Viggo And Beate

Translated by Mrs. Gudrun Thorne-Thompson


There was once a girl, and her name was Beate. On her birthday her

father had given her a beautiful straw hat. Her mother had given her a

pair of yellow shoes and the daintiest white dress. But her old aunt had

given her the very best present of all; it was a doll, with a sweet face

and dark brown curls.

Oh, how Beate grew to love that doll, almost more than she loved Marie

and Louise, and they were her best friends.

One day Beate was walking in the yard with her doll in her arms. It had

a name now, and they had become fast friends. She had called her Beate,

her own name, and the name of her old aunt who had given her the


It was in the early Spring. There was a green spot in one corner of the

yard around the old well. There stood a big willow tree with a low

trunk, and it was covered with the little yellow blossoms that children

call "goslings."

They look like goslings, too, for each little tassel has soft yellow

down, and they can swim in the water.

Now, Big Beate and Little Beate soon agreed that they would pick

goslings from the tree and throw them into the well, so that these

might have just as good a time as the big geese and goslings that were

swimming about in the pond. It was really Big Beate who thought of this

first, but Little Beate agreed immediately; you can't imagine how good

she always was.

Now, Big Beate climbed up into the willow and picked many pretty yellow

goslings into her little white apron, and when she counted them she said

that now they had enough, and Little Beate thought so too.

Both of them ran over to the well, and Big Beate helped her little

friend to get her legs firmly fixed between the logs that were around

the well, so that she might sit in comfort and watch the little goslings

swim about on the water. Then gosling after gosling was dropped down,

and as soon as each one reached the water it seemed to become alive and

it moved about. Oh, what fun!

But after awhile the little goslings would not swim any longer, but lay

quite still. That was no fun at all, so Big Beate asked her namesake if

she didn't think she might lean a little over the edge of the well and

blow on them, for then she thought they might come to life again. Little

Beate didn't answer, but she raised her left eye-brow, saying, "Please

don't do that, dear Big Beate! Don't you remember, Mother has told us

how dark it is down there in the well? Think, if you should fall in!"

"Oh, nonsense; just see how easy it is," said Big Beate. She leaned out

over the wall and blew on the nearest ones. Yes, it helped--the goslings

began to swim again. But those that were farthest away didn't move at


"What stupid little things!" said Beate; and she leaned far, far out

over the edge of the well. Then her little hands slipped on the smooth

log--splash! Down she fell into the water. It was so cold, so icy cold,

and it closed over her head, and took the straw hat, which she had got

on her birthday, off her hair! She hadn't time to hear whether Little

Beate screamed, but I'm sure she did.

When Beate's head came up over the water again she grasped the round log

with both her hands, but the hands were too small, and the log too wide

and slippery, she couldn't hold on. Then she saw her dear friend, Little

Beate, standing stiff and dumb with fright, staring at her and with her

right arm stretched out to her. Big Beate hurriedly caught hold of her

and Little Beate made herself as stiff as she could, and stiffer still,

and stood there between the logs holding her dear friend out of the


Now Beate screamed so loudly that her father and mother heard her and

came running as fast as they could, pale and frightened, and pulled her

out. She was dripping wet, and so scared and cold that her teeth


Now they put Beate to bed, and Little Beate had to sleep with her. When

she had said her prayers she hugged her little friend and said: "Never,

never can I thank you enough, because you saved me from that horrible

deep well, dear Little Beate. You shall be my very best friend, always,

and when I grow up you shall be the godmother to my first daughter, and

I shall call her Little Beate for you."


Beate was now a year older. During that year she had lost Little Beate,

but she had never forgotten her.

Big Beate had many dolls given to her, but not one was like Little

Beate. No one was so sweet and good-natured, no one so pretty and


It was a Saturday, and the next day, Sunday, she expected her friends,

Marie and Louise, on a visit, for it was her birthday; therefore she

wanted to decorate her doll-house as prettily as she could.

Beate knew what to do. On the hillside by the Black Pond she remembered

that she had seen the prettiest little snail shells anyone might wish

for--round and fluted, with yellow and brown markings. They would be

just the thing for her bureau. She ran off to search for them, slipping

in and out through the hazel bushes, and picking empty shells by the


But all of a sudden she heard a bird utter such a weird cry from the

lake. She peeped out between the green branches and saw a big bird

swimming about. It had a long blue neck and a white breast, but its back

was shining black. It swam fast, and then suddenly dived and was gone.

Beate stood there and stared at the water, hoping to see the bird

come up again, but she waited and waited in vain. She was frightened,

thinking it was drowned, when she saw it shoot up again far away, almost

in the middle of the lake. Then it began to swim slowly toward a tiny

green island which lay there, and crept into the high weeds and grasses

that hung over the water.

Beate could not get tired of looking at the pretty little island. Willow

bushes grew out of the grass in some places, and in one end grew a

little white-barked birch tree. Beate thought she had never seen

anything half so lovely. It seemed just like a strange little land, all

by itself.

At last Beate remembered that she must hurry home. Again she peeped

through the leaves and branches to say good-night to the island,

when--think of it!--the little green island was gone.

She thought of goblins and fairies, and ran up the path to the top of

the hill as fast as she could. But when she got there she had to look

again. And she became more astonished than ever, for now she saw the

little green island again, but far from the place where she first saw

it. It was sailing slowly toward the southern end of the lake, and the

silver birch was its sail.

As soon as Beate reached home she found Anne, the nurse, and told her

what she had seen.

Anne knew all about the floating island: it had been on the lake for

many years, she said. But there were many strange things about it. One

thing she would tell, and that was, that if anyone stood on the floating

island and took a loon's egg out of the nest and wished for something,

that wish would come true, if the egg was put safely back into the nest

again. If you wished to become a Princess of England, your wish would

indeed be fulfilled, said old Anne. But there was one more thing to

notice: you must not talk about it to a living soul.

"Not even to Father and Mother?" asked Beate.

"No," said Anne, "not to a living soul."

Beate could think of nothing but the island all that evening, and when

she had closed her eyes she could dream of nothing else all night.

Just as soon as Beate got up in the morning she begged her father to row

her and Marie and Louise out to the floating island, when they came to

visit her in the afternoon, and that he promised.

But he also asked how she had happened to think of that, and what she

wanted there. Beate thought first that she would tell him everything,

but then she remembered Anne's words, and said only that she wished to

go out there because the little green island was so pretty.

"Yes, indeed, it is pretty, and you shall see a loon's nest too," said

the father.

Then Beate's face grew red, and the tears came to her eyes, for she knew

well enough about the loon's nest and about the eggs.

In the afternoon the father took the three little girls down to the

lake. Beate's friends thought this was the loveliest place they had ever

seen, and they begged the father to stop and get some of the pretty

water-lilies for them. But Beate was longing for the floating island.

The father rowed close up to the island and around it, and when he came

to the other side the loon plunged out of the reeds into the water and

was gone.

"There is the loon's nest," said the father.

What joy! The loon's nest was on the very edge of the little tiny

island, hidden among the grasses, and in the nest were two big

grayish-brown eggs, with black spots, larger than any goose eggs.

Marie and Louise shouted and laughed, but Beate felt strangely

frightened and was very quiet. She begged her father to let her stand on

the island, only a minute, and would he let her take one of the eggs in

her hand?

The father told her she must be very careful just lift the egg gently

between her two fingers, for if the bird noticed that the egg had been

touched she would not hatch it.

And now Beate stood on the green floating island. She was excited when

she bent down to pick up the grayish-brown egg, but lifted it carefully

between two fingers. Now she might wish for anything in the wide, wide


And what do you think she wished for? To become a Princess of England?

Oh, no, she knew something far better than that. Then her lips moved

softly, and she whispered to herself: "I wish that Little Beate was with

me once more, and would never, never leave me." Carefully she put the

egg back into the nest.

What was the pink something her eye now caught sight of among the tall

reeds close to the nest? It was her doll! Beate gave one shriek of joy.

"Little Beate, my own Little Beate," she sobbed, when she had her own

dearest friend in her arms again. She covered her with tears and kisses,

and held her tight in her arms as if she would never in the world let

her go.

Her father, Marie, and Louise stood by without saying a word. At last

the father kissed his little girl, and lifted her on to the raft again.

Such a birthday party as Beate had now! What did it matter that a year's

rains and snows had faded Little Beate's cheeks and bleached her brown

curls? She was the guest of honor, and sat on the prettiest chair. She

had all the cookies and chocolate that she wanted. She was petted and

loved; and at night, tired and happy, Big Beate slept with her little

friend in her arms.


Viggo was Beate's brother. He was 10 years old. Hans was Viggo's dearest

friend. The servants on the farm called the old Grenadier "Hans the

Watchdog," for they said when he talked to anyone it sounded like a dog

barking, and he looked as if he were ready to bite. But Viggo had once

said that the Grenadier's voice sounded like the rattle of a drum, and

the old soldier thought that was well said. It was from that time on

that Viggo and Hans were such good friends.

Hans the Grenadier was six feet two, and a little more. He was straight

as a stick. His hair was long and snowy white, and it hung in a braid

down his red soldier's coat.

When he came walking up to the farm from his little cottage he always

carried the ax on the left shoulder, like a gun, and marched stiff and

straight, and kept step as if the sergeant were marching right at his

heels, commanding "Left, right! Left, right!"

Viggo knew that sometimes Old Hans was willing to tell about the time he

served in the army. He told of the battles, and first and last about the

"Prince of 'Gustenberg."

"That was a man!" said Hans. "When he looked at you it was as if he

would eat you in one bite. And such a nose between the eyes! The Prince

of 'Gustenberg had a nose that shouted 'Get out of my way!' And

therefore they did get put of his way, too, wherever he showed himself.

"Do you know what the Prince of 'Gustenberg said when he spoke in front

of the troops? 'One thing is a shame,' said he, 'and that is to turn

your back before retreat is called.' And now you know what is a shame,

my boy!"

Viggo sat silent a little while.

"Have you never known a little boy to become a general?" he asked at


"No, I haven't, but I have known a drummer boy to become a sergeant. He

was not much bigger than you. He could do everything you can think of.

There was one thing, though, that was very hard for him to do, and that

was to beat 'Retreat.' 'Forward March' he knew how to drum; he never

forgot that, and sometimes he beat that instead of 'Retreat,' and the

captain got angry. Usually he wasn't punished either, because he had

once saved the captain's life with a snowball."

"With a snowball?" said Viggo.

"Yes, I said snowball; he did not use greater means. We were rushing up

a hill with the enemy in front of us. It was in Winter. The captain and

the drummer boy led the march; but as soon as they came to the top of

the hill there stood the enemy in line. 'Aim!' commanded the enemy's

officer, and all the guns pointed right at the captain. Quick as

lightning the drummer boy grabbed a handful of snow and made a snowball,

and, just as the officer opened his mouth to say 'Fire!' the drummer boy

threw the snowball straight into the open mouth. He stood there, mouth

wide open. Well, then the rest of us arrived and we had a hot fight."

"Then was he made a sergeant?" asked Viggo.

"Yes, when the Prince had heard of it. He was given the rank of a

sergeant, and something better even than that. The Prince called him 'my


"It was too bad that they didn't make him a general," said Viggo. He

added half aloud: "Do you think I might become a general, Hans?"

"Well, well, listen to the spring chicken!" said Hans. "So it is general

you want to be? Never mind, don't blush for that; it wasn't a bad

question. But it is very difficult, for you must learn much, oh, very


"Mathematics, you mean?" said Viggo. "I have learned some of that

already, and languages too."

"Yes, that is well enough, but you must learn much more; you must learn

to drill so that you don't make a mistake in a single movement."

"Then do you think I might become a general?" continued Viggo.

"Who knows? But it is difficult. The eyes are not bad, you have the

right expression. But the nose--no it has not the correct shape. But, of

course, it may grow and curve in time," said Old Hans.

After that Viggo learned to drill and march from his old friend; but he

often looked in the mirror and wished with all his heart that the nose

would curve a little more.


One afternoon Viggo was walking home from school with a bag of books on

his back. He marched straight as a stick, with a soldiery step. Old Hans

was standing outside the cottage waiting for him, and when Viggo halted

and saluted, the old man asked if he could guess what present there was

for him at the house.

"How does it look?" asked Viggo.

"It is brown," said Hans. "Now guess."

"Oh, I suppose it is nothing but a lump of brown sugar from Aunt Beate,"

said Viggo.

"Try again!" said Hans, and grinned. "It is dark brown, it walks on four

feet and laps milk."

"Is it the puppy the Captain has promised me? Is it?" cried Viggo, and

forgot all about standing straight and stiff before the Grenadier.

"Right about! Of course that's what it is," said Hans the Grenadier.

But Viggo turned a somersault instead of "Right about" and ran to the

house. On a piece of carpet close by the fireplace lay the little puppy,

and he was beautiful. The body was dark brown, but the nose and paws

were light brown, and he had a light brown spot over each eye. When

Viggo sat down on the floor beside him and stroked the soft fur, he

licked Viggo's hand. Soon they had become acquainted, and from that time

on Viggo watched, to see if the puppy grew, almost as carefully as he

watched his own nose to see if it had the proper curve so that he might

become a general.

In the night, Allarm lay by Viggo's bed, and in the daytime sat beside

him when he was studying his lessons. The puppy was not allowed to go

along to school, but he met Viggo every afternoon, and barked with joy

and wagged his tail.

One winter morning Hans the Grenadier and some of the farm hands were

going to the woods to haul timber with seven horses. Viggo had a holiday

that day, so he was allowed to go along. He put his rubber boots on, and

whistled for Allarm. The puppy jumped and barked when he noticed that

they were off for the woods. But Viggo's father said it would be best to

leave Allarm at home, for there were packs of wolves in the woods. Viggo

did not like to leave Allarm behind, but when his father said so of

course he must do it. He took the strap and tied Allarm to the leg of

the sofa. Then he put his old coat on the floor beside the dog, so that

he might be comfortable. But you can't imagine how Allarm whined and

howled when he understood that he was to be left tied up.

Viggo told his father that he could not stand it to have Allarm so sad,

happen what would, and he begged that he might take him along.

The father smiled, and said if Viggo wanted to risk it he must take good

care of the dog, and not let him out of his sight. Then they untied him,

and you may imagine Allarm's joy. He jumped and barked so that the

mother had to put her fingers in her ears.

The seven horses went in a line, one after the other, and Hans the

Grenadier and Viggo and Allarm walked behind the last one. The forest

was so still you could not hear the least sound except the horses' hoofs

crunching in the snow. Here and there Viggo saw the foot-prints of a

wolf beside the road. Then he always told Allarm to keep close by him,

and that he did.

But after awhile they left the road and turned into the thick forest.

Hans the Grenadier waded in front, and the snow reached to his knees;

then came the horses and the boys, one after the other, and at last


After a while they came to the logs and began to hitch them to the

horses. Then suddenly Viggo remembered Allarm; he had forgotten all

about the dog since they turned away from the road. He looked around

him, and just then he heard Allarm whine and howl somewhere in the

depths of the forest.

As quick as lightning he grabbed an ax which Old Hans had driven into a

stump, and rushed in through the trees in the direction from which the

howling came. It was not easy; the snow reached far above his knees, but

he noticed nothing: he only feared he would be too late. Once he had to

stop a little to draw breath, then again he heard the pitiful wail of

the dog, but now it sounded fainter. Off Viggo rushed again, and at last

he espied something between the trees. He did not see his dog, but three

wolves stood in a circle, heads turned toward the center; the fourth one

lay inside the ring and bit something in the snow.

Viggo shouted so that it thundered in the forest, and rushed against the

wolves with lifted ax. When he came within seven or eight feet of them,

the three grey-legs took fright and sneaked, tails between legs, far

into the forest; but the fourth, who lay on top of Allarm, hated to give

up his prey. It was a large yellow wolf, and it looked up at Viggo and

showed sharp, bloody teeth.

"Let go of Allarm! Let go of my dog, or I'll teach you!" he cried, and

swung the ax high above his head. Then grey-legs sneaked slowly away

after the others. He turned once and howled, and showed his teeth, and

then disappeared among the bushes.

Far down in a hole in the snow lay Allarm. He was so bitten that he

could not jump to his feet; and, when Viggo lifted him, the blood

dripped down on the snow. His whole body shivered, but he licked Viggo's


Just then Old Hans the Grenadier stood by Viggo's side. When he had

gained his breath after his hurried run, the old man cried very angrily:

"If I did what you deserve I should have to whip you. Do you think it

fit for a youngster like you to rush against a pack of wolves? If they

had eaten you up alive before you had a chance to make a sound, what

would you have said then?"

"Then I would have said: 'One thing is a shame, and that is to turn your

back before "retreat" is called,'" said Viggo, and looked sharply at the


"Well said, my boy! The nose has not quite the right curve yet, but the

eyes are there, and I do believe the heart, too," said Old Hans. He took

the dog from Viggo, and went home with both of them.


"Hurrah, the Black Pond is frozen! The ice is more than an inch thick,

and there's a crowd of boys down there!" shouted one of Viggo's

classmates one morning, as he thrust his frost-covered head through the

door and swung his skates. It didn't take Viggo long before he got his

skates down from the nail, and ran off with his friend. And he was so

anxious to get down to the lake that he forgot to whistle for Allarm.

But Allarm had a fine nose. Just as soon as he had swallowed his

breakfast he understood that Viggo was gone. Then he ran out hunting

through the yard for Viggo's trail, and when he noticed that it didn't

lead to the school he knew he might follow. Then he rushed madly after

him over the fields, and had caught up with him long before Viggo had

reached the cottage of Hans the Grenadier, which lay close by the lake.

One thing Viggo had promised his father before he got permission to go,

and that was that he would be very careful and not skate far out from

the shore. Near the middle of the lake there was an air hole through

which warm air rose to the surface, and there the ice was never thick.

And Viggo meant honestly to do what his father had told him, but now you

shall hear what happened.

When he came to the lake there was a crowd of boys there. There must

have been twenty or more. Most of them had skates on, but some only slid

on the ice. They shouted and laughed so that you could not hear yourself


As soon as Viggo had put on his skates he began to look around. Most of

the boys he knew, for he had raced with them before, and he felt that

he could beat every one of them. But there was one boy who skated by

himself, and seemed not to care about the others. He was much bigger

than Viggo, and Viggo saw immediately that it would not be easy to beat

him in a race. The boys called him Peter Lightfoot, and the name fitted

him. He could do the corkscrew, skate backward as easily as forward, and

lie so low and near the ice that he might have kissed it. But all this

Viggo could do, too.

"Can you write your initials?" asked Viggo. Yes; Peter Lightfoot stood

on one leg and wrote "P. L." in the ice, but the letters hung together.

Then Viggo started. He ran, turned himself around backward and wrote "P.

L.," and between the "P." and the "L." he made a short jump so that the

letters stood apart.

"Hurrah for Viggo! He wrote Peter Lightfoot backward!" shouted the boys,

and threw up their caps. Then the big boy blushed crimson, but he said


Now they began to play "Fox and Geese," and everybody wanted Viggo to be

the fox. Peter wanted to play, too, for he was sure that Viggo could not

catch him. The race-course was scratched in the ice, and Viggo called,

"Out, out, my geese," and off they ran. But Viggo didn't care to run

after the little goslings, it was the big gander, Peter Lightfoot, he

wished to catch. And that was a game!

Off they went, Peter in front and Viggo after him, back and forth in

corners and circles, and all the other boys stopped and looked on. Every

time Viggo was right at his heels, Peter jumped and was far ahead of the

fox again. At last Viggo had him cornered, but just as he would have

caught the goose, Peter stretched out his left leg and meant to trip

Viggo, but his skate caught in a frozen twig and--thump! there lay Peter

Lightfoot, the ice cracking all around him.

"A good thing he wasn't made of glass," laughed the boys and crowded

around Peter. He got up and looked angrily around the circle of boys.

"Now stand in a row, we'll jump," said he, and the boys did. They piled

hats and caps on top of each other first only three high. The whole row

jumped that, then four, then five, then six, but each time fewer got

over and those who pushed the top cap off with their skates had to stop

playing and must stand aside and look on. At last there were eight hats

and caps on top of each other, and now only Peter and Viggo were left to


"Put your cap on top!" said Peter, and Viggo did. But all the boys

shouted that no one could ever make that jump.

Now, Peter came so fast that the air whistled about him, jumped--and

whiff! he was over! He touched Viggo's cap the least little bit, but it

did not fall off the pile.

"Hurrah for Peter! That was a masterly jump!" shouted the boys. "Viggo

can never do that, he is too small," said one.

Viggo knew this was the test, and his heart beat fast. He ran with all

his might. Viggo flew over like a bird, and there was at least four

inches between his skates and the topmost cap. Then the boys crowded

around him and shouted that Viggo was the champion. But Peter Lightfoot

looked at him with a sly and evil eye, and you could see he was planning

to play a trick on him. And, indeed, that's what he did.

After a little while Peter took an apple out of his pocket and rolled it

over the ice toward the airhole. "The one who dares to go for the apple

may keep it!" he called. And many dared to try that, for the apple had

not rolled far and the ice was strong enough. Now Peter threw an apple

farther out, someone got that too. But at last he rolled one that

stopped right on the edge of the open water. One boy after the other ran

out toward it, but when the ice began to crack they slowly turned around


"Don't do it, it is dangerous!" shouted Viggo.

"Oh, yes, Viggo is great when things are easy, but if there is danger he

turns pale as a ghost," said Peter, and laughed aloud.

This was more than Viggo could bear. He thought of what the Prince of

Augustenburg had said before the front, and he thought he must fetch the

apple, come what might. But he forgot that "retreat" had been called,

for his father had forbidden him to go near the hole. Allarm looked at

him with grave eyes and wagged his tail slowly; he did not dare to

whine. But that did not help. Viggo ran so that the wind whistled about

his ears. The ice bent under his feet and cracked, but he glided on and

on, and the ice did not break. Now he was close by the apple; he bent

down to pick it up--crash! The ice broke, and Viggo, head first, fell


In a minute his head appeared above the hole. He swam for the ice and

seized the edge, but a piece broke off every time he tried to climb up.

At first the boys stood there dumb with fright. Then they all called to

him that he must try to hold on, but no one dared to help him, and no

one thought of running for help. Peter Lightfoot had sneaked away when

Viggo fell in.

The best one of them all was Allarm. First he ran yelping around the

hole, but when he saw Viggo appear again he snatched his wet cap between

his teeth and as fast as an arrow he ran toward home. When he reached

the cottage of Hans the Grenadier the old soldier was just standing in

the open doorway. The dog put Viggo's stiff frozen cap at his feet,

whined and cried, jumped up on the old man, held on to his coat and

dragged him toward the ice. Hans understood right away what was the

matter, snatched a rope and ran toward the lake, and in no time he stood

by the hole. He threw the rope to Viggo, who had begun to grow stiff

from the icy bath, and pulled him out.

Viggo ran as fast as he could to the cottage of Hans, and when he

reached the door he had an armor of shining ice over his whole body.

When the Grenadier pulled off the boy's trousers they could stand by

themselves on the floor; they were frozen stiff.

Viggo, of course, had to change from top to toe, and what should he put

on? Hans went to his old chest and came back with his uniform. Viggo

looked rather queer; the yellow knee-trousers reached to his ankles, and

the red coat with yellow cuffs and lapels hung on him like a bag.

But he was wearing a real uniform! Hans looked at him.

"Well," he said, "I won't say much about the fit of the clothes, but who

knows you may wear a better looking uniform some day. The heart is of

the right kind, and the nose--well it is doing better."

[L] From "The Bird and the Star," translated by Mrs. Gudrun

Thorne-Thompson; used by special arrangement with the publishers, Row,

Peterson & Co.

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