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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THE OLD CHURCH BELL                 749
sunk down, exhausted by fatigue, with his whole wealth, his only hope for the future, the written pa^es of his tragedy ' Fiesco ' : the wind might have told of the youth's only patrons, men who were artists, and who yet slunk away to amuse themselves at skittles while his play was being read : the wind could have told of the pale fugitive, who lived for weary weeks and months in the wretched tavern, where the host brawled and drank, and coarse merriment was going on while he sang of the ideal. Heavy days, dark days ! The heart must surfer and endure for itself the trials it is to sing.
Dark days and cold nights also passed over the old bell. It did not feel them, but the bell within the heart of man is affected by gloomy times. How fared it with the young man ? How fared it with the old bell ? The bell was carried far away, farther than its sound could have been heard from the lofty tower in which it had once hung. And the youth ? The bell in his heart sounded farther than his eye should ever see or his foot should ever wander; it sounded and is sounding on, over the ocean, round the whole earth. But let us first speak of the belfry bell. It was carried away from Marbach, was sold for old metal, and destined for the melting furnace in Bavaria. But when and how did this happen ? Well, the bell itself must tell about that, if it can ; it is not a matter of great im­portance, but certain it is that it came to the capital of Bavaria ; many years had passed since the bell had fallen from the tower, and now it was to be melted down, to be used in the manufacture of a memorial in honour of one of the great ones of the German people and land. And behold how suitable this was—how strangely and wronderfully things happen in the world ! In Denmark, on one of those green islands where the beech tree grows, and the many grave-mounds are to be seen* there was quite a poor boy. He had been accustomed to walk about in wooden shoes, and to carry a dinner wrapped in an old handkerchief to his father, who carved figure-heads on the shipbuilders' wharves ; but this poor lad had become the pride of his country. He carved marble blocks into such glorious shapes as made the whole world wonder, and to him had been awarded the honourable commission that he should