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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Not far from the stream Gudenaa, in the forest of Silke-borg, a great ridge of land rises and stretches along like a wall. By this ridge, westward, stands a farm-house, surrounded by poor land ; the sandy soil is seen through the spare rye and wheat that grow upon it. Some years have elapsed since the time of which we speak. The people who lived here cultivated the fields, and moreover kept three sheep, a pig, and two oxen ; in fact, they sup­ported themselves quite comfortably, for they had enough to live on if they took things as they came. Indeed, they could have managed to save enough to keep two horses ; but, like the other peasants of the neighbourhood, they said, ' The horse eats itself up '—that is to say, it eats as much as it earns. Jeppe-Jens cultivated his field in summer. In the winter he made wooden shoes, and then he had an assistant, a journeyman, who understood how to make the wooden shoes strong, and light, and graceful. They carved shoes and spoons, and that brought in money. It would have been wronging the Jeppe-Jenses to call them poor people.
Little lb, a boy seven years old, the only child of the family, would sit by, looking at the workmen, cutting at a stick, and occasionally cutting his finger. But one day he had cut two pieces of wood, so that they looked like little wooden shoes ; and these he wanted to give to little Christine. She was the boatman's daughter, and was grace­ful and delicate as a gentleman's child ; had she been differently dressed, no one would have imagined that she came out of the hut on the neighbouring heath. There lived her father, who was a widower, and supported him­self by carrying firewood in his great boat out of the forest down to the eel-weir of Silkeborg, and sometimes even to the distant town of Banders. He had no one who could take care of little Christine, who was a year younger than lb, and therefore the child was almost always with him in his boat, or in the forest among the heath plants