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THE COURT CARDS_安徒生童话全集



OH, so many dainty things can be cut out of paste- board and pasted together! In this fashion there was cutand pasted a castle so large that it took up a whole tabletop, and it was painted so that it seemed to be built outof red brick. It had a shining copper roof; it had towersand a drawbridge; the water in the canals looked likeplate glass, which is just wtat it was; and in the topmosttower there stood a watchman cut out of wood. He had atrumpet, but he didn' t blow it.

All this belonged to a little boy named William. Heraised and then lowered the drawbridge himself, and madehis tin soldiers march over it.He opened the castle gateto peep into the spacious reception hall, where all theface cards from a pack—Hearts,Diamonds, Clubs and Spades—hung in frames upon the wall, like portraits in areal reception hall.The Kings each held a scepter and wore a crown.The Queens wore flowing veils over their shoulders, and in their hands each held a flower or a fan.The Knaves had halberds and nodding plumes.

One evening the little boy peered through the open gates of the castle to have a look at the Court Cards in thereception hall.It seemed to him that the Kings saluted him with their scepters, the Queen of Spades waved the golden tulip she held, the Queen of Hearts raised her fan, and all four Queens graciously took notice of him.As he came a little closer to get a better view, his headstruck against the castle and shook it.Then the four Knaves, of Hearts, Diamonds, Clubs, and Spades, liftedtheir halberds to warn him not to try to press his way through.

The little boy understood,and gave them a friendly nod.He nodded again,and then he said:"Say some- thing,"but the Court Cards said not a word.However, when he nodded a third time to the Knave of Hearts, theKnave jumped out of his card and placed himself in the middle of the floor.

"What's your name?"he asked the youngster."You have bright eyes and good teeth, but you don't wash yourhands often enough."This was not a very polite way to talk.

"My name is william,"said the youngster."This castle is mine,and you are my Knave of Hearts."

"I'm my King's and my Queen's Knave, not yours,"said the Knave of Hearts."I can get off of the card and outof the frame too. So can my gracious King and Queen, even more easily than I. We can march right out into the wide world, but that' s such a tiresome journey, and wehave grown weary of it.It's more convenient,and more pleasant for us to be sitting in the cards, just being our-selves."

"Were all of you really human beings once?"asked the youngster.

"Human beings?" the Knave of Hearts said."Yes, but we were not as good as we should have been. Now please light a little wax candle for me. I'd like a red onebest, for red is the color of my King and Queen.Then I shall tell our whole story to the lord of the castle—I be-lieve you said you were lord of the castle, didn't you?Butdon't interrupt me. If I speak, there must not be theslightest interruption."

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