« PreviousContinue »
post, was the young man who had beaten her, panting a little from his running, but looking, O, so happy!
Do you suppose the princess said that it was not a fair race—that he had not really run as fast as she had? By no means. She was almost as happy as he was as she went up to him with her hand held out to lead him to her father. And the people forgot all about the poor young men who had had to die, and were happy again as they shouted, “Hippomenes and Atalanta! Hippomenes and Atalanta!”
See the smoke trail!
Pleasant summer over
And all the summer flowers,
And the grey smoke towers.
Sing a song of seasons!
Something bright in all!
Fires in the fall!
“SOMETHING” By Hans CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN I WILL be Something,” declared the
eldest of five brothers; “I will be of use in the world; be it ever so humble a position that I may hold, let me be but useful, and that will be Something. I will make bricks; folk can
not do without them, so I shall at least do Something."
“Something very little, though,” replied the second brother. “Why, it is as good as nothing! it is work that might be done by a machine. Better be a mason, as I intend to be. Then one belongs to a guild, becomes a citizen, has a banner of one's own. Nay, if all things go well, I may become a master, and have apprentices and workmen under me. That will be Something!”
“It will be nothing at all then, I can tell you that!" rejoined the third. “Think how many different ranks there are in a town far above that of a master mason. You may be an honest sort of a man, but you will never be a gentleman; gentle and simple—those are the two grand divisions, and you will always be one of the ‘simple. Well, I know better than that I will be an architect; I will be one of the thinkers, the artists; I will raise myself to the aristocracy of intellect. I may have to begin from the very lowest grade; I may begin as a carpenter's boy, and run about with a paper cap on my head, to fetch ale for the workmen; I may not enjoy that, but I shall try to imagine it is only a masquerade. "To-morrow,' I shall say, 'I will go my own way, and others shall not come near me.' Yes, I shall go to the Academy, learn to draw, and be called an architect. That will be Something! I may get a title, perhaps; and I shall build and build, as others before me have done. Yes, that will be Something!”
“But it is Something that I care nothing about.” said the fourth. “I should not care to go on, on, in the beaten track—to be a mere copyist. I will be a genius, cleverer than all of you put together; I will create a new style, provide ideas for buildings suited to the climate and materials of our country, suited to our national character, and the requirements of the age.”
"But supposing the climate and the materials don't agree,” suggested the fifth, “how will you get on then, if they won't help you? As for our national character, you do not know what it is now or ever will be, nor do you know what the people think nor what will please them now or in the future. I see you will none of you ever be anything, though of course you won't believe me. But do as you please, I shall not be like you. I shall reason over what you execute; there is something ridiculous in everything; I shall find it out, show you your faults —that will be Something!”
And he kept his word; and folk said of this fifth brother, “There is something in him, certainly; he has plenty of brains! but he does nothing." But he was content, for he was Something.
But what became of the five brothers? We shall hear the whole.
The eldest brother, the brickmaker, found that every brick he turned out whole yielded him a tiny copper coin; only copper—but a great many of these small coins, added together, could be converted into a bright silver dollar, and through the power of this, wheresoever he knocked, whether at baker's, butcher's or tailor's, the door flew open, and he received what he wanted. Such was the virtue of his bricks. Some, of course, were broken before they were finished, but a use was found even for these. For up by the trench poor Mother Margaret would fain build herself a little house, if she might; she took all the broken bricks— ay, and she got a few whole ones besides, for a good heart had the eldest brother, though only a brickmaker. The poor thing built her house with her own hands; it was very narrow, its one window was all on one side, the door was too low, and the thatch on the roof might have been laid on better. But it gave her shelter and a home, and could be seen far over the sea, which sometimes burst over the trench in its might, and sprinkled a salt shower over the little house, which kept its place there years after he who made the bricks was dead and gone.
As for the second brother, he learned to build after another fashion, as he had resolved. When he was out of his apprenticeship, he buckled on his knapsack and started on his travels, singing as he went. He came home again, and became a master in his native town. He built house after house, a whole street of houses; there they stood, looked well, and were a credit to the town; and these houses soon built him a little house for himself. How? Ask the houses, and they will give you no answer; but the people will answer you and say, “Why, of course, the street built him his house!" It was small enough, and had only a clay floor, but when he and his bride danced over it, the floor grew as smooth as if it had been polished, and from every stone in the wall sprang a flower, that looked as gay as the costliest tapestry. It was a pretty house and a happy wedded pair. The banner of the Masons' Guild waved outside, and workmen and apprentices shouted “Hurra!" Yes, that was Something! and at last he died—that, too, was Something!
Next comes the architect, the third brother. He began as a carpenter's apprentice, and ran about the town on errands, wearing a paper cap; but he studied industriously at the Academy, and rose steadily upward. If the street full of houses had built a house for his brother the mason, the street took its name from the architect; the handsomest house in the whole street was his—that was Something, and he was Something! His children were gentlemen, and could boast of their “birth”; and when he died, his widow was a widow of condition
—that is Something—and his name stood on the corner of the street, and was in everybody's lipsthat is Something, too!
Now for the genius, the fourth brother, who wanted to invent something new, something original. Somehow the ground gave way beneath his feet; he fell and broke his neck. But he had a splendid funeral, with music and banners, and flowery paragraphs in the newspapers; and three eulogiums were pronounced over him, each longer than the last, and this would have pleased him mightily, for he loved speechifying, of all things.