The Complete Fairy Tales & Other Stories
By Hans Christian Andersen - online book

Oxford Complete Illustrated Edition all his stories written between 1835 and 1872.

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THE LITTLE SEA MAID
87
sued ; and all shouted and admired her, for she had danced so prettily. Her delicate feet wjere cut as if with knives, but she did not feel it, for her heart was wounded far more painfully. She knew this was the last evening on which she should see him for whom she had left her friends and her home, and had given up her beautiful voice, and had suffered unheard-of pains every day, while he was utterly unconscious of all. It was the last evening she should breathe the same air with him, and behold the starry sky and the deep sea ; and everlasting night without thought or dream awaited her, for she had no soul, and could win none. And everything was merriment and glad≠ness on the ship till past midnight, and she laughed and danced with thoughts of death in her heart. The prince kissed his beautiful bride, and she played with his raven hair, and hand in hand they went to rest in the splendid tent.
It became quiet on the ship ; only the helmsman stood by the helm, and the little sea maid leaned her white arms upon the bulwark and gazed out towards the east for the morning dawnóthe first ray, she knew, would kill her. Then she saw her sisters rising out of the flood ; they were pale, like herself ; their long beautiful hair no longer waved in the windóit had been cut off.
1 We have given it to the witch, that she might bring you help, so that you may not die to-night. She has given us a knife ; here it isólook ! how sharp ! Before the sun rises you must thrust it into the heart of the prince, and when the warm blood falls upon your feet they will grow together again into a fish-tail, and you will become a sea maid again, and come back to us, and live your three hundred years before you become dead salt sea foam. Make haste ! He or you must die before the sun rises ! Our old grandmother mourns so that her white hair has fallen off, as ours did under the witch's scissors. Kill the prince and come back ! Make haste ! Do you see that red streak in the sky ? In a few minutes the sun will rise, and you must die ! '
And they gave a very mournful sigh, and vanished beneath the waves.
The little sea maid drew back the purple curtain from