116 THE GOLOSHES OF FORTUNE
and formed wings ; his clothes became feathers, and his goloshes claws. He noticed it quite plainly, and laughed inwardly. ' Well, now I can see that I am dreaming, but I have never dreamed before so wildly.' And he flew up into the green boughs and sang ; but there was no poetry in the song, for the poetic nature was gone. The goloshes, like every one who wishes to do any business thoroughly, could only do one thing at a time. He wished to be a poet, and he became one. Then he wished to be a little bird, and, in changing thus, the former peculiarity was lost.
' That is very funny ! ' he said. ' In the daytime I sit in the police office among the driest of law papers ; at night I can dream that I am flying about, as a lark in the Fredericksberg Garden. One could really write quite a popular comedy upon it.'
Now he flew down into the grass, turned his head in every direction, and beat with his beak upon the bending stalks of grass, which, in proportion to his size, seemed to him as long as palm branches of Northern Africa.
It was only for a moment, and then all around him became as the blackest night. It seemed to him that some immense substance was cast over him ; it was a great cap, which a boy threw over the bird. A hand came in and seized the copying clerk by the back and wings in a way that made him chirp. In his first terror he cried aloud, ' You impudent rascal! I am copying clerk at the police office ! ' But that sounded to the boy only like * piep ! piep ! ' and he tapped the bird on the beak and wandered on with him.
In the alley the boy met with two other boys, who belonged to the educated classes, socially speaking ; but, according to abilities, they ranked in the lowest class in the school. These bought the bird for threepence; and so the copying clerk was carried back to Copenhagen.
' It's a good thing that I am dreaming,' he said, ' or I should become really angry. First I was a poet, and now I'm a lark ! Yes, it must have been the poetic nature which transformed me into that little creature. It is a miserable state of things, especially when one falls into the hands of boys, I should like to know what the end of it will be.'