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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548           THE STONE OF THE WISE MEN
with incense powder and incense smoke, which he can prepare so artfully as to confuse an angel, and how much more therefore a poor poet! The Evil One knows how to take that kind of people ! He surrounded the poet so com­pletely with incense, that the man lost his head, and forgot his mission and his home, and at last himself—and ended in smoke.
But when the little birds heard of this they mourned, and for three days they sang not one song. The black Wood Snail became blacker still, not for grief, but for envy.
1 They should have strewed incense for me,' she said, * for it was I who gave him his idea of the most famous of his songs, the drum song of '' The Way of the World "; it was I who spat upon the rose! I can bring witness to the fact.'
But no tidings of all this penetrated to the poet's home in India, for all the birds were silent for three days ; and when the time of mourning was over, their grief had been so deep that they had forgotten for whom they wept. That's the usual way !
' Now I shall have to go out into the world, to disappear like the rest,' said the fourth brother.
He had just as good a humour as the third, but he was no poet, and so he had good reason to have good humour. Those two had filled the castle with cheerfulness, and now the last cheerfulness was going away. Sight and hearing have always been looked upon as the two chief senses of men, and as the two that it is most desirable to sharpen; the other senses are looked upon as of less consequence. But that was not the opinion of this son, as he had especially cultivated his taste in every respect, and taste is very powerful. It holds sway over what goes into the mouth, and also over what pene­trates into the mind; and consequently this brother tasted everything that was stored up in bottles and pots, saying that this was the rough work of his office. Every man was to him a vessel in which something was seething, every country an enormous kitchen, a kitchen of the mind.
* That was the fine work,' he said ; and he wanted to go out and try what was delicate. ' Perhaps fortune may be more favourable to me than it was to my brothers,' he said. ' I shall start on my travels. But what conveyance