安徒生童话:柳树下的梦

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所属分类:民间故事

却格附近一带是一片荒凉的地区。这个小城市是在海岸的近旁——这永远要算是一个美丽的位置。要不是因为周围全是平淡无奇的田野,而且离开森林很远,它可能还要更可爱一点。但是,当你在一个地方真正住惯了的时候,你总会发现某些可爱的东西,你就是住在世界上别的最可爱的地方,你也会怀恋它的。我们还得承认:在这个小城的外围,在一条流向大海的小溪的两岸,有几个简陋的小花园,这儿,夏天的风景是很美丽的。这是两个小邻居,克努得和约翰妮的感觉。他们在那儿一起玩耍!他们穿过醋栗丛来彼此相会。

在这样的一个小花园里,长着一棵接骨木树;在另一个小花园里长着一棵老柳树。这两个小孩子特别喜欢在这株柳树下面玩耍;他们也得到了许可到这儿来玩耍。尽管这树长在溪流的近旁,很容易使他们落到水里去。不过上帝的眼睛在留神着他们,否则他们就可能出乱子。此外,他们自己是非常谨慎的。事实上,那个男孩子是一个非常怕水的懦夫,在夏天谁也没有办法劝他走下海去,虽然别的孩子很喜欢到浪花上去嬉戏。囟此他成了一个被别人讥笑的对象;他也只好忍受。不过有一次邻家的那个小小的约翰妮做了一个梦,梦见她自己驾着一只船在却格湾行驶。克努得涉水向她走来,水淹到他的颈上,最后淹没了他的头顶。自从克努得昕到了这个梦的时候起,他就再也不能忍受别人把他称为怕水的懦夫。他常常提起约翰妮所做的那个梦——这是他的一件很得意的事情,但是他却不走下水去。

他们的父母都是穷苦的人,经常互相拜访。

克努得和约翰妮在花园里和公路上玩耍。公路上沿着水沟长着一排柳树。柳树并不漂亮,因为它们的顶都剪秃了;不过它们栽在那儿并不是为了装饰,而是为了实际的用处。花园里的那棵老柳树要漂亮得多,因此他们常常喜欢坐在它的下面。

却格城里有一个大市场。在赶集的日子,整条街都布满了篷摊,出卖缎带、靴子和人们所想要买的一切东西。来的人总是拥挤不堪,天气经常总是在下雨。这时你就可以闻到农人衣服上所发出来的一股气味,但是你也可以闻到蜜糕和姜饼的香气——有一个篷摊子摆满了这些东西。最可爱的事情是:每年在赶集的季节,卖这些蜜糕的那个人就来寄住在小克努得的父亲家里。因此,他们自然能尝得到一点姜饼,当然小约翰妮也能分吃到一点。不过最妙的事情是,那个卖姜饼的人还会讲故事:他可以讲关于任何一件东西的故事,甚至于关于他的姜饼的故事。有一天晚上他就讲了一个关于姜饼的故事。这故事给了孩子们一个很深刻的印象,他们永远忘记不了。因为这个缘故,我想我们最好也听听它,尤其是因为这个故事并不太长。

他说:“柜台上放着两块姜饼。有一块是一个男子的形状,戴一顶礼帽;另一块是一个小姑娘,没有戴帽子,但是戴着一片金叶子。他们的脸都是在饼子朝上的那一面,好使人们一眼就能看清楚,不至于弄错。的确,谁也不会从反面去看他们的。男子的左边有一颗味苦的杏仁——这就是他的心;相反地,姑娘的全身都是姜饼。他们被放在柜台上作为样品。他们在那上面呆了很久,最后他们两个人就发生了爱情,佴是谁也不说出口来。如果他们想得到一个什么结果的话,他们就应该说出来才是。

“他是一个男子,他应该先开口,”她想。不过她仍然感到很满意,因为她知道他是同样地爱她。

“他的想法却是有点过分——男子一般都是这样。他梦想着自己是一个真正有生命的街头孩子,身边带着四枚铜板,把这姑娘买过来,一口吃掉了。

“他们就这样在柜台上躺了许多天和许多星期,终于变得又干又硬了。她的思想却越变越温柔和越女子气。

“‘我能跟他在柜台上躺在一起,已经很满意了!她想。于是——啪!——她裂为两半。‘如果她知道我的爱情,她也许可以活得更久一点!他想。“这就是耶个故事。他们两个人现在都在这儿。”糕饼老板说。“就他们奇特的历史和们没有结果的沉默爱情说来,他们真是了不起!

现在我就把他们送给你们吧!”他这么说着,就把那个还是完整的男子送给约翰妮,把那个碎裂了的姑娘送给克努得。不过这个故事感动了他们,他们鼓不起勇气来把这对恋人吃掉。

第二天他们带着姜饼到却格公墓去。教堂的墙上长满了最茂盛的长春藤;它冬天和夏天悬在墙上,简直像是一张华丽的挂毯。他们把姜饼放在太阳光中的绿叶里,然后把这个没有结果的、沉默的爱情的故事讲给一群小孩子听。这叫做“爱”,因为这故事很可爱——在这一点上大家都同意。不过,当他们再看看这对姜饼恋人的时候,哎呀,一个存心拆烂污的大孩子己经把那个碎裂的姑娘吃掉了。孩子们大哭了一通,然后——大概是为了要不让那个男恋人在这世界上感到寂寞凄凉——他们也把他吃掉了。但是他们一直没有忘掉这个故事。

孩子们经常在接骨木树旁和柳树底下玩耍。那个小女孩用银铃一样清脆的声音唱着最美丽的歌。可是克努得没有唱歌的天才;他只是知道歌中的词句——不过这也不坏。当约翰妮在唱着的时候,却格的居民,甚至铁匠铺富有的老板娘,都静静地站着听。“那个小姑娘有一个甜蜜的声音!”她说。

这是人生最美丽的季节,但不能永远是这样。邻居已经搬走了。小姑娘的妈妈已经去世了;她的爸爸打算迁到京城里去,重新讨一个太太,因为他在那儿可以找到一个职业——他要在一个机关里当个送信人,这是一个收人颇丰的差使。因此两个邻居就流着眼泪分手了。孩子们特别痛哭了一阵;不过两家的老人都答应一年最少通信一次。

克努得做了一个鞋匠的学徒,因为一个大孩子不能再把日子荒废下去;此外他已经受过了坚信礼!

啊,他多么希望能在一个节日到哥本哈根去看看约翰妮啊!但他没有去,他从来没有到那儿去过,虽然它离却格只不过70多里地的路程。不过当天气晴朗的时候,克努得从海湾望去,可以遥遥看到塔顶;在他受坚信礼曲那天,他还清楚地看见圣母院教堂上的发着闪光的十字架呢。

啊,他多么怀念约翰妮啊!也许她也记得他吧?是的,快到圣诞节的时候,她的父亲寄了一封信给克努得的爸爸和妈妈。信上说,他们在哥本哈根生活得很好,尤其是约翰妮,因为她有美丽的嗓音,她可以期待有一个光明的前途。她已经跟一个歌剧院订了合同,而且已经开始赚些钱了。她现在从她的收入中省下一块大洋,寄给她住在却格的亲爱的邻居过这个快乐的圣诞节。在“附言”中她亲自加了一笔,请他们喝一杯祝她健康的酒;同时还有:“向克努得亲切地致意。”

一家人全哭起来了,然而这是很愉快的——他们所流出来的是愉快的眼泪。克努得的思想每天环萦在约翰妮的身上;现在他知道她也在想念他。当他快要学完手艺的时候,他就更清楚地觉得他爱约翰妮。她一定得成为他的亲爱的妻子。当他想到这点的时候,他的嘴唇上就飘出一丝微笑;于是他做鞋的速度也就加快了两倍,同时用脚紧轴着膝盖上的皮垫子。

他的锥子刺进了他的手指,但是他也不在意。他下了决心不要像那对姜饼一样,扮演一个哑巴恋人的角色;他从那个故事得到了一个很好的教训。

现在他成了一个皮鞋师傅。他打好背包淮备旅行了;他算是有生第一次终于要去哥本哈根了。他已经在那儿接洽好了一个主人。嗨,约翰妮一定是非常奇怪和高兴的!她现在是17岁了,他已经19。

当他还在却格的时候,他就想为她买一个金戒指。不过他想,他可以在哥本哈根买到更漂亮的戒指。因此他就向他的父母告别了。这是一个晚秋下雨的天气,他在微微的细雨中动身离开了生养他的小城。树上的叶子在簌簌地下落;当他到达哥本哈根新主人家里的时候,他已经全身透湿了。

在接着的一个星期日里,他就去拜望约翰妮的父亲。他穿上了一套手艺人的新衣服,戴上一顶却格的新礼帽。这装束对现在的克努得很相称,从前他只戴一项小便帽。他找到了他所要拜访的那座房子。他爬了好几层楼,他的头都几乎要昏了。在这个人烟稠密的城市里,人们一层堆上一层地住在一起。这在他眼里真是太糟糕了。

房间里是一种富足的样子;约翰妮的父亲对他非常客气。他的新太太对他说来,是一个生人,不过她仍跟他握手,请他吃咖啡。

“约翰妮看到你一定会很高兴的!”亲说。“你现在长成一个很漂亮的年轻人了……你马上就可以看到她!她是一个使我快乐的孩子,上帝保佑,我希望她更快乐。她自己住一间小房,而且还付给我们房租!”

于是父亲就在一个门上非常客气地敲了一下,好像他是一个客人似的。然后他们走迸去了。嗨,这房间是多么漂亮啊!这样的房间在整个的却格都找不到的。就是皇后也不会有比这可爱的房闷!它地上铺得有地毯,窗帘一直垂到地上;四周全是花和画,还有一面镜子——它大得像一扇门,人们一不留心就很容易朝它走进去;甚至还有一把天鹅绒的椅子。

克努得一眼就看见了这些东西;不过他眼中只有约翰妮。她现在已经是一个成年的小姐了。她跟克努得所想象的完全不向,但是更美丽。她不再是一个却格的姑娘了,她是多么文雅啊!她朝克努得看了一眼,她的视线显得多么奇怪和生疏啊!不过这情形只持续了片刻;不一会儿她向他跑过来,好像她想要吻他一下似的。事实上她没有这样做,但是她几乎这样做了。是的,她看到她儿时的朋友,心中感到非常高兴!她的眼睛里亮着泪珠。她有许多话要说,她有许多事情要问——从克努得父母一直问到接骨木树和柳树——她把它们叫做接骨木树妈妈和柳树爸爸,好像它们就像人一样。的确,像姜饼一样,它们也可以当作人看。她也谈起姜饼,谈起他们的沉默的爱情,他们怎样躺在柜台上,然后裂为两半——这时她就哈哈大笑起来。不过克努得的血却涌到脸上来了,他的心跳得比什么时候都快。不,她一点也没有变得骄傲!他注意到,她的父母请他来玩一晚上,完全是由于她的示意。她亲手倒茶,把杯子递给他。后来她取出一本书,大声地念给他们听。克努得似乎觉得她所念的是关于他自己的爱情,因为那跟他的思想恰恰相吻合。于是她又唱了一支简单的歌;在她的歌声中,这支歌好像是一段历史,好像是从她的心里倾倒出来的话语。是的,她一定是喜欢克努得的。眼泪从他的脸上流下来了——他抑制不住,他也说不出半个字来。他觉得自己很傻;但是她紧握着他的手,说:

“你有一颗善良的心,克努得——我希望你永远是这样!”

这是克努得的元比幸福的一晚。要想睡是不可能的;实际上克努得也没有睡。

在告别的时候,约翰妮的父亲曾经说过:“唔,你不会马上就忘记我们吧!你不会让这整个的冬天过去,不再来看我们一次吧?”因此他下个礼拜天又可以再去,而他也就决定去了。

每天晚上,工作完了以后——他们在烛光下做活——克努得就穿过这城市,走过街道,到约翰妮住的地方去。他抬起头来朝她的窗子望,窗子差不多总是亮着的。有一天晚上他清楚地看到她的面孔映在窗帘上——这真是最可爱的一晚!他的老板娘不喜欢他每晚在外面“游荡”——引用她的话——所以她常常摇头。不过老板只是笑笑。

“他是一个年轻小伙子呀!”他说。

克努得心想,我们在礼拜天要见面。我要告诉她,说我整个的思想中只有她,她一定要做我亲爱的妻子才成。我知道我不过是一个卖长工的鞋匠,但是我可以成为一个师傅,最低限度成为一个独立的师傅。 我要工作和斗争下去——是的,我要把这告诉她。沉默的爱情是不会有什么结果的:我从那两块姜饼已经得到了教训了。”

星期天到来了。克努得大步地走去。不过,很不幸!他们一家人都要出去,而且不得不当面告诉他。约翰妮握着他的手,问道:

“你到戏院去过没有?你应该去一次。星期三我将要上台去唱歌”如果你那天晚上有时间的话,我将送你一张票子。我父亲知道你的老板的住址。”

她的用意是多好啊!星期三中午,他收到了一个封好了的纸套,上面一个字也没有写,但是里面却有一张票。晚间,克努得有生第下次到戏院里去。他看到了什么呢?他看到了约翰妮——她是那么美丽,那么可爱!她跟一个生人结了婚,不过那是在做戏——克努得知道得很清楚,这不过是扮演而已,否则她决不会有那么大的勇气送他一张票,让他去看她结婚的!观众都在喝彩,鼓掌。克努得喊:“好!”

连国王也对约翰妮微笑起来,好像他也喜欢她似的。上帝啊!克努得感到自己多么渺小啊!不过他是那么热烈地爱她,而且认为她也喜欢他。但是男子应该先开口——那个姜饼姑娘就是这样想的。这个故事的意义是深长的。

当星期天一到来的时候,克努得又去了。他的心情跟去领圣餐的时候差不多。约翰妮一个人单独在家。她接待他——世界上再没有比这更幸运的事情。

“你来得正好,”她说,“我原来想叫我的父亲去告诉你,不过我有一个预感,觉得你今晚会来。我要告诉你,星期五我就要到法国去:如果我想要有一点成就的话,我非得这样做不可。”

克努得觉得整个的房间在打转,他的心好像要爆裂。不过他的眼睛里却没有涌出眼泪来,人们可以很清楚地看出,他感到多么悲哀。

约翰妮看到了这个情景,也几乎要哭出来。

“你这老实的、忠诚的人啊!”她说。

她的这句话使克努得敢于开口了。他告诉她说,他怎样始终如一地爱她,她一定要做他亲爱的妻子才成。当他说这话的时候,他看到约翰妮的面孔变得惨白。她放松了手,同时严肃地、悲哀地回答说:

“克努得,锖不要把你自己和我弄得痛苦吧。我将永远是你的一个好妹妹——你可以相信我。不过除此以外,我什么也办不到。”

于是她把她柔嫩的手贴到他灼热的额上。“上帝会给我们勇气应付一切,只要人有这个志愿。”

这时候她的继母走到房间里来了。

“克努得难过得很,因为我要离去!”她说,“拿出男子气概来吧!”她把手搭在他的肩上,好像他们在谈论着关于旅行的事情而没有谈别的东西似的。“你还是一个孩子!”她说:“不过现在你必须要听话,要有理智,像我们小时在那棵柳树底下一样。”

克努得觉得世界似乎有一块已经塌下去了。他的思想像一根无所归依的线,在风中飘荡。他呆下没有走,他不知道她们有没有留他坐下来,但是他们一家人都是很和气和善良的。约翰妮倒茶给他喝,对他唱歌。她的歌调跟以前不同,但是听起来是分外美丽,使得他的心要裂成碎片。然后他们就告别了。克努得没有向她伸出手来。但是她握着他的手,说:

“我小时一起玩的兄弟,你一定会握一下你的妹妹的手,作为告别吧!”

她微笑着,眼泪从她的脸上流下来。她又重复地说一次“哥哥”——好像这样能起多大作用似的!——他们就这样告别了。

她坐船到法国去了,克努得在满地泥泞的哥本哈根街头走着。皮鞋店里别的人问他为什么老是这样心事重重地走来走去,他应该跟大伙儿一块去玩玩才对,因为他终究还是一个年轻人。

他们带着他到跳舞的地方去。那儿有许多漂亮的女子,但是没有一个像约翰妮。他想在这些地方把她忘记掉,而她却更生动地在他的思想中显现出来了。“上帝会给我们勇气应付一切,只要人有这个志愿”她曾经这样说过。这时他有一种虔诚的感觉,他叠着手什么也不玩。提琴在奏出音乐,年轻的姑娘在围成圆圈跳舞。他怔了一下,因为他似乎觉得他不应该把约翰妮带到这地方来——因为她是活在他的心里。所以他就走出去了。他跑过许多街道,经过她所住过的那个屋子。那儿是阴暗的——处处都是阴暗、空洞和孤寂。世界走着自己的道路,克努得也走着自己的道路。

冬天来了。水都结了冰。一切东西似乎都在准备入葬。

不过当春天到来的时候,当第一艘轮船开航的时候,他就有了一种远行的渴望,远行到辽远的世界里去,但是他不愿意走近法国。因此他把他的背包打好,流浪到德国去。他从这个城走到那个城,一点也不休息和安静下来,只有当他来到那个美丽的古老的城市纽伦堡的时候,他的不安的情绪才算稳定下来。他决定住下来。

纽伦堡是一个稀有的古城。它好像是从旧画册里剪下来的一样。它的街道随意地伸展开来;它的房屋不是排成死板的直行。那些有小塔、蔓藤花纹和雕像装饰的吊窗悬在人行道上;从奇形的尖屋顶上伸出来的水笕嘴,以飞龙或长腰犬的形式,高高地俯视着下边的街道。

克努得背着背包站在这儿的一个市场上。他立在一个古老的喷泉塔旁边。《圣经》时代的、历史性的庄严铜像立在两股喷泉的中间。一个漂亮的女佣人正在用桶汲水。她给克努得一口凉爽的水喝。因为她手中满满地握着一束玫瑰花,所以她也给他一朵。他把它当作一个好的预兆。

风琴的声昔从邻近的一个教堂里飘到他的耳边来;它的调子,对他说来,是跟他故乡却格风琴的调子一样地亲切。他走进一个大礼拜堂里去。日光透过绘有彩色画的窗玻璃,照在高而细长的圆柱之间。他的心中有一种虔诚的感觉,他的灵魂变得安静起来。

他在纽伧堡找到了一个很好的老板;于是他便安住下来;同时学习这个国家的语言。

城周围的古老的堑壕已经变成了许多小块的菜园,不过高大的城墙和它上面的高塔仍然是存留着的。在城墙里边,搓绳子的人正在一个木走廊或人行道上搓绳子。接骨木树丛从城墙的缝隙里生长出来,把它们的绿枝伸展到它们下面的那些低矮的小屋上。克努得的老板就住在这样的一座小屋里。在他睡觉的那个顶楼上——接骨木树就在他的床前垂下枝子。

他在这儿住过了一个夏天和冬天。不过当夏天到来的时候,他再也忍受不了。接骨木树在开着花,而这花香使他记起了故乡。他似乎回到了却格的花园里去。因此克努得就离开了他的主人,搬到住在离城墙较远的一个老板家去工作;这个屋子上面没有接骨木树。

他的作坊离一座古老的石桥很近,面对着一个老是发出嗡嗡声的水推磨房。外边有一条激流在许多房子之间冲过去。这些房子上挂着许多腐朽的阳台;它们好像随时要倒进水里去似的。这儿没有接骨木树——连栽着一点小绿植物的花钵子也没有。不过这儿有一株高大的老柳树。它紧紧地贴着那儿的一幢房子,生怕被水冲走。它像却格河边花园里的那稞柳树一样,也把它的枝子在激流上展开来。

是的,他从“接骨木树妈妈”那儿搬到“柳树爸爸”的近旁来了。这棵树引起了某种触动,尤其是在有月光的晚上。

这种丹麦的心情,在月光下面流露了出来。但是使他感触的不是月光,不,是那棵老柳树。

他住不下去。为什么住不下去呢?请你去问那棵柳树。去问那棵开着花的接骨木树吧!因此他跟主人告别,跟纽伦堡告别走到更远的地方去。

他对谁也不提起约翰妮——他只是把自己的忧愁秘密地藏在心里。那两块姜饼的故事对他特别有深刻的薏义。现在他懂得了那个男子为什么胸口上有一颗苦味的杏仁——他现在自己尝到这苦味了。约翰妮永远是那么温柔和善良,但她只是一块姜饼。

他背包的带子似乎在紧紧束缚着他,使他感到呼吸困难。他把它松开,但是仍然不感到舒畅。他的周围只有半个世界;另外的一半压在他的心里,这就是他的处境!

只有当他看到了一群高山的时候,世界才似乎对他扩大了一点。这时他的思想才向外面流露;他的眼中涌出了泪水。

阿尔卑斯山,对他说来,似乎是地球的一双敛着的翅膀。假如这双翅膀展开了,显示出一片黑森林、涌泉、云块和积雪的种种景色所组成的羽毛,那又会怎样呢?

他想,在世界的末日那天,地球将会展开它庞大的翅膀,向天空飞去,同时在上帝的明朗的光中将会像肥皂泡似地爆裂!他叹息:“啊,唯愿现在就是最后的末日!”

他静默地走过这块土地。在他看来,这块土地像一个长满了草的果木园。从许多屋子的木阳台上,忙着织丝带的女孩子们在对他点头。许多山峰在落日的晚蜜中发出红光。当他看到深树林中的绿湖的时候,他就想起了掷格湾的海岸。这时他感到一阵凄凉,但是他心中却没有痛苦。

莱茵河像一股很长的巨浪在滚流,在翻腾,在冲撞,在变成雪白的、闪光的云雾,好像云块就是在这儿制造出来似的。虹在它上面ˉ飘着,像一条解开了的缎带。他现在不禁想起了却格的水摊磨坊和奔流着的、发出喧闹声的流水。

他倒是很愿意在这个安静的、菜茵河畔的城市里住下来的,可惜这儿的接骨木树和杨柳太多。因此他又继续向前走。他爬过巨大的高山,越过石峡,走过像燕子窝似的、贴在山边的山路。水在山峡里潺潺地流着,云块在他的下面飞着。在温暖夏天的太阳光下,他在光亮的蓟草上、石楠属植物上和雪上走着。他告别了北方的国家,来到了葡萄园和玉米田之间的栗树阴下。这些山是他和他的回忆之间的一座墙——他希望的也正是这样。

现在他面前出现了一座美丽的、雄伟的城市——人们把它叫做米兰。他在这儿找到了一个德国籍的老板,同时也找到了工作。他们是一对和善的老年夫妇;他现在就在他们的作坊里工作着。这对老人很喜欢这个安静的工人。他的话讲得很少,但工作得很努力,同时过着一种虔诚的、基督徒的生活。就他自己说来,他也仿佛觉得上帝取去了他心中的一个重担子。

他最心爱的消遣是不时去参观那个雄伟的大理石教堂。在他看来,这教堂似乎是用他故国的雪所造成的,用雕像、尖塔和华丽的大厅所组合起来的。雪白的大理石雕像似乎在从每一个角落里、从每一个尖顶、从每一个拱门上对他微笑。他上面是蔚蓝的天空,他下面是这个城市和广阔的龙巴得平原。再朝北一点就是终年盖着雪的高山。他不禁想起了却格的教鲎和布满了红色长春藤的红墙。不过他并不怀恋它们,他希望他被埋葬在这些高山的后面。

他在这儿住了一年。自从他离开家以后,三年己经过去了。有一天他的老板带他到城里去一土不是到马戏场去看骑师的表演,不是的,而是去看一个大歌剧院。这是一个大建筑物,值得一看。它有七层大楼,每层楼上都悬着丝织的帘子。从第一层楼到那使人一看就头昏的顶楼都坐满了华贵的仕女。她们的手中拿着花束,好像她们是在参加一个舞会似的。绅士们都穿着礼服,有许多还戴着金质或银质勋章。

这地方非常亮,如同在最明朗的太阳光下ˉ样。响亮而悦耳的音乐奏起来了。这的确要比哥本哈根的剧院华丽得多!但是那却是约翰妮演出的地方;而这儿呢——是的,这真是像魔术一样——幕向两边分开了,约翰妮穿着丝绸,戴着金饰和皇冠也出现了。她的歌声在他昕来只有上帝的安琪儿可以和她相比。她尽量走到舞台前面来,同时发出只有约翰妮才能发出的微笑。她的眼睛向下望着克努得。

可怜的克努得紧握着他主人的手,高声地喊出来:“约翰妮!不过谁也听不见他。乐师在奏着响亮的音乐。老板只点点头,说:“是的,是的,她的名字是叫做约翰妮。”

于是他拿出一张节目单来,他指着她的名字——她的全名。

不,这不是一个梦!所有的人都在为她鼓掌,在对她抛掷着花朵和花环。每次她回到后台的时候,喝彩声就又把她叫出来,所以她不停地在走出走进。

在街上,人们围着她的车子,欣喜若狂地拉着车子走。克努得站在最前面,也是最高兴的。当大家来到她那灯火通明的房子面前的时候,克努得紧紧地挤到她车子的门口。车门开了;她走了出来。灯光正照在她可爱的脸上,她微笑着,她温柔地向大家表示谢意,她显得非常感动。克努得朝她的脸上望,她也望着他,但是她不认识他。一位胸前戴有星章的绅士伸出他的手臂来挟她——大家都说,他们已经订婚了。

克努得回到家来,收拾好他的背包,他决定回到他的老家去,回到接骨木树和柳树那儿去——啊,回到那棵柳树下面去!

那对老年夫妇请他住下来,但是什么话也留不住他。他们告诉他,说是冬天快要到来了,山上已经下雪了。但是他说他可以背着背包,拄着拐杖,只能在慢慢前进的马车后面的车辙里走——因为这是唯一可走的路。

这样他就向山上走去,一会儿上爬,一会儿下坡。他的气力没有了,但是他还看不见一个村子或一间房屋。他不停地向北方走去古星星在他的头上出现了,他的脚在摇摆,他的头在发昏。在深深的山谷里,也有星星在闪耀着;天空也好像伸展到他的下面去了似的。他觉得他病了。他下面的星星越来越多,越闪越亮,而且还在前后移动。这原来是一个小小的城市;家家都点上了灯火。当他了解到这情况以后,他就鼓起他一点残留的气力,最后到达了一个简陋的客栈。

他在那儿呆了一天一夜,因为他的身体需要休息和恢复。天气转暖,冰雪正在融化,山谷里下起雨来。上午有一个奏手风琴的人来了,他奏起一支丹麦的家乡曲子,弄得克努得又住不下去了。他又踏上了北上的旅途,走了许多天,他匆忙地走着,好像想要在家里的人没有死完以前,赶回去似的。不过他没有对任何人说出他心中的渴望,谁也不会相信他心中的悲哀——个人的心中所能感觉到的、最深的悲哀。这种悲哀是不需要世人了解的,因为它并不有趣;也不需要朋友了解——而且他根本就没有朋友。他是一个陌生人,在一些陌生的国度里旅行,向家乡,向北国走去。他在许多年以前、从他父母接到的唯一的一封信里,有这样的话语:“你和我们家里的人不一样,你不是一个纯粹的丹麦人。我们是太丹麦化了!你只喜欢陌生的国家!”这是他父母亲手写的——是的,他们最了解他!

现在是黄昏了。他在荒野的公路上向前走。天开始冷起来了。这地方渐渐变得很平坦,是一片田野和草原。路旁有一棵很大的柳树。一切景物是那么亲切,那么富有丹麦风味!他在柳树下坐下来。他感到疲倦,他的头向下垂,他的眼睛闭起来休息。但是他在冥冥中感到,柳树在向他垂下枝子。这树像一个威严的老人,一个“柳树爸爸”,它把它的因累了的儿子抱进怀里,把他送回到那有广阔的白色海岸的丹麦祖国去,送到却格去,送到他儿时的花园里去。

是的,他梦见这就是却格的那棵柳树。这老树正在世界各处奔走来寻找他,现在居然找到他了,把他带回到小溪旁边的那个小花园里来——约翰妮在这儿出现了;她全身穿着漂莞的衣服,头上戴着金冠,正如他上次见到她的那个样子。她对他喊道:“欢迎你!”

他面前立着两个奇怪的人形,不过比起他在儿时所看到的那个样子来,他们似乎是更像人了。他们也有些改变,但是他们仍然是两块姜饼,一男一女。他们现在是正面朝上,显出很快乐的样子。

“我们感谢你!”他们两人对克努得说。“你使我们有勇气讲出话来;你教导我们:一个人必须把心里想的事情自由地讲出来,否则什么结果也不会有!现在总算是有一个结果了——我们已经订了婚。”

于是他们就手挽着手在却格的街上走过去;他们无论从哪一面看都很像个样子;你在他们身上找不出一点儿毛病!他们一直向却格的教堂走去。克努得和约翰妮跟在他们后面;他们也是手挽着手的。教堂仍然像过去一样,墙壁是红的,墙上布满了绿色的长春藤。教堂大门向两边分开,风琴奏起来了。男的和女的双双地在教堂的通道上走进去。

“主人请先进去!”那对姜饼恋人说,同时退向两边,让克努得和约翰妮先进去。他们在圣坛前跪下来。约翰妮向克努得低下头来;冰冷的泪珠从她的眼里滚滚地往外流。这是她心里的冰——他热烈的爱情把它融化了;汨光滴到他灼热的脸上。于是他醒来了。原来他是在一个严冬的晚上,坐在一棵异国的老柳树下。一阵冰雹正在从云中打下来,打到他的脸上。

“这是我生命中最甜美的一个时刻”他说,“而这却是一个梦!上帝啊,让我再梦下去吧!”于是他又把他的眼睛闭起来,睡过去了,做起梦来。

天明的时候,落了一场大雪。风把雪花卷到他的脚边,但他还在睡着。村人到教堂去做礼拜,发现路旁坐着一个手艺人。他已经死了,在这棵柳树下冻死了。

英文版:Under the Willow-tree

THE region round the little town of Kjøge is very bleak and cold. The town lies on the sea shore, which is always beautiful; but here it might be more beautiful than it is, for on every side the fields are flat, and it is a long way to the forest. But when persons reside in a place and get used to it, they can always find something beautiful in it,—something for which they long, even in the most charming spot in the world which is not home. It must be owned that there are in the outskirts of the town some humble gardens on the banks of a little stream that runs on towards the sea, and in summer these gardens look very pretty. Such indeed was the opinion of two little children, whose parents were neighbors, and who played in these gardens, and forced their way from one garden to the other through the gooseberry-bushes that divided them. In one of the gardens grew an elder-tree, and in the other an old willow, under which the children were very fond of playing. They had permission to do so, although the tree stood close by the stream, and they might easily have fallen into the water; but the eye of God watches over the little ones, otherwise they would never be safe. At the same time, these children were very careful not to go too near the water; indeed, the boy was so afraid of it, that in the summer, while the other children were splashing about in the sea, nothing could entice him to join them. They jeered and laughed at him, and he was obliged to bear it all as patiently as he could. Once the neighbor’s little girl, Joanna, dreamed that she was sailing in a boat, and the boy—Knud was his name—waded out in the water to join her, and the water came up to his neck, and at last closed over his head, and in a moment he had disappeared. When little Knud heard this dream, it seemed as if he could not bear the mocking and jeering again; how could he dare to go into the water now, after Joanna’s dream! He never would do it, for this dream always satisfied him. The parents of these children, who were poor, often sat together while Knud and Joanna played in the gardens or in the road. Along this road—a row of willow-trees had been planted to separate it from a ditch on one side of it. They were not very handsome trees, for the tops had been cut off; however, they were intended for use, and not for show. The old willow-tree in the garden was much handsomer, and therefore the children were very fond of sitting under it. The town had a large market-place; and at the fair-time there would be whole rows, like streets, of tents and booths containing silks and ribbons, and toys and cakes, and everything that could be wished for. There were crowds of people, and sometimes the weather would be rainy, and splash with moisture the woollen jackets of the peasants; but it did not destroy the beautiful fragrance of the honey-cakes and gingerbread with which one booth was filled; and the best of it was, that the man who sold these cakes always lodged during the fair-time with little Knud’s parents. So every now and then he had a present of gingerbread, and of course Joanna always had a share. And, more delightful still, the gingerbread seller knew all sorts of things to tell and could even relate stories about his own gingerbread. So one evening he told them a story that made such a deep impression on the children that they never forgot it; and therefore I think we may as well hear it too, for it is not very long.

“Once upon a time,” said he, “there lay on my counter two gingerbread cakes, one in the shape of a man wearing a hat, the other of a maiden without a bonnet. Their faces were on the side that was uppermost, for on the other side they looked very different. Most people have a best side to their characters, which they take care to show to the world. On the left, just where the heart is, the gingerbread man had an almond stuck in to represent it, but the maiden was honey cake all over. They were placed on the counter as samples, and after lying there a long time they at last fell in love with each other; but neither of them spoke of it to the other, as they should have done if they expected anything to follow. ‘He is a man, he ought to speak the first word,’ thought the gingerbread maiden; but she felt quite happy—she was sure that her love was returned. But his thoughts were far more ambitious, as the thoughts of a man often are. He dreamed that he was a real street boy, that he possessed four real pennies, and that he had bought the gingerbread lady, and ate her up. And so they lay on the counter for days and weeks, till they grew hard and dry; but the thoughts of the maiden became ever more tender and womanly. ‘Ah well, it is enough for me that I have been able to live on the same counter with him,’ said she one day; when suddenly, ‘crack,’ and she broke in two. ‘Ah,’ said the gingerbread man to himself, ‘if she had only known of my love, she would have kept together a little longer.’ And here they both are, and that is their history,” said the cake man. “You think the history of their lives and their silent love, which never came to anything, very remarkable; and there they are for you.” So saying, he gave Joanna the gingerbread man, who was still quite whole—and to Knud the broken maiden; but the children had been so much impressed by the story, that they had not the heart to eat the lovers up.

The next day they went into the churchyard, and took the two cake figures with them, and sat down under the church wall, which was covered with luxuriant ivy in summer and winter, and looked as if hung with rich tapestry. They stuck up the two gingerbread figures in the sunshine among the green leaves, and then told the story, and all about the silent love which came to nothing, to a group of children. They called it, “love,” because the story was so lovely, and the other children had the same opinion. But when they turned to look at the gingerbread pair, the broken maiden was gone! A great boy, out of wickedness, had eaten her up. At first the children cried about it; but afterwards, thinking very probably that the poor lover ought not to be left alone in the world, they ate him up too: but they never forgot the story.

The two children still continued to play together by the elder-tree, and under the willow; and the little maiden sang beautiful songs, with a voice that was as clear as a bell. Knud, on the contrary, had not a note of music in him, but knew the words of the songs, and that of course is something. The people of Kjøge, and even the rich wife of the man who kept the fancy shop, would stand and listen while Joanna was singing, and say, “She has really a very sweet voice.”

Those were happy days; but they could not last forever. The neighbors were separated, the mother of the little girl was dead, and her father had thoughts of marrying again and of residing in the capital, where he had been promised a very lucrative appointment as messenger. The neighbors parted with tears, the children wept sadly; but their parents promised that they should write to each other at least once a year.

After this, Knud was bound apprentice to a shoemaker; he was growing a great boy, and could not be allowed to run wild any longer. Besides, he was going to be confirmed. Ah, how happy he would have been on that festal day in Copenhagen with little Joanna; but he still remained at Kjøge, and had never seen the great city, though the town is not five miles from it. But far across the bay, when the sky was clear, the towers of Copenhagen could be seen; and on the day of his confirmation he saw distinctly the golden cross on the principal church glittering in the sun. How often his thoughts were with Joanna! but did she think of him? Yes. About Christmas came a letter from her father to Knud’s parents, which stated that they were going on very well in Copenhagen, and mentioning particularly that Joanna’s beautiful voice was likely to bring her a brilliant fortune in the future. She was engaged to sing at a concert, and she had already earned money by singing, out of which she sent her dear neighbors at Kjøge a whole dollar, for them to make merry on Christmas eve, and they were to drink her health. She had herself added this in a postscript, and in the same postscript she wrote, “Kind regards to Knud.”

The good neighbors wept, although the news was so pleasant; but they wept tears of joy. Knud’s thoughts had been daily with Joanna, and now he knew that she also had thought of him; and the nearer the time came for his apprenticeship to end, the clearer did it appear to him that he loved Joanna, and that she must be his wife; and a smile came on his lips at the thought, and at one time he drew the thread so fast as he worked, and pressed his foot so hard against the knee strap, that he ran the awl into his finger; but what did he care for that? He was determined not to play the dumb lover as both the gingerbread cakes had done; the story was a good lesson to him.

At length he become a journeyman; and then, for the first time, he prepared for a journey to Copenhagen, with his knapsack packed and ready. A master was expecting him there, and he thought of Joanna, and how glad she would be to see him. She was now seventeen, and he nineteen years old. He wanted to buy a gold ring for her in Kjøge, but then he recollected how far more beautiful such things would be in Copenhagen. So he took leave of his parents, and on a rainy day, late in the autumn, wandered forth on foot from the town of his birth. The leaves were falling from the trees; and, by the time he arrived at his new master’s in the great metropolis, he was wet through. On the following Sunday he intended to pay his first visit to Joanna’s father. When the day came, the new journeyman’s clothes were brought out, and a new hat, which he had brought in Kjøge. The hat became him very well, for hitherto he had only worn a cap. He found the house that he sought easily, but had to mount so many stairs that he became quite giddy; it surprised him to find how people lived over one another in this dreadful town.

On entering a room in which everything denoted prosperity, Joanna’s father received him very kindly. The new wife was a stranger to him, but she shook hands with him, and offered him coffee.

“Joanna will be very glad to see you,” said her father. “You have grown quite a nice young man, you shall see her presently; she is a good child, and is the joy of my heart, and, please God, she will continue to be so; she has her own room now, and pays us rent for it.” And the father knocked quite politely at a door, as if he were a stranger, and then they both went in. How pretty everything was in that room! a more beautiful apartment could not be found in the whole town of Kjøge; the queen herself could scarcely be better accommodated. There were carpets, and rugs, and window curtains hanging to the ground. Pictures and flowers were scattered about. There was a velvet chair, and a looking-glass against the wall, into which a person might be in danger of stepping, for it was as large as a door. All this Knud saw at a glance, and yet, in truth, he saw nothing but Joanna. She was quite grown up, and very different from what Knud had fancied her, and a great deal more beautiful. In all Kjøge there was not a girl like her; and how graceful she looked, although her glance at first was odd, and not familiar; but for a moment only, then she rushed towards him as if she would have kissed him; she did not, however, although she was very near it. Yes, she really was joyful at seeing the friend of her childhood once more, and the tears even stood in her eyes. Then she asked so many questions about Knud’s parents, and everything, even to the elder-tree and the willow, which she called “elder-mother and willow-father,” as if they had been human beings; and so, indeed, they might be, quite as much as the gingerbread cakes. Then she talked about them, and the story of their silent love, and how they lay on the counter together and split in two; and then she laughed heartily; but the blood rushed into Knud’s cheeks, and his heart beat quickly. Joanna was not proud at all; he noticed that through her he was invited by her parents to remain the whole evening with them, and she poured out the tea and gave him a cup herself; and afterwards she took a book and read aloud to them, and it seemed to Knud as if the story was all about himself and his love, for it agreed so well with his own thoughts. And then she sang a simple song, which, through her singing, became a true story, and as if she poured forth the feelings of her own heart.

“Oh,” he thought, “she knows I am fond of her.” The tears he could not restrain rolled down his cheeks, and he was unable to utter a single word; it seemed as if he had been struck dumb.

When he left, she pressed his hand, and said, “You have a kind heart, Knud: remain always as you are now.” What an evening of happiness this had been; to sleep after it was impossible, and Knud did not sleep.

At parting, Joanna’s father had said, “Now, you won’t quite forget us; you must not let the whole winter go by without paying us another visit;” so that Knud felt himself free to go again the following Sunday evening, and so he did. But every evening after working hours—and they worked by candle-light then—he walked out into the town, and through the street in which Joanna lived, to look up at her window. It was almost always lighted up; and one evening he saw the shadow of her face quite plainly on the window blind; that was a glorious evening for him. His master’s wife did not like his always going out in the evening, idling, wasting time, as she called it, and she shook her head.

But his master only smiled, and said, “He is a young man, my dear, you know.”

“On Sunday I shall see her,” said Knud to himself, “and I will tell her that I love her with my whole heart and soul, and that she must be my little wife. I know I am now only a poor journeyman shoemaker, but I will work and strive, and become a master in time. Yes, I will speak to her; nothing comes from silent love. I learnt that from the gingerbread-cake story.”

Sunday came, but when Knud arrived, they were all unfortunately invited out to spend the evening, and were obliged to tell him so.

Joanna pressed his hand, and said, “Have you ever been to the theatre? you must go once; I sing there on Wednesday, and if you have time on that day, I will send you a ticket; my father knows where your master lives.” How kind this was of her! And on Wednesday, about noon, Knud received a sealed packet with no address, but the ticket was inside; and in the evening Knud went, for the first time in his life, to a theatre. And what did he see? He saw Joanna, and how beautiful and charming she looked! He certainly saw her being married to a stranger, but that was all in the play, and only a pretence; Knud well knew that. She could never have the heart, he thought, to send him a ticket to go and see it, if it had been real. So he looked on, and when all the people applauded and clapped their hands, he shouted “hurrah.” He could see that even the king smiled at Joanna, and seemed delighted with her singing. How small Knud felt; but then he loved her so dearly, and thought she loved him, and the man must speak the first word, as the gingerbread maiden had thought. Ah, how much there was for him in that childish story. As soon as Sunday arrived, he went again, and felt as if he were about to enter on holy ground. Joanna was alone to welcome him, nothing could be more fortunate.

“I am so glad you are come,” she said. “I was thinking of sending my father for you, but I had a presentiment that you would be here this evening. The fact is, I wanted to tell you that I am going to France. I shall start on Friday. It is necessary for me to go there, if I wish to become a first-rate performer.”

Poor Knud! it seemed to him as if the whole room was whirling round with him. His courage failed, and he felt as if his heart would burst. He kept down the tears, but it was easy to see how sorrowful he was.

“You honest, faithful soul,” she exclaimed; and the words loosened Knud’s tongue, and he told her how truly he had loved her, and that she must be his wife; and as he said this, he saw Joanna change color, and turn pale. She let his hand fall, and said, earnestly and mournfully, “Knud, do not make yourself and me unhappy. I will always be a good sister to you, one in whom you can trust; but I can never be anything more.” And she drew her white hand over his burning forehead, and said, “God gives strength to bear a great deal, if we only strive ourselves to endure.”

At this moment her stepmother came into the room, and Joanna said quickly, “Knud is so unhappy, because I am going away;” and it appeared as if they had only been talking of her journey. “Come, be a man” she added, placing her hand on his shoulder; “you are still a child, and you must be good and reasonable, as you were when we were both children, and played together under the willow-tree.”

Knud listened, but he felt as if the world had slid out of its course. His thoughts were like a loose thread fluttering to and fro in the wind. He stayed, although he could not tell whether she had asked him to do so. But she was kind and gentle to him; she poured out his tea, and sang to him; but the song had not the old tone in it, although it was wonderfully beautiful, and made his heart feel ready to burst. And then he rose to go. He did not offer his hand, but she seized it, and said—

“Will you not shake hands with your sister at parting, my old playfellow?” and she smiled through the tears that were rolling down her cheeks. Again she repeated the word “brother,” which was a great consolation certainly; and thus they parted.

She sailed to France, and Knud wandered about the muddy streets of Copenhagen. The other journeymen in the shop asked him why he looked so gloomy, and wanted him to go and amuse himself with them, as he was still a young man. So he went with them to a dancing-room. He saw many handsome girls there, but none like Joanna; and here, where he thought to forget her, she was more life-like before his mind than ever. “God gives us strength to bear much, if we try to do our best,” she had said; and as he thought of this, a devout feeling came into his mind, and he folded his hands. Then, as the violins played and the girls danced round the room, he started; for it seemed to him as if he were in a place where he ought not to have brought Joanna, for she was here with him in his heart; and so he went out at once. As he went through the streets at a quick pace, he passed the house where she used to live; it was all dark, empty, and lonely. But the world went on its course, and Knud was obliged to go on too.

Winter came; the water was frozen, and everything seemed buried in a cold grave. But when spring returned, and the first steamer prepared to sail, Knud was seized with a longing to wander forth into the world, but not to France. So he packed his knapsack, and travelled through Germany, going from town to town, but finding neither rest or peace. It was not till he arrived at the glorious old town of Nuremberg that he gained the mastery over himself, and rested his weary feet; and here he remained.

Nuremberg is a wonderful old city, and looks as if it had been cut out of an old picture-book. The streets seem to have arranged themselves according to their own fancy, and as if the houses objected to stand in rows or rank and file. Gables, with little towers, ornamented columns, and statues, can be seen even to the city gate; and from the singular-shaped roofs, waterspouts, formed like dragons, or long lean dogs, extend far across to the middle of the street. Here, in the market-place, stood Knud, with his knapsack on his back, close to one of the old fountains which are so beautifully adorned with figures, scriptural and historical, and which spring up between the sparkling jets of water. A pretty servant-maid was just filling her pails, and she gave Knud a refreshing draught; she had a handful of roses, and she gave him one, which appeared to him like a good omen for the future. From a neighboring church came the sounds of music, and the familiar tones reminded him of the organ at home at Kjøge; so he passed into the great cathedral. The sunshine streamed through the painted glass windows, and between two lofty slender pillars. His thoughts became prayerful, and calm peace rested on his soul. He next sought and found a good master in Nuremberg, with whom he stayed and learnt the German language.

The old moat round the town had been converted into a number of little kitchen gardens; but the high walls, with their heavy-looking towers, are still standing. Inside these walls the ropemaker twisted his ropes along a walk built like a gallery, and in the cracks and crevices of the walls elderbushes grow and stretch their green boughs over the small houses which stand below. In one of these houses lived the master for whom Knud worked; and over the little garret window where he sat, the elder-tree waved its branches. Here he dwelt through one summer and winter, but when spring came again, he could endure it no longer. The elder was in blossom, and its fragrance was so homelike, that he fancied himself back again in the gardens of Kjøge. So Knud left his master, and went to work for another who lived farther in the town, where no elder grew. His workshop was quite close to one of the old stone bridges, near to a water-mill, round which the roaring stream rushed and foamed always, yet restrained by the neighboring houses, whose old, decayed balconies hung over, and seemed ready to fall into the water. Here grew no elder; here was not even a flower-pot, with its little green plant; but just opposite the workshop stood a great willow-tree, which seemed to hold fast to the house for fear of being carried away by the water. It stretched its branches over the stream just as those of the willow-tree in the garden at Kjøge had spread over the river. Yes, he had indeed gone from elder-mother to willow-father. There was a something about the tree here, especially in the moonlight nights, that went direct to his heart; yet it was not in reality the moonlight, but the old tree itself. However, he could not endure it: and why? Ask the willow, ask the blossoming elder! At all events, he bade farewell to Nuremberg and journeyed onwards. He never spoke of Joanna to any one; his sorrow was hidden in his heart. The old childish story of the two cakes had a deep meaning for him. He understood now why the gingerbread man had a bitter almond in his left side; his was the feeling of bitterness, and Joanna, so mild and friendly, was represented by the honeycake maiden. As he thought upon all this, the strap of his knapsack pressed across his chest so that he could hardly breathe; he loosened it, but gained no relief. He saw but half the world around him; the other half he carried with him in his inward thoughts; and this is the condition in which he left Nuremberg. Not till he caught sight of the lofty mountains did the world appear more free to him; his thoughts were attracted to outer objects, and tears came into his eyes. The Alps appeared to him like the wings of earth folded together; unfolded, they would display the variegated pictures of dark woods, foaming waters, spreading clouds, and masses of snow. “At the last day,” thought he, “the earth will unfold its great wings, and soar upwards to the skies, there to burst like a soap-bubble in the radiant glance of the Deity. Oh,” sighed he, “that the last day were come!”

Silently he wandered on through the country of the Alps, which seemed to him like a fruit garden, covered with soft turf. From the wooden balconies of the houses the young lacemakers nodded as he passed. The summits of the mountains glowed in the red evening sunset, and the green lakes beneath the dark trees reflected the glow. Then he thought of the sea coast by the bay Kjøge, with a longing in his heart that was, however, without pain. There, where the Rhine rolls onward like a great billow, and dissolves itself into snowflakes, where glistening clouds are ever changing as if here was the place of their creation, while the rainbow flutters about them like a many-colored ribbon, there did Knud think of the water-mill at Kjøge, with its rushing, foaming waters. Gladly would he have remained in the quiet Rhenish town, but there were too many elders and willow-trees.

So he travelled onwards, over a grand, lofty chain of mountains, over rugged,—rocky precipices, and along roads that hung on the mountain’s side like a swallow’s nest. The waters foamed in the depths below him. The clouds lay beneath him. He wandered on, treading upon Alpine roses, thistles, and snow, with the summer sun shining upon him, till at length he bid farewell to the lands of the north. Then he passed on under the shade of blooming chestnut-trees, through vineyards, and fields of Indian corn, till conscious that the mountains were as a wall between him and his early recollections; and he wished it to be so.

Before him lay a large and splendid city, called Milan, and here he found a German master who engaged him as a workman. The master and his wife, in whose workshop he was employed, were an old, pious couple; and the two old people became quite fond of the quiet journeyman, who spoke but little, but worked more, and led a pious, Christian life; and even to himself it seemed as if God had removed the heavy burden from his heart. His greatest pleasure was to climb, now and then, to the roof of the noble church, which was built of white marble. The pointed towers, the decorated and open cloisters, the stately columns, the white statues which smiled upon him from every corner and porch and arch,—all, even the church itself, seemed to him to have been formed from the snow of his native land. Above him was the blue sky; below him, the city and the wide-spreading plains of Lombardy; and towards the north, the lofty mountains, covered with perpetual snow. And then he thought of the church of Kjøge, with its red, ivy-clad walls, but he had no longing to go there; here, beyond the mountains, he would die and be buried.

Three years had passed away since he left his home; one year of that time he had dwelt at Milan.

One day his master took him into the town; not to the circus in which riders performed, but to the opera, a large building, itself a sight well worth seeing. The seven tiers of boxes, which reached from the ground to a dizzy height, near the ceiling, were hung with rich, silken curtains; and in them were seated elegantly-dressed ladies, with bouquets of flowers in their hands. The gentlemen were also in full dress, and many of them wore decorations of gold and silver. The place was so brilliantly lighted that it seemed like sunshine, and glorious music rolled through the building. Everything looked more beautiful than in the theatre at Copenhagen, but then Joanna had been there, and—could it be? Yes—it was like magic,—she was here also: for, when the curtain rose, there stood Joanna, dressed in silk and gold, and with a golden crown upon her head. She sang, he thought, as only an angel could sing; and then she stepped forward to the front and smiled, as only Joanna could smile, and looked directly at Knud. Poor Knud! he seized his master’s hand, and cried out loud, “Joanna,” but no one heard him, excepting his master, for the music sounded above everything.

“Yes, yes, it is Joanna,” said his master; and he drew forth a printed bill, and pointed to her name, which was there in full. Then it was not a dream. All the audience applauded her, and threw wreaths of flowers at her; and every time she went away they called for her again, so that she was always coming and going. In the street the people crowded round her carriage, and drew it away themselves without the horses. Knud was in the foremost row, and shouted as joyously as the rest; and when the carriage stopped before a brilliantly lighted house, Knud placed himself close to the door of her carriage. It flew open, and she stepped out; the light fell upon her dear face, and he could see that she smiled as she thanked them, and appeared quite overcome. Knud looked straight in her face, and she looked at him, but she did not recognize him. A man, with a glittering star on his breast, gave her his arm, and people said the two were engaged to be married. Then Knud went home and packed up his knapsack; he felt he must return to the home of his childhood, to the elder-tree and the willow. “Ah, under that willow-tree!” A man may live a whole life in one single hour.

The old couple begged him to remain, but words were useless. In vain they reminded him that winter was coming, and that the snow had already fallen on the mountains. He said he could easily follow the track of the closely-moving carriages, for which a path must be kept clear, and with nothing but his knapsack on his back, and leaning on his stick, he could step along briskly. So he turned his steps to the mountains, ascended one side and descended the other, still going northward till his strength began to fail, and not a house or village could be seen. The stars shone in the sky above him, and down in the valley lights glittered like stars, as if another sky were beneath him; but his head was dizzy and his feet stumbled, and he felt ill. The lights in the valley grew brighter and brighter, and more numerous, and he could see them moving to and fro, and then he understood that there must be a village in the distance; so he exerted his failing strength to reach it, and at length obtained shelter in a humble lodging. He remained there that night and the whole of the following day, for his body required rest and refreshment, and in the valley there was rain and a thaw. But early in the morning of the third day, a man came with an organ and played one of the melodies of home; and after that Knud could remain there no longer, so he started again on his journey toward the north. He travelled for many days with hasty steps, as if he were trying to reach home before all whom he remembered should die; but he spoke to no one of this longing. No one would have believed or understood this sorrow of his heart, the deepest that can be felt by human nature. Such grief is not for the world; it is not entertaining even to friends, and poor Knud had no friends; he was a stranger, wandering through strange lands to his home in the north.

He was walking one evening through the public roads, the country around him was flatter, with fields and meadows, the air had a frosty feeling. A willow-tree grew by the roadside, everything reminded him of home. He felt very tired; so he sat down under the tree, and very soon began to nod, then his eyes closed in sleep. Yet still he seemed conscious that the willow-tree was stretching its branches over him; in his dreaming state the tree appeared like a strong, old man—the “willow-father” himself, who had taken his tired son up in his arms to carry him back to the land of home, to the garden of his childhood, on the bleak open shores of Kjøge. And then he dreamed that it was really the willow-tree itself from Kjøge, which had travelled out in the world to seek him, and now had found him and carried him back into the little garden on the banks of the streamlet; and there stood Joanna, in all her splendor, with the golden crown on her head, as he had last seen her, to welcome him back. And then there appeared before him two remarkable shapes, which looked much more like human beings than when he had seen them in his childhood; they were changed, but he remembered that they were the two gingerbread cakes, the man and the woman, who had shown their best sides to the world and looked so good.

“We thank you,” they said to Knud, “for you have loosened our tongues; we have learnt from you that thoughts should be spoken freely, or nothing will come of them; and now something has come of our thoughts, for we are engaged to be married.” Then they walked away, hand-in-hand, through the streets of Kjøge, looking very respectable on the best side, which they were quite right to show. They turned their steps to the church, and Knud and Joanna followed them, also walking hand-in-hand; there stood the church, as of old, with its red walls, on which the green ivy grew.

The great church door flew open wide, and as they walked up the broad aisle, soft tones of music sounded from the organ. “Our master first,” said the gingerbread pair, making room for Knud and Joanna. As they knelt at the altar, Joanna bent her head over him, and cold, icy tears fell on his face from her eyes. They were indeed tears of ice, for her heart was melting towards him through his strong love, and as her tears fell on his burning cheeks he awoke. He was still sitting under the willow-tree in a strange land, on a cold winter evening, with snow and hail falling from the clouds, and beating upon his face.

“That was the most delightful hour of my life,” said he, “although it was only a dream. Oh, let me dream again.” Then he closed his eyes once more, and slept and dreamed.

Towards morning there was a great fall of snow; the wind drifted it over him, but he still slept on. The villagers came forth to go to church; by the roadside they found a workman seated, but he was dead! frozen to death under a willow-tree.

文章来源:安徒生童话

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