Part 5 out of 8
went up to the peasant, and asked, "Will you sell your son? We will
treat him well." "No," replied the man; "he is my heart's delight, and
not to be bought for all the money in the world!" But Thumbling, when
he heard what was said, climbed up by his father's skirt, and set
himself on his shoulder, and whispered in his ear, "Let me go now, and
I will soon come back again." So his father gave him to the two men
for a fine piece of gold; and they asked him where he would sit. "Oh,"
replied he, "put me on the rim of your hat; and then I can walk round
and survey the country. I will not fall off." They did as he wished;
and when he had taken leave of his father, they set out. Just as it
was getting dark he asked to be lifted down; and, after some demur, the
man on whose hat he was, took him off and placed him on the ground. In
an instant Thumbling ran off, and crept into a mousehole, where they
could not see him. "Good evening, masters," said he, "you can go home
without me"; and with a quiet laugh he crept into his hole still
further. The two men poked their sticks into the hole, but all in
vain; for Thumbling only went down further; and when it had grown quite
dark they were obliged to return home full of vexation and with empty
As soon as Thumbling perceived that they were off, he crawled out of
his hiding place, and said, "How dangerous it is to walk in this field
in the dark: one might soon break one's head or legs;" and so saying he
looked around, and by great good luck saw an empty snail shell. "God
be praised," he exclaimed, "here I can sleep securely; and in he went.
Just as he was about to fall asleep he heard two men coming by, one of
whom said to the other, "How shall we manage to get at the parson's
gold and silver?"
"That I can tell you," interrupted Thumbling.
"What was that?" exclaimed the thief, frightened. "I heard some one
speak." They stood still and listened; and then Thumbling said, "Take
me with you, and I will help you."
"Where are you?" asked the thieves.
"Search on the ground, and mark where my voice comes from," replied he.
The thief looked about, and at last found him; and lifted him up in the
"What, will you help us, you little wight?" said they.
"Do you not see I can creep between the iron bars into the chamber of
the parson, and reach out to you whatever you require?"
"Very well; we will see what you can do," said the thief.
When they came to the house, Thumbling crept into the chamber, and
cried out with all his might, "Will you have all that is here?" The
thieves were terrified, and said, "Speak gently, or some one will
But Thumbling feigned not to understand, and exclaimed, louder still,
"Will you have all that is here?"
This awoke the cook, who slept in the room, and sitting up in her bed
she listened. The thieves, however, had run back a little way, quite
frightened; but taking courage again, and thinking the little fellow
wished to tease them, they came and whispered to him to make haste and
hand them out something. At this, Thumbling cried out still more
loudly, "I will give you it all, only put your hands in." The
listening maid heard this clearly, and springing out of bed, hurried
out at the door. The thieves ran off as if they were pursued by the
wild huntsman, but the maid, as she could see nothing, went to strike a
light. When she returned, Thumbling escaped without being seen into
the barn, and the maid, after she had looked round and searched in
every corner, without finding anything, went to bed again, believing
she had been dreaming with her eyes open. Meanwhile Thumbling had
crept in amongst the hay, and found a beautiful place to sleep, where
he intended to rest till daybreak, and then to go home to his parents.
Other things however, was he to experience, for there is much
tribulation and trouble going on in this world.
The maid got up at dawn of day to feed the cow. Her first walk was to
the barn, where she took an armful of hay, and just the bundle where
poor Thumbling lay asleep. He slept so soundly, however, that he was
not conscious, and only awoke when he was in the cow's mouth. "Ah,
goodness!" exclaimed he, "however came I into this mill?" but soon he
saw where he really was. Then he took care not to come between the
teeth, but presently slipped quite down the cow's throat. "There are
no windows in this room," said he to himself, "and no sunshine, and I
brought no light with me." Overhead his quarters seemed still worse,
and more than all, he felt his room growing narrower, as the cow
swallowed more hay. So he began to call out in terror as loudly as he
could, "Bring me no more food. I do not want any more food!" Just then
the maid was milking the cow, and when she heard the voice without
seeing anything, and knew it was the same she had listened to in the
night, she was so frightened that she slipped off her stool and
overturned the milk. In great haste she ran to her master, saying,
"Oh, Mr. Parson, the cow has been speaking."
"You are crazy," he replied; but still he went himself into The stable
to see what was the matter, and scarcely had he stepped in when
Thumbling began to shout out again, "Bring me no more food, bring me no
more food." This terrified the parson himself, and he thought an evil
spirit had entered into his cow, and so ordered her to be killed. As
soon as that was done, and they were dividing the carcass, a fresh
accident befell Thumbling, for a wolf, who was passing at the time,
made a snatch at the cow, and tore away the part where he was stuck
fast. However, he did not lose courage, but as soon as the wolf had
swallowed him, he called out from inside, "Oh, Mr. Wolf, I know of a
capital meal for you." "Where is it to be found?" asked the wolf
"In the house by the meadow; you must creep through the gutter, and
there you will find cakes, and bacon, and sausages, as many as you can
eat," replied Thumbling, describing exactly his father's house.
The wolf did not wait to be told twice, but in the night crept in, and
ate away in the larder, to his heart's content. When he had finished,
he tried to escape by the way he entered, but the hole was not large
enough. Thereupon Thumbling, who had reckoned on this, began to make a
tremendous noise inside the poor wolf, screaming and shouting as loud
as he could. "Will you be quiet?" said the wolf; "you will awake the
people." "Eh, what!" cried the little man, "since you have satisfied
yourself, it is my turn now to make merry;" and he set up a louder
howling than before. At last his father and mother awoke, and came to
the room and looked through the chinks of the door; and as soon as they
perceived the ravages the wolf had committed, they ran and brought the
man his ax and the woman the scythe. "Stop you behind," said the man,
as they entered the room; "if my blow does not kill him, you must give
him a cut with your weapon, and chop off his head if you can."
When Thumbling heard his father's voice, he called out, "Father dear, I
am here, in the wolf's body!" "Heaven be praised," said the man, full
of joy, "our dear child is found again;" and he bade his wife take away
the scythe, lest it should do any harm to his son. Then he raised his
ax, and gave the wolf such a blow on its head that it fell dead, and,
taking a knife, he cut it open and released the little fellow, his son.
"Ah," said his father, "what trouble we have had about you." "Yes,
father," replied Thumbling, "I have been traveling a great deal about
the world. Heaven be praised! I breathe fresh air again."
"Where have you been, my son?" he inquired.
"Once I was in a mouse's hole, once inside a cow, and lastly inside
that wolf; and now I will stop here with you," said Thumbling.
"Yes," said the old people, "we will not sell you again for all the
riches of the world;" and they embraced and kissed him with great
affection. Then they gave him plenty to eat and drink, and had new
clothes made for him, for his old ones were worn out with traveling.
THE SIX SWANS
By William and Jacob Grimm
A KING was once hunting in a large wood, and pursued his game so hotly,
that none of his courtiers could follow him. But when evening
approached he stopped, and looking around him perceived that he had
lost himself. He sought a path out of the forest, but could not find
one, and presently he saw an old woman with a nodding head, who came up
to him. "My good woman," said he to her, "can you not show me the way
out of the forest?" "Oh, yes, my lord King," she replied, "I can do
that very well, but upon one condition, which if you do not fulfill you
will never again get out of the wood, but will die of hunger."
"What, then, is this condition?" asked the King.
"I have a daughter," said the old woman, "who is as beautiful as anyone
you can find in the whole world, and well deserves to be your bride.
Now, if you will make her your Queen, I will show you your way out of
the wood." In the anxiety of his heart the King consented, and the old
woman led him to her cottage, where the daughter was sitting by a fire.
She received the King as if she had expected him, and he saw at once
that she was very beautiful, but yet she did not quite please him, for
he could not look at her without a secret shuddering. However, after
all, he took the maiden up on his horse, and the old woman showed him
the way, and the King arrived safely at his palace, where the wedding
was to be celebrated.
The King had been married once before, and had seven children by his
first wife, six boys and a girl, whom he loved above everything else in
the world. He became afraid, soon, that the stepmother might not treat
them very well, and might even do them some great injury, so he took
them away to a lonely castle which stood in the midst of a forest.
This castle was so hidden, and the way to it so difficult to discover,
that he himself could not have found it if a wise woman had not given
him a ball of cotton which had the wonderful property, when he threw it
before him, of unrolling itself and showing him the right path. The
King went, however, so often to see his dear children, that the Queen
noticed his absence, became inquisitive, and wished to know what he
went to fetch out of the forest. So she gave his servants a great
quantity of money, and they disclosed to her the secret, and also told
her of the ball of cotton which alone could show the way. She had now
no peace until she discovered where this ball was concealed, and then
she made some fine silken shirts, and, as she had learned of her
mother, she sewed within each one a charm. One day soon after, when
the King was gone out hunting, she took the little shirts and went into
the forest, and the cotton showed her the path. The children, seeing
some one coming in the distance, thought it was their dear father, and
ran out toward her full of joy. Then she threw over each of them a
shirt, which as it touched their bodies changed them into Swans, which
flew away over the forest. The Queen then went home quite contented,
and thought she was free of her stepchildren; but the little girl had
not met her with the brothers, and the Queen did not know of her.
The following day the King went to visit his children, but he found
only the maiden. "Where are your brothers?" asked he. "Ah, dear
father," she replied, "they are gone away and have left me alone;" and
she told him how she had looked out of the window and seen them changed
into Swans, which had flown over the forest; and then she showed him
the feathers which they had dropped in the courtyard, and which she had
collected together. The King was much grieved, but he did not think
that his wife could have done this wicked deed, and, as he feared the
girl might also be stolen away, he took her with him. She was,
however, so much afraid of the stepmother, that she begged him not to
stop more than one night in the castle.
The poor maiden thought to herself: "This is no longer my place, I will
go and seek my brothers;" and when night came she escaped and went
quite deep into the wood. She walked all night long and great part of
the next day, until she could go no further from weariness. Just then
she saw a rude hut, and walking in she found a room with six little
beds, but she dared not get into one, but crept under, and, laying
herself upon the hard earth, prepared to pass the night there. Just as
the sun was setting, she heard a rustling, and saw six white Swans come
flying in at the window. They settled on the ground and began blowing
one another until they had blown all their feathers off, and their
swan's down stripped off like a shirt. Then the maiden knew them at
once for her brothers, and gladly crept out from under the bed, and the
brothers were not less glad to see their sister, but their joy was of
short duration. "Here you must not stay," said they to her; "this is a
robber's hiding-place; if they should return and find you here, they
will murder you." "Can you not protect me, then?" inquired the sister.
"No," they replied, "for we can only lay aside our swan's feathers for
a quarter of an hour each evening, and for that time we retain our
human form, but afterward we resume our usual appearance."
Their sister then asked them with tears, "Can you not be restored
"Oh, no," replied they, "the conditions are too difficult. For six
long years you must neither speak nor laugh, and during that time you
must sew together for us six little shirts of star flowers, and should
there fall a single word from your lips, then all your labor will be
vain." Just as the brother finished speaking, the quarter of an hour
elapsed, and they all flew out of the window again like Swans.
The little sister, however, made a solemn resolution to rescue her
brothers or die in the attempt; and she left the cottage, and,
penetrating deep into the forest, passed the night amid the branches of
a tree. The next morning she went out and collected the star flowers
to sew together. She had no one to converse with, and as for laughing
she had no spirits, so there up in the tree she sat, intent only upon
her work. After she had passed some time there, it happened that the
King of that country was hunting in the forest, and his huntsmen came
beneath the tree on which the maiden sat. They called to her and
asked, "Who art thou?" But she gave no answer. "Come down to us,"
continued they, "we will do thee no harm." She simply shook her head,
and, when they pressed her further with questions, she threw down to
them her gold necklace, hoping therewith to satisfy them. They did
not, however, leave her, and she threw down her girdle, but in vain;
and even her rich dress did not make them desist. At last the hunter
himself climbed the tree and brought down the maiden and took her
before the King. The King asked her, "Who art thou? What dost thou
upon that tree? But she did not answer, and then he asked her, in all
the languages that he knew, but she remained dumb to all, as a fish.
Since, however, she was so beautiful, the King's heart was touched, and
he conceived for her a strong affection. Then he put around her his
cloak, and, placing her before him on his horse, took her to his
castle. There he ordered rich clothing to be made for her, and,
although her beauty shone as the sun-beams, not a word escaped her.
The King placed her by his side at table, and there her dignified mien
and manners so won upon him, that he said, "This maiden will I to
marry, and no other in the world," and after some days he was united to
Now, the King had a wicked stepmother who was discontented with his
marriage, and spoke evil of the young Queen. "Who knows whence the
wench comes?" said she. "She who cannot speak is not worthy of a
King." A year after, when the Queen brought her first-born son into
the world, the old woman took him away. Then she went to the King and
complained that the Queen was a murderess. The King, however, would
not believe it, and suffered no one to do any injury to his wife, who
sat composedly sewing at her shirts and paying attention to nothing
else. When a second child was born, the false stepmother used the same
deceit, but the King again would not listen to her words, but said,
"She is too pious and good to act so: could she but speak and defend
herself, her innocence would come to light." But when again the third
time the old woman stole away the child, and then accused the Queen,
who answered her not a word to the accusation, the King was obliged to
give her up to be tried, and she was condemned to suffer death by fire.
When the time had elapsed, and the sentence was to be carried out,
during which she had neither spoken nor laughed, it was the very day
when her dear brothers should be made free; the six shirts were also
ready, all but the last, which yet wanted the left sleeve. As she was
led to the scaffold she placed the shirts upon her arm, and just as she
had mounted it, and the fire was about to be kindled, she looked round,
and saw six Swans come flying through the air. Her heart leaped for
joy as she perceived her deliverers approaching, and soon the Swans,
flying toward her, alighted so near that she was enabled to throw over
them the shirts, and as soon as she had so done their feathers fell off
and the brothers stood up alive and well; but the youngest wanted his
left arm, instead of which he had a swan's wing. They embraced and
kissed each other, and the Queen going to the King, who was
thunderstruck, began to say, "Now may I speak, my dear husband, and
prove to you that I am innocent and falsely accused;" and then she told
him how the wicked old woman had stolen away and hidden her three
children. When she had concluded, the King was overcome with joy, and
the wicked stepmother was led to the scaffold and bound to the stake
and burned to ashes.
The King and the Queen forever after lived in peace and prosperity with
their six brothers.
SNOW-WHITE AND ROSE-RED
By William and Jacob Grimm
THERE was once a poor Widow who lived alone in her hut with her two
children, who were called Snow-White and Rose-Red, because they were
like the flowers which bloomed on two rosebushes which grew before the
cottage. But they were two as pious, good, industrious, and amiable
children as any that were in the world, only Snow-White was more quiet
and gentle than Rose-Red. For Rose-Red would run and jump about the
meadows, seeking flowers and catching butterflies, while Snow-White sat
at home helping her Mother to keep house, or reading to her if there
were nothing else to do. The two children loved one another dearly,
and always walked hand in hand when they went out together; and ever
when they talked of it they agreed that they would never separate from
each other, and that whatever one had the other should share. Often
they ran deep into the forest and gathered wild berries; but no beast
ever harmed them. For the hare would eat cauliflowers out of their
hands, the fawn would graze at their side, the goats would frisk about
them in play, and the birds remained perched on the boughs singing as
if nobody were near. No accident ever befell them; and if they stayed
late in the forest, and night came upon them, they used to lie down on
the moss and sleep till morning; and because their Mother knew they
would do so, she felt no concern about them. One time when they had
thus passed the night in the forest, and the dawn of morning awoke
them, they saw a beautiful Child dressed in shining white sitting near
their couch. She got up and looked at them kindly, but without saying
anything went into the forest; and when the children looked round they
saw that where they had slept was close to the edge of a pit, into
which they would have certainly fallen had they walked a couple of
steps further in the dark. Their Mother told them the figure they had
seen was doubtless the good angel who watches over children.
Snow-White and Rose-Red kept their Mother's cottage so clean that it
was a pleasure to enter it. Every morning in the summer time Rose-Red
would first put the house in order, and then gather a nosegay for her
Mother, in which she always placed a bud from each rose tree. Every
winter's morning Snow-White would light the fire and put the kettle on
to boil, and although the kettle was made of copper it yet shone like
gold, because it was scoured so well. In the evenings, when the flakes
of snow were falling, the Mother would say: "Go, Snow-White, and bolt
the door;" and then they used to sit down on the hearth, and the Mother
would put on her spectacles and read out of a great book while her
children sat spinning. By their side, too, laid a little lamb, and on
a perch behind them a little white dove reposed with her head under her
One evening, when they were thus sitting comfortably together, there
came a knock at the door as if somebody wished to come in. "Make
haste, Rose-Red," cried her Mother; "make haste and open the door;
perhaps there is some traveler outside who needs shelter." So Rose-Red
went and drew the bolt and opened the door, expecting to see some poor
man outside, but instead, a great fat Bear poked his black head in.
Rose-Red shrieked out and ran back, the little lamb bleated, the dove
fluttered on her perch, and Snow-White hid herself behind her Mother's
bed. The Bear, however, began to speak, and said: "Be not afraid, I
will do you no harm; but I am half frozen, and wish to come in and warm
"Poor Bear!" cried the Mother; "come in and lie down before the fire;
but take care you do not burn your skin;" and then she continued: "Come
here, Rose-Red and Snow-White, the Bear will not harm you, he means
honorably." So they both came back, and by degrees the lamb too and
the dove overcame their fears and welcomed the rough visitor.
"You children!" said the Bear, before he entered, "come and knock the
snow off my coat." And they fetched their brooms and swept him clean.
Then he stretched himself before the fire and grumbled out his
satisfaction; and in a little while the children became familiar enough
to play tricks with the unwieldy animal. They pulled his long, shaggy
skin, set their feet upon his back and rolled him to and fro, and even
ventured to beat him with a hazel stick, laughing when he grumbled.
The Bear bore all their tricks good temperedly, and if they hit him too
hard he cried out:
"Leave me my life, you children,
Snow-White and Rose-Red,
Or you'll never wed."
When bedtime came and the others were gone, the Mother said to the
Bear: "You may sleep here on the hearth if you like, and then you will
be safely protected from the cold and bad weather."
As soon as day broke the two children let the Bear out again, and he
trotted away over the snow, and ever afterward he came every evening at
a certain hour. He would lie down on the hearth and allow the children
to play with him as much as they liked, till by degrees they became so
accustomed to him that the door was left unbolted till their black
But as soon as spring returned, and everything out of doors was green
again, the Bear one morning told Snow-White that he must leave her, and
could not return during the whole summer. "Where are you going, then,
dear Bear?" asked Snow-White, "I am obliged to go into the forest and
guard my treasures from the evil Dwarfs; for in winter, when the ground
is hard, they are obliged to keep in their holes, and cannot work
through; but now, since the sun has thawed the earth and warmed it, the
Dwarf's pierce through, and steal all they can find; and what has once
passed into their hands, and gets concealed by them in their caves, is
not easily brought to light." Snow-White, however, was very sad at the
departure of the Bear, and opened the door so hesitatingly that when he
pressed through it he left behind on the sneck a piece of his hairy
coat; and through the hole which was made in his coat Snow-White
fancied she saw the glittering of gold; but she was not quite certain
of it. The Bear, however, ran hastily away, and was soon hidden behind
Some time afterward the Mother sent the children into the wood to
gather sticks; and while doing so, they came to a tree which was lying
across the path, on the trunk of which something kept bobbing up and
down from the grass, and they could not imagine what it was. When they
came nearer they saw a Dwarf, with an old wrinkled face and a snow-
white beard a yard long. The end of this beard was fixed in a split of
the tree, and the little man kept jumping about like a dog tied by a
chain, for he did not know how to free himself. He glared at the
Maidens with his red fiery eyes, and exclaimed, "Why do you stand
there? are you going to pass without offering me any assistance?"
"What have you done, little man?" asked Rose-Red. "You stupid, gaping
goose!" exclaimed he. "I wanted to have split the tree, in order to
get a little wood for my kitchen, for the little wood which we use is
soon burned up with great fagots, not like what you rough, greedy
people devour! I had driven the wedge in properly, and everything was
going on well, when the smooth wood flew upward, and the tree closed so
suddenly together that I could not draw my beautiful beard out, and
here it sticks and I cannot get away. There, don't laugh, you milk-
faced things! are you dumfounded?"
The children took all the pains they could to pull the Dwarf's beard
out; but without success. "I will run and fetch some help," cried
Rose-Red at length.
"Crack-brained sheep's head that you are!" snarled the Dwarf; "what are
you going to call other people for? You are two too many now for me;
can you think of nothing else?"
"Don't be impatient," replied Snow-White; "I have thought of
something;" and pulling her scissors out of her pocket she cut off the
end of the beard. As soon as the Dwarf found himself at liberty, he
snatched up his sack, which lay between the roots of the tree, filled
with gold, and throwing it over his shoulder marched off, grumbling and
groaning and crying: "Stupid people! to cut off a piece of my
beautiful beard. Plague take you!" and away he went without once
looking at the children.
Some time afterward Snow-White and Rose-Red went a-fishing, and as they
neared the pond they saw something like a great locust hopping about on
the bank, as if going to jump into the water. They ran up and
recognized the Dwarf. "What are you after?" asked Rose-Red; "you will
fall into the water." "I am not quite such a simpleton as that,"
replied the Dwarf: "but do you not see this fish will pull me in?" The
little man had been sitting there angling, and unfortunately the wind
had entangled his beard with the fishing line; and so, when a great
fish bit at the bait, the strength of the weak little fellow was not
able to draw it out, and the fish had the best of the struggle. The
Dwarf held on by the reeds and rushes which grew near; but to no
purpose, for the fish pulled him where it liked, and he must soon have
been drawn into the pond. Luckily just then the two Maidens arrived,
and tried to release the beard of the Dwarf from the fishing line; but
both were too closely entangled for it to be done. So the Maiden
pulled out her scissors again and cut off another piece of the beard.
When the Dwarf saw this done he was in a great rage, and exclaimed:
"You donkey! that is the way to disfigure my face. Was it not enough
to cut it once, but you must now take away the best part of my fine
beard? I dare not show myself again now to my own people. I wish you
had run the soles off your boots before you had come here!" So saying,
he took up a bag of pearls which lay among the rushes, and without
speaking another word, slipped off and disappeared behind a stone.
Not many days after this adventure, it chanced that the Mother sent the
two Maidens to the next town to buy thread, needles and pins, laces and
ribbons. Their road passed over a common, on which here and there
great pieces of rock were lying about. Just over their heads they saw
a great bird flying round and round, and every now and then, dropping
lower and lower, till at last it flew down behind a rock. Immediately
afterward they heard a piercing shriek, and running up they saw with
affright that the eagle had caught their old acquaintance. the Dwarf,
and was trying to carry him off. The compassionate children thereupon
laid hold of the little man, and held him fast till the bird gave up
the struggle and flew off. As soon then as the Dwarf had recovered
from his fright, he exclaimed in his squeaking voice: "Could you not
hold me more gently? You have seized my fine brown coat in such a
manner that it is all torn and full of holes, meddling and interfering
rubbish that you are!" With these words he shouldered a bag filled
with precious stones, and slipped away to his cave among the rocks.
The maidens were now accustomed to his ingratitude, and so they walked
on to the town and transacted their business there. Coming home, they
returned over the same common, and unawares walked up to a certain
clean spot on which the Dwarf had shaken out his bag of precious
stones, thinking nobody was near. The sun was shining, and the bright
stones glittered in its beams and displayed such a variety of colors
that the two Maidens stopped to admire them.
"What are you standing there gaping for?" asked the Dwarf, while his
face grew as red as copper with rage; he was continuing to abuse the
poor Maidens, when a loud roaring noise was heard, and presently a
great black Bear came rolling out of the forest. The Dwarf jumped up
terrified, but he could not gain his retreat before the Bear overtook
him. Thereupon, he cried out: "Spare me, my dear Lord Bear! I will
give you all my treasures. See these beautiful precious stones which
lie here; only give me my life; for what have you to fear from a little
weak fellow like me? you could not touch me with your big teeth.
There are two wicked girls, take them; they would make nice morsels, as
fat as young quails; eat them for heaven's sake."
The Bear, however, without troubling himself to speak, gave the bad-
hearted Dwarf a single blow with his paw, and he never stirred after.
The Maidens were then going to run away, but the Bear called after
them: "Snow-White and Rose-Red, fear not! wait a bit and I will
accompany you." They recognized his voice and stopped; and when the
Bear came, his rough coat suddenly fell off, and he stood up a tall
man, dressed entirely in gold. "I am a king's son," he said, "and was
condemned by the wicked Dwarf, who stole all my treasures, to wander
about in this forest, in the form of a bear, till his death released
me. Now he has received his well-deserved punishment."
Then they went home, and Snow-White was married to the prince, and
Rose-Red to his brother, with whom they shared the immense treasure
which the Dwarf had collected. The old Mother also lived for many
years happily with her two children, and the rose trees which had stood
before the cottage were planted now before the palace, and produced
every year beautiful red and white roses.
THE UGLY DUCKLING
By Hans Christian Andersen
IT was so glorious out in the country; it was summer; the cornfields
were yellow, the oats were green, the hay had been put up in stacks in
the green meadows, and the stork went about on his long red legs, and
chattered Egyptian, for this was the language he had learned from his
good mother. All around the fields and meadows were great forests, and
in the midst of these forests lay deep lakes. Yes, it was right
glorious out in the country. In the midst of the sunshine there lay an
old farm, with deep canals about it, and from the wall down to the
water grew great burdocks, so high that little children could stand
upright under the loftiest of them. It was just as wild there as in
the deepest wood, and here sat a Duck upon her nest; she had to hatch
her ducklings; but she was almost tired out before the little ones
came; and then she so seldom had visitors. The other ducks liked
better to swim about in the canals than to run up to sit down under a
burdock, and cackle with her.
At last one egg-shell after another burst open. "Piep! piep!" it
cried, and in all the eggs there were little creatures that stuck out
"Quack! quack!" they said; and they all came quacking out as fast as
they could, looking all round them under the green leaves; and the
mother let them look as much as they chose, for green is good for the
"How wide the world is!" said all the young ones, for they certainly
had much more room now than when they were in the eggs.
"D'ye think this is all the world?" said the mother. "That stretches
far across the other side of the garden, quite into the parson's field;
but I have never been there yet. I hope you are all together," and she
stood up. "No, I have not all. The largest egg still lies there. How
long is that to last? I am really tired of it." And she sat down
"Well, how goes it?" asked an old Duck who had come to pay her a visit.
"It lasts a long time with that one egg," said the Duck who sat there.
"It will not burst. Now, only look at the others; are they not the
prettiest little ducks one could possibly see? They are all like their
father: the rogue, he never comes to see me."
"Let me see the egg which will not burst," said the old visitor. "You
may be sure it is a turkey's egg. I was once cheated in that way, and
had much anxiety and trouble with the young ones, for they are afraid
of the water. Must I say it to you, I could not get them to venture
in. I quacked and I clacked, but it was no use. Let me see the egg.
Yes, that's a turkey's egg. Let it lie there, and teach the other
children to swim."
"I think I will sit on it a little longer," said the Duck. "I've sat
so long now that I can sit a few days more."
"Just as you please," said the old Duck; and she went away.
At last the great egg burst. "Piep! piep!" said the little one, and
crept forth, it was very large and very ugly. The Duck looked at it.
"It's a very large duckling," said she; "none of the others look like
that: can it really be a turkey chick? Well, we shall soon find out.
It must go into the water, even if I have to thrust it in myself."
The next day, it was bright, beautiful weather; the sun shone on all
the green trees. The Mother Duck went down to the canal with all her
family. Splash! she jumped into the water. "Quack! quack!" she
said, and one duckling after another plunged in. The water closed over
their heads, but they came up in an instant, and swam capitally; their
legs went of themselves, and they were all in the water. The ugly gray
Duckling swam with them.
"No, it's not a turkey," said she; "look how well it can use its legs,
and how straight it holds itself. It is my own child! On the whole
it's quite pretty, if one looks at it rightly. Quack! quack! come
with me, and I'll lead you out into the great world, and present you in
the duckyard; but keep close to me, so that no one may tread on you,
and take care of the cats!"
And so they came into the duckyard. There was a terrible riot, going
on in there, for two families were quarreling about an eel's head, and
the cat got it after all.
"See, that's how it goes in the world!" said the Mother Duck; and she
whetted her beak, for she too wanted the eel's head. "Only use your
legs," she said. "See that you can bustle about, and bow your heads
before the old Duck yonder. She's the grandest of all here; she's of
Spanish blood-that's why she's so fat; and d'ye see she has a red rag
round her leg; that's something particularly fine, and the greatest
distinction a duck can enjoy; it signifies that one does not want to
lose her, and that she's to be known by the animals and by men too.
Shake yourselves-don't turn in your toes; a well-brought-up duck turns
its toes quite out, just like father and mother-so! Now bend your
necks and say 'Quack!'"
And they did so: but the other ducks round about looked at them, and
said quite boldly:
"Look there! now we're to have these hanging on, as if there were not
enough of us already! And- fie!-how that Duckling yonder looks; we
won't stand that!" And one duck flew up at it, and bit it in the neck.
"Let it alone," said the mother: "it does no harm to anyone."
"Yes, but it's too large and peculiar," said the Duck who had bitten
it; "and therefore it must be put down."
"Those are pretty children that the mother has there," said the old
Duck with the rag round her leg. They're all pretty but that one; that
was rather unlucky. I wish she could bear it over again."
"That cannot be done, my lady," replied the Mother Duck. "It is not
pretty, but it has a really good disposition, and swims as well as any
other; yes, I may even say it, swims better. I think it will grow up
pretty, and become smaller in time; it has lain too long in the egg,
and therefore is not properly shaped." And then she pinched it in the
neck, and smoothed its feathers. Moreover it is a drake," she said,
"and therefore it is not so much consequence. I think he will be very
strong: he makes his way already."
"The other duckling's are graceful enough," said the old Duck. "Make
yourself at home; and if you find an eel's head, you may bring it to
And now they were at home. But the poor Duckling which had crept last
out of the egg, and looked so ugly, was bitten and pushed and jeered,
as much by the ducks as by the chickens.
"It is too big!" they all said. And the turkey cock, who had been born
with spurs, and therefore thought himself an emperor, blew himself up
like a ship in full sail, and bore straight down upon it; then he
gobbled and grew quite red in the face. The poor Duckling did not know
where it should stand or walk; it was quite melancholy because it
looked ugly, and was the butt of the whole duckyard.
So it went on the first day; and afterward it became worse and worse.
The poor Duckling was hunted about by everyone: even its brothers and
sisters were quite angry with it, and said: "If the cat would only
catch you, you ugly creature!" And the mother said: "If you were only
far away!" And the ducks hit it, and the chickens beat it, and the
girl who had to feed the poultry kicked at it with her foot.
Then it ran and flew over the fence, and the little birds in the bushes
flew up in fear.
"That is because I am so ugly!" thought the Duckling; and it shut its
eyes, but flew on further; and so it came out into the great moor,
where the wild ducks lived. Here it lay the whole night long; and it
was weary and downcast.
Toward morning the wild chicks flew up, and looked at their new
"What sort of a one are you?" they asked; and the Duckling turned in
every direction, and bowed as well as it could. You are remarkably
ugly!" said the Wild Ducks. "But that is nothing to us, so long as you
do not marry into our family."
Poor thing! it certainly did not think of marrying, and only hoped to
obtain leave to lie among the reeds and drink some of the swamp water.
Thus it lay two whole days; then came thither two wild geese, or,
properly speaking, two wild ganders. It was not long since each had
crept out of an egg, and that's why they were so saucy.
"Listen, comrade," said one of them. "You're so ugly that I like you.
Will you go with us, and become a bird of passage? Near here, in
another moor, there are a few sweet lovely geese, all unmarried, and
all able to say 'Rap?' You've a chance of' making your fortune, ugly
as you are."
"Piff! paff!" resounded through the air; and the two ganders fell down
dead in the swamp, and the water became blood red. "Piff paff!" it
sounded again, and the whole flock of wild geese rose up from the
reeds. And then there was another report. A great hunt was going on.
The sportsmen were lying in wait all round the moor, and some were even
sitting up in the branches of the trees, which spread far over the
reeds. The blue smoke rose up like clouds among the dark trees, and
was wafted far away across the water; and the hunting dogs came-splash,
splash!-into the swamp, and the rushes and the reeds bent down on every
side. That was a fright for the poor Duckling! It turned its head,
and put it under its wing; but at that moment a frightful great dog
stood close by the Duckling. His tongue hung far out of his mouth, and
his eyes gleamed horrible and ugly; he thrust out his nose close
against the Duckling, showed his Sharp teeth, and-splash, splash!-on he
went, without seizing it.
"O, Heaven be thanked!" sighed the Duckling. "I am so ugly, that even
the dog does not like to bite me!"
And so it lay quite quiet, while the shots rattled through the reeds
and gun after gun was fired. At last, late in the day, all was still;
but the poor Duckling did not dare to rise up; it waited several hours
before it looked round, and then hastened away out of the moor as fast
it could. It ran on over field and meadow; there was such a storm
raging that it was difficult to get from one place to another.
Toward evening the Duck came to a little miserable peasant's hut. This
hut was so dilapidated that it did not itself know on which side it
should fall; and that's why it remained standing. The storm whistled
round the Duckling in such a way that the poor creature was obliged to
sit down, to stand against it; and the wind blew worse and worse. Then
the Duckling noticed that one of the hinges of the door had given way,
and the door hung so slanting that the Duckling could slip through the
crack into the room; and that is what it did.
Here lived a woman, with her Cat and her Hen. And the Cat, whom she
called Sonnie, could arch his back and purr, he could even give out
sparks; but for that one had to stroke his fur the wrong way. The Hen
had quite little short legs, and therefore she was called Chickabiddy
Shortshanks; she laid good eggs, and the woman loved her as her own
In the morning the strange Duckling was at once noticed, and the Cat
began to purr and the Hen to cluck.
"What's this?" said the woman, and looked all round; but she could not
see well, and therefore she thought the Duckling was a fat duck that
had strayed. "This is a rare prize!" she said, "Now I shall have
ducks' eggs. I hope it is not a drake. We must try that."
And so the Duckling was admitted on trial for three weeks; but no eggs
came. And the Cat was master of the house, and the Hen was the lady,
and always said "We and the world!" for she thought they were half the
world, and by far the better half. The Duckling thought one might have
a different opinion, but the Hen would not allow it.
"Can you lay eggs?" she asked.
"Then will you hold your tongue!"
And the Cat said, "Can you curve your back, and purr, and give out
"Then you will please have no opinion of your own when sensible folks
And the Duckling sat in a corner and was melancholy; then the fresh air
and the sunshine streamed in; and it was seized with such a strange
longing to swim on the water, that it could not help telling the Hen of
"What are you thinking of?" cried the Hen. "You have nothing to do,
that's why you have these fancies. Lay eggs, or purr, and they will
"But it is so charming to swim on the water!" said the Duckling, "so
refreshing to let it close over one's head, and to dive down to the
"Yes, that must be a mighty pleasure, truly," quoth the Hen. "I fancy
you must have gone crazy. Ask the Cat about it-he's the cleverest
animal I know-ask him if he likes to swim on the water, or to dive
down: I won't speak about myself. Ask our mistress, the old woman; no
one in the world is cleverer than she. Do you think she has any desire
to swim, and to let the water close above her head?"
"You don't understand me," said the Duckling.
"We don't understand you? Then pray who is to understand you? You
surely don't pretend to be cleverer than the Cat and the woman-I won't
say anything of myself. Don't be conceited, child, and thank your
Maker for all the kindness you have received. Did you not get into a
warm room, and have you not fallen into company from which you may
learn something? But you are a chatterer, and it is not pleasant to
associate with you. You may believe me, I speak for your good. I tell
you disagreeable things, and by that one may always know one's true
friends! Only take care that you learn to lay eggs, or to purr, and
give out sparks!"
"I think I will go out into the wide world," said the Duckling.
"Yes, do go," replied the Hen.
And so the Duckling went away. It swam on the water, and dived, but it
was slighted by every creature because of its ugliness.
Now came the autumn. The leaves in the forest turned yellow and brown;
the wind caught them so that they danced about, and up in the air it
was very cold. The clouds hung low, heavy with hail and snowflakes,
and on the fence stood the raven, crying, "Croak! croak!" for mere
cold; yes, it was enough to make one feel cold to think of this. The
poor little Duckling certainly had not a good time. One evening-the
sun was just setting in his beauty-there came a whole flock of great,
handsome birds out of the bushes; they were dazzlingly white, with
long, flexible necks; they were swans. They uttered a very peculiar
cry, spread forth their glorious great wings, and flew away from that
cold region to warmer lands, to fair open lakes. They mounted so high,
so high! and the ugly Duckling felt quite strangely as it watched
them. It turned round and round in the water like a wheel, stretched
out its neck toward them, and uttered such a strange, loud cry as
frightened itself. Oh! it could not forget those beautiful, happy
birds; and so soon as it could see them no longer, it dived down to the
very bottom, and when it came up again, it was quite beside itself. It
knew not the name of those birds, and knew not whither they were
flying; but it loved them more than it had ever loved anyone. It was
not at all envious of them. How could it think of wishing to possess
such loveliness as they had? It would have been glad if only the ducks
would have endured its company the poor, ugly creature!
And the winter grew cold, very cold! The Duckling was forced to swim
about in the water, to prevent the surface from freezing entirely; but
every night the hole in which it swam about became smaller and smaller.
It froze so hard that the icy covering crackled again; and the Duckling
was obliged to use its legs continually to prevent the hole from
freezing up. At last it became exhausted, and lay quite still, and
thus froze fast into the ice. Early in the morning a peasant came by,
and when he saw what had happened, he took his wooden shoe, broke the
ice crust to pieces, and carried the Duckling home to his wife. Then
it came to itself again. The children wanted to play with it; but the
Duckling thought they wanted to hurt it, and in its terror fluttered up
into the milk pan, so that the milk spurted down into the room. The
woman clasped her hands, at which the Duckling flew down into the
butter tub, and then into the meal barrel and out again. How it looked
then! The woman screamed, and struck at it with the fire tongs; the
children tumbled over one another in their efforts to catch the
Duckling; and they laughed and they screamed!-well it was that the door
stood open, and the poor creature was able to slip out between the
shrubs into the newly fallen snow-there it lay quite exhausted.
But it would be too melancholy if I were to tell all the misery and
care which the Duckling had to endure in the hard winter. It lay out
on the moor among the reeds, when the sun began to shine again and the
larks to sing: it was a beautiful spring.
Then all at once the Duckling could flap its wings: they beat the air
more strongly than before, and bore it strongly away; and before it
well knew how all this happened, it found itself in a great garden,
where the elder trees smelled sweet, and bent their long green branches
down to the canal that wound through the region. Oh, here it was so
beautiful, such a gladness of spring! and from the thicket came three
glorious white swans; they rustled their wings, and swam lightly on the
water. The Duckling knew the splendid creatures, and felt oppressed by
a peculiar sadness.
"I will fly away to them, to the royal birds! and they will beat me,
because I, that am so ugly, dare to come near them. But it is all the
same. Better to be killed by them than to be pursued by ducks, and
beaten by fowls, and pushed about by the girl who takes care of the
poultry yard, and to suffer hunger in winter!" And it flew out into
the water, and swam toward the beautiful swans: these looked at it, and
came sailing down upon it with outspread wings. "Kill me!" said the
poor creature, and bent its head down upon the water, expecting nothing
but death. But what was this that it saw in the clear water? It
beheld its own image; and, lo! it was no longer a clumsy, dark-gray
bird, ugly and hateful to look at, but a-swan!
It matters nothing if one is born in a duck yard, if one has only lain
in a swan's egg.
It felt quite glad at all the need and misfortune it had suffered, now
it realized its happiness in all the splendor that surrounded it. And
the great swans swam round it, and stroked it with their beaks.
Into the garden came little children, who threw bread and corn into the
water; and the youngest cried, "There is a new one!" and the other
children shouted joyously, "Yes, a new one has arrived!" And they
clapped their hands and danced about, and ran to their father and
mother; and bread and cake were thrown into the water; and they all
said, "The new one is the most beautiful of all so young and handsome!"
and the old swans bowed their heads before him.
Then he felt quite ashamed, and hid his head under his wings, for he
did not know what to do; he was so happy, and yet not at all proud. He
thought how he had been persecuted and despised; and now he heard them
saying that he was the most beautiful of all birds. Even the elder
tree bent its branches straight down into the water before him, and the
sun shone warm and mild. Then his wings rustled, he lifted his slender
neck, and cried rejoicingly from the depths of his heart:
"I never dreamed of so much happiness when I was the Ugly Duckling!"
By Hans Christian Andersen
THERE came a soldier marching along the high road-one, two! one, two!
He had his knapsack on his back and a saber by his side, for he had
been in the wars, and now he wanted to go home. And on the way he met
with an old Witch: she was very hideous and her under lip hung down
upon her breast. She said: "Good evening, Soldier. What a fine sword
you have, and what a big knapsack! You're a proper soldier! Now you
shall have as much money as you like to have."
"I thank you, you old Witch" said the Soldier.
"Do you see that great tree?" quoth the Witch; and she pointed to a
tree which stood beside them.
"It's quite hollow inside. You must climb to the top, and then you'll
see a hole, through which you can let yourself down and get deep into
the tree. I'll tie a rope round your body, so that I can pull you up
again when you call me."
"What am I to do down in the tree?" asked the Soldier.
"Get money," replied the Witch. "Listen to me. When you come down to
the earth under the tree, you will find yourself in a great hall: it is
quite light, for above three hundred lamps are burning there. Then you
will see three doors; these you can open, for the keys are hanging
there. If you go into the first chamber, you'll see a great chest in
the middle of the floor; on this chest sits a dog, and he's got a pair
of eyes as big as two teacups. But you need not care for that. I'll
give you my blue-checked apron, and you can spread it out upon the
floor; then go up quickly and take the dog, and set him on my apron;
then open the chest, and take as many shillings as you like. They are
of copper; if you prefer silver, you must go into the second chamber.
But there sits a dog with a pair of eyes as big as mill wheels. But do
not you care for that. Set him upon my apron, and take some of the
money. And if you want gold, you can have that too-in fact, as much as
you can carry-if you go into the third chamber. But the dog that sits
on the money chest there has two eyes as big as round towers. He is a
fierce dog, you may be sure; but you needn't be afraid, for all that.
Only set him on my apron, and he won't hurt you; and take out of the
chest as much gold as you like."
"That's not so bad," said the Soldier. "But what am I to give you, you
old Witch? for you will not do it for nothing, I fancy."
"No," replied the Witch, "not a single shilling will I have. You shall
only bring me an old Tinder-box which my grandmother forgot when she
was down there last."
"Then tie the rope round my body," cried the Soldier.
"Here it is," said the Witch, "and here's my blue-checked apron."
Then the Soldier climbed up into the tree, let himself slip down into
the hole, and stood, as the Witch had said, in the great hall where the
three hundred lamps were burning.
Now he opened the first door. Ugh! there sat the dog with eyes as big
as teacups, staring at him.
"You're a nice fellow!" exclaimed the Soldier; and he set him on the
Witch's apron, and took as many shillings as his pockets would hold,
and then locked the chest, set the dog on it again, and went into the
second chamber, Aha! there sat the dog with eyes as big as mill
"You should not stare so hard at me," said the Soldier; "you might
strain your eyes." And he set the dog upon the Witch's apron. And when
he saw the silver money in the chest, he threw away all the copper
money he had and filled his pockets and his knapsack with silver only.
Then he went into the third chamber. Oh, but that was horrid! The dog
there really had eyes as big as towers, and they turned round and round
in his head like wheels.
"Good evening!" said the Soldier; and he touched his cap, for he had
never seen such a dog as that before. When he had looked at him a
little more closely, he thought: "That will do," and lifted him down to
the floor, and opened the chest. Mercy! What a quantity of gold was
there! He could buy with it the whole town, and the sugar sucking pigs
of the cake woman, and all the tin soldiers, whips, and rocking-horses
in the whole world. Yes, that was a quantity of money! Now the
Soldier threw away all the silver coin with which he had filled his
pockets and his knapsack, and took gold instead; yes, all his pockets,
his knapsack, his boots, and his cap were filled, so that he could
scarcely walk. Now indeed he had plenty of money. He put the dog on
the chest shut the door, and then called up through the tree: "Now pull
me up, you old Witch!"
"Have you the Tinder-box?" asked the Witch.
"Plague on it!" exclaimed the Soldier, "I had clean forgotten that."
And he went and brought it.
The Witch drew him up, and he stood on the high road again, with
pockets, boots, knapsack, and cap full of gold.
"What are you going to do with the Tinder-box?" asked the Soldier.
"That's nothing to you," retorted the Witch. "You've had your money;
just give me the Tinder-box."
"Nonsense!" said the Soldier. "Tell me directly what you're going to
do with it or I'll draw my sword and cut off your head."
"No!" cried the Witch.
So the Soldier cut off her head. There she lay! But he tied up all
his money in her apron, took it on his back like a bundle, put the
Tinder-box in his pocket, and went straight off toward the town.
That was a splendid town! And he put up at the very best inn, and
asked for the finest rooms, and ordered his favorite dishes, for now he
was rich, as he had so much money. The servant who had to clean his
boots certainly thought them a remarkably old pair for such a rich
gentleman; but he had not bought any new ones yet. The next day he
procured proper boots and handsome clothes. Now our Soldier had become
a fine gentleman; and the people told him of all the splendid things
which were in their city, and about the King, and what a pretty
Princess the King's daughter was.
"Where can one get to see her?" asked the Soldier.
"She is not to be seen at all," said they all together; "she lives in a
great copper castle, with a great many walls and towers round about it:
no one but the King may go in and out there, for it has been prophesied
that she shall marry a common soldier, and the King can't bear that."
"I should like to see her," thought the Soldier; but he could not get
leave to do so. Now he lived merrily, went to the theater, drove in
the King's garden, and gave much money to the poor; and this was very
kind of him, for he knew from old times how hard it is when one has not
Now he was rich, had new clothes, and gained many friends, who all said
he was a rare one, a true cavalier; and that pleased the Soldier well.
But as he spent money every day and never carried any, he had at last
only two shillings left; and he was obliged to turn out of the fine
rooms in which he had dwelt, and had to live in a little garret under
the roof, and clean his boots for himself, and mend them with a
darning-needle. None of his friends came to see him, for there were
too many stairs to climb.
It was quite dark one evening, and he could not even buy himself a
candle, when it occurred to him that there was a candle end in the
Tinder-box which he had taken out of the hollow tree into which the
Witch had helped him. He brought out the Tinder-box and the candle
end; but as soon as he struck fire and the sparks rose up from the
flint, the door flew open, and the dog who had eyes as big as a couple
of teacups, and whom he had seen in the tree, stood before him, and
"What are my lord's commands?"
"What is this?" said the Soldier. "That's a famous Tinder-box, if I
can get everything with it that I want! Bring me some money," said he
to the dog; and whisk! the dog was gone, and whisk! he was back
again, with a great bag full of shillings in his mouth.
Now the Soldier knew what a capital Tinder-box this was. If he struck
it once, the dog came who sat upon the chest of copper money; if he
struck it twice, the dog came who had the silver; and if he struck it
three times, then appeared the dog who had the gold. Now the Soldier
moved back into the fine rooms, and appeared again in handsome clothes;
and all his friends knew him again, and cared very much for him indeed.
Once he thought to himself: "It is a very strange thing that one cannot
get to see the Princess. They all say she is very beautiful; but what
is the use of that, if she has always to sit in the great copper castle
with the many towers? Can I not get to see her at all? Where is my
Tinder-box?" And so he struck a light, and whisk! came the dog with
eyes as big as teacups.
"It is midnight, certainly," said the Soldier, "but I should very much
like to see the Princess, only for one little moment."
And the dog was outside the door directly, and, before the Soldier
thought it, came back with the Princess. She sat upon the dogs back
and slept; and everyone could see she was a real Princess, for she was
so lovely. The Soldier could not refrain from kissing her, for he was
a thorough soldier. Then the dog ran back again with the Princess.
But when morning came, and the King and Queen were drinking tea, the
Princess said she had had a strange dream the night before about a dog
and a soldier-that she had ridden upon the dog, and the soldier had
"That would be a fine history!" said the Queen.
So one of the old court ladies had to watch the next night by the
Princess's bed, to see if this was really a dream, or what it might be.
The Soldier had a great longing to see the lovely Princess again; so
the dog came in the night, took her away, and ran as fast as he could.
But the old lady put on water boots, and ran just as fast after him.
When she saw that they both entered a great house, she thought: "Now I
know where it is; and with a bit of chalk she drew a great cross on the
door. Then she went home and lay down, and the dog came up with the
Princess; but when he saw that there was a cross drawn on the door
where the Soldier lived, he took a piece of chalk too, and drew crosses
on all the doors in the town. And that was cleverly done, for now the
lady could not find the right door, because all the doors had crosses
In the morning early came the King and Queen, the old court lady and
all the officers, to see where it was the Princess had been. "Here it
is!" said the King, when he saw the first door with a cross upon it.
"No, my dear husband, it is there!" said the Queen, who descried
another door which also showed a cross. "But there is one, and there
is one!" said all, for wherever they looked there were crosses on the
doors. So they saw that it would avail them nothing if they searched
But the Queen was an exceedingly clever woman, who could do more than
ride in a coach. She took her great gold scissors, cut a piece of silk
into pieces, and made a neat little bag; this bag she filled with fine
wheat flour, and tied it on the Princess's back, and when that was
done, she cut a little hole in the bag, so that the flour would be
scattered along all the way which the Princess should take.
In the night the dog came again, took the Princess on his back, and ran
with her to the Soldier, who loved her very much, and would gladly have
been a prince, so that he might have her for his wife. The dog did not
notice at all how the flour ran out in a stream from the castle to the
windows of the Soldier's house, where he ran up the wall with the
Princess. In the morning the King and Queen saw well enough where
their daughter had been, and they took the Soldier and put him in
There he sat. Oh, but it was dark and disagreeable there! And they
said to him: "To-morrow you shall be hanged." That was not amusing to
hear, and he had left his Tinder-box at the inn. In the morning he
could see, through the iron grating of the little window, how the
people were hurrying out of the town to see him hanged. He heard the
drums beat and saw the soldiers marching. All the people were running
out, and among them was the shoemaker's boy with leather apron and
slippers, and he galloped so fast that one of his slippers flew off,
and came right against the wall where the Soldier sat looking through
the iron grating.
"Halloo, you shoemaker's boy! you needn't be in such a hurry," cried
the Soldier to him: "it will not begin till I come. But if you will
run to where I lived and bring me my Tinder-box, you shall have four
shillings: but you must put your best leg foremost."
The shoemaker's boy wanted to get the four shillings, so he went and
brought the Tinder-box, and-well, we shall hear now what happened.
Outside the town a great gallows had been built, and round it stood the
soldiers and many hundred thousand people. The King and Queen sat on a
splendid throne, opposite to the judges and the whole council. The
soldiers already stood upon the ladder; but as they were about to put
the rope round his neck, he said that before a poor criminal suffered
his punishment an innocent request was always granted to him. He
wanted very much to smoke a pipe of tobacco, and it would be the last
pipe he should smoke in the world. The King would not say "No" to
this; so the Soldier took his Tinder-box and struck fire. One-two-
three! - and there suddenly stood all the dogs-the one with eyes as big
as teacups, the one with eyes as large as mill wheels, and the one
whose eyes were as big as round towers.
"Help me now, so that I may not be hanged," said the Soldier.
And the dogs fell upon the judges and all the council, seized one by
the leg and another by the nose, and tossed them many feet into the
air, so that they fell down and were all broken to pieces.
"I won't!" cried the King; but the biggest dog took him and the Queen,
and threw them after the others. Then the soldiers were afraid, and
the people cried: "Little Soldier, you shall be our king, and marry the
So they put the Soldier into the King's coach, and all the three dogs
darted on in front and cried "Hurrah!" and the boys whistled through
their fingers, and the soldiers presented arms. The Princess came out
of the copper castle, and became Queen, and she liked that well enough.
The wedding lasted a week, and the three dogs sat at the table too, and
opened their eyes wider than ever at all they saw.
THE CONSTANT TIN SOLDIER
By Hans Christian Andersen
THERE were once five-and-twenty tin soldiers; they were all brothers,
for they had all been born of one old tin spoon. They shouldered their
muskets, and looked straight before them; their uniform was red and
blue, and very splendid. The first thing they had heard in the world,
when the lid was taken off the box, had been the words "Tin soldiers!"
These words were tittered by a little boy, clapping his hands; the
soldiers had been given to him, for it was his birthday; and now he put
them upon the table. Each soldier was exactly like the rest; but one
of them had been cast last of all, and there had not been enough tin to
finish him; but he stood as firmly upon his one leg as the others on
their two; and it was just this soldier who became remarkable.
On the table on which they had been placed stood many other playthings,
but the toy that attracted most attention was a neat castle of
cardboard. Through the little windows one could see straight into the
hall. Before the castle some little trees were placed round a little
looking-glass, which was to represent a clear lake. Waxen swans swam
on this lake, and were mirrored in it. This was all very pretty; but
the prettiest of all was a little Lady, who stood at the open door of
the castle; she was also cut out in paper, but she had a dress of the
clearest gauze, and a little narrow blue ribbon over her shoulders that
looked like a scarf; and in the middle of this ribbon was a shining
tinsel rose, as big as her whole face. The little Lady stretched out
both her arms, for she was a dancer, and then she lifted one leg so
high that the Tin Soldier could not see it at all, and thought that,
like himself, she had but one leg.
"That would be the wife for me," thought he; "but she is very grand.
She lives in a castle, and I have only a box, and there are five-and-
twenty of us in that. It is no place for her. But I must try to make
acquaintance with her."
And then he lay down at full length behind a snuffbox which was on the
table; there he could easily watch the little dainty lady, who
continued to stand on one leg without losing her balance.
When the evening came, all the other tin soldiers were put into their
box, and the people in the house went to bed. Now the toys began to
play at "visiting," and at "war," and "giving balls." The tin soldiers
rattled in their box, for they wanted to join, but could not lift the
lid. The Nutcracker threw somersaults, and the Pencil amused itself on
the table; there was so much noise that the Canary woke up, and began
to speak too, and even in verse. The only two who did not stir from
their places were the Tin Soldier and the Dancing Lady; she stood
straight up on the point of one of her toes, and stretched out both her
arms: and he was just as enduring on his one leg; and he never turned
his eyes away from her.
Now the clock struck twelve-and, bounce! -the lid flew off the
snuffbox; but there was not snuff in it, but a little black goblin; you
see, it was a trick.
"Tin Soldier," said the Goblin, "don't stare at things that don't
But the Tin Soldier pretended not to hear him. "Just you wait till to-
morrow!" said the Goblin. But when the morning came, and the children
got up, the Tin Soldier was placed in the window; and whether it was
the Goblin or the draft that did it, all at once the window flew open,
and the Soldier fell, head over heels, out of the third story. That
was a terrible passage! He put his leg straight up, and struck with
his helmet downward, and his bayonet between the paving stones.
The servant maid and the little boy came down directly to look for him,
but though they almost trod upon him they could not see him. If the
Soldier had cried out, "Here I am!" they would have found him; but he
did not think it fitting to call out loudly, because he was in uniform.
Now it began to rain; the drops soon fell thicker, and at last it came
down in a complete stream. When the rain was past, two street boys
"Just look!" said one of them, "there lies a tin soldier. He must come
out and ride in the boat."
And they made a boat out of a newspaper, and put the Tin Soldier in the
middle of it; and so he sailed down the gutter, and the two boys ran
beside him and clapped their hands. Goodness preserve us! how the
waves rose in that gutter, and how fast the stream ran! But then it
had been a heavy rain. The paper boat rocked up and down, and
sometimes turned round so rapidly that the Tin Soldier trembled; but he
remained firm and never changed countenance, and looked straight before
him, and shouldered his musket.
All at once the boat went into a long drain, and it became as dark as
if he had been in his box.
"Where am I going now?" he thought. "Yes, yes, that's the Goblin's
fault. Ah! if the little Lady only sat here with me in the boat, it
might be twice as dark for what I should care."
Suddenly there came a great water rat, which lived under the drain.
"Have you a passport?" said the Rat. "Give me your passport."
But the Tin Soldier kept silence, and only held his musket tighter than
The boat went on, but the Rat came after it. Hu! how he gnashed his
teeth, and called out to the bits of straw and wood:
"Hold him! hold him! he hasn't paid toll-he hasn't showed his
But the stream became stronger and stronger. The Tin Soldier could see
the bright daylight where the arch ended; but he heard a roaring noise,
which might well frighten a bolder man. Only think-just where the
tunnel ended the drain ran into a great canal; and for him that would
have been as dangerous as for us to be carried down a great waterfall.
Now he was already so near it that he could not stop. The boat was
carried out, the poor Tin Soldier stiffening himself as much as he
could, and no one could say that he moved an eyelid. The boat whirled
round three or four times, and was full of water to the very edge- it
must sink. The Tin Soldier stood up to his neck in water, and the boat
sank deeper and deeper, and the paper was loosened more and more, and
now the water closed over the Soldier's head. Then he thought of the
pretty little dancer, and how he should never see her again; and it
sounded in the Soldier's ears:
'Farewell, farewell, thou warrior brave,
Die shalt thou this day."
And now the paper parted, and the Tin Soldier fell out; but at that
moment he was snapped up by a great fish.
Oh, how dark it was in that fish's body! It was darker yet than in the
drain tunnel; and then it was very narrow, too. But the Tin Soldier
remained unmoved, and lay at full length, shouldering his musket.
The fish swam to and fro; he made the most wonderful movements, and
then became quite still. At last something flashed through him like
lightning. The daylight shone quite clear, and a voice said aloud,
"The Tin Soldier!" The fish had been caught, carried to market, bought,
and taken into the kitchen, where the cook cut him open with a large
knife. She seized the Soldier round the body with both her hands, and
carried him into the room, where all were anxious to see the remarkable
man who had traveled about in the inside of a fish; but the Tin Soldier
was not at all proud. They placed him on the table, and there-no!
What curious things may happen in the world! The Tin Soldier was in
the very room in which he had been before! he saw the same children,
and the same toys stood upon the table; and there was the pretty castle
with the graceful little Dancer. She was still balancing herself on
one leg and held the other extended in the air. She was faithful, too.
That moved the Tin Soldier: he was very near weeping tin tears, but
that would not have been proper. He looked at her, but they said
nothing to each other.
Then one of the little boys took the Tin Soldier and flung him into the
stove. He gave no reason for doing this. It must have been the fault
of the Goblin in the snuffbox.
The Tin Soldier stood there quite illuminated, and felt a heat that was
terrible; but whether this heat proceeded from the real fire or from
love he did not know. The colors had quite gone off from him; 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 that he was melting; but he stood firm, shouldering his musket.
Then suddenly the door flew open, and the draft of air caught the
Dancer, and she flew like a sylph just into the stove to the Tin
Soldier, and flashed up in a flame, and then was gone! Then the Tin
Soldier melted down into a lump, and when the servant maid took the
ashes out next day, she found him in the shape of a little tin heart.
But of the Dancer nothing remained but the tinsel rose, and that was
burned as black as coal.
THE FIR TREE
By Hans Christian Andersen
OUT in the woods stood a nice little Fir tree. The place he had was a
very good one; the sun shone on him; as to fresh air, there was enough
of that, and round him grew many large-sized comrades, pines as well as
firs. But the little Fir wanted so very much to be a grown-up tree.
He did not think of the warm sun and of the fresh air; he did not care
for the little cottage children that ran about and prattled when they
were in the wood looking for wild strawberries. The children often
came with a whole pitcher full of berries, or a long row of them
threaded on a straw, and sat down near the young Tree and said, "Oh,
how pretty he is! what a nice little fir!" But this was what the Tree
could not bear to hear.
At the end of a year he had shot up a good deal, and after another year
he was another long bit taller; for with fir trees one can always tell
by the shoots how many years old they are.
"Oh, were I but such a high tree as the others are," sighed he. "Then
I should be able to spread out my branches, and with the tops to look
into the wide world! Then would the birds build nests among my
branches; and when there was a breeze, I could bend with as much
stateliness as the others!"
Neither the sunbeams, nor the birds, nor the red clouds which morning
and evening sailed above him, gave the little Tree any pleasure.
In winter, when the snow lay glittering on the ground, a hare would
often come leaping along, and jump right over the little Tree. Oh,
that made him so angry! But two winters were past, and in the third
the Tree was so large that the hare was obliged to go round it. "To
grow and grow, to get older and be tall," thought the Tree-"that, after
all, is the most delightful thing in the world!"
In autumn the woodcutters always came and felled some of the largest
trees. This happened every year; and the young Fir tree, that had now
grown to a very comely size, trembled at the sight; for the magnificent
great trees fell to the earth with noise and cracking, the branches
were lopped off, and the trees looked long and bare: they were hardly
to be recognized; and then they were laid in carts, and the horses
dragged them out of the wood.
Where did they go to? What became of them? In spring, when the
Swallows and the Storks came, the Tree asked them: "Don't you know
where they have been taken? Have you not met them anywhere?"
The Swallows did not know anything about it; but the Stork looked
musing, nodded his head, and said: "Yes; I think I know; I met many
ships as I was flying hither from Egypt; on the ships were magnificent
masts, and I venture to assert that it was they that smelled so of fir.
I may congratulate you, for they lifted themselves on high most
"Oh, were I but old enough to fly across the sea! But how does the sea
look in reality? What is it like?"
"That would take a long time to explain," said the Stork, and with
these words off he went.
"Rejoice in thy growth!" said the Sunbeams, "rejoice in thy vigorous
growth, and in the fresh life that groweth within thee!"
And the Wind kissed the Tree, and the Dew wept tears over him; but the
Fir understood it not.
When Christmas came, quite young trees were cut down; trees which often
were not even as large or of the same age as this Fir tree, who could
never rest, but always wanted to be off. These young trees, and they
were always the finest looking, retained their branches; they were laid
on carts, and the horses drew them out of the wood.
"Where are they going to?" asked the Fir.
"They are not taller than I; there was one indeed that was considerably
shorter; -and why do they retain all their branches? Whither are they
"We know! we know!" chirped the Sparrows. "'We have peeped in at the
windows in the town below! We know whither they are taken! The
greatest splendor and the greatest magnificence one can imagine await
them. We peeped through the windows, and saw them planted in the
middle of the warm room, and ornamented with the most splendid things-
with gilded apples, with gingerbread, with toys, and many hundred
"And then?" asked the Fir tree, trembling in every bough. "And then?
What happens then?"
"We did not see anything more: it was incomparably beautiful."
"I would fain know if I am destined for so glorious a career," cried
the Tree, rejoicing. "That is still better than to cross the sea!
What a longing do I suffer! Were Christmas but come! I am now tall,
and my branches spread like the others that were carried off last year!
Oh, were I but already on the cart! Were I in the warm room with all
the splendor and magnificence! Yes; then something better, something
still grander, will surely follow, or wherefore should they thus
ornament me? Something better, something still grander, must follow-
but what? Oh, how I long, how I suffer! I do not know myself what is
the matter with me!"
"Rejoice in our presence!" said the Air and the Sunlight; "rejoice in
thy own fresh youth!"
But the Tree did not rejoice at all; he grew and grew, and was green
both winter and summer. People that saw him said, "What a fine tree!"
and toward Christmas he was one of the first that was cut down. The ax
struck deep into the very pith; the tree fell to the earth with a sigh:
he felt a pang -it was like a swoon; he could not think of happiness,
for he was sorrowful at being separated from his home, from the place
where he had sprung up. He well knew that he should never see his dear
old comrades, the little bushes and flowers around him, any more;
perhaps not even the birds! The departure was not at all agreeable.
The Tree only came to himself when he was unloaded in a courtyard with
the other trees, and heard a man say, "That one is splendid! we don't
want the others." Then two servants came in rich livery and carried
the Fir tree into a large and splendid drawing-room. Portraits were
hanging on the walls, and near the white porcelain stove stood two
large Chinese vases with lions on the covers. There, too, were large
easy-chairs, silken sofas, large tables full of picture books, and full
of toys worth hundreds and hundreds of crowns-at least the children
said so. And the Fir tree was stuck upright in a cask that was filled
with sand: but no one could see that it was a cask, for green cloth was
hung all round it, and it stood on a large gayly colored carpet. Oh,
how the Tree quivered! What was to happen? The servants, as well as
the young ladies, decorated it. On one branch there hung little nets
cut out of colored paper, and each net was filled with sugarplums; and
among the other boughs gilded apples and walnuts were suspended,
looking as though they had grown there, and little blue and white
tapers were placed among the leaves. Dolls that looked for all the
world like men -the Tree had never beheld such before-were seen among
the foliage, and at the very top a large star of gold tinsel was fixed.
It was really splendid -beyond description splendid.
"This evening!" said they all; "how it will shine this evening!"
"Oh," thought the Tree, "if the evening were but come! If the tapers
were but lighted! And then I wonder what will happen! Perhaps the
other trees from the forest will come to look at me! Perhaps the
sparrows will beat against the windowpanes! I wonder if I shall take
root here, and winter and summer stand covered with ornaments!"
He knew very much about the matter! but he was so impatient that for
sheer longing he got a pain in his back, and this with trees is the
same thing as a headache with us.
The candles were now lighted. What brightness! What splendor! The
Tree trembled so in every bough that one of the tapers set fire to the
foliage. It blazed up splendidly.
"Help! help!" cried the young ladies, and they quickly put out the
Now the Tree did not even dare tremble. What a state he was in! He
was so uneasy lest he should lose something of his splendor, that he
was quite bewildered amid the glare and brightness; when suddenly both
folding doors opened, and a troop of children rushed in as if they
would upset the Tree. The older persons followed quietly; the little
ones stood quite still. But it was only for a moment; then they
shouted so that the whole place reechoed with their rejoicing; they
danced round the Tree, and one present after the other was pulled off.
"What are they about?" thought the Tree. "What is to happen now!" And
the lights burned down to the very branches, and as they burned down
they were put out one after the other, and then the children had
permission to plunder the Tree. So they fell upon it with such
violence that all its branches cracked; if it had not been fixed firmly
in the cask, it would certainly have tumbled down.
The children danced about with their beautiful playthings; no one
looked at the Tree except the old nurse, who peeped between the
branches; but it was only to see if there was a fig or an apple left
that had been forgotten.
"A story! a story!" cried the children, drawing a little fat man
toward the Tree. He seated himself under it, and said: "Now we are in
the shade, and the Tree can listen too. But I shall tell only one
story. Now which will you have; that about IvedyAvedy, or about
Klumpy-Dumpy who tumbled downstairs, and yet after all came to the
throne and married the princess?"
"Ivedy-Avedy," cried some; "Klumpy-Dumpy," cried the others. There was
such a bawling and screaming! -the Fir tree alone was silent, and he
thought to himself, "Am I not to bawl with the rest?-am I to do nothing
whatever?" for he was one of the company, and had done what he had to
And the man told about Klumpy-Dumpy that tumbled down, who
notwithstanding came to the throne, and at last married the princess.
And the children clapped their hands, arid cried out, "Oh, go on! Do
go on!" they waited to hear about Ivedy-Avedy too, but the little man
only told them about Klumpy-Dumpy. The Fir tree stood quite still and
absorbed in thought: the birds in the wood had never related the like
of this. "Klumpy-Dumpy fell downstairs, and yet he married the
princess! Yes, yes! that's the way of the world!" thought the Fir
tree, and believed it all, because the man who told the story was so
good-looking. "Well, well! who knows, perhaps I may fall downstairs
too, and get a princess as wife!" And he looked forward with joy to
the morrow, when he hoped to be decked out again with lights, play-
things, fruits, and tinsel.
"I won't tremble to-morrow!" thought the Fir tree. "I will enjoy to
the full all my splendor! To-morrow I shall hear again the story of
Klumpy-Dumpy, and perhaps that of Ivedy-Avedy too." And the whole night
the Tree stood still and in deep thought.
In the morning the servant and the housemaid came in.
"Now then the splendor will begin again," thought the Fir. But they
dragged him out of the room, and up the stairs into the loft; and here,
in a dark corner, where no daylight could enter, they left him.
"What's the meaning of this?" thought the Tree. "What am I to do here?
What shall I hear now, I wonder?" And he leaned against the wall lost
in reverie. Time enough had he too for his reflections; for days and
nights passed on, and nobody came up; and when at last somebody did
come, it was only to put some great trunks in a corner out of the way.
There stood the Tree quite hidden; it seemed as if he had been entirely
"'Tis now winter out-of-doors!" thought the Tree. "The earth is hard
and covered with snow; men cannot plant me now, and therefore I have
been put up here under shelter till the springtime comes! How
thoughtful that is! How kind man is, after all! If it only were not
so dark here, and so terribly lonely! Not even a hare. And out in the
woods it was so pleasant, when the snow was on the ground, and the hare
leaped by; yes-even when he jumped over me; but I did not like it then.
It is really terribly lonely here!"
"Squeak! squeak!" said a little Mouse at the same moment, peeping out
of his hole. And then another little one came. They snuffed about the
Fir tree, and rustled among the branches.
"It is dreadfully cold," said the Mouse. "But for that, it would be
delightful here, old Fir, wouldn't it?"
"I am by no means old," said the Fir tree. "There's many a one
considerably older than I am."
"Where do you come from," asked the Mice; "and what can you do?" They
were so extremely curious. "Tell us about the most beautiful spot on
the earth. Have you never been there? Were you never in the larder,
where cheeses lie on the shelves, and hams hang from above; where one
dances about on tallow candles; that place where one enters lean, and
comes out again fat and portly?"
"I know no such place," said the Tree. "But I know the wood, where the
sun shines, and where the little birds sing." And then he told all
about his youth; and the little Mice had never heard the like before;
and they listened and said:
"Well, to be sure! How much you have seen! How happy you must have
"I!" said the Fir tree, thinking over what he had himself related.
"Yes, in reality those were happy times." And then he told about
Christmas Eve, when he was decked out with cakes and candles.
"Oh," said the little Mice, "how fortunate you have been, old Fir
"I am by no means old," said he. "I came from the wood this winter; I
am in my prime, and am only rather short for my age."
"What delightful stories you know!" said the Mice; and the next night
they came with four other little Mice, who were to hear what the Tree
recounted; and the more he related, the more plainly he remembered all
himself; and it appeared as if those times had really been happy times.
"But they may still come-they may still come. Humpy-Dumpy fell
downstairs, and yet he got a princess!" and he thought at the moment of
a nice little Birch tree growing out in the woods; to the Fir, that
would be a real charming princess.
"Who is Klumpy-Dumpy?" asked the Mice. So then the Fir tree told the
whole fairy tale, for he could remember every single word of it; and
the little Mice jumped for joy up to the very top of the Tree. Next
night two more Mice came, and on Sunday two Rats, even; but they said
the stories were not interesting, which vexed the little Mice; and
they, too, now began to think them not so very amusing either.
"Do you know only one story?" asked the Rats.
"Only that one," answered the Tree. "I heard it on my happiest
evening; but I did not then know how happy I was."
"It is a very stupid story! Don't you know one about bacon and tallow
candles? Can't you tell any larder stories?"
"No," said the Tree.
"Then good-by," said the Rats and they went home.
At last the little Mice stayed away also; and the Tree sighed: "After
all, it was very pleasant when the sleek little Mice sat round me and
listened to what I told them. Now that too is over. But I will take
good care to enjoy myself when I am brought out again."
But when was that to be? Why, one morning there came a quantity of
people and set to work in the loft. The trunks were moved, the tree
was pulled out and thrown-rather hard, it is true- down on the floor,
but a man drew him toward the stairs, where the daylight shone.
"Now a merry life will begin again," thought the Tree. He felt the
fresh air, the first sunbeam- and now he was out in the courtyard. All
passed so quickly, there was so much going on around him, that the Tree
quite forgot to look to himself. The court adjoined a garden, and all
was in flower; the roses hung so fresh and odorous over the balustrade,
the lindens were in blossom, the Swallows flew by, and said "Quirre-
vit! my husband is come!" but it was not the Fir tree that they meant.
"Now, then, I shall really enjoy life," said he, exultingly, and spread
out his branches; but, alas! they were all withered and yellow. It
was in a corner that he lay, among weeds and nettles. The golden star
of tinsel was still on the top of the Tree, and glittered in the
In the courtyard some of the merry children were playing who had danced
at Christmas round the Fir tree, and were so glad at the sight of him.
One of the youngest ran and tore off the golden star.
"Only look what is still on the ugly old Christmas tree!" said he,
trampling on the branches, so that they all cracked beneath his feet.
And the Tree beheld all the beauty of the flowers, and the freshness in
the garden; he beheld himself, and wished he had remained in his dark
corner in the loft: he thought of his first youth in the wood, of the
Merry Christmas Eve, and of the little Mice who had listened with so
much pleasure to the story of Humpy-Dumpy.
"'Tis over-'tis past!" said the poor Tree. "Had I but rejoiced when I
had reason to do so! But now 'tis past, 'tis past!"
And the gardener's boy chopped the Tree into small pieces; there was a
whole heap lying there. The wood flamed up splendidly under the large
brewing copper, and it sighed so deeply! Each sigh was like a shot.
The boys played about in the court, and the youngest wore the gold star
on his breast which the Tree had had on the happiest evening of his
life. However, that was over now-the Tree gone, the story at an end.
All, all was over; every tale must end at last.
THE FLYING TRUNK
By Hans Christian Andersen
THERE was once a merchant, who was so rich that he could pave the whole
street with gold, and almost have enough left for a little lane. But
he did not do that; he knew how to employ his money differently. When
he spent a shilling he got back a crown, such a clever merchant was he;
and this continued till he died.
His son now got all this money; and he lived merrily, going to the
masquerade every evening, making kites out of dollar notes, and playing
at ducks and drakes on the seacoast with gold pieces instead of
pebbles. In this way the money might soon be spent, and indeed it was
so. At last he had no more than four shillings left, and no clothes to
wear but a pair of slippers and an old dressing gown.
Now his friends did not trouble themselves any more about him as they
could not walk with him in the street, but one of them, who was good-
natured, sent him an old trunk, with the remark: "Pack up!" Yes, that
was all very well, but he had nothing to pack, therefore he seated
himself in the trunk.
That was a wonderful trunk. So soon as any one pressed the lock the
trunk could fly. He pressed it, and whirr! away flew the trunk with
him through the chimney and over the clouds farther and farther away.
But as often as the bottom of the trunk cracked a little he was in
great fear lest it might go to pieces, and then he would have flung a
fine somersault! In that way he came to the land of the Turks. He hid
the trunk in a wood under some dry leaves, and then went into the town.
He could do that very well, for among the Turks all the people went
about dressed like himself in dressing gown and slippers. Then he met
a nurse with a little child.
"Here, you Turkish nurse," he began, "what kind of a great castle is
that close by the town, in which the windows are so high up?"
"There dwells the Sultan's daughter," replied she. "It is prophesied
that she will be very unhappy respecting a lover; and therefore nobody
may go near her, unless the Sultan and Sultana are there too."
"Thank you!" said the Merchant's Son; and he went out into the forest,
seated himself in his trunk, flew on the roof, and crept through the
window into the Princess's room.
She was lying asleep on the sofa, and she was so beautiful that the
Merchant's Son was compelled to kiss her. Then she awoke, and was
startled very much; but he said he was a Turkish angel who had come
down to her through the air, and that pleased her.
They sat down side by side, and he told her stories about her eyes; and
he told her they were the most glorious dark lakes, and that thoughts
were swimming about in them like mermaids. And he told her about her
forehead; that it was a snowy mountain with the most splendid halls and
pictures. And he told her about the stork who brings the lovely little
Yes, those were fine histories! Then he asked the Princess if she
would marry him, and she said, "Yes," directly.
"But you must come here on Saturday," said she. "Then the Sultan and
Sultana will be here to tea. They will be very proud that I am to
marry a Turkish angel. But take care that you know a very pretty
story, for both my parents are very fond indeed of stories. My mother
likes them high-flown and moral, but my father likes them merry, so
that one can laugh."
"Yes, I shall bring no marriage gift but a story," said he; and so they
parted. But the Princess gave him a saber, the sheath embroidered with
gold pieces and that was very useful to him.
Now he flew away, bought a new dressing gown, and sat in the forest and
made up a story; it was to be ready by Saturday, and that was not an
By the time he had finished it Saturday had come. The Sultan and his
wife and all the court were at the 'Princess's to tea. He was received
"Will you relate us a story?" said the Sultana; "one that is deep and
"Yes, but one that we can laugh at," said the Sultan.
"Certainly," he replied; and so began. And now listen well.
"There was once a bundle of Matches, and these Matches were
particularly proud of their high descent. Their genealogical tree,
that is to say, the great fir tree of which each of them was a little
splinter, had been a great old tree out in the forest. The Matches now
lay between a Tinder-box and an old Iron Pot; and they were telling
about the days of their youth. 'Yes, when we were upon the green
boughs,' they said, 'then we really were upon the green boughs! Every
morning and evening there was diamond tea for us-I mean dew; we had
sunshine all day long whenever the sun shone, and all the little birds
had to tell stories. We could see very well that we were rich, for the
other trees were only dressed out in summer, while our family had the
means to wear green dresses in the winter as well. But then the
woodcutter came, like a great revolution, and our family was broken up.
The head of the family got an appointment as mainmast in a first-rate
ship, which could sail round the world if necessary; the other branches
went to other places, and now we have the office of kindling a light
for the vulgar herd. That's how we grand people came to be in the
"'My fate was of different kind,' said the Iron Pot, which stood next
to the Matches. 'From the beginning, ever since I came into the world,
there has been a great deal of scouring and cooking done in me. I look
after the practical part, and am the first here in the house. My only
pleasure is to sit in my place after dinner, very clean and neat, and
to carry on a sensible conversation with my comrades. But except the
Waterpot, which is sometimes taken down into the courtyard, we always
live within our four walls. Our only newsmonger is the Market Basket;
but he speaks very uneasily about the government and the people. Yes,
the other day there was an old pot that fell down, from fright, and
burst. He's liberal, I can tell you!'- 'Now you're talking too much,'
the Tinder-box interrupted, and the steel struck against the flint, so
that sparks flew out. 'Shall we not have a merry evening?'
"'Yes, let us talk about who is the grandest,' said the Matches.
"'No, I don't like to talk about myself,' retorted the Pot. 'Let us get
up an evening entertainment. I will begin. I will tell a story from
real life, something that everyone has experienced, so that we can
easily imagine the situation, and take pleasure in it. On the Baltic,
by the Danish shore-'
"'That's a pretty beginning!' cried all the Plates. 'That will be a
story we shall like.'
"'Yes, it happened to me in my youth, when I lived in a family where
the furniture was polished, the floors scoured, and new curtains were
put up every fortnight.'
"'What an interesting way you have of telling a story!' said the Carpet
Broom. 'One can tell directly that a man is speaking who has been in
woman's society. There's something pure runs through it.'
"And the Pot went on telling the story, and the end was as good as the
"All the Plates rattled with joy, and the Carpet Broom brought some
green parsley out of the dust hole, and put it like a wreath on the
Pot, for he knew that it would vex the others. 'If I crown him to-
day,' it thought, 'he will crown me tomorrow.'
"'Now I'll dance,' said the Fire Tongs; and they danced. Preserve us!
how that implement could lift up one leg! The old chair-cushion burst
to see it. 'Shall I be crowned too?' thought the Tongs; and indeed a
wreath was awarded.
"'They're only common people, after all!' thought the Matches.
"Now the Tea Urn was to sing; but she said she had taken cold and could
not sing unless she felt boiling within. But that was only
affectation: she did not want to sing, except when she was in the
parlor with the grand people.
"In the window sat an old Quill Pen, with which the maid generally
wrote: there was nothing remarkable about this pen, except that it had
been dipped too deep into the ink, but she was proud of that. 'If the
Tea Urn won't sing,' she said, 'she may leave it alone. Outside hangs
a nightingale in a cage, and he can sing. He hasn't had any education,
but this evening we'll say nothing about that.'
"'I think it very wrong,' said the Teakettle- he was the kitchen
singer, and half brother to the Tea Urn-'that that rich and foreign
bird should be listened to. Is that patriotic? Let the Market Basket
"'I am vexed,' said the Market Basket. 'No one can imagine how much I
am secretly vexed. Is that a proper way of spending the evening?
Would it not be more sensible to put the house in order? Let each one
go to his own place, and I will arrange the whole game. That would be
quite another thing.'
'Yes, let us make a disturbance, cried they all. Then the door opened,
and the maid came in, and they all stood still; not one stirred. But
there was not one pot among them who did not know what he could do and
how grand he was. 'Yes, if I had liked,' each one thought, 'it might
have been a very merry evening.'
"The servant girl took the Matches and lighted the fire with them.
mercy! how they sputtered and burst out into flame! 'Now everyone can
see,' thought they, 'that we are the first. How we shine! what a
light!'-and they burned out."
"That was a capital story," said the Sultana. "I feel myself quite
carried away to the kitchen, to the Matches. Yes, now thou shalt marry
"Yes, certainly," said the Sultan, "thou shalt marry our daughter on
And they called him thou, because he was to belong to the family.
The wedding was decided on, and on the evening before it the whole city
was illuminated. Biscuits and cakes were thrown among the people, the
street boys stood on their toes, called out "Hurrah!" and whistled on
their fingers. It was uncommonly splendid.
"Yes, I shall have to give something as a treat," thought the
Merchant's Son. So he bought rockets and crackers, and every
imaginable sort of fire-work, put them all into his trunk, and flew up
into the air.
"Crack!" how they went, and how they went off! All the Turks hopped up
with such a start that their slippers flew about their ears; such a
meteor they had never yet seen. Now they could understand that it must
be a Turkish angel who was going to marry the Princess.
What stories people tell! Everyone whom he asked about it had seen it
in a separate way; but one and all thought it fine.
"I saw the Turkish angel himself," said one. "He had eyes like glowing
stars, and a beard like foaming water."
"He flew up in a fiery mantle," said another; "the most lovely little
cherub peeped forth from among the folds."
Yes, they were wonderful things that he heard; and on the following day
he was to be married.
Now he went back to the forest to rest himself in his trunk. But what
had become of that? A spark from the fireworks had set fire to it, and
the trunk was burned to ashes. He could not fly any more, and could
not get to his bride.
She stood all day on the roof waiting; and most likely she is waiting
still. But he wanders through the world, telling fairy tales; but they
are not so merry as that one he told about the Matches.
THE DARNING NEEDLE
By Hans Christian Andersen
THERE was once a darning needle, who thought herself so fine, she
imagined she was an embroidery needle.
"Take care, and mind you hold me tight!" she said to the Fingers that
took her out. "Don't let me fall! If I fall on the ground I shall
certainly never be found again, for I am so fine!"
"That's as it may be," said the Fingers; and they grasped her round the
"See, I'm coming with a train!" said the Darning Needle, and she drew a
long thread after her, but there was no knot in the thread.
The Fingers pointed the needle just at the cook's slipper, in which the
upper leather had burst, and was to be sewn together.
"That's vulgar work," said the Darning Needle. "I shall never get
through. I'm breaking! I'm breaking!" And she really broke. "Did I
not say so?" said the Darning Needle; "I'm too fine!"
"Now it's quite useless," said the Fingers; but they were obliged to
hold her fast, all the same; for the cook dropped some sealing wax upon
the needle, and pinned her handkerchief together with it in front.
"So, now I'm a breastpin!" said the Darning Needle. "I knew very well
that I should come to honor: when one is something, one comes to
And she laughed quietly to herself-and one can never see when a darning
needle laughs. There she sat, as proud as if she was in a state coach,
and looked all about her.
"May I be permitted to ask if you are of gold?" she inquired of the
pin, her neighbor. "You have a very pretty appearance, and a peculiar
head, but it is only little. You must take pains to grow, for it's not
everyone that has sealing wax dropped upon him."
And the Darning Needle drew herself up so proudly that she fell out of
the handkerchief right into the sink, which the cook was rinsing out.
"Now we're going on a journey," said the Darning Needle. "If I only
don't get lost!"
But she really was lost.
"I'm too fine for this world," she observed, as she lay in the gutter.
"But I know who I am, and there's always something in that!"
So the Darning Needle kept her proud behavior, and did not lose her
good humor. And things of many kinds swam over her, chips and straws
and pieces of old newspapers.
"Only look how they sail!" said the Darning Needle. "They don't know
what is under them! I'm here, I remain firmly here. See, there goes a
chip thinking of nothing in the world but of himself-of a chip!
There's a straw going by now. How he turns! how he twirls about!
Don't think only of yourself, you might easily run up against a stone.