The Complete Fairy Tales & Other Stories
By Hans Christian Andersen - online book

Oxford Complete Illustrated Edition all his stories written between 1835 and 1872.

Home Main Menu Order Support About Search

Share page  

Previous Contents Next

680                           ANNE LISBETH
• A grave ! dig me a grave !' it still sounded ; she was fearful that the cock might crow, and the first red streak appear in the east, before she had finished her work, and then she would be lost.
And the cock crowed, and day dawned in the east, and the grave was only half dug. An icy hand passed over her head and face and down towards her heart.
* Only half a grave ! ' a voice wailed, and floated away down to the bottom of the sea.
It was the ocean spectre ; and exhausted and over­powered, Anne Lisbeth sank to the ground, and her senses forsook her.
It was bright day when she came to herself, and two men were raising her up ; but she was not lying in the church­yard, but on the sea-shore, where she had dug a deep hole in the sand, and cut her hand against a broken glass, whose sharp stem was stuck in a little painted block of wood. Anne Lisbeth was in a fever. Conscience had shuffled the cards of superstition, and had laid out these cards, and she fancied she had only half a soul, and that her child had taken the other half down into the sea. Never would she be able to swing herself aloft to the mercy of Heaven till she had recovered this other half, which was now held fast in the deep water. Anne Lisbeth got back to her former home, but was no longer the woman she had been: her thoughts were confused like a tangled skein ; only one thread, only one thought she had disentangled, namely, that she must carry the spectre of the sea-shore to the churchyard, and dig a grave for him, that thus she might win back her soul.
Many a night she was missed from her home ; and she was always found on the sea-shore, waiting for the spectre. In this way a whole year passed by; and then one night she vanished again, and was not to be found ; the whole of the next day was wasted in fruitless search.
Towards evening, when the clerk came into the church to toll the vesper bell, he saw, by the altar, Anne Lisbeth, who had spent the whole day there. Her strength was almost exhausted, but her eyes gleamed brightly, and her cheeks had a rosy flush. The last rays of the sun shone upon her, and gleamed over the altar on the bright clasps