andscience which someday would be useful to him The charge for a year's coirse was three hundred dollars andthat was paid by a"benefactor who does not wish hisname to be known"

      "It is the merchant"said Mother and Grandmother

      The day of departure cameA good many tears were shed and kisses and blessings given and then Peer rodethe hundred and twenty miles on the railway out into thewide world It was Whitsuntide The sun shone and thewoods were fresh and green the train went rushing through themnew fields and villages were continually coming into view country manors peeped out the cattle stood in the pastures Now they passed a station then anotherand market town after market townAt each stopping place there was a crowd of people welcoming or saying goodby there was noisy talking outside and inthe carriagesWhere Peer sat there was a lot of entertain ment and chattering by a widow dressed in black She talked about his grave his coffinand his corpsemean ing her child's It had been such a poor little thing thatthere could have been no happiness for it had it lived It had been a great relief for her and the little lamb when it had fallen asleep

      "I spared no expense on flowers on that occasion"

      she said"and you must remember that it died at a veryexpensive time when the flowers had to be cut from potted plants Every Sunday I went to my grave and laid a wreath on it with great white silk bows the silk bows were immediately stolen by some little girls and used for dancing bows they were so temptingOne Sunday I wentthere and I knew that my grave was on the left of themain path but when I got there there was my grave onthe right'How is this' says I to the gravedigger'Isn't my grave on the left'

      "'Noit isn't any longer'the gravedigger an swered'Madam's grave lies there all rightbut the mound has been moved over to the right that placebelongs to another man's grave'

      "'But I want my corpse in my grave'says I'andI have a perfect right to say soShall I go and decorate a false mound when my corpse lies without any sign on theother sideIndeed I won't'

      "'Then Madam must talk to the dean'

      "He is such a good man that dean He gave me per mission to have my corpse on the rightIt would cost five dollars I gave that with a kiss of my hand and walked back to my old grave'Can I now be very sure that it is my own coffin and my corpse that is moved'

      "'That Madam can' And so I gave each of the men a coin for the moving But now since it had cost so muchI thought I should spend something to make it beautiful and so I ordered a monument with an inscription But

      will you believe itwhen I got it there was a gilded but terfly painted at the top'Why that means Frivolity'

      said I'I won't have that on my glave'

      "'It is not Frivolity Madam it is Immortality'

      "' I never heard that' said INow have any of youhere in the carriage ever heard of a butterfly as a sign for anything but Frivolity I kept quiet I don't like long conversations I composed myself and put the monument away in my pantryThere it stood till my lodger came homeHe is a student and haa so many many books He assured methat it really stood for Immortalityand so the monument was placed on the grave"

      And during all the chatter Peer arrived at the station of the town where he was to live and become just as wiseas the student and have just as many books

       

       

       Herr Gabriel the honorable man of learning withwhom Peer was to live as a boarding scholar was at therailway station to call for him Herr Cabriel was a man asthin as a skeleton with great shiny eyes that stuck out sovery far that one was almost afraid that when he sneezed they would pop out of his head entirelyHe was accompa nied by three of his own little boys one of them stumbledover his own legs and the other two stepped all over Peer's feet in their eagerness to get a close view of himTwo larger boys were with them the older about fourteenyears fairskinned freckled and full of pimples

      "Young Madsen who will be a student in aboutthree yearsif he studies Primus son of a dean"Thatwas the younger who looked like a head of wheat"Bothare boarders studying with me"said Herr Gabriel"Oursmall stuff" he called his own boys

      "Trinebring the newcomer's trunk on your wheel- barrow The table is set for you at home"

      "Stuffed turkey" said the other two young gentlemen boarders

      "Stuffed turkey" said the"small stuff" and againone of them fell over his own legs

      "Caesarlook after your feet"exclaimed Herr Gabriel

      And they walked into town and then out of it Therestood a great half-tumbleddown timber house with a jasminecovered summerhousefacing the road Here MadamGabriel waited with more"small stuff"two little girls

      "The new pupil" said Herr Gabriel

      "A most hearty welcome" said Madam Gabriel ayouthful wellfed woman red and white with spit curlsand a lot of pomade on her hair

      "Good heavenshow grownup you are"she said toPeer"Why you are a fully developed gentleman al- ready I thought that you were like Primus or young Mad-senAngel Gabriel it's a good thing the inner door isnailed You know what I think"

      "Nonsense"said Herr Gabriel And they stepped into the room There was a novel on the tablelying openand a sandwich on itOne might have thought that it had been placed there as a bookmarkit lay across theopen page

      "Now I must be the housewife"And with all five ofher children and the two boarders she showed Peer through the kitchen and the hallwayand into a littleroom the windows of which looked out on the gardenthat was to be his study and bedroomit was next to Madam Gabriel's room where she slept with all the fivechildren the connecting door for decency's sake and toprevent gossip"which spares nobody"had been nailed up by Herr Gabriel that very dayat Madam's express re quest

      "Here you can live just as if you were at your par ents' We have a theater too in the townThe pharma- cist is the director of a private companyand we have trav eling players But now you are going to have your turkey"

      And so she showed Peer into the dining room where the wash was drying on a line

      "That doesn't do any harm" she said"It is only cleanliness and that you are surely accustomed to"

      So Peer sat down to eat the roast turkey while thechildren of the house but not the two boarders who hadwithdrawngave a dramatic show for the entertainment of themselves and the stranger There had lately been a traveling company of actors in townwhich had played Schiller's The Robbers The two oldest boys had been im mensely taken with it And they now performed the whole play at homeall the parts notwithstanding that they re-membered only these words"Dreams come from the stom ach"But they were spoken by all the characters in differ ent tones of voiceThere stood Ameliawith heavenly eyes and a dreamy look"Dreams come from the stomach"she said and covered her face with both her hands Carl Moorcame forward with a heroic stride and manly voice "Dreams come from the stomach" and at that the wholeflock of children boys and girlsrushed in they were allrobbersand murdered one another crying out"Dreams come from the stomach"

      That was Schiller's The Robbers This performance and stuffed turkey were Peer's first introduction into HerrGabriel's house He then went to his little chamber wherethrough the window into which the sun shone warmly he could see the gardenHe sat down and looked outHerr Gabriel was walking there absorbed in reading a book Hecame closer and looked in his eyes seemed fixed upon Peerwho bowed respectfullyHerr Gabriel opened his mouth as wide as he would stuck out his tongue and letit wag from one side to the other right in the face of theastonished Peerwho could not understand why he wastreated in such a mannerWhereupon Herr Gabriel leftbut then turned back to the window and again stuck histongue out of his mouth

      Why did he do thatHe was not thinking of Peeror that the panes of glass were transparent from the outsidehe saw only the reflection of himself in themandhe wanted to look at his tongueas he had a stomach-achebut Peer did not know all this

      Early in the evening Herr Gabriel went into hisroomand Peer sat in hisMuch later in the evening heheard quarrelingfemale quarrelingin Madam Gabriel'sbedroom

      "I am going up to Gabriel and tell him what rascalsyou are"

      "We will also go to Gabriel and tell him whatMadam is" "I shall have a fit"she cried

      "Who wants to see a woman in a fitFour shillings"

      Then Madam's voice sank deeperbut was distinctly heard"What will the young man in there think of ourhouse when he hears all this vulgarity"At that the quar-rel subsidedbut then again rose louder and louder

      "PeriodFinis"cried Madam"Go and make thepunchit's better to agree than to quarrel"

      And then it was stillThe door openedand thegirls leftand then Madam knocked on the door to Peer'sroom

      "Young mannow you have some idea of what it isto be a housewifeYou should thank heaven that youdon't have to bother with girlsI want to have peacesoI give them punchI would gladly give you a glass-onesleeps so well after it-but no one dares go through thehallway door after ten o'clockmy Gabriel will not permititBut you shall have some punchneverthelessThere isa big hole in the doorstopped up with puttyI will pushthe putty out and put a funnel through the holeyou holdyour waterglass under itand I shall pour you some punchKeep it a secreteven from my GabrielYou must notworry him with household affairs"

      And so Peer got his punchand there was peace inMadam Gabriel's room peace and quiet in the wholehousePeer went to bedthought of his mother and grand-mothersaid his evening prayerand fell asleepWhat onedreams the first night one sleeps in a strange house hasspecial significanceGrandmother had saidPeer dreamedthat he took the amber heartwhich he still constantlyworelaid it in a flowerpotand it grew into a great treeup through the ceiling and the roofit bore thousands ofhearts of silver and goldso heavy that the flowerpotbrokeand it was no longer an amber heart-it had be-come moldearth to earth-gonegone foreverThen Peerawokehe still had the amber heartand it was warmwarm against his own warm heart

       

       

       Early in the morning the first study hours began atHerr Gabriel'sThey studied FrenchAt lunch the onlyones present were the boardersthe childrenand MadamShe drank her second cup of coffee hereher first she al-ways took in bed"It is so healthy when one is liable tospasmsShe asked Peer what he had studied that day

      "French"he answered

      "It is an expensive language"She said"It is thelanguage of diplomats and one used by distinguished peopleI did not study it in my childhoodbut when one ismarried to a learned man one gains from his knowledgeasone gains from his mother's milkThusI have all thenecessary wordsI am quite sure I would know how to express myself in whatever company I happened to be"

      Madam had acquireed a foreign name by her marriagewith a learned manShe had been baptized Mette after arich auntwhose heir she was to have beenShe had gotthe namebut not the inheritanceHerr Gabriel rebaptizedMette as Metathe Latin word for measureAt the time ofher weddingall her clotheswoolen and linenweremarked with the letters MGMeta Gabrielbut youngMadsenwho was a witty boyinterpreted the letters MGto be a mark meaning"most good"and he added abig guestion mark in inkon the tableclothsthe towelsand the sheets

      "Don't you like Madamasked Peerwhen youngMadsen made him privately acquainted with this joke"She is so kindand Herr Gabriel is so learned"

      "She is a bag of lies"said young Madsen"andHerr Gabriel is a scoundrelIf I were only a corporaland he a recruitohhow I would discipline him"And abloodthirsty expression came to young Madsen's facehislips grew narrower than usualand his whole face seemedone great freckle

      There were terrible words to hearand they gavePeer a shockyet young Madsen had the clearest right tothink that wayIt was a cruel thing on the part of parentsand teachers that a fellow had to waste his best timedelightful youthon learning grammarnamesand dateswhich nobody cares anything aboutinstead of enjoyinghis liberty relaxingand wandering about with a gun overhis shoulder like a good hunter"Noone has to be shutin and sit on a bench and look sleepily at a bookHerrGabriel wants thatAnd then one is called lazy and getsthe mark'passable'yesone's parents get letters aboutitthat's why Herr Gabriel is a scoundrel"

      "He gives lickingstoo"added little Primuswhoagreed with young MadsenThis was not very pleasant forPeer to hearBut Peer got no lickingshe was too grownupas Madam had saidHe was not called lazyeitherfor that he was notHe had his lessons aloneHe wassoon well ahead of Madsen and Primus

      "He has ability"said Herr Gabriel

      "And one can see that he has been to dancingschool"said Madam

      "We must have him in our dramatic club"saidthe pharmacistwho lived more for the town's privatetheater than for his pharmacyMalicious people appliedto him the old stale joke that he must have been bittenby a mad actorfor he was completely insane about thetheater

      "The young student was born for a lover"said thepharmacist"In a couple of years he could be RomeoandI believe that if he were well made upand we put a littlemustache on himhe could very well appear this winter"

      The pharmacist's daughter-"great dramatic talent"said the father"true beauty"said the motherwas to beJulietMadam Gabriel had to be the nurseand the phar-macistwho was both director and stage managerwouldtake the role of the apothecarywhich was small but ofgreat importanceEverything depended on Herr Gabriel'spermission for Peer to play RomeoThis had to be workedthrough Madam Gabrielone had to know how to win herover-and this the pharmacist knew

      "You were born to be the nurse"he saidandthought that he was flattering her exceedingly"That is actually the most important part in the play"he continued"It is the comedy rolewithout itthe play would be toosad to sit throughNo one but youMadam Gabrielhasthe quickness and life that should sparkle here"

      All very trneshe agreedbut her husband wouldsurely never permit the young student to contribute whatev-er time would be required to play the part of RomeoShepromisedhoweverto"pump"himas she called itThepharmacist immediately began to study his partand especially to think about his make-upHe wanted to look almost like a skeletona poormiserable fellowand yet aclever man-a rather difficult problemBut Madam Gabrielhad a much harder one in"pumping "her husband to givehis permissionHe could nothe saidanswer for it toPeer's guardianswho paid for his schooling and boardifhe permitted the young man to play in tragedyWe cannotconceal the facthoweverthat Peer had the greatest desireto do it"But it won't work"he said

      "It's working"said Madam"only let me keep onpumping"She would have given him punchbut HerrGabriel did not like to drink itMarried people are oftendifferentthis is said without any offense to Madam

      "One glass and no more"she thought"It elevatesthe mind and makes one happyand that's what we oughtto be-it is our Lord's with us"

      Peer was to be Romeothat was pumped through byMadamThe rehearsals were held at the pharmacist'sThey had chocolate and"genii"-that is to saysmallbiscuitsThese were sold at the bakerytwelve for a pennyand they were so exceedingly smalland there wereso manythat it was considered witty to call them genii

      "It is an easy matter to make fun"said HerrGabrielalthough he himself often gave nicknames to onething and anotherHe called the pharmacist's house"Noah's arkwith its clean and unclean beasts"andthat was only because of the affection which was shown bythat family toward their pet animalsThe young lady hadher own catGraciosawhich was pretty and softskinnedit would lie in the windowin her lapon hersewing workor run over the table spread for dinnerThewife had a poultry yarda duck yarda parrotand canary birds-and Polly could outcry them all togetherTwodogsFlick and Flockwalked about in the living roomthey were by no means perfume bottlesand they lay onthe sofa and on the family bed

      The rehearsal beganand it was only interrupted amoment by the dogs slobbering over Madam Gabriel's newgownbut that was out of pure friendship and it did notspot itThe cat also caused a slight disturbanceit insisted on giving its paw to Juliet and sitting on her headand wagging its tailJuliet's tender speeches were divided equally between cat and RomeoEvery word that Peerhad to say was exactly what he wished to say to the pharmacist's daughterHow lovely and charming she wasachild of naturewhoas Madam Gabriel expressed itwas perfect for the rolePeer began to fall in love withher

      There surely was instinct or something even higherin the catIt perched on Peer's shoulders as if to sym-bolize the sympathy between Romeo and JulietWith eachsuccessive rehearsal Peer's fervor became strongermoreapparentthe cat became more confidentialthe parrotand the canary birds noisierFlick and Flock ran in andout

      The evening of the performance cameand Peer wasa perfect Romeohe kissed Juliet right on her mouth

      "Perfectly natural"said Madam Gabriel

      "Disgraceful"said the CouncilorHerr Svendsenthe richest citizen and fattest man in the townThe perspiration poured from himit was warm in the houseandwarm within him as wellPeer found no favor in his eyes"Such a puppy"he said"a puppy so long that one couldbreak him in half and make two puppies of him"

      Great applause-and one enemyThat was havinggood luckYesPeer was a Lucky PeerTired and overcome by the exertions of the evening and the flatteryshown himhe went home to his little roomIt was pastmidnightMadam Gabriel knocked on the wall

      "RomeoI have some punch for you"

      And the funnel was put through the hole in thedoorand Peer Romeo held his glass under

      "Good nightMadam Gabriel"

      But Peer could not sleepEverything he had saidand particularly what Juliet had saidbuzzed through hisheadand when he finally fell asleep he dreamed of awedding-a wedding with Miss FrandsenWhat strangethings one can dream

       

       

      "Now get that playacting out of your head"saidHerr Gabriel the next morning"and let's get busy withsome science

      Peer had come near to thinking like young Madsenthat a fellow was wasting his delightful youthbeing shutin and sitting with a book in his handBut when he satwith his bookthere shone from it so many noble andgood thoughts that Peer found himself quite absorbed initHe learned of the world's great men and theirachievementsso many had been the children of poorpeopleThemistoclesthe heroson of a potterShakespearea poor weaver's boywho as a young man heldhorses outside the door of the theaterwhere later he wasthe mightiest man in poetic art of all countries and alltimeHe learned of the singing contest at Wartburgwhere the poets competed to see who would produce themost beautiful poem-a contest like the old trial of theGrecian poets at the great public feastsHerr Gabrieltalked of these with especial delightSophocles in his oldage had written one of his hest tragedies and won theaward over all the othersIn this honor and fortune hisheart broke with joyOhhow blessed to die in the midstof one's joy of victoryWhat could be more fortunateThoughts and dreams filled our little friendbut he hadno one to whom he could tell themThey would not beunderstood by young Madsen or by Primus-nor by Madam Gabrieleither she was either in a very good hu-moror was the sorrwing motherin which case she wasdissolved in tears

      Her two little girls looked with astonishment at herNeither they nor Peer could discover why she was so overwhelmed with sorrow and grief

      "The poor children"she said"A mother is always thinking of their futureThe boys can take care ofthemselvesCaesar fsllsbut he gets up againthe twoolder ones splash in the water tubthey ought to be inthe navyand would surely marry wellBut my two littlegirlsWhat will their future beThey will reach the agewhen the heart feelsand then I am sure that whoevereach of them falls in love with will not be at all afterGabriel's likinghe will choose someone they'll despiseand that will make them so unhappyAs a motherIhave to think about these thingsand that is my sorrowand griefYou poor childrenYou will be so unhappy"She wept

      The little girls looked at herPeer looked at her andfelt rather sadhe could think of nothing to sayso hereturned to his little roomsat down at the old pianoandtones and fantasies came forth as they streamed throughhis heart

      In the early morning he went to his studies with aclear mind and performed his dutiesfor someone waspaying for his schoolingHe was a conscientiousrightminded fellowIn his diary he recorded each day what hehad read and studiedand how late he had sat up playingthe piano-always mutelyso that he wouldn't awakenMadam GabrielIt never said in his diaryexcept onSundaythe day of rest"Thought of Juliet""Was atthe pharmacist's""Wrote a letter to Mother and Grandmother"Peer was still Romeo and a good son

      "Very industriously"said Herr Gabriel"Followthat exampleyoung MadsenOr you'll fail"

      "Scoundrel"said young Madsen to himself

      Primusthe Dean's sonsuffered from sleepingsickness"It is a disease"said the Dean's wifehe wasnot to be treated with severity

      The deanery was only eight miles awaywealth andcomfort were there

      "That man will die a bishop"said Madam Gabriel"He has good connections at the courtand the Deanessis a lady of noble birthShe knows all about heraldry-that means coats of arms

      It was WhitsuntideA year had passed since Peercame to Herr Gabriel's houseHe had gained muchknowledgebut his voice had not come backwould itever come

      The Gabriel household was invited to the Dean's toa great dinner and a dall later in the eveningA goodmany guests came from the town and from the manorhouses aboutThe pharmacist's family was invitedRomeo would see his Julietperhaps dance the first dancewith her

      The deanery was a wellkept placewhitewashedand without any manure heaps in the yardand it had a dovecot painted greenaround which twined an ivy vineThe Deaness was tallcorpulent woman"AtheneGlaucopis"Herr Gabriel called her"the blueeyed"not"the oxeyed"as Juno was calledthought PeerTherewas a certain distinguished kindness about herand aneffort to have an invalid lookshe probably had sleepingsickness just like PrimusShe was in a light-blue silkdress and wore great curlsthe one on the right side wasfastened with a large medallion portrait of her great-grand-mothera general's wifeand the one on the left with anequally large bunch of grapes made of white porcelain

      The Dean had a ruddyplump facewith shiningwhite teethwell suited to biting into a roast filletHisconversation always consisted of anecdotesHe could converse with everybodybut no one ever succeeded in carrying on a conversation with him

      The Councilortoowas thereand among the strangers from the manors was Felixthe merchant's sonhe had been confirmed and was now a most elegant younggentlemanboth in clothes and mannershe was a millionairethey saidMadam Gabriel did not have courageenough to speak to him

      Peer was overjoyed at seeing Felixwho came tohim in a very genial manner and said that he had broughtgreetings from his parentswho read all the letters Peerwrote home to his mother and grandmother

      The dancing The pharmacist's daughter was to dance the first dance with the Councilorthat was apromise she had made at home to her mother and to theCouncilorThe second dance had been promised to Peerbut Felix came and took her with a goodnatured nod

      "Permit me to have this one dancethe young ladywill give her permission only if you say so

      Peer kept a polite facehe said nothingand Felixdanced with the pharmacist's daughterthe most beautifulgirl at the ballHe also danced the next dance with her

      "You will grant me the supper dance"asked Peerwith a pale face

      "Yesthe supper dance"she answered with her mostcharming smile

      "You surely will not take my partner from me"saidFelixwho stood close by"That's not being very friendlyWe two old friends from townYou say that you are soglad to see meThen you must allow me the pleasure oftaking the lady to supper"And he put his arm aroundPeer and laid his forehead jestingly against him"Grantedisn't itGranted"

      "No"said Peerhis eyes sparkling with anger

      Felix gaily raised his arms and set his elbows akimboas if he were trying to look like a frog ready to leap"Youare Perfectly rightyoung manI would say the same if thesupper dance were promised mesir"He drew back witha graceful bow to the young lady

      But shortly afterwhen Peer stood in a corner and ad-justed his necktieFelix returnedput his arm around hisneckandwith the most coaxing looksaid"Be big-heartedMy mother and your mother and old grandmotherwill all say that is just like youI am leaving tomorrowand I will be terribly bored if I do not take the young ladyto supperMy own friendmy only friend"

      Peeras his only friendcould not resist thathepersonally led Felix to the young beauty

      It was bright morning of the next day when the guestsdrove away from the Dean'sThe Gabriel household was inone carriageand the whole family went to sleepexceptPeer and Madam

      She talked about the young merchantthe nich man'ssonwho was really Peer's friendshe had heard him say"Skaalmy friendTo Mother and Grandmother"Therewas something so"uninhibitedgallant in him"she said"one saw at once that he is the son of rich peopleor acount's childThatthe rest of us can't acquireOnemust bow to that"

      Peer said nothingHe was depressed all dayAtnightwhen bedtime had come and he lay in bedsleepwas chased awayand he said to himself"One has tobowone has to please"That's what he had donehehad obeyed the rich young fellow"because one is bornpoorhe is placed under obligation and subjection to theserichly born peopleAre they then better than weAnd whywere they created better than we"

      There was something vicious rearing up in himsomething that his grandmother would he grieved atHe thoughtof her"Poor GrandmotherYou have also known whatpoverty isWhy has God permitted that"And he feltanger in his heartand yet at the same time he was conscious of having sinned in thoughts and words against thegood GodHe was grieved to think he had lost his child'smindand his faith returnedas wholesome and rich as be-foreHappy Peer

      A week later a letter came from GrandmotherShewrote in the only way she couldmixing up big letters andsmall lettersbut all her heart's love was in everythingbig and smallthat concerned Peer

      My own sweetblessed boy

      I am thinking of youI am longing for youand sois your motherShe is getting along wellshe takes washingAnd the merchant's Felix came up to see us yesterdaywith a greeting from youYou had both been dt the Dean'sballand you had been such a gentlemanbut that youwill always beand make your old grandmother and yourhardworking mother happyShe has something to tell youabout Miss Frandsen

      And then followed a postscript from Peer's mother

      Miss Frandsen is going to be marriedthe oldthingThe bookbinderHerr Hofhas been appointedcourt bookbinderin accordance with his petitionHehas a great new sign"Court Bookbinder Hof"And shewill become Madam HofIt is an old love that does notrustmy sweet boy

      YOUR MOTHER Second PostscriptGrandmother has knitted you sixpairs of woolen socksyou will get them at the first opportunityI am also sending you a pork pieyour favorite dishI know that you never get pork at Herr Gabriel'ssince hiswife is so afraid of what I have difficulty in spelling"trichines"You must not believe in thesebut just goahead and eat

      YOUR OWN MOTHER Peer read the letterand it made him happyFelixwas so goodwhat a great injustice he had done himTheyhad separated at the Dean's without saying goodby to eachother

      "Felix is better than I"said Peer

       

       

       In a quiet lifeone day slips into the nextandmonth quickly follows monthPeer was already in thesecond year of his stay at Herr Gabriel'swho with greatearmestness and determinationthough Madam called itobstinacyinsisted that he should not again go on thestage

      Peer received from the singing masterwho monthlypaid the stipend for his instruction and supporta seriousreminder not to think of the stage as long as he wasplaced thereAnd he obeyedbut his thoughts frequentlytraveled to the theater at the capital-they carried himas if by magiconto the stage therewhere he was tohave appeared as a great singerNow his voice was goneand it did not returnwhich often deeply grieved himWho could comfort himNeither Herr Gabriel nor Madambut our Lord surely couldConsolation comes tous in many waysPeer found it in sleephe was indeed aLucky Peer

      One night he dreamed that it was Whitsundayand hewas out in the beautiful green forestwhere the sun shonethrough the branches and where all the ground was coveredwith anemones and primroseThen the cuckoo began"Cuckoo""How many years shall I live" asked Peerforone always asks the cuckoo thatthe first time in the yearone hears it cuckooand the cuckoo answered"Cuckoo"but no moreit was silent

      "Shall I live only one more year"asked Peer"Thatis really too littleBe so good as to cuckoo again"Thenthe bird began again"CuckooCuckoo"Yesand it wenton without stoppingand Peer cuckooed with itas realistically as if hetoowere a cuckoobut his notes werestronger and clearerAll the song birds joined in the warblingPeer sang their songsbut far more beautifullyHehad all the clear voice of his childhoodand rejoiced insonghe was so happy at heartAnd then he awokebutwith the assurance that the"soundboard"was still in himthat his voice still lived andsome bright Whitsun morningwould burst forth in all its freshnessand so he slepthappy in this assurance

      But in none of the following daysweeksor monthsdid he have any feeling of his voice returning

      Every bit of news he could get of the theater at thecapital was a true feast for his soulit was spiritual breadto himCrumbs are also breadand he received crumbsthankfully-the smallest bits of news

      There was a flax dealer's family living near theGabriels'The mothera highly respectable housewifelively and laughingbut without any acquaintance or knowledge of the theaterhad been at the capital for the first timeand was delighted with everything thereeven with the peoplewho had laughed at all she had saidshe assured-and that was very likely

      "Were you at the theater also"asked Peer

      "That I was"replied the flax dealer's wife"How IsteanedYou should have seen me sit and steam in thatheat"

      "But what did you seeWhat play"

      "I will tell you that"she said"I shall give youthe whole playI was there twiceThe first evening itwas a talking playOut came the princess'AhbedahbeAbedabe'-how she could talkNext came aman-'AhbedahbeAbedabe'And then down fellMadamNow they began againThe prince'AhbedahbeAbedabe'Then down fell MadamShe felldown five times that eveningThe second time I wasthereit was all singing-'AhbedahbeAbedabe'And then down fell Madam againIt so happened that acountrywoman was sitting next to meshe had never beenin the theaterand thought the show was all overbut Iwho now knew all about itsaid that when I was therelastMadam fell down five timesThe singing eveningshe only did it three timesYesthere you have both theplaysas true to life as I saw them"

      Was it tragedy she bad seensince she said thatMadam always fell downThen it dawned on Peer whatshe meantThe great theater curtain that fell between theacts had a large female figure painted on ita Muse withthe comic and the tragic masksThis was the Madam whofell downThat had been the real comedywhat they hadsaid and sung had been only"AhbedahbeAbe dabe"to the flax dealer's wifebut it had been a greatpleasureand so it had been to Peertooand not less toMadam Gabrielwho had heard this recital of the playsShe had sat with an expression of astonishment and a consciousness of mental superiorityfor the pharmacist hadsaid that sheas the nursehad"carried"Shakespeare'sRomeo and Juliet"Down fell the Madam"as explainedby Peerafterward became a witty byword in the houseevery time a childa cupor one or another piece of fur-niture fell on the floor in the house

      "That is the way proverbs and familiar sayings arecreated"said Herr Gabrielwho carried everything intothe sphere of learning

      New Year's Eveat the stroke of twelvetheGabriels and their boarders stoodeach with a glass ofpunchthe only one Herr Gabriel drank the whole yearbecause punch is bad for a weak stomachThey drank atoast"Skaal"to the new yearand counted the strokesof the clock"Onetwo-"to the twelfth stroke"Downfell the Madam"they said

      The new year rolled up and rolled alongBy WhitsuntidePeer had been two years in the house

       

       

       Two years were gonebut the voice had not returnedHow would the future be for our young friend

      He could always be a teacher in a schoolopinedHerr Gabrielthere was a livelihood in thatthough nothing to be married onhoweverthat hadn't entered Peer's mindno matter how large a place in his heart the pharmacist's daughter had

      "Be a teacher"said Madam Gabriel"a school-masterThen you'll be the most boring individual onearthjust like my GabrielNoyou were born for thetheaterBe the greatest actor in the worldthat is some-thing more than being a teacher"

      An actorYesthat was the goal

      He mentioned this in a letter to the singing masterhe told of his longing and his hopeHe longed most eagerly for the great citywhere his mother and grandmotherlivedhe had not seen them for two long yearsThe distance was only one hundred and twenty milesby fasttrainhe could be there in six hoursWhy had they notseen one anotherThat is easily explainedOn his departurePeer had given his promise to stay where he was being sent and not to think of a visitHis mother was busyenough with her washing and ironingyet she had oftenthought of making the great journeyeven if it would costa good deal of moneybut this never materializedGrandmother had a horror of railwaysto travel by railwas to tempt the LordNothing could induce her to travelby steamshe was an old womanand she was not goingto travel until she traveled up to our Lord

      That she said in Maybut in June the old womanwould traveland all alonethe one hundred and twentylong milesto the strange townto strange peopleand allto get to PeerIt would be a big occasionyet the mostdismal one that could occur to Mother and Grandmother

      The cuckoo had said"Cuckoo"without end whenPeer had asked it the second time"How many years shallI live"His health and spirits were goodand the futurelooked brightHe had received a delightful letter from hisfatherly friendthe singing masterPeer was to go homeand they would see what could be done for himwhatcourse he should take now that his voice was still gone

      "Appear as Romeo"said Madam Gabriel"Nowyou are old enough for the lover's part and have someflesh on your bonesYou don't need to use makeup"

      "Be Romeo"said the pharmacist and the pharmacist's daughter

      Many thoughts went through his head and heartBut"Nobody knows what tomorrow will bring"

      He sat down in the garden that stretched out to themeadowit was eveningand there was moonlightHischeeks burnedhis blood was on firethe air brought adelightful coolnessOver the moor hung a mist that roseand sank and made him think of the dance of the elfinmaidensThen into his mind came the old ballad aboutKnight Olafwho rode out to ask the guests to his weddingbut was stopped by the elfin maidenswho drewhim into their dance and play and thereby caused hisdeathIt was a piece of folklorean old poemThemoonlight and the mist over the moor formed pictures of itthis evening

      Peer was soon in a state of half dreaminglookingout upon it allThe bushes seemed to have shapes ofboth humans and beaststhey stood motionlesswhile themist rose like a great waving veilPeer had seen something like this in a ballet at the theaterwhen elfin maidens were represented whirling and waving with veils ofgauzebut here it was far more charming and more wonderfulA stage as large as thisno theater could havenone had so clear an airso shining a moonlight

      Right in front in the mistthere distinctly appeared afemale shapethe one became threeand the three becamemanyhand in hand they dancedthey were floatinggirlsThe air bore them along to the hedge where PeerstoodThey nodded to himthey spokeit was like thesound of silver bellsThey danced into the garden abouthimthey enclosed him in their circleWithoutthoughthe danced with thembut not their danceHewhirled aboutas in the unforgettable vampire dancebut he didn't think of thathe really didn't think atallhe was completely overwhelmed by all the magnificent beauty he saw about him

      The moor was a seaso deep and dark bluewithwater lilies that were bright with all conceivable colorsDancing over the wavesthey carried him upon their veilto the opposite shorewhere the old viking burial moundhad thrown aside its grassy turf and risen into a castle ofcloudsbut the clouds were of marbleFlowering treesof gold and costly stones twined about the mighty blocksof marbleeach flower was a brilliantly colored bird thatsang with a human voiceIt was like a choir of thousands and thousands of happy childrenWas it heavenor was it Elfin Hill

      The castle walls movedthey glided toward eachotherThey closed about himHe was insideand theworld of man was outsideHe then felt anguishastrange fearas never beforeThere was no exit to befoundbut from the floor way up to the roofand fromall the wallsthere smiled at him lovely young girlsthey were so lifelike to look atand yet he thoughtArethey but paintingsHe wanted to speak to thembut histongue found no wordshis speech was completely gonenot a sound came from his lipsThen he threw himselfupon the earthmore miserable than he had ever been

      One of the elfin maidens approached himsurely shemeant wellfor she had taken the shape he would mostlike to seeshe looked like the pharmacist's daughterhe was almost ready to believe that it was shebut soonhe saw that she was hollow in back and had only abeautiful front-open in the backwith nothing at allinside

      "One hour here is a hundred years outside"shesaid"You have already been here a whole hourEveryone you know and love outside these walls is deadStay with usYesstay you mustor the walls willsqueeze you until the blood flows from your brow"

      And the walls trembledand the air became likethat of a glowing bake ovenHe found his voice

      "O LordO Lordhave You forsaken me"he criedfrom the depths of his soul

      Then Grandmother stood beside himShe took himin her armsshe kissed his browshe kissed his mouth

      "My own sweet little one"she said"Our lordwill not forsake youHe forsakes none of usnot eventhe greatest sinnerGod be praised and honored for alleternity"

      And she brought forth her psalmbookthe same onefrom which she and Peer had sung on many a SundnyHow her voice rangHow full were her tonesAll theelfin maidens laid their heads down for a wellneededrestPeer sang with Grandmotheras before he had sungevery Sundayhow wtrong and powerful yet how softhisvoice was all at onceThe walls of the castle movedtheybecame clouds and mistGrandmother walked with himout of the hill into the tall grasswhere the glowwormsgleamed and the moon shoneBut his feet were so tirednow he could not move themhe sank down on the turfit was the softesd bedthere he rested well and awoke tothe sound of a psalm

      Grandmother sat beside himsat by his bed in thelittle chamber in Herr Gabriel's houseThe fever wasoverhealth and life had returnedHe had been deathlyillThey had found him in a faint on that evening downin the gardena violent fever had followedThe doctorhad thought that he would not get up from itbut woulddieand they had written to his mother about itShe andGrandmother had wanted toand felt they mustgo tohimboth had not been able to leaveand so the oldgrandmother had goneand gone by the railway

      "That I would only do for Peer"she said"I did itin God's nameotherwise I would have had to believethat I flew with the evil ones on a broomstick on Midsummer Eve"

       

       

      The journey home was made with a glad and lightheartGrandmother deeply thanked our Lord that Peerwas to outlive herShe had delightful traveling companions in the railway carriage-the pharmacist and hisdaughterthey talked about Peerand loved Peer as ifthey were of the same familyHe was to become a greatactorsaid the pharmacistHis voice had now returnedtooand there was a fortune in such a throat as his

      What a pleasure it was to the grandmother to hearsuch wordsShe lived on themshe believed them thoroughlyAnd then they arrived at the station in the capitalwhere the mother met her

      "God be praised for the railway"said Grandmoth-er"and be praisedtoothat I quite forgot I was on itI owe that to these splendid people"And she pressed thehands of the pharmacist and his daughter"The railway isa blessed discovery when one is through with itOne is inGod's hands"

      And then she talked of her sweet boywho was outof all dangerand who lived with welltodo peoplewhokept two servant girls and a manservantPeer was like ason in the houseand on the same footing with two chil-dren of distinguished familiesone of whom was a dean'ssonThe grandmother had lodged at the post innit wasterribly expensivebut then she had been invited toMadam Gabriel'sthere she had stayed five daysandthey were simply wonderful peopleparticularly the wifeshe had urged her to drink punchsplendidly made butstrong

      With God's helpPeer would be strong enough tocome home to the capital in a month

      "He must have become very elegant and spoiled"said the mother

      "He will not feel at home here in the garretI amvery happy that the singing master has invited him to staywith himAnd yet"cried the mother"it is awfully sadthat one should be so poor that one's child cannot live inhis own home"

      "Don't say those words to Peer"said Grandmother"You don't understand him as I do"

      "But he must have food and drinkno matter howfine he has grownand he shall hot go hungry so long as Ican move my handsMadam Hof has told me that he caneat his dinner twice a week with hernow that she is welloffShe has known both prosperity and hard timesShehas told me herself that one eveningin the box at the theater where the old danseuses have a placeshe felt sickThe whole day long she had only had water and a caraway-seed bunand she was ill from hungerand very faint'WaterWater'cried the others'NoSome food'shebegged'Food'She needed something nourishingandhad not the least need of waterNow she has her ownlarder and a wellspread table"

      Peer was still one bundred and twenty miles awaybut happy in the thought that he would soon be in the cityand at the theaterwith all his dear old friendswhom nowhe would know how to valueHappiness sang and resounded within him and all about himthere was sunshine everywherein this happy time of youththe time of hope andexpectationEvery day he grew strongerhis good spiritsand his color returnedBut Madam Gabriel became verymoved as the time for departure drew near

      "You are on your way to greatnessand there will bemany temptationsfor you are handsomethat you havebecome in our houseYou are naturaljust as Iand thatwill help when temptations comeOne must not be too sensitive or unruly sensitive like Queen Dagmarwho on Sun-day laced her silk sleeves and then had pangs of conscienceover such a minor thingit should take more than that toaffect oneI would never have grieved as Lucretia didWhat did she stab herself forShe was pure and honestshe knew thatand everybody in the town knew thatWhatcould she do about the misfortune which I won't talk aboutbut which you at your age understand perfectly wellSoshe gave out a shriek and took the daggerThat wasn'tnecessary at allI would not have done itand neitherwould youwe are both natural peopleone should benatural at all timesand that you will continue to be inyour artistic careerHow happy I shall be to read aboutyou in the papersPerhaps sometime you will come to ourlittle town and appear as Romeobut I shall not be thenurse thenI shall sit in the parquet and enjoy myself"

      Madam had a lot of washing and ironing done theweek he went awayso Peer could go home with a cleanwardrobeas he had had on his arrival thereShe drew anewstrong ribbon through his amber heartthat was theonly thing she wanted as a"remembrance souvenir"butshe did not get it

      From Herr Gabriel he received a French lexicontheone he had used during his school hoursand it hadmarginal notes in Herr Gabriel's own handMadamGabriel gave him roses and quaking grassThe roseswould witherbut the grass would keep all winter if itwasn't put into the water but was kept in a dry placeAnd she wrote a quotation from Goethe on a kind of albumleafUmgang mit Frauen ist das Element guter SittenShe gave a translation of it"Companionship with womenis the foundation of good mannersGoethe"

      "He was a great man"she said"If he had onlynot written Faustfor I don't understand itGabriel sayssotoo"

      Young Madsen presented Peer with a not badly donedrawing he had made of Herr Gabriel hanging from thegallowswith a birch rod in his handand the inscription"A great actor's first conductor on the road of sci-ence"Primusthe Dean's songave him a new pair ofslipperswhich the Deaness herself had madebut solarge that Primus could not fill them for a year or two yetUpon the soles was written in ink"A reminder of a sor-rowing friendPrimus"

      Herr Gabriers'entire household accompanied Peerto the train

      "It shall not be said that you left us sans adieu"said Madamand she kissed him at the railway station

      "I am not bashful"she said"When one does not doa thing secretlyone can do anything"

      The signal whistle blewyoung Madsen and Primusshouted hurrahsthe"small stuff"joined in with themMadam dried her eyes and waved with her pocked handkerchiefHerr Gabriel said only the word"Vale"

      The villages and stations flew byWere the peoplein them as happy as PeerHe thought of thatpraised hisgood fortuneand thought of the invisible golden applethat Grandmother had seen lying in his hand when he wasa childHe thought of his lucky find in the gutter andabove allof his newfound voice and of the knowledgehe had now acquiredHe had become altogether anotherpersonHe sang inwardly with happinessit took greatself-control for him to keep from singing aloud in the car

      Now the towers of the city appearedand the buildings began to show themselvesThe train reached the sta-tionThere stood Mother and Grandmotherand someonewith themMadam Hofwell boundCourt BookbinderHof's wifeborn FrandsenNeither in want nor in prosperity did she forget her friendsShe had to kiss him ashis mother and his grandmother did

      "Hof could not come with me"she said"he ishome at workbinding a set of collected works for theking's private libraryYou have your good luck and Ihave mineI have my Hof and my own fireside cornerwith a rocking chairTwice a week you are to eat withusYou will see my life at homeit is a completeballet"

      Mother and Grandmother bardly had an opportunityto talk to Peerbut they looked at himand their eyesshone with delightThen he had to take a cab to get tohis new home at the singing master'sThey laughed andthey cried

      "What a wonderful man he is"said Grandmother

      "He still has such a kind facejust as when he wentaway"said Mother"and that he will keep in thetheater"

      The cab stopped at the singing master's doorbutthe master was outhis old servant opened the door andshowed Peer up to his roomwhere there were portraits ofcomposers on the walls and a white plaster bust stoodgleaming on the stoveThe old mana little