Twelve by the Mail
"I'll amuse others, and myself, too, for I have the shortest time to live of the whole family; I get to be only twenty-eight days old. Yes, sometimes they throw in an extra day, but that doesn't make much difference. Hurrah!"
"You must not shout so loud!" said the sentry.
"Yes, I may!" said the man. "I am Prince Carnival, and traveling under the name of February!"
Now came the third. He looked very much like Fasting itself, but strutted proudly, for he was related to the "Forty Knights," and was a weather prophet. But that is hardly fattening employment, and for that reason he approved of Fasting. He had a cluster of violets in his buttonhole, but they were very small.
"March, March!" shouted the fourth, and pushed the third. "March, March! Into the guardroom; there's punch there! I can smell it!"
But it wasn't true; he only wanted to make an April fool of him; thus the fourth began his career in the town. He looked very jolly, did little work, and had lots of holidays.
"Good humor one day and bad the next!" he said. "Rain and sunshine. Moving out and moving in. I am also moving-day commissioner; I am an undertaker. I can both laugh and cry. I have summer clothes in my trunk, but it would be very foolish to use them now. Here I am! When I dress up I wear silk stockings and carry a muff!"
Now a lady came out of the carriage. "Miss May," she called herself, and wore summer clothes and overshoes. She had on a beech-tree-green silk dress, and anemones in her hair, and she was so scented with wild thyme that the sentry had to sneeze.
"God bless you!" she said, and that was her greeting.
She was beautiful. And she was a singer; not of the theater, but a singer of the woodlands; not at county fairs; no, she roamed through the fresh green forest and sang there for her own entertainment. In her handbag she had a copy of Christian Winther's Woodcuts, which were like the beech-tree forest itself, and also Little Poems by Richardt, which were like the wild thyme.
"Now comes the mistress, the young mistress!