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Under The Willow Tree

The old willow tree in the garden was much lovelier, which was why the children took most delight in sitting under it.

In Kjöge itself was a great market place, and at fair time this plaza was gay with whole streets of tents, filled with silk ribbons, boots, and everything a person might desire. There were great crowds then, and generally the weather was rainy. One could easily smell the odor of peasants' clothes, but this could not destroy the fragrance that streamed from a booth full of honey cakes. And best of all, the man who kept this particular booth came every year during fair time to lodge in the house of little Knud's parents. Consequently, every now and then there was a present of a bit of honey cake, and of course Johanne always received her share.

But the best thing of all was that this gingerbread dealer knew all sorts of charming stories and could even tell tales about his own gingerbread cakes. One evening he told a story about them which made such a deep impression on the two children that they never forgot it. For that reason perhaps we should hear it, too, especially since it is not very long.

"On the shop counter," he said, "there once lay two gingerbread cakes. One was in the shape of a man with a hat on, the other of a maiden with no bonnet but with a blot of yellow on top of her head. Both their faces were on the upper side, for that was the side that was supposed to be looked at, and not the other. Indeed, most people have one side from which they should be viewed. On his left side the man wore a bitter almond for a heart; but the maiden, on the other hand, was honey cake all through. They were placed on the counter as samples, so they remained there for a long time, until at last they fell in love with each other. But neither told the other, which they should have done if they had expected anything to come of it.

" 'He is a man, so he must speak first,' thought the maiden. But she was quite contented, for she knew in her heart that her love was returned.

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