There are three kinds of liars: 1. The man whom others can't believe. He is harmless. Let him alone. 2. The man who can't believe others. He has probably made a careful study of human nature. If you don't put him in jail, he will find out... Read more of LIARS at Free Jokes.caInformational Site Network Informational
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The Mail-coach Passengers

from Good Stories For Great Holidays - LINCOLN'S BIRTHDAY





BY HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN (ADAPTED)

It was bitterly cold. The sky glittered with stars, and not a breeze
stirred. "Bump,"--an old pot was thrown at a neighbor's door; and,
"Bang! Bang!" went the guns, for they were greeting the New Year.

It was New Year's Eve, and the church clock was striking twelve.
"Tan-ta-ra-ra, tan-ta-ra-ra!" sounded the horn, and the mail-coach came
lumbering up. The clumsy vehicle stopped at the gate of the town; all
the places had been taken, for there were twelve passengers in the
coach.

"Hurrah! Hurrah!" cried the people in the town; for in every house the
New Year was being welcomed; and, as the clock struck, they stood up,
the full glasses in their hands, to drink success to the newcomer. "A
happy New Year," was the cry; "a pretty wife, plenty of money, and no
sorrow or care!"

The wish passed round, and the glasses clashed together till they rang
again; while before the town-gate the mail-coach stopped with the twelve
strange passengers. And who were these strangers? Each of them had his
passport and his luggage with him; they even brought presents for me,
and for you, and for all the people in the town. Who were they? What did
they want? And what did they bring with them?

"Good-morning!" they cried to the sentry at the town-gate.

"Good-morning," replied the sentry, for the clock had struck twelve.

"Your name and profession?" asked the sentry of the one who alighted
first from the carriage.

"See for yourself in the passport," he replied.

"I am myself!"--and a famous fellow he looked, arrayed in bearskin
and fur boots. "Come to me to-morrow, and I will give you a New Year's
present. I throw shillings and pence among the people. I give balls
every night, no less than thirty-one; indeed, that is the highest number
I can spare for balls. My ships are often frozen in, but in my offices
it is warm and comfortable. MY NAME IS JANUARY. I am a merchant, and I
generally bring my accounts with me."

Then the second alighted. He seemed a merry fellow. He was a director of
a theater, a manager of masked balls, and a leader of all the amusements
we can imagine. His luggage consisted of a great cask.

"We'll dance the bung out of the cask at carnival-time," said he. "I'll
prepare a merry tune for you and for myself, too. Unfortunately I have
not long to live,--the shortest time, in fact, of my whole family,--only
twenty-eight days. Sometimes they pop me in a day extra; but I trouble
myself very little about that. Hurrah!"

"You must not shout so," said the sentry.

"Certainly I may shout," retorted the man.

"I'm Prince Carnival, traveling under THE NAME OF FEBRUARY."

The third now got out. He looked the personification of fasting; but
he carried his nose very high, for he was a weather prophet. In his
buttonhole he wore a little bunch of violets, but they were very small.

"MARCH, MARCH!" the fourth passenger called after him, slapping him
on the shoulder, "don't you smell something good? Make haste into the
guard-room, they are feasting in there. I can smell it already! FORWARD,
MASTER MARCH!"

But it was not true. The speaker only wanted to make an APRIL FOOL of
him, for with that fun the fourth stranger generally began his career.
He looked very jovial, and did little work.

"If the world were only more settled!" said he; "but sometimes I'm
obliged to be in a good humor, and sometimes a bad one. I can laugh or
cry according to circumstances. I have my summer wardrobe in this box
here, but it would be very foolish to put it on now!"

After him a lady stepped out of the coach. SHE CALLED HERSELF MISS MAY.
She wore a summer dress and overshoes. Her dress was light green, and
there were anemones in her hair. She was so scented with wild thyme that
it made the sentry sneeze.

"Your health, and God bless you!" was her greeting.

How pretty she was! and such a singer! Not a theater singer nor a
ballad-singer; no, but a singer of the woods. For she wandered through
the gay, green forest, and had a concert there for her own amusement.

"Now comes the young lady," said those in the coach; and out stepped a
young dame, delicate, proud, and pretty. IT WAS MISTRESS JUNE. In her
service people become lazy and fond of sleeping for hours. She gives
a feast on the longest day of the year, that there may be time for her
guests to partake of the numerous dishes at her table. Indeed, she keeps
her own carriage, but still she travels by the mail-coach with the rest
because she wishes to show that she is not proud.

But she was not without a protector; her younger brother, JULY, was with
her. He was a plump, young fellow, clad in summer garments, and wearing
a straw hat. He had very little luggage because it was so cumbersome in
the great heat. He had, however, swimming-trousers with him, which are
nothing to carry.

Then came the mother herself, MADAME AUGUST, a wholesale dealer
in fruit, proprietress of a large number of fish-ponds, and a
land-cultivator. She was fat and warm, yet she could use her hands well,
and would herself carry out food to the laborers in the field. After
work, came the recreations, dancing and playing in the greenwood, and
the "harvest home." She was a thorough housewife.

After her a man stepped out of the coach. He is a painter, a master of
colors, and is NAMED SEPTEMBER. The forest on his arrival has to change
its colors, and how beautiful are those he chooses! The woods glow with
red, and gold, and brown. This great master painter can whistle like a
blackbird. There he stood with his color-pot in his hand, and that was
the whole of his luggage.

A landowner followed, who in the month for sowing seed attends to his
ploughing and is fond of field sports. SQUIRE OCTOBER brought his dog
and his gun with him, and had nuts in his game-bag.

"Crack! Crack!" He had a great deal of luggage, even a plough. He spoke
of farming, but what he said could scarcely be heard for the coughing
and sneezing of his neighbor.

It WAS NOVEMBER, who coughed violently as he got out. He had a cold, but
he said he thought it would leave him when he went out woodcutting, for
he had to supply wood to the whole parish. He spent his evenings making
skates, for he knew, he said, that in a few weeks they would be needed.

At length the last passenger made her appearance,--OLD MOTHER DECEMBER!
The dame was very aged, but her eyes glistened like two stars. She
carried on her arm a flower-pot, in which a little fir tree was growing.
"This tree I shall guard and cherish," she said, "that it may grow large
by Christmas Eve, and reach from the floor to the ceiling, to be adorned
with lighted candles, golden apples, and toys. I shall sit by the
fireplace, and bring a story-book out of my pocket, and read aloud to
all the little children. Then the toys on the tree will become alive,
and the little waxen Angel at the top will spread out his wings of gold
leaf, and fly down from his green perch. He will kiss every child in
the room, yes, and all the little children who stand out in the street
singing a carol about the 'Star of Bethlehem.'"

"Well, now the coach may drive away," said the sentry; "we will keep all
the twelve months here with us."

"First let the twelve come to me," said the Captain on duty, "one after
another. The passports I will keep here, each of them for one month.
When that has passed, I shall write the behavior of each stranger on his
passport. MR. JANUARY, have the goodness to come here."

And MR. JANUARY stepped forward.

When a year has passed, I think I shall be able to tell you what the
twelve passengers have brought to you, to me, and to all of us. Just
now I do not know, and probably even they do not know themselves, for we
live in strange times.





Next: He Rescues The Birds

Previous: The Twelve Months - A Slav Legend



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