Subject:FICTION Scarica il testo

Hans Christian Andersen


NEAR the grass-covered rampart which encircles Copenhagen
lies a great red house. Balsams and other flowers greet us
from the long rows of windows in the house, whose interior is
sufficiently poverty-stricken; and poor and old are the people
who inhabit it. The building is the Warton Almshouse.

Look! at the window there leans an old maid. She plucks
the withered leaf from the balsam, and looks at the
grass-covered rampart, on which many children are playing.
What is the old maid thinking of? A whole life drama is
unfolding itself before her inward gaze.

"The poor little children, how happy they are- how merrily
they play and romp together! What red cheeks and what angels'
eyes! but they have no shoes nor stockings. They dance on the
green rampart, just on the place where, according to the old
story, the ground always sank in, and where a sportive,
frolicsome child had been lured by means of flowers, toys and
sweetmeats into an open grave ready dug for it, and which was
afterwards closed over the child; and from that moment, the
old story says, the ground gave way no longer, the mound
remained firm and fast, and was quickly covered with the green
turf. The little people who now play on that spot know nothing
of the old tale, else would they fancy they heard a child
crying deep below the earth, and the dewdrops on each blade of
grass would be to them tears of woe. Nor do they know anything
of the Danish King who here, in the face of the coming foe,
took an oath before all his trembling courtiers that he would
hold out with the citizens of his capital, and die here in his
nest; they know nothing of the men who have fought here, or of
the women who from here have drenched with boiling water the
enemy, clad in white, and 'biding in the snow to surprise the

"No! the poor little ones are playing with light, childish
spirits. Play on, play on, thou little maiden! Soon the years
will come- yes, those glorious years. The priestly hands have
been laid on the candidates for confirmation; hand in hand
they walk on the green rampart. Thou hast a white frock on; it
has cost thy mother much labor, and yet it is only cut down
for thee out of an old larger dress! You will also wear a red
shawl; and what if it hang too far down? People will only see
how large, how very large it is. You are thinking of your
dress, and of the Giver of all good- so glorious is it to
wander on the green rampart!

"And the years roll by; they have no lack of dark days,
but you have your cheerful young spirit, and you have gained a
friend- you know not how. You met, oh, how often! You walk
together on the rampart in the fresh spring, on the high days
and holidays, when all the world come out to walk upon the
ramparts, and all the bells of the church steeples seem to be
singing a song of praise for the coming spring.

"Scarcely have the violets come forth, but there on the
rampart, just opposite the beautiful Castle of Rosenberg,
there is a tree bright with the first green buds. Every year
this tree sends forth fresh green shoots. Alas! It is not so
with the human heart! Dark mists, more in number than those
that cover the northern skies, cloud the human heart. Poor
child! thy friend's bridal chamber is a black coffin, and thou
becomest an old maid. From the almshouse window, behind the
balsams, thou shalt look on the merry children at play, and
shalt see thine own history renewed."

And that is the life drama that passes before the old maid
while she looks out upon the rampart, the green, sunny
rampart, where the children, with their red cheeks and bare
shoeless feet, are rejoicing merrily, like the other free
little birds.