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Hans Christian Andersen

The Naughty Boy

T HERE was once an old poet—a very good old poet. One evening, as he sat at home, there was very bad weather without. The rain streamed down; but the old poet sat comfortably by his stove, where the fire was burning and the roasting apples hissing.

"There won't be a dry thread left on the poor people who are out in this weather!" said he, for he was a good old poet.

"Oh, open to me! I'm cold and quite wet," said a little child outside; and it cried and knocked at the door while the rain streamed down and the wind made all the casements rattle.

"You poor little creature!" said the Poet; and he went to open the door. There stood a little boy; he was quite naked, and the water ran in streams from his long fair curls. He was shivering with cold, and had he not been let in he would certainly have perished in the bad weather.


There stood a little boy

"You little creature!" said the Poet, and took him by the hand, "come to me and I will warm you. You shall have wine and an apple, for you are a capital boy."

And so he was. His eyes sparkled like two bright stars; and though the water ran down from his fair curls, they fell in beautiful ringlets. He looked like a little angel child, but was white with cold and trembled all over. In his hand he carried a famous bow, but it looked quite spoiled by the wet; all the colors in the beautiful arrows had been blurred together by the rain.

The old Poet sat down by the stove, took the little Boy on his knees, pressed the water out of the long curls, warmed his hands in his own, and made him some sweet wine-whey; then the Boy recovered himself and his cheeks grew red, and he jumped to the floor and danced round the old Poet.

"You are a merry boy," said the old Poet. "What is your name?"

"My name is Love," he replied; "don't you know me? There lies my bow—I shoot with that, you may believe me! See, now the weather is clearing up outside and the moon shines."

"But your bow is quite spoiled," said the good old Poet.

"That would be a pity," replied the little Boy; and he took the bow and looked at it. "Oh, it is quite dry and has suffered no damage; the string is quite stiff—I will try it!" Then he bent it and laid an arrow across, aimed, and shot the good old Poet straight through the heart. "Do you see now that my bow was not spoiled?" said he, and laughed out loud and ran away. What a naughty boy, to shoot at the old Poet in that way, who had admitted him into the warm room and been so kind to him and given him the best wine and the best apple!

The good Poet lay upon the floor and wept; he was really shot straight into the heart. "Fie!" he cried, "what a naughty boy this Love is! I shall tell that to all good children, so that they may take care and never play with him, for he will do them a hurt!"

All good children, girls and boys, to whom he told this took good heed of this naughty Love; but still he tricked them, for he is very cunning. When the students come out from the lectures he runs at their side with a book under his arm and has a black coat on. They cannot recognize him at all. And then they take his arm and fancy he is a student, too; but he thrusts the arrow into their breasts. Yes, he is always following people! He sits in the great chandelier in the theater and burns brightly so that the people think he is a lamp; but afterward they see their error. He runs about in the palace garden and on the promenades. Yes, he once shot your father and your mother straight through the heart! Only ask them, and you will hear what they say. Oh, he is a bad boy, this Love; you must never have anything to do with him. He is after every one. Only think, once he shot an arrow at old grandmama; but that was a long time ago. The wound has indeed healed long since, but she will never forget it. Fie on that wicked Love! But now you know him, and what a naughty boy he is.