The goblin and the huckster


Nissen hos spækhøkeren

There was once a regular student, who lived in a garret, and had no possessions. And there was also a regular huckster, to whom the house belonged, and who occupied the ground floor. A goblin lived with the huckster, because at Christmas he always had a large dish full of jam, with a great piece of butter in the middle. The huckster could afford this; and therefore the goblin remained with the huckster, which was very cunning of him.

One evening the student came into the shop through the back door to buy candles and cheese for himself, he had no one to send, and therefore he came himself; he obtained what he wished, and then the huckster and his wife nodded good evening to him, and she was a woman who could do more than merely nod, for she had usually plenty to say for herself. The student nodded in return as he turned to leave, then suddenly stopped, and began reading the piece of paper in which the cheese was wrapped. It was a leaf torn out of an old book, a book that ought not to have been torn up, for it was full of poetry.

"Yonder lies some more of the same sort," said the huckster: "I gave an old woman a few coffee berries for it; you shall have the rest for sixpence, if you will."

"Indeed I will," said the student; "give me the book instead of the cheese; I can eat my bread and butter without cheese. It would be a sin to tear up a book like this. You are a clever man; and a practical man; but you understand no more about poetry than that cask yonder."

This was a very rude speech, especially against the cask; but the huckster and the student both laughed, for it was only said in fun. But the goblin felt very angry that any man should venture to say such things to a huckster who was a householder and sold the best butter. As soon as it was night, and the shop closed, and every one in bed except the student, the goblin stepped softly into the bedroom where the huckster's wife slept, and took away her tongue, which of course, she did not then want. Whatever object in the room he placed his tongue upon immediately received voice and speech, and was able to express its thoughts and feelings as readily as the lady herself could do. It could only be used by one object at a time, which was a good thing, as a number speaking at once would have caused great confusion. The goblin laid the tongue upon the cask, in which lay a quantity of old newspapers.

"Is it really true," he asked, "that you do not know what poetry is?"

"Of course I know," replied the cask: "poetry is something that always stand in the corner of a newspaper, and is sometimes cut out; and I may venture to affirm that I have more of it in me than the student has, and I am only a poor tub of the huckster's."

Then the goblin placed the tongue on the coffee mill; and how it did go to be sure! Then he put it on the butter tub and the cash box, and they all expressed the same opinion as the waste-paper tub; and a majority must always be respected.

"Now I shall go and tell the student," said the goblin; and with these words he went quietly up the back stairs to the garret where the student lived. He had a candle burning still, and the goblin peeped through the keyhole and saw that he was reading in the torn book, which he had brought out of the shop. But how light the room was! From the book shot forth a ray of light which grew broad and full, like the stem of a tree, from which bright rays spread upward and over the student's head. Each leaf was fresh, and each flower was like a beautiful female head; some with dark and sparkling eyes, and others with eyes that were wonderfully blue and clear. The fruit gleamed like stars, and the room was filled with sounds of beautiful music. The little goblin had never imagined, much less seen or heard of, any sight so glorious as this. He stood still on tiptoe, peeping in, till the light went out in the garret. The student no doubt had blown out his candle and gone to bed; but the little goblin remained standing there nevertheless, and listening to the music which still sounded on, soft and beautiful, a sweet cradle-song for the student, who had lain down to rest.

"This is a wonderful place," said the goblin; "I never expected such a thing. I should like to stay here with the student;" and the little man thought it over, for he was a sensible little spirit. At last he sighed, "but the student has no jam!" So he went down stairs again into the huckster's shop, and it was a good thing he got back when he did, for the cask had almost worn out the lady's tongue; he had given a description of all that he contained on one side, and was just about to turn himself over to the other side to describe what was there, when the goblin entered and restored the tongue to the lady. But from that time forward, the whole shop, from the cash box down to the pinewood logs, formed their opinions from that of the cask; and they all had such confidence in him, and treated him with so much respect, that when the huckster read the criticisms on theatricals and art of an evening, they fancied it must all come from the cask.

But after what he had seen, the goblin could no longer sit and listen quietly to the wisdom and understanding down stairs; so, as soon as the evening light glimmered in the garret, he took courage, for it seemed to him as if the rays of light were strong cables, drawing him up, and obliging him to go and peep through the keyhole; and, while there, a feeling of vastness came over him such as we experience by the ever-moving sea, when the storm breaks forth; and it brought tears into his eyes. He did not himself know why he wept, yet a kind of pleasant feeling mingled with his tears. "How wonderfully glorious it would be to sit with the student under such a tree;" but that was out of the question, he must be content to look through the keyhole, and be thankful for even that.

There he stood on the old landing, with the autumn wind blowing down upon him through the trap-door. It was very cold; but the little creature did not really feel it, till the light in the garret went out, and the tones of music died away. Then how he shivered, and crept down stairs again to his warm corner, where it felt home-like and comfortable. And when Christmas came again, and brought the dish of jam and the great lump of butter, he liked the huckster best of all.

Soon after, in the middle of the night, the goblin was awoke by a terrible noise and knocking against the window shutters and the house doors, and by the sound of the watchman's horn; for a great fire had broken out, and the whole street appeared full of flames. Was it in their house, or a neighbor's? No one could tell, for terror had seized upon all. The huckster's wife was so bewildered that she took her gold ear-rings out of her ears and put them in her pocket, that she might save something at least. The huckster ran to get his business papers, and the servant resolved to save her blue silk mantle, which she had managed to buy. Each wished to keep the best things they had. The goblin had the same wish; for, with one spring, he was up stairs and in the student's room, whom he found standing by the open window, and looking quite calmly at the fire, which was raging at the house of a neighbor opposite. The goblin caught up the wonderful book which lay on the table, and popped it into his red cap, which he held tightly with both hands. The greatest treasure in the house was saved; and he ran away with it to the roof, and seated himself on the chimney. The flames of the burning house opposite illuminated him as he sat, both hands pressed tightly over his cap, in which the treasure lay; and then he found out what feelings really reigned in his heart, and knew exactly which way they tended. And yet, when the fire was extinguished, and the goblin again began to reflect, he hesitated, and said at last, "I must divide myself between the two; I cannot quite give up the huckster, because of the jam."

And this is a representation of human nature. We are like the goblin; we all go to visit the huckster "because of the jam."
Der var en rigtig student, han boede på kvisten og ejede ingenting; der var en rigtig spækhøker, han boede i stuen og ejede hele huset, og ham holdt nissen sig til, for her fik han hver juleaften et fad grød med en stor klump smør i! det kunne spækhøkeren give; og nissen blev i butikken og det var meget lærerigt.

En aften kom studenten ind fra bagdøren for selv at købe sig lys og ost; han havde ingen at sende, og så gik han selv; han fik hvad han forlangte, han betalte det og der blev nikket "god aften" af spækhøkeren og af madammen, og det var en kone, som kunne mere, end nikke, hun havde talegaver! – og studenten nikkede igen og blev så stående midt i læsningen af det blad papir, der var lagt om osten. Det var et blad, revet ud af en gammel bog, der ikke burde rives i stykker, en gammel bog, fuld af poesi.

"Der ligger mere af den!" sagde spækhøkeren, "jeg gav en gammel kone nogle kaffebønner for den; vil De give mig otte skilling, skal De have resten!"

"Tak," sagde studenten, "lad mig få den i stedet for osten! jeg kan spise smørrebrødet bart! syndigt var det, om hele den bog skulle rives i stumper og stykker. De er en prægtig mand, en praktisk mand, men poesi forstår De dem ikke mere på, end den bøtte!"

Og det var uartigt sagt, især mod bøtten, men spækhøkeren lo og studenten lo, det var jo sagt sådan i en slags spøg. Men nissen ærgrede sig, at man turde sige sligt til en spækhøker, der var husvært og solgte det bedste smør.

Da det blev nat, butikken lukket og alle tilsengs, på studenten nær, gik nissen ind og tog madammens mundlæder, det brugte hun ikke når hun sov, og hvor i stuen han satte det på nogensomhelst genstand, der fik den mål og mæle, kunne udtale sine tanker og følelser lige så godt, som madammen, men kun en ad gangen kunne få det, og det var en velgerning, for ellers havde de jo talt hverandre i munden.

Og nissen satte mundlæderet på bøtten, hvori de gamle aviser lå: "Er det virkeligt sandt," spurgte han, "at De ikke ved, hvad poesi er?"

"Jo, det ved jeg," sagde bøtten, "det er sådant noget, som står på nederdelen af aviserne og klippes ud! jeg skulle tro, at jeg har mere af det indeni mig, end studenten, og jeg er kun en ringe bøtte imod spækhøkeren!"

Og nissen satte mundlæderet på kaffemøllen, nej, hvor den gik! og han satte det på smørfjerdingen og pengeskuffen; – alle var de af mening, som bøtten, og hvad de fleste er enige om, det må man respektere.

"Nu skal studenten få!" og så gik nissen ganske sagte ad køkkentrappen op til kvisten, hvor studenten boede. Der var lys derinde, og nissen kiggede gennem nøglehullet og så, at studenten læste i den pjaltede bog nedefra. Men, hvor der var lyst derinde! der stod ud af bogen en klar stråle, der blev til en stamme, til et mægtigt træ, som løftede sig så højt og bredte sine grene vidt ud over studenten. Hvert blad var så friskt og hver blomst var et dejligt pigehoved, nogle med øjne så mørke og strålende, andre så blå og forunderlige klare. Hver frugt var en skinnende stjerne, og så sang og klang det vidunderligt dejligt!

Nej, sådan herlighed havde den lille nisse aldrig tænkt sig, endsige set og fornummet. Og så blev han stående på tåspidserne, kiggede og kiggede, til lyset derinde slukkedes; studenten blæste nok sin lampe ud og gik til sengs, men den lille nisse stod der alligevel, thi sangen klang endnu så blød og dejlig, en yndig vuggevise for studenten, der lagde sig til ro.

"Her er mageløst!" sagde den lille nisse, "det havde jeg ikke ventet! – Jeg tror, at jeg vil blive hos studenten –!" – og han tænkte – og tænkte fornuftigt, og så sukkede han: "Studenten har ingen grød!" – og så gik han – ja, så gik han ned igen til spækhøkeren; – og det var godt han kom, for bøtten havde næsten forbrugt alt madammens mundlæder, ved at udtale fra en led alt hvad den rummede i sig, og nu var den lige i begreb med at vende sig, for at give det samme igen fra den anden led, da nissen kom og tog mundlæderet igen til madammen; men hele butikken, fra pengeskuffen til pindebrændet havde fra den tid mening efter bøtten, og de agtede den i en sådan grad, og tiltroede den så meget, at når spækhøkeren siden efter læste "Kunst- og teateranmeldelser" af sin "Tidende," den om aftnen, så troede de, at det kom fra bøtten.

Men den lille nisse sad ikke længere rolig og lyttede til al den visdom og forstand dernede, nej så snart at lyset skinnede fra kvistkammeret, så var det ligesom om strålerne var stærke ankertove, der drog ham derop, og han måtte af sted og kigge ind af nøglehullet, og der ombruste ham da en storhed, som den vi føler ved det rullende hav, når Gud i stormen går hen over det, og han brast i gråd, han vidste ikke selv, hvorfor han græd, men der var i denne gråd noget så velsignet! – Hvor det måtte være mageløst dejligt, at sidde med studenten under det træ, men det kunne ikke ske, – han var glad ved nøglehullet. Der stod han endnu på den kolde gang, da efterårsvinden blæste ned fra loftslugen og det var så koldt, så koldt, men det følte den lille først, når lyset slukkedes inde på tagkammeret, og tonerne døde hen for vinden. Hu! så frøs han og krøb ned igen i sin lune krog; der var mageligt og behageligt! – Og da julegrøden kom med en stor klump smør, – ja, så var spækhøkeren mester!

Men midt om natten vågnede nissen ved et frygteligt rabalder på vinduesskodderne, folk udenfor dundrede på; vægteren peb, der var stor ildløs; hele gaden stod i lysende lue. Var det her i huset eller hos naboens? Hvor? Det var en forfærdelse! spækhøkermadammen blev så befippet, at hun tog sine guld-ørenringe af ørene og puttede dem i lommen, for dog at redde noget, spækhøkeren løb efter sine obligationer og tjenestepigen efter sin silkemantille, den havde hun råd til; hver ville redde det bedste og det ville også den lille nisse, og i et par spring var han oppe ad trappen og inde hos studenten, som stod ganske rolig ved det åbne vindue og så ud på ilden, der var i genboens gård. Den lille nisse greb på bordet den vidunderlige bog, puttede den i sin røde hue og holdt på den med begge hænder, husets bedste skat var frelst! og så fór han af sted, helt ud på taget, helt op på skorstenen og der sad han belyst af det brændende hus lige overfor og holdt med begge hænder på sin røde hue, hvori skatten lå. Nu kendte han sit hjertelag, hvem han egentlig hørte til; men da så ilden var slukket og han blev besindig, – ja: "jeg vil dele mig imellem dem!" sagde han: "jeg kan ikke rent slippe spækhøkeren for grødens skyld!"

Og det var ganske menneskeligt! – Vi andre går også til spækhøkeren – for grøden.

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