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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Have you ever given an account to yourself, why you bloomed, and how it is that your blooming comes about— why it is thus, and not otherwise ? '
'No,5 answered the Rose Tree. ' I bloomed in gladness, because I could not do anything else. The sun was so warm, and the air so refreshing. I drank the pure dew and the fresh rain, and I lived, I breathed. Out of the earth there arose a power within me, from above there came down a strength : I perceived a new ever-increasing happiness, and consequently I was obliged to bloom over and over again; that was my life ; I could not do otherwise.'
' You have led a very pleasant life,' observed the Snail.
' Certainly. Everything was given to me,' said the Rose Tree. ' But more still was given to you. You are one of those deep thoughtful characters, one of those highly gifted spirits, which will cause the world to marvel.'
' I've no intention of doing anything of the kind,' cried the Snail. ' The world is nothing to me. What have I to do with the world ? I have enough of myself and in myself.'
1 But must we not all, here on earth, give to others the best that we have, and offer what lies in our power ? Cer­tainly I have only given roses. But you—you who have been so richly gifted—what have you given to the world ? what do you intend to give ? '
' What have I given—what do I intend to give ? I spit at it. It's worth nothing. It's no business of mine. Continue to give your roses, if you like : you can't do any­thing better. Let the hazel bush bear nuts, and the cows and ewes give milk : they have their public ; but I have mine within myself—I retire within myself, and there I remain. The world is nothing to me.'
And so the Snail retired into his house, and closed up the entrance after him.
That is very sad ! ' said the Rose Tree. ' I cannot creep into myself, even if I wish it—I must continue to produce roses. They drop their leaves, and are blown away by the wind. But I saw how a rose was laid in the matron's hymn-book, and one of my roses had a place on the bosom of a fair young girl, and another was kissed by the lips of a child in the full joy of life. That did me good ; it was a real blessing. That's my remembrance—my life !'