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The blue light


Det blå lys

There was once on a time a soldier who for many years had served the King faithfully, but when the war came to an end could serve no longer because of the many wounds which he had received. The King said to him, "Thou mayst return to thy home, I need thee no longer, and thou wilt not receive any more money, for he only receives wages who renders me service for them." Then the soldier did not know how to earn a living, went away greatly troubled, and walked the whole day, until in the evening he entered a forest. When darkness came on, he saw a light, which he went up to, and came to a house wherein lived a witch. "Do give me one night's lodging, and a little to eat and drink," said he to her, "or I shall starve." - "Oho!" she answered, "who gives anything to a run-away soldier? Yet will I be compassionate, and take you in, if you will do what I wish." - "What do you wish?" said the soldier. "That you should dig all round my garden for me, tomorrow." The soldier consented, and next day labored with all his strength, but could not finish it by the evening. "I see well enough," said the witch, "that you can do no more to-day, but I will keep you yet another night, in payment for which you must to-morrow chop me a load of wood, and make it small." The soldier spent the whole day in doing it, and in the evening the witch proposed that he should stay one night more. "To-morrow, you shall only do me a very trifling piece of work. Behind my house, there is an old dry well, into which my light has fallen, it burns blue, and never goes out, and you shall bring it up again for me." Next day the old woman took him to the well, and let him down in a basket. He found the blue light, and made her a signal to draw him up again. She did draw him up, but when he came near the edge, she stretched down her hand and wanted to take the blue light away from him. "No," said he, perceiving her evil intention, "I will not give thee the light until I am standing with both feet upon the ground." The witch fell into a passion, let him down again into the well, and went away.
The poor soldier fell without injury on the moist ground, and the blue light went on burning, but of what use was that to him? He saw very well that he could not escape death. He sat for a while very sorrowfully, then suddenly he felt in his pocket and found his tobacco pipe, which was still half full. "This shall be my last pleasure," thought he, pulled it out, lit it at the blue light and began to smoke. When the smoke had circled about the cavern, suddenly a little black dwarf stood before him, and said, "Lord, what are thy commands?" - "What commands have I to give thee?" replied the soldier, quite astonished. "I must do everything thou biddest me," said the little man. "Good," said the soldier; "then in the first place help me out of this well." The little man took him by the hand, and led him through an underground passage, but he did not forget to take the blue light with him. On the way the dwarf showed him the treasures which the witch had collected and hidden there, and the soldier took as much gold as he could carry. When he was above, he said to the little man, "Now go and bind the old witch, and carry her before the judge." In a short time she, with frightful cries, came riding by, as swift as the wind on a wild tom-cat, nor was it long after that before the little man re-appeared. "It is all done," said he, "and the witch is already hanging on the gallows. What further commands has my lord?" inquired the dwarf. "At this moment, none," answered the soldier; "Thou canst return home, only be at hand immediately, if I summon thee." - "Nothing more is needed than that thou shouldst light thy pipe at the blue light, and I will appear before thee at once." Thereupon he vanished from his sight.

The soldier returned to the town from which he had come. He went to the best inn, ordered himself handsome clothes, and then bade the landlord furnish him a room as handsomely as possible. When it was ready and the soldier had taken possession of it, he summoned the little black mannikin and said, "I have served the King faithfully, but he has dismissed me, and left me to hunger, and now I want to take my revenge." - "What am I to do?" asked the little man. "Late at night, when the King's daughter is in bed, bring her here in her sleep, she shall do servant's work for me." The mannikin said, "That is an easy thing for me to do, but a very dangerous thing for you, for if it is discovered, you will fare ill." When twelve o'clock had struck, the door sprang open, and the mannikin carried in the princess. "Aha! art thou there?" cried the soldier, "get to thy work at once! Fetch the broom and sweep the chamber." When she had done this, he ordered her to come to his chair, and then he stretched out his feet and said, "Pull off my boots for me," and then he threw them in her face, and made her pick them up again, and clean and brighten them. She, however, did everything he bade her, without opposition, silently and with half-shut eyes. When the first cock crowed, the mannikin carried her back to the royal palace, and laid her in her bed.

Next morning when the princess arose, she went to her father, and told him that she had had a very strange dream. "I was carried through the streets with the rapidity of lightning," said she, "and taken into a soldier's room, and I had to wait upon him like a servant, sweep his room, clean his boots, and do all kinds of menial work. It was only a dream, and yet I am just as tired as if I really had done everything." - "The dream may have been true," said the King, "I will give thee a piece of advice. Fill thy pocket full of peas, and make a small hole in it, and then if thou art carried away again, they will fall out and leave a track in the streets." But unseen by the King, the mannikin was standing beside him when he said that, and heard all. At night when the sleeping princess was again carried through the streets, some peas certainly did fall out of her pocket, but they made no track, for the crafty mannikin had just before scattered peas in every street there was. And again the princess was compelled to do servant's work until cock-crow.

Next morning the King sent his people out to seek the track, but it was all in vain, for in every street poor children were sitting, picking up peas, and saying, "It must have rained peas, last night." - "We must think of something else," said the King; "keep thy shoes on when thou goest to bed, and before thou comest back from the place where thou art taken, hide one of them there, I will soon contrive to find it." The black mannikin heard this plot, and at night when the soldier again ordered him to bring the princess, revealed it to him, and told him that he knew of no expedient to counteract this stratagem, and that if the shoe were found in the soldier's house it would go badly with him. "Do what I bid thee," replied the soldier, and again this third night the princess was obliged to work like a servant, but before she went away, she hid her shoe under the bed.

Next morning the King had the entire town searched for his daughter's shoe. It was found at the soldier's, and the soldier himself, who at the entreaty of the dwarf had gone outside the gate, was soon brought back, and thrown into prison. In his flight he had forgotten the most valuable things he had, the blue light and the gold, and had only one ducat in his pocket. And now loaded with chains, he was standing at the window of his dungeon, when he chanced to see one of his comrades passing by. The soldier tapped at the pane of glass, and when this man came up, said to him, "Be so kind as to fetch me the small bundle I have left lying in the inn, and I will give you a ducat for doing it." His comrade ran thither and brought him what he wanted. As soon as the soldier was alone again, he lighted his pipe and summoned the black mannikin. "Have no fear," said the latter to his master. "Go wheresoever they take you, and let them do what they will, only take the blue light with you." Next day the soldier was tried, and though he had done nothing wicked, the judge condemned him to death. When he was led forth to die, he begged a last favor of the King. "What is it?" asked the King. "That I may smoke one more pipe on my way." - "Thou mayst smoke three," answered the King, "but do not imagine that I will spare thy life." Then the soldier pulled out his pipe and lighted it at the blue light, and as soon as a few wreaths of smoke had ascended, the mannikin was there with a small cudgel in his hand, and said, "What does my lord command?" - "Strike down to earth that false judge there, and his constable, and spare not the King who has treated me so ill." Then the mannikin fell on them like lightning, darting this way and that way, and whosoever was so much as touched by his cudgel fell to earth, and did not venture to stir again. The King was terrified; he threw himself on the soldier's mercy, and merely to be allowed to live at all, gave him his kingdom for his own, and the princess to wife.
Der var engang en soldat, som havde tjent kongen tro i mange år. Da krigen var forbi, havde han fået så mange sår, at han ikke kunne slås mere, og kongen sagde da til ham: "Nu kan du drage hjem, jeg har ikke brug for dig. Du får ingen penge, det får kun den, der kan gøre sit arbejde." Soldaten vidste slet ikke, hvordan han skulle klare sig. Bedrøvet drog han af sted og gik hele dagen, til han om aftenen kom ind i en skov. Da mørket faldt på, så han et lys skinne, gik efter det og kom til et hus, hvor der boede en heks. "Må jeg blive her i nat, og få lidt at spise og drikke," spurgte han, "jeg er ved at dø af sult." - "Tror du, jeg giver sådan en forløben soldat noget," sagde hun grinende, "men for en gangs skyld skal jeg hjælpe dig, hvis du vil gøre, hvad jeg siger." - "Hvad vil du have?" spurgte soldaten. "Du skal i morgen grave min have om." Det var soldaten villig til og arbejdede næste dag af alle kræfter, men kunne ikke blive færdig til om aftenen. "Du kan nok ikke mere," sagde heksen, "du kan blive her en nat til, og så skal du til gengæld i morgen hugge et læs træ til pindebrænde." Soldaten sled i det hele dagen og om aftenen foreslog heksen ham at blive der en nat til. "Du skal kun gøre et ganske let arbejde til gengæld. Bagved huset er der en gammel, udtørret brønd. Du skal hente et lys, som jeg har tabt derned, det har en blå flamme og slukkes aldrig." Næste morgen førte den gamle ham ud til brønden og hissede ham ned i en kurv. Han fandt det blå lys og gjorde tegn til hende, at hun skulle hejse ham op igen. Hun trak ham op til randen og strakte så hånden ud og ville have det blå lys. Men han mærkede nok, hvad hun havde i sinde. "Du får det ikke, før jeg står med begge ben på jorden," sagde han. Da blev hun rasende, lod ham falde ned i brønden og gik sin vej.

Den stakkels soldat faldt ned på den fugtige jord uden at tage skade. Det blå lys brændte endnu, men hvad kunne det nytte. Han så nok, at døden var ham vis. Han sad ganske bedrøvet dernede, men så stak han tilfældig hånden i lommen og fandt en pibe, som var halv fuld af tobak. "Det skal være min sidste fornøjelse," tænkte han, tændte den ved lyset og begyndte at ryge. Da dampen havde fyldt hulen, stod der pludselig en lille, sort mand for ham og spurgte: "Hvad befaler du, herre?" - "Hvad skulle jeg dog befale dig," svarede soldaten forundret. "Jeg gør alt, hvad du forlanger," sagde den lille mand. "Godt, hjælp mig så først ud af brønden." Manden tog ham så i hånden og førte ham op gennem en underjordisk gang, og det blå lys tog han med. Undervejs viste han ham alle de skatte, som heksen havde hobet sammen dernede, og soldaten tog så meget guld, han kunne bære. Da han var kommet op på jorden, sagde han til manden: "Gå så hen og bind den gamle heks og før hende for retten." Lidt efter kom hun skrigende farende forbi på en vild kat, så hurtigt som vinden, og et øjeblik efter kom manden tilbage. "Nu er det besørget," sagde han, "heksen hænger allerede i galgen. Hvad befaler du så mere?" - "Ikke noget for øjeblikket," svarede soldaten, "du kan gå hjem, men kom så snart jeg kalder." - "Du behøver blot at tænde din pibe ved det blå lys," sagde den lille mand, "så kommer jeg straks." Derpå forsvandt han.

Soldaten vendte nu tilbage til den by, han var kommet fra. Han købte sig smukke klæder, tog ind i den bedste kro og befalede værten at indrette ham et værelse så prægtigt som muligt. Da han havde fået det, som han ønskede det, kaldte han på den lille mand og sagde: "Jeg har tjent kongen tro, men han har sendt mig bort og ladet mig lide sult og nød. Nu vil jeg hævne mig." - "Hvad skal jeg gøre?" spurgte manden. "I aften, når prinsessen ligger i sin seng og sover, skal du bringe hende herhen, hun skal være min tjenestepige." - "Det er en let sag for mig," sagde den lille mand, "men for dig kan det blive en farlig historie, og hvis nogen får det at vide, går det dig galt." Klokken tolv sprang døren op, og den lille mand kom ind med prinsessen. "Å, er det dig," råbte soldaten, "tag så fat. Hent kosten og fej op i stuen." Da hun havde gjort det, kaldte han på hende, stak benene frem og sagde: "Træk mine støvler af." Så kastede han dem i hovedet på hende, og hun måtte tage dem op og pudse dem. Hun gjorde alt, hvad han befalede, med halvt lukkede øjne, uden at gøre indvendinger. Ved det første hanegal bar den lille mand hende igen hjem i hendes seng på slottet.

Da prinsessen vågnede næste morgen, gik hun hen til sin far og fortalte, at hun havde haft en ganske mærkelig drøm. "Jeg blev med lynets fart båret igennem byen," sagde hun, "og bragt hen til en soldat, som jeg måtte gøre tjeneste hos. Jeg måtte gøre det groveste arbejde, feje og pudse støvler. Det var kun en drøm, og jeg er alligevel så træt, som om jeg virkelig havde gjort det." - "Det kunne godt være virkelighed," sagde kongen, "men jeg vil give dig et råd. Fyld din lomme med ærter og klip et lille hul i den. Hvis du igen bliver ført bort, falder de ud, og så kan vi forfølge sporet." Den lille mand stod imidlertid usynlig ved siden af og hørte, hvad kongen sagde. Da han om natten bar den sovende prinsesse gennem byen, faldt der ganske vist nogle ærter ud af hendes lomme, men den snu, lille fyr havde i forvejen strøet ærter i alle gader, så det ledte ikke på spor efter noget. Prinsessen måtte så igen tjene soldaten til hanegal.

Kongen sendte næste morgen sine folk ud for at søge efter ærterne, men det nyttede ikke. I alle gader var der fattige børn og samlede ærter op. "Det har regnet med ærter i nat," sagde de. "Så må vi finde på noget andet," sagde kongen, "behold dine sko på, når du går i seng, og gem en af dem, før du går hjem fra soldaten, så skal jeg nok finde den." Den lille mand hørte det hele, og da soldaten om aftenen forlangte, at han skulle hente prinsessen igen, frarådede han det. Mod denne list vidste han intet middel, og hvis skoen blev fundet hos soldaten, gik det galt. "Gør som jeg siger," sagde soldaten, og prinsessen måtte igen denne nat tjene som pige. Før hun blev båret af sted igen, gemte hun imidlertid den ene sko under sengen.

Næste morgen lod kongen søge efter prinsessens sko i hele byen, og den blev fundet hos soldaten. Han var efter den lille mands råd gået ud af byen, men blev snart indhentet og kastet i fængsel. Sin største skat, det blå lys, havde han glemt at tage med, og han havde kun et eneste guldstykke i lommen. Mens han nu i sine tunge kæder stod ved fængselsvinduet, så han en af sine kammerater gå forbi. Han bankede på ruden og råbte til ham: "Gør mig den tjeneste at hente den lille bylt, jeg har ladet ligge henne i kroen. Du skal få en dukat for det." Kammeraten løb af sted, og kom lidt efter tilbage med bylten. Så snart soldaten var blevet alene, tændte han sin pibe, og den lille mand kom straks. "Du skal ikke være bange," sagde han, "lad dem kun gøre med dig, hvad de vil, men husk det blå lys." Næste dag blev soldaten stillet for retten, og skønt han ikke havde gjort noget ondt, blev han dømt til døden. Da han blev ført af sted, bad han kongen, om han måtte få sit sidste ønske opfyldt. "Hvad er det?" spurgte kongen. "Må jeg ryge en pibe på vejen?" - "Ryg tre, om du vil," svarede kongen, "men tro ikke, at jeg skænker dig livet." Soldaten tog nu sin pibe frem, tændte den ved det blå lys, og da der var steget et par ringe i vejret, stod den lille mand der med en knippel i hånden. "Hvad befaler min herre?" spurgte han. "Slå den falske dommer og hans betjente til jorden," sagde soldaten, "og spar heller ikke kongen, som har været så ond imod mig." Som et lyn for den lille mand frem og tilbage, og hvem han blot rørte med sin knippel faldt om på jorden og lå der, som han aldrig skulle røre sig mere. Kongen var forfærdelig bange, og for at få lov til at beholde livet, gav han soldaten prinsessen og halve riget.