National Geographic : 1951 Dec
'I I- 709 National Geographic Photographer Maynard Owen Williams To Win Her Prince, the "Little Mermaid" Sought Human Form and an Undying Soul Failing in her quest of love, the fairy tale mermaid was changed to a daughter of the air. For 300 years she must diffuse the scent of flowers all around; only then can she gain a soul and the joys of mankind. Copenhagen's bronze statue immortalizes Hans Christian Andersen's princess of the deep. "Nice morning," I ventured, thinking he might be an English-speaking Dane. He was. "It's not morning. It's afternoon," he responded. Seven-and-a-half-hour Conversation Thus began a conversation with newspaper man Aage Birch that lasted seven and a half hours. It impressed me with the friendli ness of the Danes and the pride and love they feel for their capital. For half an hour we talked while guards wearing big, bushy, bearskin hats clomped on the cobbles of Amalienborg Plaza. For two hours we talked while we lunched at Tivoli Gardens. Tivoli has no exact counterpart in the United States, but nevertheless it strongly suggests the American scene. Take a "Bos ton Pops" concert, a touch of Coney Island, the playground of a well-managed private school, the summer music festival from Tanglewood in the Berkshires, stir thoroughly, sprinkle with sidewalk cafes and friendly, hearty, soft-mannered Danes of all ages and from all walks of life-this isn't the exact Danish recipe, but it may suggest the flavor.* We talked on the bus back to the hotel. "You must be tired, but you should see New Harbor," pleaded Birch, his pride in Copen hagen getting the better of his concern for my stamina, which was suffering not at all. So we talked our way along New Harbor's three blocks, lined almost solidly with pubs. From one came the strains of Good Night, Irene. In the Church of Our Saviour, around whose steeple winds a corkscrewlike staircase, we ceased talking. At the altar Povl Andersen was taking Inge Jensen to be his bride. "Could you go on for another half hour to * See, in the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE: "2,000 Miles Through Europe's Oldest Kingdom," by Isobel Wylie Hutchison, February, 1949; and "Royal Copenhagen, Capital of a Farming Kingdom," by J. R. Hildebrand, February, 1932.