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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of Earwigs ; and these did not require much house-room, but only companionship. The females are specially gifted with maternal affection, and accordingly each one con­sidered her own child the most beautiful and cleverest of all.
' Our son has engaged himself,' said one mother. ' Dear, innocent boy ! His greatest hope is that he may creep one day into a clergyman's ear. That is very artless and lovable ; and being engaged will keep him steady. What joy for a mother !'
' Our son,' said another mother, ' had scarcely crept out of the egg, when he was already off on his travels. He 's all life and spirits ; he'll run his horns off ! What joy that is for a mother ! Is it not so, Mr. Beetle 1 ' for she knew the stranger by his shape.
' You are both quite right,' said he ; so they begged him to walk in ; that is to say, to come as far as he could under the bit of pottery.
' Now, you also see my little earwig,' observed a third mother and a fourth ; ' they are lovely little things, and highly amusing. They are never ill-behaved, except when they are uncomfortable in their inside; but one is very subject to that at their age.'
Thus each mother spoke about her young ones ; and the young ones also talked, and made use of the little nippers they have in their tails to nip the beard of the Beetle.
* Yes, they are always busy about something, the little rogues 1' said the mothers; and they quite beamed with maternal pride; but the Beetle felt bored by it all, and therefore he inquired how far it was to the nearest muck-heap.
' That is quite out in the big world, on the other side of the ditch,' answered an Earwig. ' I hope none of my children will go so far away, for it would be the death of me.'
' But I shall try to get so far,' said the Beetle ; and he went off without taking formal leave ; for that is considered the polite thing to do. And by the ditch he met several friends ; Beetles, all of them.
* Here we live,' they said. ' We are very comfortable here. Might we ask you to step down into this rich mud ? You must be fatigued after your journey.'
' Certainly,' replied the Beetle. ' I have been exposed