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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no house left down upon the dyke : not that I think this will give me admission here.'
Then the gates of heaven were opened, and the angel led the old woman in. She left a straw behind her, a straw that had been in her bed when she set it on fire to save the lives of many ; and this straw had been changed into the purest gold—into gold that grew and grew, and spread out into beauteous leaves and flowers.
' Look, this is what the poor woman brought,' said the angel to the critic. ' What dost thou bring ? I know that thou hast accomplished nothing—thou hast not made so much as a single brick. Ah, if thou couldst only return, and effect at least as much as that ! Probably the brick, when thou hadst made it, would not be worth much ; but if it were made with a good will, it would at least be something. But thou canst not go back, and I can do nothing for thee ! '
Then the poor soul, the old dame who had lived on the dyke, put in a petition for him. She said,
1 His brother gave me the bricks and the pieces out of which I built up my house, and that was a great deal for a poor woman like me. Could not all those bricks and pieces be counted as a single brick in his favour ? It was an act of mercy. He wants it now; and is not this the very fountain of mercy ? '
Then the angel said,
' Thy brother, him whom thou hast regarded as the least among you all, he whose honest industry seemed to thee as the most humble, hath given thee this heavenly gift. Thou shalt not be turned away. It shall be vouchsafed to thee to stand here without the gate, and to reflect, and repent of thy life down yonder ; but thou shalt not be admitted until thou hast in earnest accomplished something.'
'1 could have said that in better words !' thought the critic, but he did not find fault aloud; and for him, that was already ' something ! '