O THE SHADOW said THOU to its former master.
"This is rather too bad," thought he, "that I must say YOU and he say THOU," but he was now obliged to put up with it.
So they came to a watering-place where there were many strangers, and amongst them was a princess, who was troubled with seeing too well; and that was so alarming!
She directly observed that the stranger who had just come was quite a different sort of person to all the others; "He has come here in order to get his beard to grow, they say, but I see the real cause, he cannot cast a shadow."
She had become inquisitive; and so she entered into conversation directly with the strange gentleman, on their promenades. As the daughter of a king, she needed not to stand upon trifles, so she said, "Your complaint is, that you cannot cast a shadow?"
"Your Royal Highness must be improving considerably," said the shadow, "I know your complaint is, that you see too clearly, but it has decreased, you are cured. I just happen to have a very unusual shadow! Do you not see that person who always goes with me? Other persons have a common shadow, but I do not like what is common to all. We give our servants finer cloth for their livery than we ourselves use, and so I had my shadow trimmed up into a man: yes, you see I have even given him a shadow. It is somewhat expensive, but I like to have something for myself!"
"What!" thought the princess. "Should I really be cured! These baths are the first in the world! In our time water has wonderful powers. But I shall not leave the place, for it now begins to be amusing here. I am extremely fond of that stranger: would that his beard should not grow, for in that case he will leave us!"
In the evening, the princess and the shadow danced together in the large ball-room. She was light, but he was still lighter; she had never had such a partner in the dance. She told him from what land she came, and he knew that land; he had been there, but then she was not at home; he had peeped in at the window, above and below--he had seen both the one and the other, and so he could answer the princess, and make insinuations, so that she was quite astonished; he must be the wisest man in the whole world! She felt such respect for what he knew! So that when they again danced together she fell in love with him; and that the shadow could remark, for she almost pierced him through with her eyes. So they danced once more together; and she was about to declare herself, but she was discreet; she thought of her country and kingdom, and of the many persons she would have to reign over.
"He is a wise man," said she to herself--"It is well; and he dances delightfully--that is also good; but has he solid knowledge? That is just as important! He must be examined."
So she began, by degrees, to question him about the most difficult things she could think of, and which she herself could not have answered; so that the shadow made a strange face.
"You cannot answer these questions?" said the princess.
"They belong to my childhood's learning," said the shadow. "I really believe my shadow, by the door there, can answer them!"
"Your shadow!" said the princess. "That would indeed be marvellous!"
"I will not say for a certainty that he can," said the shadow, "but I think so; he has now followed me for so many years, and listened to my conversation--I should think it possible. But your royal highness will permit me to observe, that he is so proud of passing himself off for a man, that when he is to be in a proper humor--and he must be so to answer well--he must be treated quite like a man."
"Oh! I like that!" said the princess.
So she went to the learned man by the door, and she spoke to him about the sun and the moon, and about persons out of and in the world, and he answered with wisdom and prudence.
"What a man that must be who has so wise a shadow!" thought she. "It will be a real blessing to my people and kingdom if I choose him for my consort--I will do it!"