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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a romance about the Will-o'-the-Wisps, in twelve parts ; or, better still, one might make quite a popular play of them.'
' You might write that,' said the woman, ' but it's best let alone.'
1 Yes, that's better and more agreeable,',the man replied, ' for then we shall escape from the newspapers, and not be tied up by them, which is just as uncomfortable as for a Will-o'-the-Wisp to lie in decaying wood, to have to gleam, and not be able to stir/
'1 don't care about it either way,' cried the woman. ' Let the rest write, those who can, and those who cannot likewise. I'll give you an old tap from my cask that will open the cupboard where poetry is kept in bottles, and you may take from that whatever may be wanting. But you, my good man, seem to have blackened your hands suffi­ciently with ink, and to have come to that age of sedateness, that you need not be running about every year for stories, especially as there are much more important things to be done. You must have understood what is going on ? '
' The Will-o'-the-Wisps are in the town,' said the man. ' I've heard it, and I have understood it. But what do you think I ought to do ? I should be thrashed if I were to go to the people and say, " Look, yonder goes a Will-o'-the-Wisp in his best clothes ! " '
1 They also go in undress/ replied the woman. ' The Will-o'-the-Wisp can assume all kinds of forms, and appear in every place. He goes into the church, but not for the sake of the service ; and perhaps he may enter into one or other of the priests. He speaks at the elections, not for the benefit of the country, but only for himself. He 's an artist with the colour-pot as well as in the theatre ; but when he gets all the power into his own hands, then the pot's empty ! I chatter and chatter, but it must come out, what's sticking in my throat, to the disadvantage of my own family. But I must now be the woman that will save a good many people. It is not done with my goodwill, or for the sake of a medal. I do the most insane things I possibly can, and then I tell a poet about it, and thus the whole town gets to know of it directly.'
4 The town will not take that to heart,' observed the