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Main > Fairy tale > All authors > Andersen Hans Christian > Fairy tale "Ole, the Tower Keeper"

Ole, the Tower Keeper

"In this world things go up and down and down and up!" said Ole, the tower keeper. "Now I can't get any higher! Up and down and down and up; that's the fate of most of us; in fact, we all become tower keepers at last; we look at life and things from above."

Thus spoke my friend Ole, in his tower - a chatty, jolly fellow who seemed to say whatever came into his head yet had so many serious thoughts concealed deep in his heart. He came from a good family; there were some who said that he was a conference councilor's son, or might have been. He had a good education, had been the assistant to a schoolmaster, the deputy of a parish clerk, but what help could that have been! When he lived with the parish clerk it was agreed that he should have free use of everything in the house. He was then young and a bit of a dandy as we call it, and he wanted shoe polish to brush and shine his boots with; but the parish clerk would only allow him grease, and so they had a quarrel. One spoke of stinginess, the other of vanity; the shoe polish became the black cause of their strife, and so they separated.

But what he wanted from the parish clerk he wanted of the world generally - the very best polish, and he always got its substitute, grease, so he turned his back on everybody and finally became a hermit. But in a big city, hermitage with a livelihood is to be found only in the church tower, so up it he went, and there he would smoke his pipe and pace up and down on his lonely walks, looking upward and downward, and talking in his own way about what he saw or didn't see, what he read in books or in himself.

I often lent him books to read, good books, for by the company one keeps shall he be known. He didn't care for the English-governess type of novel, he said, nor for the French ones, either, which he called a brew of empty wind and rose stalks; no, he liked biographies and books about the wonders of nature. I visited him at least once a year, generally soon after the new year; he always had something to tell which the change of year suggested to his thoughts.

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