Little Tuk


Lille Tuk

Yes, they called him Little Tuk, but it was not his real name; he had called himself so before he could speak plainly, and he meant it for Charles. It was all very well for those who knew him, but not for strangers.

Little Tuk was left at home to take care of his little sister, Gustava, who was much younger than himself, and he had to learn his lessons at the same time, and the two things could not very well be performed together. The poor boy sat there with his sister on his lap, and sung to her all the songs he knew, and now and then he looked into his geography lesson that lay open before him. By the next morning he had to learn by heart all the towns in Zealand, and all that could be described of them.

His mother came home at last, and took little Gustava in her arms. Then Tuk ran to the window, and read so eagerly that he nearly read his eyes out; for it had become darker and darker every minute, and his mother had no money to buy a light.

"There goes the old washerwoman up the lane," said the mother, as she looked out of the window; "the poor woman can hardly drag herself along, and now she had to drag a pail of water from the well. Be a good boy, Tuk, and run across and help the old woman, won't you?"

So Tuk ran across quickly, and helped her, but when he came back into the room it was quite dark, and there was not a word said about a light, so he was obliged to go to bed on his little truckle bedstead, and there he lay and thought of his geography lesson, and of Zealand, and of all the master had told him. He ought really to have read it over again, but he could not for want of light. So he put the geography book under his pillow, for he had heard that this was a great help towards learning a lesson, but not always to be depended upon. He still lay thinking and thinking, when all at once it seemed as if some one kissed him on his eyes and mouth. He slept and yet he did not sleep; and it appeared as if the old washerwoman looked at him with kind eyes and said, "It would be a great pity if you did not know your lesson to-morrow morning; you helped me, and now I will help you, and Providence will always keep those who help themselves;" and at the same time the book under Tuk's pillow began to move about. "Cluck, cluck, cluck," cried a hen as she crept towards him. "I am a hen from Kjoge," and then she told him how many inhabitants the town contained, and about a battle that had been fought there, which really was not worth speaking of.

"Crack, crack," down fell something. It was a wooden bird, the parrot which is used as a target as Prastoe. He said there were as many inhabitants in that town as he had nails in his body. He was very proud, and said, "Thorwaldsen lived close to me, and here I am now, quite comfortable."

But now little Tuk was no longer in bed; all in a moment he found himself on horseback. Gallop, gallop, away he went, seated in front of a richly-attired knight, with a waving plume, who held him on the saddle, and so they rode through the wood by the old town of Wordingburg, which was very large and busy. The king's castle was surrounded by lofty towers, and radiant light streamed from all the windows. Within there were songs and dancing; King Waldemar and the young gayly-dressed ladies of the court were dancing together. Morning dawned, and as the sun rose, the whole city and the king's castle sank suddenly down together. One tower after another fell, till at last only one remained standing on the hill where the castle had formerly been.

The town now appeared small and poor, and the school-boys read in their books, which they carried under their arms, that it contained two thousand inhabitants; but this was a mere boast, for it did not contain so many.

And again little Tuk lay in his bed, scarcely knowing whether he was dreaming or not, for some one stood by him.

"Tuk! little Tuk!" said a voice. It was a very little person who spoke. He was dressed as a sailor, and looked small enough to be a middy, but he was not one. "I bring you many greetings from Corsor. It is a rising town, full of life. It has steamships and mail-coaches. In times past they used to call it ugly, but that is no longer true. I lie on the sea-shore," said Corsor; "I have high-roads and pleasure-gardens; I have given birth to a poet who was witty and entertaining, which they are not all. I once wanted to fit out a ship to sail round the world, but I did not accomplish it, though most likely I might have done so. But I am fragrant with perfume, for close to my gates most lovely roses bloom."

Then before the eyes of little Tuk appeared a confusion of colors, red and green; but it cleared off, and he could distinguish a cliff close to the bay, the slopes of which were quite overgrown with verdure, and on its summit stood a fine old church with pointed towers. Springs of water flowed out of the cliff in thick waterspouts, so that there was a continual splashing. Close by sat an old king with a golden crown on his white head. This was King Hroar of the Springs and near the springs stood the town of Roeskilde, as it is called. Then all the kings and queens of Denmark went up the ascent to the old church, hand in hand, with golden crowns on their heads, while the organ played and the fountains sent forth jets of water.

Little Tuk saw and heard it all. "Don't forget the names of these towns," said King Hroar.

All at once everything vanished; but where! It seemed to him like turning over the leaves of a book. And now there stood before him an old peasant woman, who had come from Soroe where the grass grows in the market-place. She had a green linen apron thrown over her head and shoulders, and it was quite wet, as if it had been raining heavily. "Yes, that it has," said she, and then, just as she was going to tell him a great many pretty stories from Holberg's comedies, and about Waldemar and Absalom, she suddenly shrunk up together, and wagged her head as if she were a frog about to spring. "Croak," she cried; "it is always wet, and as quiet as death in Soroe." Then little Tuk saw she was changed into a frog. "Croak," and again she was an old woman. "One must dress according to the weather," said she. "It is wet, and my town is just like a bottle. By the cork we must go in, and by the cork we must come out again. In olden times I had beautiful fish, and now I have fresh, rosy-cheeked boys in the bottom of the bottle, and they learn wisdom, Hebrew and Greek."

"Croak." How it sounded like the cry of the frogs on the moor, or like the creaking of great boots when some one is marching,– always the same tone, so monotonous and wearing, that little Tuk at length fell fast asleep, and then the sound could not annoy him. But even in this sleep came a dream or something like it. His little sister Gustava, with her blue eyes, and fair curly hair, had grown up a beautiful maiden all at once, and without having wings she could fly. And they flew together over Zealand, over green forests and blue lakes.

"Hark, so you hear the cock crow, little Tuk. 'Cock-a-doodle-doo.' The fowls are flying out of Kjoge. You shall have a large farm-yard. You shall never suffer hunger or want. The bird of good omen shall be yours, and you shall become a rich and happy man; your house shall rise up like King Waldemar's towers, and shall be richly adorned with marble statues, like those at Prastoe. Understand me well; your name shall travel with fame round the world like the ship that was to sail from Corsor, and at Roeskilde,– Don't forget the names of the towns, as King Hroar said,– you shall speak well and clearly little Tuk, and when at last you lie in your grave you shall sleep peacefully, as–"

"As if I lay in Soroe," said little Tuk awaking. It was bright daylight, and he could not remember his dream, but that was not necessary, for we are not to know what will happen to us in the future. Then he sprang out of bed quickly, and read over his lesson in the book, and knew it all at once quite correctly. The old washerwoman put her head in at the door, and nodded to him quite kindly, and said, "Many thanks, you good child, for your help yesterday. I hope all your beautiful dreams will come true."

Little Tuk did not at all know what he had dreamt, but One above did.
Ja, det var den lille Tuk, han hed egentlig ikke Tuk, men dengang han ikke kunne tale rigtig endnu kaldte han sig selv Tuk; det skulle betyde Carl, og det er godt man ved det; han skulle passe sin søster Gustave, som var meget mindre, end han, og så skulle han også lære sin lektie, men de to ting vil ikke gå på én gang. Den stakkels dreng sad med sin lille søster på skødet og sang alle de viser, han kunne, og imidlertid skottede øjnene til geografibogen, der lå åben for ham; han skulle til i morgen kunne udenad alle byerne i Sjællands stift og vide om dem alt, hvad der kunne vides.

Nu kom hans moder hjem, for hun havde været ude, og hun tog den lille Gustave; Tuk løb til vinduet og læste så at han næsten læste sig øjnene ud, for det var nær ved at blive mørkt og det blev mere, men moder havde ikke råd til at købe lys.

"Der går den gamle vaskekone omme fra strædet!" sagde moderen, idet hun så ud af vinduet. "Hun kan knap bære sig selv og så må hun bære spanden fra posten; spring du ud, lille Tuk, og vær en velsignet dreng! hjælp den gamle kone!"

Og Tuk sprang lige straks og hjalp, men da han så kom hjem, var det mørk aften, lys var der ikke at snakke om, han skulle i sin seng; det var en gammel slagbænk; i den lå han og der tænkte han på sin geografilektie: Sjællands stift og alt hvad læreren havde fortalt. Der skulle rigtignok have været læst, men det kunne han jo ikke nu. geografibogen stak han ind under sin hovedpude, for han havde hørt, at det skulle hjælpe betydeligt til at huske sin lektie, men det er ikke til at stole på.

Der lå han nu og tænkte og tænkte, og så var det lige med et, som om nogen kyssede ham på øjne og mund, han sov og sov dog ikke; det var ligesom om han så den gamle vaskekones milde øjne se på ham, og hun sagde: "Det ville være en stor synd om du ikke skulle kunne din lektie! du hjalp mig, nu skal jeg hjælpe dig, og Vorherre vil altid gøre det!"

Og lige med et så kriblede og krablede bogen under hovedet på lille Tuk:

"Kykliky! put! put!" det var en høne, der kom og det fra Køge by. "Jeg er en af Køges høns!" og så sagde den hvor mange indvånere, og om slaget der havde stået, og det var nu ikke noget at tale om.

"Krible krable, bums!" der dumpede en; det var en fugl af træ, som nu kom; det var papegøjen fra fugleskydningen i Præstø. Den sagde, at der var lige så mange indvånere, som den havde søm i livet; og den var noget stolt: "Thorvaldsen har boet på hjørnet af mig. Bums! jeg ligger dejligt!"

Men lille Tuk lå ikke, han var med et til hest. I galop, i galop gik det. En prægtigklædt ridder med skinnende hjelm og vajende fjerbusk havde ham foran sig på hesten og de red igennem skoven til den gamle by, Vordingborg, og den var en stor, en levende by; høje tårne knejsede på kongeborgen, og lysene skinnede langt ud igennem vinduerne; derinde var sang og dans; kong Valdemar og stadselige unge hoffrøkner gik i dansen. - Det blev morgen, og ligesom solen kom, sank byen hen og kongens slot, det ene tårn efter det andet, til sidst stod kun et eneste på banken, hvor slottet havde stået, og byen var så lille bitte og så fattig, og skoledrengene kom med deres bøger under armen og sagde "2000 indvånere," men det var ikke sandt, så mange var der ikke.

Og lille Tuk lå i sin seng, han syntes at han drømte og at han ikke drømte; men nogen var der tæt ved ham:

"Lille Tuk! lille Tuk!" blev der sagt; det var en sømand, en ganske lille person, som om det kunne være en kadet, men det var ikke en kadet. "Jeg skal hilse så meget flittig fra Korsør, den er en by, som er i opkomst! den er en levende by, den har dampskib og postvogn; engang skulle den altid kaldes ækel, men det var gammel mening." - "Jeg ligger ved havet," siger Korsør, "jeg har landevej og jeg har lystskov, og jeg har født en digter, som var morsom, og det er de ikke alle. Jeg har villet sende et skib rundt om Jorden, jeg gjorde det ikke, men kunne have gjort det, og så lugter jeg så dejlig, lige ved porten, der blomstrer de yndigste roser!"

Lille Tuk så dem, det blev rødt og grønt for hans øjne, men da der kom ro i kulørerne var det en hel skovgroet skrænt tæt ved den klare fjord; og oven over lå en prægtig gammel kirke med to høje, spidse kirketårne: Fra skrænten sprang kilderne i tykke vandstråler, så at det plaskede efter, og tæt ved sad en gammel konge med guldkrone om sit lange hår; det var kong Hroar ved kilderne; det var ved Roskilde by, som man kalder den nu. Og hen over skrænten, ind i den gamle kirke, gik alle Danmarks konger og dronninger hånd i hånd, alle med guldkrone på, og orglet spillede og kilderne rislede. Den lille Tuk så alt, hørte alt. "Glem ikke stænderne!" sagde kong Hroar.

Lige med et var alting borte igen; ja, hvor blev det af? det var ligesom man vender et blad i en bog. Og nu stod der en gammel kone, det var en lugekone, hun kom fra Sorø, hvor der vokser græs på torvet. Hun havde sit grå lærredsforklæde over hovedet og ned ad ryggen; det var så vådt, det måtte have regnet: "Ja, det har det!" sagde hun, og så kunne hun noget morsomt af Holbergs komedier og hun vidste om Valdemar og Absalon; men lige med et, så krøb hun sammen, rokkede med hovedet, det var ligesom om hun ville springe: "koaks!" sagde hun, "det er vådt, det er vådt, det er gravstille godt - i Sorø!" hun var lige med et en frø, "koaks!" og så var hun den gamle kone igen. "Man må klæde sig efter vejret!" sagde hun. "Det er vådt, det er vådt! min by er ligesom en flaske; man kommer ind ved proppen, og der må man ud igen! jeg har haft maller og nu har jeg friske rødmossede drenge på bunden af flasken; der lærer de visdom: græsk! græsk! hebræisk koaks!" det klang ligesom når frøerne synger, eller man går i mosevand med store støvler. Det var altid den samme lyd, så ens, så kedelig, så kedelig, at lille Tuk faldt i en ordentlig søvn, og den kunne han have godt af.

Men også i denne søvn kom en drøm, eller hvad det nu var: Hans lille søster Gustave med de blå øjne og det gule krøllede hår var med ét en voksen, dejlig pige, og uden at have vinger på kunne hun flyve og de fløj hen over Sjælland, over de grønne skove og de blå vande.

"Hører du hanegal, lille Tuk! kykliky! Hønsene flyver op fra Køge by! du får en hønsegård, så stor, så stor, du vil ikke lide sult og nød! Papegøjen skal du skyde, som man siger, du bliver en rig og lykkelig mand! din gård skal knejse, som kong Valdemars tårn, og rigt skal den bygges med billedstøtter af marmor, som dem fra Præstø-hjørne, du forstår mig nok. Dit navn skal med ros flyve vidt ud om verden, som skibet, der skulle have gået fra Korsør, og i Roskilde by – – 'husk på stænderne!' sagde kong Hroar; der skal du tale godt og klogt, lille Tuk, og når du så kommer engang i din grav, skal du sove så stille – –."

" - Som om jeg lå i Sorø!" sagde Tuk, og så vågnede han; det var klar morgen, han kunne ikke huske det mindste af sin drøm, men det skulle han heller ikke, for man må ikke vide hvad der kommer.

Og han sprang ud af sengen og læste i sin bog og kunne så sin lektie lige straks. Og den gamle vaskekone stak hovedet ind af døren, nikkede til ham og sagde:

"Tak for i går, du velsignede barn! Vorherre lader din bedste drøm blive opfyldt!"

Den lille Tuk vidste slet ikke hvad han havde drømt, men se, det vidste Vorherre!

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