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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194               THE BOND OF FRIENDSHIP
was going in a ship to Corfu and Patras, but must bid us good-bye first; and he had brought a large fish for our mother. He had a great deal to tell, not only of the fisher­men yonder in the Gulf of Lepanto, but also of Kings and heroes, who had once ruled in Greece, just as the Turks rule now.
I have seen a bud on a rose bush gradually unfold through days and weeks, till it became a rose, and hung there in its beauty, before I was aware how large and beautiful and red it had become ; and the same thing I now saw in Anastasia. She was now a beautiful grown girl, and I had become a stout stripling. The wolf-skins that covered my mother's and Anastasia's bed, I had myself taken from wolves that had fallen beneath my shots.
Years had gone by, when one evening Aphtanides came in, slender as a reed, strong and brown. He kissed us all, and had much to tell of the great ocean, of the fortifica­tions of Malta, and of the marvellous sepulchres of Egypt. It sounded strange as a legend of the priests, and I looked up to him with a kind of veneration.
' How much you know !' I exclaimed ; ' what wonders you can tell of !'
c But you have told me the finest thing, after all,' he replied. ' You told me of a thing that has never been out of my thoughts—of the good old custom of the bond of friendship, a custom I should like to follow. Brother, let you and I go to church, as your father and Anastasia's went before us : your sister Anastasia is the most beautiful and most innocent of girls ; she shall consecrate us ! No people has such grand old customs as we Greeks.'
Anastasia blushed like a young rose, and my mother kissed Aphtanides.
A couple of miles from our house, there where loose earth lies on the hill, and a few scattered trees give a shelter, stood the little church ; a silver lamp hung in front of the altar.
I had put on my best clothes : the white fustanella fell in rich folds round my hips, the red jacket fitted tight and close, the tassel on my fez cap was silver, and in my girdle gleamed a knife and my pistols. Aphtanides was clad in the blue garb worn by Greek sailors; on his chest hung a silver plate with the figure of the Virgin Mary ; his scarf