Hans Andersen’s Fairy Tales

First Series


The Hans Andersen Fairy Tales

will be read

in schools

and homes

as long


there are children

who love

to read.

As a story-teller

for children the author has no rival

in power

to enlist the imagination

and carry it

along natural,

healthful lines.

The power

of his tales

to charm

and elevate runs

like a living thread

through whatever he writes.

In the two books


which they are here presented they have met the tests

and held an undiminishing popularity

among the best children’s books.

They are recognized

as standards,


as juvenile writings come

to be more carefully standardized,

their place

in permanent literature

will grow wider

and more secure.

A few children’s authors

will be ranked

among the Immortals,

and Hans Andersen is one

of them.


and Finland supplied the natural background

for the quaint fancies

and growing genius

of their gifted son,

who was story-teller,


and poet

in one.


of nature,


of country,


with life

in everything,

and a wonderful gift

for investing everything

with life wrought together

to produce

in him a character whose spell is

in all his writings.

“The Story

of My Life” is perhaps the most thrilling

of all

of them.


in courts

of kings

and castles

of nobles,

he recited his little stories

with the same simplicity


which he had made them familiar

in cottages

of the peasantry,

and endeared himself alike

to all

who listened.

These attributes,

while they do not account

for his genius,

help us

to unravel the charm

of it.

The simplest

of the stories meet Ruskin’s requirement

for a child’s story

--they are sweet

and sad.

From most writers

who have contributed largely

to children’s literature only a few selected gems are likely

to gain permanence.

With Andersen the case is different.


there are such gems,

the greater value lies

in taking these stories

as a type

of literature

and living

in it a while,

through the power

of cumulative reading.

It is not too much

to say


there is a temper

and spirit

in Andersen

which is all his own

--a simple philosophy

which continuous reading is sure

to impart.

For this reason these are good books

for a child

to own;

an occasional re-reading

will inspire

in him a healthy,

normal taste

in reading.


of the stories are

of value

to read

to very young children.

They guide an exuberant imagination

along natural channels.

The text

of the present edition is a reprint

of an earlier one

which was based upon a sentence-by-sentence comparison

of the four

or five translations current

in Europe

and America.

It has been widely commended

as enjoyable reading,

while faithful

to the letter

and spirit

of the Danish original.

A slight abridgment has been made

in two

of the longer stories.

The order

of the selections adapts the reading

to the growing child

--the First Series

should be sufficiently easy

for children


about eight

or nine years old.


























NOTES    299



FAR away

in the forest,

where the warm sun

and the fresh air made a sweet resting place,

grew a pretty little fir tree.

The situation was all


could be desired;

and yet the tree was not happy,

it wished so much

to be

like its tall companions,

the pines

and firs

which grew

around it.

The sun shone,

and the soft air fluttered its leaves,

and the little peasant children passed by,

prattling merrily;

but the fir tree did not heed them.

Sometimes the children

would bring a large basket

of raspberries

or strawberries,


on straws,

and seat themselves near the fir tree,

and say,

“Is it not a pretty little tree?”

which made it feel

even more unhappy

than before.

And yet all this

while the tree grew a notch

or joint taller every year,


by the number

of joints

in the stem

of a fir tree we

can discover its age.


as it grew,

it complained:


how I wish I were

as tall

as the other trees;

then I

would spread out my branches

on every side,

and my crown

would overlook the wide world around.


should have the birds building their nests

on my boughs,


when the wind blew,


should bow

with stately dignity,

like my tall companions.”

So discontented was the tree,

that it took no pleasure

in the warm sunshine,

the birds,

or the rosy clouds

that floated

over it morning

and evening.


in winter,

when the snow lay white

and glittering

on the ground,

there was a little hare


would come springing along,

and jump right

over the little tree’s head;


how mortified it

would feel.

Two winters passed;


when the third arrived,

the tree had grown so tall

that the hare was obliged

to run round it.

Yet it remained unsatisfied


would exclaim:


to grow,

to grow;

if I could

but keep

on growing tall

and old!

There is nothing else worth caring for

in the world.”

In the autumn the woodcutters came,

as usual,

and cut down several

of the tallest trees;

and the young fir,

which was now grown

to a good,

full height,


as the noble trees fell

to the earth

with a crash.

After the branches were lopped off,

the trunks looked so slender

and bare

that they

could scarcely be recognized.

Then they were placed,

one upon another,

upon wagons

and drawn

by horses out

of the forest.


could they be going?


would become

of them?

The young fir tree wished very much

to know.


in the spring,

when the swallows

and the storks came,

it asked:

“Do you know

where those trees were taken?

Did you meet them?”

The swallows knew nothing;

but the stork,

after a little reflection,

nodded his head

and said:


I think I do.

As I flew

from Egypt,

I met several new ships,

and they had fine masts

that smelt

like fir.

These must have been the trees;

and I assure you they were stately;

they sailed right gloriously!”


how I wish I were tall enough

to go

on the sea,”

said the fir tree.

“Tell me

what is this sea,


what does it look like?”


would take too much time

to explain

--a great deal too much,”

said the stork,

flying quickly away.


in thy youth,”

said the sunbeam;


in thy fresh growth and

in the young life

that is

in thee.”

And the wind kissed the tree,

and the dew watered it

with tears,

but the fir tree regarded them not.

* * * * *

Christmas time drew near,

and many young trees were cut down,


that were

even smaller

and younger

than the fir tree,

who enjoyed neither rest nor peace

for longing

to leave its forest home.

These young trees,

which were chosen

for their beauty,

kept their branches,

and they,


were laid

on wagons

and drawn

by horses far away out

of the forest.

“Where are they going?”

asked the fir tree.

“They are not taller

than I am;


one is not so tall.


why do they keep all their branches?

Where are they going?”

“We know,

we know,”

sang the sparrows;

“we have looked


at the windows

of the houses

in the town,

and we know

what is done

with them.


you cannot think

what honor

and glory they receive.

They are dressed up

in the most splendid manner.

We have seen them standing

in the middle

of a warm room,

and adorned

with all sorts

of beautiful things

--honey cakes,

gilded apples,


and many hundreds

of wax tapers.”

“And then,”

asked the fir tree,


in all its branches,



what happens?”

“We did not see any more,”

said the sparrows;

“but this was enough

for us.”

“I wonder whether anything so brilliant

will ever happen

to me,”

thought the fir tree.


would be better even

than crossing the sea.

I long

for it almost

with pain.



will Christmas be here?

I am now

as tall

and well grown

as those

which were taken away last year.


that I were now laid

on the wagon,

or standing

in the warm room

with all

that brightness

and splendor

around me!

Something better

and more beautiful is

to come after,

or the trees

would not be so decked out.


what follows

will be grander

and more splendid.


can it be?

I am weary

with longing.

I scarcely know

what it is

that I feel.”


in our love,”

said the air

and the sunlight.

“Enjoy thine own bright life

in the fresh air.”

But the tree

would not rejoice,

though it grew taller every day,

and winter

and summer its dark-green foliage might be seen

in the forest,

while passers-by

would say,

“What a beautiful tree!”

A short time

before the next Christmas the discontented fir tree was the first

to fall.

As the ax cut sharply

through the stem

and divided the pith,

the tree fell

with a groan

to the earth,


of pain

and faintness

and forgetting all its dreams

of happiness

in sorrow

at leaving its home

in the forest.

It knew

that it

should never again see its dear old companions the trees,

nor the little bushes

and many-colored flowers

that had grown

by its side;

perhaps not

even the birds.

Nor was the journey

at all pleasant.

The tree first recovered itself

while being unpacked

in the courtyard

of a house,

with several other trees;

and it heard a man say:

“We only want one,

and this is the prettiest.

This is beautiful!”

Then came two servants

in grand livery

and carried the fir tree

into a large

and beautiful apartment.

Pictures hung

on the walls,

and near the tall tile stove stood great china vases

with lions

on the lids.

There were rocking-chairs,

silken sofas,

and large tables covered

with pictures;


there were books,

and playthings

that had cost a hundred times a hundred dollars

--at least so said the children.

Then the fir tree was placed

in a large tub full

of sand

--but green baize hung all round it so

that no one

could know it was a tub

--and it stood

on a very handsome carpet.


how the fir tree trembled!

What was going

to happen

to him now?

Some young ladies came,

and the servants helped them

to adorn the tree.

On one branch they hung little bags cut out

of colored paper,

and each bag was filled

with sweetmeats.

From other branches hung gilded apples

and walnuts,


if they had grown there;

and above

and all

around were hundreds

of red,


and white tapers,

which were fastened upon the branches.



like real men

and women,

were placed

under the green leaves,

--the tree had never seen such things before,


at the very top was fastened a glittering star made

of gold tinsel.


it was very beautiful.

“This evening,”

they all exclaimed,

“how bright it

will be!”


that the evening were come,”

thought the tree,

“and the tapers lighted!

Then I shall know

what else is going

to happen.

Will the trees

of the forest come

to see me?

Will the sparrows peep


at the windows,

I wonder,

as they fly?

Shall I grow faster here than

in the forest,

and shall I keep

on all these ornaments during summer

and winter?”

But guessing was

of very little use.

His back ached

with trying,

and this pain is

as bad

for a slender fir tree

as headache is

for us.

At last the tapers were lighted,



what a glistening blaze

of splendor the tree presented!

It trembled so

with joy

in all its branches

that one

of the candles fell

among the green leaves

and burned some

of them.



exclaimed the young ladies;

but no harm was done,

for they quickly extinguished the fire.

After this the tree tried not

to tremble

at all,

though the fire frightened him,

he was so anxious not

to hurt any

of the beautiful ornaments,


while their brilliancy dazzled him.

And now the folding doors were thrown open,

and a troop

of children rushed



if they intended

to upset the tree,

and were followed more slowly

by their elders.

For a moment the little ones stood silent

with astonishment,


then they shouted

for joy

till the room rang;

and they danced merrily round the tree

while one present after another was taken

from it.

“What are they doing?


will happen next?”

thought the tree.

At last the candles burned down

to the branches

and were put out.

Then the children received permission

to plunder the tree.


how they rushed upon it!

There was such a riot

that the branches cracked,

and had it not been fastened

with the glistening star

to the ceiling,

it must have been thrown down.

Then the children danced about

with their pretty toys,

and no one noticed the tree except the children’s maid,

who came

and peeped

among the branches

to see

if an apple

or a fig had been forgotten.

* * * * *

“A story,

a story,”

cried the children,

pulling a little fat man

towards the tree.

“Now we shall be

in the green shade,”

said the man

as he seated himself

under it,

“and the tree

will have the pleasure

of hearing,


but I shall only relate one story.

What shall it be?


or Humpty Dumpty,

who fell downstairs,

but soon got up again,


at last married a princess?”


cried some;

“Humpty Dumpty,”

cried others;


there was a famous uproar.

But the fir tree remained quite still

and thought

to himself:

“Shall I have anything

to do

with all this?

Ought I

to make a noise,


but he had already amused them

as much

as they wished

and they paid no attention

to him.

Then the old man told them the story

of Humpty Dumpty

--how he fell downstairs,

and was raised up again,

and married a princess.

And the children clapped their hands

and cried,

“Tell another,

tell another,”

for they wanted

to hear the story

of Ivede-Avede;

but this time they had only “Humpty Dumpty.”

After this the fir tree became quite silent

and thoughtful.

Never had the birds

in the forest told such tales

as that

of Humpty Dumpty,

who fell downstairs,

and yet married a princess.



so it happens

in the world,”

thought the fir tree.

He believed it all,

because it was related

by such a pleasant man.



he thought,

“who knows?

Perhaps I may fall down,


and marry a princess;”

and he looked forward joyfully

to the next evening,


to be again decked out

with lights

and playthings,


and fruit.

“To-morrow I

will not tremble,”

thought he;


will enjoy all my splendor,

and I shall hear the story

of Humpty Dumpty again,

and perhaps

of Ivede-Avede.”

And the tree remained quiet

and thoughtful all night.

In the morning the servants

and the housemaid came in.


thought the fir tree,

“all my splendor is going

to begin again.”

But they dragged him out

of the room

and upstairs

to the garret

and threw him

on the floor

in a dark corner

where no daylight shone,


there they left him.

“What does this mean?”

thought the tree.

“What am I

to do here?


can hear nothing

in a place

like this;”

and he leaned

against the wall

and thought

and thought.

And he had time enough

to think,

for days

and nights passed

and no one came near him;

and when

at last somebody did come,

it was only

to push away some large boxes

in a corner.

So the tree was completely hidden

from sight,


if it had never existed.


Threw him

on the floor  .....


there they left him.]

“It is winter now,”

thought the tree;

“the ground is hard

and covered

with snow,


that people cannot plant me.

I shall be sheltered here,

I dare say,

until spring comes.

How thoughtful

and kind everybody is

to me!


I wish this place were not so dark

and so dreadfully lonely,

with not

even a little hare

to look at.

How pleasant it was out

in the forest

while the snow lay

on the ground,

when the hare

would run by,


and jump

over me,


although I did not

like it then.


it is terribly lonely here.”



said a little mouse,

creeping cautiously

towards the tree;

then came another,

and they both sniffed

at the fir tree

and crept


and out

between the branches.


it is very cold,”

said the little mouse.

“If it were not we

should be very comfortable here,

shouldn’t we,

old fir tree?”

“I am not old,”

said the fir tree.

“There are many

who are older

than I am.”

“Where do you come from?”

asked the mice,

who were full

of curiosity;


what do you know?

Have you seen the most beautiful places

in the world,


can you tell us all

about them?

And have you been

in the storeroom,

where cheeses lie

on the shelf

and hams hang

from the ceiling?


can run about

on tallow candles there;


can go

in thin

and come out fat.”

“I know nothing

of that,”

said the fir tree,

“but I know the wood,

where the sun shines

and the birds sing.”


then the tree told the little mice all

about its youth.

They had never heard such an account

in their lives;

and after they had listened

to it attentively,

they said:

“What a number

of things you have seen!

You must have been very happy.”


exclaimed the fir tree;

and then,

as he reflected


what he had been telling them,

he said,



after all,

those were happy days.”


when he went


and related all

about Christmas Eve,


how he had been dressed up

with cakes

and lights,

the mice said,

“How happy you must have been,

you old fir tree.”

“I am not old

at all,”

replied the tree;

“I only came

from the forest this winter.

I am now checked

in my growth.”

“What splendid stories you

can tell,”

said the little mice.

And the next night four other mice came

with them

to hear

what the tree had

to tell.

The more he talked the more he remembered,


then he thought

to himself:


those were happy days;

but they may come again.

Humpty Dumpty fell downstairs,

and yet he married the princess.

Perhaps I may marry a princess,


And the fir tree thought

of the pretty little birch tree

that grew

in the forest;

a real princess,

a beautiful princess,

she was

to him.

“Who is Humpty Dumpty?”

asked the little mice.


then the tree related the whole story;


could remember every single word.

And the little mice were so delighted

with it

that they were ready

to jump

to the top

of the tree.

The next night a great many more mice made their appearance,


on Sunday two rats came

with them;

but the rats said it was not a pretty story

at all,

and the little mice were very sorry,

for it made them also think less

of it.

“Do you know only

that one story?”

asked the rats.


that one,”

replied the fir tree.

“I heard it

on the happiest evening

in my life;

but I did not know I was so happy

at the time.”

“We think it is a very miserable story,”

said the rats.

“Don’t you know any story

about bacon

or tallow

in the storeroom?”


replied the tree.

“Many thanks

to you,


replied the rats,

and they went their ways.

The little mice also kept away after this,

and the tree sighed

and said:

“It was very pleasant

when the merry little mice sat round me

and listened

while I talked.


that is all past,



I shall consider myself happy

when some one comes

to take me out

of this place.”


would this ever happen?


one morning people came

to clear up the garret;

the boxes were packed away,

and the tree was pulled out

of the corner

and thrown roughly

on the floor;

then the servants dragged it out upon the staircase,

where the daylight shone.

“Now life is beginning again,”

said the tree,


in the sunshine

and fresh air.

Then it was carried downstairs

and taken

into the courtyard so quickly

that it forgot

to think

of itself


could only look about,

there was so much

to be seen.

The court was close

to a garden,

where everything looked blooming.


and fragrant roses hung

over the little palings.

The linden trees were

in blossom,

while swallows flew here

and there,





my mate is coming”;

but it was not the fir tree they meant.

“Now I shall live,”

cried the tree joyfully,

spreading out its branches;

but alas!

they were all withered

and yellow,

and it lay

in a corner

among weeds

and nettles.

The star

of gold paper still stuck

in the top

of the tree

and glittered

in the sunshine.


of the merry children

who had danced round the tree

at Christmas

and had been so happy were playing

in the same courtyard.

The youngest saw the gilded star

and ran

and pulled it off the tree.


what is sticking

to the ugly old fir tree,”

said the child,


on the branches

till they crackled

under his boots.

And the tree saw all the fresh,

bright flowers

in the garden


then looked

at itself

and wished it had remained

in the dark corner

of the garret.

It thought

of its fresh youth

in the forest,

of the merry Christmas evening,


of the little mice

who had listened

to the story

of Humpty Dumpty.



said the poor tree.


had I

but enjoyed myself

while I

could have done so!

but now it is too late.”

Then a lad came

and chopped the tree

into small pieces,

till a large bundle lay

in a heap

on the ground.

The pieces were placed

in a fire,

and they quickly blazed up brightly,

while the tree sighed so deeply

that each sigh was

like a little pistol shot.

Then the children

who were

at play came

and seated themselves

in front

of the fire,

and looked

at it

and cried,




at each “pop,”

which was a deep sigh,

the tree was thinking

of a summer day

in the forest or

of some winter night there

when the stars shone brightly,


of Christmas evening,


of Humpty Dumpty,

--the only story it had ever heard

or knew how

to relate,


at last it was consumed.

The boys still played

in the garden,

and the youngest wore

on his breast the golden star


which the tree had been adorned during the happiest evening

of its existence.

Now all was past;

the tree’s life was past

and the story also past

--for all stories must come

to an end

at some time

or other.




An odd name,

to be sure!


it was not the little boy’s real name.

His real name was Carl;


when he was so young

that he

could not speak plainly,

he used

to call himself Tuk.


would be hard

to say why,

for it is not

at all

like “Carl”;

but the name does

as well

as any,

if one only knows it.

Little Tuk was left

at home

to take care

of his sister Gustava,

who was much younger

than himself;

and he had also

to learn his lesson.

Here were two things

to be done

at the same time,

and they did not

at all suit each other.

The poor boy sat

with his sister

in his lap,


to her all the songs he knew,

yet giving,


and then,

a glance

into his geography,

which lay open beside him.

By to-morrow morning he must know the names

of all the towns

in Seeland

by heart,

and be able

to tell

about them all


could be told.

His mother came

at last,

and took little Gustava

in her arms.

Tuk ran quickly

to the window

and read

and read

till he had

almost read his eyes out

--for it was growing dark,

and his mother

could not afford

to buy candles.

“There goes the old washerwoman down the lane,”

said the mother,

as she looked out

of the window.



hardly drag herself along,

poor thing;

and now she has

to carry

that heavy pail

from the pump.

Be a good boy,

little Tuk,

and run across

to help the poor creature,

will you not?”

And little Tuk ran quickly

and helped

to bear the weight

of the pail.


when he came back

into the room,

it was quite dark.

Nothing was said

about a candle,

and it was

of no use

to wish

for one;

he must go

to his little trundle-bed,

which was made

of an old settle.

There he lay,

still thinking

of the geography lesson,

of Seeland,


of all

that the master had said.


could not read the book again,

as he should

by rights have done,

for want

of a light.

So he put the geography-book

under his pillow.

Somebody had once told him


would help him wonderfully

to remember his lesson,

but he had never yet found

that one

could depend upon it.

There he lay

and thought

and thought,

till all

at once he felt

as though some one were gently sealing his mouth

and eyes

with a kiss.

He slept

and yet did not sleep,

for he seemed

to see the old washerwoman’s mild,

kind eyes fixed upon him,


to hear her say:


would be a shame,


for you not

to know your lesson to-morrow,

little Tuk.

You helped me;

now I

will help you,

and our Lord

will help us both.”


at once the leaves

of the book began

to rustle

under little Tuk’s head,

and he heard something crawling


under his pillow.




cried a hen,

as she crept

towards him.

(She came

from the town

of Kjöge.)

“I’m a Kjöge hen,”

she said.


then she told him

how many inhabitants the little town contained,


about the battle

that had once been fought there,


how it was now

hardly worth mentioning,

there were so many greater things.



in a moment he was

on horseback,


on he went,





kribbley crabbley!

and now a great wooden bird jumped down upon the bed.

It was the popinjay

from the shooting ground

at Præstö.

He had reckoned the number

of inhabitants

in Præstö,

and found


there were

as many

as he had nails

in his body.

He was a proud bird.

“Thorwaldsen lived

in one corner

of Præstö,


by me.

Am I not a pretty bird,

a merry popinjay?”

And now little Tuk no longer lay

in bed.


in a moment he was

on horseback,


on he went,



A splendid knight,

with a bright helmet

and waving plume,

--a knight

of the olden time,

--held him

on his own horse;


on they rode together,

through the wood

of the ancient city

of Vordingborg,

and it was once again a great

and busy town.

The high towers

of the king’s castle rose

against the sky,

and bright lights were seen gleaming

through the windows.

Within were music

and merrymaking.

King Waldemar was leading out the noble ladies

of his court

to dance

with him.

Suddenly the morning dawned,

the lamps grew pale,

the sun rose,

the outlines

of the buildings faded away,


at last one high tower alone remained

to mark the spot

where the royal castle had stood.

The vast city had shrunk

into a poor,

mean-looking little town.

The schoolboys,

coming out

of school

with their geography-books

under their arms,


“Two thousand inhabitants”;


that was a mere boast,

for the town had not nearly so many.

And little Tuk lay

in his bed.

He knew not whether he had been dreaming

or not,

but again

there was some one close

by his side.

“Little Tuk!

little Tuk!”

cried a voice;

it was the voice

of a young sailor boy.

“I am come

to bring you greeting

from Korsör.

Korsör is a new town,

a living town,

with steamers

and mail coaches.

Once people used

to call it a low,

ugly place,

but they do so no longer.

“‘I dwell

by the seaside,’

says Korsör;

‘I have broad highroads

and pleasure gardens;

and I have given birth

to a poet,

a witty one,


which is more

than all poets are.

I once thought

of sending a ship all round the world;

but I did not do it,

though I might

as well have done so.

I dwell so pleasantly,


by the port;

and I am fragrant

with perfume,

for the loveliest roses bloom round

about me,


to my gates.’”

And little Tuk

could smell the roses

and see them

and their fresh green leaves.


in a moment they had vanished;

the green leaves spread

and thickened

--a perfect grove had grown up

above the bright waters

of the bay,


above the grove rose the two high-pointed towers

of a glorious old church.

From the side

of the grass-grown hill gushed a fountain

in rainbow-hued streams,

with a merry,

musical voice,

and close beside it sat a king,

wearing a gold crown upon his long dark hair.

This was King Hroar

of the springs;

and hard

by was the town

of Roskilde

(Hroar’s Fountain).

And up the hill,

on a broad highway,

went all the kings

and queens

of Denmark,

wearing golden crowns;


in hand they passed


into the church,

and the deep music

of the organ mingled

with the clear rippling

of the fountain.

For nearly all the kings

and queens

of Denmark lie buried

in this beautiful church.

And little Tuk saw

and heard it all.

“Don’t forget the towns,”

said King Hroar.

Then all vanished;


where it went he knew not.

It seemed

like turning the leaves

of a book.

And now

there stood

before him an old peasant woman

from Sorö,

the quiet little town

where grass grows

in the very market place.

Her green linen apron was thrown

over her head

and back,

and the apron was very wet,


if it had been raining heavily.

“And so it has,”

she said.

And she told a great many pretty things

from Holberg’s comedies,

and recited ballads

about Waldemar

and Absalon;

for Holberg had founded an academy

in her native town.


at once she cowered down

and rocked her head


if she were a frog about

to spring.


cried she;

“it is wet,

it is always wet,

and it is

as still

as the grave

in Sorö.”

She had changed

into a frog.


and again she was an old woman.

“One must dress according

to the weather,”

she said.

“It is wet!

it is wet!

My native town is

like a bottle;

one goes


at the cork,


by the cork one must come out.

In old times we had the finest

of fish;

now we have fresh,

rosy-cheeked boys

at the bottom

of the bottle.

There they learn wisdom



and Hebrew!


It sounded exactly


if frogs were croaking,



if some one were walking

over the great swamp

with heavy boots.

So tiresome was her tone,


on the same note,

that little Tuk fell fast asleep;

and a very good thing it was

for him.

But even

in sleep

there came a dream,

or whatever else it may be called.

His little sister Gustava,

with her blue eyes

and flaxen ringlets,

was grown

into a tall,

beautiful girl,


though she had no wings,

could fly;

and away they now flew

over Seeland

--over its green woods

and blue waters.


Do you hear the cock crow,

little Tuk?

‘Cock-a-doodle-do!’ The fowls are flying hither

from Kjöge,

and you shall have a farmyard,

a great,

great poultry yard

of your own!

You shall never suffer hunger

or want.

The golden goose,

the bird

of good omen,

shall be yours;

you shall become a rich

and happy man.

Your house shall rise up

like King Waldemar’s towers

and be richly decked

with statues

like those

of Thorwaldsen

at Præstö.

“Understand me well;

your good name shall be borne round the world,

like the ship

that was

to sail

from Korsör,


at Roskilde you shall speak

and give counsel wisely

and well,

little Tuk,

like King Hroar;

and when

at last you shall lie

in your peaceful grave you shall sleep

as quietly--”


if I lay sleeping

in Sorö,”

said Tuk,

and he woke.

It was a bright morning,

and he

could not remember his dream,

but it was not necessary

that he should.

One has no need

to know

what one

will live

to see.

And now he sprang quickly out

of bed

and sought his book,

that had lain

under his pillow.

He read his lesson

and found

that he knew the towns perfectly well.

And the old washerwoman put her head


at the door

and said,

with a friendly nod:

“Thank you,

my good child,

for yesterday’s help.

May the Lord fulfill your brightest

and most beautiful dreams!

I know he will.”

Little Tuk had forgotten

what he had dreamed,

but it did not matter.

There was One above

who knew it all.



IT was so beautiful

in the country.

It was the summer time.

The wheat fields were golden,

the oats were green,

and the hay stood

in great stacks

in the green meadows.

The stork paraded


among them

on his long red legs,

chattering away

in Egyptian,

the language he had learned

from his lady mother.


around the meadows

and cornfields grew thick woods,


in the midst

of the forest was a deep lake.


it was beautiful,

it was delightful

in the country.

In a sunny spot stood a pleasant old farmhouse circled all about

with deep canals;


from the walls down

to the water’s edge grew great burdocks,

so high


under the tallest

of them a little child might stand upright.

The spot was

as wild


if it had been

in the very center

of the thick wood.

In this snug retreat sat a duck upon her nest,


for her young brood

to hatch;

but the pleasure she had felt

at first was

almost gone;

she had begun

to think it a wearisome task,

for the little ones were so long coming out

of their shells,

and she seldom had visitors.

The other ducks liked much better

to swim about

in the canals than

to climb the slippery banks

and sit

under the burdock leaves

to have a gossip

with her.

It was a long time

to stay so much

by herself.

At length,


one shell cracked,

and soon another,


from each came a living creature

that lifted its head

and cried “Peep,




said the mother;


then they all tried

to say it,


as well

as they could,

while they looked all

about them

on every side

at the tall green leaves.

Their mother allowed them

to look about

as much

as they liked,

because green is good

for the eyes.

“What a great world it is,

to be sure,”

said the little ones,

when they found

how much more room they had than

when they were

in the eggshell.

“Is this all the world,

do you imagine?”

said the mother.


till you have seen the garden.

Far beyond

that it stretches down

to the pastor’s field,

though I have never ventured

to such a distance.

Are you all out?”

she continued,


to look.


not all;

the largest egg lies

there yet,

I declare.

I wonder

how long this business is

to last.

I’m really beginning

to be tired

of it;”


for all

that she sat down again.



how are you to-day?”

quacked an old duck

who came

to pay her a visit.

“There’s one egg

that takes a deal

of hatching.

The shell is hard


will not break,”

said the fond mother,

who sat still upon her nest.

“But just look

at the others.

Have I not a pretty family?

Are they not the prettiest little ducklings you ever saw?

They are the image

of their father

--the good

for naught!

He never comes

to see me.”

“Let me see the egg that

will not break,”

said the old duck.

“I’ve no doubt it’s a Guinea fowl’s egg.

The same thing happened

to me once,

and a deal

of trouble it gave me,

for the young ones are afraid

of the water.

I quacked

and clucked,

but all

to no purpose.

Let me take a look

at it.


I am right;

it’s a Guinea fowl,

upon my word;

so take my advice

and leave it

where it is.


to the water

and teach the other children

to swim.”

“I think I

will sit a little

while longer,”

said the mother.

“I have sat so long,

a day

or two more

won’t matter.”

“Very well,

please yourself,”

said the old duck,


and she went away.

* * * * *

At last the great egg broke,

and the latest bird cried “Peep,


as he crept forth

from the shell.

How big

and ugly he was!

The mother duck stared

at him

and did not know what

to think.


she said,

“this is an enormous duckling,

and it is not

at all

like any

of the others.

I wonder

if he

will turn out

to be a Guinea fowl.


we shall see

when we get

to the water


into the water he must go,


if I have

to push him

in myself.”

On the next day the weather was delightful.

The sun shone brightly

on the green burdock leaves,

and the mother duck took her whole family down

to the water

and jumped


with a splash.



cried she,

and one after another the little ducklings jumped in.

The water closed

over their heads,

but they came up again

in an instant

and swam

about quite prettily,

with their legs paddling

under them

as easily

as possible;

their legs went

of their own accord;

and the ugly gray-coat was also

in the water,


with them.


said the mother,

“that is not a Guinea fowl.


how well he uses his legs,


how erect he holds himself!

He is my own child,

and he is not so very ugly after all,

if you look

at him properly.




with me now.


will take you

into grand society

and introduce you

to the farmyard,

but you must keep close

to me

or you may be trodden upon;


above all,


of the cat.”

When they reached the farmyard,

there was a wretched riot going on;

two families were fighting

for an eel’s head,


after all,

was carried off

by the cat.



that is the way

of the world,”

said the mother duck,

whetting her beak,

for she

would have liked the eel’s head herself.



use your legs,

and let me see

how well you

can behave.

You must bow your heads prettily


that old duck yonder;

she is the highest born

of them all

and has Spanish blood;

therefore she is well off.

Don’t you see she has a red rag tied

to her leg,

which is something very grand

and a great honor

for a duck;

it shows

that every one is anxious not

to lose her,


that she is

to be noticed

by both man

and beast.



don’t turn

in your toes;

a well-bred duckling spreads his feet wide apart,


like his father

and mother,

in this way;

now bend your necks

and say


The ducklings did

as they were bade,

but the other ducks stared,

and said,


here comes another brood



there were not enough

of us already!

And bless me,

what a queer-looking object one

of them is;


don’t want him here”;


then one flew out

and bit him

in the neck.

“Let him alone,”

said the mother;

“he is not doing any harm.”


but he is so big

and ugly.

He’s a perfect fright,”

said the spiteful duck,

“and therefore he must be turned out.

A little biting

will do him good.”

“The others are very pretty children,”

said the old duck

with the rag

on her leg,



that one.

I wish his mother

could smooth him up a bit;

he is really ill-favored.”

“That is impossible,

your grace,”

replied the mother.

“He is not pretty,

but he has a very good disposition

and swims

as well

as the others


even better.

I think he

will grow up pretty,

and perhaps be smaller.

He has remained too long

in the egg,

and therefore his figure is not properly formed;”


then she stroked his neck

and smoothed the feathers,


“It is a drake,

and therefore not

of so much consequence.

I think he

will grow up strong

and able

to take care

of himself.”

“The other ducklings are graceful enough,”

said the old duck.

“Now make yourself

at home,


if you find an eel’s head you

can bring it

to me.”

And so they made themselves comfortable;

but the poor duckling

who had crept out

of his shell last

of all

and looked so ugly was bitten

and pushed

and made fun of,

not only

by the ducks but

by all the poultry.


Bless me,

what a queer-looking object one

of them is ...]

“He is too big,”

they all said;

and the turkey cock,

who had been born

into the world

with spurs

and fancied himself really an emperor,

puffed himself out

like a vessel

in full sail

and flew

at the duckling.

He became quite red

in the head

with passion,


that the poor little thing did not know where

to go,

and was quite miserable

because he was so ugly as

to be laughed at

by the whole farmyard.

So it went


from day

to day;

it got worse

and worse.

The poor duckling was driven about

by every one;

even his brothers

and sisters were unkind

to him


would say,


you ugly creature,

I wish the cat

would get you”

and his mother had been heard

to say she wished he had never been born.

The ducks pecked him,

the chickens beat him,

and the girl

who fed the poultry pushed him

with her feet.


at last he ran away,

frightening the little birds

in the hedge

as he flew

over the palings.

“They are afraid

because I am so ugly,”

he said.

So he flew still farther,

until he came out

on a large moor inhabited

by wild ducks.

Here he remained the whole night,

feeling very sorrowful.

In the morning,

when the wild ducks rose

in the air,

they stared

at their new comrade.

“What sort

of a duck are you?”

they all said,

coming round him.

He bowed

to them

and was

as polite

as he

could be,

but he did not reply

to their question.

“You are exceedingly ugly,”

said the wild ducks;

“but that

will not matter

if you do not want

to marry one

of our family.”

Poor thing!

he had no thoughts

of marriage;

all he wanted was permission

to lie

among the rushes

and drink some

of the water

on the moor.

After he had been

on the moor two days,

there came two wild geese,

or rather goslings,

for they had not been out

of the egg long,

which accounts

for their impertinence.



said one

of them

to the duckling;

“you are so ugly

that we

like you very well.

Will you go

with us

and become a bird

of passage?

Not far

from here is another moor,



there are some wild geese,


of them unmarried.

It is a chance

for you

to get a wife.

You may make your fortune,


as you are.”




in the air,

and the two wild geese fell dead

among the rushes,

and the water was tinged

with blood.



echoed far

and wide

in the distance,

and whole flocks

of wild geese rose up

from the rushes.

The sound continued

from every direction,

for the sportsmen surrounded the moor,

and some were

even seated

on branches

of trees,

overlooking the rushes.

The blue smoke

from the guns rose

like clouds

over the dark trees,


as it floated away

across the water,

a number

of sporting dogs bounded


among the rushes,

which bent

beneath them wherever they went.

How they terrified the poor duckling!

He turned away his head

to hide it

under his wing,


at the same moment a large,

terrible dog passed quite near him.

His jaws were open,

his tongue hung

from his mouth,

and his eyes glared fearfully.

He thrust his nose close

to the duckling,

showing his sharp teeth,


then “splash,


he went

into the water,

without touching him.


sighed the duckling,

“how thankful I am

for being so ugly;

even a dog

will not bite me.”

And so he lay quite still,

while the shot rattled

through the rushes,

and gun after gun was fired

over him.

It was late

in the day

before all became quiet,

but even

then the poor young thing did not dare

to move.

He waited quietly

for several hours

and then,

after looking carefully

around him,

hastened away

from the moor

as fast

as he could.

He ran

over field

and meadow

till a storm arose,

and he


hardly struggle

against it.

Towards evening he reached a poor little cottage

that seemed ready

to fall,

and only seemed

to remain standing

because it

could not decide


which side

to fall first.

The storm continued so violent

that the duckling

could go no farther.

He sat down

by the cottage,


then he noticed

that the door was not quite closed,

in consequence

of one

of the hinges having given way.

There was,


a narrow opening near the bottom large enough

for him

to slip through,

which he did very quietly,

and got a shelter

for the night.


in this cottage,

lived a woman,

a cat,

and a hen.

The cat,

whom his mistress called “My little son,”

was a great favorite;


could raise his back,

and purr,

and could

even throw out sparks

from his fur

if it were stroked the wrong way.

The hen had very short legs,

so she was called “Chickie Short-legs.”

She laid good eggs,

and her mistress loved her


if she had been her own child.

In the morning the strange visitor was discovered;

the cat began

to purr

and the hen

to cluck.

“What is

that noise about?”

said the old woman,


around the room.

But her sight was not very good;


when she saw the duckling she thought it must be a fat duck

that had strayed

from home.


what a prize!”

she exclaimed.

“I hope it is not a drake,


then I shall have some ducks’ eggs.

I must wait

and see.”

So the duckling was allowed

to remain

on trial

for three weeks;


there were no eggs.

Now the cat was the master

of the house,

and the hen was the mistress;

and they always said,


and the world,”

for they believed themselves

to be half the world,


by far the better half,


The duckling thought

that others might hold a different opinion

on the subject,

but the hen

would not listen

to such doubts.

“Can you lay eggs?”

she asked.


“Then have the goodness

to cease talking.”

“Can you raise your back,

or purr,

or throw out sparks?”

said the cat.


“Then you have no right

to express an opinion

when sensible people are speaking.”

So the duckling sat

in a corner,

feeling very low-spirited;


when the sunshine

and the fresh air came

into the room

through the open door,

he began

to feel such a great longing

for a swim

that he

could not help speaking

of it.

“What an absurd idea!”

said the hen.

“You have nothing else

to do;

therefore you have foolish fancies.

If you

could purr

or lay eggs,


would pass away.”

“But it is so delightful

to swim about

on the water,”

said the duckling,

“and so refreshing

to feel it close

over your head

while you dive down

to the bottom.”



it must be a queer sort

of pleasure,”

said the hen.


you must be crazy!

Ask the cat

--he is the cleverest animal I know;

ask him

how he

would like

to swim about

on the water,


to dive

under it,

for I

will not speak

of my own opinion.

Ask our mistress,

the old woman;

there is no one

in the world more clever

than she is.

Do you think she

would relish swimming

and letting the water close

over her head?”

“I see you

don’t understand me,”

said the duckling.


don’t understand you?


can understand you,

I wonder?

Do you consider yourself more clever

than the cat

or the old woman?


will say nothing

of myself.

Don’t imagine such nonsense,


and thank your good fortune

that you have been so well received here.

Are you not

in a warm room and

in society


which you may learn something?

But you are a chatterer,

and your company is not very agreeable.

Believe me,

I speak only

for your good.

I may tell you unpleasant truths,


that is a proof

of my friendship.

I advise you,


to lay eggs

and learn

to purr

as quickly

as possible.”

“I believe I must go out

into the world again,”

said the duckling.



said the hen.

So the duckling left the cottage

and soon found water


which it

could swim

and dive,

but he was avoided

by all other animals because

of his ugly appearance.

Autumn came,

and the leaves

in the forest turned

to orange

and gold;


as winter approached,

the wind caught them

as they fell

and whirled them

into the cold air.

The clouds,


with hail

and snowflakes,

hung low

in the sky,

and the raven stood

among the reeds,




It made one shiver

with cold

to look

at him.

All this was very sad

for the poor little duckling.

One evening,


as the sun was setting amid radiant clouds,

there came a large flock

of beautiful birds out

of the bushes.

The duckling had never seen any

like them before.

They were swans;

and they curved their graceful necks,

while their soft plumage shone

with dazzling whiteness.

They uttered a singular cry

as they spread their glorious wings

and flew away

from those cold regions

to warmer countries

across the sea.

They mounted higher

and higher

in the air,

and the ugly little duckling had a strange sensation

as he watched them.

He whirled himself

in the water

like a wheel,

stretched out his neck

towards them,

and uttered a cry so strange

that it frightened

even himself.

Could he ever forget those beautiful,

happy birds!

And when

at last they were out

of his sight,

he dived

under the water

and rose again

almost beside himself

with excitement.

He knew not the names

of these birds nor

where they had flown,

but he felt

towards them

as he had never felt

towards any other bird

in the world.

He was not envious

of these beautiful creatures;

it never occurred

to him

to wish

to be

as lovely

as they.

Poor ugly creature,

how gladly he

would have lived even

with the ducks,

had they only treated him kindly

and given him encouragement.

The winter grew colder

and colder;

he was obliged

to swim about

on the water

to keep it

from freezing,

but every night the space


which he swam became smaller

and smaller.

At length it froze so hard

that the ice

in the water crackled

as he moved,

and the duckling had

to paddle

with his legs

as well

as he could,

to keep the space

from closing up.

He became exhausted

at last

and lay still

and helpless,

frozen fast

in the ice.


in the morning a peasant

who was passing

by saw

what had happened.

He broke the ice

in pieces

with his wooden shoe

and carried the duckling home

to his wife.

The warmth revived the poor little creature;


when the children wanted

to play

with him,

the duckling thought they

would do him some harm,

so he started up

in terror,


into the milk pan,

and splashed the milk

about the room.

Then the woman clapped her hands,

which frightened him still more.

He flew first

into the butter cask,


into the meal tub

and out again.

What a condition he was in!

The woman screamed

and struck

at him

with the tongs;

the children laughed

and screamed

and tumbled

over each other

in their efforts

to catch him,

but luckily he escaped.

The door stood open;

the poor creature

could just manage

to slip out

among the bushes

and lie down quite exhausted

in the newly fallen snow.


would be very sad were I

to relate all the misery

and privations

which the poor little duckling endured during the hard winter;


when it had passed he found himself lying one morning

in a moor,

amongst the rushes.

He felt the warm sun shining

and heard the lark singing

and saw

that all

around was beautiful spring.

Then the young bird felt

that his wings were strong,

as he flapped them

against his sides

and rose high

into the air.

They bore him onwards until,

before he well knew

how it had happened,

he found himself

in a large garden.

The apple trees were

in full blossom,

and the fragrant elders bent their long green branches down

to the stream,

which wound round a smooth lawn.

Everything looked beautiful

in the freshness

of early spring.

From a thicket close

by came three beautiful white swans,

rustling their feathers

and swimming lightly

over the smooth water.

The duckling saw these lovely birds

and felt more strangely unhappy

than ever.


will fly

to these royal birds,”

he exclaimed,

“and they

will kill me because,


as I am,

I dare

to approach them.

But it does not matter;

better be killed

by them

than pecked

by the ducks,


by the hens,

pushed about

by the maiden

who feeds the poultry,

or starved

with hunger

in the winter.”

Then he flew

to the water

and swam

towards the beautiful swans.

The moment they espied the stranger they rushed

to meet him

with outstretched wings.

“Kill me,”

said the poor bird

and he bent his head down

to the surface

of the water

and awaited death.


what did he see

in the clear stream below?

His own image

--no longer a dark-gray bird,


and disagreeable

to look at,

but a graceful

and beautiful swan.

To be born

in a duck’s nest

in a farmyard is

of no consequence

to a bird

if it is hatched

from a swan’s egg.

He now felt glad

at having suffered sorrow

and trouble,

because it enabled him

to enjoy so much better all the pleasure

and happiness

around him;

for the great swans swam round the newcomer

and stroked his neck

with their beaks,

as a welcome.

Into the garden presently came some little children

and threw bread

and cake

into the water.


The new one is the most beautiful

of all ...]


cried the youngest,

“there is a new one;”

and the rest were delighted,

and ran

to their father

and mother,


and clapping their hands

and shouting joyously,

“There is another swan come;

a new one has arrived.”

Then they threw more bread

and cake

into the water

and said,

“The new one is the most beautiful

of all,

he is so young

and pretty.”

And the old swans bowed their heads

before him.

Then he felt quite ashamed

and hid his head

under his wing,

for he did not know what

to do,

he was so happy

--yet he was not

at all proud.

He had been persecuted

and despised

for his ugliness,

and now he heard them say he was the most beautiful

of all the birds.

Even the elder tree bent down its boughs

into the water

before him,

and the sun shone warm

and bright.

Then he rustled his feathers,

curved his slender neck,

and cried joyfully,

from the depths

of his heart,

“I never dreamed

of such happiness

as this

while I was the despised ugly duckling.”



“MY POOR flowers are quite faded!”

said little Ida.

“Only yesterday evening they were so pretty,

and now all the leaves are drooping.

Why do they do that?”

she asked

of the student,

who sat

on the sofa.

He was a great favorite

with her,

because he used

to tell her the prettiest

of stories

and cut out the most amusing things

in paper


with little ladies dancing

in them,

and high castles

with doors

which one

could open

and shut.

He was a merry student.

“Why do the flowers look so wretched to-day?”

asked she again,

showing him a bouquet

of faded flowers.

“Do you not know?”

replied the student.

“The flowers went

to a ball last night,

and are tired.


why they hang their heads.”

“What an idea,”

exclaimed little Ida.

“Flowers cannot dance!”

“Of course they

can dance!

When it is dark,

and we are all gone

to bed,

they jump about

as merrily

as possible.

They have a ball

almost every night.”


can their children go

to the ball?”

asked Ida.



said the student;


and lilies

of the valley,

that are quite little.”


when is it

that the prettiest flowers dance?”

“Have you not been

to the large garden outside the town gate,

in front

of the castle

where the king lives

in summer

--the garden

that is so full

of lovely flowers?

You surely remember the swans

which come swimming up

when you give them crumbs

of bread?

Believe me,

they have capital balls there.”

“I was out

there only yesterday

with my mother,”

said Ida,


there were no leaves

on the trees,

and I did not see a single flower.

What has become

of them?

There were so many

in the summer.”

“They are inside the palace now,”

replied the student.

“As soon

as the king

and all his court go back

to the town,

the flowers hasten out

of the garden


into the palace,

where they have famous times.


if you could

but see them!

The two most beautiful roses seat themselves

on the throne

and act king

and queen.

All the tall red cockscombs stand

before them

on either side

and bow;

they are the chamberlains.

Then all the pretty flowers come,


there is a great ball.

The blue violets represent the naval cadets;

they dance

with hyacinths

and crocuses,

who take the part

of young ladies.

The tulips

and the tall tiger lilies are old ladies,


--who see

to it

that the dancing is well done


that all things go

on properly.”


asked little Ida,


there no one there

to harm the flowers

for daring

to dance

in the king’s castle?”

“No one knows anything

about it,”

replied the student.

“Once during the night,


the old steward

of the castle does,

to be sure,



with his great bunch

of keys

to see

that all is right;

but the moment the flowers hear the clanking

of the keys they stand stock-still

or hide themselves

behind the long silk window curtains.

Then the old steward

will say,

‘Do I not smell flowers here?’

but he can’t see them.”

“That is very funny,”

exclaimed little Ida,

clapping her hands

with glee;


should not I be able

to see the flowers?”

“To be sure you

can see them,”

replied the student.

“You have only

to remember

to peep


at the windows the next time you go

to the palace.

I did so this very day,

and saw a long yellow lily lying

on the sofa.

She was a court lady.”

“Do the flowers

in the Botanical Garden go

to the ball?

Can they go all

that long distance?”


said the student;

“for the flowers

can fly

if they please.

Have you not seen the beautiful red

and yellow butterflies

that look so much

like flowers?

They are

in fact nothing else.

They have flown off their stalks high

into the air

and flapped their little petals just


if they were wings,

and thus they came

to fly about.

As a reward

for always behaving well they have leave

to fly about

in the daytime,



of sitting quietly

on their stalks

at home,


at last the flower petals have become real wings.

That you have seen yourself.

“It may be,


that the flowers

in the Botanical Garden have never been

in the king’s castle.

They may not have heard

what frolics take place

there every night.

But I’ll tell you;


the next time you go

to the garden,

you whisper

to one

of the flowers

that a great ball is

to be given yonder

in the castle,

the news

will spread

from flower

to flower

and they

will all fly away.


should the professor come

to his garden


won’t be a flower there,

and he

will not be able

to imagine

what has become

of them.”



can one flower tell it

to another?

for I am sure the flowers cannot speak.”


you are right there,”

returned the student.

“They cannot speak,

but they

can make signs.

Have you ever noticed that

when the wind blows a little the flowers nod

to each other

and move all their green leaves?


can make each other understand

in this way just

as well

as we do

by talking.”

“And does the professor understand their pantomime?”

asked Ida.



at least part

of it.

He came

into his garden one morning

and saw

that a great stinging nettle was making signs

with its leaves

to a beautiful red carnation.

It was saying,

‘You are so beautiful,

and I love you

with all my heart!’

but the professor doesn’t like

that sort

of thing,

and he rapped the nettle

on her leaves,

which are her fingers;

but she stung him,

and since

then he has never dared

to touch a nettle.”



laughed little Ida,

“that is very funny.”


can one put such stuff

into a child’s head?”

said a tiresome councilor,

who had come

to pay a visit.

He did not

like the student

and always used

to scold

when he saw him cutting out the droll pasteboard figures,


as a man hanging

on a gibbet

and holding a heart

in his hand

to show

that he was a stealer

of hearts,

or an old witch riding

on a broomstick

and carrying her husband

on the end

of her nose.

The councilor

could not bear such jokes,

and he

would always say,

as now:


can any one put such notions

into a child’s head?

They are only foolish fancies.”


to little Ida all

that the student had told her was very entertaining,

and she kept thinking it over.

She was sure now

that her pretty yesterday’s flowers hung their heads

because they were tired,


that they were tired

because they had been

to the ball.

So she took them

to the table

where stood her toys.

Her doll lay sleeping,

but Ida said

to her,

“You must get up,

and be content

to sleep to-night

in the table drawer,

for the poor flowers are ill

and must have your bed

to sleep in;

then perhaps they

will be well again

by to-morrow.”

And she

at once took the doll out,

though the doll looked vexed

at giving up her cradle

to the flowers.

Ida laid the flowers

in the doll’s bed

and drew the coverlet quite

over them,

telling them

to lie still

while she made some tea

for them

to drink,

in order

that they might be well next day.

And she drew the curtains

about the bed,

that the sun might not shine

into their eyes.

All the evening she thought

of nothing


what the student had told her;


when she went

to bed herself,

she ran

to the window

where her mother’s tulips

and hyacinths stood.

She whispered

to them,

“I know very well

that you are going

to a ball to-night.”

The flowers pretended not

to understand

and did not stir so much

as a leaf,


that did not prevent Ida

from knowing

what she knew.

When she was

in bed she lay

for a long time thinking

how delightful it must be

to see the flower dance

in the king’s castle,

and said

to herself,

“I wonder

if my flowers have really been there.”

Then she fell asleep.

* * * * *

In the night she woke.

She had been dreaming

of the student

and the flowers

and the councilor,

who told her they were making game

of her.

All was still

in the room,

the night lamp was burning

on the table,

and her father

and mother were both asleep.

“I wonder

if my flowers are still lying

in Sophie’s bed,”

she thought

to herself.

“How I

should like

to know!”

She raised herself a little

and looked

towards the door,

which stood half open;

within lay the flowers

and all her playthings.

She listened,

and it seemed

to her

that she heard some one playing upon the piano,

but quite softly,

and more sweetly

than she had ever heard before.

“Now all the flowers are certainly dancing,”

thought she.


how I

should like

to see them!”

but she dared not get up

for fear

of waking her father

and mother.

“If they

would only come

in here!”

But the flowers did not come,

and the music went

on so prettily

that she

could restrain herself no longer,

and she crept out

of her little bed,

stole softly

to the door,

and peeped

into the room.


what a pretty sight it was!


On the floor all the flowers danced gracefully ....]

There was no night lamp

in the room,

still it was quite bright;

the moon shone

through the window down upon the floor,

and it was almost

like daylight.

The hyacinths

and tulips stood there

in two rows.

Not one was left

on the window,

where stood the empty flower pots.

On the floor all the flowers danced gracefully,

making all the turns,

and holding each other

by their long green leaves

as they twirled around.

At the piano sat a large yellow lily,

which little Ida remembered

to have seen

in the summer,

for she recollected

that the student had said,


like she is

to Miss Laura,”


how every one had laughed

at the remark.

But now she really thought

that the lily was very

like the young lady.

It had exactly her manner

of playing

--bending its long yellow face,


to one side

and now

to the other,

and nodding its head

to mark the time

of the beautiful music.

A tall blue crocus now stepped forward,

sprang upon the table


which lay Ida’s playthings,

went straight

to the doll’s cradle,

and drew back the curtains.

There lay the sick flowers;

but they rose

at once,

greeted the other flowers,

and made a sign

that they

would like

to join

in the dance.

They did not look

at all ill now.

Suddenly a heavy noise was heard,


of something falling

from the table.

Ida glanced

that way

and saw

that it was the rod she had found

on her bed

on Shrove Tuesday,


that it seemed

to wish

to belong

to the flowers.

It was a pretty rod,

for a wax figure

that looked exactly

like the councilor sat upon the head

of it.

The rod began

to dance,

and the wax figure

that was riding

on it became long

and great,

like the councilor himself,

and began

to exclaim,


can one put such stuff

into a child’s head?”

It was very funny

to see,

and little Ida

could not help laughing,

for the rod kept

on dancing,

and the councilor had

to dance too,

--there was no help

for it,

--whether he remained tall

and big

or became a little wax figure again.

But the other flowers said a good word

for him,

especially those

that had lain

in the doll’s bed,

so that

at last the rod left it

in peace.

At the same time

there was a loud knocking inside the drawer

where Sophie,

Ida’s doll,


with many other toys.

She put out her head

and asked

in great astonishment:


there a ball here?

Why has no one told me

of it?”

She sat down upon the table,

expecting some

of the flowers

to ask her

to dance

with them;


as they did not,

she let herself fall upon the floor so as

to make a great noise;


then the flowers all came crowding about

to ask

if she were hurt,

and they were very polite

--especially those

that had lain

in her bed.

She was not

at all hurt,

and the flowers thanked her

for the use

of her pretty bed

and took her

into the middle

of the room,

where the moon shone,

and danced

with her,

while the other flowers formed a circle

around them.

So now Sophie was pleased

and said they might keep her bed,

for she did not mind sleeping

in the drawer the least

in the world.

But the flowers replied:

“We thank you most heartily

for your kindness,

but we shall not live long enough

to need it;

we shall be quite dead

by to-morrow.

But tell little Ida she is

to bury us out

in the garden near the canary bird’s grave;


then we shall wake again next summer

and be

even more beautiful

than we have been this year.”



you must not die,”

said Sophie,

kissing them

as she spoke;


then a great company

of flowers came dancing in.


could not imagine

where they

could have come from,


from the king’s garden.

Two beautiful roses led the way,

wearing golden crowns;

then followed wallflowers

and pinks,

who bowed

to all present.

They brought a band

of music

with them.

Wild hyacinths

and little white snowdrops jingled merry bells.

It was a most remarkable orchestra.

Following these were an immense number

of flowers,

all dancing




of the valley,

and others

which it was a delight

to see.

At last all the happy flowers wished one another good night.

Little Ida,


crept back

to bed,

to dream

of all

that she had seen.

When she rose next morning she went

at once

to her little table

to see

if her flowers were there.

She drew aside the curtains

of her little bed;


there lay the flowers,

but they were much more faded to-day

than yesterday.

Sophie too was

in the drawer,

but she looked very sleepy.

“Do you remember

what you were

to say

to me?”

asked Ida

of her.

But Sophie looked quite stupid

and had not a word

to say.

“You are not kind

at all,”

said Ida;

“and yet all the flowers let you dance

with them.”

Then she chose

from her playthings a little pasteboard box

with birds painted

on it,


in it she laid the dead flowers.

“That shall be your pretty casket,”

said she;


when my cousins come

to visit me,


and by,

they shall help me

to bury you

in the garden,

in order

that next summer you may grow again

and be still more beautiful.”

The two cousins were two merry boys,


and Adolphe.

Their father had given them each a new crossbow,

which they brought

with them

to show

to Ida.

She told them

of the poor flowers

that were dead

and were

to be buried

in the garden.

So the two boys walked

in front,

with their bows slung

across their shoulders,

and little Ida followed,

carrying the dead flowers

in their pretty coffin.

A little grave was dug

for them

in the garden.

Ida first kissed the flowers


then laid them

in the earth,

and Adolphe

and Gustave shot

with their crossbows

over the grave,

for they had neither guns nor cannons.



THERE were once five

and twenty tin soldiers.

They were brothers,

for they had all been made out

of the same old tin spoon.

They all shouldered their bayonets,

held themselves upright,

and looked straight

before them.

Their uniforms were very smart-looking


and blue

--and very splendid.

The first thing they heard

in the world,

when the lid was taken off the box


which they lay,

was the words “Tin soldiers!”

These words were spoken

by a little boy,

who clapped his hands

for joy.

The soldiers had been given him

because it was his birthday,

and now he was putting them out upon the table.

Each was exactly

like the rest

to a hair,

except one

who had

but one leg.

He had been cast last

of all,


there had not been quite enough tin

to finish him;

but he stood

as firmly upon his one leg

as the others upon their two,

and it was he whose fortunes became so remarkable.

On the table

where the tin soldiers had been set up were several other toys,

but the one

that attracted most attention was a pretty little paper castle.

Through its tiny windows one

could see straight

into the hall.

In front

of the castle stood little trees,

clustering round a small mirror

which was meant

to represent a transparent lake.


of wax swam upon its surface,

and it reflected back their images.

All this was very pretty,

but prettiest

of all was a little lady

who stood

at the castle’s open door.

She too was cut out

of paper,

but she wore a frock

of the clearest gauze

and a narrow blue ribbon

over her shoulders,

like a scarf,


in the middle

of the ribbon was placed a shining tinsel rose.

The little lady stretched out both her arms,

for she was a dancer,


then she lifted one leg so high

that the Soldier quite lost sight

of it.

He thought that,

like himself,

she had

but one leg.


would be just the wife

for me,”

thought he,

“if she were not too grand.

But she lives

in a castle,

while I have only a box,


there are five

and twenty

of us

in that.


would be no place

for a lady.


I must try

to make her acquaintance.”

A snuffbox happened

to be upon the table

and he lay down

at full length

behind it,

and here he

could easily watch the dainty little lady,

who still remained standing

on one leg without losing her balance.

When the evening came all the other tin soldiers were put away

in their box,

and the people

in the house went

to bed.

Now the playthings began

to play

in their turn.

They visited,

fought battles,

and gave balls.

The tin soldiers rattled

in the box,

for they wished

to join the rest,

but they

could not lift the lid.

The nutcrackers turned somersaults,

and the pencil jumped about

in a most amusing way.

There was such a din

that the canary woke

and began

to speak


in verse,


The only ones

who did not move

from their places were the Tin Soldier

and the Lady Dancer.

She stood

on tiptoe

with outstretched arms,

and he was just

as persevering

on his one leg;

he never once turned away his eyes

from her.

Twelve o’clock struck


up sprang the lid

of the snuffbox.

There was no snuff

in it,

but a little black goblin.

You see it was not a real snuffbox,

but a jack-in-the-box.

“Tin Soldier,”

said the Goblin,

“keep thine eyes

to thyself.

Gaze not


what does not concern thee!”

But the Tin Soldier pretended not

to hear.

“Only wait,


till to-morrow,”

remarked the Goblin.

Next morning,

when the children got up,

the Tin Soldier was placed

on the window sill,


whether it was the Goblin

or the wind

that did it,


at once the window flew open

and the Tin Soldier fell head foremost

from the third story

to the street below.

It was a tremendous fall!



over he turned

in the air,


at last he rested,

his cap

and bayonet sticking fast

between the paving stones,

while his one leg stood upright

in the air.


Away he sailed  ...

down the gutter ...]

The maidservant

and the little boy came down

at once

to look

for him,


though they nearly trod upon him,


could not manage

to find him.

If the Soldier had

but once called “Here am I!”

they might easily enough have heard him,

but he did not think it becoming

to cry out

for help,


in uniform.

It now began

to rain;


and faster fell the drops,


there was a heavy shower;


when it was over,

two street boys came by.

“Look you,”

said one,

“there lies a tin soldier.

He must come out

and sail

in a boat.”

So they made a boat out

of an old newspaper

and put the Tin Soldier

in the middle

of it,

and away he sailed down the gutter,

while the boys ran along

by his side,

clapping their hands.


how the waves rocked

that paper boat,


how fast the stream ran!

The Tin Soldier became quite giddy,

the boat veered round so quickly;

still he moved not a muscle,

but looked straight

before him

and held his bayonet tightly.


at once the boat passed

into a drain,

and it became

as dark

as his own old home

in the box.

“Where am I going now?”

thought he.


to be sure,

it is all

that Goblin’s doing.


if the little lady were

but sailing

with me

in the boat,


would not care

if it were twice

as dark.”


then a great water rat,

that lived

under the drain,

darted suddenly out.

“Have you a passport?”

asked the rat.

“Where is your passport?”

But the Tin Soldier kept silence

and only held his bayonet

with a firmer grasp.

The boat sailed on,

but the rat followed.


how he gnashed his teeth

and cried

to the sticks

and straws:

“Stop him!

stop him!

He hasn’t paid toll!

He hasn’t shown his passport!”

But the stream grew stronger

and stronger.

Already the Tin Soldier

could see daylight

at the point

where the tunnel ended;


at the same time he heard a rushing,

roaring noise,


which a bolder man might have trembled.



where the tunnel ended,

the drain widened

into a great sheet

that fell

into the mouth

of a sewer.

It was

as perilous a situation

for the Soldier

as sailing down a mighty waterfall

would be

for us.

He was now so near it

that he

could not stop.

The boat dashed on,

and the Tin Soldier held himself so well

that no one might say

of him

that he so much

as winked an eye.


or four times the boat whirled round

and round;

it was full

of water

to the brim

and must certainly sink.

The Tin Soldier stood up

to his neck

in water;


and deeper sank the boat,


and softer grew the paper;

and now the water closed

over the Soldier’s head.

He thought

of the pretty little dancer whom he

should never see again,


in his ears rang the words

of the song:

Wild adventure,

mortal danger,

Be thy portion,

valiant stranger.

The paper boat parted

in the middle,

and the Soldier was about

to sink,

when he was swallowed

by a great fish.


how dark it was!


even than

in the drain,

and so narrow;

but the Tin Soldier retained his courage;

there he lay

at full length,

shouldering his bayonet

as before.


and fro swam the fish,


and twisting

and making the strangest movements,


at last he became perfectly still.


like a flash

of daylight passed

through him,

and a voice said,

“Tin Soldier!”

The fish had been caught,


to market,


and bought,

and taken

to the kitchen,

where the cook had cut him

with a large knife.

She seized the Tin Soldier

between her finger

and thumb

and took him

to the room

where the family sat,


where all were eager

to see the celebrated man

who had traveled

in the maw

of a fish;

but the Tin Soldier remained unmoved.

He was not

at all proud.

They set him upon the table there.



could so curious a thing happen?

The Soldier was

in the very same room


which he had been before.

He saw the same children,

the same toys stood upon the table,


among them the pretty dancing maiden,

who still stood upon one leg.

She too was steadfast.

That touched the Tin Soldier’s heart.


could have wept tin tears,



would not have been proper.

He looked

at her

and she looked

at him,

but neither spoke a word.

And now one

of the little boys took the Tin Soldier

and threw him

into the stove.

He gave no reason

for doing so,

but no doubt the Goblin

in the snuffbox had something

to do

with it.

The Tin Soldier stood now

in a blaze

of red light.

The heat he felt was terrible,

but whether it proceeded

from the fire


from the love

in his heart,

he did not know.

He saw

that the colors were quite gone

from his uniform,

but whether

that had happened

on the journey

or had been caused

by grief,

no one

could say.

He looked

at the little lady,

she looked

at him,

and he felt himself melting;

still he stood firm

as ever,

with his bayonet

on his shoulder.

Then suddenly the door flew open;

the wind caught the Dancer,

and she flew straight

into the stove

to the Tin Soldier,

flashed up

in a flame,

and was gone!

The Tin Soldier melted

into a lump;


in the ashes the maid found him next day,

in the shape

of a little tin heart,


of the Dancer nothing remained save the tinsel rose,


that was burned

as black

as a coal.



THERE was once a woman

who wished very much

to have a little child.

She went

to a fairy

and said:


should so very much like

to have a little child.

Can you tell me

where I

can find one?”



can be easily managed,”

said the fairy.

“Here is a barleycorn;

it is not exactly

of the same sort

as those

which grow

in the farmers’ fields,


which the chickens eat.

Put it

into a flowerpot

and see what

will happen.”

“Thank you,”

said the woman;

and she gave the fairy twelve shillings,

which was the price

of the barleycorn.

Then she went home

and planted it,


there grew up a large,

handsome flower,


like a tulip

in appearance,


with its leaves tightly closed,


if it were still a bud.

“It is a beautiful flower,”

said the woman,

and she kissed the red

and golden-colored petals;


as she did so the flower opened,

and she

could see

that it was a real tulip.

But within the flower,

upon the green velvet stamens,

sat a very delicate

and graceful little maiden.

She was scarcely half

as long

as a thumb,

and they gave her the name

of Little Thumb,

or Thumbelina,

because she was so small.

A walnut shell,

elegantly polished,

served her

for a cradle;

her bed was formed

of blue violet leaves,

with a rose leaf

for a counterpane.

Here she slept

at night,

but during the day she amused herself

on a table,

where the peasant wife had placed a plate full

of water.

Round this plate were wreaths

of flowers

with their stems

in the water,

and upon it floated a large tulip leaf,

which served the little one

for a boat.

Here she sat

and rowed herself

from side

to side,

with two oars made

of white horsehair.

It was a very pretty sight.


could also sing so softly

and sweetly

that nothing

like her singing had ever

before been heard.

One night,

while she lay

in her pretty bed,

a large,


wet toad crept

through a broken pane

of glass

in the window

and leaped right upon the table

where she lay sleeping

under her rose-leaf quilt.

“What a pretty little wife this

would make

for my son,”

said the toad,

and she took up the walnut shell


which Thumbelina lay asleep,

and jumped

through the window

with it,

into the garden.

In the swampy margin

of a broad stream

in the garden lived the toad

with her son.

He was uglier even

than his mother;


when he saw the pretty little maiden

in her elegant bed,


could only cry “Croak,



“Don’t speak so loud,

or she

will wake,”

said the toad,


then she might run away,

for she is

as light

as swan’s-down.


will place her

on one

of the water-lily leaves out

in the stream;


will be

like an island

to her,

she is so light

and small,


then she cannot escape;


while she is

there we

will make haste

and prepare the stateroom

under the marsh,


which you are

to live

when you are married.”

Far out

in the stream grew a number

of water lilies

with broad green leaves

which seemed

to float

on the top

of the water.

The largest

of these leaves appeared farther off

than the rest,

and the old toad swam out

to it

with the walnut shell,


which Thumbelina still lay asleep.

The tiny creature woke very early

in the morning

and began

to cry bitterly

when she found

where she was,

for she

could see nothing

but water

on every side

of the large green leaf,

and no way

of reaching the land.

Meanwhile the old toad was very busy

under the marsh,

decking her room

with rushes

and yellow wildflowers,

to make it look pretty

for her new daughter-in-law.

Then she swam out

with her ugly son

to the leaf


which she had placed poor Thumbelina.

She wanted

to bring the pretty bed,

that she might put it

in the bridal chamber

to be ready

for her.

The old toad bowed low

to her

in the water

and said,

“Here is my son;


will be your husband,

and you

will live happily together

in the marsh

by the stream.”




was all her son

could say

for himself.

So the toad took up the elegant little bed

and swam away

with it,

leaving Thumbelina all alone

on the green leaf,

where she sat

and wept.


could not bear

to think

of living

with the old toad

and having her ugly son

for a husband.

The little fishes

who swam about

in the water

beneath had seen the toad

and heard

what she said,

so now they lifted their heads

above the water

to look

at the little maiden.

As soon

as they caught sight

of her they saw she was very pretty,

and it vexed them

to think

that she must go

and live

with the ugly toads.


it must never be!”

So they gathered together

in the water,

round the green stalk

which held the leaf


which the little maiden stood,

and gnawed it away

at the root

with their teeth.

Then the leaf floated down the stream,

carrying Thumbelina far away out

of reach

of land.

Thumbelina sailed past many towns,

and the little birds

in the bushes saw her

and sang,

“What a lovely little creature.”

So the leaf swam away

with her farther

and farther,

till it brought her

to other lands.

A graceful little white butterfly constantly fluttered round her and

at last alighted

on the leaf.

The little maiden pleased him,

and she was glad

of it,

for now the toad

could not possibly reach her,

and the country through

which she sailed was beautiful,

and the sun shone upon the water

till it glittered

like liquid gold.

She took off her girdle

and tied one end

of it round the butterfly,

fastening the other end

of the ribbon

to the leaf,

which now glided

on much faster

than before,

taking Thumbelina

with it

as she stood.

Presently a large cockchafer flew by.

The moment he caught sight

of her he seized her round her delicate waist

with his claws

and flew

with her

into a tree.

The green leaf floated away

on the brook,

and the butterfly flew

with it,

for he was fastened

to it


could not get away.


how frightened Thumbelina felt

when the cockchafer flew

with her

to the tree!

But especially was she sorry

for the beautiful white butterfly

which she had fastened

to the leaf,


if he

could not free himself he

would die

of hunger.

But the cockchafer did not trouble himself

at all

about the matter.

He seated himself

by her side,

on a large green leaf,

gave her some honey

from the flowers

to eat,

and told her she was very pretty,

though not

in the least

like a cockchafer.



on much faster


before ....]

After a time all the cockchafers

who lived

in the tree came

to pay Thumbelina a visit.

They stared

at her,


then the young lady cockchafers turned up their feelers

and said,

“She has only two legs!

how ugly

that looks.”

“She has no feelers,”

said another.

“Her waist is quite slim.


she is

like a human being.”


she is ugly,”

said all the lady cockchafers.

The cockchafer

who had run away

with her believed all the others

when they said she was ugly.


would have nothing more

to say

to her,

and told her she might go

where she liked.

Then he flew down

with her

from the tree

and placed her

on a daisy,

and she wept

at the thought

that she was so ugly


even the cockchafers

would have nothing

to say

to her.

And all the

while she was really the loveliest creature

that one

could imagine,


as tender

and delicate

as a beautiful rose leaf.

During the whole summer poor little Thumbelina lived quite alone

in the wide forest.

She wove herself a bed

with blades

of grass

and hung it up

under a broad leaf,

to protect herself

from the rain.

She sucked the honey

from the flowers

for food

and drank the dew

from their leaves every morning.

So passed away the summer

and the autumn,


then came the winter

--the long,

cold winter.

All the birds

who had sung

to her so sweetly had flown away,

and the trees

and the flowers had withered.

The large shamrock

under the shelter


which she had lived was now rolled together

and shriveled up;

nothing remained

but a yellow,

withered stalk.

She felt dreadfully cold,

for her clothes were torn,

and she was herself so frail

and delicate

that she was nearly frozen

to death.

It began

to snow,


and the snowflakes,

as they fell upon her,


like a whole shovelful falling upon one

of us,

for we are tall,

but she was only an inch high.

She wrapped herself

in a dry leaf,

but it cracked

in the middle


could not keep her warm,

and she shivered

with cold.

Near the wood


which she had been living was a large cornfield,

but the corn had been cut a long time;

nothing remained

but the bare,

dry stubble,

standing up out

of the frozen ground.

It was

to her

like struggling

through a large wood.


how she shivered

with the cold.

She came

at last

to the door

of a field mouse,

who had a little den

under the corn stubble.

There dwelt the field mouse

in warmth

and comfort,

with a whole roomful

of corn,

a kitchen,

and a beautiful dining room.

Poor Thumbelina stood

before the door,


like a little beggar girl,

and asked

for a small piece

of barleycorn,

for she had been without a morsel

to eat

for two days.

“You poor little creature,”

said the field mouse,

for she was really a good old mouse,


into my warm room

and dine

with me.”

She was pleased

with Thumbelina,

so she said,

“You are quite welcome

to stay

with me all the winter,

if you like;

but you must keep my rooms clean

and neat,

and tell me stories,

for I shall like

to hear them very much.”

And Thumbelina did all

that the field mouse asked her,

and found herself very comfortable.

“We shall have a visitor soon,”

said the field mouse one day;

“my neighbor pays me a visit once a week.

He is better off

than I am;

he has large rooms,

and wears a beautiful black velvet coat.

If you

could only have him

for a husband,


would be well provided

for indeed.

But he is blind,

so you must tell him some

of your prettiest stories.”

Thumbelina did not feel

at all interested

about this neighbor,

for he was a mole.


he came

and paid his visit,


in his black velvet coat.

“He is very rich

and learned,

and his house is twenty times larger

than mine,”

said the field mouse.

He was rich

and learned,

no doubt,

but he always spoke slightingly

of the sun

and the pretty flowers,

because he had never seen them.

Thumbelina was obliged

to sing

to him,



fly away home,”

and many other pretty songs.

And the mole fell

in love

with her

because she had so sweet a voice;

but he said nothing yet,

for he was very prudent

and cautious.

A short time before,

the mole had dug a long passage

under the earth,

which led

from the dwelling

of the field mouse

to his own,

and here she had permission

to walk

with Thumbelina whenever she liked.

But he warned them not

to be alarmed

at the sight

of a dead bird

which lay

in the passage.

It was a perfect bird,

with a beak

and feathers,


could not have been dead long.

It was lying just

where the mole had made his passage.

The mole took

in his mouth a piece

of phosphorescent wood,

which glittered

like fire

in the dark.

Then he went

before them

to light them

through the long,

dark passage.

When they came

to the spot

where the dead bird lay,

the mole pushed his broad nose

through the ceiling,


that the earth gave way

and the daylight shone

into the passage.

In the middle

of the floor lay a swallow,

his beautiful wings pulled close

to his sides,

his feet

and head drawn up

under his feathers

--the poor bird had evidently died

of the cold.

It made little Thumbelina very sad

to see it,

she did so love the little birds;

all the summer they had sung

and twittered

for her so beautifully.

But the mole pushed it aside

with his crooked legs

and said:


will sing no more now.

How miserable it must be

to be born a little bird!

I am thankful

that none

of my children

will ever be birds,

for they

can do nothing

but cry



and must always die

of hunger

in the winter.”


you may well say that,

as a clever man!”

exclaimed the field mouse.

“What is the use

of his twittering if,

when winter comes,

he must either starve

or be frozen

to death?


birds are very high bred.”

Thumbelina said nothing,


when the two others had turned their backs upon the bird,

she stooped down

and stroked aside the soft feathers

which covered his head,

and kissed the closed eyelids.

“Perhaps this was the one

who sang

to me so sweetly

in the summer,”

she said;


how much pleasure it gave me,

you dear,

pretty bird.”

The mole now stopped up the hole through

which the daylight shone,


then accompanied the ladies home.

But during the night Thumbelina

could not sleep;

so she got out

of bed

and wove a large,

beautiful carpet

of hay.

She carried it

to the dead bird

and spread it

over him,

with some down

from the flowers

which she had found

in the field mouse’s room.

It was

as soft

as wool,

and she spread some

of it

on each side

of the bird,


that he might lie warmly

in the cold earth.


pretty little bird,”

said she,


Thank you

for your delightful singing during the summer,

when all the trees were green

and the warm sun shone upon us.”

Then she laid her head

on the bird’s breast,

but she was alarmed,

for it seemed


if something inside the bird went “thump,


It was the bird’s heart;

he was not really dead,

only benumbed

with the cold,

and the warmth had restored him

to life.

In autumn all the swallows fly away

into warm countries;


if one happens

to linger,

the cold seizes it,

and it becomes chilled

and falls down


if dead.

It remains

where it fell,

and the cold snow covers it.

Thumbelina trembled very much;

she was quite frightened,

for the bird was large,

a great deal larger

than herself

(she was only an inch high).

But she took courage,

laid the wool more thickly

over the poor swallow,


then took a leaf

which she had used

for her own counterpane

and laid it

over his head.

The next night she again stole out

to see him.

He was alive,

but very weak;


could only open his eyes

for a moment

to look

at Thumbelina,

who stood by,

holding a piece

of decayed wood

in her hand,

for she had no other lantern.

“Thank you,

pretty little maiden,”

said the sick swallow;

“I have been so nicely warmed

that I shall soon regain my strength

and be able

to fly

about again

in the warm sunshine.”


said she,

“it is cold out

of doors now;

it snows

and freezes.


in your warm bed;


will take care

of you.”

She brought the swallow some water

in a flower leaf,

and after he had drunk,

he told her

that he had wounded one

of his wings

in a thornbush


could not fly

as fast

as the others,

who were soon far away

on their journey

to warm countries.

At last he had fallen

to the earth,


could remember nothing more,


how he came

to be

where she had found him.

All winter the swallow remained underground,

and Thumbelina nursed him

with care

and love.

She did not tell either the mole

or the field mouse anything

about it,

for they did not

like swallows.

Very soon the springtime came,

and the sun warmed the earth.

Then the swallow bade farewell

to Thumbelina,

and she opened the hole

in the ceiling

which the mole had made.

The sun shone

in upon them so beautifully

that the swallow asked her

if she

would go

with him.


could sit

on his back,

he said,

and he

would fly away

with her

into the green woods.

But she knew it

would grieve the field mouse

if she left her


that manner,

so she said,


I cannot.”




you good,

pretty little maiden,”

said the swallow,

and he flew out

into the sunshine.

* * * * *

Thumbelina looked after him,

and the tears rose

in her eyes.

She was very fond

of the poor swallow.



sang the bird,

as he flew out

into the green woods,

and Thumbelina felt very sad.

She was not allowed

to go out

into the warm sunshine.

The corn

which had been sowed

in the field

over the house

of the field mouse had grown up high

into the air

and formed a thick wood

to Thumbelina,

who was only an inch

in height.


Nothing must be wanting

when you are the wife

of the mole  ...]

“You are going

to be married,

little one,”

said the field mouse.

“My neighbor has asked

for you.

What good fortune

for a poor child

like you!

Now we

will prepare your wedding clothes.

They must be woolen

and linen.

Nothing must be wanting

when you are the wife

of the mole.”

Thumbelina had

to turn the spindle,

and the field mouse hired four spiders,

who were

to weave day

and night.

Every evening the mole visited her

and was continually speaking

of the time

when the summer

would be over.

Then he

would keep his wedding day

with Thumbelina;

but now the heat

of the sun was so great

that it burned the earth

and made it hard,

like stone.

As soon

as the summer was

over the wedding

should take place.

But Thumbelina was not

at all pleased,

for she did not

like the tiresome mole.

Every morning

when the sun rose

and every evening

when it went down she

would creep out

at the door,


as the wind blew aside the ears

of corn so

that she

could see the blue sky,

she thought

how beautiful

and bright it seemed out there

and wished so much

to see her dear friend,

the swallow,


But he never returned,


by this time he had flown far away

into the lovely green forest.

When autumn arrived Thumbelina had her outfit quite ready,

and the field mouse said

to her,

“In four weeks the wedding must take place.”

Then she wept

and said she

would not marry the disagreeable mole.


replied the field mouse.


don’t be obstinate,

or I shall bite you

with my white teeth.

He is a very handsome mole;

the queen herself does not wear more beautiful velvets

and furs.

His kitchens

and cellars are quite full.

You ought

to be very thankful

for such good fortune.”

So the wedding day was fixed,


which the mole was

to take her away

to live

with him,


under the earth,

and never again

to see the warm sun,

because _he_ did not

like it.

The poor child was very unhappy

at the thought

of saying farewell

to the beautiful sun,


as the field mouse had given her permission

to stand

at the door,

she went

to look

at it once more.


bright sun,”

she cried,

stretching out her arm

towards it;


then she walked a short distance

from the house,

for the corn had been cut,

and only the dry stubble remained

in the fields.



she repeated,

twining her arm

around a little red flower

that grew just

by her side.

“Greet the little swallow

from me,

if you

should see him again.”




over her head suddenly.

She looked up,


there was the swallow himself flying close by.

As soon

as he spied Thumbelina he was delighted.

She told him

how unwilling she was

to marry the ugly mole,


to live always

beneath the earth,


to see the bright sun.


as she told him,

she wept.

“Cold winter is coming,”

said the swallow,

“and I am going

to fly away

into warmer countries.

Will you go

with me?


can sit

on my back

and fasten yourself


with your sash.

Then we

can fly away

from the ugly mole

and his gloomy rooms

--far away,

over the mountains,

into warmer countries,

where the sun shines more brightly

than here;

where it is always summer,

and the flowers bloom

in greater beauty.

Fly now

with me,

dear little one;

you saved my life

when I lay frozen


that dark,

dreary passage.”



will go

with you,”

said Thumbelina;

and she seated herself

on the bird’s back,

with her feet

on his outstretched wings,

and tied her girdle

to one

of his strongest feathers.

The swallow rose

in the air

and flew

over forest


over sea


above the highest mountains,


with eternal snow.


would have been frozen

in the cold air,

but she crept

under the bird’s warm feathers,

keeping her little head uncovered,


that she might admire the beautiful lands


which they passed.

At length they reached the warm countries,

where the sun shines brightly

and the sky seems so much higher

above the earth.


on the hedges and

by the wayside grew purple,


and white grapes,


and oranges hung

from trees

in the fields,

and the air was fragrant

with myrtles

and orange blossoms.

Beautiful children ran

along the country lanes,


with large gay butterflies;


as the swallow flew farther

and farther,

every place appeared still more lovely.

At last they came

to a blue lake,


by the side

of it,


by trees

of the deepest green,

stood a palace

of dazzling white marble,


in the olden times.

Vines clustered round its lofty pillars,


at the top were many swallows’ nests,

and one

of these was the home

of the swallow

who carried Thumbelina.

“This is my house,”

said the swallow;

“but it

would not do

for you

to live there


would not be comfortable.

You must choose

for yourself one

of those lovely flowers,

and I

will put you down upon it,


then you shall have everything

that you

can wish

to make you happy.”


will be delightful,”

she said,

and clapped her little hands

for joy.

A large marble pillar lay

on the ground,


in falling,

had been broken

into three pieces.

Between these pieces grew the most beautiful large white flowers,

so the swallow flew down

with Thumbelina

and placed her

on one

of the broad leaves.


how surprised she was

to see

in the middle

of the flower a tiny little man,

as white

and transparent


if he had been made

of crystal!

He had a gold crown

on his head,

and delicate wings

at his shoulders,

and was not much larger

than was she herself.

He was the angel

of the flower,

for a tiny man

and a tiny woman dwell

in every flower,

and this was the king

of them all.


how beautiful he is!”

whispered Thumbelina

to the swallow.

The little prince was

at first quite frightened

at the bird,

who was

like a giant compared

to such a delicate little creature

as himself;


when he saw Thumbelina he was delighted

and thought her the prettiest little maiden he had ever seen.

He took the gold crown

from his head

and placed it

on hers,

and asked her name and

if she

would be his wife

and queen

over all the flowers.

This certainly was a very different sort

of husband

from the son

of the toad,

or the mole

with his black velvet

and fur,

so she said Yes

to the handsome prince.

Then all the flowers opened,

and out

of each came a little lady

or a tiny lord,

all so pretty it was quite a pleasure

to look

at them.


of them brought Thumbelina a present;

but the best gift was a pair

of beautiful wings,

which had belonged

to a large white fly,

and they fastened them

to Thumbelina’s shoulders,


that she might fly

from flower

to flower.


there was much rejoicing,

and the little swallow,

who sat

above them

in his nest,

was asked

to sing a wedding song,

which he did

as well

as he could;


in his heart he felt sad,

for he was very fond

of Thumbelina


would have liked never

to part

from her again.

“You must not be called Thumbelina any more,”

said the spirit

of the flowers

to her.

“It is an ugly name,

and you are so very lovely.


will call you Maia.”



said the swallow,

with a heavy heart,

as he left the warm countries,

to fly back

into Denmark.

There he had a nest

over the window

of a house


which dwelt the writer

of fairy tales.

The swallow sang “Tweet,



from his song came the whole story.



“I AM going

to tell a story,”

said the Wind.

“I beg your pardon,”

said the Rain,

“but now it is my turn.

Have you not been howling round the corner this long time,

as hard

as ever you could?”

“Is this the gratitude you owe me?”

said the Wind;



in honor

of you turn inside out


even break

--all the umbrellas,

when the people

won’t have anything

to do

with you.”


will speak myself,”

said the Sunshine.


and the Sunshine said it

with such glory

and majesty

that the weary Wind fell prostrate,

and the Rain,


against him,

shook him,

as she said:


won’t stand it!

She is always breaking through

--is Madame Sunshine.

Let us not listen

to her;

what she has

to say is not worth hearing.”

And still the Sunshine began

to talk,

and this is

what she said:

“A beautiful swan flew

over the rolling,

tossing waves

of the ocean.

Every one

of its feathers shone

like gold;

and one feather drifted down

to the great merchant vessel that,

with sails all set,

was sailing away.

“The feather fell upon the light curly hair

of a young man,

whose business it was

to care

for the goods

in the ship

--the supercargo he was called.

The feather

of the bird

of fortune touched his forehead,

became a pen

in his hand,

and brought him such luck

that he soon became a wealthy merchant,

rich enough

to have bought

for himself spurs

of gold

--rich enough

to change a golden plate

into a nobleman’s shield,

on which,”

said the Sunshine,

“I shone.”

* * * * *

“The swan flew farther,


and away,

over the sunny green meadow,

where the little shepherd boy,

only seven years old,

had lain down

in the shade

of the old tree,

the only one

there was

in sight.

“In its flight the swan kissed one

of the leaves

of the tree,

and falling

into the boy’s hand,

it was changed

to three leaves

--to ten

--to a whole book;



in the book he read

about all the wonders

of nature,

about his native language,

about faith

and knowledge.

At night he laid the book

under his pillow,

that he might not forget

what he had been reading.

“The wonderful book led him also

to the schoolroom,

and thence everywhere,

in search

of knowledge.

I have read his name

among the names

of learned men,”

said the Sunshine.

* * * * *

“The swan flew

into the quiet,

lonely forest,

and rested awhile

on the deep,

dark lake

where the lilies grow,

where the wild apples are

to be found

on the shore,

where the cuckoo

and the wild pigeon have their homes.

“In the wood was a poor woman gathering firewood


and dry sticks

that had fallen.

She bore them

on her back

in a bundle,


in her arms she held her little child.

She too saw the golden swan,

the bird

of fortune,

as it rose


among the reeds

on the shore.

What was it

that glittered so?

A golden egg

that was still quite warm.

She laid it

in her bosom,

and the warmth remained.


there was life

in the egg!

She heard the gentle pecking inside the shell,

but she thought it was her own heart

that was beating.

“At home

in her poor cottage she took out the egg.


tick!’ it said,


if it had been a gold watch,

but it was not;

it was an egg

--a real,

living egg.

“The egg cracked

and opened,

and a dear little baby swan,

all feathered


with the purest gold,

pushed out its tiny head.

Around its neck were four rings,


as this woman had four boys


at home,

and this little one

that was

with her

in the lonely wood

--she understood

at once


there was one

for each boy.


as she had taken them the little gold bird took flight.

“She kissed each ring,

then made each

of the children kiss one

of the rings,

laid it next the child’s heart awhile,

then put it

on his finger.

I saw it all,”

said the Sunshine,

“and I saw

what happened afterward.


The egg cracked

and opened ....]


of the boys,

while playing

by a ditch,

took a lump

of clay

in his hand,

then turned

and twisted it

till it took shape

and was

like Jason,

who went

in search

of the Golden Fleece

and found it.

“The second boy ran out upon the meadow,

where stood the flowers


of all imaginable colors.

He gathered a handful

and squeezed them so tightly

that the juice flew

into his eyes,

and some

of it wet the ring upon his hand.

It cribbled

and crawled

in his brain and

in his hands,

and after many a day

and many a year,


in the great city talked

of the famous painter

that he was.

“The third child held the ring

in his teeth,

and so tightly

that it gave forth sound

--the echo

of a song

in the depth

of his heart.

Then thoughts

and feelings rose

in beautiful sounds,


like singing swans,



like swans,

into the deep,

deep sea.

He became a great musical composer,

a master,

of whom every country has the right

to say,

‘He was mine,

for he was the world’s.’

“And the fourth little one


he was the

‘ugly duck’

of the family.

They said he had the pip

and must eat pepper

and butter

like a sick chicken,


that was

what was given him;


of me he got a warm,

sunny kiss,”

said the Sunshine.

“He had ten kisses

for one.

He was a poet

and was first kissed,

then buffeted all his life through.

“But he held

what no one

could take

from him

--the ring

of fortune

from Dame Fortune’s golden swan.

His thoughts took wing

and flew up

and away

like singing butterflies


of an immortal life.”

“That was a dreadfully long story,”

said the Wind.

“And so stupid

and tiresome,”

said the Rain.

“Blow upon me,


that I may revive a little.”


while the Wind blew,

the Sunshine said:

“The swan

of fortune flew

over the lovely bay

where the fishermen had set their nets.

The very poorest one

among them was wishing

to marry

--and marry he did.

“To him the swan brought a piece

of amber.

Amber draws things

toward itself,

and this piece drew hearts

to the house

where the fisherman lived

with his bride.

Amber is the most wonderful

of incense,


there came a soft perfume,


from a holy place,

a sweet breath

from beautiful nature,

that God has made.

And the fisherman

and his wife were happy

and grateful

in their peaceful home,

content even

in their poverty.

And so their life became a real Sunshine Story.”

“I think we had better stop now,”

said the Wind.

“I am dreadfully bored.

The Sunshine has talked long enough.”

“I think so,


said the Rain.


what do we others

who have heard the story say?

We say,

“Now the story’s done.”



THERE was once a Darning-needle

who thought herself so fine

that she came

at last

to believe

that she was fit

for embroidery.

“Mind now

that you hold me fast,”

she said

to the Fingers

that took her up.


don’t lose me.

If I

should fall

on the ground I

should certainly be lost,

I am so fine.”

“That’s more

than you

can tell,”

said the Fingers,

as they grasped her tightly

by the waist.

“I come

with a train,

you see,”

said the Darning-needle,

as she drew her long thread after her;


there was no knot

in the thread.

The Fingers pressed the point

of the Needle upon an old pair

of slippers,


which the upper leather had burst

and must be sewed together.

The slippers belonged

to the cook.

“This is very coarse work!”

said the Darning-needle.

“I shall never get

through alive.


I’m breaking!

I’m breaking!”

and break she did.

“Did I not say so?”

said the Darning-needle.

“I’m too delicate

for such work

as that.”

“Now it’s quite useless

for sewing,”

said the Fingers;

but they still held her all the same,

for the cook presently dropped some melted sealing wax upon the needle


then pinned her neckerchief

in front

with it.


now I’m a breastpin,”

said the Darning-needle.

“I well knew

that I

should come

to honor;

when one is something,

one always comes

to something.

Merit is sure

to rise.”


at this she laughed,

only inwardly,

of course,

for one

can never see

when a Darning-needle laughs.

There she sat now,


at her ease,


as proud


if she sat

in a state carriage

and gazed upon all

about her.

“May I take the liberty

to ask

if you are made

of gold?”

she asked

of the pin,

her neighbor.

“You have a splendid appearance

and quite a remarkable head,

though it is so little.


should do

what you can

to grow

--of course it is not every one that

can have sealing wax dropped upon her.”

And the Darning-needle drew herself up so proudly

that she fell out

of the neckerchief

into the sink,

which the cook was


that moment rinsing.

“Now I’m going

to travel,”

said the Darning-needle,

“if only I

don’t get lost.”


that was just

what happened

to her.

“I’m too delicate

for this world,”

she said,

as she found herself

in the gutter.

“But I know

who I am,


there is always some little pleasure

in that!”

It was thus

that the Darning-needle kept up her proud bearing

and lost none

of her good humor.

And now all sorts

of things swam

over her


and straws

and scraps

of old newspapers.

“Only see

how they sail along,”

said the Darning-needle

to herself.

“They little know

what is

under them,

though it is I,

and I sit firmly here.


there goes a chip!

It thinks

of nothing

in the world

but itself

--of nothing

in the world

but a chip!

There floats a straw;


how it turns

and twirls about.

Do think

of something

besides yourself

or you may easily run

against a stone.

There swims a bit

of a newspaper.

What’s written upon it is forgotten long ago,


how it spreads itself out

and gives itself airs!

I sit patiently

and quietly here!

I know

what I am,

and I shall remain the same


One day

there lay something beside her

that glittered splendidly.

She thought it must be a diamond,

but it was really only a bit

of broken glass

from a bottle.

As it shone so brightly the Darning-needle spoke

to it,

introducing herself

as a breastpin.

“You are a diamond,

I suppose,”

she said.




of the sort.”

So each believed the other

to be some rare

and costly trinket;

and they began

to converse together upon the world,


how very conceited it was.


said the Darning-needle,

“I have lived

in a young lady’s box;

and the young lady happened

to be a cook.

She had five fingers upon each

of her hands,

and anything more conceited

and arrogant

than those five fingers,

I never saw.

And yet they were only there

that they might take me out

of the box

or put me back again.”

“Were they

of high descent?”

asked the Bit

of Bottle.

“Did they shine?”



replied the Darning-needle;

“but they were none the less haughty.

There were five brothers

of them


of the Finger family.

And they held themselves so proudly side

by side,

though they were

of quite different heights.

The outermost,

Thumbling he was called,

was short

and thick set;

he generally stood out

of the rank,

a little

in front

of the others;

he had only one joint

in his back,


could only bow once;

but he used

to say that

if he were cut off

from a man,

that man

would be cut off

from military service.


the second,

put himself forward

on all occasions,


with sweet

and sour,


to sun

and moon,


when the fingers wrote,

it was he

who pressed the pen.


the third

of the brothers,

could look

over the others’ heads,

and gave himself airs

for that.


the fourth,

went about

with a gold belt

about his waist;

and little Playman,

whom they called Peter Spielman,

did nothing

at all

and was proud

of that,

I suppose.

There was nothing

to be heard

but boasting,


that is

why I took myself away.”

“And now we sit here together

and shine,”

said the Bit

of Bottle.


that very moment some water came rushing

along the gutter,


that it overflowed

and carried the glass diamond along

with it.

“So he is off,”

said the Darning-needle,

“and I still remain.

I am left here

because I am too slender

and genteel.

But that’s my pride,

and pride is honorable.”

And proudly she sat,

thinking many thoughts.



almost believe I had been born

of a sunbeam,

I’m so fine.

It seems


if the sunbeams were always trying

to seek me

under the water.


I’m so delicate


even my own mother cannot find me.

If I had my old eye still,

which broke off,

I think I

should cry

--but no,


would not;

it’s not genteel

to weep.”

One day a couple

of street boys were paddling about

in the gutter,


for old nails,


and such like.

It was dirty work,

but they seemed

to find great pleasure

in it.


cried one

of them,

as he pricked himself

with the Darning-needle;

“here’s a fellow

for you!”

“I’m not a fellow!

I’m a young lady!”

said the Darning-needle,

but no one heard it.

The sealing wax had worn off,

and she had become quite black;

“but black makes one look slender,

and is always becoming.”

She thought herself finer even

than before.

“There goes an eggshell sailing along,”

said the boys;

and they stuck the Darning-needle

into the shell.

“A lady

in black,

and within white walls!”

said the Darning-needle;

“that is very striking.

Now every one

can see me.

I hope I shall not be seasick,


then I shall break.”

But the fear was needless;

she was not seasick,

neither did she break.

“Nothing is so good

to prevent seasickness as

to have a steel stomach and

to bear

in mind

that one is something a little more

than an ordinary person.

My seasickness is all

over now.

The more genteel

and honorable one is,

the more one

can endure.”

Crash went the eggshell,

as a wagon rolled

over both

of them.

It was a wonder

that she did not break.


what a crushing weight!”

said the Darning-needle.

“I’m growing seasick,

after all.

I’m going

to break!”

But she was not sick,

and she did not break,

though the wagon wheels rolled

over her.

She lay

at full length

in the road,


there let her lie.



IT was dreadfully cold;

it was snowing fast,

and was

almost dark,

as evening came on

--the last evening

of the year.

In the cold

and the darkness,

there went

along the street a poor little girl,



with naked feet.

When she left home she had slippers on,

it is true;

but they were much too large

for her feet


that her mother had used

till then,

and the poor little girl lost them

in running

across the street

when two carriages were passing terribly fast.

When she looked

for them,

one was not

to be found,

and a boy seized the other

and ran away

with it,

saying he

would use it

for a cradle some day,

when he had children

of his own.


on the little girl went

with her bare feet,

that were red

and blue

with cold.

In an old apron

that she wore were bundles

of matches,

and she carried a bundle also

in her hand.

No one had bought so much

as a bunch all the long day,

and no one had given her

even a penny.

Poor little girl!


with cold

and hunger she crept along,

a perfect picture

of misery.

The snowflakes fell

on her long flaxen hair,

which hung

in pretty curls

about her throat;

but she thought not

of her beauty nor

of the cold.

Lights gleamed

in every window,


there came

to her the savory smell

of roast goose,

for it was New Year’s Eve.

And it was this


which she thought.

In a corner formed

by two houses,



which projected beyond the other,

she sat cowering down.

She had drawn

under her her little feet,

but still she grew colder

and colder;

yet she dared not go home,

for she had sold no matches


could not bring a penny

of money.

Her father

would certainly beat her;



it was cold enough

at home,

for they had only the house-roof

above them,

and though the largest holes had been stopped

with straw

and rags,

there were left many through

which the cold wind

could whistle.


Where the light fell upon the wall it became transparent.]

And now her little hands were nearly frozen

with cold.


a single match might do her good

if she might only draw it

from the bundle,

rub it

against the wall,

and warm her fingers

by it.


at last she drew one out.


How it blazed

and burned!

It gave out a warm,

bright flame

like a little candle,

as she held her hands

over it.

A wonderful little light it was.

It really seemed

to the little girl


if she sat

before a great iron stove

with polished brass feet

and brass shovel

and tongs.

So blessedly it burned

that the little maiden stretched out her feet

to warm them also.

How comfortable she was!

But lo!

the flame went out,

the stove vanished,

and nothing remained

but the little burned match

in her hand.

She rubbed another match

against the wall.

It burned brightly,


where the light fell upon the wall it became transparent

like a veil,


that she

could see

through it

into the room.

A snow-white cloth was spread upon the table,


which was a beautiful china dinner-service,

while a roast goose,


with apples

and prunes,

steamed famously

and sent forth a most savory smell.


what was more delightful still,

and wonderful,

the goose jumped

from the dish,

with knife

and fork still

in its breast,

and waddled

along the floor straight

to the little girl.

But the match went out then,

and nothing was left

to her

but the thick,

damp wall.

She lighted another match.

And now she was

under a most beautiful Christmas tree,


and far more prettily trimmed

than the one she had seen

through the glass doors

at the rich merchant’s.


of wax tapers were burning

on the green branches,

and gay figures,


as she had seen

in shop windows,

looked down upon her.

The child stretched out her hands

to them;

then the match went out.

Still the lights

of the Christmas tree rose higher

and higher.

She saw them now

as stars

in heaven,

and one

of them fell,

forming a long trail

of fire.

“Now some one is dying,”

murmured the child softly;

for her grandmother,

the only person

who had loved her,


who was now dead,

had told her

that whenever a star falls a soul mounts up

to God.

She struck yet another match

against the wall,

and again it was light;


in the brightness

there appeared

before her the dear old grandmother,


and radiant,

yet sweet

and mild,

and happy

as she had never looked

on earth.



cried the child,

“take me

with you.

I know you

will go away

when the match burns out.



will vanish,

like the warm stove,

the splendid New Year’s feast,

the beautiful Christmas tree.”

And lest her grandmother

should disappear,

she rubbed the whole bundle

of matches

against the wall.

And the matches burned

with such a brilliant light

that it became brighter

than noonday.

Her grandmother had never looked so grand

and beautiful.

She took the little girl

in her arms,

and both flew together,


and gloriously,

mounting higher

and higher,


above the earth;


for them

there was neither hunger,

nor cold,

nor care

--they were

with God.


in the corner,

at the dawn

of day,

sat the poor girl,


against the wall,

with red cheeks

and smiling mouth


to death

on the last evening

of the old year.


and cold she sat,

with the matches,

one bundle


which was burned.

“She wanted

to warm herself,

poor little thing,”

people said.

No one imagined

what sweet visions she had had,


how gloriously she had gone

with her grandmother

to enter upon the joys

of a new year.




and a Ball lay close together

in a drawer

among other playthings.

One day the Top said

to the Ball,

“Since we are living so much together,


should we not be lovers?”

But the Ball,

being made

of morocco leather,

thought herself a very high-bred lady,


would hear nothing

of such a proposal.

On the next day the little boy

to whom the playthings belonged came

to the drawer;

he painted the Top red

and yellow,

and drove a bright brass nail right

through the head

of it;

it looked very smart indeed

as it spun

around after that.


at me,”

said he

to the Ball.

“What do you say

to me now;


should we not make a match

of it,

and become man

and wife?

We suit each other so well!


can jump

and I

can dance.


would not be a happier pair

in the whole world!”

“Do you think so?”

said the Ball.

“Perhaps you do not know

that my father

and mother were morocco slippers,


that I have a Spanish cork

in my body!”



then I am made

of mahogany,”

said the Top;

“the Mayor himself turned me.

He has a turning lathe

of his own,

and he took great pleasure

in making me.”

“Can I trust you

in this?”

asked the Ball.

“May I never be whipped again,


what I tell you is not true,”

returned the Top.

“You plead your cause well,”

said the Ball;

“but I am not free

to listen

to your proposal.

I am

as good

as engaged

to a swallow.

As often

as I fly up

into the air,

he puts his head out

of his nest,

and says,

‘Will you?’

In my heart I have said Yes

to him,


that is

almost the same

as an engagement;

but I’ll promise never

to forget you.”

“A deal

of good that

will do me,”

said the Top,

and they left off speaking

to each other.

Next day the Ball was taken out.

The Top saw it fly

like a bird

into the air

--so high

that it passed quite out

of sight.

It came back again;

but each time

that it touched the earth,

it sprang higher

than before.

This must have been either

from its longing

to mount higher,

like the swallow,


because it had the Spanish cork

in its body.

On the ninth time the little Ball did not return.

The boy sought

and sought,

but all

in vain,

for it was gone.

“I know very well

where she is,”

sighed the Top.

“She is

in the swallow’s nest,

celebrating her wedding.”

The more the Top thought

of this the more lovely the Ball became

to him;

that she

could not be his bride seemed

to make his love

for her the greater.

She had preferred another rather

than himself,

but he

could not forget her.

He twirled round

and round,


and humming,

but always thinking

of the Ball,

who grew more

and more beautiful the more he thought

of her.

And thus several years passed,

--it came

to be an old love,

--and now the Top was no longer young!

One day he was gilded all over;


in his life had he been half so handsome.

He was now a golden top,

and bravely he spun,

humming all the time.

But once he sprang too high

--and was gone!

They looked everywhere

for him,


in the cellar,

--but he was nowhere

to be found.

Where was he?

He had jumped

into the dustbin,

and lay

among cabbage stalks,



and all sorts

of rubbish

that had fallen

from the gutter

in the roof.


my gay gilding

will soon be spoiled here.

What sort

of trumpery

can I have got among?”


then he peeped

at a long cabbage stalk

which lay much too near him,


at something strange

and round,

which appeared

like an apple,

but was not.

It was an old Ball

that must have lain

for years

in the gutter,

and been soaked through

and through

with water.

“Thank goodness!

at last I see an equal;


of my own sort,

with whom I

can talk,”

said the Ball,

looking earnestly

at the gilded Top.

“I am myself made

of real morocco,

sewed together

by a young lady’s hands,

and within my body is a Spanish cork;

though no one

would think it now.

I was very near marrying the swallow,


by a sad chance I fell

into the gutter

on the roof.

I have lain

there five years,

and I am now wet through

and through.

You may think

what a wearisome situation it has been

for a young lady

like me.”

The Top made no reply.

The more he thought

of his old love,

and the more he heard,

the more sure he became

that this was indeed she.

Then came the housemaid

to empty the dustbin.


she cried;


here’s the gilt Top.”

And so the Top was brought again

to the playroom,

to be used

and honored

as before,

while nothing was again heard

of the Ball.

And the Top never spoke again

of his old love

--the feeling must have passed away.

And it is not strange,

when the object

of it has lain five years

in a gutter,

and been drenched through

and through,


when one meets her again

in a dustbin.



THE Flea,

the Grasshopper,

and the Frog once wanted

to see which

of them

could jump the highest.

They made a festival,

and invited the whole world

and every one else besides

who liked

to come

and see the grand sight.

Three famous jumpers they were,

as all

should say,

when they met together

in the room.


will give my daughter

to him

who shall jump highest,”

said the King;


would be too bad

for you

to have the jumping,


for us

to offer no prize.”

The Flea was the first

to come forward.

He had most exquisite manners,

and bowed

to the company

on every side;

for he was

of noble blood,



was accustomed

to the society

of man,

and that,

of course,

had been an advantage

to him.

Next came the Grasshopper.

He was not quite so elegantly formed

as the Flea,

but he knew perfectly well how

to conduct himself,

and he wore the green uniform

which belonged

to him

by right

of birth.

He said,


that he came

of a very ancient Egyptian family,

and that

in the house

where he

then lived he was much thought of.

The fact was

that he had been just brought out

of the fields

and put

in a card-house three stories high,

and built

on purpose

for him,

with the colored sides inwards,

and doors

and windows cut out

of the Queen

of Hearts.

“And I sing so well,”

said he,

“that sixteen parlor-bred crickets,

who have chirped

from infancy

and yet got no one

to build them card-houses

to live in,

have fretted themselves thinner even

than before,

from sheer vexation

on hearing me.”

It was thus

that the Flea

and the Grasshopper made the most

of themselves,

each thinking himself quite an equal match

for the princess.


He made a sideways jump

into the lap

of the princess.]

The Leapfrog said not a word;

but people said

that perhaps he thought the more;

and the housedog

who snuffed

at him

with his nose allowed

that he was

of good family.

The old councilor,

who had had three orders given him

in vain

for keeping quiet,


that the Leapfrog was a prophet,


that one

could see

on his back whether the coming winter was

to be severe

or mild,

which is more

than one

can see

on the back

of the man

who writes the almanac.

“I say nothing

for the present,”

exclaimed the King;

“yet I have my own opinion,

for I observe everything.”

And now the match began.

The Flea jumped so high

that no one

could see

what had become

of him;

and so they insisted

that he had not jumped

at all

--which was disgraceful after all the fuss he had made.

The Grasshopper jumped only half

as high;

but he leaped

into the King’s face,

who was disgusted

by his rudeness.

The Leapfrog stood

for a long time,


if lost

in thought;

people began

to think he

would not jump

at all.

“I’m afraid he is ill!”

said the dog

and he went

to snuff

at him again;

when lo!

he suddenly made a sideways jump

into the lap

of the princess,

who sat close by

on a little golden stool.

“There is nothing higher

than my daughter,”

said the King;


to bound

into her lap is the highest jump that

can be made.

Only one

of good understanding

would ever have thought

of that.

Thus the Frog has shown

that he has sense.

He has brains

in his head,

that he has.”

And so he won the princess.

“I jumped the highest,

for all that,”

said the Flea;

“but it’s all the same

to me.

The princess may have the stiff-legged,

slimy creature,

if she likes.

In this world merit seldom meets its reward.


and heaviness win the day.

I am too light

and airy

for a stupid world.”

And so the Flea went

into foreign service.

The Grasshopper sat without

on a green bank

and reflected

on the world

and its ways;

and he too said,



and heaviness win the day;

a fine exterior is

what people care

for nowadays.”


then he began

to sing

in his own peculiar way

--and it is

from his song

that we have taken this little piece

of history,

which may very possibly be all untrue,

although it does stand printed here

in black

and white.



THE largest green leaf

in this country is certainly the burdock.

Put one

in front

of your waist,

and it is just

like an apron;

or lay it upon your head,

and it is almost

as good

as an umbrella,

it is so broad.

Burdock never grows singly;

where you find one plant

of the kind you may be sure

that others grow

in its immediate neighborhood.

How magnificent they look!

And all this magnificence is food

for snails

--the great white snails,

which grand people

in olden times used

to have dished up

as fricassees,


of which,

when they had eaten,


would say,


how nice!”

for they really fancied them delicious.

These snails lived

on burdock leaves,


that was

why burdock was planted.


there was an old estate

where snails were no longer considered a delicacy.

The snails had therefore died out,

but the burdock still flourished.

In all the alleys and

in all the beds it had grown

and grown,


that it

could no longer be checked;

the place had become a perfect forest

of burdock.



there stood an apple

or plum tree

to serve

as a kind

of token


there had been once a garden,

but everything,

from one end

of the garden

to the other,

was burdock,


beneath the shade

of the burdock lived the last two

of the ancient snails.

They did not know themselves

how old they were,

but they well remembered the time


there were a great many

of them,

that they had descended

from a family

that came

from foreign lands,


that this forest


which they lived had been planted

for them

and theirs.

They had never been beyond the limits

of the garden,

but they knew


there was something outside their forest,

called the castle,



there one was boiled,

and became black,

and was

then laid upon a silver dish


what happened afterward they had never heard,


could they exactly fancy

how it felt

to be cooked

and laid

on a silver dish.

It was,

no doubt,

a fine thing,

and exceedingly genteel.

Neither the cockchafer,

nor the toad,

nor the earthworm,


of whom they questioned

on the matter,

could give them the least information,

for none

of them had ever been cooked

and served upon silver dishes.

The old white snails were the grandest race

in the world;

of this they were well aware.

The forest had grown

for their sake,

and the castle

or manor house too had been built expressly that

in it they might be cooked

and served.

Leading now a very quiet

and happy life

and having no children,

they had adopted a little common snail,

and had brought it up

as their own child.

But the little thing

would not grow,

for he was only a common snail,

though his foster mother pretended

to see a great improvement

in him.

She begged the father,

since he

could not perceive it,

to feel the little snail’s shell,


to her great joy

and his own,

he found

that his wife was right.

One day it rained very hard.


said the Father Snail;


what a drumming

there is

on the burdock leaves



“There are drops,


said the Mother Snail;

“they come trickling down the stalks.

We shall presently find it very wet here.

I’m glad we have such good houses,


that the youngster has his also.

There has really been more done

for us than

for any other creatures.

Every one must see

that we are superior beings.

We have houses

from our very birth,

and the burdock forest is planted

on our account.


should like

to know just

how far it reaches,



there is beyond.”

“There is nothing better than

what we have here,”

said the Father Snail.

“I wish

for nothing beyond.”

“And yet,”

said the mother,


should like

to be taken

to the castle,

and boiled,

and laid

on a silver dish;

that has been the destiny

of all our ancestors,

and we may be sure it is something quite out

of the common way.”

“The castle has perhaps fallen

to ruin,”

said the Father Snail,

“or it may be overgrown

with burdock,


that its inmates are unable

to come out.

There is no hurry

about the matter.

You are always

in such a desperate hurry,

and the youngster

there begins

to take after you.

He’s been creeping up

that stem yonder these three days.

It makes me quite dizzy

to look

at him.”


don’t scold him,”

said the mother.

“He creeps carefully.

We old people have nothing else

to live for,

and he

will be the joy

of our old age.

Have you thought

how we

can manage

to find a wife

for him?

Do you not think

that farther

into the forest

there may be others

of our own species?”

“I dare say

there may be black snails,”

said the old father,

“black snails,

without a house

at all;

and they are vulgar,

though they think so much

of themselves.

But we

can employ the black ants,

who run

about so much



and fro


if they had all the business

of the world

on their hands.


will certainly be able

to find a wife

for our young gentleman.”

“I know the fairest

of the fair,”

said one

of the ants;

“but I’m afraid it

would not do,

for she’s a queen.”

“She’s none the worse

for that,”

said both the old snails.

“Has she a house?”

“She has a palace,”

answered the ants;

“the most splendid ant castle,

with seven hundred galleries.”

“Thank you!”

said the Mother Snail.

“Our boy shall not go

to live

in an ant hill.

If you know

of nothing better,


will employ the white gnats,

who fly both

in rain

and sunshine

and know all the ins

and outs

of the whole burdock forest.”

“We have found a wife

for him,”

said the gnats.

“A hundred paces

from here

there sits,

on a gooseberry bush,

a little snail

with a house.

She is all alone

and is old enough

to marry.

It is only a hundred human steps

from here.”

“Then let her come

to him,”

said the old couple.

“He has a whole forest

of burdock,

while she has only a bush.”

So they went

and brought the little maiden snail.

It took eight days

to perform the journey,


that only showed her high breeding,


that she was

of good family.


then the wedding took place.

Six glow-worms gave all the light they could,


in all other respects it was a very quiet affair.

The old people

could not bear the fatigue

of frolic

or festivity.

The Mother Snail made a very touching little speech.

The father was too much overcome

to trust himself

to say anything.

They gave the young couple the entire burdock forest,


what they had always said,


that it was the finest inheritance

in the world,

and that

if they led an upright

and honorable life,


if their family

should increase,

without doubt both themselves

and their children

would one day be taken

to the manor castle

and be boiled black

and served

as a fricassee

in a silver dish.

And after this the old couple crept

into their houses

and never came out again,

but fell asleep.

The young pair now ruled

in the forest

and had a numerous family.

But when,

as time went on,


of them were ever cooked

or served

on a silver dish,

they concluded

that the castle had fallen

to ruin


that the world

of human beings had died out;


as no one contradicted them,

they must have been right.

And the rain continued

to fall upon the burdock leaves solely

to entertain them

with its drumming,

and the sun shone

to light the forest

for their especial benefit,

and very happy they were


and the whole snail family

--inexpressibly happy!




in the window.

But a little

while ago it had been green

and fresh,

and now it looked sickly

--it was

in poor health,

no doubt.

A whole regiment was quartered

on it

and was eating it up;


notwithstanding this seeming greediness,

the regiment was a very decent

and respectable one.

It wore bright-green uniforms.

I spoke

to one

of the “Greenies.”

He was

but three days old,

and yet he was already a grandfather.

What do you think he said?

It is all true

--he spoke

of himself and

of the rest

of the regiment.


“We are the most wonderful creatures

in the world.

At a very early age we are engaged,

and immediately we have the wedding.

When the cold weather comes we lay our eggs,

but the little ones lie sunny

and warm.

The wisest

of the creatures,

the ant,

--we have the greatest respect

for him!

--understands us well.

He appreciates us,

you may be sure.

He does not eat us up

at once;

he takes our eggs,

lays them

in the family ant hill

on the ground floor

--lays them,


and numbered,


by side,


on layer,


that each day a new one may creep out

of the egg.

Then he puts us

in a stable,

pinches our hind legs,

and milks us

till we die.

He has given us the prettiest

of names

--’little milch cow.’

“All creatures who,

like the ant,

are gifted

with common sense call us

by this pretty name.

It is only human beings

who do not.

They give us another name,


that we feel

to be a great affront

--great enough

to embitter our whole life.

Could you not write a protest

against it

for us?

Could you not rouse these human beings

to a sense

of the wrong they do us?

They look

at us so stupidly or,

at times,

with such envious eyes,


because we eat a rose leaf,

while they themselves eat every created thing

--whatever grows

and is green.

And oh,

they give us the most humiliating

of names!


will not

even mention it.


I feel it

to my very stomach.

I cannot

even pronounce it

--at least not

when I have my uniform on,


that I always wear.

“I was born

on a rose leaf.


and all the regiment live

on the rose tree.

We live off it,

in fact.


then it lives again

in us,

who belong

to the higher order

of created beings.

“The human beings do not

like us.

They pursue

and murder us

with soapsuds.


it is a horrid drink!

I seem

to smell it

even now.

You cannot think

how dreadful it is

to be washed

when one was not made

to be washed.



who look

at us

with your severe,

soapsud eyes,

think a moment

what our place

in nature is:

we are born upon the roses,

we die

in roses

--our whole life is a rose poem.

Do not,

I beg you,

give us a name

which you yourselves think so despicable

--the name I cannot bear

to pronounce.

If you wish

to speak

of us,

call us

‘the ants’ milch cows

--the rose-tree regiment

--the little green things.’”

“And I,

the man,

stood looking

at the tree and

at the little Greenies

(whose name I shall not mention,

for I

should not like

to wound the feelings

of the citizens

of the rose tree),

a large family

with eggs

and young ones;

and I looked

at the soapsuds I was going

to wash them in,

for I too had come

with soap

and water

and murderous intentions.

But now I

will use it

for soap bubbles.


how beautiful!


there lies

in each a fairy tale,

and the bubble grows large

and radiant

and looks



there were a pearl lying inside it.

The bubble swayed

and swung.

It flew

to the door


then burst,

but the door opened wide,


there stood Dame Fairytale herself!

And now she

will tell you better

than I

can about


will not say the name)

the little green things

of the rosebush.

“Plant lice!”

said Dame Fairytale.

One must call things

by their right names.


if one may not do so always,

one must

at least have the privilege

of doing so

in a fairy tale.



THERE is nobody

in the whole world

who knows so many stories

as Ole-Luk-Oie,



can relate them so nicely.

In the evening

while the children are seated

at the tea table or

in their little chairs,

very softly he comes up the stairs,

for he walks

in his socks.

He opens the doors without the slightest noise

and throws a small quantity

of very fine dust

in the little ones’ eyes

(just enough

to prevent them

from keeping them open),

and so they do not see him.

Then he creeps

behind them

and blows softly upon their necks

till their heads begin

to droop.

But Ole-Luk-Oie does not wish

to hurt them.

He is very fond

of children

and only wants them

to be quiet

that he may tell them pretty stories,

and he knows they never are quiet

until they are

in bed

and asleep.

Ole-Luk-Oie seats himself upon the bed

as soon

as they are asleep.

He is nicely dressed;

his coat is made

of silken stuff,

it is impossible

to say


what color,

for it changes

from green

to red


from red

to blue

as he turns

from side

to side.

Under each arm he carries an umbrella.


of them,

with pictures

on the inside,

he spreads

over good children,


then they dream the most charming stories.

But the other umbrella has no pictures,

and this he holds

over the naughty children,


that they sleep heavily

and wake

in the morning without having dreamed

at all.

Now we shall hear

how Ole-Luk-Oie came every night during a whole week

to a little boy named Hjalmar,


what it was

that he told him.

There were seven stories,


there are seven days

in the week.


“Now pay attention,”

said Ole-Luk-Oie

in the evening,

when Hjalmar was

in bed,

“and I

will decorate the room.”

Immediately all the flowers

in the flowerpots became large trees

with long branches reaching

to the ceiling

and stretching

along the walls,


that the whole room was

like a greenhouse.

All the branches were loaded

with flowers,

each flower

as beautiful and

as fragrant

as a rose,

and had any one tasted them he

would have found them sweeter even

than jam.

The fruit glittered

like gold,


there were cakes so full

of plums

that they were nearly bursting.

It was incomparably beautiful.

At the same time sounded dismal moans

from the table drawer


which lay Hjalmar’s schoolbooks.



that be now?”

said Ole-Luk-Oie,


to the table

and pulling out the drawer.

It was a slate,

in such distress because

of a wrong figure

in a sum

that it had

almost broken itself

to pieces.

The pencil pulled

and tugged

at its string


if it were a little dog

that wanted

to help


could not.


then came a moan

from Hjalmar’s copy book.


it was quite terrible

to hear!

On each leaf stood a row

of capital letters,

every one having a small letter

by its side.

This formed a copy.

Under these were other letters,

which Hjalmar had written;

they fancied they looked

like the copy,

but they were mistaken,

for they were leaning

on one side


if they intended

to fall

over the pencil lines.


this is the way you

should hold yourselves,”

said the copy.

“Look here,


should slope thus,

with a graceful curve.”


we are very willing

to do so,”

said Hjalmar’s letters,

“but we cannot,

we are so wretchedly made.”

“You must be scratched out,


said Ole-Luk-Oie.



they cried,


then they stood up so gracefully

that it was quite a pleasure

to look

at them.

“Now we must give up our stories,

and exercise these letters,”

said Ole-Luk-Oie.




two--” So he drilled them

till they stood up gracefully

and looked

as beautiful

as a copy

could look.

But after Ole-Luk-Oie was gone,

and Hjalmar looked

at them

in the morning,

they were

as wretched

and awkward

as ever.


As soon

as Hjalmar was

in bed Ole-Luk-Oie touched

with his little magic wand all the furniture

in the room,

which immediately began

to chatter.

And each article talked only

of itself.

Over the chest

of drawers hung a large picture

in a gilt frame,

representing a landscape,

with fine old trees,


in the grass,

and a broad stream

which flowed

through the wood past several castles far out

into the wild ocean.

Ole-Luk-Oie touched the picture

with his magic wand,

and immediately the birds began

to sing,

the branches

of the trees rustled,

and the clouds moved

across the sky,

casting their shadows

on the landscape

beneath them.

Then Ole-Luk-Oie lifted little Hjalmar up

to the frame

and placed his feet

in the picture,

on the high grass,


there he stood

with the sun shining down upon him

through the branches

of the trees.

He ran

to the water

and seated himself

in a little boat

which lay there,


which was painted red

and white.

The sails glittered

like silver,

and six swans,


with a golden circlet round its neck

and a bright,

blue star

on its forehead,

drew the boat past the green wood,

where the trees talked

of robbers

and witches,

and the flowers

of beautiful little elves

and fairies whose histories the butterflies had related

to them.

Brilliant fish

with scales

like silver

and gold swam after the boat,

sometimes making a spring

and splashing the water round them;

while birds,


and blue,


and great,

flew after him

in two long lines.

The gnats danced round them,

and the cockchafers cried “Buzz,


They all wanted

to follow Hjalmar,

and all had some story

to tell him.

It was a most delightful sail.


On the balconies stood princesses.]

Sometimes the forests were thick

and dark,


like a beautiful garden gay

with sunshine

and flowers;

he passed great palaces

of glass and

of marble,


on the balconies stood princesses,

whose faces were those

of little girls whom Hjalmar knew well

and had often played with.


of the little girls held out her hand,


which was a heart made

of sugar,

more beautiful

than any confectioner ever sold.

As Hjalmar sailed

by he caught hold

of one side

of the sugar heart

and held it fast,

and the princess held fast too,


that it broke

in two pieces.

Hjalmar had one piece

and the princess the other,

but Hjalmar’s was the larger.

At each castle stood little princes acting

as sentinels.

They presented arms

and had golden swords

and made it rain plums

and tin soldiers,


that they must have been real princes.

Hjalmar continued

to sail,


through woods,


as it were

through large halls,

and then

by large cities.

At last he came

to the town

where his nurse lived,

who had carried him

in her arms

when he was a very little boy

and had always been kind

to him.

She nodded

and beckoned

to him


then sang the little verses she had herself composed

and sent

to him:

How many,

many hours I think

on thee,

My own dear Hjalmar,

still my pride

and joy!

How have I hung delighted

over thee,

Kissing thy rosy cheeks,

my darling boy!

Thy first low accents it was mine

to hear,

To-day my farewell words

to thee shall fly.


may the Lord thy shield be ever near

and fit thee

for a mansion

in the sky!

And all the birds sang the same tune,

the flowers danced

on their stems,

and the old trees nodded


if Ole-Luk-Oie had been telling them stories,

as well.


How the rain did pour down!


could hear it

in his sleep,


when Ole-Luk-Oie opened the window the water flowed quite up

to the window sill.

It had the appearance

of a large lake outside,

and a beautiful ship lay close

to the house.

“Wilt thou sail

with me to-night,

little Hjalmar?”

said Ole-Luk-Oie.

“Then we shall see foreign countries,

and thou shalt return here

in the morning.”


in a moment

there stood Hjalmar,

in his best clothes,

on the deck

of the noble ship,

and immediately the weather became fine.

They sailed

through the streets,


by the church,


on every side rolled the wide,

great sea.

They sailed

till the land disappeared,


then they saw a flock

of storks

who had left their own country

and were traveling

to warmer climates.

The storks flew one

behind another

and had already been a long,

long time

on the wing.


of them seemed so tired

that his wings

could scarcely carry him.

He was soon left very far behind.

At length he sank lower

and lower,

with outstretched wings,

flapping them

in vain,

till his feet touched the rigging

of the ship,

and he slid

from the sails

to the deck

and stood

before them.

Then a sailor boy caught him

and put him

in the henhouse

with the fowls,

the ducks,

and the turkeys,

while the poor stork stood quite bewildered

among them.

“Just look


that fellow,”

said the chickens.

Then the turkey cock puffed himself out

as large

as he could

and inquired

who he was,

and the ducks waddled backwards,




The stork told them all

about warm Africa

--of the pyramids and

of the ostrich,


like a wild horse,


across the desert.

But the ducks did not understand

what he said,

and quacked amongst themselves,

“We are all

of the same opinion;


that he is stupid.”


to be sure,

he is stupid,”

said the turkey cock,

and gobbled.

Then the stork remained quite silent

and thought

of his home

in Africa.

“Those are handsome thin legs

of yours,”

said the turkey cock.

“What do they cost a yard?”




grinned the ducks;

but the stork pretended not

to hear.

“You may

as well laugh,”

said the turkey,


that remark was rather witty,

but perhaps it was

above you.



is he not clever?


will be a great amusement

to us

while he remains here.”


then he gobbled,

and the ducks quacked:





What a terrible uproar they made

while they were having such fun

among themselves!

Then Hjalmar went

to the henhouse and,

opening the door,


to the stork.

He hopped out

on the deck.

He had rested himself now,

and he looked happy

and seemed


if he nodded

to Hjalmar

as if

to thank him.

Then he spread his wings

and flew away

to warmer countries,

while the hens clucked,

the ducks quacked,

and the turkey cock’s head turned quite scarlet.

“To-morrow you shall be made

into soup,”

said Hjalmar

to the fowls;


then he awoke

and found himself lying

in his little bed.

It was a wonderful journey

which Ole-Luk-Oie had made him take this night.


“What do you think I have here?”

said the Dream Man.

“Do not be frightened,

and you shall see a little mouse.”


then he held out his hand,


which lay a lovely little creature.

“It has come

to invite you

to a wedding.

Two little mice are going

to be married to-night.

They live

under the floor

of your mother’s storeroom,


that must be a fine dwelling place.”



can I get

through the little mouse-hole

in the floor?”

asked the little boy.

“Leave me

to manage that,”

said the Dream Man.


will soon make you small enough.”


then he touched the boy

with his magic wand,


which he became smaller

and smaller until

at last he was no longer

than a little finger.

“Now you

can borrow the dress

of your tin soldier.

I think it

will just fit you.

It looks well

to wear a uniform

when you go

into company.”



said the boy,


in a moment he was dressed

as neatly

as the neatest

of all tin soldiers.

“Will you be so good as

to seat yourself

in your mamma’s thimble,”

said the little mouse,

“that I may have the pleasure

of drawing you

to the wedding?”

“Will you really take so much trouble,

young lady?”

said he.

And so

in this way he rode

to the mouse’s wedding.

First they went

under the floor,



through a long passage

which was scarcely high enough

to allow the thimble

to drive under,

and the whole passage was lit up

with the light

of rotten wood.

“Does it not smell delicious?”

asked the mouse,

as she drew him along.

“The wall

and the floor have been smeared

with bacon rind;


could be nicer.”

Very soon they arrived

at the bridal hall.

On the right stood all the little lady mice,


and giggling


if they were making game

of each other.

To the left were the gentlemen mice,

stroking their whiskers

with their forepaws.


in the center

of the hall

could be seen the bridal pair,

standing side

by side

in a hollow cheese rind

and kissing each other

while all eyes were upon them.


and more friends kept coming,

till the mice were

in danger

of treading each other

to death;

for the bridal pair now stood

in the doorway,

and none

could pass


or out.

The room had been rubbed over

with bacon rind

like the passage,

which was all the refreshment offered

to the guests.


for dessert a pea was passed around,


which a mouse had bitten the first letters

of the names

of the betrothed pair.

This was something quite uncommon.

All the mice said it was a very beautiful wedding,


that they had been very agreeably entertained.

After this Hjalmar returned home.

He had certainly been

in grand society,

but he had been obliged

to creep

under a room and

to make himself small enough

to wear the uniform

of a tin soldier.


“It is incredible

how many old people

there are


would be glad

to have me

at night,”

said Ole-Luk-Oie,

“especially those

who have done something wrong.

“‘Good old Ole,’

say they

to me,

‘we cannot close our eyes,

and we lie awake the whole night

and see all our evil deeds sitting

on our beds

like little imps

and sprinkling us

with scalding water.

Will you come

and drive them away,

that we may have a good night’s rest?’


then they sigh so deeply

and say:


would gladly pay you

for it.

Good night,


the money lies

in the window.’

But I never do anything

for gold.”

“What shall we do to-night?”

asked Hjalmar.

“I do not know whether you

would care

to go

to another wedding,”

replied Ole-Luk-Oie,

“although it is quite a different affair

from the one we saw last night.

Your sister’s large doll,

that is dressed

like a man

and is called Herman,


to marry the doll Bertha.

It is also the dolls’ birthday,

and they

will receive many presents.”


I know

that already,”

said Hjalmar;

“my sister always allows her dolls

to keep their birthdays or

to have a wedding

when they require new clothes.

That has happened already a hundred times,

I am quite sure.”


so it may;

but to-night is the hundred-and-first wedding,



that has taken place it must be the last;

therefore this is

to be extremely beautiful.

Only look.”

Hjalmar looked

at the table,


there stood the little cardboard dolls’ house,

with lights

in all the windows,

and drawn up

before it were the tin soldiers,

presenting arms.

The bridal pair were seated

on the floor,


against the leg

of the table,

looking very thoughtful


with good reason.

Then Ole-Luk-Oie,

dressed up

in grandmother’s black gown,

married them.

As soon

as the ceremony was concluded all the furniture

in the room joined

in singing a beautiful song

which had been composed

by the lead pencil,


which went

to the melody

of a military tattoo:


gentle breeze,

our kind farewell

to the tiny house

where the bride folks dwell.

With their skin

of kid leather fitting so well,

They are straight

and upright

as a tailor’s ell.



for beau

and belle.

Let echo repeat our kind farewell.”

And now came the presents;

but the bridal pair had nothing

to eat,

for love was

to be their food.

“Shall we go

to a country house,

or travel?”

asked the bridegroom.

They consulted the swallow,

who had traveled so far,

and the old hen

in the yard,

who had brought up five broods

of chickens.

And the swallow talked

to them

of warm countries

where the grapes hang

in large clusters

on the vines

and the air is soft

and mild,


about the mountains glowing

with colors more beautiful

than we

can think of.

“But they have no red cabbage such

as we have,”

said the hen.

“I was once

in the country

with my chickens

for a whole summer.

There was a large sand pit


which we

could walk about

and scratch

as we liked.

Then we got

into a garden


which grew red cabbage.


how nice it was!

I cannot think

of anything more delicious.”

“But one cabbage stalk is exactly

like another,”

said the swallow;

“and here we often have bad weather.”


but we are accustomed

to it,”

said the hen.

“But it is so cold here,

and freezes sometimes.”

“Cold weather is good

for cabbages,”

said the hen;


we do have it warm here sometimes.

Four years ago we had a summer

that lasted more

than five weeks,

and it was so hot one

could scarcely breathe.

And then

in this country we have no poisonous animals,

and we are free

from robbers.

He must be a blockhead,

who does not consider our country the finest

of all lands.

He ought not

to be allowed

to live here.”


then the hen wept very much

and said:

“I have also traveled.

I once went twelve miles

in a coop,

and it was not pleasant traveling

at all.”

“The hen is a sensible woman,”

said the doll Bertha.


don’t care

for traveling

over mountains,


to go up

and come down again.


let us go

to the sand pit

in front

of the gate


then take a walk

in the cabbage garden.”

And so they settled it.



at these  ...

Chinese people  ...]


“Am I

to hear any more stories?”

asked little Hjalmar,

as soon

as Ole-Luk-Oie had sent him

to sleep.

“We shall have no time this evening,”

said he,

spreading out his prettiest umbrella

over the child.


at these Chinese people.”


then the whole umbrella appeared

like a large china bowl,

with blue trees

and pointed bridges upon

which stood little Chinamen nodding their heads.

“We must make all the world beautiful

for to-morrow morning,”

said Ole-Luk-Oie,

“for it

will be a holiday;

it is Sunday.

I must now go

to the church steeple

and see

if the little sprites

who live

there have polished the bells so

that they may sound sweetly;

then I must go

into the fields

and see

if the wind has blown the dust

from the grass

and the leaves;

and the most difficult task

of all

which I have

to do is

to take down all the stars

and brighten them up.

I have

to number them first

before I put them

in my apron,

and also

to number the places


which I take them,


that they may go back

into the right holes,

or else they

would not remain

and we

should have a number

of falling stars,

for they

would all tumble down one after another.”

“Hark ye,

Mr. Luk-Oie!”

said an old portrait

which hung

on the wall

of Hjalmar’s bedroom.

“Do you know me?

I am Hjalmar’s great-grandfather.

I thank you

for telling the boy stories,

but you must not confuse his ideas.

The stars cannot be taken down

from the sky

and polished;

they are spheres

like our earth,

which is a good thing

for them.”

“Thank you,

old great-grandfather,”

said Ole-Luk-Oie.

“I thank you.

You may be the head

of the family,

as no doubt you are,

and very old,

but I am older still.

I am an ancient heathen.

The old Romans

and Greeks named me the Dream God.

I have visited the noblest houses,


and I continue

to do so,

--still I know how

to conduct myself both

to high

and low,

and now you may tell the stories yourself”;

and so Ole-Luk-Oie walked off,

taking his umbrellas

with him.



one is never

to give an opinion,

I suppose,”

grumbled the portrait.

And it woke Hjalmar.


“Good evening,”

said Ole-Luk-Oie.

Hjalmar nodded,


then sprang out

of bed

and turned his great-grandfather’s portrait

to the wall so

that it might not interrupt them

as it had done yesterday.


said he,

“you must tell me some stories

about five green peas

that lived

in one pod,


of the chickseed

that courted the chickweed,


of the Darning-needle

who acted so proudly

because she fancied herself an embroidery needle.”

“You may have too much

of a good thing,”

said Ole-Luk-Oie.

“You know

that I

like best

to show you something,

so I

will show you my brother.

He is also called Ole-Luk-Oie,

but he never visits any one

but once,


when he does come he takes him away

on his horse

and tells him stories

as they ride along.

“He knows only two stories.


of these is so wonderfully beautiful

that no one

in the world

can imagine anything

at all

like it,

but the other it

would be impossible

to describe.”

Then Ole-Luk-Oie lifted Hjalmar up

to the window.


now you

can see my brother,

the other Ole-Luk-Oie;

he is also called Death.

You see he is not so bad

as they represent him

in picture books.

There he is a skeleton,

but here his coat is embroidered

with silver,

and he wears the splendid uniform

of a hussar,

and a mantle

of black velvet flies

behind him

over the horse.


how he gallops along.”

Hjalmar saw that

as this Ole-Luk-Oie rode

on he lifted up old

and young

and carried them away

on his horse.

Some he seated

in front

of him

and some behind,

but always inquired first,

“How stands the record book?”


they all answered.


but let me see

for myself,”

he replied,

and they were obliged

to give him the books.

Then all those

who had “Very good”

or “Exceedingly good” came

in front

of the horse

and heard the beautiful story,

while those

who had “Middling”

or “Fairly good”

in their books were obliged

to sit behind.

They cried

and wanted

to jump down

from the horse,

but they

could not get free,

for they seemed fastened

to the seat.


Death is a most splendid Luk-Oie,”

said Hjalmar.

“I am not

in the least afraid

of him.”

“You need have no fear

of him,”

said Ole-Luk-Oie;

“but take care

and keep a good conduct book.”

“Now I call

that very instructive,”

murmured the great-grandfather’s portrait.

“It is useful sometimes

to express an opinion.”

So he was quite satisfied.

These are some

of the doings

and sayings

of Ole-Luk-Oie.

I hope he may visit you himself this evening

and relate some more.



IN a nursery

where a number

of toys lay scattered about,

a money box stood

on the top

of a very high wardrobe.

It was made

of clay

in the shape

of a pig

and had been bought

of the potter.

In the back

of the pig was a slit,

and this slit had been enlarged

with a knife so

that dollars,


even crown pieces,

might slip through

--and indeed

there were two

in the box,

besides a number

of pence.

The money-pig was stuffed so full

that it

could no longer rattle,

which is the highest state

of perfectness


which a money-pig

can attain.

There he stood upon the cupboard,


and lofty,

looking down upon everything else

in the room.

He knew very well

that he had enough inside himself

to buy up all the other toys,

and this gave him a very good opinion

of his own value.

The rest thought

of this fact also,

although they did not express it,

there were so many other things

to talk about.

A large doll,

still handsome

(though rather old,

for her neck had been mended)

lay inside one

of the drawers,

which was partly open.

She called out

to the others,

“Let us have a game

at being men

and women;

that is something worth playing at.”

Upon this

there was a great uproar;

even the engravings

which hung

in frames

on the wall turned round

in their excitement

and showed

that they had a wrong side

to them,

although they had not the least intention

of exposing themselves

in this way or

of objecting

to the game.

It was late

at night,


as the moon shone

through the windows,

they had light

at a cheap rate.


as the game was now

to begin,

all were invited

to take part

in it,

even the children’s wagon,

which certainly belonged

among the coarser playthings.

“Each has its own value,”

said the wagon;

“we cannot all be noblemen;

there must be some

to do the work.”

The money-pig was the only one

who received a written invitation.

He stood so high

that they were afraid he

would not accept a verbal message.


in his reply he said

if he had

to take a part he must enjoy the sport

from his own home;

they were

to arrange

for him

to do so.

And so they did.

The little toy theater was therefore put up

in such a way

that the money-pig

could look directly

into it.

Some wanted

to begin

with a comedy

and afterwards

to have a tea party

and a discussion

for mental improvement,

but they began

with the latter first.

The rocking-horse spoke

of training

and races;

the wagon,

of railways

and steam power

--for these subjects belonged

to each

of their professions,

and it was right they

should talk

of them.

The clock talked politics



He professed

to know

what was the time

of the day,


there was a whisper

that he did not go correctly.

The bamboo cane stood by,

looking stiff

and proud

(he was vain

of his brass ferrule

and silver top),


on the sofa lay two worked cushions,


but stupid.

When the play

at the little theater began,

the rest sat

and looked on;

they were requested

to applaud

and stamp,

or crack,

whenever they felt gratified


what they saw.

The riding whip said he never cracked

for old people,


for the young


who were not yet married.

“I crack

for everybody,”

said the nutcracker.


and a fine noise you make,”

thought the audience

as the play went on.

It was not worth much,

but it was very well played,

and all the actors turned their painted sides

to the audience,

for they were made

to be seen only

on one side.

The acting was wonderful,


that sometimes the actors came out beyond the lamps,

because the wires were a little too long.

The doll whose neck had been mended was so excited

that the place

in her neck burst,

and the money-pig declared he must do something

for one

of the players

as they had all pleased him so much.

So he made up his mind

to mention one

of them

in his will

as the one

to be buried

with him

in the family vault,


that event

should happen.

They enjoyed the comedy so much

that they gave up all thoughts

of the tea party

and only carried out their idea

of intellectual amusement,

which they called playing

at men

and women.


there was nothing wrong

about it,

for it was only play.

All the

while each one thought most

of himself or


what the money-pig

could be thinking.

The money-pig’s thoughts were on

(as he supposed)

a very far-distant time

--of making his will,


of his burial,



when it might all come

to pass.

Certainly sooner

than he expected;

for all

at once down he came

from the top

of the press,


on the floor,

and was broken

to pieces.

Then all the pennies hopped

and danced about

in the most amusing manner.

The little ones twirled round

like tops,

and the large ones rolled away

as far

as they could,

especially the one great silver crown piece,

who had often wanted

to go out

into the world.

And he had his wish

as well

as all the rest

of the money.

The pieces

of the money-pig were thrown

into the dustbin,

and the next day

there stood a new money-pig

on the cupboard,

but it had not a farthing inside it yet,

and therefore,

like the old one,

could not rattle.

This was the beginning

with him,


with us it shall be the end

of our story.



THERE was once a little boy

who had taken cold

by going out

and getting his feet wet.

No one

could think

how he had managed

to do so,

for the weather was quite dry.

His mother undressed him

and put him

to bed,


then she brought

in the teapot

to make him a good cup

of elder tea,

which is so warming.

At the same time the friendly old man

who lived all alone

at the top

of the house came


at the door.

He had neither wife nor child,

but he was very fond

of children

and knew so many fairy tales

and stories

that it was a pleasure

to hear him talk.


if you drink your tea,”

said the mother,

“very likely you

will have a story

in the meantime.”



how did the little fellow get his feet wet?”

asked he ....]


if I

could think

of a new one

to tell,”

said the old man.


how did the little fellow get his feet wet?”

asked he.


said the mother,

“that is

what we cannot make out.”

“Will you tell me a story?”

asked the boy.


if you

can tell me exactly

how deep the gutter is

in the little street through

which you go

to school.”

“Just halfway up

to my knee,”

said the boy,


“that is,

if I stand

in the deepest part.”

“It is easy

to see

how we got our feet wet,”

said the old man.


now I suppose I ought

to tell a story,

but really I

don’t know any more.”


can make up one,

I know,”

said the boy.

“Mother says

that you

can turn everything you look


into a story,

and everything,


that you touch.”


but those tales

and stories are worth nothing.

The real ones come

of themselves;

they knock

at my forehead

and say,

‘Here we are!’”


there be a knock soon?”

asked the boy.

And his mother laughed

as she put elder flowers

in the teapot

and poured boiling water

over them.


do tell me a story.”


if a story comes

of itself,

but tales

and stories are very grand;

they only come

when it pleases them.


he cried all

at once,

“here we have it;


there is a story

in the teapot now.”

The little boy looked

at the teapot

and saw the lid raise itself gradually

and long branches stretch out,


from the spout,

in all directions

till they became larger

and larger,


there appeared a great elder tree covered

with flowers white

and fresh.

It spread itself even

to the bed

and pushed the curtains aside,

and oh,

how fragrant the blossoms were!

In the midst

of the tree sat a pleasant-looking old woman

in a very strange dress.

The dress was green,

like the leaves

of the elder tree,

and was decorated

with large white elder blossoms.

It was not easy

to tell whether the border was made

of some kind

of stuff or

of real flowers.

“What is

that woman’s name?”

asked the boy.

“The Romans

and Greeks called her a dryad,”

said the old man,

“but we do not understand

that name;

we have a better one

for her

in the quarter

of the town

where the sailors live.

They call her Elder-flower Mother,

and you must pay attention

to her now,

and listen

while you look

at the beautiful tree.

“Just such a large,

blooming tree

as this stands outside

in the corner

of a poor little yard,


under this tree,

one bright sunny afternoon,

sat two old people,

a sailor

and his wife.

They had great-grandchildren,


would soon celebrate the golden wedding,

which is the fiftieth anniversary

of the wedding day

in many countries,

and the Elder Mother sat

in the tree

and looked

as pleased

as she does now.

“‘I know

when the golden wedding is

to be,’

said she,

but they did not hear her;

they were talking

of olden times.

‘Do you remember,’

said the old sailor,

‘when we were quite little

and used

to run about

and play

in the very same yard

where we are now sitting,


how we planted little twigs

in one corner

and made a garden?’


said the old woman,

‘I remember it quite well;


how we watered the twigs,

and one

of them was a sprig

of elder

that took root

and put forth green shoots,


in time it became the great tree under

which we old people are now seated.’

“‘To be sure,’

he replied,



that corner yonder stands the water butt


which I used

to swim my boat

that I had cut out all myself;

and it sailed well too.

But since

then I have learned a very different kind

of sailing.’


but before

that we went

to school,’

said she,


then we were prepared

for confirmation.

How we both cried


that day!


in the afternoon we went hand

in hand up

to the round tower

and saw the view

over Copenhagen


across the water;

then we went

to Fredericksburg,

where the king

and queen were sailing

in their beautiful boat

on the canals.’

“‘But I had

to sail

on a very different voyage elsewhere

and be away

from home

for years

on long voyages,’

said the old sailor.

“‘Ah yes,

and I used

to cry

about you,’

said she,

‘for I thought you must be lying drowned

at the bottom

of the sea,

with the waves sweeping

over you.

And many a time have I got up

in the night

to see

if the weathercock had turned;

it turned often enough,

but you came not.

How well I remember one day the rain was pouring down

from the skies,

and the man came

to the house

where I was

in service

to take away the dust.

I went down

to him

with the dust box

and stood

for a moment

at the door,

--what shocking weather it was!


while I stood

there the postman came up

and brought me a letter

from you.


that letter had traveled about!

I tore it open

and read it.

I laughed

and wept

at the same time,

I was so happy.

It said

that you were

in warm countries

where the coffee berries grew,


what a beautiful country it was,

and described many other wonderful things.

And so I stood reading

by the dustbin,

with the rain pouring down,

when all

at once somebody came

and clasped me round the waist.’


and you gave him such a box

on the ears

that they tingled,’

said the old man.

“‘I did not know

that it was you,’

she replied;

‘but you had arrived

as quickly

as your letter,

and you looked so handsome,



so you are still.

You had a large yellow silk handkerchief

in your pocket

and a shiny hat

on your head.

You looked quite fine.

And all the time

what weather it was,


how dismal the street looked!’


then do you remember,’

said he,

‘when we were married,

and our first boy came,


then Marie,

and Niels,

and Peter,

and Hans Christian?’

“‘Indeed I do,’

she replied;

‘and they are all grown up respectable men

and women,

whom every one likes.’

“‘And now their children have little ones,’

said the old sailor.

‘There are great-grandchildren

for us,


and healthy too.

Was it not

about this time

of year

that we were married?’


and to-day is the golden-wedding day,’

said Elder-tree Mother,

popping her head out just

between the two old people;

and they thought it was a neighbor nodding

to them.

Then they looked

at each other

and clasped their hands together.

Presently came their children

and grand*-children,

who knew very well

that it was the golden-wedding day.

They had already wished them joy


that very morning,

but the old people had forgotten it,

although they remembered so well all

that had happened many years before.

And the elder tree smelled sweet,

and the setting sun shone upon the faces

of the old people

till they looked quite ruddy.

And the youngest

of their grandchildren danced round them joyfully,

and said they were going

to have a feast

in the evening,


there were

to be hot potatoes.

Then the Elder Mother nodded

in the tree

and cried


with all the rest.”


that is not a story,”

said the little boy

who had been listening.


till you understand it,”

said the old man.

“But let us ask the Elder Mother

to explain it.”

“It was not exactly a story,”

said the Elder Mother,

“but the story is coming now,

and it is a true one.

For out

of truth the most wonderful stories grow,


as my beautiful elder bush has sprung out

of the teapot.”


then she took the little boy out

of bed

and laid him

on her bosom,

and the blooming branches

of elder closed

over them so

that they sat,

as it were,

in a leafy bower,

and the bower flew

with them

through the air

in the most delightful manner.

Then the Elder Mother all

at once changed

to a beautiful young maiden,

but her dress was still

of the same green stuff,


with a border

of white elder blossoms such

as the Elder Mother had worn.

In her bosom she wore a real elder flower,

and a wreath

of the same was entwined

in her golden ringlets.

Her large blue eyes were very beautiful

to look at.

She was

of the same age

as the boy,

and they kissed each other

and felt very happy.

They left the arbor together,


in hand,

and found themselves

in a beautiful flower garden

which belonged

to their home.

On the green lawn their father’s stick was tied up.

There was life

in this stick

for the little ones,

for no sooner did they place themselves upon it

than the white knob changed

into a pretty neighing head

with a black,

flowing mane,

and four long,

slender legs sprung forth.

The creature was strong

and spirited,

and galloped

with them round the grassplot.


now we

will ride many miles away,”

said the boy;

“we’ll ride

to the nobleman’s estate,

where we went last year.”

Then they rode round the grassplot again,

and the little maiden,


we know,

was Elder-tree Mother,

kept crying out:

“Now we are

in the country.

Do you see the farmhouse,

with a great baking oven standing out

from the wall

by the road-side

like a gigantic egg?

There is an elder spreading its branches

over it,

and a cock is marching about

and scratching

for the chickens.


how he struts!

“Now we are near the church.

There it stands

on the hill,


by the great oak trees,



which is half dead.


here we are

at the blacksmith’s forge.

How the fire burns!

And the half-clad men are striking the hot iron

with the hammer,


that the sparks fly about.

Now then,


to the nobleman’s beautiful estate!”

And the boy saw all

that the little girl spoke


as she sat

behind him

on the stick,

for it passed

before him

although they were only galloping round the grassplot.

Then they played together

in a side walk

and raked up the earth

to make a little garden.

Then she took elder flowers out

of her hair

and planted them,

and they grew just

like those

which he had heard the old people talking about,


which they had planted

in their young days.

They walked

about hand

in hand too,


as the old people had done

when they were children,

but they did not go up the round tower nor

to Fredericksburg garden.


but the little girl seized the boy round the waist,

and they rode all

over the whole country

(sometimes it was spring,

then summer;

then autumn

and winter followed),

while thousands

of images were presented

to the boy’s eyes

and heart,

and the little girl constantly sang

to him,

“You must never forget all this.”


through their whole flight the elder tree sent forth the sweetest fragrance.

They passed roses

and fresh beech trees,

but the perfume

of the elder tree was stronger

than all,

for its flowers hung round the little maiden’s heart,


which the boy so often leaned his head during their flight.

“It is beautiful here

in the spring,”

said the maiden,

as they stood

in a grove

of beech trees covered

with fresh green leaves,


at their feet the sweet-scented thyme

and blushing anemone lay spread amid the green grass

in delicate bloom.


that it were always spring

in the fragrant beech groves!”

“Here it is delightful

in summer,”

said the maiden,

as they passed old knights’ castles telling

of days gone


and saw the high walls

and pointed gables mirrored

in the rivers beneath,

where swans were sailing about

and peeping

into the cool green avenues.

In the fields the corn waved


and fro

like the sea.


and yellow flowers grew amongst the ruins,

and the hedges were covered

with wild hops

and blooming convolvulus.

In the evening the moon rose round

and full,

and the haystacks

in the meadows filled the air

with their sweet scent.

These were scenes never

to be forgotten.

“It is lovely here also

in autumn,”

said the little maiden,


then the scene changed again.

The sky appeared higher

and more beautifully blue,

while the forest glowed

with colors

of red,


and gold.

The hounds were off

to the chase,

and large flocks

of wild birds flew screaming

over the Huns’ graves,

where the blackberry bushes twined round the old ruins.

The dark blue sea was dotted

with white sails,


in the barns sat old women,


and children picking hops

into a large tub.

The young ones sang songs,

and the old ones told fairy tales

of wizards

and witches.


could be nothing more pleasant

than all this.


said the maiden,

“it is beautiful here

in winter.”


in a moment all the trees were covered

with hoarfrost,


that they looked

like white coral.

The snow crackled

beneath the feet


if every one had

on new boots,

and one shooting star after another fell

from the sky.

In warm rooms


could be seen the Christmas trees,

decked out

with presents

and lighted up amid festivities

and joy.

In the country farmhouses

could be heard the sound

of a violin,


there were games

for apples,



even the poorest child

could say,

“It is beautiful

in winter.”

And beautiful indeed were all the scenes

which the maiden showed

to the little boy,

and always

around them floated the fragrance

of the elder blossom,

and ever

above them waved the red flag

with the white cross,


which the old seaman had sailed.

The boy

--who had become a youth,


who had gone

as a sailor out

into the wide world

and sailed

to warm countries

where the coffee grew,


to whom the little girl had given an elder blossom

from her bosom

for a keepsake,

when she took leave

of him

--placed the flower

in his hymn book;


when he opened it

in foreign lands he always turned

to the spot

where this flower

of remembrance lay,

and the more he looked

at it the fresher it appeared.

He could,

as it were,

breathe the homelike fragrance

of the woods,

and see the little girl looking

at him


between the petals

of the flower

with her clear blue eyes,

and hear her whispering,

“It is beautiful here

at home

in spring

and summer,

in autumn and

in winter,”

while hundreds

of these home scenes passed

through his memory.

Many years had passed,

and he was now an old man,


with his old wife

under an elder tree

in full blossom.

They were holding each other’s hands,


as the great-grandfather

and grandmother had done,

and spoke,

as they did,

of olden times and

of the golden wedding.

The little maiden

with the blue eyes


with the elder blossoms

in her hair sat

in the tree

and nodded

to them

and said,

“To-day is the golden wedding.”


As she placed them

on the heads

of the old people,

each flower became a golden crown.]


then she took two flowers out

of her wreath

and kissed them,

and they shone first

like silver

and then

like gold,


as she placed them

on the heads

of the old people,

each flower became a golden crown.


there they sat

like a king

and queen

under the sweet-scented tree,

which still looked

like an elder bush.

Then he related

to his old wife the story

of the Elder-tree Mother,


as he had heard it told

when he was a little boy,

and they both fancied it very much

like their own story,


in parts

which they liked the best.


and so it is,”

said the little maiden

in the tree.

“Some call me Elder Mother,

others a dryad,

but my real name is Memory.

It is I

who sit

in the tree

as it grows

and grows,

and I

can think

of the past

and relate many things.

Let me see

if you have still preserved the flower.”

Then the old man opened his hymn book,


there lay the elder flower,

as fresh


if it had only just been placed there,

and Memory nodded.

And the two old people

with the golden crowns

on their heads sat

in the red glow

of the evening sunlight

and closed their eyes,



--the story was ended.

The little boy lay

in his bed

and did not quite know whether he had been dreaming

or listening

to a story.

The teapot stood

on the table,

but no elder bush grew out

of it,

and the old man

who had really told the tale was

on the threshold

and just going out

at the door.

“How beautiful it was,”

said the little boy.


I have been

to warm countries.”


can quite believe it,”

said his mother.

“When any one drinks two full cups

of elder-flower tea,

he may well get

into warm countries”;


then she covered him up,

that he

should not take cold.

“You have slept well

while I have been disputing

with the old man as

to whether it was a real story

or a fairy legend.”


where is the Elder-tree Mother?”

asked the boy.

“She is

in the teapot,”

said the mother,


there she may stay.”






YOU must attend

to the beginning

of this story,


when we get

to the end we shall know more

than we now do

about a very wicked hobgoblin;

he was one

of the most mischievous

of all sprites,

for he was a real demon.

One day

when he was

in a merry mood he made a looking-glass

which had the power

of making everything good

or beautiful

that was reflected

in it shrink almost

to nothing,

while everything

that was worthless

and bad was magnified so as

to look ten times worse

than it really was.

The most lovely landscapes appeared

like boiled spinach,

and all the people became hideous

and looked


if they stood

on their heads

and had no bodies.

Their countenances were so distorted

that no one

could recognize them,


even one freckle

on the face appeared

to spread

over the whole

of the nose

and mouth.

The demon said this was very amusing.

When a good

or holy thought passed

through the mind

of any one a wrinkle was seen

in the mirror,

and then

how the demon laughed

at his cunning invention.


who went

to the demon’s school

--for he kept a school

--talked everywhere

of the wonders they had seen,

and declared

that people

could now,

for the first time,


what the world

and its inhabitants were really like.

They carried the glass

about everywhere,


at last

there was not a land nor a people

who had not been looked


through this distorted mirror.

They wanted even

to fly

with it up

to heaven

to see the angels,

but the higher they flew the more slippery the glass became,

and they

could scarcely hold it.

At last it slipped

from their hands,


to the earth,

and was broken

into millions

of pieces.

But now the looking-glass caused more unhappiness

than ever,

for some

of the fragments were not so large

as a grain

of sand,

and they flew

about the world

into every country.


when one

of these tiny atoms flew

into a person’s eye it stuck there,


to himself,

and from

that moment he viewed everything the wrong way,


could see only the worst side


what he looked at,


even the smallest fragment retained the same power

which had belonged

to the whole mirror.

Some few persons

even got a splinter

of the looking-glass

in their hearts,

and this was terrible,

for their hearts became cold

and hard

like a lump

of ice.

A few

of the pieces were so large

that they

could be used

as windowpanes;


would have been a sad thing indeed

to look

at our friends

through them.

Other pieces were made

into spectacles,

and this was dreadful,

for those

who wore them

could see nothing either rightly

or justly.

At all this the wicked demon laughed

till his sides shook,

to see the mischief he had done.

There are still a number

of these little fragments

of glass floating about

in the air,

and now you shall hear

what happened

with one

of them.




In a large town full

of houses

and people

there is not room

for everybody

to have

even a little garden.

Most people are obliged

to content themselves

with a few flowers

in flowerpots.

In one

of these large towns lived two poor children

who had a garden somewhat larger

and better

than a few flowerpots.

They were not brother

and sister,

but they loved each other almost

as much


if they had been.

Their parents lived opposite each other

in two garrets

where the roofs

of neighboring houses nearly joined each other,

and the water pipe ran

between them.

In each roof was a little window,


that any one

could step

across the gutter

from one window

to the other.

The parents

of each

of these children had a large wooden box


which they cultivated kitchen vegetables

for their own use,


in each box was a little rosebush

which grew luxuriantly.

After a

while the parents decided

to place these two boxes

across the water pipe,


that they reached

from one window

to the other

and looked

like two banks

of flowers.

Sweet peas drooped

over the boxes,

and the rosebushes shot forth long branches,

which were trained

about the windows

and clustered together almost

like a triumphal arch

of leaves

and flowers.

The boxes were very high,

and the children knew they must not climb upon them without permission;

but they often had leave

to step out

and sit upon their little stools

under the rosebushes

or play quietly together.

In winter all this pleasure came

to an end,

for the windows were sometimes quite frozen over.

But they

would warm copper pennies

on the stove

and hold the warm pennies

against the frozen pane;



would soon be a little round hole through

which they

could peep,

and the soft,

bright eyes

of the little boy

and girl

would sparkle

through the hole

at each window

as they looked

at each other.

Their names were Kay

and Gerda.

In summer they

could be together

with one jump

from the window,


in winter they had

to go up

and down the long staircase

and out

through the snow

before they

could meet.


there are the white bees swarming,”

said Kay’s old grandmother one day

when it was snowing.

“Have they a queen bee?”

asked the little boy,

for he knew

that the real bees always had a queen.

“To be sure they have,”

said the grandmother.

“She is flying there

where the swarm is thickest.

She is the largest

of them all

and never remains

on the earth,

but flies up

to the dark clouds.


at midnight she flies

through the streets

of the town

and breathes

with her frosty breath upon the windows;

then the ice freezes

on the panes

into wonderful forms

that look

like flowers

and castles.”


I have seen them,”

said both the children;

and they knew it must be true.

“Can the Snow Queen come

in here?”

asked the little girl.

“Only let her come,”

said the boy.

“I’ll put her

on the warm stove,


then she’ll melt.”

The grandmother smoothed his hair

and told him more stories.

That same evening

when little Kay was

at home,

half undressed,

he climbed upon a chair

by the window

and peeped out

through the little round hole.

A few flakes

of snow were falling,

and one

of them,

rather larger

than the rest,


on the edge

of one

of the flower boxes.


to say,

this snowflake grew larger

and larger till

at last it took the form

of a woman dressed

in garments

of white gauze,

which looked

like millions

of starry snowflakes linked together.

She was fair

and beautiful,

but made

of ice


dazzling ice.


she was alive,

and her eyes sparkled

like bright stars,


there was neither peace nor rest

in them.

She nodded

toward the window

and waved her hand.

The little boy was frightened

and sprang

from the chair,


at the same moment it seemed


if a large bird flew

by the window.

On the following day

there was a clear frost,

and very soon came the spring.

The sun shone;

the young green leaves burst forth;

the swallows built their nests;

windows were opened,

and the children sat once more

in the garden

on the roof,


above all the other rooms.


The children sat once more

in the garden

on the roof ....]

How beautifully the roses blossomed this summer!

The little girl had learned a hymn


which roses were spoken of.

She thought

of their own roses,

and she sang the hymn

to the little boy,

and he sang,


“Roses bloom

and fade away;

The Christ-child shall abide alway.

Blessed are we his face

to see

and ever little children be.”

Then the little ones held each other

by the hand,

and kissed the roses,

and looked

at the bright sunshine,

and spoke

to it


if the Christ-child were really there.

Those were glorious summer days.

How beautiful

and fresh it was out

among the rosebushes,

which seemed


if they

would never leave off blooming.

One day Kay

and Gerda sat looking

at a book

of pictures

of animals

and birds.

Just then,

as the clock

in the church tower struck twelve,

Kay said,


something has struck my heart!”

and soon after,

“There is certainly something

in my eye.”

The little girl put her arm round his neck

and looked

into his eye,

but she

could see nothing.

“I believe it is gone,”

he said.

But it was not gone;

it was one

of those bits

of the looking-glass,

--that magic mirror


which we have spoken,

--the ugly glass

which made everything great

and good appear small

and ugly,

while all

that was wicked

and bad became more visible,

and every little fault

could be plainly seen.

Poor little Kay had also received a small splinter

in his heart,

which very quickly turned

to a lump

of ice.

He felt no more pain,

but the glass was

there still.

“Why do you cry?”

said he

at last.

“It makes you look ugly.

There is nothing the matter

with me now.



he cried suddenly;

“that rose is worm-eaten,

and this one is quite crooked.

After all,

they are ugly roses,


like the box


which they stand.”


then he kicked the boxes

with his foot

and pulled off the two roses.



what are you doing?”

cried the little girl;

and then

when he saw

how grieved she was he tore off another rose

and jumped

through his own window,


from sweet little Gerda.

When afterward she brought out the picture book he said,

“It is only fit

for babies

in long clothes,”


when grandmother told stories he

would interrupt her

with “but”;

or sometimes

when he

could manage it he

would get

behind her chair,


on a pair

of spectacles,

and imitate her very cleverly

to make the people laugh.

By and

by he began

to mimic the speech

and gait

of persons

in the street.


that was peculiar

or disagreeable

in a person he

would imitate directly,

and people said,

“That boy

will be very clever;

he has a remarkable genius.”

But it was the piece

of glass

in his eye

and the coldness

in his heart

that made him act

like this.

He would

even tease little Gerda,

who loved him

with all her heart.

His games too were quite different;

they were not so childlike.

One winter’s day,

when it snowed,

he brought out a burning glass,


holding out the skirt

of his blue coat,

let the snowflakes fall upon it.


in this glass,


said he,

and she saw

how every flake

of snow was magnified

and looked

like a beautiful flower

or a glittering star.

“Is it not clever,”

said Kay,

“and much more interesting

than looking

at real flowers?

There is not a single fault

in it.

The snowflakes are quite perfect

till they begin

to melt.”

Soon after,

Kay made his appearance

in large,

thick gloves


with his sledge

at his back.

He called upstairs

to Gerda,

“I’ve got leave

to go

into the great square,

where the other boys play

and ride.”

And away he went.

In the great square the boldest

among the boys

would often tie their sledges

to the wagons

of the country people

and so get a ride.

This was capital.


while they were all amusing themselves,

and Kay

with them,

a great sledge came by;

it was painted white,


in it sat some one wrapped

in a rough white fur

and wearing a white cap.

The sledge drove twice round the square,

and Kay fastened his own little sledge

to it,

so that

when it went away he went

with it.

It went faster

and faster right

through the next street,

and the person

who drove turned round

and nodded pleasantly

to Kay


if they were well acquainted

with each other;

but whenever Kay wished

to loosen his little sledge the driver turned

and nodded

as if

to signify

that he was

to stay,

so Kay sat still,

and they drove out

through the town gate.

Then the snow began

to fall so heavily

that the little boy

could not see a hand’s breadth

before him,

but still they drove on.

He suddenly loosened the cord so

that the large sledge might go

on without him,

but it was

of no use;

his little carriage held fast,

and away they went

like the wind.

Then he called out loudly,

but nobody heard him,

while the snow beat upon him,

and the sledge flew onward.

Every now


then it gave a jump,


if they were going

over hedges

and ditches.

The boy was frightened

and tried

to say a prayer,

but he

could remember nothing

but the multiplication table.

The snowflakes became larger

and larger,

till they appeared

like great white birds.


at once they sprang

on one side,

the great sledge stopped,

and the person

who had driven it rose up.

The fur

and the cap,

which were made entirely

of snow,

fell off,

and he saw a lady,


and white;

it was the Snow Queen.

“We have driven well,”

said she;


why do you tremble so?



into my warm fur.”

Then she seated him beside her

in the sledge,


as she wrapped the fur

about him,

he felt


if he were sinking

into a snowdrift.

“Are you still cold?”

she asked,

as she kissed him

on the forehead.

The kiss was colder

than ice;

it went quite through

to his heart,

which was

almost a lump

of ice already.

He felt


if he were going

to die,

but only

for a moment

--he soon seemed quite well

and did not notice the cold all

around him.

“My sledge!

Don’t forget my sledge,”

was his first thought,


then he looked

and saw

that it was bound fast

to one

of the white birds

which flew

behind him.

The Snow Queen kissed little Kay again,


by this time he had forgotten little Gerda,

his grandmother,

and all

at home.

“Now you must have no more kisses,”

she said,

“or I

should kiss you

to death.”

Kay looked

at her.

She was so beautiful,


could not imagine a more lovely face;

she did not now seem

to be made

of ice


when he had seen her

through his window

and she had nodded

to him.

In his eyes she was perfect,

and he did not feel

at all afraid.

He told her he

could do mental arithmetic

as far

as fractions,


that he knew the number

of square miles

and the number

of inhabitants

in the country.

She smiled,

and it occurred

to him

that she thought he did not yet know so very much.

He looked

around the vast expanse

as she flew higher

and higher

with him upon a black cloud,

while the storm blew

and howled


if it were singing songs

of olden time.

They flew

over woods

and lakes,

over sea

and land;

below them roared the wild wind;

wolves howled,

and the snow crackled;

over them flew the black,

screaming crows,


above all shone the moon,


and bright

--and so Kay passed

through the long,

long winter’s night,


by day he slept

at the feet

of the Snow Queen.




how fared little Gerda

in Kay’s absence?

What had become

of him no one knew,


could any one give the slightest information,

excepting the boys,

who said

that he had tied his sledge

to another very large one,

which had driven

through the street

and out

at the town gate.

No one knew

where it went.

Many tears were shed

for him,

and little Gerda wept bitterly

for a long time.

She said she knew he must be dead,

that he was drowned

in the river

which flowed close

by the school.

The long winter days were very dreary.


at last spring came

with warm sunshine.

“Kay is dead

and gone,”

said little Gerda.


don’t believe it,”

said the sunshine.

“He is dead

and gone,”

she said

to the sparrows.


don’t believe it,”

they replied,


at last little Gerda began

to doubt it herself.


will put

on my new red shoes,”

she said one morning,


that Kay has never seen,


then I

will go down

to the river

and ask

for him.”

It was quite early

when she kissed her old grandmother,

who was still asleep;

then she put

on her red shoes

and went,

quite alone,


of the town gate,

toward the river.

“Is it true

that you have taken my little playmate away

from me?”

she said

to the river.


will give you my red shoes

if you

will give him back

to me.”

And it seemed


if the waves nodded

to her

in a strange manner.

Then she took off her red shoes,

which she liked better

than anything else,

and threw them both

into the river,

but they fell near the bank,

and the little waves carried them back

to land just


if the river

would not take

from her

what she loved best,

because it

could not give her back little Kay.

But she thought the shoes had not been thrown out far enough.

Then she crept

into a boat

that lay

among the reeds,

and threw the shoes again

from the farther end

of the boat

into the water;

but it was not fastened,

and her movement sent it gliding away

from the land.

When she saw this she hastened

to reach the end

of the boat,


before she

could do so it was more

than a yard

from the bank

and drifting away faster

than ever.

Little Gerda was very much frightened.

She began

to cry,

but no one heard her except the sparrows,

and they

could not carry her

to land,

but they flew along

by the shore

and sang

as if

to comfort her:

“Here we are!

Here we are!”

The boat floated

with the stream,

and little Gerda sat quite still

with only her stockings

on her feet;

the red shoes floated after her,

but she

could not reach them

because the boat kept so much

in advance.


There came a very old woman out

of the house]

The banks

on either side

of the river were very pretty.

There were beautiful flowers,

old trees,

sloping fields


which cows

and sheep were grazing,

but not a human being

to be seen.

“Perhaps the river

will carry me

to little Kay,”

thought Gerda,


then she became more cheerful,

and raised her head

and looked

at the beautiful green banks;

and so the boat sailed


for hours.

At length she came

to a large cherry orchard,


which stood a small house

with strange red

and blue windows.

It had also a thatched roof,

and outside were two wooden soldiers

that presented arms

to her

as she sailed past.

Gerda called out

to them,

for she thought they were alive;


of course they did not answer,


as the boat drifted nearer

to the shore she saw

what they really were.

Then Gerda called still louder,


there came a very old woman out

of the house,


on a crutch.

She wore a large hat

to shade her

from the sun,


on it were painted all sorts

of pretty flowers.

“You poor little child,”

said the old woman,

“how did you manage

to come this long,

long distance

into the wide world

on such a rapid,

rolling stream?”


then the old woman walked

into the water,

seized the boat

with her crutch,

drew it

to land,

and lifted little Gerda out.

And Gerda was glad

to feel herself again

on dry ground,

although she was rather afraid

of the strange old woman.


and tell me

who you are,”

said she,


how you came here.”

Then Gerda told her everything,

while the old woman shook her head

and said,



when Gerda had finished she asked the old woman

if she had not seen little Kay.

She told her he had not passed

that way,

but he very likely

would come.

She told Gerda not

to be sorrowful,


to taste the cherries

and look

at the flowers;

they were better

than any picture book,

for each

of them

could tell a story.

Then she took Gerda

by the hand,

and led her

into the little house,

and closed the door.

The windows were very high,


as the panes were red,


and yellow,

the daylight shone

through them

in all sorts

of singular colors.

On the table stood some beautiful cherries,

and Gerda had permission

to eat

as many

as she would.

While she was eating them the old woman combed out her long flaxen ringlets

with a golden comb,

and the glossy curls hung down

on each side

of the little round,

pleasant face,

which looked fresh

and blooming

as a rose.

“I have long been wishing

for a dear little maiden

like you,”

said the old woman,

“and now you must stay

with me

and see

how happily we shall live together.”


while she went

on combing little Gerda’s hair the child thought less

and less

about her adopted brother Kay,

for the old woman was an enchantress,

although she was not a wicked witch;

she conjured only a little

for her own amusement,



because she wanted

to keep Gerda.

Therefore she went

into the garden

and stretched out her crutch

toward all the rose trees,

beautiful though they were,

and they immediately sank

into the dark earth,


that no one

could tell

where they had once stood.

The old woman was afraid that

if little Gerda saw roses,


would think

of those

at home


then remember little Kay

and run away.

Then she took Gerda

into the flower garden.

How fragrant

and beautiful it was!

Every flower


could be thought of,

for every season

of the year,

was here

in full bloom;

no picture book

could have more beautiful colors.

Gerda jumped

for joy,

and played

till the sun went down

behind the tall cherry trees;

then she slept

in an elegant bed,

with red silk pillows embroidered

with colored violets,

and she dreamed

as pleasantly

as a queen

on her wedding day.

The next day,


for many days after,

Gerda played

with the flowers

in the warm sunshine.

She knew every flower,

and yet,


there were so many

of them,

it seemed


if one were missing,


what it was she

could not tell.

One day,


as she sat looking

at the old woman’s hat

with the painted flowers

on it,

she saw

that the prettiest

of them all was a rose.

The old woman had forgotten

to take it

from her hat

when she made all the roses sink

into the earth.

But it is difficult

to keep the thoughts together

in everything,

and one little mistake upsets all our arrangements.



there no roses here?”

cried Gerda,

and she ran out

into the garden

and examined all the beds,

and searched

and searched.

There was not one

to be found.

Then she sat down

and wept,

and her tears fell just

on the place

where one

of the rose trees had sunk down.

The warm tears moistened the earth,

and the rose tree sprouted up

at once,

as blooming


when it had sunk;

and Gerda embraced it,

and kissed the roses,

and thought

of the beautiful roses

at home,


with them,

of little Kay.


how I have been detained!”

said the little maiden.

“I wanted

to seek

for little Kay.

Do you know

where he is?”

she asked the roses;

“do you think he is dead?”

And the roses answered:


he is not dead.

We have been

in the ground,

where all the dead lie,

but Kay is not there.”

“Thank you,”

said little Gerda,


then she went

to the other flowers

and looked

into their little cups

and asked,

“Do you know

where little Kay is?”

But each flower

as it stood

in the sunshine dreamed only

of its own little fairy tale

or history.

Not one knew anything

of Kay.

Gerda heard many stories

from the flowers,

as she asked them one after another

about him.


then she ran

to the other end

of the garden.

The door was fastened,

but she pressed

against the rusty latch,

and it gave way.

The door sprang open,

and little Gerda ran out

with bare feet

into the wide world.

She looked back three times,

but no one seemed

to be following her.

At last she

could run no longer,

so she sat down

to rest

on a great stone,


when she looked

around she saw

that the summer was over

and autumn very far advanced.

She had known nothing

of this

in the beautiful garden

where the sun shone

and the flowers grew all the year round.


how I have wasted my time!”

said little Gerda.

“It is autumn;

I must not rest any longer,”

and she rose

to go on.

But her little feet were wounded

and sore,

and everything

around her looked cold

and bleak.

The long willow leaves were quite yellow,

the dewdrops fell

like water,

leaf after leaf dropped

from the trees;

the sloe thorn alone still bore fruit,

but the sloes were sour

and set the teeth

on edge.


how dark

and weary the whole world appeared!




Gerda was obliged

to rest again,

and just opposite the place

where she sat she saw a great crow come hopping

toward her

across the snow.

He stood looking

at her

for some time,


then he wagged his head

and said,



good day,

good day.”

He pronounced the words

as plainly

as he could,

because he meant

to be kind

to the little girl,


then he asked her

where she was going all alone

in the wide world.

The word “alone” Gerda understood very well

and felt

how much it expressed.

So she told the crow the whole story

of her life

and adventures

and asked him

if he had seen little Kay.

The crow nodded his head very gravely

and said,

“Perhaps I have

--it may be.”


Do you really think you have?”

cried little Gerda,

and she kissed the crow

and hugged him almost

to death,

with joy.



said the crow.

“I believe I know.

I think it may be little Kay;

but he has certainly forgotten you

by this time,

for the princess.”

“Does he live

with a princess?”

asked Gerda.



replied the crow;

“but it is so difficult

to speak your language.

If you understand the crows’ language,

then I

can explain it better.

Do you?”


I have never learned it,”

said Gerda,

“but my grandmother understands it,

and used

to speak it

to me.

I wish I had learned it.”

“It does not matter,”

answered the crow.


will explain

as well

as I can,

although it

will be very badly done”;

and he told her

what he had heard.

“In this kingdom

where we now are,”

said he,

“there lives a princess

who is so wonderfully clever

that she has read all the newspapers

in the world

--and forgotten them too,

although she is so clever.

“A short time ago,

as she was sitting

on her throne,

which people say is not such an agreeable seat

as is often supposed,

she began

to sing a song

which commences

with these words:


should I not be married?

‘Why not,


said she,

and so she determined

to marry

if she

could find a husband

who knew what

to say

when he was spoken to,

and not one


could only look grand,


that was so tiresome.

She assembled all her court ladies

at the beat

of the drum,


when they heard

of her intentions they were very much pleased.

“‘We are so glad

to hear

of it,’

said they.

‘We were talking

about it ourselves the other day.’

“You may believe

that every word I tell you is true,”

said the crow,

“for I have a tame sweetheart

who hops freely

about the palace,

and she told me all this.”

Of course his sweetheart was a crow,

for “birds

of a feather flock together,”

and one crow always chooses another crow.

“Newspapers were published immediately

with a border

of hearts

and the initials

of the princess

among them.

They gave notice

that every young man

who was handsome was free

to visit the castle

and speak

with the princess,

and those


could reply loud enough

to be heard

when spoken

to were

to make themselves quite

at home

at the palace,

and the one

who spoke best

would be chosen

as a husband

for the princess.



you may believe me.

It is all

as true

as I sit here,”

said the crow.

“The people came

in crowds.

There was a great deal

of crushing

and running about,

but no one succeeded either

on the first

or the second day.


could all speak very well

while they were outside

in the streets,


when they entered the palace gates

and saw the guards

in silver uniforms

and the footmen

in their golden livery

on the staircase

and the great halls lighted up,

they became quite confused.


when they stood

before the throne


which the princess sat they

could do nothing

but repeat the last words she had said,

and she had no particular wish

to hear her own words

over again.

It was just


if they had all taken something

to make them sleepy

while they were

in the palace,

for they did not recover themselves nor speak

till they got back again

into the street.

There was a long procession

of them,


from the town gate

to the palace.

“I went myself

to see them,”

said the crow.

“They were hungry

and thirsty,


at the palace they did not

even get a glass

of water.


of the wisest had taken a few slices

of bread

and butter

with them,

but they did not share it

with their neighbors;

they thought

if the others went


to the princess looking hungry,


would be a better chance

for themselves.”

“But Kay!

tell me

about little Kay!”

said Gerda.

“Was he

among the crowd?”

“Stop a bit;

we are just coming

to him.

It was

on the third day


there came marching cheerfully along

to the palace a little personage without horses

or carriage,

his eyes sparkling

like yours.

He had beautiful long hair,

but his clothes were very poor.”

“That was Kay,”

said Gerda,



then I have found him!”

and she clapped her hands.

“He had a little knapsack

on his back,”

added the crow.


it must have been his sledge,”

said Gerda,

“for he went away

with it.”

“It may have been so,”

said the crow;

“I did not look

at it very closely.

But I know

from my tame sweetheart

that he passed

through the palace gates,

saw the guards

in their silver uniform

and the servants

in their liveries

of gold

on the stairs,

but was not

in the least embarrassed.

“‘It must be very tiresome

to stand

on the stairs,’

he said.

‘I prefer

to go in.’

“The rooms were blazing

with light;


and ambassadors walked about

with bare feet,

carrying golden vessels;

it was enough

to make any one feel serious.

His boots creaked loudly

as he walked,

and yet he was not

at all uneasy.”

“It must be Kay,”

said Gerda;

“I know he had new boots on.

I heard them creak

in grandmother’s room.”

“They really did creak,”

said the crow,

“yet he went boldly up

to the princess herself,

who was sitting

on a pearl

as large

as a spinning wheel.

And all the ladies

of the court were present

with their maids

and all the cavaliers

with their servants,

and each

of the maids had another maid

to wait upon her,

and the cavaliers’ servants had their own servants

as well

as each a page.

They all stood

in circles round the princess,

and the nearer they stood

to the door the prouder they looked.

The servants’ pages,

who always wore slippers,


hardly be looked at,

they held themselves up so proudly

by the door.”

“It must be quite awful,”

said little Gerda;

“but did Kay win the princess?”

“If I had not been a crow,”

said he,


would have married her myself,

although I am engaged.

He spoke

as well

as I do

when I speak the crows’ language.

I heard this

from my tame sweetheart.

He was quite free

and agreeable

and said he had not come

to woo the princess,


to hear her wisdom.

And he was

as pleased

with her

as she was

with him.”



that was Kay,”

said Gerda;

“he was so clever;


could work mental arithmetic

and fractions.


will you take me

to the palace?”

“It is very easy

to ask that,”

replied the crow,


how are we

to manage it?



will speak

about it

to my tame sweetheart

and ask her advice,


I must tell you,


will be very difficult

to gain permission

for a little girl

like you

to enter the palace.”



but I shall gain permission easily,”

said Gerda,


when Kay hears

that I am here he

will come out

and fetch me

in immediately.”


for me here

by the palings,”

said the crow,

wagging his head

as he flew away.

It was late

in the evening

before the crow returned.



he said;

“she sends you greeting,

and here is a little roll

which she took

from the kitchen

for you.

There is plenty

of bread there,

and she thinks you must be hungry.

It is not possible

for you

to enter the palace

by the front entrance.

The guards

in silver uniform

and the servants

in gold livery

would not allow it.

But do not cry;


will manage

to get you in.

My sweetheart knows a little back staircase

that leads

to the sleeping apartments,

and she knows where

to find the key.”

Then they went

into the garden,

through the great avenue,

where the leaves were falling one after another,

and they

could see the lights

in the palace being put out

in the same manner.

And the crow led little Gerda

to a back door

which stood ajar.


how her heart beat

with anxiety

and longing;

it was


if she were going

to do something wrong,

and yet she only wanted

to know

where little Kay was.

“It must be he,”

she thought,

“with those clear eyes


that long hair.”


could fancy she saw him smiling

at her

as he used


at home

when they sat

among the roses.


would certainly be glad

to see her,


to hear

what a long distance she had come

for his sake,


to know

how sorry they had all been

at home

because he did not come back.


what joy

and yet

what fear she felt!

They were now

on the stairs,


in a small closet

at the top a lamp was burning.

In the middle

of the floor stood the tame crow,

turning her head

from side

to side

and gazing

at Gerda,

who curtsied

as her grandmother had taught her

to do.

“My betrothed has spoken so very highly

of you,

my little lady,”

said the tame crow.

“Your story is very touching.

If you

will take the lamp,


will walk

before you.


will go straight

along this way;

then we shall meet no one.”

“I feel


if somebody were

behind us,”

said Gerda,

as something rushed

by her

like a shadow

on the wall;


then it seemed

to her

that horses

with flying manes

and thin legs,



and gentlemen

on horseback,


by her

like shadows.

“They are only dreams,”

said the crow;

“they are coming

to carry the thoughts

of the great people out hunting.

All the better,


if their thoughts are out hunting,

we shall be able

to look

at them

in their beds more safely.

I hope that

when you rise

to honor

and favor you

will show a grateful heart.”

“You may be quite sure

of that,”

said the crow

from the forest.

They now came

into the first hall,

the walls


which were hung

with rose-colored satin embroidered

with artificial flowers.

Here the dreams again flitted

by them,

but so quickly

that Gerda

could not distinguish the royal persons.

Each hall appeared more splendid

than the last.

It was enough

to bewilder one.

At length they reached a bedroom.

The ceiling was

like a great palm tree,

with glass leaves

of the most costly crystal,


over the center

of the floor two beds,

each resembling a lily,


from a stem

of gold.



which the princess lay,

was white;

the other was red.


in this Gerda had

to seek

for little Kay.

She pushed one

of the red leaves aside

and saw a little brown neck.


that must be Kay!

She called his name loudly

and held the lamp

over him.

The dreams rushed back

into the room

on horseback.

He woke

and turned his head round

--it was not little Kay!

The prince was only

like him;

still he was young

and pretty.


of her white-lily bed peeped the princess,

and asked

what was the matter.

Little Gerda wept

and told her story,

and all

that the crows had done

to help her.

“You poor child,”

said the prince

and princess;

then they praised the crows,

and said they were not angry

with them


what they had done,


that it must not happen again,


that this time they

should be rewarded.

“Would you like

to have your freedom?”

asked the princess,


would you prefer

to be raised

to the position

of court crows,

with all

that is left

in the kitchen

for yourselves?”

Then both the crows bowed

and begged

to have a fixed appointment;

for they thought

of their old age,

and it

would be so comfortable,

they said,

to feel

that they had made provision

for it.


The prince

and princess themselves helped her

into the coach.]


then the prince got out

of his bed

and gave it up

to Gerda


could not do more

--and she lay down.

She folded her little hands

and thought,

“How good everybody is

to me,

both men

and animals”;

then she closed her eyes

and fell

into a sweet sleep.

All the dreams came flying back again

to her,


like angels now,

and one

of them drew a little sledge,


which sat Kay,

who nodded

to her.

But all this was only a dream.

It vanished

as soon

as she awoke.

The following day she was dressed

from head

to foot

in silk

and velvet

and invited

to stay

at the palace

for a few days

and enjoy herself;

but she only begged

for a pair

of boots

and a little carriage

and a horse

to draw it,


that she might go out

into the wide world

to seek

for Kay.

And she obtained not only boots

but a muff,

and was neatly dressed;


when she was ready

to go,


at the door she found a coach made

of pure gold

with the coat

of arms

of the prince

and princess shining upon it

like a star,

and the coachman,


and outriders all wearing golden crowns upon their heads.

The prince

and princess themselves helped her

into the coach

and wished her success.

The forest crow,

who was now married,

accompanied her

for the first three miles;

he sat

by Gerda’s side,

as he

could not bear riding backwards.

The tame crow stood

in the doorway flapping her wings.


could not go

with them,

because she had been suffering

from headache ever

since the new appointment,

no doubt

from overeating.

The coach was well stored

with sweet cakes,


under the seat were fruit

and gingerbread nuts.



cried the prince

and princess,

and little Gerda wept,

and the crow wept;

and then,

after a few miles,

the crow also said farewell,

and this parting was

even more sad.

However he flew

to a tree

and stood flapping his black wings

as long

as he

could see the coach,

which glittered

like a sunbeam.



The coach drove


through a thick forest,

where it lighted up the way

like a torch

and dazzled the eyes

of some robbers,


could not bear

to let it pass them unmolested.

“It is gold!

it is gold!”

cried they,

rushing forward

and seizing the horses.

Then they struck dead the little jockeys,

the coachman,

and the footman,

and pulled little Gerda out

of the carriage.

“She is plump

and pretty.

She has been fed

with the kernels

of nuts,”

said the old robber woman,

who had a long beard,

and eyebrows

that hung

over her eyes.

“She is

as good

as a fatted lamb;

how nice she

will taste!”


as she said this she drew forth a shining knife,

that glittered horribly.


screamed the old woman

at the same moment,

for her own daughter,

who held her back,

had bitten her

in the ear.

“You naughty girl,”

said the mother,

and now she had not time

to kill Gerda.

“She shall play

with me,”

said the little robber girl.

“She shall give me her muff

and her pretty dress,

and sleep

with me

in my bed.”


then she bit her mother again,

and all the robbers laughed.


will have a ride

in the coach,”

said the little robber girl,

and she

would have her own way,

for she was self-willed

and obstinate.


and Gerda seated themselves

in the coach

and drove away

over stumps

and stones,

into the depths

of the forest.

The little robber girl was

about the same size

as Gerda,

but stronger;

she had broader shoulders

and a darker skin;

her eyes were quite black,

and she had a mournful look.

She clasped little Gerda round the waist

and said:

“They shall not kill you

as long

as you

don’t make me vexed

with you.

I suppose you are a princess.”


said Gerda;


then she told her all her history and

how fond she was

of little Kay.

The robber girl looked earnestly

at her,

nodded her head slightly,

and said,

“They shan’t kill you even

if I do get angry

with you,

for I

will do it myself.”


then she wiped Gerda’s eyes

and put her own hands

into the beautiful muff,

which was so soft

and warm.

The coach stopped

in the courtyard

of a robber’s castle,

the walls


which were full

of cracks

from top

to bottom.


and crows flew


and out

of the holes

and crevices,

while great bulldogs,



which looked


if it

could swallow a man,

were jumping about;

but they were not allowed

to bark.

In the large old smoky hall a bright fire was burning

on the stone floor.

There was no chimney,

so the smoke went up

to the ceiling

and found a way out

for itself.

Soup was boiling

in a large cauldron,

and hares

and rabbits were roasting

on the spit.

“You shall sleep

with me

and all my little animals to-night,”

said the robber girl after they had had something

to eat

and drink.

So she took Gerda

to a corner

of the hall

where some straw

and carpets were laid down.

Above them,

on laths

and perches,

were more

than a hundred pigeons

that all seemed

to be asleep,

although they moved slightly

when the two little girls came near them.

“These all belong

to me,”

said the robber girl,

and she seized the nearest

to her,

held it

by the feet,

and shook it

till it flapped its wings.

“Kiss it,”

cried she,

flapping it

in Gerda’s face.

“There sit the wood pigeons,”

continued she,


to a number

of laths

and a cage

which had been fixed

into the walls,

near one

of the openings.

“Both rascals

would fly away directly,

if they were not closely locked up.

And here is my old sweetheart


and she dragged out a reindeer

by the horn;

he wore a bright copper ring round his neck

and was tethered

to the spot.

“We are obliged

to hold him tight too,

else he

would run away

from us also.

I tickle his neck every evening

with my sharp knife,

which frightens him very much.”

And the robber girl drew a long knife

from a chink

in the wall

and let it slide gently

over the reindeer’s neck.

The poor animal began

to kick,

and the little robber girl laughed

and pulled down Gerda

into bed

with her.

“Will you have

that knife

with you

while you are asleep?”

asked Gerda,


at it

in great fright.

“I always sleep

with the knife

by me,”

said the robber girl.

“No one knows

what may happen.

But now tell me again all

about little Kay,


why you went out

into the world.”

Then Gerda repeated her story

over again,

while the wood pigeons

in the cage

over her cooed,

and the other pigeons slept.

The little robber girl put one arm

across Gerda’s neck,

and held the knife

in the other,

and was soon fast asleep

and snoring.

But Gerda

could not close her eyes

at all;

she knew not whether she was

to live or

to die.

The robbers sat round the fire,


and drinking.

It was a terrible sight

for a little girl

to witness.

Then the wood pigeons said:



we have seen little Kay.

A white fowl carried his sledge,

and he sat

in the carriage

of the Snow Queen,

which drove

through the wood

while we were lying

in our nest.

She blew upon us,

and all the young ones died,

excepting us two.



“What are you saying up there?”

cried Gerda.

“Where was the Snow Queen going?

Do you know anything

about it?”

“She was most likely traveling

to Lapland,


there is always snow

and ice.

Ask the reindeer

that is fastened up there

with a rope.”


there is always snow

and ice,”

said the reindeer,

“and it is a glorious place;


can leap

and run

about freely

on the sparkling icy plains.

The Snow Queen has her summer tent there,

but her strong castle is

at the North Pole,

on an island called Spitzbergen.”

“O Kay,

little Kay!”

sighed Gerda.

“Lie still,”

said the robber girl,

“or you shall feel my knife.”

In the morning Gerda told her all

that the wood pigeons had said,

and the little robber girl looked quite serious,

and nodded her head

and said:

“That is all talk,

that is all talk.

Do you know

where Lapland is?”

she asked the reindeer.


should know better

than I do?”

said the animal,

while his eyes sparkled.

“I was born

and brought up there

and used

to run

about the snow-covered plains.”

“Now listen,”

said the robber girl;

“all our men are gone away;

only mother is here,

and here she

will stay;


at noon she always drinks out

of a great bottle,

and afterwards sleeps

for a little while;


then I’ll do something

for you.”

She jumped out

of bed,

clasped her mother round the neck,

and pulled her

by the beard,


“My own little nanny goat,

good morning!”

And her mother pinched her nose

till it was quite red;

yet she did it all

for love.

When the mother had gone

to sleep the little robber maiden went

to the reindeer

and said:

“I should

like very much

to tickle your neck a few times more

with my knife,

for it makes you look so funny,

but never mind


will untie your cord

and set you free,


that you may run away

to Lapland;

but you must make good use

of your legs

and carry this little maiden

to the castle

of the Snow Queen,

where her playfellow is.

You have heard

what she told me,

for she spoke loud enough,

and you were listening.”

The reindeer jumped

for joy,

and the little robber girl lifted Gerda

on his back

and had the forethought

to tie her


and even

to give her her own little cushion

to sit upon.

“Here are your fur boots

for you,”

said she,

“for it

will be very cold;

but I must keep the muff,

it is so pretty.


you shall not be frozen

for the want

of it;

here are my mother’s large warm mittens;


will reach up

to your elbows.

Let me put them on.


now your hands look just

like my mother’s.”

But Gerda wept

for joy.


don’t like

to see you fret,”

said the little robber girl.

“You ought

to look quite happy now.

And here are two loaves

and a ham,


that you need not starve.”

These were fastened upon the reindeer,


then the little robber maiden opened the door,


in all the great dogs,

cut the string


which the reindeer was fastened,

with her sharp knife,

and said,

“Now run,

but mind you take good care

of the little girl.”

And Gerda stretched out her hand,

with the great mitten

on it,

toward the little robber girl

and said “Farewell,”

and away flew the reindeer

over stumps

and stones,

through the great forest,

over marshes

and plains,

as quickly

as he could.

The wolves howled

and the ravens screamed,

while up

in the sky quivered red lights

like flames

of fire.

“There are my old northern lights,”

said the reindeer;


how they flash!”

And he ran

on day

and night still faster

and faster,

but the loaves

and the ham were all eaten

by the time they reached Lapland.




They stopped

at a little hut;

it was very mean looking.

The roof sloped nearly down

to the ground,

and the door was so low

that the family had

to creep


on their hands

and knees

when they went


and out.

There was no one

at home

but an old Lapland woman

who was dressing fish

by the light

of a train-oil lamp.

The reindeer told her all

about Gerda’s story after having first told his own,

which seemed

to him the most important.

But Gerda was so pinched

with the cold

that she

could not speak.


you poor things,”

said the Lapland woman,

“you have a long way

to go yet.

You must travel more

than a hundred miles farther,

to Finland.

The Snow Queen lives

there now,

and she burns Bengal lights every evening.


will write a few words

on a dried stockfish,

for I have no paper,

and you

can take it

from me

to the Finland woman

who lives there.


can give you better information

than I can.”


when Gerda was warmed

and had taken something

to eat

and drink,

the woman wrote a few words

on the dried fish

and told Gerda

to take great care

of it.

Then she tied her again

on the back

of the reindeer,

and he sprang high

into the air

and set off

at full speed.



went the beautiful blue northern lights the whole night long.


at length they reached Finland

and knocked

at the chimney

of the Finland woman’s hut,

for it had no door

above the ground.

They crept in,

but it was so terribly hot inside

that the woman wore scarcely any clothes.

She was small

and very dirty looking.

She loosened little Gerda’s dress

and took off the fur boots

and the mittens,

or Gerda

would have been unable

to bear the heat;


then she placed a piece

of ice

on the reindeer’s head

and read

what was written

on the dried fish.

After she had read it three times she knew it

by heart,

so she popped the fish

into the soup saucepan,

as she knew it was good

to eat,

and she never wasted anything.

The reindeer told his own story first


then little Gerda’s,

and the Finlander twinkled

with her clever eyes,

but said nothing.

“You are so clever,”

said the reindeer;

“I know you

can tie all the winds

of the world

with a piece

of twine.

If a sailor unties one knot,

he has a fair wind;

when he unties the second,

it blows hard;


if the third

and fourth are loosened,

then comes a storm which

will root up whole forests.

Cannot you give this little maiden something which

will make her

as strong

as twelve men,

to overcome the Snow Queen?”

“The power

of twelve men!”

said the Finland woman.


would be

of very little use.”

But she went

to a shelf

and took down

and unrolled a large skin


which were inscribed wonderful characters,

and she read

till the perspiration ran down

from her forehead.

But the reindeer begged so hard

for little Gerda,

and Gerda looked

at the Finland woman

with such tender,

tearful eyes,

that her own eyes began

to twinkle again.

She drew the reindeer

into a corner

and whispered

to him

while she laid a fresh piece

of ice

on his head:

“Little Kay is really

with the Snow Queen,

but he finds everything

there so much

to his taste

and his liking

that he believes it is the finest place

in the world;

and this is

because he has a piece

of broken glass

in his heart

and a little splinter

of glass

in his eye.

These must be taken out,

or he

will never be a human being again,

and the Snow Queen

will retain her power

over him.”


can you not give little Gerda something

to help her

to conquer this power?”


can give her no greater power

than she has already,”

said the woman;

“don’t you see

how strong

that is?

how men

and animals are obliged

to serve her,


how well she has gotten

through the world,


as she is?

She cannot receive any power

from me greater

than she now has,

which consists

in her own purity

and innocence

of heart.

If she cannot herself obtain access

to the Snow Queen

and remove the glass fragments

from little Kay,


can do nothing

to help her.

Two miles

from here the Snow Queen’s garden begins.


can carry the little girl so far,

and set her down

by the large bush

which stands

in the snow,


with red berries.

Do not stay gossiping,

but come back here

as quickly

as you can.”

Then the Finland woman lifted little Gerda upon the reindeer,

and he ran away

with her

as quickly

as he could.


I have forgotten my boots

and my mittens,”

cried little Gerda,

as soon

as she felt the cutting cold;

but the reindeer dared not stop,

so he ran


till he reached the bush

with the red berries.

Here he set Gerda down,

and he kissed her,

and the great bright tears trickled

over the animal’s cheeks;

then he left her

and ran back

as fast

as he could.

There stood poor Gerda,

without shoes,

without gloves,

in the midst

of cold,


ice-bound Finland.

She ran forward

as quickly

as she could,

when a whole regiment

of snowflakes came round her.

They did not,



from the sky,

which was quite clear

and glittered

with the northern lights.

The snowflakes ran

along the ground,

and the nearer they came

to her the larger they appeared.

Gerda remembered

how large

and beautiful they looked

through the burning glass.

But these were really larger

and much more terrible,

for they were alive

and were the guards

of the Snow Queen

and had the strangest shapes.

Some were

like great porcupines,


like twisted serpents

with their heads stretching out,

and some few were

like little fat bears

with their hair bristled;

but all were dazzlingly white,

and all were living snowflakes.

Little Gerda repeated the Lord’s Prayer,

and the cold was so great

that she

could see her own breath come out

of her mouth

like steam,

as she uttered the words.

The steam appeared

to increase

as she continued her prayer,

till it took the shape

of little angels,

who grew larger the moment they touched the earth.

They all wore helmets

on their heads

and carried spears

and shields.

Their number continued

to increase more

and more,


by the time Gerda had finished her prayers a whole legion stood round her.

They thrust their spears

into the terrible snowflakes so

that they shivered

into a hundred pieces,

and little Gerda

could go forward

with courage

and safety.

The angels stroked her hands

and feet,


that she felt the cold less

as she hastened


to the Snow Queen’s castle.

But now we must see

what Kay is doing.

In truth he thought not

of little Gerda,

and least

of all

that she

could be standing

at the front

of the palace.







The walls

of the palace were formed

of drifted snow,

and the windows

and doors

of cutting winds.

There were more

than a hundred rooms

in it,



if they had been formed

of snow blown together.

The largest

of them extended

for several miles.

They were all lighted up

by the vivid light

of the aurora,

and were so large

and empty,

so icy cold

and glittering!

There were no amusements here;


even a little bear’s ball,

when the storm might have been the music,

and the bears

could have danced

on their hind legs

and shown their good manners.

There were no pleasant games

of snapdragon,

or touch,


even a gossip

over the tea table

for the young-lady foxes.



and cold were the halls

of the Snow Queen.

The flickering flames

of the northern lights

could be plainly seen,

whether they rose high

or low

in the heavens,

from every part

of the castle.

In the midst

of this empty,

endless hall

of snow was a frozen lake,


on its surface

into a thousand forms;

each piece resembled another,

because each was

in itself perfect

as a work

of art,


in the center

of this lake sat the Snow Queen

when she was

at home.

She called the lake “The Mirror

of Reason,”

and said

that it was the best,

and indeed the only one,

in the world.


In the center

of the lake sat the Snow Queen]

Little Kay was quite blue

with cold,


almost black,

--but he did not feel it;

for the Snow Queen had kissed away the icy shiverings,

and his heart was already a lump

of ice.

He dragged some sharp,

flat pieces

of ice


and fro

and placed them together

in all kinds

of positions,


if he wished

to make something out

of them


as we try

to form various figures

with little tablets

of wood,

which we call a “Chinese puzzle.”

Kay’s figures were very artistic;

it was the icy game

of reason


which he played,


in his eyes the figures were very remarkable and

of the highest importance;

this opinion was owing

to the splinter

of glass still sticking

in his eye.

He composed many complete figures,

forming different words,


there was one word he never

could manage

to form,

although he wished it very much.

It was the word “Eternity.”

The Snow Queen had said

to him,

“When you

can find out this,

you shall be your own master,

and I

will give you the whole world

and a new pair

of skates.”

But he

could not accomplish it.

“Now I must hasten away

to warmer countries,”

said the Snow Queen.


will go

and look

into the black craters

of the tops

of the burning mountains,


and Vesuvius,

as they are called.

I shall make them look white,


will be good

for them


for the lemons

and the grapes.”

And away flew the Snow Queen,

leaving little Kay quite alone

in the great hall

which was so many miles

in length.

He sat

and looked

at his pieces

of ice

and was thinking so deeply

and sat so still

that any one might have supposed he was frozen.


at this moment it happened

that little Gerda came

through the great door

of the castle.

Cutting winds were raging

around her,

but she offered up a prayer,

and the winds sank down


if they were going

to sleep.

On she went

till she came

to the large,

empty hall

and caught sight

of Kay.

She knew him directly;

she flew

to him

and threw her arms

around his neck

and held him fast

while she exclaimed,


dear little Kay,

I have found you

at last!”

But he sat quite still,


and cold.

Then little Gerda wept hot tears,

which fell

on his breast,

and penetrated

into his heart,

and thawed the lump

of ice,

and washed away the little piece

of glass

which had stuck there.

Then he looked

at her,

and she sang:

“Roses bloom

and fade away,

But we the Christ-child see alway.”

Then Kay burst

into tears.

He wept so

that the splinter

of glass swam out

of his eye.

Then he recognized Gerda

and said joyfully,


dear little Gerda,

where have you been all this time,


where have I been?”

And he looked all

around him

and said,

“How cold it is,


how large

and empty it all looks,”

and he clung

to Gerda,

and she laughed

and wept

for joy.

It was so pleasing

to see them


even the pieces

of ice danced,


when they were tired

and went

to lie down they formed themselves

into the letters

of the word

which the Snow Queen had said he must find out

before he

could be his own master

and have the whole world

and a pair

of new skates.

Gerda kissed his cheeks,

and they became blooming;

and she kissed his eyes

till they shone

like her own;

she kissed his hands

and feet,

and he became quite healthy

and cheerful.

The Snow Queen might come home now

when she pleased,


there stood his certainty

of freedom,

in the word she wanted,


in shining letters

of ice.

Then they took each other

by the hand

and went forth

from the great palace

of ice.

They spoke

of the grandmother and

of the roses

on the roof,


as they went

on the winds were

at rest,

and the sun burst forth.

When they arrived

at the bush

with red berries,

there stood the reindeer waiting

for them,

and he had brought another young reindeer

with him,

whose udders were full,

and the children drank her warm milk

and kissed her

on the mouth.

They carried Kay

and Gerda first

to the Finland woman,

where they warmed themselves thoroughly

in the hot room

and had directions

about their journey home.

Next they went

to the Lapland woman,

who had made some new clothes

for them

and put their sleighs

in order.

Both the reindeer ran

by their side

and followed them

as far

as the boundaries

of the country,

where the first green leaves were budding.

And here they took leave

of the two reindeer

and the Lapland woman,

and all said farewell.

Then birds began

to twitter,

and the forest too was full

of green young leaves,

and out

of it came a beautiful horse,

which Gerda remembered,

for it was one

which had drawn the golden coach.

A young girl was riding upon it,

with a shining red cap

on her head

and pistols

in her belt.

It was the little robber maiden,

who had got tired

of staying

at home;

she was going first

to the north,



that did not suit her,

she meant

to try some other part

of the world.

She knew Gerda directly,

and Gerda remembered her;

it was a joyful meeting.

“You are a fine fellow

to go gadding about

in this way,”

said she

to little Kay.


should like

to know whether you deserve

that any one

should go

to the end

of the world

to find you.”

But Gerda patted her cheeks

and asked after the prince

and princess.

“They are gone

to foreign countries,”

said the robber girl.

“And the crow?”

asked Gerda.


the crow is dead,”

she replied.

“His tame sweetheart is now a widow

and wears a bit

of black worsted round her leg.

She mourns very pitifully,

but it is all stuff.

But now tell me

how you managed

to get him back.”

Then Gerda

and Kay told her all

about it.




it’s all right

at last,”

said the robber girl.

She took both their hands

and promised that

if ever she

should pass

through the town,


would call

and pay them a visit.


then she rode away

into the wide world.

But Gerda

and Kay went hand

in hand

toward home,


as they advanced,

spring appeared more lovely

with its green verdure

and its beautiful flowers.

Very soon they recognized the large town

where they lived,

and the tall steeples

of the churches


which the sweet bells were ringing a merry peal,

as they entered it

and found their way

to their grandmother’s door.

They went upstairs

into the little room,

where all looked just

as it used

to do.

The old clock was going “Tick,


and the hands pointed

to the time

of day,


as they passed

through the door

into the room they perceived

that they were both grown up

and become a man

and woman.

The roses out

on the roof were

in full bloom

and peeped


at the window,


there stood the little chairs


which they had sat

when children,

and Kay

and Gerda seated themselves each

on their own chair

and held each other

by the hand,

while the cold,

empty grandeur

of the Snow Queen’s palace vanished

from their memories

like a painful dream.

The grandmother sat

in God’s bright sunshine,

and she read aloud

from the Bible,

“Except ye become

as little children,

ye shall

in no wise enter

into the kingdom

of God.”

And Kay

and Gerda looked

into each other’s eyes

and all

at once understood the words

of the old song:

Roses bloom

and fade away,

But we the Christ-child see alway.

And they both sat there,

grown up,

yet children

at heart,

and it was summer


beautiful summer.




IT really appeared


if something very important were going


by the duck pond,

but this was not the case.

A few minutes before,

all the ducks had been resting

on the water

or standing

on their heads


that they

can do


then they all swam

in a bustle

to the shore.

The traces

of their feet

could be seen

on the wet earth,

and far

and wide

could be heard their quacking.

The water,

so lately clear

and bright

as a mirror,


in quite a commotion.

But a moment before,

every tree

and bush near the old farmhouse


even the house itself

with the holes

in the roof

and the swallows’ nests and,

above all,

the beautiful rosebush covered

with roses

--had been clearly reflected

in the water.

The rosebush

on the wall hung

over the water,

which resembled a picture only

that everything appeared upside down,


when the water was set

in motion all vanished,

and the picture disappeared.

Two feathers,


by the fluttering ducks,



and fro

on the water.


at once they took a start


if the wind were coming,

but it did not come,

so they were obliged

to lie still,

as the water became again quiet and

at rest.

The roses

could once more behold their own reflections.

They were very beautiful,

but they knew it not,

for no one had told them.

The sun shone

between the delicate leaves,

and the sweet fragrance spread itself,

carrying happiness everywhere.

“How beautiful is our existence!”

said one

of the roses.

“I feel


if I

should like

to kiss the sun,

it is so bright

and warm.


should like

to kiss the roses too,

our images

in the water,

and the pretty birds there

in their nests.

There are some birds too

in the nest

above us;

they stretch out their heads

and cry



very faintly.

They have no feathers yet,


as their father

and mother have.


above us

and below us we have good neighbors.

How beautiful is our life!”

The young birds above

and the young ones below were the same;

they were sparrows,

and their nest was reflected

in the water.

Their parents were sparrows also,

and they had taken possession

of an empty swallow’s nest

of the year before,

occupying it now


if it were their own.

“Are those ducks’ children

that are swimming about?

asked the young sparrows,

as they spied the feathers

on the water.

“If you must ask questions,

pray ask sensible ones,”

said the mother.

“Can you not see

that these are feathers,

the living stuff

for clothes,

which I wear


which you

will wear soon,

only ours are much finer?


should like,


to have them up here

in the nest,


would make it so warm.

I am rather curious

to know

why the ducks were so alarmed just now.


could not be

from fear

of us,


though I did say

‘tweet’ rather loudly.

The thick-headed roses really ought

to know,

but they are very ignorant;

they only look

at one another

and smell.

I am heartily tired

of such neighbors.”


to the sweet little birds

above us,”

said the roses;

“they are trying

to sing.

They cannot manage it yet,

but it

will be done

in time.

What a pleasure it

will be,


how nice

to have such lively neighbors!”

Suddenly two horses came prancing along

to drink

at the water.

A peasant boy rode

on one

of them;

he had a broad-brimmed black hat on,

but had taken off the most

of his clothes,

that he might ride

into the deepest part

of the pond;

he whistled

like a bird,


while passing the rosebush he plucked a rose

and placed it

in his hat


then rode

on thinking himself very fine.

The other roses looked

at their sister

and asked each other

where she

could be going,

but they did not know.


should like

for once

to go out

into the world,”

said one,

“although it is very lovely here

in our home

of green leaves.

The sun shines warmly

by day,


in the night we

can see

that heaven is more beautiful still,

as it sparkles

through the holes

in the sky.”

She meant the stars,

for she knew no better.

“We make the house very lively,”

said the mother sparrow,

“and people say

that a swallow’s nest brings luck,

therefore they are pleased

to see us;

but as

to our neighbors,

a rosebush

on the wall produces damp.


will most likely be removed,

and perhaps corn

will grow here instead

of it.

Roses are good

for nothing but

to be looked


and smelt,

or perhaps one may chance

to be stuck

in a hat.

I have heard

from my mother

that they fall off every year.

The farmer’s wife preserves them

by laying them

in salt,


then they receive a French name

which I neither

can nor

will pronounce;

then they are sprinkled

on the fire

to produce a pleasant smell.

Such you see is their life.

They are only formed

to please the eye

and the nose.

Now you know all

about them.”

As the evening approached,

the gnats played about

in the warm air

beneath the rosy clouds,

and the nightingale came

and sang

to the roses

that _the beautiful_ was

like sunshine

to the world,


that _the beautiful_ lives forever.

The roses thought

that the nightingale was singing

of herself,

which any one indeed

could easily suppose;

they never imagined

that her song

could refer

to them.

But it was a joy

to them,

and they wondered

to themselves whether all the little sparrows

in the nest

would become nightingales.

“We understood

that bird’s song very well,”

said the young sparrows,

“but one word was not clear.

What is _the beautiful_?”



of any consequence,”

replied the mother sparrow.

“It is something relating

to appearances

over yonder

at the nobleman’s house.

The pigeons have a house

of their own,

and every day they have corn

and peas spread

for them.

I have dined there

with them sometimes,

and so shall you


and by,

for I believe the old maxim

--’Tell me

what company you keep,

and I

will tell you

what you are.’



at the noble house

there are two birds

with green throats

and crests

on their heads.


can spread out their tails

like large wheels,

and they reflect so many beautiful colors

that it dazzles the eyes

to look

at them.

These birds are called peacocks,

and they belong

to _the beautiful_;


if only a few

of their feathers were plucked off,


would not appear better

than we do.


would myself have plucked some out had they not been so large.”


will pluck them,”

squeaked the youngest sparrow,

who had

as yet no feathers

of his own.

In the cottage dwelt two young married people,

who loved each other very much

and were industrious

and active so

that everything looked neat

and pretty

around them.


on Sunday mornings the young wife came out,

gathered a handful

of the most beautiful roses,

and put them

in a glass

of water,

which she placed

on a side table.

“I see now

that it is Sunday,”

said the husband,

as he kissed his little wife.

Then they sat down

and read

in their hymn books,

holding each other’s hands,

while the sun shone down upon the young couple

and upon the fresh roses

in the glass.

“This sight is really too wearisome,”

said the mother sparrow,


from her nest

could look

into the room;

and she flew away.

The same thing occurred the next Sunday;

and indeed every Sunday fresh roses were gathered

and placed

in a glass,

but the rose tree continued

to bloom

in all its beauty.

After a

while the young sparrows were fledged

and wanted

to fly,

but the mother

would not allow it,

and so they were obliged

to remain

in the nest

for the present,

while she flew away alone.

It so happened

that some boys had fastened a snare made

of horsehair

to the branch

of a tree,


before she was aware,

her leg became entangled

in the horsehair so tightly

as almost

to cut it through.

What pain

and terror she felt!

The boys ran up quickly

and seized her,


in a very gentle manner.

“It is only a sparrow,”

they said.

However they did not let her fly,

but took her home

with them,

and every time she cried they tapped her

on the beak.

In the farmyard they met an old man

who knew how

to make soap

for shaving

and washing,

in cakes or

in balls.

When he saw the sparrow

which the boys had brought home


which they said they did not know what

to do with,

he said,

“Shall we make it beautiful?”

A cold shudder passed

over the sparrow

when she heard this.

The old man

then took a shell containing a quantity

of glittering gold leaf

from a box full

of beautiful colors

and told the youngsters

to fetch the white

of an egg,


which he besmeared the sparrow all over


then laid the gold leaf upon it,


that the mother sparrow was now gilded

from head

to tail.

She thought not

of her appearance,

but trembled

in every limb.

Then the soap maker tore a little piece out

of the red lining

of his jacket,

cut notches

in it,


that it looked

like a cock’scomb,

and stuck it

on the bird’s head.

“Now you shall see gold-jacket fly,”

said the old man,

and he released the sparrow,

which flew away

in deadly terror

with the sunlight shining upon her.

How she did glitter!

All the sparrows,


even a crow,

who is a knowing old boy,

were startled

at the sight,

yet they all followed it

to discover

what foreign bird it

could be.


by anguish

and terror,

she flew homeward

almost ready

to sink

to the earth

for want

of strength.

The flock

of birds

that were following increased

and some

even tried

to peck her.


at him!


at him!”

they all cried.


at him!


at him!”

cried the young ones

as their mother approached the nest,

for they did not know her.

“That must be a young peacock,

for he glitters

in all colors.

It quite hurts one’s eyes

to look

at him,

as mother told us;


this is _the beautiful_.”


then they pecked the bird

with their little beaks so

that she was quite unable

to get

into the nest

and was too much exhausted even

to say “tweet,”

much less “I am your mother.”

So the other birds fell upon the sparrow

and pulled out feather after feather

till she sank bleeding

into the rosebush.

“You poor creature,”

said the roses,


at rest.


will hide you;

lean your little head

against us.”

The sparrow spread out her wings once more,

then drew them

in close

about her

and lay dead

among the roses,

her fresh

and lovely neighbors.

* * * * *



from the nest;


can our mother be staying?

It is quite unaccountable.

Can this be a trick

of hers

to show us

that we are now

to take care

of ourselves?

She has left us the house

as an inheritance,


as it cannot belong

to us all

when we have families,

who is

to have it?”


won’t do

for you all

to stay

with me

when I increase my household

with a wife

and children,”

remarked the youngest.

“I shall have more wives

and children

than you,”

said the second.

“But I am the eldest,”

cried a third.

Then they all became angry,

beat each other

with their wings,


with their beaks,

till one after another bounced out

of the nest.

There they lay

in a rage,

holding their heads

on one side

and twinkling the eye

that looked upward.

This was their way

of looking sulky.


could all fly a little,


by practice they soon learned

to do so much better.

At length they agreed upon a sign


which they might be able

to recognize each other

in case they

should meet

in the world after they had separated.

This sign was

to be the cry

of “tweet,


and a scratching

on the ground three times

with the left foot.

The youngster

who was left behind

in the nest spread himself out

as broad

as ever he could;

he was the householder now.

But his glory did not last long,

for during

that night red flames

of fire burst

through the windows

of the cottage,

seized the thatched roof,

and blazed up frightfully.

The whole house was burned,

and the sparrow perished

with it,

while the young couple fortunately escaped

with their lives.

When the sun rose again,

and all nature looked refreshed

as after a quiet sleep,

nothing remained

of the cottage

but a few blackened,

charred beams leaning

against the chimney,

that now was the only master

of the place.

Thick smoke still rose

from the ruins,

but outside

on the wall the rosebush remained unhurt,


and fresh

as ever,

while each flower

and each spray was mirrored

in the clear water beneath.

“How beautifully the roses are blooming

on the walls


that ruined cottage,”

said a passer-by.

“A more lovely picture

could scarcely be imagined.

I must have it.”

And the speaker took out

of his pocket a little book full

of white leaves

of paper

(for he was an artist),


with a pencil he made a sketch

of the smoking ruins,

the blackened rafters,

and the chimney

that overhung them


which seemed more

and more

to totter;

and quite

in the foreground stood the large,

blooming rosebush,

which added beauty

to the picture;


it was

for the sake

of the roses

that the sketch had been made.


in the day two

of the sparrows

who had been born

there came by.

“Where is the house?”

they asked.

“Where is the nest?



all is burned down,

and our strong brother

with it.

That is all he got

by keeping the nest.

The roses have escaped famously;

they look

as well

as ever,

with their rosy cheeks;

they do not trouble themselves

about their neighbors’ misfortunes.


won’t speak

to them.

And really,

in my opinion,

the place looks very ugly”;

so they flew away.

On a fine,


sunny day

in autumn,

so bright

that any one might have supposed it was still the middle

of summer,

a number

of pigeons were hopping about

in the nicely kept courtyard

of the nobleman’s house,

in front

of the great steps.

Some were black,

others white,

and some

of various colors,

and their plumage glittered

in the sunshine.

An old mother pigeon said

to her young ones,

“Place yourselves

in groups!

place yourselves

in groups!

it has a much better appearance.”

“What are those little gray creatures

which are running


behind us?”

asked an old pigeon

with red

and green round her eyes.

“Little gray ones,

little gray ones,”

she cried.

“They are sparrows

--good little creatures enough.

We have always had the character

of being very good-natured,

so we allow them

to pick up some corn

with us;

they do not interrupt our conversation,

and they draw back their left foot so prettily.”

Sure enough,

so they did,

three times each,


with the left foot too,

and said “tweet,”


which we recognize them

as the sparrows

that were brought up

in the nest

on the house

that was burned down.

“The food here is very good,”

said the sparrows;

while the pigeons strutted round each other,

puffed out their throats,

and formed their own opinions


what they observed.

“Do you see the pouter pigeon?”

asked one pigeon

of another.

“Do you see

how he swallows the peas?

He takes too much

and always chooses the best

of everything.



How the ugly,

spiteful creature erects his crest.”

And all their eyes sparkled

with malice.

“Place yourselves

in groups,

place yourselves

in groups.

Little gray coats,

little gray coats.



So they went on,

and it

will be the same a thousand years hence.

The sparrows feasted bravely

and listened attentively;


even stood

in ranks

like the pigeons,

but it did not suit them.

So having satisfied their hunger,

they left the pigeons passing their own opinions upon them

to each other

and slipped

through the garden railings.

The door

of a room

in the house,


into the garden,

stood open,

and one

of them,

feeling brave after his good dinner,

hopped upon the threshold crying,



can venture so far.”


said another,


can venture that,

and a great deal more,”


into the room he hopped.

The first followed,


seeing no one there,

the third became courageous

and flew right

across the room,


“Venture everything,

or do not venture

at all.

This is a wonderful place

--a man’s nest,

I suppose;

and look!


can this be?”


in front

of the sparrows stood the ruins

of the burned cottage;

roses were blooming

over it,

and their reflection appeared

in the water beneath,

and the black,

charred beams rested

against the tottering chimney.


could it be?

How came the cottage

and the roses

in a room

in the nobleman’s house?


then the sparrows tried

to fly

over the roses

and the chimney,

but they only struck themselves

against a flat wall.

It was a picture

--a large,

beautiful picture

which the artist had painted

from the little sketch he had made.


said the sparrows,

“it is really nothing,

after all;

it only looks

like reality.


I suppose

that is _the beautiful_.

Can you understand it?

I cannot.”

Then some persons entered the room

and the sparrows flew away.


and years passed.

The pigeons had often “coo-oo-d”

--we must not say quarreled,

though perhaps they did,

the naughty things!

The sparrows had suffered

from cold

in the winter

and lived gloriously

in summer.

They were all betrothed,

or married,

or whatever you like

to call it.

They had little ones,

and each considered its own brood the wisest

and the prettiest.

One flew

in this direction

and another

in that,


when they met they recognized each other

by saying “tweet”

and three times drawing back the left foot.

The eldest remained single;

she had no nest nor young ones.

Her great wish was

to see a large town,

so she flew

to Copenhagen.


by the castle,


by the canal,


which swam many ships laden

with apples

and pottery,

there was

to be seen a great house.

The windows were broader below than

at the top,


when the sparrows peeped

through they saw a room

that looked

to them

like a tulip

with beautiful colors

of every shade.

Within the tulip were white figures

of human beings,


of marble

--some few

of plaster,

but this is the same thing

to a sparrow.

Upon the roof stood a metal chariot

and horses,

and the goddess

of victory,


of metal,

was seated

in the chariot driving the horses.

It was Thorwaldsen’s museum.

“How it shines

and glitters,”

said the maiden sparrow.

“This must be _the beautiful_,


--only this is larger

than a peacock.”

She remembered

what her mother had told them

in her childhood,

that the peacock was one

of the greatest examples

of _the beautiful_.

She flew down

into the courtyard,

where everything also was very grand.

The walls were painted

to represent palm branches,


in the midst

of the court stood a large,

blooming rose tree,

spreading its young,


rose-covered branches

over a grave.

Thither the maiden sparrow flew,

for she saw many others

of her own kind.


said she,

drawing back her foot three times.

She had,

during the years

that had passed,

often made the usual greeting

to the sparrows she met,

but without receiving any acknowledgment;

for friends

who are once separated do not meet every day.

This manner

of greeting was become a habit

to her,

and to-day two old sparrows

and a young one returned the greeting.


they replied

and drew back the left foot three times.

They were two old sparrows out

of the nest,

and a young one belonging

to the family.


good day;

how do you do?

To think

of our meeting here!

This is a very grand place,


there is not much

to eat;

this is _the beautiful_.


A great many people now came out

of the side rooms,


which the marble statues stood,

and approached the grave

where rested the remains

of the great master

who carved them.

As they stood round Thorwaldsen’s grave,

each face had a reflected glory,

and some few gathered up the fallen rose leaves

to preserve them.

They had all come

from afar;


from mighty England,


from Germany

and France.

One very handsome lady plucked a rose

and concealed it

in her bosom.

Then the sparrows thought

that the roses ruled

in this place,


that the whole house had been built

for them

--which seemed really too much honor;


as all the people showed their love

for the roses,

the sparrows thought they

would not remain behindhand

in paying their respects.


they said,

and swept the ground

with their tails,

and glanced

with one eye

at the roses.

They had not looked

at them very long,


before they felt convinced

that they were old acquaintances,

and so they actually were.

The artist

who had sketched the rosebush

and the ruins

of the cottage had since

then received permission

to transplant the bush

and had given it

to the architect,

for more beautiful roses had never been seen.

The architect had planted it

on the grave

of Thorwaldsen,

where it continued

to bloom,

the image

of _the beautiful_,

scattering its fragrant,

rosy leaves

to be gathered

and carried away

into distant lands

in memory

of the spot


which they fell.

“Have you obtained a situation

in town?”

then asked the sparrows

of the roses.

The roses nodded.

They recognized their little brown neighbors

and were rejoiced

to see them again.

“It is very delightful,”

said the roses,

“to live here and

to blossom,

to meet old friends,


to see cheerful faces every day.

It is


if each day were a holiday.”


said the sparrows

to each other.


these really are our old neighbors.

We remember their origin near the pond.


how they have risen,

to be sure.

Some people seem

to get


while they are asleep.


there’s a withered leaf.


can see it quite plainly.”

And they pecked

at the leaf

till it fell,

but the rosebush continued fresher

and greener

than ever.

The roses bloomed

in the sunshine

on Thorwaldsen’s grave

and thus became linked

with his immortal name.



A VERY old house once stood

in a street

with several others

that were quite new

and clean.


could read the date

of its erection,

which had been carved

on one

of the beams

and surrounded

by scrolls formed

of tulips

and hop tendrils;

by this date it

could be seen

that the old house was nearly three hundred years old.

Entire verses too were written

over the windows

in old-fashioned letters,

and grotesque faces,

curiously carved,


at you


under the cornices.

One story projected a long way

over the other,


under the roof ran a leaden gutter

with a dragon’s head

at the end.

The rain was intended

to pour out

at the dragon’s mouth,

but it ran out

of his body instead,


there was a hole

in the gutter.

All the other houses

in the street were new

and well built,

with large windowpanes

and smooth walls.

Any one might see they had nothing

to do

with the old house.

Perhaps they thought:

“How long


that heap

of rubbish remain here,

to be a disgrace

to the whole street?

The parapet projects so far forward

that no one

can see out

of our windows

what is going on


that direction.

The stairs are

as broad

as the staircase

of a castle and

as steep


if they led

to a church tower.

The iron railing looks

like the gate

of a cemetery,


there are brass knobs upon it.

It is really too ridiculous.”


to the old house were more nice new houses,

which had just the same opinion

as their neighbors.

At the window

of one

of them sat a little boy

with fresh,

rosy cheeks

and clear,

sparkling eyes,

who was very fond

of the old house

in sunshine or

in moonlight.


would sit

and look

at the wall,


which the plaster had

in some places fallen off,

and fancy all sorts

of scenes

which had been

in former times

--how the street must have looked

when the houses had all gable roofs,

open staircases,

and gutters

with dragons

at the spout.

He could

even see soldiers walking about

with halberds.

Certainly it was a very good house

to look


for amusement.

An old man lived

in it

who wore knee breeches,

a coat

with large brass buttons,

and a wig

which any one

could see was a real one.

Every morning

there came an old man

to clean the rooms and

to wait upon him,

otherwise the old man

in the knee breeches

would have been quite alone

in the house.

Sometimes he came

to one

of the windows

and looked out;

then the little boy nodded

to him,

and the old man nodded back again,

till they became acquainted,

and were friends,

although they had never spoken

to each other;


that was

of no consequence.

The little boy one day heard his parents say,

“The old man is very well off,

but he must be terribly lonely.”

So the next Sunday morning the little boy wrapped something

in a paper,

and took it

to the door

of the old house,

and said

to the attendant

who waited upon the old man:

“Will you please

to give this

from me

to the gentleman

who lives here?

I have two tin soldiers,

and this is one

of them,

and he shall have it,

because I know he is terribly lonely.”

The old attendant nodded

and looked very much pleased,


then he carried the tin soldier

into the house.

Afterwards he was sent over

to ask the little boy

if he

would not like

to pay a visit himself.

His parents gave him permission,

and so it was

that he gained admission

to the old house.

The brass knobs

on the railings shone more brightly

than ever,


if they had been polished

on account

of his visit;


on the doors were carved trumpeters standing

in tulips,

and it seemed


if they were blowing

with all their might,

their cheeks were so puffed out:


the little boy is coming.


the little boy is coming.”

Then the door opened.

All round the hall hung old portraits

of knights

in armor

and ladies

in silk gowns;

and the armor rattled,

and the silk dresses rustled.

Then came a staircase

which went up a long way,


then came down a little way

and led

to a balcony

which was

in a very ruinous state.

There were large holes

and long cracks,



which grew grass

and leaves;

indeed the whole balcony,

the courtyard,

and the walls were so overgrown

with green

that they looked

like a garden.

In the balcony stood flowerpots


which were heads having asses’ ears,

but the flowers

in them grew just

as they pleased.

In one pot,

pinks were growing all

over the sides,

--at least the green leaves were,

--shooting forth stalk

and stem

and saying

as plainly

as they

could speak,

“The air has fanned me,

the sun has kissed me,

and I am promised a little flower

for next Sunday


for next Sunday!”

Then they entered a room


which the walls were covered

with leather,

and the leather had golden flowers stamped upon it.

“Gilding wears out

with time

and bad weather,

But leather endures;

there’s nothing

like leather,”

said the walls.

Chairs handsomely carved,

with elbows

on each side


with very high backs,


in the room;


as they creaked they seemed

to say:

“Sit down.

Oh dear!

how I am creaking;

I shall certainly have the gout

like the old cupboard.


in my back,



then the little boy entered the room

where the old man sat.

“Thank you

for the tin soldier,

my little friend,”

said the old man,

“and thank you also

for coming

to see me.”



--or “Creak,


--said all the furniture.

There was so much furniture

that the pieces stood

in each other’s way

to get a sight

of the little boy.

On the wall near the center

of the room hung the picture

of a beautiful lady,


and gay,


in the fashion

of the olden times,

with powdered hair

and a full,

stiff skirt.

She said neither “thanks” nor “creak,”

but she looked down upon the little boy

with her mild eyes,

and he said

to the old man,

“Where did you get

that picture?”

“From the shop opposite,”

he replied.

“Many portraits hang there.

No one seems

to know any

of them or

to trouble himself

about them.

The persons they represent have been dead

and buried long since.

But I knew this lady many years ago,

and she has been dead nearly half a century.”


“Thank you

for the tin soldier,

my little friend,”

said the old man ....]

Under a glass

beneath the picture hung a nosegay

of withered flowers,

which were,

no doubt,

half a century old too,

at least they appeared so.

And the pendulum

of the old clock went


and fro,

and the hands turned round,


as time passed

on everything

in the room grew older,

but no one seemed

to notice it.

“They say

at home,”

said the little boy,

“that you are very lonely.”


replied the old man,

“I have pleasant thoughts

of all

that is past recalled

by memory,

and now you too are come

to visit me,


that is very pleasant.”

Then he took

from the bookcase a book full

of pictures representing long processions

of wonderful coaches such

as are never seen

at the present time,


like the knave

of clubs,

and citizens

with waving banners.

The tailors had a flag

with a pair

of scissors supported

by two lions,


on the shoemakers’ flag

there were not boots

but an eagle

with two heads,

for the shoemakers must have everything arranged so

that they

can say,

“This is a pair.”

What a picture book it was!


then the old man went

into another room

to fetch apples

and nuts.

It was very pleasant,


to be


that old house.

“I cannot endure it,”

said the tin soldier,

who stood

on a shelf;

“it is so lonely

and dull here.

I have been accustomed

to live

in a family,

and I cannot get used

to this life.

I cannot bear it.

The whole day is long enough,

but the evening is longer.

It is not here

as it was

in your house opposite,

when your father

and mother talked so cheerfully together,

while you

and all the dear children made such a delightful noise.

Do you think he gets any kisses?

Do you think he ever has friendly looks

or a Christmas tree?


will have nothing now

but the grave.


I cannot bear it.”

“You must not look

on the sorrowful side so much,”

said the little boy.

“I think everything

in this house is beautiful,

and all the old,

pleasant thoughts come back here

to pay visits.”


but I never see any,

and I

don’t know them,”

said the tin soldier;

“and I cannot bear it.”

“You must bear it,”

said the little boy.

Then the old man came back

with a pleasant face,

and brought

with him beautiful preserved fruits

as well

as apples

and nuts,

and the little boy thought no more

of the tin soldier.

How happy

and delighted the little boy was!

And after he returned home,


while days

and weeks passed,

a great deal

of nodding took place

from one house

to the other,


then the little boy went

to pay another visit.

The carved trumpeters blew:


there is the little boy.


The swords

and armor

on the old knights’ pictures rattled,

the silk dresses rustled,

the leather repeated its rhyme,

and the old chairs

that had the gout

in their backs cried “Creak”;

it was all exactly

like the first time,



that house one day

and one hour were just

like another.

“I cannot bear it any longer,”

said the tin soldier;

“I have wept tears

of tin,

it is so melancholy here.

Let me go

to the wars

and lose an arm

or a leg;


would be some change.

I cannot bear it.

Now I know

what it is

to have visits

from one’s old recollections

and all they bring

with them.

I have had visits

from mine,

and you may believe me it is not altogether pleasant.

I was very nearly jumping

from the shelf.

I saw you all

in your house opposite,


if you were really present.

“It was Sunday morning,

and you children stood round the table,

singing the hymn

that you sing every morning.

You were standing quietly

with your hands folded,

and your father

and mother were looking just

as serious,

when the door opened,

and your little sister Maria,

who is not two years old,

was brought

into the room.

You know she always dances

when she hears music

and singing

of any sort,

so she began

to dance immediately,

although she ought not

to have done so;

but she

could not get

into the right time

because the tune was so slow,

so she stood first

on one foot

and then

on the other

and bent her head very low,

but it

would not suit the music.

You all stood looking grave,

although it was very difficult

to do so,

but I laughed so

to myself

that I fell down

from the table

and got a bruise,

which is still there.

I know it was not right

to laugh.

So all this,

and everything else

that I have seen,

keeps running

in my head,

and these must be the old recollections

that bring so many thoughts

with them.

Tell me whether you still sing

on Sundays,

and tell me

about your little sister Maria,


how my old comrade is,

the other tin soldier.


really he must be very happy.

I cannot endure this life.”

“You are given away,”

said the little boy;

“you must stay.

Don’t you see that?”

Then the old man came


with a box containing many curious things

to show him.



and old cards so large

and so richly gilded

that none are ever seen

like them

in these days.


there were smaller boxes

to look at,

and the piano was opened,

and inside the lid were painted landscapes.


when the old man played,

the piano sounded quite out

of tune.

Then he looked

at the picture he had bought

at the broker’s,

and his eyes sparkled brightly

as he nodded

at it

and said,



could sing

that tune.”


will go

to the wars!


will go

to the wars!”

cried the tin soldier

as loud

as he could,

and threw himself down

on the floor.


could he have fallen?

The old man searched,

and the little boy searched,

but he was gone


could not be found.

“I shall find him again,”

said the old man.

But he did not find him;

the tin soldier had fallen

through a crack

between the boards

and lay

there now as

in an open grave.

The day went by,

and the little boy returned home;

the week passed,

and many more weeks.

It was winter,

and the windows were quite frozen,


that the little boy was obliged

to breathe

on the panes

and rub a hole

to peep through

at the old house.

Snowdrifts were lying

in all the scrolls and

on the inscriptions,

and the steps were covered

with snow


if no one were

at home.

And indeed nobody was

at home,

for the old man was dead.

In the evening the old man was

to be taken

to the country

to be buried there

in his own grave;

so they carried him away.

No one followed him,

for all his friends were dead,

and the little boy kissed his hand

to his old friend

as he saw him borne away.

A few days after,

there was an auction

at the old house,


from his window the little boy saw the people carrying away the pictures

of old knights

and ladies,

the flowerpots

with the long ears,

the old chairs,

and the cupboards.

Some were taken one way,

some another.

_Her_ portrait,

which had been bought

at the picture dealer’s,

went back again

to his shop,


there it remained,

for no one seemed

to know her or

to care

for the old picture.

In the spring they began

to pull the house itself down;

people called it complete rubbish.

From the street

could be seen the room


which the walls were covered

with leather,


and torn,

and the green

in the balcony hung straggling

over the beams;

they pulled it down quickly,

for it looked ready

to fall,


at last it was cleared away altogether.

“What a good riddance,”

said the neighbors’ houses.

Afterward a fine new house was built,

farther back

from the road.

It had lofty windows

and smooth walls,


in front,

on the spot

where the old house really stood,

a little garden was planted,

and wild vines grew up

over the neighboring walls.

In front

of the garden were large iron railings

and a great gate

which looked very stately.

People used

to stop

and peep

through the railings.

The sparrows assembled

in dozens upon the wild vines

and chattered all together

as loud

as they could,

but not

about the old house.


of them

could remember it,

for many years had passed by;

so many,


that the little boy was now a man,

and a really good man too,

and his parents were very proud

of him.

He had just married

and had come

with his young wife

to reside

in the new house

with the garden

in front

of it,

and now he stood there

by her side

while she planted a field flower

that she thought very pretty.

She was planting it herself

with her little hands

and pressing down the earth

with her fingers.



what was that?”

she exclaimed

as something pricked her.


of the soft earth something was sticking up.

It was

--only think!

--it was really the tin soldier,

the very same

which had been lost up

in the old man’s room

and had been hidden

among old wood

and rubbish

for a long time

till it sank

into the earth,

where it must have been

for many years.

And the young wife wiped the soldier,


with a green leaf

and then

with her fine pocket handkerchief,

that smelt

of a beautiful perfume.

And the tin soldier felt


if he were recovering

from a fainting fit.

“Let me see him,”

said the young man,


then he smiled

and shook his head

and said,


can scarcely be the same,

but it reminds me

of something

that happened

to one

of my tin soldiers

when I was a little boy.”


then he told his wife

about the old house

and the old man and

of the tin soldier

which he had sent across

because he thought the old man was lonely.

And he related the story so clearly

that tears came

into the eyes

of the young wife

for the old house

and the old man.

“It is very likely

that this is really the same soldier,”

said she,

“and I

will take care

of him

and always remember

what you have told me;

but some day you must show me the old man’s grave.”


don’t know

where it is,”

he replied;

“no one knows.

All his friends are dead.

No one took care

of him

or tended his grave,

and I was only a little boy.”


how dreadfully lonely he must have been,”

said she.


terribly lonely,”

cried the tin soldier;

“still it is delightful not

to be forgotten.”

“Delightful indeed!”

cried a voice quite near

to them.

No one

but the tin soldier saw

that it came

from a rag

of the leather

which hung

in tatters.

It had lost all its gilding

and looked

like wet earth,

but it had an opinion,

and it spoke it thus:

“Gilding wears out

with time

and bad weather,

But leather endures;

there’s nothing

like leather.”

But the tin soldier did not believe any such thing.



IT WAS the month

of May.

The wind still blew cold,


from bush

and tree,


and flower,

came the welcome sound,

“Spring is come.”

Wild flowers

in profusion covered the hedges.

Under the little apple tree Spring seemed busy,

and he told his tale

from one

of the branches,

which hung fresh

and blooming

and covered

with delicate pink blossoms

that were just ready

to open.

The branch well knew

how beautiful it was;

this knowledge exists

as much

in the leaf as

in the blood.

I was therefore not surprised

when a nobleman’s carriage,


which sat the young countess,


in the road just by.

The apple branch,

she said,

was a most lovely object,

an emblem

of spring

in its most charming aspect.

The branch was broken off

for her,

and she held it

in her delicate hand

and sheltered it

with her silk parasol.

Then they drove

to the castle,


which were lofty halls

and splendid drawing-rooms.

Pure white curtains fluttered

before the open windows,

and beautiful flowers stood

in transparent vases.

In one

of them,

which looked


if it had been cut out

of newly fallen snow,

the apple branch was placed

among some fresh light twigs

of beech.

It was a charming sight.

And the branch became proud,

which was very much

like human nature.


of every description entered the room,

and according

to their position

in society so dared they

to express their admiration.

Some few said nothing,

others expressed too much,

and the apple branch very soon got

to understand


there was

as much difference

in the characters

of human beings as

in those

of plants

and flowers.

Some are all

for pomp

and parade,

others have a great deal

to do

to maintain their own importance,

while the rest might be spared without much loss

to society.

So thought the apple branch

as he stood

before the open window,


which he

could see out

over gardens

and fields,


there were flowers

and plants enough

for him

to think

and reflect upon

--some rich

and beautiful,

some poor

and humble indeed.

“Poor despised herbs,”

said the apple branch;

“there is really a difference

between them

and such

as I am.

How unhappy they must be

if they

can feel

as those

in my position do!

There is a difference indeed,

and so

there ought

to be,

or we

should all be equals.”

And the apple branch looked

with a sort

of pity upon them,


on a certain little flower

that is found

in fields and

in ditches.

No one bound these flowers together

in a nosegay,

they were too common,

--they were

even known

to grow

between the paving stones,

shooting up everywhere

like bad weeds,

--and they bore the very ugly name

of “dog flowers,”

or “dandelions.”

“Poor despised plants,”

said the apple bough,

“it is not your fault

that you are so ugly


that you have such an ugly name,

but it is

with plants


with men

--there must be a difference.”

“A difference!”

cried the sunbeam

as he kissed the blooming apple branch


then kissed the yellow dandelion out

in the fields.

All were brothers,

and the sunbeam kissed them

--the poor flowers

as well

as the rich.

The apple bough had never thought

of the boundless love

of God

which extends

over all the works

of creation,

over everything

which lives

and moves

and has its being

in Him.

He had never thought

of the good

and beautiful

which are so often hidden,


can never remain forgotten

by Him,

not only

among the lower creation,

but also

among men.

The sunbeam,

the ray

of light,

knew better.

“You do not see very far nor very clearly,”

he said

to the apple branch.

“Which is the despised plant you so specially pity?”

“The dandelion,”

he replied.

“No one ever places it

in a nosegay;

it is trodden

under foot,

there are so many

of them;


when they run

to seed they have flowers

like wool,

which fly away

in little pieces

over the roads

and cling

to the dresses

of the people;

they are only weeds


of course

there must be weeds.


I am really very thankful

that I was not made

like one

of these flowers.”

There came presently

across the fields a whole group

of children,

the youngest

of whom was so small

that he had

to be carried

by the others;


when he was seated

on the grass,

among the yellow flowers,

he laughed aloud

with joy,

kicked out his little legs,

rolled about,

plucked the yellow flowers

and kissed them

in childlike innocence.

The elder children broke off the flowers

with long stems,

bent the stalks one round the other

to form links,

and made first a chain

for the neck,

then one

to go

across the shoulders

and hang down

to the waist,


at last a wreath

to wear

about the head;


that they looked quite splendid

in their garlands

of green stems

and golden flowers.

But the eldest

among them gathered carefully the faded flowers,

on the stem


which were grouped together the seeds,

in the form

of a white,

feathery coronal.

These loose,

airy wool-flowers are very beautiful,

and look

like fine,

snowy feathers

or down.

The children held them

to their mouths

and tried

to blow away the whole coronal

with one puff

of the breath.

They had been told

by their grandmothers

that whoever did so

would be sure

to have new clothes

before the end

of the year.

The despised flower was

by this raised

to the position

of a prophet,

or foreteller

of events.

“Do you see,”

said the sunbeam,

“do you see the beauty

of these flowers?

Do you see their powers

of giving pleasure?”


to children,”

said the apple bough.

By and

by an old woman came

into the field and,

with a blunt knife without a handle,


to dig round the roots

of some

of the dandelion plants

and pull them up.

With some she intended

to make tea

for herself,

but the rest she was going

to sell

to the chemist

and obtain money.

“But beauty is

of higher value

than all this,”

said the apple-tree branch;

“only the chosen ones

can be admitted

into the realms

of the beautiful.

There is a difference

between plants,



there is a difference

between men.”

Then the sunbeam spoke

of the boundless love

of God

as seen

in creation


over all

that lives,


of the equal distribution

of His gifts,


in time and

in eternity.

“That is your opinion,”

said the apple bough.

Then some people came

into the room


among them the young countess

--the lady

who had placed the apple bough

in the transparent vase,

so pleasantly

beneath the rays

of sunlight.

She carried

in her hand something

that seemed

like a flower.

The object was hidden

by two

or three great leaves

which covered it

like a shield so

that no draft

or gust

of wind

could injure it,

and it was carried more carefully

than the apple branch had ever been.

Very cautiously the large leaves were removed,


there appeared the feathery seed crown

of the despised yellow dandelion.

This was

what the lady had so carefully plucked

and carried home so safely covered,


that not one

of the delicate feathery arrows


which its mistlike shape was so lightly formed

should flutter away.

She now drew it forth quite uninjured

and wondered

at its beautiful form,

its airy lightness

and singular construction so soon

to be blown away

by the wind.


she exclaimed,

“how wonderfully God has made this little flower.


will paint it

in a picture

with the apple branch.

Every one admires the beauty

of the apple bough,

but this humble flower has been endowed

by Heaven

with another kind

of loveliness,


although they differ

in appearance both are children

of the realms

of beauty.”

Then the sunbeam kissed both the lowly flower

and the blooming apple branch,

upon whose leaves appeared a rosy blush.