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 BOND OF FRIENDSHIP               195
was as costly as those worn by rich lords. Every one could see that we were about to go through a-solemn ceremony. We stepped into the little simple church, where the even­ing sunlight, streaming through the door, gleamed on the burning lamp and the pictures on golden ground. We knelt down on the altar steps, and Anastasia came before us. A long white garment hung loose over her graceful form ; on her white neck and bosom hung a chain, covered with old and new coins, forming a kind of collar. Her black hair was fastened in a knot, and confined by a head­dress made of silver and gold coins that had been found in the old temples. No Greek girl had more beautiful ornaments than she. Her countenance glowed, and her eyes were like two stars.
We all three prayed silently; and then she said to us,
' Will you be friends in life and in death ? '
1 Yes,' we replied.
' Will you, whatever may happen, remember this : my brother is a part of myself. My secrets are his, my happi­ness is his. Self-sacrifice, patience—everything in me belongs to him as to me ? '
And we again answered, ' Yes.'
Then she joined our hands and kissed us on the forehead, and we again prayed silently. Then the priest came through the door near the altar, and blessed us all three ; and a song, sung by the other holy men, sounded from behind the altar screen, and the bond of eternal friendship was concluded. When we rose, I saw my mother standing by the church door weeping heartily.
How cheerful it was now, in our little hut, and by the springs of Delphi! On the evening before his departure, Aphtanides sat thoughtful with me on the declivity of a mountain ; his arm was flung round my waist, and mine was round his neck : we spoke of the sorrows of Greece, and of the men whom the country could trust. Every thought of our souls lay clear before each of us, and I seized his hand.
1 One thing thou must still know, one thing that till now has been a secret between myself and Heaven. My whole soul is filled with love ! with a love stronger than the love I bear to my mother and to thee !'