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Delaying Is Not Forgetting by Hans Christian Andersen




THERE was an old mansion surrounded by a marshy ditch with a drawbridge whichwas but seldom let down:- not all guests are good people. Under the roof wereloopholes to shoot throughand to pour down boiling water or even molten leadon the enemyshould he approach. Inside the house the rooms were very high andhad ceilings of beamsand that was very useful considering the great deal ofsmoke which rose up from the chimney fire where the largedamp logs of woodsmouldered. On the walls hung pictures of knights in armour and proud ladies ingorgeous dresses; the most stately of all walked about alive. She was calledMeta Mogen; she was the mistress of the houseto her belonged the castle.

Towards the evening robbers came; they killed three of her people and alsothe yard-dogand attached Mrs. Meta to the kennel by the chainwhile theythemselves made good cheer in the hall and drank the wine and the good ale outof her cellar. Mrs. Meta was now on the chainshe could not even bark.

But lo! the servant of one of the robbers secretly approached her; they mustnot see itotherwise they would have killed him.

"Mrs. Meta Mogen" said the fellow"do you still remember howmy fatherwhen your husband was still alivehad to ride on the wooden horse?You prayed for himbut it was no goodhe was to ride until his limbs wereparalysed; but you stole down to himas I steal now to youyou yourself putlittle stones under each of his feet that he might have supportnobody saw itor they pretended not to see itfor you were then the young gracious mistress.My father has told me thisand I have not forgotten it! Now I will free youMrs. Meta Mogen!"

Then they pulled the horses out of the stable and rode off in rain and windto obtain the assistance of friends.

"Thus the small service done to the old man was richly rewarded!"said Meta Mogen.

"Delaying is not forgetting" said the fellow.

The robbers were hanged. -

There was an old mansionit is still there; it did not belong to Mrs. MetaMogenit belonged to another old noble family.

We are now in the present time. The sun is shining on the gilt knob of thetowerlittle wooded islands lie like bouquets on the waterand wild swans areswimming round them. In the garden grow roses; the mistress of the house isherself the finest rose petalshe beams with joythe joy of good deeds:howevernot done in the wide worldbut in her heartand what is preservedthere is not forgotten. Delaying is not forgetting!

Now she goes from the mansion to a little peasant hut in the field. Thereinlives a poor paralysed girl; the window of her little room looks northwardthesun does not enter here. The girl can only see a small piece of field which issurrounded by a high fence. But to-day the sun shines here- the warmbeautifulsun of God is within the little room; it comes from the south through the newwindowwhere formerly the wall was.

The paralysed girl sits in the warm sunshine and can see the wood and thelake; the world had become so largeso beautifuland only through a singleword from the kind mistress of the mansion.

"The word was so easythe deed so small" she said"the joyit afforded me was infinitely great and sweet!"

And therefore she does many a good deedthinks of all in the humble cottagesand in the rich mansionswhere there are also afflicted ones. It is concealedand hiddenbut God does not forget it. Delayed is not forgotten! -

An old house stood there; it was in the large town with its busy traffic.There are rooms and halls in itbut we do not enter themwe remain in thekitchenwhere it is warm and lightclean and tidy; the copper utensils areshiningthe table as if polished with beeswax; the sink looks like a freshlyscoured meatboard. All this a single servant has doneand yet she has time tospare as if she wished to go to church; she wears a bow on her capa black bowthat signifies mourning. But she has no one to mournneither father nor motherneither relations nor sweetheart. She is a poor girl. One day she was engaged toa poor fellow; they loved each other dearly.

One day he came to her and said:

"We both have nothing! The rich widow over the way in the basement hasmade advances to me; she will make me richbut you are in my heart; what do youadvise me to do?"

"I advise you to do what you think will turn out to your happiness"said the girl. "Be kind and good to herbut remember this; from the hourwe part we shall never see each other again."

Years passed; then one day she met the old friend and sweetheart in thestreet; he looked ill and miserableand she could not help asking him"Howare you?"

"Rich and prospering in every respect" he said; "the woman isbrave and goodbut you are in my heart. I have fought the battleit will soonbe ended; we shall not see each other again now until we meet before God!"

A week has passed; this morning his death was in the newspaperthat is thereason of the girl's mourning! Her old sweetheart is dead and has left a wifeand three step-childrenas the paper says; it sounds as if there is a crackbut the metal is pure.

The black bow signifies mourningthe girl's face points to the same in astill higher degree; it is preserved in the heart and will never be forgotten.Delaying is not forgetting! -

These are three stories you seethree leaves on the same stalk. Do you wishfor some more trefoil leaves? In the little heartbook are many more of them.Delaying is not forgetting! - -