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 ELDER TREE MOTHER              297
said the old sailor. " Yes, those are children's children ! They're of the right sort. It was, if I-xlon't mistake, at this very season of the year that we were married ? '
1 " Yes ; this is the day of your golden wedding," said the Elder Tree Mother, putting out her head just between the two old people ; and they thought it was a neighbour nodding to them, and they looked at each other, and took hold of one another's hands.
' Soon afterwards came their children and grandchildren ; these knew very well that it was the golden wedding-day ; they had already brought their congratulations in the morning, but the old people had forgotten it, while they remembered everything right well that had happened years and years ago.
' And the elder tree smelt so strong, and the sun that was just setting shone just in the faces of the old people, so that their cheeks looked quite red ; and the youngest of their grandchildren danced about them, and cried out quite gleefully that there was to be a feast this evening, for they were to have hot potatoes ; and the Elder Mother nodded in the tree, and called out " hurrah ! " with all the rest.'
1 But that was not a story,' said the little boy who had heard it told.
' Yes, if you could understand it,' replied the old man ; ' but let us ask the Elder Mother about it.'
' That was not a story,' said the Elder Mother; ' but now it comes ; but of truth the strangest stories are formed, otherwise my beautiful elder tree could not have sprouted forth out of the tea:pot.'
And then she took the little boy out of bed, and laid him upon her bosom, and the blossoming elder branches wound round them, so that they sat as it were in the thickest arbour, and this arbour flew with them through the air. It was indescribably beautiful. Elder Mother all at once became a pretty young girl ; but her dress was still of the green stuff with the white blossoms that Elder Mother had worn ; in her bosom she had a real elder blossom, and about her yellow curly hair a wreath of elder flowers ; her eyes were so large and blue, they were beautiful to look at. She and the boy were of the same age, and they kissed each other and felt similar joys.