The elderbush



Once upon a time there was a little boy who had taken cold. He had gone out and got his feet wet; though nobody could imagine how it had happened, for it was quite dry weather. So his mother undressed him, put him to bed, and had the tea-pot brought in, to make him a good cup of Elderflower tea. Just at that moment the merry old man came in who lived up a-top of the house all alone; for he had neither wife nor children – but he liked children very much, and knew so many fairy tales, that it was quite delightful.

"Now drink your tea," said the boy's mother; "then, perhaps, you may hear a fairy tale."

"If I had but something new to tell," said the old man. "But how did the child get his feet wet?"

"That is the very thing that nobody can make out," said his mother.

"Am I to hear a fairy tale?" asked the little boy.

"Yes, if you can tell me exactly – for I must know that first – how deep the gutter is in the little street opposite, that you pass through in going to school."

"Just up to the middle of my boot," said the child; "but then I must go into the deep hole."

"Ali, ah! That's where the wet feet came from," said the old man. "I ought now to tell you a story; but I don't know any more."

"You can make one in a moment," said the little boy. "My mother says that all you look at can be turned into a fairy tale: and that you can find a story in everything."

"Yes, but such tales and stories are good for nothing. The right sort come of themselves; they tap at my forehead and say, 'Here we are.'"

"Won't there be a tap soon?" asked the little boy. And his mother laughed, put some Elder-flowers in the tea-pot, and poured boiling water upon them.

"Do tell me something! Pray do!"

"Yes, if a fairy tale would come of its own accord; but they are proud and haughty, and come only when they choose. Stop!" said he, all on a sudden. "I have it! Pay attention! There is one in the tea-pot!"

And the little boy looked at the tea-pot. The cover rose more and more; and the Elder-flowers came forth so fresh and white, and shot up long branches. Out of the spout even did they spread themselves on all sides, and grew larger and larger; it was a splendid Elderbush, a whole tree; and it reached into the very bed, and pushed the curtains aside. How it bloomed! And what an odour! In the middle of the bush sat a friendly-looking old woman in a most strange dress. It was quite green, like the leaves of the elder, and was trimmed with large white Elder-flowers; so that at first one could not tell whether it was a stuff, or a natural green and real flowers.

"What's that woman's name?" asked the little boy.

"The Greeks and Romans," said the old man, "called her a Dryad; but that we do not understand. The people who live in the New Booths* have a much better name for her; they call her 'old Granny' – and she it is to whom you are to pay attention. Now listen, and look at the beautiful Elderbush.

* A row of buildings for seamen in Copenhagen.

Just such another large blooming Elder Tree stands near the New Booths. It grew there in the corner of a little miserable court-yard; and under it sat, of an afternoon, in the most splendid sunshine, two old people; an old, old seaman, and his old, old wife. They had great-grand-children, and were soon to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of their marriage; but they could not exactly recollect the date: and old Granny sat in the tree, and looked as pleased as now. 'I know the date,' said she; but those below did not hear her, for they were talking about old times.

'Yes, can't you remember when we were very little,' said the old seaman, 'and ran and played about? It was the very same court-yard where we now are, and we stuck slips in the ground, and made a garden.'

'I remember it well,' said the old woman; 'I remember it quite well. We watered the slips, and one of them was an Elderbush. It took root, put forth green shoots, and grew up to be the large tree under which we old folks are now sitting.'

'To be sure,' said he. 'And there in the corner stood a waterpail, where I used to swim my boats.'

'True; but first we went to school to learn somewhat,' said she; 'and then we were confirmed. We both cried; but in the afternoon we went up the Round Tower, and looked down on Copenhagen, and far, far away over the water; then we went to Friedericksberg, where the King and the Queen were sailing about in their splendid barges.'

'But I had a different sort of sailing to that, later; and that, too, for many a year; a long way off, on great voyages.'

'Yes, many a time have I wept for your sake,' said she. 'I thought you were dead and gone, and lying down in the deep waters. Many a night have I got up to see if the wind had not changed: and changed it had, sure enough; but you never came. I remember so well one day, when the rain was pouring down in torrents, the scavengers were before the house where I was in service, and I had come up with the dust, and remained standing at the door – it was dreadful weather – when just as I was there, the postman came and gave me a letter. It was from you! What a tour that letter had made! I opened it instantly and read: I laughed and wept. I was so happy. In it I read that you were in warm lands where the coffee-tree grows. What a blessed land that must be! You related so much, and I saw it all the while the rain was pouring down, and I standing there with the dust-box. At the same moment came someone who embraced me.'

'Yes; but you gave him a good box on his ear that made it tingle!'

'But I did not know it was you. You arrived as soon as your letter, and you were so handsome – that you still are – and had a long yellow silk handkerchief round your neck, and a bran new hat on; oh, you were so dashing! Good heavens! What weather it was, and what a state the street was in!'

'And then we married,' said he. 'Don't you remember? And then we had our first little boy, and then Mary, and Nicholas, and Peter, and Christian.'

'Yes, and how they all grew up to be honest people, and were beloved by everybody.'

'And their children also have children,' said the old sailor; 'yes, those are our grand-children, full of strength and vigor. It was, methinks about this season that we had our wedding.'

'Yes, this very day is the fiftieth anniversary of the marriage,' said old Granny, sticking her head between the two old people; who thought it was their neighbor who nodded to them. They looked at each other and held one another by the hand. Soon after came their children, and their grand-children; for they knew well enough that it was the day of the fiftieth anniversary, and had come with their gratulations that very morning; but the old people had forgotten it, although they were able to remember all that had happened many years ago. And the Elderbush sent forth a strong odour in the sun, that was just about to set, and shone right in the old people's faces. They both looked so rosy-cheeked; and the youngest of the grandchildren danced around them, and called out quite delighted, that there was to be something very splendid that evening – they were all to have hot potatoes. And old Nanny nodded in the bush, and shouted 'hurrah!' with the rest."

"But that is no fairy tale," said the little boy, who was listening to the story.

"The thing is, you must understand it," said the narrator; "let us ask old Nanny."

"That was no fairy tale, 'tis true," said old Nanny; "but now it's coming. The most wonderful fairy tales grow out of that which is reality; were that not the case, you know, my magnificent Elderbush could not have grown out of the tea-pot." And then she took the little boy out of bed, laid him on her bosom, and the branches of the Elder Tree, full of flowers, closed around her. They sat in an aerial dwelling, and it flew with them through the air. Oh, it was wondrous beautiful! Old Nanny had grown all of a sudden a young and pretty maiden; but her robe was still the same green stuff with white flowers, which she had worn before. On her bosom she had a real Elderflower, and in her yellow waving hair a wreath of the flowers; her eyes were so large and blue that it was a pleasure to look at them; she kissed the boy, and now they were of the same age and felt alike.

Hand in hand they went out of the bower, and they were standing in the beautiful garden of their home. Near the green lawn papa's walking-stick was tied, and for the little ones it seemed to be endowed with life; for as soon as they got astride it, the round polished knob was turned into a magnificent neighing head, a long black mane fluttered in the breeze, and four slender yet strong legs shot out. The animal was strong and handsome, and away they went at full gallop round the lawn. "Huzza! Now we are riding miles off," said the boy. "We are riding away to the castle where we were last year!" And on they rode round the grass-plot; and the little maiden, who, we know, was no one else but old Nanny, kept on crying out, "Now we are in the country! Don't you see the farm-house yonder? And there is an Elder Tree standing beside it; and the cock is scraping away the earth for the hens, look, how he struts! And now we are close to the church. It lies high upon the hill, between the large oak-trees, one of which is half decayed. And now we are by the smithy, where the fire is blazing, and where the half-naked men are banging with their hammers till the sparks fly about. Away! away! To the beautiful country-seat!" And all that the little maiden, who sat behind on the stick, spoke of, flew by in reality. The boy saw it all, and yet they were only going round the grass-plot. Then they played in a side avenue, and marked out a little garden on the earth; and they took Elder-blossoms from their hair, planted them, and they grew just like those the old people planted when they were children, as related before. They went hand in hand, as the old people had done when they were children; but not to the Round Tower, or to Friedericksberg; no, the little damsel wound her arms round the boy, and then they flew far away through all Denmark. And spring came, and summer; and then it was autumn, and then winter; and a thousand pictures were reflected in the eye and in the heart of the boy; and the little girl always sang to him, "This you will never forget." And during their whole flight the Elder Tree smelt so sweet and odorous; he remarked the roses and the fresh beeches, but the Elder Tree had a more wondrous fragrance, for its flowers hung on the breast of the little maiden; and there, too, did he often lay his head during the flight.

"It is lovely here in spring!" said the young maiden. And they stood in a beech-wood that had just put on its first green, where the woodroof* at their feet sent forth its fragrance, and the pale-red anemony looked so pretty among the verdure. "Oh, would it were always spring in the sweetly-smelling Danish beech-forests!"

* Asperula odorata.

"It is lovely here in summer!" said she. And she flew past old castles of by-gone days of chivalry, where the red walls and the embattled gables were mirrored in the canal, where the swans were swimming, and peered up into the old cool avenues. In the fields the corn was waving like the sea; in the ditches red and yellow flowers were growing; while wild-drone flowers, and blooming convolvuluses were creeping in the hedges; and towards evening the moon rose round and large, and the haycocks in the meadows smelt so sweetly. "This one never forgets!"

"It is lovely here in autumn!" said the little maiden. And suddenly the atmosphere grew as blue again as before; the forest grew red, and green, and yellow-colored. The dogs came leaping along, and whole flocks of wild-fowl flew over the cairn, where blackberry-bushes were hanging round the old stones. The sea was dark blue, covered with ships full of white sails; and in the barn old women, maidens, and children were sitting picking hops into a large cask; the young sang songs, but the old told fairy tales of mountain-sprites and soothsayers. Nothing could be more charming. "It is delightful here in winter!" said the little maiden. And all the trees were covered with hoar-frost; they looked like white corals; the snow crackled under foot, as if one had new boots on; and one falling star after the other was seen in the sky. The Christmas-tree was lighted in the room; presents were there, and good-humor reigned. In the country the violin sounded in the room of the peasant; the newly-baked cakes were attacked; even the poorest child said, "It is really delightful here in winter!"

Yes, it was delightful; and the little maiden showed the boy everything; and the Elder Tree still was fragrant, and the red flag, with the white cross, was still waving: the flag under which the old seaman in the New Booths had sailed. And the boy grew up to be a lad, and was to go forth in the wide world-far, far away to warm lands, where the coffee-tree grows; but at his departure the little maiden took an Elder-blossom from her bosom, and gave it him to keep; and it was placed between the leaves of his Prayer-Book; and when in foreign lands he opened the book, it was always at the place where the keepsake-flower lay; and the more he looked at it, the fresher it became; he felt as it were, the fragrance of the Danish groves; and from among the leaves of the flowers he could distinctly see the little maiden, peeping forth with her bright blue eyes – and then she whispered, "It is delightful here in Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter"; and a hundred visions glided before his mind.

Thus passed many years, and he was now an old man, and sat with his old wife under the blooming tree. They held each other by the hand, as the old grand-father and grand-mother yonder in the New Booths did, and they talked exactly like them of old times, and of the fiftieth anniversary of their wedding. The little maiden, with the blue eyes, and with Elderblossoms in her hair, sat in the tree, nodded to both of them, and said, "To-day is the fiftieth anniversary!" And then she took two flowers out of her hair, and kissed them. First, they shone like silver, then like gold; and when they laid them on the heads of the old people, each flower became a golden crown. So there they both sat, like a king and a queen, under the fragrant tree, that looked exactly like an elder: the old man told his wife the story of "Old Nanny," as it had been told him when a boy. And it seemed to both of them it contained much that resembled their own history; and those parts that were like it pleased them best.

"Thus it is," said the little maiden in the tree, "some call me 'Old Nanny,' others a 'Dryad,' but, in reality, my name is 'Remembrance'; 'tis I who sit in the tree that grows and grows! I can remember; I can tell things! Let me see if you have my flower still?"

And the old man opened his Prayer-Book. There lay the Elder-blossom, as fresh as if it had been placed there but a short time before; and Remembrance nodded, and the old people, decked with crowns of gold, sat in the flush of the evening sun. They closed their eyes, and – and –! Yes, that's the end of the story!

The little boy lay in his bed; he did not know if he had dreamed or not, or if he had been listening while someone told him the story. The tea-pot was standing on the table, but no Elder Tree was growing out of it! And the old man, who had been talking, was just on the point of going out at the door, and he did go.

"How splendid that was!" said the little boy. "Mother, I have been to warm countries."

"So I should think," said his mother. "When one has drunk two good cupfuls of Elder-flower tea, 'tis likely enough one goes into warm climates"; and she tucked him up nicely, least he should take cold. "You have had a good sleep while I have been sitting here, and arguing with him whether it was a story or a fairy tale."

"And where is old Nanny?" asked the little boy.

"In the tea-pot," said his mother; "and there she may remain."
Der var engang en lille dreng, der var forkølet; han havde gået og fået våde fødder, ingen kunne begribe, hvor han havde fået dem fra, thi det var ganske tørt vejr. Nu klædte hans moder ham af, bragte ham i seng og lod temaskinen komme ind, for at lave ham en god kop hyldete, for det varmer! I det samme kom ind ad døren den gamle morsomme mand, som boede øverst oppe i huset og levede så alene, for han havde hverken kone eller børn, men holdt så meget af alle børn og vidste at fortælle så mange eventyr og historier, at det var en lyst.

"Nu drikker du din te!" sagde moderen,"måske får du så et eventyr."

"Ja når man bare kunne noget nyt!" sagde den gamle mand og nikkede så mildt. "Men hvor har den lille fået de våde fødder?" spurgte han.

"Ja, hvor har han det!" sagde moderen, "det kan der ingen begribe."

"Får jeg et eventyr?" spurgte drengen.

"Ja, kan du sige mig temmelig nøjagtigt, for det må jeg først vide, hvor dyb er rendestenen omme i den lille gade, hvor du går i skole."

"Akkurat til midt på skafterne," sagde drengen, "men så må jeg gå i det dybe hul!"

"Se derfra har vi de våde fødder," sagde den gamle. "Nu skulle jeg rigtignok fortælle et eventyr, men jeg kan ingen flere!"

"De kan lave et lige straks," sagde den lille dreng. "Moder siger, at alt hvad De ser på, kan blive et eventyr, og alt hvad De rører ved, kan De få en historie af!"

"Ja, men de eventyr og historier dur ikke! nej, de rigtige, de kommer af sig selv, de banker mig på panden og siger: Her er jeg!"

"Banker det ikke snart?" spurgte den lille dreng, og moderen lo, kom hyldete på potten og skænkede kogende vand over.

"Fortæl! fortæl!"

"Ja, når der ville komme et eventyr af sig selv, men sådant et er fornemt, det kommer kun når det selv har lyst -! stop!" sagde han lige med et. "Der har vi det! pas på, nu er der et på tepotten!"

Og den lille dreng så hen til tepotten, låget hævede sig mere og mere, og hyldeblomsterne kom frem så friske og hvide, de skød store lange grene, selv ud af tuden bredte de sig til alle sider og blev større og større, det var den dejligste hyldebusk, et helt træ, det ragede ind i sengen og skød gardinerne til side; nej, hvor det blomstrede og duftede! og midt i træet sad en gammel, venlig kone med en underlig kjole på, den var ganske grøn, ligesom hyldetræets blade og besat med store hvide hyldeblomster, man kunne ikke straks se, om det var tøj eller levende grønt og blomster.

"Hvad hedder den kone?" spurgte den lille dreng.

"Ja, disse romere og grækere," sagde den gamle mand, "de kaldte hende en dryade, men det forstår vi ikke; ude i Nyboder har de et bedre navn til hende, der kaldes hun: 'hyldemor', og det er nu hende, du skal passe på; hør bare efter, og se på det dejlige hyldetræ:

Netop sådant et stort, blomstrende træ står der ude i Nyboder; det voksede henne i krogen i en lille fattig gård; under dette træ sad en eftermiddag, i det dejligste solskin, to gamle folk, det var en gammel, gammel sømand og hans gamle, gamle kone, de var oldeforældre og skulle snart holde deres guldbryllup, men de kunne ikke rigtig huske datoen, og hyldemor sad i træet og så så fornøjet ud, ligesom her. 'Jeg ved nok, når det er guldbryllup!' sagde hun, men de hørte det ikke, de talte om de gamle dage.

'Ja, kan du huske,' sagde den gamle sømand, 'den gang vi var ganske små unger og løb og legede, det var netop i den samme gård, hvor vi nu sidder, og vi stak pinde i jorden og gjorde en have.'

'Ja,' sagde den gamle kone, 'det husker jeg godt! og vi vandede pindene, og en af dem var en hyldepind, den satte rod, skød grønne skud og er nu blevet til det store træ, vi gamle mennesker sidder under.'

'Ja vist!' sagde han, 'og derhenne i krogen stod en vandbalje, dér flød mit fartøj, jeg havde selv skåret det, hvor det kunne sejle! men jeg kom rigtignok snart anderledes ud at sejle!'

'Ja, men først gik vi i skole og lærte noget!' sagde hun, 'og så blev vi konfirmeret; vi græd begge to; men om eftermiddagen gik vi hånd i hånd op på Rundetårn og så ud i verden over København og vandet; så gik vi på Frederiksberg, hvor kongen og dronningen i deres prægtige både sejlede om i kanalerne.'

'Men jeg kom rigtignok anderledes til at sejle, og det i mange år, langt bort på de store rejser!'

'Ja, jeg græd tit for dig!' sagde hun, 'jeg troede, du var død og borte og skulle ligge og pjanke dernede i det dybe vand! mangen nat stod jeg op og så om fløjen drejede sig; ja den drejede sig nok, men du kom ikke! jeg husker så tydelig, hvorledes det skyllede ned en dag, skraldemanden kom udenfor, hvor jeg tjente, jeg kom ned med fjerdingen og blev stående ved døren; - hvor det var et fælt vejr! og ligesom jeg stod der, var postbuddet ved siden af mig og gav mig et brev; det var fra dig! ja hvor det havde rejst om! jeg fór lige i det og læste; jeg lo og jeg græd; jeg var så glad! der stod, at du var i de varme lande, hvor kaffebønnerne gror! hvor det må være et velsignet land! du fortalte så meget, og jeg så det alt sammen, mens regnen skyllede ned, og jeg stod med fjerdingen. I det samme var der en, som tog mig om livet -!'

'- Ja, men du gav ham et godt slag på øret, så det klaskede efter.'

'Jeg vidste jo ikke, at det var dig! Du var kommet lige så tidligt som dit brev; og du var så køn! - det er du da endnu, du havde et langt, gult silkelommetørklæde i lommen og en blank hat på; du var så fin. Gud, hvor det dog var et vejr, og hvor gaden så ud!'

'Så blev vi gift!' sagde han, 'husker du? og så da vi fik den første lille dreng og så Marie og Niels og Peter og Hans Christian!'

'Ja, og hvor de alle sammen er vokset op og blevet skikkelige mennesker, hvem alle holder af!'

'Og deres børn igen, de har fået små!' sagde den gamle matros; 'ja det er børnebørns børn, der er krummer i! - det var jo dog, synes mig, på denne tid af året vi holdt bryllup -!'

'Ja, just i dag er det guldbryllupsdagen!' sagde hyldemor og stak hovedet lige ind imellem de to gamle, og de troede, at det var nabokonen, der nikkede; de så på hinanden og holdt hinanden i hænderne; lidt efter kom børn og børnebørn; de vidste godt, at det var guldbryllupsdagen, de havde allerede i morges gratuleret, men det var glemt af de gamle, medens de huskede så godt alt, hvad der var sket for mange år tilbage; og hyldetræet duftede så stærkt og solen, som var ved at gå ned, skinnede de to gamle lige ind i ansigtet; de så begge to så rødmossede ud, og den mindste af børnebørnene dansede rundt om dem og råbte nok så lyksalig, at i aften skulle der være rigtig stads, de skulle have varme kartofler; og hyldemor nikkede i træet og råbte hurra med alle de andre. -"

- "Men det var jo intet eventyr!" sagde den lille dreng, som hørte det fortælle.

"Ja, det må du forstå!" sagde han, som fortalte, "men lad os spørge hyldemor!"

"Det var intet eventyr;" sagde hyldemor, "men nu kommer det! ud af det virkelige vokser just det forunderligste eventyr; ellers kunne jo min dejlige hyldebusk ikke være sprunget ud af tepotten!" og så tog hun den lille dreng ud af sengen, lagde ham ved sit bryst, og hyldegrenene, fulde af blomster, slog sammen omkring dem, de sad, som i det tætteste lysthus, og det fløj med dem igennem luften, det var så mageløst dejligt. Hyldemor var med ét blevet en ung, nydelig pige, men kjolen var endnu af samme grønne, hvidblomstrede tøj, som hyldemor havde båret; på brystet havde hun en virkelig hyldeblomst, og om sit gule, krøllede hår en hel krans af hyldeblomster; hendes øjne var så store, så blå, oh, hun var så velsignet at se på! hun og drengen kyssedes, og så var de i lige alder og af lige lyst.

De gik hånd i hånd ud af løvhytten og stod nu i hjemmets smukke blomsterhave; ved den friske græsplet var faders stok tøjret til en pind; for de små var der liv i stokken; så snart de satte sig skrævs over den, forvandlede sig den blanke knap til et prægtigt vrinskende hoved, den lange sorte manke flagrede, fire slanke, stærke ben skød ud; dyret var stærkt og væligt; i galop fór de rundt om græspletten; hussa! - "Nu rider vi mange mil bort!" sagde drengen; "vi rider til herregården, hvor vi var i fjor!" og de red og red græspletten rundt; og altid råbte den lille pige, der, som vi ved, var ingen anden end hyldemor: "Nu er vi på landet! ser du bondens hus med den store bagerovn, der synes et kæmpestort æg i muren ud mod vejen; hyldetræet hælder sine grene hen over den, og hanen går og skraber for hønsene, se, hvor den bryster sig! - nu er vi ved kirken! den ligger højt på bakken mellem de store egetræer, hvoraf det ene er halvt gået ud! - Nu er vi ved smedjen, hvor ilden brænder, og de halvnøgne mænd slår med hammeren, så gnisterne flyver vidt omkring. Af sted, af sted til den prægtige herregård!" og alt, hvad den lille pige, der sad bag på stokken, sagde, det fløj også forbi; drengen så det, og dog kom de kun græspletten rundt. Så legede de i sidegangen og ridsede i jorden en lille have, og hun tog hyldeblomsten af sit hår, plantede den, og den voksede akkurat ligesom det var sket for de gamle folk i Nyboder den gang de var små, og som der tidligere er fortalt om. De gik hånd i hånd, ligesom de gamle folk havde gjort det som børn, men ikke op på det runde tårn, eller til Frederiksberg Have, nej, den lille pige tog drengen om livet, og så fløj de vidt omkring i hele Danmark, og det var vår og det blev sommer, og det var høst og det blev vinter, og tusinde billeder afspejlede sig i drengens øjne og hjerte, og altid sang den lille pige for ham: "Det vil du aldrig glemme!" og på den hele flugt duftede hyldetræet så sødt og så dejligt; han mærkede vel roserne og de friske bøge, men hyldetræet duftede endnu mere forunderligt, thi dets blomster hang ved den lille piges hjerte, og til det hældede han i flugten tit sit hoved.

"Her er dejligt i våren!" sagde den unge pige, og de stod i den nys udsprungne bøgeskov, hvor den grønne bukkar duftede for deres fødder, og de blegrøde anemoner så så dejlige ud i det grønne. "oh, var det altid vår i den duftende danske bøgeskov!"

"Her er dejligt i sommeren!" sagde hun, og de fór forbi gamle herregårde fra riddertiden, hvor de røde mure og takkede gavle spejlede sig i kanalerne, hvor svanerne svømmede og kiggede op i den gamle kølige alleer. På marken bølgede kornet, ligesom det var en sø, grøfterne stod med røde og gule blomster, gærderne med vild humle og blomstrende konvolvolus; og om aftnen steg månen rund og stor, høstakkene på engene duftede så sødt. "Det glemmes aldrig!"

"Her er dejligt i efteråret!" sagde den lille pige, og luften blev dobbelt så høj og blå, skoven fik de dejligste kulører af rødt, gult og grønt, jagthundene fór af sted, hele skarer fuglevildt fløj skrigende hen over kæmpehøjen, hvor brombærranken hang om de gamle sten; havet var sortblåt med hvide sejlere og i loen sad gamle koner, piger og børn og pillede humle i et stort kar; de unge sang viser, men de gamle fortalte eventyr om nisser og trolde. Bedre kunne der ikke være! "Her er dejligt i vinteren!" sagde den lille pige; og alle træer stod med rimfrost, de så ud som hvide koraller, sneen knirkede under fødderne, som om man altid havde nye støvler på, og fra himlen faldt det ene stjerneskud efter det andet. I stuen tændtes juletræet, der var presenter og godt humør; på landet klang violen i bondens stue, æbleskiver fløj i grams; selv det fattigste barn sagde: "Det er dog dejligt om vinteren!"

Ja, det var dejligt! og den lille pige viste alting til drengen, og altid duftede hyldetræet og altid vajede det røde flag med det hvide kors, flaget, hvorunder den gamle sømand i Nyboder havde sejlet; - og drengen blev knøs, og han skulle ud i den vide verden, langvejs bort til de varme lande, hvor kaffen gror; men i afskeden tog den lille pige en hyldeblomst af sit bryst, gav ham den at gemme og den blev lagt i salmebogen, og altid i fremmed land, når han åbnede bogen, var det just på det sted, hvor erindringsblomsten lå, og jo mere han så på den, des friskere blev den; han ligesom følte en duft fra de danske skove, og tydeligt så han mellem blomsterbladene den lille pige titte frem med sine klare blå øjne, og hun hviskede da: "Her er dejligt i vår, i sommer, i høst og vinter!" og hundrede billeder gled gennem hans tanker.

Således gik mange år, og han var nu en gammel mand og sad med sin gamle kone under et blomstrende træ; de holdt hinanden i hænderne, ligesom oldefader og oldemoder gjorde det ude i Nyboder, og de talte ligesom de om de gamle dage, og om guldbrylluppet; den lille pige med de blå øjne og med hyldeblomsterne i håret sad oppe i træet, nikkede til dem begge to, og sagde: "I dag er det guldbryllupsdag!" og så tog hun to blomster af sin krans, kyssede på dem, og de skinnede først som sølv, så som guld, og da hun lagde dem på de gamle folks hoveder, blev hver blomst til en guldkrone; der sad de begge to som en konge og en dronning, under det duftende træ, der ganske og aldeles så ud som et hyldetræ, og han fortalte sin gamle kone historien om hyldemor, således som den var fortalt ham, da han var en lille dreng, og de syntes begge to, at der var så meget i den, som lignede deres egen, og det der lignede, det syntes de bedst om.

"Ja, sådan er det!" sagde den lille pige i træet, "nogle kalder mig hyldemor, andre kalder mig dryade, men egentlig hedder jeg erindring, det er mig, der sidder i træet, som vokser og vokser, jeg kan huske, jeg kan fortælle! Lad mig se, om du har din blomst, endnu!"

Og den gamle mand åbnede sin salmebog, der lå hyldeblomsten, så frisk, som den nylig var lagt deri, og erindringen nikkede, og de to gamle med guldkrone på sad i den røde aftensol; de lukkede øjnene, og - og -! ja så var eventyret ude!

Den lille dreng lå i sin seng, han vidste ikke, om han havde drømt, eller om han havde hørt det fortælle; tepotten stod på bordet, men der voksede intet hyldetræ ud af den, og den gamle mand, som havde fortalt, var lige ved at gå ud af døren, og det gjorde han.

"Hvor det var dejligt!" sagde den lille dreng. "Moder, jeg har været i de varme lande!"

"Ja, det tror jeg nok!" sagde moderen, "når man får to svingende kopper hyldete til livs, så kommer man nok til de varme lande!" - og hun dækkede godt til om ham, at han ikke skulle forkøle sig. "Du har nok sovet, mens jeg sad og skændtes med ham, om det var en historie eller et eventyr!"

"Og hvor er hyldemor?" spurgte drengen.

"Hun er på tepotten!" sagde moderen, "og der kan hun blive!"

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