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Main > Fairy tale > All authors > Andersen Hans Christian > Fairy tale "Two Maidens"

Two Maidens

Have you ever seen "a maiden"? I am referring to what road pavers call a "maiden," a thing used for ramming down the paving stones. "She" is made entirely of wood, broad at the bottom, with iron hoops around it, and a stick run through it at the upper, narrower end, which gives the maiden arms.

Two maidens like this were once standing in the yard shed, among shovels, measuring tapes, and wheelbarrows. Now, there was a rumor going around that they were no longer to be called "maidens," but "stamps" or "hand rammers"; and this is the newest and only correct term in road pavers' language for what we all in olden times called "a maiden."

There are among us human beings certain individuals we call "emancipated women," such as institution superintendents, midwives, ballet dancers, milliners, and nurses; and with this group of "emancipated," the two "maidens" in the yard shed associated themselves. They were known as "maidens" among the road pavers and would under no circumstances give up their good old name and let themselves be called "stamps" or "hand rammers."

Maiden is a human name," they said, "but a 'stamp' or a 'hand rammer' is a thing, and we certainly do not want to be called things; that's insulting us!"

"My betrothed is liable to break off our engagement," said the younger of the two, who was engaged to a ramming block, a large machine used to drive stakes into the ground. In fact, he did on a larger scale the same sort of work that she did on a smaller. "He'll take me as a 'maiden,' but I'm sure he won't have me as a 'stamp' or ' hand rammer,' and so I'll not permit them to change my name."

"As for me, I'd just as soon have both my arms broken off!" said the elder.

But the wheelbarrow had a different idea, and the wheelbarrow was really somebody! He considered himself a quarter of a carriage because he went about on one wheel. "I must, however, tell you that it's common enough to be called 'maidens'; that isn't nearly so distinctive a name as 'stamp,' because that belongs under the category of 'seals.

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