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 BELL                               309
clergyman had spoken well and impressively, and the candidates for confirmation were quite moved. It was an important day for them ; for from being children they became grown-up people, and the childish soul was as it were to be transformed to that of a more sensible person. The sun shone gloriously as the confirmed children marched out of the town, and from the wood the great mysterious bell sounded with peculiar strength. They at once wished to go out to it, and all felt this wish except three. One of these desired to go home, to try on her ball dress, for it was just on account of that dress and that ball that she was being confirmed at that time, otherwise she would not have been so ; the second was a poor boy, who had borrowed the coat and boots in which he was confirmed from the son of his landlord, and he had to give them back at an appointed time ; the third said he never went to a strange place unless his parents went with him, that he had always been an obedient son, and would con­tinue to be so, even after he was confirmed, and they were not to laugh at him. But they did laugh at him, nevertheless.
So these three did not go, but the others trotted on. The sun shone, and the birds sang, and the young people sang too, and held each other by the hand, for they had not yet received any office, and were all alike before Heaven on that day. But two of the smallest soon became weary and returned to the town, and two little girls sat down to bind wreaths, and did not go with the rest. And when the others came to the willow trees where the pastrycook lived, they said, ' Well, now we are out here, the bell does not really exist—it is only an imaginary thing.'
Then suddenly the bell began to ring in the forest with such a deep and solemn sound that four or five determined to go still deeper into the wood. The leaves hung very close, and it was really difficult to get forward ; woodruff and anemones grew almost too high to go, and blooming convolvulus and blackberry bushes stretched in long garlands from tree to tree, where the nightingales sang and the sunbeams played. It was splendid ; but the path was not one for girls to go, they would have torn their clothes. There lay great blocks of stone covered with