Andersen's Fairy Tales HTML version
had got a splinter in her finger. "What of?" asked the neighbor's wife. "It is a mahogany
splinter," said the other. "Mahogany! It cannot be less with you!" exclaimed the woman-
and thence the proverb, "It is so mahogany!"-(that is, so excessively fine)--is derived.
One night the stranger awoke--he slept with the doors of the balcony open--the curtain
before it was raised by the wind, and he thought that a strange lustre came from the
opposite neighbor's house; all the flowers shone like flames, in the most beautiful colors,
and in the midst of the flowers stood a slender, graceful maiden--it was as if she also shone;
the light really hurt his eyes. He now opened them quite wide--yes, he was quite awake;
with one spring he was on the floor; he crept gently behind the curtain, but the maiden was
gone; the flowers shone no longer, but there they stood, fresh and blooming as ever; the
door was ajar, and, far within, the music sounded so soft and delightful, one could really
melt away in sweet thoughts from it. Yet it was like a piece of enchantment. And who lived
there? Where was the actual entrance? The whole of the ground-floor was a row of shops,
and there people could not always be running through.
One evening the stranger sat out on the balcony. The light burnt in the room behind him;
and thus it was quite natural that his shadow should fall on his opposite neighbor's wall.
Yes! there it sat, directly opposite, between the flowers on the balcony; and when the
stranger moved, the shadow also moved: for that it always does.
"I think my shadow is the only living thing one sees over there," said the learned man.
"See, how nicely it sits between the flowers. The door stands half-open: now the shadow
should be cunning, and go into the room, look about, and then come and tell me what it had
seen. Come, now! Be useful, and do me a service," said he, in jest. "Have the kindness to
step in. Now! Art thou going?" and then he nodded to the shadow, and the shadow nodded
again. "Well then, go! But don't stay away."
The stranger rose, and his shadow on the opposite neighbor's balcony rose also; the
stranger turned round and the shadow also turned round. Yes! if anyone had paid particular
attention to it, they would have seen, quite distinctly, that the shadow went in through the
half-open balcony-door of their opposite neighbor, just as the stranger went into his own
room, and let the long curtain fall down after him.
Next morning, the learned man went out to drink coffee and read the newspapers.
"What is that?" said he, as he came out into the sunshine. "I have no shadow! So then, it
has actually gone last night, and not come again. It is really tiresome!"
This annoyed him: not so much because the shadow was gone, but because he knew there
was a story about a man without a shadow.* It was known to everybody at home, in the
cold lands; and if the learned man now came there and told his story, they would say that
he was imitating it, and that he had no need to do. He would, therefore, not talk about it at
all; and that was wisely thought.
*Peter Schlemihl, the shadowless man.