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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BROWNIE AND THE DAME                909
' What a human creature he is, the brownie/ said the old cat; ' only a sweet mew from the dame, a mew about himself, and he at once changes his mind. The dame is sly.'
But she was not sly ; it was the brownie who was a human being.
If you cannot understand this story, then ask, but you. must not ask the brownie, nor the dame, either.
It is incredible what children know nowadays. One is almost at a loss to say what there is that they do not know.
That the stork has fetched them out of the well or out of the mill-dam, and brought them as little children to their father and mother, is now such an old story, that they don't believe it, and yet it is the only true one.
But how do the children come to be in the mill-dam and the well ? Ah, every one does not know that, but still some do. Have you ever really looked at the sky, on a clear starry night, and seen the many shooting-stars ? It is as if a star fell and vanished. The most learned cannot explain what they do not know themselves ! but it can be explained when one knows it. It is just as if a little Christmas candle fell from the sky and was extin­guished ; it is a soul-spark from Our Father, which travels down towards the earth, and when it comes into our closer, heavier atmosphere the brightness vanishes, and there remains only what our eyes have not the power to see, for it is something much finer than our air, it is a heaven-child which is sent, a little angel, but without wings, for the little one shall become a man. Quietly it glides through the air, and the wind carries it into a flower, it may be a violet, a dandelion, a rose or a ragged robin, there it lies and makes itself strong. It is light and airy ; a fly might fly away with it, or at any rate a bee, and they come by turns to search for the sweetness in the flower. If now the air-child should lie in their way, they do not whisk it out, they have not the heart to do that; they lay it in the