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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212
THE ROSE-ELF
In the midst of a garden grew a rose bush, which was quite covered with roses ; and in one of them, the most beautiful of all, there dwelt an elf. He was so tiny that no human eye could see him. Behind every leaf in the rose he had a bedroom. He was as well formed and beautiful as any child could be, and had wings that reached from his shoulders to his feet. Oh, what a fragrance there was in his rooms ! and how clear and bright were the walls ! They were made of the pale pink rose leaves.
The whole day he rejoiced in the warm sunshine, flew from flower to flower, danced on the wings of the flying butterfly, and measured how many steps he would have to take to pass along all the roads and cross-roads that are marked out on a single linden leaf. What we call veins on the leaf were to him high roads and cross-roads. Yes, those were long roads for him ! Before he had finished his journey the sun went down, for he had begun his work too late !
It became very cold, the dew fell, and the wind blew: now the best thing to be done was to come home. He made what haste he could, but the rose had shut itself up, and he could not get in ; not a single rose stood open. The poor little elf was very much frightened. He had never been out at night before ; he had always slumbered sweetly and comfortably behind the warm rose leaves. Oh, it certainly would be the death of him.
At the other end of the garden there was, he knew, an arbour of fine honeysuckle. The flowers looked like great painted horns, and he wished to go down into one of them to sleep till the next day.
He flew thither. Silence ! two people were in the arbouró a handsome young man and a young girl. They sat side by side, and wished that they need never part. They loved each other better than a good child loves its father and mother.
* Yet we must part !' said the young man. ' Your