ENGLISH

Two maidens

DANSK

To jomfruer


Have you ever seen "a maiden"? I am referring to what road pavers call a "maiden," a thing used for ramming down the paving stones. "She" is made entirely of wood, broad at the bottom, with iron hoops around it, and a stick run through it at the upper, narrower end, which gives the maiden arms.

Two maidens like this were once standing in the yard shed, among shovels, measuring tapes, and wheelbarrows. Now, there was a rumor going around that they were no longer to be called "maidens," but "stamps" or "hand rammers"; and this is the newest and only correct term in road pavers' language for what we all in olden times called "a maiden."

There are among us human beings certain individuals we call "emancipated women," such as institution superintendents, midwives, ballet dancers, milliners, and nurses; and with this group of "emancipated," the two "maidens" in the yard shed associated themselves. They were known as "maidens" among the road pavers and would under no circumstances give up their good old name and let themselves be called "stamps" or "hand rammers."

Maiden is a human name," they said, "but a 'stamp' or a 'hand rammer' is a thing, and we certainly do not want to be called things; that's insulting us!"

"My betrothed is liable to break off our engagement," said the younger of the two, who was engaged to a ramming block, a large machine used to drive stakes into the ground. In fact, he did on a larger scale the same sort of work that she did on a smaller. "He'll take me as a 'maiden,' but I'm sure he won't have me as a 'stamp' or ' hand rammer,' and so I'll not permit them to change my name."

"As for me, I'd just as soon have both my arms broken off!" said the elder.

But the wheelbarrow had a different idea, and the wheelbarrow was really somebody! He considered himself a quarter of a carriage because he went about on one wheel. "I must, however, tell you that it's common enough to be called 'maidens'; that isn't nearly so distinctive a name as 'stamp,' because that belongs under the category of 'seals.' Just think of the 'royal signet,' and the 'seal of the state.' If I were you I would give up the name 'maiden.' "

"Never!" said the elder. "I'm much too old for that!"

"You don't seem to understand what is called the European necessity," said the honest old measuring tape. "People have to adapt themselves to circumstances, limit themselves, give in to the needs of the times. And if there is a law that the 'maidens' are to be called 'stamps' or 'hand rammers,' then by that new name she must be called. There is a measuring tape for everything."

"Well, if there must be a change," said the younger, "I'd rather be called 'miss,' for 'miss' reminds one a little of 'maiden.' "

"But I'd rather be chopped up for firewood than change at all," said the old "maiden."

Now it was time for work. The "maidens" rode; they were put in the wheelbarrow, which was respectful treatment, but they were now called "stamps."

"Maid--!" they cried as they stamped on the paving stones. "Maid--!" They almost said the whole word "maiden," but they didn't finish; they had decided not to say any more about it. But among themselves they always spoke of each other as "maidens," and praised the good old days when things were called by their proper names and those who were "maidens" were called "maidens."

And "maidens" they both remained, for the ramming block, the big machine I told you about, did break off his engagement with the younger; he would have nothing to do with a "stamp" or "hand rammer"!
Har du nogensinde set en jomfru? Det vil sige, hvad brolæggerne kalder en jomfru, én til at stampe stenbroen med. Hun er helt af træ, bred forneden med jernring om, og smal foroven med stok, den er hendes arme.

Inde i materielgården stod der to sådanne jomfruer, de stod mellem skovle, favnemål og hjulbør, og der var det rygtedes, at "jomfruen" ikke længere skulle kaldes "jomfru," men derimod "stempel," og det er den nyeste og eneste rigtige benævnelse i brolæggersproget, for hvad vi alle i gamle tider kaldte en jomfru.

Nu er der mellem os mennesker noget, man kalder: "emanciperede fruentimmer," hvortil regnes institutbestyrerinder, jordemødre, danserinder, der kan stå på et ben i embedet, modehandlerinder og vågekoner, og til den række "emanciperede," sluttede sig også de to jomfruer i materielgården; de var jomfruer ved vejvæsenet, og de ville på ingen måde opgive deres gode, gamle navn og lade sig kalde "stempel!"

"Jomfru er et menneskenavn," sagde de, "men stempel er en ting, og vi lader os ikke kalde en ting, det er at skældes ud!"

"Min forlovede er i stand til at slå op med mig!" sagde den yngste, der var forlovet med en rambuk, det er sådan en stor maskine, der driver pæle ned og altså gør i det svære, hvad jomfruen gør i det fine. "Han vil have mig som jomfru, men måske ikke som stempel, og altså kan jeg ikke lade dem døbe mig om!"

"Ja, jeg lader før mine to arme knække af!" sagde den ældste.

Hjulbøren havde dog en anden mening, og hjulbøren var noget, den anså sig for en kvart karet, idet den gik på ét hjul. "Jeg må dog sige dem, at det, at kaldes jomfru er temmelig almindeligt og ikke nær så fint, som at kaldes stempel, thi ved at føre det navn, kommer man i række med signeterne, og tænk på lovens signet, det er det, der gør lovens segl. I Deres sted ville jeg opgive jomfruen!"

"Aldrig! det er jeg for gammel til!" sagde den ældste.

"De kender nok ikke noget, som kaldes den europæiske nødvendighed!" sagde det ærlige, gamle favnemål. "Man må begrænses, underordne sig, føje sig i tid og nødvendighed, og er det en lov, at jomfruen skal kaldes stempel, så må hun kaldes stempel. Enhver ting har sit favnemål!"

"Så ville jeg dog hellere," sagde den yngste, "lade mig kalde frøken, når galt skulle være, frøken smager dog altid lidt af jomfru!"

"Men jeg lader mig hellere hugge til pindebrænde!" sagde den gamle jomfru.

Nu gik det til arbejde; jomfruerne kørte, de blev lagt på hjulbøren, og det var altid fin behandling, men stempel blev de kaldt.

"Jom-!" sagde de, idet de stampede mod stenbroen; "Jom-!" og lige var de ved at sige helt ud ordet: "Jomfru," men de bed ordet kort af, de tog det i sig igen, for de fandt, at de ikke engang burde svare. Men indbyrdes tiltalte de altid hinanden med navnet jomfru, og priste de gode, gamle dage, da man kaldte enhver ting ved sit rette navn, og kaldtes jomfru, når man var en jomfru; og det blev de begge to, thi rambukken, den store maskine, slog virkeligt op med den yngste, han ville ikke indlade sig med et stempel.




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