Viggo and Beate,
Translated by Mrs. Gudrun Thorne-Thompson
THE DOLL UNDER THE BRIER ROSEBUSH
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 present.
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,
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 all.
“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 water.
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 chattered.
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.”
THE FLOATING ISLAND
Beate was now a year older. During that year
she had lost Little Beate, but she had never forgotten
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 graceful.
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
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 dozen.
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
“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
“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
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 world.
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.
HANS, THE OLD SOLDIER
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
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
“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 last.
“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
“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
“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 much.”
“Mathematics, you mean?” said Viggo. “I have
learned some of that already, and languages
“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?”
“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
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.
ALLARM, THE DOG
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
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 Viggo.
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
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 hand.
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 Grenadier.
“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.
THE BLACK POND
“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
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
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
And Viggo meant honestly to do what his
father had told him, but now you shall hear
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 think.
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
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
“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 jump.
“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 again.
“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.
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
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
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