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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CHARMING                              701
belonged to the daughter of the speaker, and any one who has such a daughter cannot be silly ! Tlje mother was like a fountain of questions, and the daughter, who listened but never spoke, might pass for the beautiful Naiad of the fountain. How charming she was ! She was a study for the sculptor to contemplate, but not to converse with ; and, indeed, she did not speak, or only very seldom.
1 Has the Pope a large family ? ' asked the lady.
And the young man answered, as if the question could have been better put,
' No, he does not come of a great family.'
* That's not what I mean,' the widow persisted. ' I mean, has he a wife and children ? '
' The Pope is not allowed to marry,' said the gentleman.
' I don't like that,' was the lady's comment.
She certainly might have put more sensible questions ; but if she had not spoken in just the manner she used, would her daughter have leaned so gracefully upon her shoulder, looking straight out with the almost mournful smile upon her face ?
Then Mr. Alfred spoke again, and told of the glory of colour in Italy, of the purple hills, the blue Mediterranean, the azure sky of the South, whose brightness and glory was only to be surpassed in the North by a maiden's deep-blue eyes. And this he said with a peculiar application ; but she who should have understood his meaning, looked as if she were quite unconscious of it, and that again was charming !
' Italy !' sighed a few of the guests.
1 Oh, to travel!' sighed others.
1 Charming ! charming ! '
1 Yes, if I win fifty thousand dollars in the lottery,' said the head tax-collector's lady, * then we will travel. I and my daughter, and you, Mr. Alfred ; you must be our guide. We'll all three travel together, and one or two good friends more.' And she nodded in such a friendly way at the company, that each one might imagine he or she was the person who was to be taken to Italy. ' Yes, we will go to Italy! but not to those parts where there are robbers—we '11 keep to Rome, and to the great high roads where one is safe.'