“I won’t go into the dark cupboard,” said the little shepherdess. “I have heard that he has eleven china wives there already.”
“Then you shall be the twelfth,” said the old Chinaman. “To-night as soon as you hear a rattling in the old cupboard, you shall be married, as true as I am a Chinaman;” and then he nodded his head and fell asleep.
Then the little shepherdess cried, and looked at her sweetheart, the china chimney-sweep. “I must entreat you,” said she, “to go out with me into the wide world, for we cannot stay here.”
“I will do whatever you wish,” said the little chimney-sweep; “let us go immediately: I think
I shall be able to maintain you with my profession.”
“If we were but safely down from the table!” said she; “I shall not be happy till we are really out in the world.”
Then he comforted her, and showed her how to place her little foot on the carved edge and gilt-leaf ornaments of the table. He brought his little ladder to help her, and so they contrived to reach the floor. But when they looked at the old cupboard, they saw it was all in an uproar. The carved stags pushed out their heads, raised their antlers, and twisted their necks. The major-general sprung up in the air; and cried out to the old Chinaman, “They are running away! they are running away!” The two were rather frightened at this, so they jumped into the drawer of the window-seat. Here were three or four packs of cards not quite complete, and a doll’s theatre, which had been built up very neatly. A comedy was being performed in it, and all the queens of diamonds, clubs, and hearts,, and spades, sat in the first row fanning themselves with tulips, and behind them stood all the knaves, showing that they had heads above and below as playing cards generally have. The play was about two lovers, who were not allowed to marry, and the shepherdess wept because it was so like her own story. “I cannot bear it,” said she, “I must get out of the drawer;” but when they reached the floor, and cast their eyes on the table, there was the old Chinaman awake and shaking his whole body, till all at once down he came on the floor, “plump.” “The old
Chinaman is coming,” cried the little shepherdess in a fright, and down she fell on one knee.