The Complete Fairy Tales & Other Stories
By Hans Christian Andersen - online book

Oxford Complete Illustrated Edition all his stories written between 1835 and 1872.

Home Main Menu Order Support About Search

Share page  

Previous Contents Next

the swamp-water. Each of the elf-maidens gave a little piece of her veil.
' " Take that," they said, " and then you'll know the higher dance, the most difficult turns and twists—that is to say, if you should find them necessary. You'll know the proper deportment, and then you can show yourself in the very pick of society."
1 The night raven taught each of the young Will-o'-the-Wisps to say, " Goo—goo—good," and to say it in the right place ; and that's a great gift, which brings its own reward.
' The owl and the stork also made some remarks—but they said it was not worth mentioning, and so we won't mention it.
' King Waldemar's wild chase was just then rushing over the moor, and when the great lords heard of the festivities that were going on, they sent as a present a couple of handsome dogs, which hunt with the speed of the wind, and can well bear two or three of the Will-o'-the-Wisps. A couple of old Nightmares, spirits who support themselves with riding, were also at the feast; and from these the young Will-o'-the-Wisps learned the art of slipping through every key-hole, as if the door stood open before them. These offered to carry the youngsters to the town, with which they were well acquainted. They usually rode through the air on their own back hair, which is fastened into a knot, for they love a hard seat; but now they sat astride on the wild hunting dogs, took the young Will-o'-the-Wisps in their laps, who wanted to go into the town to mislead and entice mortals, and, whisk ! away they were. Now, this is what happened last night. To-day the Will-o'-the-Wisps are in the town, and have taken the matter in hand— but where and how ? Ah, can you tell me that ? Still, I've a lightning-conductor in my great toe, and that will always tell me something.'
* Why, this is a complete story,' exclaimed the man.
* Yes, but it is only the beginning,' replied the woman. Can you tell me how the Will-o'-the-Wisps deport them­selves, and how they behave ? and in what shapes they have appeared in order to lead people into crooked paths ? '
* I believe,' replied the man, ' that one could tell quite