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My Little Boy   By: (1856-1908)

My Little Boy by Carl Ewald

First Page:

MY LITTLE BOY

by CARL EWALD

TRANSLATED FROM THE DANISH BY ALEXANDER TEIXEIRA DE MATTOS

MY LITTLE BOY COPYRIGHT 1906 BY CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS SOLE AUTHORIZED TRANSLATION

REPRINTED BY ARRANGEMENT WITH THE PUBLISHERS. NO PART OF THIS WORK MAY BE REPRODUCED IN ANY FORM WITHOUT THE PERMISSION OF CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS

MY LITTLE BOY

I

My little boy is beginning to live.

Carefully, stumbling now and then on his little knock kneed legs, he makes his way over the paving stones, looks at everything that there is to look at and bites at every apple, both those which are his due and those which are forbidden him.

He is not a pretty child and is the more likely to grow into a fine lad. But he is charming.

His face can light up suddenly and become radiant; he can look at you with quite cold eyes. He has a strong intuition and he is incorruptible. He has never yet bartered a kiss for barley sugar. There are people whom he likes and people whom he dislikes. There is one who has long courted his favour indefatigably and in vain; and, the other day, he formed a close friendship with another who had not so much as said "Good day" to him before he had crept into her lap and nestled there with glowing resolution.

He has a habit which I love.

When we are walking together and there is anything that impresses him, he lets go my hand for a moment. Then, when he has investigated the phenomenon and arrived at a result, I feel his little fist in mine again.

He has bad habits too.

He is apt, for instance, suddenly and without the slightest reason, to go up to people whom he meets in the street and hit them with his little stick. What is in his mind, when he does so, I do not know; and, so long as he does not hit me, it remains a matter between himself and the people concerned.

He has an odd trick of seizing big words in a grown up conversation, storing them up for a while and then asking me for an explanation:

"Father," he says, "what is life?"

I give him a tap in his little stomach, roll him over on the carpet and conceal my emotion under a mighty romp. Then, when we sit breathless and tired, I answer, gravely:

"Life is delightful, my little boy. Don't you be afraid of it!"

II

Today my little boy gave me my first lesson.

It was in the garden.

I was writing in the shade of the big chestnut tree, close to where the brook flows past. He was sitting a little way off, on the grass, in the sun, with Hans Christian Andersen in his lap.

Of course, he does not know how to read, but he lets you read to him, likes to hear the same tales over and over again. The better he knows them, the better he is pleased. He follows the story page by page, knows exactly where everything comes and catches you up immediately should you skip a line.

There are two tales which he loves more than anything in the world.

These are Grimm's Faithful John and Andersen's The Little Mermaid . When anyone comes whom he likes, he fetches the big Grimm, with those heaps of pictures, and asks for Faithful John . Then, if the reader stops, because it is so terribly sad, with all those little dead children, a bright smile lights up his small, long face and he says, reassuringly and pleased at "knowing better":

"Yes, but they come to life again."

Today, however, it is The Little Mermaid .

"Is that the sort of stories you write?" he asks.

"Yes," I say, "but I am afraid mine will not be so pretty."

"You must take pains," he says.

And I promise.

For a time he makes no sound. I go on writing and forget about him.

"Is there a little mermaid down there, in the water?" he asks.

"Yes, she swims up to the top in the summer."

He nods and looks out across the brook, which ripples so softly and smoothly that one can hardly see the water flow... Continue reading book >>




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