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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ANNE LISBETH                          679
selves—the deed is there, and bears witness against us ; the thoughts seem to become words, and to sound far out into the world. We are horrified at the thought of what we have carried within us, and have not stifled what we have sown in our thoughtlessness and pride. The heart hides within itself all the virtues and likewise all the vices, and they grow even in the barrenest ground. i Anne Lisbeth now experienced all the thoughts we have clothed in words. She was overpowered by them, and sank down, and crept along for some distance on the ground. 1 A grave ! dig me a grave ! ' it sounded again in her ears ; and she would gladly have buried herself if in the grave there had been forgetfulness of every deed. It was the first hour of her awakening—full of anguish and horror. Super­stition alternately made her shudder with cold and made her blood burn with the heat of fever. Many things of which she had never liked to speak came into her mind. Silent as the cloud-shadows in the bright moonshine, a spectral apparition flitted by her: she had heard of it before. Close by her gallopped four snorting steeds, with fire spurting from their eyes and nostrils ; they dragged a red-hot coach, and within it sat the wicked proprietor who had ruled here a hundred years ago. The legend said that every night at twelve o'clock he drove into his castle yard and out again. He was not pale, as dead men are said to be , but black as a coal. He nodded at Anne Lisbeth and beckoned to her. ' Hold fast! hold fast ! then you may ride again in a nobleman's carriage, and forget your own child ! '
She gathered herself up, and hastened to the church­yard ; but the black crosses and the black ravens danced in confusion before her eyes. The ravens croaked, as the raven had done that she saw in the day-time, but now she understood what they said. ' I am the raven-mother! lam the raven-mother !' each raven croaked, and Anne Lisbeth now understood that the name also applied to her; and she fancied she should be transformed into a black bird, and be obliged to cry what they cried, if she did not dig the grave.
Aiid she threw herself on the earth, and with her hands dug a grave in the hard ground, so that the blood ran from her fingers.