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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692                  THE PEN AND INKSTAND
heard his own heart weeping, but weeping melodiously, like the sound of a woman's voice. It seemed as though not only the strings sounded, but every part of the instru­ment. It was a wonderful performance ; and difficult as the piece was, the bow seemed to glide easily to and fro over the strings, and it looked as though any one might do it. The violin seemed to sound of itself, and the bow to move of itself—those two appeared to do everything ; and the audience forgot the master who guided them and breathed soul and spirit into them. The master was for­gotten ; but the poet remembered him, and named him, and wrote down his thoughts concerning the subject.
' How foolish it would be of the violin and the bow to boast of their achievements ! And yet we men often commit this folly—the poet, the artist, the inventor in the domain of science, the general—we all do it. We are only the instru­ments which the Almighty uses : to Him alone be the honour ! We have nothing of which we should be proud.'
Yes, that is what the poet wrote down. He wrote it in the form of a parable, which he called ' The Master and the Instruments.'
' That is what you get, madam,' said the Pen to the Inkstand, when the two were alone again. ' Did you not hear him read aloud what I have written down ! '
; Yes, what I gave you to write,' retorted the Inkstand. ' That was a cut at you, because of your conceit. That you should not even have understood that you were being quizzed ! I gave you a cut from within me—surely I must know my own satire ! '
' Ink-pipkin ! ' cried the Pen.
1 Writing-stick !' cried the Inkstand.
And each of them felt a conviction that he had answered well; and it is a pleasing conviction to feel that one has given a good answer—a conviction on which one can sleep ; and accordingly they slept upon it. But the poet did not sleep. Thoughts welled up from within him, like the tones from the violin, falling like pearls, rushing like the storm-wind through the forests. He felt his own heart in these thoughts, and caught a ray from the Eternal Master.
To Him be all the honour !