Fourteenth Evening

The Moon spoke. “Near the forest path are two farmhouses. The doors are low and the windows placed irregularly; white thorn bushes and barberry ramble around them. Their mossy roofs are overgrown with yellow flowers and houseleek. Only green cabbage and potatoes grow in the little garden, but by the hedge grows a willow tree; and beneath it sat a little girl, her eyes fixed on the old oak tree between the farmhouses. Its tall and withered trunk had been sawed off at the top, and upon it a stork had built his nest. He stood above it now, rattling his bill. A little boy came out and stood beside the girl; they were brother and sister.

” ‘What are you looking at?’ he asked.

” ‘At the stork,’ she said. ‘The neighbor woman told me he’ll bring us a little brother or sister tonight, and I’m watching so I can see it when it comes.’

” ‘The stork doesn’t bring anything,’ said the boy. ‘The neighbor woman, believe me, told me that too, but she laughed when she said it, so I asked her if she dared say “on my honor.” No, she didn’t dare do that. I know perfectly well that what they say about the stork is only a story they tell to children.’

” ‘But then where does the baby come from?’ asked the girl.

” ‘Our Lord brings it,’ said the boy. ‘God has it under His mantle, but no one can see God, so we can’t see Him bring it.’

“Just then a breeze stirred in the branches of the willow tree. The children folded their hands and looked at each other. Surely this was God, who had brought the little baby! Then they clasped each other’s hands. The door of the house opened, and the neighbor woman appeared.

” ‘Come in now,’ she said, ‘and see what the stork has brought you; it is a little brother.’

“And the children nodded, for they already knew the baby had come.”



Original Danish title: “Fjortende Aften” translated by Jean Hersholt.