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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678                           ANNE LISBETH
secrated earth.' And as these thoughts passed through her mind, fear gave speed to her feet, so that she walked on faster and faster ; fear came upon her like the touch of a cold wet hand that was laid upon her heart, so that she almost fainted ; and as she looked out across the sea, all there grew thicker and darker ; a heavy mist came rolling onward, and clung round bush and tree, twisting them into fantastic shapes. She turned round, and glanced up at the moon, which had risen behind her. It looked like a pale, rayless surface ; and a deadly weight appeared to cling to her limbs. ' Hold fast! ' thought she ; and when she turned round a second time and looked at the moon, its white face seemed quite close to her, and the mist hung like a pale garment from her shoulders. ' Hold fast! carry me to consecrated earth ! ' sounded in her ears in strange hollow tones. The sound did not come from the frogs in the pond, or from ravens or crows ; she saw no sign of any such creatures. ' A grave ! dig me a grave ! ' was repeated quite loud. Yes, it was the spectre of her child, the child that lay in the ocean, and whose spirit could have no rest until it was carried to the churchyard, and until a grave had been dug for it in consecrated ground. Thither she would go, and there she would dig ; and she went on in the direction of the church, and the weight on her heart seemed to grow lighter, and even to vanish altogether ; but when she turned to go home by the shortest way, it returned. ' Hold fast! hold fast ! ' and the words came quite clear, though they were like the croak of a frog or the wail of a bird, ' A grave ! dig me a grave ! '
The mist was cold and damp ; her hands and face were cold and damp with horror ; a heavy weight again seized her and clung to her, and in her mind a great space opened for thoughts that had never before been there.
Here in the North the beech wood often buds in a single night, and in the morning sunlight it appears in its full glory of youthful green ; and thus in a single instant can the consciousness unfold itself of the sin that has been contained in the thoughts, words, and works of our past life. It springs up and unfolds itself in a single second when once the conscience is awakened ; and God wakens it when we least expect it. Then we find no excuse for our-