The Drop of Water | A Christmas Greeting

What a magnifying glass is, you surely know—such a round sort of spectacle-glass that makes everything full a hundred times larger than it really is. When one holds it before the eye, and looks at a drop of water out of the pond, then one sees above a thousand strange creatures. It looks almost like a whole plateful of shrimps springing about among each other, and they are so ravenous, they tear one another's arms and legs, tails and sides, and yet they are glad and pleased in their way.

Now, there was once an old man, who was called by every body Creep-and-Crawl; for that was his name. He would always make the best out of everything, and when he could not make anything out of it he resorted to witchcraft.

Now, one day he sat and held his magnifying glass before his eye, and looked at a drop of water that was taken out of a little pool in the ditch. What a creeping and crawling was there! all the thousands of small creatures hopped and jumped about, pulled one another, and pecked one another.

"But this is abominable!" said Creep-and-Crawl, "Can one not get them to live in peace and quiet, and each mind his own business?" And he thought and thought, but he could come to no conclusion, and so he was obliged to conjure. "I must give them a color, that they may be more discernible!" said he; and so he poured something like a little drop of red wine into the drop of water, but it was bewitched blood from the lobe of the ear—the very finest sort for a penny; and then all the strange creatures became rose-colored over the whole body. It looked like a whole town of naked savages.

"What have you got there?" said another old wizard, who had no name, and that was just the best of it.

"Why," said Creep-and-Crawl, "if you can guess what it is, I will make you a present of it; but it is not so easy to find out when one does not know it!"

The wizard who had no name looked through the magnifying glass. It actually appeared like a whole town, where all the inhabitants ran about without clothes! it was terrible, but still more terrible to see how the one knocked and pushed the other, bit each other, and drew one another about. What was undermost should be topmost, and what was topmost should be undermost!—See there, now! his leg is longer than mine!—whip it off, and away with it! There is one that has a little lump behind the ear, a little innocent lump, but it pains him, and so it shall pain him still more! And they pecked at it, and they dragged him about, and they ate him, and all on account of the little lump. There sat one as still as a little maid, who only wished for peace and quietness, but she must be brought out and they dragged her, and they pulled her, and they devoured her!

"It is quite amusing!" said the wizard.

"Yes; but what do you think it is?" asked Creep-and-Crawl. "Can you find it out!"

"It is very easy to see," said the other, "it is some great city, they all resemble each other. A great city it is, that's sure!"

"It is ditch-water!" said Creep-and-Crawl.