Twelve By The Mail


Twelve By The Mail
The weather was sharp and frosty, the sky glittered with sparkling stars.

IT was bitterly cold; the sky gleamed with stars, and not a breeze was stirring.
Bump! an old pot was thrown at the neighbors' house doors. Bang! bang! went the gun; for they were welcoming the New Year. It was New Year's-eve! The church clock was striking twelve!
Twelve By The Mail

Tan-ta-ra-ra! the mail came lumbering up. The great carriage stopped at the gate of the town. There were twelve persons in it; all the places were taken.
"Hurrah! hurrah!" sang the people in the houses of the town, for the New Year was being welcomed, and as the clock struck they stood up with the filled glass in their hand, to drink success to the new comer.
"Happy New Year!" was the cry. "A pretty wife, plenty of money, and no sorrow or care!"
This wish was passed round, and then glasses were clashed together till they rang again, and in front of the town gate the post-carriage stopped with the strange guests, the twelve travelers.
And who were these strangers? Each of them had his passport and his luggage with him; they even brought presents for me and for you and for all the people of the little town. Who are they? "What did they want? and what did they bring with them?
"Good morning!" they cried to the sentry at the town gate.
"Good morning!" replied the sentry, for the clock struck twelve.
Twelve By The Mail
They were keeping New Year's Eve, and were drinking success to the New Year.

"Your name and profession?" the sentry inquired of the one who alighted first from the carriage.
"See yourself, in the passport," replied the man. "I am myself!"
And a capital fellow he looked, arrayed in a bear-skin and fur boots. "I am the man on whom many persons fix their hopes. Come to me tomorrow, and I'll give you a New Year's present. I throw pence and dollars among the people, I even give balls, thirty-one balls; but I cannot devote more than thirty-one nights to this. My ships are frozen in, but in my office it is warm and comfortable. I'm a merchant. My name is JANUARY, and I only carry accounts with me."
Now the second alighted. He was a merry companion; he was a theater director, manager of the masque balls, and all the amusements one can imagine. His luggage consisted of a great tub.
"We'll dance the cat out of the tub at carnival-time," said he. "I'll prepare a merry tune for you and for myself too. I have not a very long time to live the shortest, in fact, of my whole family, for I only become twenty-eight days old. Sometimes they pop me in an extra day, but I trouble myself very little about that. Hurrah!"
"You must not shout so!" said the sentry.
"Certainly, I may shout!" retorted the man. "I'm Prince Carnival, traveling under the name of FEBRUARY!"
The third now got out. He looked like Fasting itself, but carried his nose very high, for he was related to the "Forty Knights," and was a weather prophet. But that's not a profitable office, and that's why he praised fasting. In his button-hole he had a little bunch of violets, but they were very small.
"MARCH! MARCH!" the fourth called after him, and slapped him on the shoulder. "Do you smell nothing? Go quickly into the guard-room; there they're drinking punch, your favorite drink! I can smell it already out here. Forward, Master MARCH!"
But it was not true; the speaker only wanted to let him feel the influence of his own name, and make an APRIL fool of him; for with that the fourth began his career in the town. He looked very jovial, did little work, but had the more holidays.
"If it were only a little more steady in the world!" said he; "but sometimes one is in a good humor, sometimes in a bad one, according to circumstances; now rain, now sunshine. I am a kind of house and office-letting agent, also a manager of funerals. I can laugh or cry, according to circumstances. Here in this box I have my summer wardrobe, but it would be very foolish to put it on. Here I am now! On Sundays I go out walking in shoes and silk stockings, and with a muff!"
Twelve By The Mail
Then a lady stepped out of the coach. "Miss May," she said, announcing herself.

After him, a lady came out of the carriage. She called herself Miss MAY. She wore a summer costume and overshoes, a light green 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 salutation.
How pretty she was! and she was a singer, not a theater singer nor a ballad singer, but a singer of the woods, or she roamed through the gay green forest, and sang there for her own amusement.
"Now comes the young dame!" said those in the carriage.
And the young dame stepped out, delicate, proud, and pretty. It was easy to see that she was Mistress JUNE, accustomed to be served by drowsy marmots. She gave a great feast on the longest day of the year, that the guests might have time to partake of the many dishes at her table. She, indeed, kept her own carriage; but still she traveled in the mail with the rest, because she wanted to show that she was not high-minded. But she was not without protection; her elder brother JULY was with her.
He was a plump young fellow, clad in summer garments, and with a Panama hat. He had but little baggage with him, because it was cumbersome in the great heat; therefore he had only provided himself with swimming trousers, and those are not much.
Then came the mother herself, Madam AUGUST, wholesale dealer in fruit, proprietress of a large number of fish ponds, and land cultivator, in a great crinoline; she was fat and hot, could use her hands well, and would herself carry out beer to the workmen in the fields.
"In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread," said she: "that is written in the Book. Afterwards come the excursions, dance and playing in the greenwood, and the harvest feasts!"
She was a thorough housewife.
After her, a man came out of the coach, a painter, Mr. Master-colourer SEPTEMBER. The forest had to receive him; the leaves were to change their colors, but how beautifully! when he wished it; soon the wood gleamed with red, yellow, and brown. The master whistled like the black magpie, was a quick workman, and wound the brown green hop plants round his beer-jug. That was an ornament for the jug, and he had a good idea of ornament. There he stood with his color-pot, and that was his whole luggage.
A landed proprietor followed him, one who cared for the ploughing and preparing of the land, and also for field sports. Squire OCTOBER brought his dog and his gun with him, and had nuts in his game-bag. "Crack! crack!" He had much baggage, even an English plough; and he spoke of farming, but one could scarcely hear what he said, for the coughing and gasping of his neighbor.
It was NOVEMBER who coughed so violently as he got out. He was very much plagued by a cold; he was continually having recourse to his pocket-handkerchief, and yet, he said, he was obliged to accompany the servant girls, and initiate them into their new winter service. He said he should get rid of his cold when he went out wood-cutting, and had to saw and split wood, for he was sawyer-master to the firewood guild. He spent his evenings cutting the wooden soles for skates, for he knew, he said, that in a few weeks there would be occasion to use these amusing shoes.
At length appeared the last passenger, old Mother DECEMBER, with her fire-stool. The old lady was cold, but her eyes glistened like two bright stars. She carried on her arm a flower-pot, in which a little fir tree was growing.
"This tree I will guard and cherish, that it may grow large by Christmas-eve, and may reach from the ground to the ceiling, and may rear itself upward with flaming candles, golden apples, and little carved figures. The fire-stool warms like a stove. I bring the story-book out of my pocket and read aloud, so that all the children in the room become quite quiet; but the little figures on the trees become lively, and the little waxen angel on the top spreads out his wings of gold leaf, flies down from his green perch, and kisses great and small in the room, yes, even the poor children who stand out in the passage and in the street, singing the carol about the Star of Bethlehem.
"Well, now the coach may drive away!" said the sentry: "we have the whole twelve. Let the chaise drive up."
"First let all the twelve come in to me," said the captain on duty, "one after the other. The passports I will keep here. Each of them is available for a month; when that has passed, I shall write their behavior on each passport. Mr. January, have the goodness to come here."
And Mr. January stepped forward.
"When a year is passed I think I shall be able to tell you what the twelve have brought to me, and to you, and to all of us. Now I do not know it, and they don't know it themselves, probably, for we live in strange times."
Twelve By The Mail

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The Stories on this site were compiled from the following historical publications and others.

Hans Christian Andersen
Andersen's Fairy Tales
Chicago - New York - San Francisco
Belford, Clarke & Co.

Hans Christian Andersen
Hans Christian Andersen's
for the
Copyrighted 1893, McLoughlin Bros.

Hans Christian Andersen
Hans Christian Andersen
Camden Press
Dalziel Bros. Engravers and Printers Copyright Unknown, est. 1870

Hans Christian Andersen
Hans Christian Andersen
E.P. Dutton and Co.
© 1906-1907

Hans Christian Andersen
Hans Christian Andersen
The Century Company,
The DeVinne Press
Copyright 1900