The shadow


In very hot climates, where the heat of the sun has great power, people are usually as brown as mahogany; and in the hottest countries they are negroes, with black skins. A learned man once travelled into one of these warm climates, from the cold regions of the north, and thought he would roam about as he did at home; but he soon had to change his opinion. He found that, like all sensible people, he must remain in the house during the whole day, with every window and door closed, so that it looked as if all in the house were asleep or absent. The houses of the narrow street in which he lived were so lofty that the sun shone upon them from morning till evening, and it became quite unbearable. This learned man from the cold regions was young as well as clever; but it seemed to him as if he were sitting in an oven, and he became quite exhausted and weak, and grew so thin that his shadow shrivelled up, and became much smaller than it had been at home. The sun took away even what was left of it, and he saw nothing of it till the evening, after sunset. It was really a pleasure, as soon as the lights were brought into the room, to see the shadow stretch itself against the wall, even to the ceiling, so tall was it; and it really wanted a good stretch to recover its strength. The learned man would sometimes go out into the balcony to stretch himself also; and as soon as the stars came forth in the clear, beautiful sky, he felt revived. People at this hour began to make their appearance in all the balconies in the street; for in warm climates every window has a balcony, in which they can breathe the fresh evening air, which is very necessary, even to those who are used to a heat that makes them as brown as mahogany; so that the street presented a very lively appearance. Here were shoemakers, and tailors, and all sorts of people sitting. In the street beneath, they brought out tables and chairs, lighted candles by hundreds, talked and sang, and were very merry. There were people walking, carriages driving, and mules trotting along, with their bells on the harness, "tingle, tingle," as they went. Then the dead were carried to the grave with the sound of solemn music, and the tolling of the church bells. It was indeed a scene of varied life in the street. One house only, which was just opposite to the one in which the foreign learned man lived, formed a contrast to all this, for it was quite still; and yet somebody dwelt there, for flowers stood in the balcony, blooming beautifully in the hot sun; and this could not have been unless they had been watered carefully. Therefore some one must be in the house to do this. The doors leading to the balcony were half opened in the evening; and although in the front room all was dark, music could be heard from the interior of the house. The foreign learned man considered this music very delightful; but perhaps he fancied it; for everything in these warm countries pleased him, excepting the heat of the sun. The foreign landlord said he did not know who had taken the opposite house– nobody was to be seen there; and as to the music, he thought it seemed very tedious, to him most uncommonly so.
"It is just as if some one was practising a piece that he could not manage; it is always the same piece. He thinks, I suppose, that he will be able to manage it at last; but I do not think so, however long he may play it."
Once the foreigner woke in the night. He slept with the door open which led to the balcony; the wind had raised the curtain before it, and there appeared a wonderful brightness over all in the balcony of the opposite house. The flowers seemed like flames of the most gorgeous colors, and among the flowers stood a beautiful slender maiden. It was to him as if light streamed from her, and dazzled his eyes; but then he had only just opened them, as he awoke from his sleep. With one spring he was out of bed, and crept softly behind the curtain. But she was gone– the brightness had disappeared; the flowers no longer appeared like flames, although still as beautiful as ever. The door stood ajar, and from an inner room sounded music so sweet and so lovely, that it produced the most enchanting thoughts, and acted on the senses with magic power. Who could live there? Where was the real entrance? for, both in the street and in the lane at the side, the whole ground floor was a continuation of shops; and people could not always be passing through them.
One evening the foreigner sat in the balcony. A light was burning in his own room, just behind him. It was quite natural, therefore, that his shadow should fall on the wall of the opposite house; so that, as he sat amongst the flowers on his balcony, when he moved, his shadow moved also.
"I think my shadow is the only living thing to be seen opposite," said the learned man; "see how pleasantly it sits among the flowers. The door is only ajar; the shadow ought to be clever enough to step in and look about him, and then to come back and tell me what he has seen. You could make yourself useful in this way," said he, jokingly; "be so good as to step in now, will you?" and then he nodded to the shadow, and the shadow nodded in return. "Now go, but don't stay away altogether."
Then the foreigner stood up, and the shadow on the opposite balcony stood up also; the foreigner turned round, the shadow turned; and if any one had observed, they might have seen it go straight into the half-opened door of the opposite balcony, as the learned man re-entered his own room, and let the curtain fall. The next morning he went out to take his coffee and read the newspapers.
"How is this?" he exclaimed, as he stood in the sunshine. "I have lost my shadow. So it really did go away yesterday evening, and it has not returned. This is very annoying."
And it certainly did vex him, not so much because the shadow was gone, but because he knew there was a story of a man without a shadow. All the people at home, in his country, knew this story; and when he returned, and related his own adventures, they would say it was only an imitation; and he had no desire for such things to be said of him. So he decided not to speak of it at all, which was a very sensible determination.
In the evening he went out again on his balcony, taking care to place the light behind him; for he knew that a shadow always wants his master for a screen; but he could not entice him out. He made himself little, and he made himself tall; but there was no shadow, and no shadow came. He said, "Hem, a-hem;" but it was all useless. That was very vexatious; but in warm countries everything grows very quickly; and, after a week had passed, he saw, to his great joy, that a new shadow was growing from his feet, when he walked in the sunshine; so that the root must have remained. After three weeks, he had quite a respectable shadow, which, during his return journey to northern lands, continued to grow, and became at last so large that he might very well have spared half of it. When this learned man arrived at home, he wrote books about the true, the good, and the beautiful, which are to be found in this world; and so days and years passed– many, many years.
One evening, as he sat in his study, a very gentle tap was heard at the door. "Come in," said he; but no one came. He opened the door, and there stood before him a man so remarkably thin that he felt seriously troubled at his appearance. He was, however, very well dressed, and looked like a gentleman. "To whom have I the honor of speaking?" said he.
"Ah, I hoped you would recognize me," said the elegant stranger; "I have gained so much that I have a body of flesh, and clothes to wear. You never expected to see me in such a condition. Do you not recognize your old shadow? Ah, you never expected that I should return to you again. All has been prosperous with me since I was with you last; I have become rich in every way, and, were I inclined to purchase my freedom from service, I could easily do so." And as he spoke he rattled between his fingers a number of costly trinkets which hung to a thick gold watch-chain he wore round his neck. Diamond rings sparkled on his fingers, and it was all real.
"I cannot recover from my astonishment," said the learned man. "What does all this mean?"
"Something rather unusual," said the shadow; "but you are yourself an uncommon man, and you know very well that I have followed in your footsteps ever since your childhood. As soon as you found that I have travelled enough to be trusted alone, I went my own way, and I am now in the most brilliant circumstances. But I felt a kind of longing to see you once more before you die, and I wanted to see this place again, for there is always a clinging to the land of one's birth. I know that you have now another shadow; do I owe you anything? If so, have the goodness to say what it is."
"No! Is it really you?" said the learned man. "Well, this is most remarkable; I never supposed it possible that a man's old shadow could become a human being."
"Just tell me what I owe you," said the shadow, "for I do not like to be in debt to any man."
"How can you talk in that manner?" said the learned man. "What question of debt can there be between us? You are as free as any one. I rejoice exceedingly to hear of your good fortune. Sit down, old friend, and tell me a little of how it happened, and what you saw in the house opposite to me while we were in those hot climates."
"Yes, I will tell you all about it," said the shadow, sitting down; "but then you must promise me never to tell in this city, wherever you may meet me, that I have been your shadow. I am thinking of being married, for I have more than sufficient to support a family."
"Make yourself quite easy," said the learned man; "I will tell no one who you really are. Here is my hand,– I promise, and a word is sufficient between man and man."
"Between man and a shadow," said the shadow; for he could not help saying so.
It was really most remarkable how very much he had become a man in appearance. He was dressed in a suit of the very finest black cloth, polished boots, and an opera crush hat, which could be folded together so that nothing could be seen but the crown and the rim, besides the trinkets, the gold chain, and the diamond rings already spoken of. The shadow was, in fact, very well dressed, and this made a man of him. "Now I will relate to you what you wish to know," said the shadow, placing his foot with the polished leather boot as firmly as possible on the arm of the new shadow of the learned man, which lay at his feet like a poodle dog. This was done, it might be from pride, or perhaps that the new shadow might cling to him, but the prostrate shadow remained quite quiet and at rest, in order that it might listen, for it wanted to know how a shadow could be sent away by its master, and become a man itself. "Do you know," said the shadow, "that in the house opposite to you lived the most glorious creature in the world? It was poetry. I remained there three weeks, and it was more like three thousand years, for I read all that has ever been written in poetry or prose; and I may say, in truth, that I saw and learnt everything."
"Poetry!" exclaimed the learned man. "Yes, she lives as a hermit in great cities. Poetry! Well, I saw her once for a very short moment, while sleep weighed down my eyelids. She flashed upon me from the balcony like the radiant aurora borealis, surrounded with flowers like flames of fire. Tell me, you were on the balcony that evening; you went through the door, and what did you see?"
"I found myself in an ante-room," said the shadow. "You still sat opposite to me, looking into the room. There was no light, or at least it seemed in partial darkness, for the door of a whole suite of rooms stood open, and they were brilliantly lighted. The blaze of light would have killed me, had I approached too near the maiden myself, but I was cautious, and took time, which is what every one ought to do."
"And what didst thou see?" asked the learned man.
"I saw everything, as you shall hear. But– it really is not pride on my part, as a free man and possessing the knowledge that I do, besides my position, not to speak of my wealth– I wish you would say you to me instead of thou."
"I beg your pardon," said the learned man; "it is an old habit, which it is difficult to break. You are quite right; I will try to think of it. But now tell me everything that you saw."
"Everything," said the shadow; "for I saw and know everything."
"What was the appearance of the inner rooms?" asked the scholar. "Was it there like a cool grove, or like a holy temple? Were the chambers like a starry sky seen from the top of a high mountain?"
"It was all that you describe," said the shadow; "but I did not go quite in– I remained in the twilight of the ante-room– but I was in a very good position,– I could see and hear all that was going on in the court of poetry."
"But what did you see? Did the gods of ancient times pass through the rooms? Did old heroes fight their battles over again? Were there lovely children at play, who related their dreams?"
"I tell you I have been there, and therefore you may be sure that I saw everything that was to be seen. If you had gone there, you would not have remained a human being, whereas I became one; and at the same moment I became aware of my inner being, my inborn affinity to the nature of poetry. It is true I did not think much about it while I was with you, but you will remember that I was always much larger at sunrise and sunset, and in the moonlight even more visible than yourself, but I did not then understand my inner existence. In the ante-room it was revealed to me. I became a man; I came out in full maturity. But you had left the warm countries. As a man, I felt ashamed to go about without boots or clothes, and that exterior finish by which man is known. So I went my own way; I can tell you, for you will not put it in a book. I hid myself under the cloak of a cake woman, but she little thought who she concealed. It was not till evening that I ventured out. I ran about the streets in the moonlight. I drew myself up to my full height upon the walls, which tickled my back very pleasantly. I ran here and there, looked through the highest windows into the rooms, and over the roofs. I looked in, and saw what nobody else could see, or indeed ought to see; in fact, it is a bad world, and I would not care to be a man, but that men are of some importance. I saw the most miserable things going on between husbands and wives, parents and children,– sweet, incomparable children. I have seen what no human being has the power of knowing, although they would all be very glad to know– the evil conduct of their neighbors. Had I written a newspaper, how eagerly it would have been read! Instead of which, I wrote directly to the persons themselves, and great alarm arose in all the town I visited. They had so much fear of me, and yet how dearly they loved me. The professor made me a professor. The tailor gave me new clothes; I am well provided for in that way. The overseer of the mint struck coins for me. The women declared that I was handsome, and so I became the man you now see me. And now I must say adieu. Here is my card. I live on the sunny side of the street, and always stay at home in rainy weather." And the shadow departed.
"This is all very remarkable," said the learned man.
Years passed, days and years went by, and the shadow came again. "How are you going on now?" he asked.
"Ah!" said the learned man; "I am writing about the true, the beautiful, and the good; but no one cares to hear anything about it. I am quite in despair, for I take it to heart very much."
"That is what I never do," said the shadow; "I am growing quite fat and stout, which every one ought to be. You do not understand the world; you will make yourself ill about it; you ought to travel; I am going on a journey in the summer, will you go with me? I should like a travelling companion; will you travel with me as my shadow? It would give me great pleasure, and I will pay all expenses."
"Are you going to travel far?" asked the learned man.
"That is a matter of opinion," replied the shadow. "At all events, a journey will do you good, and if you will be my shadow, then all your journey shall be paid."
"It appears to me very absurd," said the learned man.
"But it is the way of the world," replied the shadow, "and always will be." Then he went away.
Everything went wrong with the learned man. Sorrow and trouble pursued him, and what he said about the good, the beautiful, and the true, was of as much value to most people as a nutmeg would be to a cow. At length he fell ill. "You really look like a shadow," people said to him, and then a cold shudder would pass over him, for he had his own thoughts on the subject.
"You really ought to go to some watering-place," said the shadow on his next visit. "There is no other chance for you. I will take you with me, for the sake of old acquaintance. I will pay the expenses of your journey, and you shall write a description of it to amuse us by the way. I should like to go to a watering-place; my beard does not grow as it ought, which is from weakness, and I must have a beard. Now do be sensible and accept my proposal; we shall travel as intimate friends."
And at last they started together. The shadow was master now, and the master became the shadow. They drove together, and rode and walked in company with each other, side by side, or one in front and the other behind, according to the position of the sun. The shadow always knew when to take the place of honor, but the learned man took no notice of it, for he had a good heart, and was exceedingly mild and friendly.
One day the master said to the shadow, "We have grown up together from our childhood, and now that we have become travelling companions, shall we not drink to our good fellowship, and say thee and thou to each other?"
"What you say is very straightforward and kindly meant," said the shadow, who was now really master. "I will be equally kind and straightforward. You are a learned man, and know how wonderful human nature is. There are some men who cannot endure the smell of brown paper; it makes them ill. Others will feel a shuddering sensation to their very marrow, if a nail is scratched on a pane of glass. I myself have a similar kind of feeling when I hear any one say thou to me. I feel crushed by it, as I used to feel in my former position with you. You will perceive that this is a matter of feeling, not pride. I cannot allow you to say thou to me; I will gladly say it to you, and therefore your wish will be half fulfilled." Then the shadow addressed his former master as thou.
"It is going rather too far," said the latter, "that I am to say you when I speak to him, and he is to say thou to me." However, he was obliged to submit.
They arrived at length at the baths, where there were many strangers, and among them a beautiful princess, whose real disease consisted in being too sharp-sighted, which made every one very uneasy. She saw at once that the new comer was very different to every one else. "They say he is here to make his beard grow," she thought; "but I know the real cause, he is unable to cast a shadow." Then she became very curious on the matter, and one day, while on the promenade, she entered into conversation with the strange gentleman. Being a princess, she was not obliged to stand upon much ceremony, so she said to him without hesitation, "Your illness consists in not being able to cast a shadow."
"Your royal highness must be on the high road to recovery from your illness," said he. "I know your complaint arose from being too sharp-sighted, and in this case it has entirely failed. I happen to have a most unusual shadow. Have you not seen a person who is always at my side? Persons often give their servants finer cloth for their liveries than for their own clothes, and so I have dressed out my shadow like a man; nay, you may observe that I have even given him a shadow of his own; it is rather expensive, but I like to have things about me that are peculiar."
"How is this?" thought the princess; "am I really cured? This must be the best watering-place in existence. Water in our times has certainly wonderful power. But I will not leave this place yet, just as it begins to be amusing. This foreign prince– for he must be a prince– pleases me above all things. I only hope his beard won't grow, or he will leave at once."
In the evening, the princess and the shadow danced together in the large assembly rooms. She was light, but he was lighter still; she had never seen such a dancer before. She told him from what country she had come, and found he knew it and had been there, but not while she was at home. He had looked into the windows of her father's palace, both the upper and the lower windows; he had seen many things, and could therefore answer the princess, and make allusions which quite astonished her. She thought he must be the cleverest man in all the world, and felt the greatest respect for his knowledge. When she danced with him again she fell in love with him, which the shadow quickly discovered, for she had with her eyes looked him through and through. They danced once more, and she was nearly telling him, but she had some discretion; she thought of her country, her kingdom, and the number of people over whom she would one day have to rule. "He is a clever man," she thought to herself, "which is a good thing, and he dances admirably, which is also good. But has he well-grounded knowledge? that is an important question, and I must try him." Then she asked him a most difficult question, she herself could not have answered it, and the shadow made a most unaccountable grimace.
"You cannot answer that," said the princess.
"I learnt something about it in my childhood," he replied; "and believe that even my very shadow, standing over there by the door, could answer it."
"Your shadow," said the princess; "indeed that would be very remarkable."
"I do not say so positively," observed the shadow; "but I am inclined to believe that he can do so. He has followed me for so many years, and has heard so much from me, that I think it is very likely. But your royal highness must allow me to observe, that he is very proud of being considered a man, and to put him in a good humor, so that he may answer correctly, he must be treated as a man."
"I shall be very pleased to do so," said the princess. So she walked up to the learned man, who stood in the doorway, and spoke to him of the sun, and the moon, of the green forests, and of people near home and far off; and the learned man conversed with her pleasantly and sensibly.
"What a wonderful man he must be, to have such a clever shadow!" thought she. "If I were to choose him it would be a real blessing to my country and my subjects, and I will do it." So the princess and the shadow were soon engaged to each other, but no one was to be told a word about it, till she returned to her kingdom.
"No one shall know," said the shadow; "not even my own shadow;" and he had very particular reasons for saying so.
After a time, the princess returned to the land over which she reigned, and the shadow accompanied her.
"Listen my friend," said the shadow to the learned man; "now that I am as fortunate and as powerful as any man can be, I will do something unusually good for you. You shall live in my palace, drive with me in the royal carriage, and have a hundred thousand dollars a year; but you must allow every one to call you a shadow, and never venture to say that you have been a man. And once a year, when I sit in my balcony in the sunshine, you must lie at my feet as becomes a shadow to do; for I must tell you I am going to marry the princess, and our wedding will take place this evening."
"Now, really, this is too ridiculous," said the learned man. "I cannot, and will not, submit to such folly. It would be cheating the whole country, and the princess also. I will disclose everything, and say that I am the man, and that you are only a shadow dressed up in men's clothes."
"No one would believe you," said the shadow; "be reasonable, now, or I will call the guards."
"I will go straight to the princess," said the learned man.
"But I shall be there first," replied the shadow, "and you will be sent to prison." And so it turned out, for the guards readily obeyed him, as they knew he was going to marry the king's daughter.
"You tremble," said the princess, when the shadow appeared before her. "Has anything happened? You must not be ill to-day, for this evening our wedding will take place."
"I have gone through the most terrible affair that could possibly happen," said the shadow; "only imagine, my shadow has gone mad; I suppose such a poor, shallow brain, could not bear much; he fancies that he has become a real man, and that I am his shadow."
"How very terrible," cried the princess; "is he locked up?"
"Oh yes, certainly; for I fear he will never recover."
"Poor shadow!" said the princess; "it is very unfortunate for him; it would really be a good deed to free him from his frail existence; and, indeed, when I think how often people take the part of the lower class against the higher, in these days, it would be policy to put him out of the way quietly."
"It is certainly rather hard upon him, for he was a faithful servant," said the shadow; and he pretended to sigh.
"Yours is a noble character," said the princess, and bowed herself before him.
In the evening the whole town was illuminated, and cannons fired "boom," and the soldiers presented arms. It was indeed a grand wedding. The princess and the shadow stepped out on the balcony to show themselves, and to receive one cheer more. But the learned man heard nothing of all these festivities, for he had already been executed.
I de hede lande, der kan rigtignok solen brænde! Folk blive ganske mahognibrune; ja i de allerhedeste lande brændes de til negre, men det var nu kun til de hede lande, en lærd mand var kommet fra de kolde; der troede han nu at han kunne løbe om, ligesom derhjemme, jo det blev han snart vænnet fra. Han og alle fornuftige folk måtte blive inde, vinduesskodder og døre forblev lukkede den hele dag; det så ud som hele huset sov eller der var ingen hjemme. Den smalle gade med de høje huse, hvor han boede, var nu også bygget således at solskinnet fra morgen til aften måtte ligge der, det var virkeligt ikke til at holde ud! – Den lærde mand fra de kolde lande, det var en ung mand, en klog mand, han syntes, han sad i en gloende ovn; det tog på ham, han blev ganske mager, selv hans skygge krøb ind, den blev meget mindre end hjemme, solen tog også på den. – De levede først op om aftnen, når solen var nede.
Det var ordentlig en fornøjelse at se på; så snart lyset blev bragt ind i stuen, strakte skyggen sig helt op ad væggen, ja sågar hen ad loftet, så lang gjorde den sig, den måtte strække sig for at komme til kræfter. Den lærde gik ud på altanen, for at strække sig der, og alt som stjernerne kom frem i den dejlige klare luft, var det for ham, som kom han til live igen. På alle altaner i gaden, og i de varme lande har hvert vindue en altan, kom folk frem, for luft må man have, selv om man er vant til at være mahogni! Der blev så levende oppe og nede. Skomagere og skræddere, alle folk flyttede ud på gaden, der kom bord og stol, og lyset brændte, ja over tusind lys brændte, og den ene talte og den anden sang, og folk spadserede, vognene kørte, æslerne gik: klingelingeling! de har klokker på; der blev lig begravet med salmesang, gadedrengene skød med troldkællinger, og kirkeklokkerne ringede, jo der var rigtignok levende nede i gaden. Kun i det ene hus, som lå lige over for hvor den fremmede lærde mand boede, var der ganske stille; og dog boede der nogen, for der stod på altanen blomster, de groede så dejligt i den solhede, og det kunne de ikke, uden at de blev vandet, og nogen måtte jo vande dem; folk måtte der være. Døren derovre kom også halv op ud på aftnen, men der var mørkt derinde, i det mindste i det forreste værelse, dybere inde fra lød musik. Den fremmede lærde mand syntes, den var ganske mageløs, men det kunne nu også gerne være at han kun bildte sig det ind, for han fandt alting mageløst derude i de varme lande, når der kun ingen sol havde været. Den fremmedes vært sagde at han ikke vidste, hvem der havde lejet genboens hus, man så jo ingen folk og hvad musikken angik, syntes han, at den var gruelig kedelig. "Det er ligesom om en sad og øvede sig på et stykke, han ikke kan komme ud af, altid det samme stykke. 'Jeg får det dog ud!' siger han nok, men han får det dog ikke ud hvor længe han spiller."
En nat vågnede den fremmede, han sov for åben altandør, gardinet foran den løftede sig i vinden, og han syntes at der kom en forunderlig glans fra genboens altan, alle blomsterne skinnede som flammer, i de dejligste farver, og midt imellem blomsterne stod en slank, yndig jomfru, det var som om også hun lyste; det skar ham virkeligt i øjnene, han lukkede dem nu også så forfærdelig meget op og kom lige af søvnen; i et spring var han på gulvet, ganske sagte kom han bag gardinet, men jomfruen var borte, glansen var borte; blomsterne skinnede slet ikke, men stod meget godt, som altid; døren var på klem, og dybt inde klang musikken så blød og dejlig, man kunne ordentlig falde hen i søde tanker derved. Det var dog ligesom en trolddom og hvem boede der? Hvor var den egentlige indgang? Hele stueetagen var butik ved butik, og der kunne folk jo dog ikke altid løbe igennem.
En aften sad den fremmede ude på sin altan, inde i stuen bag ved ham brændte lyset, og så var det jo ganske naturligt at skyggen af ham gik over på genboens væg; ja der sad den lige overfor mellem blomsterne på altanen; og når den fremmede rørte sig, så rørte skyggen sig også, for det gør den. –
"Jeg tror min skygge er det eneste levende, man ser derovre!" sagde den lærde mand. "Se hvor net den sidder mellem blomsterne, døren står på klem, nu skulle skyggen være så snild og gå indenfor, se sig om, og så komme og fortælle mig hvad den havde set! ja du skulle gøre gavn!" sagde han i spøg! "Vær så god at træde indenfor! nå! går du?" og så nikkede han til skyggen og skyggen nikkede igen. "Ja så gå, men bliv ikke borte!" og den fremmede rejste sig og hans skygge ovre på genboens altan rejste sig også; og den fremmede drejede sig og skyggen drejede sig også; ja dersom nogen ordentligt havde lagt mærke dertil, da havde de tydeligt kunnet se, at skyggen gik ind af den halvåbne altandør hos genboen, lige idet den fremmede gik ind i sin stue og lod det lange gardin falde ned efter sig.
Næste morgen gik den lærde mand ud for at drikke kaffe og læse aviser. "Hvad er det?" sagde han, da han kom ud i solskinnet, "jeg har jo ingen skygge! så er den virkelig gået i aftes og ikke kommet igen; det er noget kedeligt noget!"
Og det ærgrede ham, men ikke så meget fordi at skyggen var borte, men fordi han vidste, at der var en historie tíl om en mand uden skygge, den kendte jo alle folk hjemme i de kolde lande, og kom nu den lærde mand der og fortalte sin, så ville de sige, at han gik og lignede efter, og det behøvede han ikke. Han ville derfor slet ikke tale derom, og det var fornuftigt tænkt.
Om aftnen gik han ud på sin altan igen, lyset havde han meget rigtig sat bag ved sig, for han vidste at skyggen vil altid have sin herre til skærm, men han kunne ikke lokke den; han gjorde sig lille, han gjorde sig stor, men der var ingen skygge, der kom ingen! Han sagde: hm! hm! men det hjalp ikke.
Ærgerligt var det, men i de varme lande der vokser nu alting så gesvindt, og efter otte dages forløb mærkede han, til sin store fornøjelse, at der voksede ham en ny skygge ud fra benene, når han kom i solskin, roden måtte været blevet siddende. Efter tre uger havde han en ganske tålelig skygge, der, da han begav sig hjem til de nordlige lande, voksede på rejsen mere og mere, så at den til sidst var så lang og så stor at det halve var nok.
Så kom den lærde mand hjem og han skrev bøger om hvad der var sandt i verden, og om hvad der var godt og hvad der var smukt, og der gik dage og der gik år; der gik mange år.
Da sidder han en aften i sin stue og så banker det ganske sagte på døren.
"Kom ind!" siger han, men der kom ingen; så lukker han op og der stod for ham sådan et overordentligt magert menneske, så han blev ganske underlig. Forresten var mennesket særdeles fint klædt på, det måtte være en fornem mand.
"Hvem har jeg den ære at tale med?" spurgte den lærde.
"Ja det tænkte jeg nok!" sagde den fine mand, "at De ikke kendte mig! jeg er blevet så meget legeme, jeg har ordentlig fået kød og klæder. De har nok aldrig tænkt at se mig i sådan en velmagt. Kender De ikke Deres gamle skygge? Ja De har vist ikke troet at jeg mere kom igen. Mig er det gået særdeles vel siden jeg sidst var hos Dem, jeg er i alle henseender blevet meget formuende! skal jeg købe mig fri fra tjenesten, så kan jeg!" og så raslede han med et helt bundt kostbare signeter, som hang ved uret, og han stak sin hånd ind i den tykke guldkæde, han bar om halsen; nej hvor alle fingrene glimrede med diamants ringe! og det var altsammen virkeligt.
"Nej, jeg kan ikke komme til mig selv!" sagde den lærde mand, "hvad er dog alt det!"
"Ja noget almindeligt er det ikke!" sagde skyggen, "men De selv hører jo heller ikke til det almindelige, og jeg, det ved De nok, har fra barnsben trådt i Deres fodspor. Så snart De fandt, jeg var moden til at gå alene ud i verden, gik jeg min egen vej; jeg er i de allerbrillanteste omstændigheder, men der kom en slags længsel over mig efter engang at se Dem før De dør, De skal jo dø! jeg ville også gerne gense disse lande, for man holder dog altid af fædrelandet! – Jeg ved De har fået en anden skygge igen, har jeg noget at betale til den eller Dem? De vil bare være så god at sige det."
"Nej, er det virkelig dig!" sagde den lærde mand, "det er dog højst mærkværdig! aldrig havde jeg troet at ens gamle skygge kunne komme igen som menneske!"
"Sig mig hvad jeg har at betale!" sagde skyggen, "for jeg vil nødig stå i nogen slags gæld!"
"Hvor kan du tale således!" sagde den lærde mand. "Hvad gæld er her at snakke om! vær så fri, som nogen! jeg glæder mig overordentlig ved din lykke! sid ned, gamle ven og fortæl mig bare lidt om hvorledes det er gået til, og hvad du så ovre hos genboens, der i de varme lande!" –
"Ja, det skal jeg fortælle Dem," sagde skyggen og satte sig ned, "men så må De også love mig, at De aldrig til nogen her i byen, hvor De endogså træffer mig, siger at jeg har været Deres skygge! jeg har i sinde at forlove mig; jeg kan føde mere end én familie!" –
"Vær ganske rolig!" sagde den lærde mand, "jeg skal ikke sige nogen hvem du egentlig er! her er min hånd! jeg lover det og en mand et ord!"
"Et ord en skygge!" sagde skyggen, og således måtte den jo tale.
Det var ellers virkelig ganske mærkværdigt hvor meget menneske den var; ganske sortklædt var den og i det allerfineste sorte klæde, lakerede støvler, og hat der kunne smække sammen, så at den blev bar pul og skygge, ikke at tale om hvad vi allerede ved her var, signeter, guldhalskæde og diamantringe; jo, skyggen var overordentlig godt klædt på, og det var just det, som gjorde at den var ganske et menneske.
"Nu skal jeg fortælle!" sagde skyggen, og så satte den sine ben med de lakerede støvler så hårdt, den kunne, ned på ærmet af den lærde mands nye skygge, der lå som en puddelhund ved hans fødder, og det var nu enten af hovmod eller måske for at få den til at hænge ved; og den liggende skygge, holdt sig så stille og rolig, for ret at høre efter; den ville nok vide hvorledes man således kunne komme løs og tjene sig op til sin egen herre.
"Ved De, hvem der boede i genboens hus?" sagde skyggen, "det var den dejligste af alle, det var poesien! jeg var der i tre uger og det er lige så virkende, som om man levede i tre tusind år og læste alt hvad der var digtet og skrevet, for det siger jeg og det er rigtigt. Jeg har set alt og jeg ved alt!"
"Poesien!" råbte den lærde mand! "ja, ja – hun er tit eremit i de store byer! Poesien! ja jeg har set hende et eneste kort øjeblik, men søvnen sad mig i øjnene! hun stod på altanen og skinnede som nordlyset skinner! Fortæl, fortæl! Du var på altanen, du gik ind ad døren og så -!"
"Så var jeg i forgemakket!" sagde skyggen. "De har altid siddet og set over til forgemakket. Der var slet intet lys, der var en slags tusmørke, men den ene dør stod åben ligefor den anden i en lang række stuer og sale; og der var lyst op, jeg var rent blevet slået ihjel af lys, var jeg kommet helt ind til jomfruen; men jeg var besindig, jeg gav mig tid og det skal man gøre!"
"Og hvad så du så?" spurgte den lærde mand.
"Jeg så alting, og jeg skal fortælle Dem det, men, – det er slet ingen stolthed af mig, men – som fri og med de kundskaber jeg har, ikke at tale om min gode stilling, mine fortræffelige omstændigheder, – så ønskede jeg gerne at De ville sige De til mig!"
"Om forladelse!" sagde den lærde mand, "det er gammel vane, som sidder fast! – De har fuldkommen ret! og jeg skal huske det! men nu fortæller De mig alt hvad De så!"
"Alting!" sagde skyggen, "for jeg så alt og jeg ved alt!"
"Hvorledes så der ud i de inderste sale?" spurgte den lærde mand. "Var der som i den friske skov? Var der som i en hellig kirke? Var salene som den stjerneklare himmel, når man står på de høje bjerge?"
"Alting var der!" sagde skyggen. "Jeg gik jo ikke ganske helt ind, jeg blev i det forreste værelse i tusmørket, men der stod jeg særdeles godt, jeg så alting og jeg ved alting! Jeg har været ved poesiens hof, i forgemakket."
"Men hvad så De? Gik gennem de store sale alle oldtidens guder? Kæmpede dér de gamle helte? Legede søde børn og fortalte deres drømme?"
"Jeg siger Dem, jeg var der og De begriber, jeg så alting, hvad der var at se! havde De kommet derover, var De ikke blevet menneske, men det blev jeg! og tillige lærte jeg at kende min inderste natur, mit medfødte, det familieskab, jeg havde med poesien. Ja den gang jeg var hos Dem, tænkte jeg ikke over det, men altid, De ved det, når sol gik op og sol gik ned, blev jeg så underlig stor; i måneskin var jeg næsten ved at være tydeligere end De selv; jeg forstod ikke den gang min natur, i forgemakket gik det op for mig! jeg blev menneske! – Moden kom jeg ud, men De var ikke længere i de varme lande; jeg skammede mig som menneske ved at gå som jeg gik, jeg trængte til støvler, til klæder, til hele denne menneskefernis, som gør et menneske kendeligt. – Jeg tog vej, ja, Dem siger jeg det, De sætter det jo ikke i nogen bog, jeg tog vej til kagekonens skørt, under det skjulte jeg mig; konen tænkte ikke på hvor meget hun gemte; først om aftnen gik jeg ud; jeg løb om i måneskinnet på gaden; jeg gjorde mig lang op ad muren, det kilder så dejligt i ryggen! jeg løb op og jeg løb ned, kiggede ind af de højeste vinduer, ind i salen og på taget, jeg kiggede hvor ingen kunne kigge og jeg så hvad ingen andre så, hvad ingen skulle se! Det er i grunden en nedrig verden! jeg ville ikke være menneske, dersom det nu ikke engang var antaget at det var noget at være det! Jeg så det allerutænkeligste hos konerne, hos mændene, hos forældrene og hos de søde mageløse børn; – jeg så," sagde skyggen, "hvad ingen mennesker måtte vide, men hvad de alle sammen så gerne ville vide, ondt hos naboen. – Havde jeg skrevet en avis, den var blevet læst! men jeg skrev lige til personen selv, og der blev en forfærdelse i alle byer hvor jeg kom. De blev så bange for mig! og de holdt så overordentlig af mig. Professorerne gjorde mig til professor, skrædderne gav mig ny klæder, jeg er godt forsynet; møntmesteren slog mønt for mig, og konerne sagde, jeg var så køn! – og så blev jeg den mand jeg er! og nu siger jeg farvel; her er mit kort, jeg bor på solsiden og er altid hjemme i regnvejr!" og så gik skyggen.
"Det var dog mærkeligt!" sagde den lærde mand.
År og dag gik, så kom skyggen igen.
"Hvorledes går det?" spurgte den.
"Ak!" sagde den lærde mand, "jeg skriver om det sande og det gode og det skønne, men ingen bryder sig om at høre sligt, jeg er ganske fortvivlet, for jeg tager mig det så nær!"
"Men det gør jeg ikke!" sagde skyggen, "jeg bliver fed, og det er det man skal se at blive! ja De forstår Dem ikke på verden. De bliver dårlig ved det. De må rejse! jeg gør en rejse til sommer; vil De med? Jeg gad nok have en rejsekammerat! vil De rejse med, som skygge? Det skal være mig en stor fornøjelse at have Dem med, jeg betaler rejsen!"
"Det går vel vidt!" sagde den lærde mand.
"Det er ligesom man tager det!" sagde skyggen. "De vil have grumme godt af at rejse! vil De være min skygge så skal De få alting frit på rejsen!"
"Det er for galt!" sagde den lærde mand.
"Men sådan er nu verden!" sagde skyggen, "og således bliver den!" og så gik skyggen.
Den lærde mand havde det slet ikke godt, sorg og plage fulgte ham, og hvad han talte om det sande og det gode og det skønne, det var for de fleste ligesom roser for en ko! – han var ganske syg til sidst.
"De ser virkelig ud ligesom en skygge!" sagde folk til ham, og det gøs i den lærde mand, for han tænkte ved det.
"De skal tage til et bad!" sagde skyggen, som kom og besøgte ham, "der er ikke andet for! jeg vil tage Dem med for gammelt bekendtskabs skyld, jeg betaler rejsen og De gør beskrivelsen og er sådan lidt morsom for mig på vejen! jeg vil til et bad, mit skæg gror ikke ud som det skulle, der er også en sygdom, og skæg må man have! Vær De nu fornuftig og tag imod tilbuddet, vi rejser jo som kammerater!"
Og så rejste de; skyggen var da herre og herren var da skygge; de kørte med hinanden, de red og gik sammen, side ved side, forud og bag efter, således som solen stod; skyggen vidste altid at holde sig på herrepladsen; og det tænkte den lærde mand nu ikke sådan over; han var et meget godt hjerte, og særdeles mild og venlig, og da sagde han en dag til skyggen: "Da vi nu således er blevet rejsekammerater, som vi er det og vi tillige er vokset op fra barndommen sammen, skal vi så ikke drikke dus, det er dog mere fortroligt!"
"De siger noget!" sagde skyggen, som jo nu var den egentlige herre. "Det er meget ligefremt og velment sagt, jeg vil være lige så velmenende og ligefrem. De, som en lærd mand, ved vistnok hvor underlig naturen er. Somme mennesker kan ikke tåle at røre ved gråt papir, så får de ondt; andre går det gennem alle lemmer, når man lader et søm gnide mod en glasrude; jeg har ligesådan en følelse ved at høre Dem sige du til mig, jeg føler mig ligesom trykket til jorden i min første stilling hos Dem. De ser at det er en følelse, det er ikke stolthed; jeg kan ikke lade Dem sige du til mig, men jeg skal gerne sige du til Dem, så er det halve gjort!"
Og så sagde skyggen du til sin forrige herre.
"Det er dog vel galt," tænkte han, "at jeg må sige De og han sige du," men nu måtte han holde ud.
Så kom de til et bad, hvor der var mange fremmede og imellem disse en dejlig kongedatter, som havde den sygdom at hun så alt for godt og det var nu så ængsteligt.
Ligestraks mærkede hun at han, der var kommet, var en ganske anden person end alle de andre; "han er her for at få sit skæg til at vokse, siger man, men jeg ser den rette årsag, han kan ikke kaste skygge."
Nysgerrig var hun blevet; og så gav hun sig straks på spadsereturen i tale med den fremmede herre. Som en kongedatter behøvede hun ikke at gøre mange omstændigheder, og så sagde hun, "Deres sygdom er at De ikke kan kaste skygge."
"Deres Kongelige Højhed må være betydelig i bedring!" sagde skyggen, "jeg ved, Deres onde er at De ser alt for godt, men det har tabt sig, De er helbredt, jeg har just en ganske usædvanlig skygge! Ser De ikke den person, som altid går med mig! Andre mennesker har en almindelig skygge, men jeg holder ikke af det almindelige. Man giver tit sin tjener finere klæde i liberiet end man selv bruger, og således har jeg ladet min skygge pudse op til menneske! ja, De ser, at jeg endogså har givet ham en skygge. Det er meget kostbart, men jeg holder af have noget for mig selv!" –
"Hvad?" tænkte prinsessen, "skulle jeg virkelig være kommet mig! Dette bad er det første der er til! Vandet har i vor tid ganske forunderlige kræfter. Men jeg tager ikke bort, for nu bliver her morsomt; den fremmede synes jeg overordentligt om. Bare hans skæg ikke vokser, for så rejser han!"
Om aftnen i den store balsal dansede kongedatteren og skyggen. Hun var let, men han var endnu lettere, sådan en danser havde hun aldrig haft. Hun sagde ham fra hvad land hun var, og han kendte landet, han havde været der, men da var hun ikke hjemme, han havde kigget ind af vinduerne foroven og forneden, han havde set både det ene og det andet, og så kunne han svare kongedatteren og gøre antydninger, så hun blev ganske forundret; han måtte være den viseste mand på hele jorden! hun fik sådan en agtelse for hvad han vidste, og da de så dansede igen, så blev hun forlibt, og det kunne skyggen godt mærke, for hun var færdig at se lige igennem ham. Så dansede de nok engang og så var hun lige ved at sige det, men hun var besindig, hun tænkte på sit land og rige og på de mange mennesker, hun skulle regere over. "En vís mand er han," sagde hun til sig selv, "det er godt! og dejligt danser han, det er også godt, men mon han har grundige kundskaber, det er lige så vigtigt! han må eksamineres." Og så begyndte hun så småt at spørge ham om noget af det allervanskeligste, hun kunne ikke selv have svaret på det; og skyggen gjorde et ganske underligt ansigt.
"Det kan De ikke svare på!" sagde kongedatteren.
"Det hører til min børnelærdom," sagde skyggen, "jeg tror sågar min skygge der henne ved døren kan svare derpå!"
"Deres skygge!" sagde kongedatteren, "det ville være højst mærkeligt!"
"Ja, jeg siger ikke bestemt at han kan!" sagde skyggen, "men jeg skulle tro det, han har nu i så mange år fulgt mig, og hørt efter, – jeg skulle tro det! men Deres Kongelige Højhed tillader, at jeg gør Dem opmærksom på, at han har så megen stolthed af at gå for et menneske, at når han skal være i rigtig humør, og det må han være for at svare godt, så må han behandles ganske som et menneske."
"Det kan jeg godt lide!" sagde kongedatteren.
Og så gik hun hen til den lærde mand ved døren, og hun talte med ham om sol og måne, og om menneskene både uden på og inden i og han svarede så klogt og godt.
"Hvad det må være for en mand, der har så vís en skygge!" tænkte hun, "det vil være en ren velsignelse for mit folk og rige om jeg valgte ham til min gemal; – jeg gør det!"
Og de var snart enige, både kongedatteren og skyggen, men ingen skulle vide derom før hun kom hjem i sit eget rige.
"Ingen, ikke engang min skygge!" sagde skyggen, og det havde han nu sådan sine egne tanker ved! –
Så var de i landet hvor kongedatteren regerede når hun var hjemme.
"Hør min gode ven!" sagde skyggen til den lærde mand, "nu er jeg blevet så lykkelig og mægtig, som nogen kan blive, nu vil jeg også gøre noget særdeles for dig! du skal altid bo hos mig på slottet, køre med mig i min kongelige vogn og have hundrede tusinde rigsdaler om året; men så må du lade dig kalde skygge af alle og enhver; du må ikke sige at du har nogensinde været menneske og engang om året, når jeg sidder på altanen i solskin og lader mig se, må du ligge ved mine fødder, som en skygge skal! jeg skal sige dig, jeg gifter kongedatteren, i aften skal brylluppet holdes."
"Nej det er dog alt for galt!" sagde den lærde mand, "det vil jeg ikke, det gør jeg ikke! det er at bedrage hele landet og kongedatteren med! Jeg siger alting! at jeg er mennesket, og at du er skyggen, du er bare klædt på!"
"Det er der ingen som tror!" sagde skyggen, "vær fornuftig, eller jeg kalder på vagten!" –
"Jeg går lige til kongedatteren!" sagde den lærde mand. "Men jeg går først!" sagde skyggen, "og du går i arrest!" – og det måtte han, for skildvagterne de lystrede ham, som de vidste kongedatteren ville have.
"Du ryster!" sagde kongedatteren, da skyggen kom ind til hende, "er der sket noget? Du må ikke blive syg til i aften, nu vi skal have bryllup."
"Jeg har oplevet det grueligste, der kan opleves!" sagde skyggen, "tænk dig – ja, sådan en stakkels skyggehjerne kan ikke holde meget ud! – Tænk dig, min skygge er blevet gal, han tror at han er mennesket og at jeg – tænk dig bare, – at jeg er hans skygge!"
"Det er frygteligt!" sagde prinsessen, "han er dog spærret inde?"
"Det er han! Jeg er bange han kommer sig aldrig."
"Stakkels skygge!" sagde prinsessen, "han er meget ulykkelig; det er en sand velgerning at fri ham fra den smule liv han har, og når jeg rigtig tænker over det, så tror jeg det bliver nødvendigt at det bliver gjort af med ham i al stilhed!"
"Det er rigtignok hårdt!" sagde skyggen, "for det var en tro tjener!" og så gav han ligesom et suk.
"De er en ædel karakter!" sagde kongedatteren.
Om aftnen var hele byen illumineret, og kanonerne gik af: bum! og soldaterne præsenterede gevær. Det var et bryllup! Kongedatteren og skyggen gik ud på altanen for at lade sig se og få nok en gang hurra!
Den lærde mand hørte ikke noget til alt det, for ham havde de taget livet af.