Fendi’s 90th anniversary show “Legends and Fairytales” held at the Trevi Fountain (Fontana di Trevi), Rome, last summer. The show’s inspiration came from the work of the Danish illustrator Kay Nielsen, and the collection of norse fairytales known as “East of the Sun and West of the Moon”, 1914. Sadly, the talented Kay Nielsen died poor and in obscurity in 1957, while his dreamy, delicate and intricate illustrations have regained popularity these recent years. Nielsen’s work belongs to the so called
“golden age of illustration”, that is the early 20th century.
A dream is a wish your heart makes when you’re fast asleep. In dreams you will lose your heartaches. Whatever you wish for, you keep. Have faith in your dreams, and someday, your rainbow will come smiling through. No matter how your heart is grieving, if you keep on believing, the dream that you wish will come true. [insp.]
Kay Nielsen aka Kay Rasmus Nielsen (Danish, 1886-1957, b. Copenhagen, Denmark) - The Three Princesses Of The Blue Mountain from East of the Sun and West of the Moon in Norwegian Fairy-Tales, 1914 Drawings: Pen + Ink
In the hustle and bustle of the local village the Little Girl did not have red eyes. The red tinted glasses her grandmother had gifted her did not fool the people of the village in the daylight, but this was okay, as it was not their purpose to fool the people of the village in the daylight.
The Little Girl who did not have red eyes would go to the bakery and buy a loaf of bread. The Little Girl who did not have red eyes would go to the butcher and buy a piece of meat. The Little Girl who did not have red eyes would tap her stick on the ground to see her way in and out of every stall at the marketplace, for the Little Girl who did not have red eyes, in fact, had no eyes at all.
In the dark tree tunnels of the forest the Little Girl had red eyes. The red tinted glasses her grandmother had gifted her did indeed fool the animals of the forest in the shadows of the foliage, this was fortunate, as it was their purpose to fool the animals of the forest in the shadows of the foliage.
The Little Girl who had red eyes would stumble across the bridge under which the Great Troll lived. The Little Girl who had red eyes would trip past the old oak in which the Elder Owl sat. The Little Girl who had red eyes would cautiously crawl atop the log through which the Dread Serpent slept. The Little Girl who had red eyes would pass each dangerous beast with ease through the twists of the forest path, for the Little Girl who had red eyes, in fact, had the eyes of the Red Eyed Wolf.
Of all the terrifying beasts in the forest, none were as feared as the Red Eyed Wolf, and it was the Red Eyed Wolf who was not fooled by the Little Girl with false red eyes. She saw the trickery for what it was and watched as she passed beast after beast without fear, and so the Red Eyed Wolf stood in the path of the Little Girl.
“Please allow me passage,” pleaded the Little Girl with false red eyes. “I do not walk your woods with arrogance Ms Wolf, I simply must deliver this food to my grandmother, she is old and frail you see.”
“There are safer paths around the woods child,” said the Red Eyed Wolf. “Why do you take the one known to be perilous, the one that causes you to trip and fall so?”
“The path around is too long,” said the Little Girl. “I am small and blind and cannot travel quickly, my grandmother’s food will spoil.”
“On the long path you risk spoiled food, on the short path you risk your life. I would consider your choice foolish.” The Red Eyed Wolf said after a moment of thought.
“Perhaps it is foolish Ms Wolf, but still I do it.” said the Little Girl. “I love my grandmother so and I will do you any favour you wish to have safe passage through your woods. I am not strong and I am not wise, I cannot even see, but any favour you ask of me, I will do it.”
The Red Eyed Wolf thought of the generous offer, for indeed it was generous. The Little Girl put a lot at risk for the sake of another and was willing to put herself in dept to a beast so as to continue her perilous task, and relied upon only a false pair of red eyes to protect her from all the other beasts that she passed on her journey.
The Red Eyed Wolf had watched and waited for the Great Troll to realised the trickery and leap at the Little Girl from under his bridge, but he never did. The Red Eyed Wolf had waited for the Elder Owl to grow wise to the illusion and snatch up the Little Girl in her sharp talons, but she never did. The Red Eyed Wolf had waited for the Dread Serpent to wake to the lie and gobble the Little Girl up in their large mouth, but they never did.
The Red Eyed Wolf realised that the Little Girl had most likely imagined each scenario herself, perhaps with even greater fear as she could not even see the great creatures of the forest that stories told of. The Little Girl with false red eyes was a creature of great generosity, the Red Eyed Wolf had decided, and great generosity was an invaluable treasure.
“Child, I will grant you the passage you seek,” decided the Red Eyed Wolf. “I will meet you at the forest mouth and guide you along your path that you may travel without fear of falling. I will ask one favour of you for each journey, if the favour is not paid by the journey’s end I will eat you.”
The Little Girl smiled. “I will grant you each favour without fail, I promise this.”
Each day the Little Girl with false red eyes would enter the woods, and each day the Red Eyed Wolf would guide her, a little hand nestled among soft fur as the Red Eyed Wolf warned of gnarled roots along the ground or large stones that laid in the path. As usual neither Troll nor Owl nor even Serpent bothered them on their journey, and it was as they crossed the bridge that the Red Eyed Wolf made her first request.
“Child I request you tell me, what does the Great Troll smell of?”
“The Great Troll smells of the pond Ms Wolf, of stagnant water and mossy stone.”
The Red Eyed Wolf was pleased by this. The second request of the Red Eyed Wolf on the second journey through the woods was asked as they passed the old oak.
“Child I request you tell me, what does the Elder Owl smell of?”
“The Elder Owl smells of the trees Ms Wolf, of woody bark and sweet sap.”
The Red Eyed Wolf was pleased by this. The third request of the Red Eyed Wolf on the third journey through the woods was asked as they walked along the Dread Serpent’s log.
“Child I request you tell me, what does the Dread Serpent smell of?”
“The Dread Serpent smells of the ground Ms Wolf, of long grass and fallen leaves.
The Red Eyed Wolf was pleased by this. The Red Eyed Wolf asked many more questions of the Little Girl, she asked the smell of the flowers along the end of the path, the smell of the rain on stormy days, the smell of the fungi that grew on the trees in the darkest parts of the woods.
The Little Girl with false red eyes answered every question, some with difficulty as she did not have the words, others with ease as the words came naturally off her tongue, without fail she would answer them all until she had described the scent of everything there was to smell in the woods. The Red Eyed Wolf was very impressed.
"You have the nose of a wolf.” she told her.
One day the Little Girl with the Wolf’s Nose had almost reached the end of the woods when she realised the Red Eyed Wolf had not made a single request that day, fearing some sort of trickery, the Little Girl told the Red Eyed Wolf of the smell of her home, of the smoke from the hearth and the flowers that sat outside the front window. The Red Eyed Wolf said nothing, so the Little Girl continued, describing the scents of the marketplace, she described the smells of the fresh meat and the warm bread, of the vegetables and fruits and even the people.
The end of the path was nearing and the Little Girl with the Wolf’s Nose did not stop. She described the smell of garlic on her fingers after cooking dinner and how it lingered no matter how much she scrubbed. She described the smell of her grandmother when she hugged her goodbye, the scent of barley sugar on her breath. The Little Girl talked of the scents of her past and the scents of the present and the scents she hoped to encounter in the future until she felt the sunlight on her skin and stopped, she had reached the end of the woods, and still the Red Eyed Wolf had said nothing.
“Why have you not made a request this journey? Do you intend to eat me after all?” the Little Girl with the Wolf’s Nose asked.
“I will not eat you this day,” said the Red Eyed Wolf. “Nor will I eat you any day to come, you have given me a great gift child, you have taken me on a journey through your home and your village. You have shared your life with me and shown me things I could never have imagined within and without my home in the woods.
"The truth is child I have only once left these woods and during that time I encountered a man who wished to take my fur. I escaped his trap with my life and with scars along my snout. I can hardly smell even the strongest of scents since that day, a world without smell to a wolf might as well be a world without sight to a human.”
The Little Girl understood.
The Red Eyed Wolf made no more requests of the Little Girl with the Wolf’s Nose, she had no need to as the Little Girl freely became the nose of her friend, sharing every scent she encountered with her companion who responded in kind, freely becoming the true red eyes of the Little Girl who had none.
At the mouth of the woods Sightless Girl leapt upon Scentless Wolf and two became one, one who traveled with ease and grace, one who knew the forest in every way it could be known, one who could touch and taste and hear and see and smell.
And where the path ended, so did they, once again becoming Sightless Girl and Scentless Wolf, but neither were sad at the departure.
Both Girl and Wolf had many many days to live, and they would join one another at the mouth of the woods for each and every one of them.
I drew a picture once of a blind Little Red Riding Hood with the Wolf as her guide dog so I felt like writing a story to go with it