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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668                OLE THE TOWER-KEEPER
I am sure to notice others who are new arrivals ; but this year I omitted taking my look at the guests. I bowled away on the cobble-stones, rolled back through millions of years, and saw the stones break loose high up in the North, saw them drifting about on icebergs, long before Noah's ark was constructed, saw them sink down to the bottom of the sea, and reappear again on a sand-bank, the one that stuck up out of the water and said, "This shall be Zealand!" I saw them become the dwelling-place of birds that are unknown to us, and then became the seat of wild chiefs of whom we know nothing, until with their axes they cut their Runic signs into a few of these stones, which then came into the calendar of time. But as for me, I had quite gone out of it, and had become a nothing. Then three or four beautiful falling stars came down, which cleared the air, and gave my thoughts another direction. You know what a falling star is, do you not % The learned men are not at all clear about it. I have my own ideas about shooting stars, and my idea is this : How often are silent thanksgivings offered up for one who has done a good and noble action ! the thanks are often speechless, but they are not lost for all that. I think these thanks are caught up, and the sunbeams bring the silent, hidden thankfulness over the head of the benefactor; and if it be a whole people that has been expressing its gratitude through a long lapse of time, the thankfulness appears as a nosegay of flowers, and falls in the form of a shooting star over the good man's grave. I am always very much pleased when I see a shooting star, especially in the New Year's Eve, and then find out for whom the gift of gratitude was intended. Lately a gleaming star fell in the south­west, as a tribute of thanksgiving to many, many 1 " For whom was that star intended ? " thought I. It fell, no doubt, on the hill by the Bay of Flensborg, where the Danebrog waves over the graves of Schleppegrell, Laessoe, and their comrades. One star also fell in the midst of the land, fell upon Soro, a flower on the grave of Holberg, the thanks of the year from a great many—thanks for his charming plays !
' It is a great and pleasant thought to know that a shoot­ing star falls upon our graves : on mine certainly none will