OLE-LUK-OIE, THE DREAM-GOD
by Hans Christian Anderson (1842)
"Now pay attention," said Ole-Luk-Oie, in the evening, when Hjalmar was in bed, "and I will decorate the room."
Immediately all the flowers in the flower-pots became large trees, with long branches reaching to the ceiling, and stretching along the walls, so that the whole room was like a greenhouse. All the branches were loaded with flowers, each flower as beautiful and as fragrant as a rose; and, had any one tasted them, he would have found them sweeter even than jam. The fruit glittered like gold, and there were cakes so full of plums that they were nearly bursting. It was incomparably beautiful. At the same time sounded dismal moans from the table-drawer in which lay Hjalmar's school books.
"What can that be now?" said Ole-Luk-Oie, going to the table and pulling out the drawer.
It was a slate, in such distress because of a false number in the sum, that it had almost broken itself to pieces. The pencil pulled and tugged at its string as if it were a little dog that wanted to help, but could not.
And then came a moan from Hjalmar's copy-book. Oh, it was quite terrible to hear! On each leaf stood a row of capital letters, every one having a small letter by its side. This formed a copy; under these were other letters, which Hjalmar had written: they fancied they looked like the copy, but they were mistaken; for they were leaning on one side as if they intended to fall over the pencil-lines.
"See, this is the way you should hold yourselves," said the copy. "Look here, you should slope thus, with a graceful curve."
"Oh, we are very willing to do so, but we cannot," said Hjalmar's letters; "we are so wretchedly made."
"You must be scratched out, then," said Ole-Luk-Oie.
"Oh, no!" they cried, and then they stood up so gracefully it was quite a pleasure to look at them.
"Now we must give up our stories, and exercise these letters," said Ole-Luk-Oie; "One, two – one, two – " So he drilled them till they stood up gracefully, and looked as beautiful as a copy could look. But after Ole-Luk-Oie was gone, and Hjalmar looked at them in the morning, they were as wretched and as awkward as ever.