The Complete Fairy Tales & Other Stories
By Hans Christian Andersen - online book

Oxford Complete Illustrated Edition all his stories written between 1835 and 1872.

Home Main Menu Order Support About Search

Share page  

Previous Contents Next

UNDER THE WILLOW TREE               471
How kind that was of her ! And on Wednesday at noon he received a sealed paper, with no wards written in it; but the ticket was there, and in the evening Knud went to the theatre for the first time in his life. And what did he see ? He saw Joanna, and how charming and how beautiful she looked ! She was certainly married to a stranger, but that was all in the play—something that was only make-believe, as Knud knew very well. Otherwise, he thought, she would never have had the heart to send him a ticket that he might go and see it. And all the people shouted and applauded, and Knud cried out ' hurrah ! '
Even the King smiled at Joanna, and seemed to delight in her. Ah, how small Knud felt ! but then he loved her so dearly, and thought that she loved him too ; but it was for the man to speak the first word, as the gingerbread maiden had thought; and there was a great deal for him in that story.
So soon as Sunday came, he went again. He felt as if he were going into a church. Joanna was alone, and received him—it could not have happened more fortunately.
' It is well that you are come,' she said. ' I had an idea of sending my father to you, only I felt a presentiment that you would be here this evening ; for I must tell you that I start for France on Friday : I must do that so that I may really come to be something.'
It seemed to Knud as if the whole room turned round and as if his heart would burst; no tear rose to his eyes, but still it was easy to see how sorrowful he was.
Joanna saw it, and came near to crying.
! You honest, faithful soul ! ' she exclaimed.
And these words of hers loosened Knud's tongue. He told her how constantly he loved her, and that she must become his wife ; and as he said this, he saw Joanna turn pale. She let his hand fall, and answered, seriously and mournfully,
1 Knud, do not make yourself and me unhappy. I shall always be a good sister to you, one in whom you may trust, but I shall never be anything more.'
And she drew her white hand over his hot forehead.
' Heaven gives us strength for much,' she said, ' if we only endeavour to do our best.'