Short Stories

The Shadow (2nd part)

– See if you can guess who lived in a neighbor’s room! – began the first shadow. – It was a charming being, it was Poetry. I stayed there three weeks, and this time was worth to me more than three thousand years. I read all the possible poems, I know them perfectly. Through them I saw everything and I know everything.

– The Poetry! Exclaimed the wise man. – Yes it’s true; She is often no more than a hermit in the midst of large cities. I saw her for a moment… It shone on the porch like a northern light. We will! To be continued. Once past the ajar door…

– I found myself in the anteroom; It was a little dark, but I distinguished in front of me a huge row of rooms whose doors were wide open. It was slowly becoming light and, without the precautions I took, would have been struck by lightning before reaching the maiden.

– But what way do you see? Asked the wise man.

“I saw everything, as I told you earlier.” But I ask you before continuing: it is not out of pride, but as a free man with great knowledge, not to mention my position and my fortune, treat me no more for you.

– I beg your pardon; It is an old habit. You’re absolutely right, that won’t happen anymore. Anyway, what did you see?

– All! I saw everything and I know everything.

– What aspect did the interior rooms offer? Did they look like a forest full of freshness, a sacred church or a starry sky?

– They looked like all this. It is true that I did not cross them; but from the antechamber I saw it all.

“But finally, did the ancient gods roam these rooms?” Did the old heroes fight them? Were they populated by the jokes and dreams of charming children?

– I repeat to you once again that I saw everything. If you had entered it, you would not have become a man, but I have become! I learned to know my true nature, my talents and my kinship with poetry. When I was still with you, I never thought about it; but you must remember how I always increased at sunrise and sunset. In the moonlight I looked almost more distinct than you; but I still did not understand my true nature. It was in the antechamber where she sent me that I learned to know her. It was mature by the time it left me in the world; but you left suddenly, leaving me almost naked. I was immediately ashamed: I needed clothing, boots, all the varnish that makes a man. I hid, I tell you without fear – convinced that you will not advertise it – under the skirts of a confectioner who ignored my value. Only at night did he go out to walk the streets in the moonlight. It rose and fell along the walls, looking through the large windows into the halls, and through the skylights to the mansards. I looked where no one could look and saw what no one could or should see. To tell you the truth, this world is very vile; and if it were not for the prejudice that a man means something, I would not worry at all about being one. I saw unimaginable things among women, between men, between parents and children. I saw what no one should know, but what everyone longed to know – the evil of others. If he had written a newspaper, they would devour it; but I preferred to write to the people themselves. Unheard terror unleashed in every city I passed. They feared me and loved me. The teachers made me a teacher, the tailors gave me facts; I have them in large quantities; the director of the mint minted me fine coins; the women found me kind. That’s how I became what I am. And now, I offer you my respects. Here is my card; I live by the sun and in rainy weather you will always find me at home.

Having said these words, the shadow came out.

– What a remarkable case! Murmured the wise man.

Exactly a year later, the Shadow returned.

– How are you doing? – He asked.

-There! I wrote about truth, beauty and goodness, but no one paid attention to anything! I am desperate!

– Its make bad; look at me; I get fat, and that’s what it takes. You do not know the world. I advise you to take a trip; and better yet, as I intend to do one this summer, you will be delighted if you want to accompany me as a shadow. I pay for the trip.

– You overdo it!

– It depends. Rest assured that the trip will do you good. Be my shadow, you have no expense to do.

– Go too far! Said the wise man.

“The world is like this and it will always be like this,” said the Shadow, leaving.

The sage was getting worse and worse, full of annoyance and disgust. What he said of truth, beauty, and goodness, had in most men the same effect as roses on an animal.

“It looks like a shadow,” they told him once, and it made him shudder.

“You need to go to the baths,” advised Shadow, who had seen him again. – It’s the only medicine. I will go with you, because my beard does not grow, which is a disease. You have to have a beard. I pay for the trip; You will describe what we see and it will entertain me along the way. Be reasonable; accept my offer; We will travel as old comrades.

They set out on their way. The Shadow had become the master, and the master had become the shadow. They followed each other everywhere, always in contact, front or rear, depending on the position of the sun. The Shadow always knew how to occupy the proper place of the master, and the sage was not moved by it. He was always in a good mood and one day said to the Shadow:

“Since we are fellow travelers, and we have grown up together, let us take care of you. It’s more intimate.”

“You are being frank with me,” said the Shadow, or rather the true master. “I’ll speak to you frankly, too.” As a sage you must know how strange nature is. There are people who can’t touch a piece of brown paper without feeling bad; others tremble when they hear a nail rubbing against a windowpane; As for me, I feel the same feeling when I hear someone treat me for you: it seems to me that this brings me to the ground, as when I was his shadow. You see that this in me is not pride, but sensitivity. I cannot let him treat me for you, but I will treat you: it will be half of what you want.

From that moment on, the Shadow began to treat your former master for you.

That’s good! Thought this one. “I treat him for you and he treats me for you.” Nevertheless, he resigned himself.

When they arrived at the baths, they found a large number of foreigners; among others, a beautiful princess stricken with a disquieting disease: she saw it too clearly.

He soon distinguished the Shadow from all other people: “He came here to grow a beard, they say; but the real cause of his travel is that he has no shadow at all.”

Filled with curiosity, she had a conversation with this stranger during a walk. As a princess, she didn’t need many rodeos. I immediately told him:

– Your disease is to have no shadow.

“Your Royal Highness is fortunately much better,” replied the Shadow. “I suffered from seeing too clearly, but now you are healed, for you do not see that I have a shadow, even an extraordinary shadow. See the person who follows me continuously? It is not an ordinary shadow. Just as servants are sometimes given by livery a finer fabric than that which is worn on its own, so I adorned my shadow as a man. I even gave him a shadow. As expensive as it costs me, I like to have things that others don’t have.

“What!” Thought the princess. “Am I really healed? It is true that water, at the time we live, has a unique virtue, and these baths have a great reputation. However, I will not leave now; I have fun here.” I am very pleased and this boy pleases me. I hope his beard does not grow, because otherwise it will go away! ”

At night, the princess danced with the Shadow in the great ballroom. She was very agile, but her gentleman was even more; I had never met one like him. I told him the name of his country, which he knew very well, as he had looked at him through the train windows. He even told the princess certain things that surprised her greatly. He was the most educated man in the world! Little by little she witnessed his esteem to him, and when they danced once more, he betrayed his love for looks that seemed to cross him. Nevertheless, as a sensible girl, he said to himself, “He is well educated, he dances perfectly, but will he be a truly cultured man? This is the most important thing; I will observe him better.”

And she began to question him about difficult things, which she herself would not be able to answer. The Shadow made a face.

“So you can’t answer?” Asked the princess.

“I knew all this in my childhood,” answered the Shadow, “and I am sure that my shadow, which you see in front of the door, answers you very easily.”

– Your shadow! No wonder!

“I’m not quite sure, but I think so, since she has followed me and listened for so many years.” Only Your Royal Highness will allow me to draw your attention to a very particular point: this shadow is so proud that it belongs to a man who, in order to find her in a good mood, is a necessary condition for her to respond well. , you need to treat her like a man.

“Okay,” said the princess.

And he came to the wise to speak to him of the sun, and of the moon, of man in every respect; and he responded conveniently and with much spirit.

What a distinguished man, he thought, to have such a wise shadow! It would be a blessing to my people if I chose him for a husband.

And the princess and the Shadow soon adjusted the marriage. But no one should have known before the princess returned to her kingdom.

– No one! Not even my shadow, ”said the Shadow, who had reasons for that.

As soon as they arrived in the princess’s country, the Shadow said to the wise:

– Listen, my friend: I am happy and powerful, and I will give you a particular proof of my benevolence. You shall live in my palace, take your seat beside me in the royal chariot, and receive a hundred thousand escudos a year. However, I have one condition: You let yourself qualify as a shadow for everyone. You will never say that you were a man, and once a year, when I show myself to the people on the sunlit porch, you will lie at my feet like a shadow. It is common ground that I will marry the princess. The wedding takes place tonight.

– But that’s awesome! Exclaimed the wise man. – I will never consent to that; I will clarify the princess and the whole country. I mean the truth: I am a man, and you, you are but a clothed shadow!

“No one will believe you: be reasonable, or I call the guard.”

“I’m going to the princess already!”

“But I’ll come first and have you arrested.”

And the shadow called the guard, who was already obeying the princess’s fiance, and the sage was taken.

– You’re shaking! Said the princess when she saw the Shadow again. – What’s? Beware! Don’t get sick on your wedding day.

“I just saw a cruel scene: my shadow has gone mad. Imagine that it has entered your mind that you are a man, and that I am your shadow.

– It’s horrible! I hope you jailed her.

– No doubt; but I fear it will never be restored.

“Poor shadow,” said the princess. – It’s very unfortunate. Maybe it would be a benefit to take her little life left. Yes, on second thought, I find it necessary to end her in secret.

“It’s a hideous resolution,” replied the Shadow, pretending to sigh. – I lose a loyal server.

“What a noble character,” thought the princess.

At night the whole city was lit. Artillery volleys were fired; music and singing were heard everywhere. The princess and the Shadow showed themselves on the porch, and the people, drunk with joy, cheered them three times.

The wise man saw nothing, heard nothing, because they had killed him. Hans-Christian Andersen Tales of Andersen Barcelos, Minho Publishing Company, 1959 Adaptation

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