Gateway to the Classics: Andersen's Fairy Tales by Alice Lucas
Andersen's Fairy Tales by  Alice Lucas

A Picture from the Ramparts

It is autumn, and we are standing on the ramparts round the citadel, looking at the ships sailing on the Sound, and at the opposite coast of Sweden which stands out clearly in the evening sun-light. Behind us the ramparts fall away steeply; around are stately trees from which the golden leaves are falling fast. Down below us we see some dark and gloomy buildings, surrounded with wooden palisades, and inside these, where the sentries are walking up and down, it is darker still, yet not so gloomy as it is behind you iron grating; that is where the worst convicts are confined. A ray from the setting sun falls into the bare room. The sun shines upon good and bad alike! The gloomy, savage prisoner looks bitterly at the chilly sunbeam. A little bird flutters against the grating. The bird sings to good and bad alike! It twitters softly for a little while, and remains perched, flutters its wings, picks a feather from its breast, and puffs its plumage up. The bad man in chains looks at it, a milder expression steals over his hideous face. A thought which is not quite clear to himself steals into his heart; it is related to the sunshine coming through the grating, related to the scent of violets, which in spring grow so thickly outside the window. Now is heard the music of a huntsman's horn clear and lively, the bird flies away from the grating, the sunbeam disappears, and all is dark again in the narrow cell, dark in the heart of the bad man. Yet the sun has shone into it, and the bird has sung its song.

Continue ye merry notes! The evening is mild, the sea is calm and bright as any mirror.

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