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The Old Street Lamp

It is true that their home was only a cellar two yards below the sidewalk, and that one had to walk through a stone-paved front room to get into their room, but inside it was very comfortable. There were strips of list on the door, and everything looked clean and neat, with curtains around the bed and over the little windows. On the window sill stood two strange flowerpots. Sailor Christian had brought them home from the East or West Indies. They were made of clay and represented two elephants, with their backs cut off. From the earth in one of the elephants there grew the most excellent chives, and that was the old people's vegetable garden; in the other was a great blooming geranium, and that was the flower garden. On the wall hung a large colored print of the Congress of Vienna; there you could see all the Kings and Emperors at once. There was a Bornholm clock with heavy lead weights that went "tick! tock!" It was always a little fast, but that was much better than having it a little slow, said the old people.

They were eating their supper, and the Street Lamp lay, as you know, in the big armchair close to the warm stove. It seemed to the Lamp as if the whole world were turned upside down. But when the old watchman looked at it, and talked of all they had gone through together in rain and in mist, in the short bright summer nights, and when the snow beat down and he longed for his home in the cellar, then the old Lamp felt all right again. It could see everything as clearly as if it were happening then; yes, the Wind had certainly given it a splendid light.

The old people were always active and industrious; not a single hour was wasted in idleness. Sunday afternoons the old man would bring out some book or other-generally a volume of travels. And he would read aloud about Africa, about great jungles, with elephants running about wild, and the old woman would listen closely and peer at the clay-elephant flowerpots. "I can almost visualize it myself," she would say.

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