For the Story Teller: Story Telling and Stories to Tell, by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey is part of HackerNoon Books Series . You can jump to any chapter in this book here. Little Tuk
Now there was little Tuk. As a matter of fact his name was not Tuk at all, but before he could speak properly he called himself Tuk. He meant it for Carl, so it is just as well we should know that. He had to look after his sister Gustave who was much smaller than he was, and then he had his lessons to do, but these two things were rather difficult to manage at the same time.
The poor little boy sat with his little sister in his lap, at the same time looking at his open geography book which he held in front of him. Before school time the next morning he had to know the names of all the towns by heart and everything there was to know about them.
At last his mother came home, for she had been out, and she took little Gustave. Tuk ran to the window and read as hard as he could, for it was growing dark fast, and his mother could not afford to buy candles.
“There’s the old washerwoman from the lane,” his mother said as she looked out of the window. “She can hardly carry herself, and yet she has to carry the pail from the pump. Run down, little Tuk, and be a dear boy. Help the old woman!”
Tuk jumped up at once and ran to help her, but when he got home again it was quite dark and it was useless to talk about candles. He had to go to bed. He had an old turn-up bed, and he lay in it, thinking about his geography lesson, the Island of Zealand, and all his teacher had told him about it. He ought to have been learning the lesson, but of course, he could not do that now. He put the geography book under his pillow and he lay there thinking, and thinking—and then all at once it seemed just as if some one had kissed him on his eyes and nose and mouth, and he fell asleep.
Yet he was not quite asleep either. It seemed to him as if the old washerwoman were looking at him with her kind eyes and saying,
“It would be a great shame if you were not to know your lesson. You helped me, and now I will help you.”
And all at once the book under his head went “cribble, crabble.”
“Cluck, cluck, cluck!” There stood a hen from the town of Kiöge.
“I am a Kiöge hen,” it said, and then it went on to tell him how many inhabitants there were, and about the battle which had taken place there.
“Cribble, crabble, bang!” something plumped down; it was a wooden bird, the popinjay from Præstö. It told him that there were just as many inhabitants in Præstö as it had nails in its body, and it was very proud of this.
Now little Tuk no longer lay in bed. Gallop-a-gallop he went. He was sitting in front of a splendidly dressed knight with a shining helmet and a waving plume. They rode through the woods to the old town of Vordingborg, a very large and prosperous town. The castle towered above the royal city, and lights shone through the windows. There were songs and dancing within and the king was leading out the stately young court ladies to the dance. Morning came, and as the sun rose, the town sank away and the king’s palace, one tower after the other. At last only a single tower remained on the hill where the castle had stood, and the town had become tiny and very poor. The schoolboys came along with their books under their arms, and they said, “two thousand inhabitants,” but that was not true. There were not so many.
Little Tuk was still lying in his bed. First he thought he was dreaming, and then he thought he was not dreaming, but there was somebody close to him.
It was a sailor, a tiny little fellow, who might have been a cadet, and he said, “Little Tuk! Little Tuk! I greet you warmly from Korsöer which is a rising town. It is a flourishing town with steamers and coaches. It lies close to the sea and it has good high roads and pleasure gardens. It wanted to send a ship round the world but it did not do it, although it might have. And there is the most delicious scent about the town because there are beautiful rose gardens close by the gates.”
Little Tuk saw them, the green and red flowering branches, and then they vanished before his eyes and changed into wooded heights sloping down to the clear waters of the fjord. A stately old church towered over the fjord with its twin spires. Springs of water rushed down in bubbling streams, close by them sat an old king with a golden crown round his flowing locks. It was King Kroar of the Springs, and little Tuk was in Rœskilde. Down over the slopes and past the springs walked hand in hand all Denmark’s kings and queens wearing their crowns. On and on they went into the old church in time to the pealing of the bells and the rippling of the springs.
All at once everything vanished—where were they? Now an old peasant woman stood before little Tuk. She was a weeding woman and came from Sorö where the grass grows in the market place. She had put her gray linen apron over her head and shoulders. It was soaking wet; there must have been rain.
“Yes, indeed, it has been raining,” she said. Then she suddenly shrank up and wagged her head. It looked as if she were about to take a leap.
“Koax,” she said, “it is wet; it is wet; it is dull as ditch water—in good old Sorö.” She had become a frog.
“Koax” and then once more she was the old woman.
“One must dress according to the weather,” said she. “It is wet, it is wet. My town is like a bottle; you get in by the neck and you have to come out the same way again.”
The old woman’s voice sounded just like the croaking of frogs, or the creaking of fishing boots when you walk in the swamp. It was always the same sound, so tiresome, so tiresome that little Tuk fell into a deep sleep, which was the best thing for him.
But even in this sound sleep he had a dream, or something of the sort. His little sister, Gustave, with the blue eyes and golden, curly hair, had all at once become a lovely grown up girl and, without having wings, she could fly. So Gustave and Tuk flew together right across Zealand, over the green woods and deep blue waters.
“Do you hear the cock crowing, little Tuk? The hens come flying up from Kiöge town. You shall have such a big, big chicken yard. You will be a rich and happy man! Your house shall hold up its head like the king’s towers, and be richly built up with marble statues like those in Præstö.
“Your name will spread round the world with praise like the ship which was to have sailed from Korsöer; and it will be known as far as Rœskilde town.”
Little Tuk seemed to hear all this in his dreams, but he suddenly woke up. It was bright daylight, and he sprang out of bed and read his book. He found that he knew all the towns in his geography book almost at once.
The old washerwoman put her head in at the door, nodded to him and said—
But little Tuk hurried off to school with his book under his arm. He knew that he had already the wish of his heart—he had learned his geography lesson.
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Bailey, Carolyn Sherwin. 2018. For the Story Teller: Story Telling and Stories to Tell. Urbana, Illinois: Project Gutenberg. Retrieved April 2022 from https://www.gutenberg.org/files/58107/58107-h/58107-h.htm
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