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REMOVING-DAY

 

YOU remember Ole the watchman in the tower I have told of two visits to himnowI shall tell about a thirdone but that is not the last

It is ususlly at New Year time that Igo up to him

now on the contrary it was on removing-day for then it is not very pleasant down in the streets of the town they aresoheaped-up with sweepings and rubbish of all kinds not to speak of castout bedstraw which one must wade throughI came by just now and saw that in this great collection of rubbish several children were playing they played at going to bed it was so inviting for this gamethey thought they snuggled down in the straw and pulledan old ragged piece of wallpaper over themfor a coverlet

"It was so lovely they said it was too much for me andsoI had to run off up to Ole

"It is removing-day said he"The streets andlanes serve as an ashbox an enormous ashbox A cartload isenough for me I can get something out of that andI did get something shortly afterChristmasIcame down into the street which was raw wet dirty and enough to give onea cold The dustman stopped with his cart which was fulla kind of sample of the streets of Copenhagen on a remov ingday In the back of the cart was a firtree still quitegreen and with gold-tinsel on the branches it had beenuaed for a Christmastree and was now thrown out into the street and the dustman had stuck it up at the back of the heap It was pleasant to look at or something to weep overyesone can say eitheraccording tohow one thinks about it andI thought about it and so did one and another of the things which lay in the cart or they might havethoughtwhich is about one and the same thing

A lady' s torn glove lay there what did it thinkabout ShallI tell you It lay and pointed with the littlefinger at the firtree "That tree concerns me" itthought"Ihave also been at a party where there werechandeliers My real life was one ballnight a hand-claspandI split There my recollection stops Ihavenothing more to live for"That is what the glove thoughtor could have thought"How silly the firtree is"said thepotsherd Broken crockery thiks everything foolish"Ifone is on the dustcart" they said"one should not puton airs and wear tinsel Iknow that Ihavebeen of use inthis world of more use than a green branch like that"That was also an opinion such as many people may have butthe firtree looked wellit was a little poetry on thepile of rubbish and there is plenty of that about in thestreets on removing-day The way got heavy and trouble - some for me down there andI became eager to comeaway up into the tower again and to stay up here hereIsit and look down with good humour

"Thegood people down there play at changing hous es They drag and toil with their belongiogs and the brownie sits in the tub and removes with them House rubbish family troublessorrows and afflictions removefrom the old to the new dwelling and so what do they andwe get out of the whole Yes it is already written downlong ago in the good old verse in the newspaper'Thinkof Death's great removingday'It is a serious thoughtbutI suppose it is not unpleasant for you to hear about itDeath isand remains the most trustworthy official inspite of his many small occupationsHave you never thought over this

"Death is the omnibus conductor he is the pass portwriterhe puts his name to our character bookandhe is the director of the great savings bank of life Canyou understand it All the deeds of our earthly life greatand small we put in the savings bankand when Death comes with his removing-day omnibus and we must gointo it and drive to the land of eternity then at theboundary he gives us our characterbook as a passportFor pocketmoney on the journey he takes out of the savings bank one or other of the deedswe have done the one that most shows our worthThat may be delightful but itmay also be terrible

"No one has escaped yet from the omnibus driveThey certainly tell about one who was not allowed to go with itthe shoemaker of Jerusalem hehad to run be hind ifhehad got leave to come into the omnibus then he would have escaped being a subject for the poetsPeep just once with your thoughts into the great omnibus of theremoving-day It is a mixed companyThe king and the begggar sit side by side the genius and the idiot they mustset off without goods or gold only with their character-book and the savings bank pocketmoney but which of one's deeds will be brought forward and sent with onePerhaps a very little oneas small as a pea but the pea can send out a blossoming plant

"The poor outcastwho sat on the low stool in the corner and got blows and hard wordswill perhaps get hiswornout stool with him as a token and a helpThe stool becomes a sedanchair to carry him into the land of eterni-tyit raises itself there to a throne shining like goldandflowering like an arbour

"One who in this life always went about and tippledpleasure's spicy drink to forget other mischief he had done gets his wooden keg with him and must drink from iton the omnibus journey and the drink is pure and clear so that the thoughts are clearedall good and noble feelingsare awakened he sees and feels what he did not care tosee before or could not see and so he has his punishmentin himself'The gnawing wormwhich dies not for ages and ages' If there was written on the glass 'Oblivion'there is written on the keg 'Remembrance'

"IfI read a good book an historical writing I mustalwaysthink of the person I read about as coming into Death's omnibus at last Imust think about which ofhis deedsDeath took out of the savings bank for him what pocketmoney he took into the land of eternity

"There was once a French king Ihave forgotten his name the names of good things are forgotten sometimeseven by me but they are sure to come back again It was a king who in time of famine became his people 's benefactor and the people raised a monument of snow to himwith this inscription'Quicker than this meltsyou helped ' I can imagine that Death gave him in allusionto this monument a single snowflake which never meltsand that itflewlike a white snowbird overhisroyal head into the land of immortality

"There was also Louis the Eleventh yes Iremem ber his name one always remembersbad things well A trait of him comes often into my mind Iwish that one could say the story was untrueHe ordered his constable to be beheaded he could do that whether it was just orunjustbut the constable's innocent children the one eight years old the other sevenhe ordered to be sta tioned at the place of execution and to be sprinkled with their father's blood then to be taken to the Bastille andput in an iron cagewhere they did not even get a blanketto cover them and King Louis sent the executioners to them every week and had a tooth pulled from each of them so that they should not have too good a time andthe eldest said'My mother would die of sorrow if sheknew that my little brother suffered so much pull out twoof my teethand let him go free'The tears came to theexecutioner 's eyes at that but the King 's will wasstronger than the tearsand every week two children' steeth were brought to the king on a silver salver hehad demanded them and he got them These two teeth Iimagine Death took out of life's savings bankfor King Louis XIand gave him them to take with himon his journey into the great land of immortality theyflylike two flames of firebefore himthey shine they burnthey pinch him these innocent children 's teeth

"Yes it is a serious journey the omnibus driveon the great removingday and when will it come

"That is the serious thing about itthat any dayany hourany minuteone may expect the omnibus

Which of our deeds will Death take out of the savings bank and give to usLet us think about it that remov- ing-day is not to be found in the Almanac"

 


 

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