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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358           THE NEIGHBOURING FAMILIES
rejoiced greatly in it, and wondered whether all the little Sparrows might become nightingales.
' I understood the song of that bird very well,' said the young Sparrows, ' only one word was not clear. What is the beautiful ? '
' That's nothing at all,' replied the Mother-Sparrow ; ' that's only an outside affair. Yonder, at the nobleman's seat, where the pigeons have their own house, and have corn and peas strewn before them every day,—I've been there myself, and dined with them ; for tell me what company you keep, and I'll tell you who you are—yonder at the nobleman's seat there are two birds with green necks and a crest upon their head ; they can spread out their tails like a great wheel, and then it plays with various colours, so that the sight makes one's eyes ache. These birds are called peacocks, and that's the beautiful. They should only be plucked a little, then they would look no better than all the rest of us. I should have plucked them myself if they had not been so large.'
' I'll pluck them,' piped the little Sparrow who had no feathers yet.
In the farm-house dwelt two young married people ; they loved each other well, were industrious and active, and everything in their home looked very pretty. On Sunday morning the young wife came out, plucked a hand­ful of the most beautiful roses, and put them into a glass of water, which she put upon the cupboard.
' Now I see that it is Sunday,' said the husband, and he kissed his little wife.
They sat down, read their hymn-book, and held each other by the hand ; and the sun shone on the fresh roses and the young couple.
* This sight is really too wearisome,' said the Mother-Sparrow, who could look from the nest into the room ; and she flew away.
The same thing happened the next Sunday, for every Sunday fresh roses were placed in the glass ; but the rose bush bloomed as beautiful as ever.
The young Sparrows had feathers now, and wanted to fly out too, but the mother would not allow it, and they were obliged to stay at home. She flew alone ; but. however