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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564                 SOUP ON A SAUSAGE-PEG
a little Mouse—it was the fourth of them, the one whom they looked upon as dead—shot in like an arrow. She toppled the sausage-peg with the crape covering over. She had been running day and night, and had travelled on the railway, in the goods train, having watched her opportunity, and yet she had almost come too late. She pressed forward, looking very much rumpled, and she had lost her sausage-peg, but not her voice, for she at once took up the word, as if they had been waiting only for her, and wanted to hear none but her, and as if everything else in the world were of no consequence. She spoke at once, and spoke fully : she had appeared so suddenly that no one found time to object to her speech or to her, while she was speaking. And now let us hear her.
What the Fourth Mouse, who spoke before the Third
had spoken, had to tell
' I went immediately to the largest town,' she said ; ' the name has escaped me—I have a bad memory for names. From the railway I was carried, with some confiscated goods, to the council-house, and there I ran into the dwelling of the jailer. The jailer was talking of his prisoners, and especially of one, who had spoken unconsidered words. These words had given rise to others, and these latter had been written down and recorded.
1 " The whole thing is soup on a sausage-peg," said the jailer ; " but the soup may cost him his neck."
' Now, this gave me an interest in the prisoner,' continued the Mouse, * and I watched my opportunity and slipped into his prison—for there 's a mouse-hole to be found behind every locked door. The prisoner looked pale, and had a great beard and bright sparkling eyes. The lamp smoked, but the walls were so accustomed to that, that they grew none the blacker for it. The prisoner scratched pictures and verses in white upon the black ground, but I did not read them. I think he found it tedious, and I was a welcome guest. He lured me with bread crumbs, with whistling, and with friendly words : he was glad to