Treasure Island

Viggo Stuckenberg


Snow


It is a long way, a long way away in the land where all the Fairy Tales happen.


Out on a flat, snowcovered, endless barren field squats a tumbledown hut, and in the hut's only room sits a bent old man breathing on the ice on the windowpane. He is staring out over the lonely snow-plain which is empty, cold and trackless, while and sterile all the way to the frost-blue clouds on the horizon. The old man's breath spreads like thin steam over the pane, and freezes. The frost creaks in the woodwork. The cold steals in from outside through cracks and chinks, and long icicles hang down from the eaves like a lattice in front of the window.


The old man does not move. He scarcely blinks his eyes, so fixedly does he stare out at the horizon. Farthest out there where the flat white snowfield draws a straight horizon-line with the darkling sky, it runs down like the edge of a sea that rolls wave after wave, slowly and endlessly along a shore.


It is Mankind's Youth rushing to the Castle where the Princess and half the Kingdom are to be won.


The old man stretches his hands towards the cold window. He presses his forehead against the ice-covered pane, and his mouth quivers as if he is speaking. But no sound escapes his lips. He is as dumb as one whose soul bears a sorrow no-one and nothing can alleviate. His gaze is as fixed and tearless as in one who sees life withered and wasted and can do nothing about it. Only his brain is alive. It struggles desperately and monotonously with ever the same useless, futile thought: to stop that host.


But even if he had a megaphone they would not hear him. His voice would sound like a bird crying above their heads. For out there where they walk, the white snowfield looks like a meadow decked with poppies and cornflowers, and his house looks like a jasmine-covered abode of kisses and embraces and dreams, and the winter sky's leaden clouds like the summer's clearest air. And the dead stillness of the frost on the white field sounds like the song of unseen larks. It is green and fertile and blossoming all around, while far in front stands the castle with the Princess and half the Kingdom like a song upon the lips.


Day in and day out the old man sits and stares. The crowd never stops, and no-one ever rides to the castle. But round about him he sees only barren fields and lonely huts, huts that stand empty and waiting, and huts where old men sit like he does, staring out of frozen panes into a changeless winter, always the same, cold and white - like a memory of what is forever dead...


...out into that winter which is the Dragon slowly swallowing those who never won the Princess.

Submitted: Thursday, January 01, 2004

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