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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is no island where we could pass the night, only a little rock stands forth in the midst of the wa*ves ; it is but just large enough that we can rest upon it close to each other. If the sea is rough, the foam spurts far over us, but we thank God for the rock. There we pass the night in our human form : but for this rock we could never visit our beloved native land, for we require two of the longest days in the year for our journey. Only once in each year is it granted to us to visit our home. For eleven days we may stay here and fly over the great wood, from whence we can see the palace in which we were born and in which our father lives, and the high church tower, beneath whose shade our mother lies buried. Here it seems to us as though the bushes and trees were our relatives ; here the wild horses career across the steppe, as we have seen them do in our childhood ; here the charcoal-burner sings the old songs to which we danced as children ; here is our fatherland : hither we feel ourselves drawn, and here we have found you, our dear little sister. Two days more we may stay here ; then we must away across the sea to a glorious land, but which is not our native land. How can we bear you away ? for we have neither ship nor boat.'
' In what way can I release you ? ' asked the sister ; and they conversed nearly the whole night, only slumbering for a few hours.
She was awakened by the rustling of the swans' wings above her head. Her brothers were again enchanted, and they flew in wide circles and at last far away ; but one of them, the youngest, remained behind, and the swan laid his head in her lap, and she stroked his wings ; and the whole day they remained together. Towards evening the others came back, and when the sun had gone down they stood there in their own shapes.
1 To-morrow we fly far away from here, and cannot come back until a whole year has gone by. But we cannot leave you thus ! Have you courage to come with us ? My arm is strong enough to carry you in the wood ; and should not all our wings be strong enough to fly with you over the sea ? '
1 Yes, take me with you,' said Eliza.
The whole night they were occupied in weaving a net