BLTC Press Titles


available for Kindle at Amazon.com


Darby O'Gill and the Little People

Hermenie Templeton Kavanagh


The Worm Ouroboros

E. R. Eddison


The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

A. Conan Doyle


Paradoxes of the Highest Science

Eliphas Levi


Fairy tales from Hans Christian Andersen

by Hans Christian Andersen

Excerpt:

Then it related within itself, or thought out its story inwardly. It was a curious enough story; the little bird twittered away happily enough, and down in the street people walked and drove as usual, all bent upon their own concerns, thinking about them, or about nothing at all; but not so the bottle neck. It recalled the glowing smelting furnace in the factory, where it had been blown into life. It still remembered feeling quite warm, and gazing longingly into the roaring furnace, its birth-place; and its great desire to leap back again into it. But little by little as it cooled, it began to feel quite comfortable where it was. It was standing in a row with a whole regiment of brothers and sisters, all from the same furnace, but some were blown into champagne bottles, and others into beer bottles, which makes all the difference in their after life! Later, when out in the world, a beer bottle may certainly contain the costliest Lacrimae Christe, and a champagne bottle may be filled with blacking; but what one is born to may be seen in the structure. Nobility is nobility even if it has black blood in its veins!

All the bottles were soon packed up and our bottle with them. It never dreamt then of ending its days as a bottle neck serving as a drinking glass for a bird; but after all that is an honourable position, so one is something after all. It first saw the light again, when with its other companions it was unpacked in the wine merchant's cellar. Its first rinsing was a peculiar experience. Then it lay empty and corkless, and felt curiously flat, it missed something, but did not know exactly what it was. Next it was filled with some good strong wine, was corked and sealed, and last of all it was labelled outside "first quality." This was just as if it had passed first class in an examination, but of course the wine was really good and so was the bottle. While one is young one is a poet! Something within it sang and rejoiced, something which it really knew nothing at all about; green sunlit slopes where the vine grew, merry girls and jovial youths singing and kissing each other. Ah, life is a heavenly thing! All this stirred and worked within the bottle just as it does in young poets, who very often know no more about it than the bottle.

At last one morning the bottle was bought by the furrier's apprentice; he was sent for a bottle of the best wine. It was packed up in the luncheon basket together with the ham, the cheese and the sausage; the basket also contained butter of the best, and various fancy breads. The furrier's daughter packed it herself, she was quite young and very pretty. She had laughing brown eyes, and a smile on her lips; her hands were soft and delicate and very white, yet not so white as her neck and bosom. It was easy to see that she was one of the town beauties, and yet she was not engaged. She held the provision basket on her lap during the drive to the wood. The neck of the bottle peeped out beyond the folds of the table cloth. There was red sealing wax on the cork, and it looked straight up into the maiden's face; and it also looked at the young sailor who sat beside her, he was a friend of her childhood, the son of a portrait painter. He had just passed his examination for promotion with honour, and was to sail next day as mate on a long trip to foreign parts. There had been a good deal of talk about this journey during the packing, and while it was going on the expression in the eyes and on the mouth of the pretty girl had been anything but cheerful. The two young people walked together in the wood, and talked to each other. What did they talk about? Well the bottle did not hear their conversation, for it was in the luncheon basket. It was a very long time before it was taken out, but when this did occur, it was evident that something pleasant had taken place. Everybody's eyes were beaming, and the furrier's daughter was laughing, but she talked less than the others, and her cheeks glowed like two red roses.

Father took up the bottle and the cork-screw—it was a curious sensation for the cork to be drawn from the bottle for the first time. The bottle neck never afterwards forgot the solemn moment when the cork flew out with a "kloop" and it gurgled when the wine flowed out of it into the glasses.

"The health of the betrothed," said father, and every glass was drained, while the young sailor kissed his lovely bride.

"Health and happiness !" said both the old people. The young man filled the glasses again and drank to the "homecoming and the wedding this day year." When the glasses were emptied, he took the bottle and held it up above his head. "You have shared my happiness to-day, and you shall serve nobody else, saying which he threw it up into the air. The furrier's daughter little thought she was ever to see it again; however this was to come to pass. It fell among the rushes by a little woodland lake. The bottle neck remembered distinctly how it lay there thinking over these events. "I gave them wine, and they gave me swamp water in return, but they meant it well." It could no longer see the betrothed pair or the joyous old people, but it could hear them for a long time gaily talking and singing. After a time two little peasant boys came along peering among the reeds where they saw the bottle and took it away with them, so it was provided for. At home in the forester's cottage where they lived, their eldest brother who was a sailor had been yesterday to take leave of them, as he was starting on a long voyage. Mother was now packing up a bundle of his things which father was to take to the town in the evening, when he went to see his son once more, and to take his mother's last greeting. A little bottle had already been filled with spiced brandy, and was just being put into the bundle when the two boys came in with the other larger bottle they had found. This one would hold so much more than the little one, and this was all the better for it was such a splendid cure for a chill. It was no longer red wine like the last which was put into the bottle but bitter drops; however, these were good too—for the stomach. The large new bottle was to go and not the little one; so once more the bottle started on a new journey. It was taken on board the ship to Peter Jensen, and it was the very same ship in which the young mate was to sail. But the mate did not see the bottle, and even if he had he would not have known it, nor would he ever have thought that it was the one out of which they had drunk to his home-coming.

Certainly it no longer contained wine, but there was something just as good in it. Whenever Peter Jensen brought it out, his shipmates dubbed it, "the apothecary." It contained good physic, and cured all their complaints as long as there was a drop left in it. It was a very pleasant time, and the bottle used to sing whenever it was stroked with a cork, so they christened it "Peter Jensen's lark."


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