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The Queen Bee and Other Nature Stories by Ewald

[Illustration: THE FARMER'S WIFE]


Translated from the Danish of



G . C . Moore Smith

Thomas Nelson & Sons London . Edinburgh . Dublin And New York . 1908 . . .



Carl Ewald's "Aeventyr" or Nature Stories are well known and very popular in Denmark and the rest of Scandinavia, though they have never before this been brought to the notice of English readers. There are a number of series of them, the first of which consists of the stories given in this little book.

This first series appeared in 1882, but took its definitive form in the edition of 1895. When it first appeared, it was introduced by a preface written by the author's father, the well-known historical novelist, H. F. Ewald. This preface ran as follows:--

"It has often been a subject of complaint that our story books, with their nixies, trolls, and bewitched princes and princesses, give children superstitious ideas, and affect their imagination in a way which is not the best possible.

"The author of the little stories to which I am writing a word of preface has struck out a way of his own. Holding that Nature, with its manifold and many-coloured life, contains new material on which children in their own way can draw, he has taken as the subject of his stories the phenomena of natural history.

"As I think, he has performed his task in a taking and attractive manner, the child's fancy being sufficiently enthralled at the same time that it gets a true conception of the working of natural forces, a conception which will fix itself in the memory all the better for its poetical clothing.

"It seems to me that the author's view is a sound one, so I gladly recommend his little book to parents who wish their children to read what is both pleasurable and instructive."

There are some touches in the stories, of course, which belong rather to Denmark than England--for example, the custom of ringing the church bells at sunset, the complete disappearance of starlings in the winter months, the "starlings' box" which is ready for them to rest in on their return, the presence of the stork. The phenomenon of beech forests extruding and supplanting oak forests (referred to by Dr. Wallace in "Darwinism" as one of the most striking instances of "natural selection") is one of which there are clearer traces in Scandinavian countries than in Great Britain. But, on the whole, Nature is the same in England as in Denmark, and the English child who learns natural history from these stories will not be misdirected.

Meanwhile, I hope that these stories of Carl Ewald will be loved for their own sake as stories merely. They have so much poetical imagination, ingenuity of incident, and bright wit, that they seem entitled to some share in the popularity accorded to the children's tales of another Danish writer, Hans Christian Andersen. Some English children have already listened to them eagerly, and many others, I hope, will take them into their favour when they are sent out into the world. They may even be read with pleasure by some who are children no longer. If this is not so, the fault must lie with the translator.

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