“Little Tuk! little Tuk!” cried a voice; it was the voice of a young sailor boy. “I am come to bring you greeting from Korsör. Korsör is a new town, a living town, with steamers and mail coaches. Once people used to call it a low, ugly place, but they do so no longer.
“‘I dwell by the seaside,’ says Korsör; ‘I have broad highroads and pleasure gardens; and I have given birth to a poet, a witty one, too, which is more than all poets are. I once thought of sending a ship all round the world; but I did not do it, though I might as well have done so. I dwell so pleasantly, close by the port; and I am fragrant with perfume, for the loveliest roses bloom round about me, close to my gates.’”
And little Tuk could smell the roses and see them and their fresh green leaves. But in a moment they had vanished; the green leaves spread and thickened—a perfect grove had grown up above the bright waters of the bay, and above the grove rose the two high-pointed towers of a glorious old church. From the side of the grass-grown hill gushed a fountain in rainbow-hued streams, with a merry, musical voice, and close beside it sat a king, wearing a gold crown upon his long dark hair.
This was King Hroar of the springs; and hard by was the town of Roskilde (Hroar’s Fountain). And up the hill, on a broad highway, went all the kings and queens of Denmark, wearing golden crowns; hand in hand they passed on into the church, and the deep music of the organ mingled with the clear rippling of the fountain. For nearly all the kings and queens of Denmark lie buried in this beautiful church. And little Tuk saw and heard it all.
“Don’t forget the towns,” said King Hroar.
Then all vanished; though where it went he knew not. It seemed like turning the leaves of a book.
And now there stood before him an old peasant woman from Sorö, the quiet little town where grass grows in the very market place. Her green linen apron was thrown over her head and back, and the apron was very wet, as if it had been raining heavily.
“And so it has,” she said. And she told a great many pretty things from Holberg’s comedies, and recited ballads about Waldemar and Absalon; for Holberg had founded an academy in her native town.
All at once she cowered down and rocked her head as if she were a frog about to spring. “Koax!” cried she; “it is wet, it is always wet, and it is as still as the grave in Sorö.” She had changed into a frog. “Koax!” and again she was an old woman. “One must dress according to the weather,” she said.