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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for one is of some consequence, after all. The bottle did not again behold the light of day till it was unpacked with the other bottles in the cellar of the wine merchant, and rinsed out for the first time ; and that was a strange sensation. There it lay, empty and without a cork, and felt strangely unwell, as if it wanted something, it could not tell what. At last it was filled with good costly wine, and was provided with a cork, and sealed down. A ticket was placed on it marked ' first quality ' ; and it felt as if it had carried off the first prize at an examination ; for, you see, the wine was good and the bottle was good. When one is young, that 's the time for poetry ! There was a singing and sounding within it, of things which it could not understand—of green sunny mountains, whereon the grape grows, where many vine dressers, men and women, sing and dance and rejoice. * Ah, how beautiful is life ! ' There was a singing and sounding of all this in the bottle, as in a young poet's brain ; and many a young poet does not understand the meaning of the song that is within him.
One morning the bottle was bought, for the tanner's apprentice was dispatched for a bottle of wine—' of the best.' And now it was put in the provision basket, with ham and cheese and sausages ; the finest butter and the best bread were put into the basket too—the tanner's daughter herself packed it. She was young and very pretty ; her brown eyes laughed, and round her mouth played a smile which said just as much as her eyes. She had delicate hands, beautifully white, and her neck was whiter still; you saw at once that she was one of the most beautiful girls in the town : and still she was not engaged.
The provision basket was in the lap of the young girl when the family drove out into the forest. The bottle­neck looked out from the folds of the white napkin. There was red wax upon the cork, and the bottle looked straight into the girl's face. It also looked at the young sailor who sat next to the girl. He was a friend of old days, the son of the portrait painter. Quite lately he had passed with honour through his examination as mate, and to-morrow he was to sail away in a ship, far off to a distant land. There had been much talk of this while the basket was