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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988                              THE DRYAD
All this, they said, the Field of Mars now bears and presents to view, and over this great richly-decked table moves, like a busy swarm of ants, the whole crowd of people, either on foot or drawn in little carriages ; all legs cannot stand such an exhausting promenade.'
They come here from early morning until late in the evening. Steamer after steamer, full of people, glides down the Seine. The number of carriages is constantly increasing, the crowds of people both on foot and on horse­back are increasing, omnibuses and tramcars are stuffed and filled and covered with people,—all these streams move to one goal, ' The Paris Exhibition !' All the entrances are decorated with the French flag ; round about the bazaar-buildings wave the flags of all nations ; from the machinery-hall there is a whirring and humming ; the bells chime in melody from the towers ; the organs play inside the churches ; hoarse, snuffling songs from the Oriental cafes mingle with the music. It is like the kingdom of Babel, the language of Babel, a Wonder of the World. It was such indeed—so the reports about it said ; who did not hear them ? The Dryad knew everything that has been said here about the ' new wonder ' in the city of cities.
* Fly, ye birds ! fly thither to look, come again and tell 1' was the prayer of the Dryad.
The longing swelled to a wish, and became a life's thought; and then one still silent night, when the full moon was shining, there flew out from its disk—the Dryad saw it—a spark, which fell glittering like a meteor ; and before the tree, whose branches shook as in a blast of wind, stood a mighty, radiant figure. It spoke in tones so soft and yet as strong as the trump of the Last Day, which kisses to life and calls to judgement.
* Thou shalt enter that place of enchantment, thou shalt there take root, feel the rushing currents, the air and the sunshine there. But thy lifetime shall be shortened, the series of years which awaited thee out here in the open, will shrink there to a small number of seasons. Poor Dryad ; it will be thy ruin ! thy longing will grow, thy yearning and thy craving will become stronger ! The tree itself will become a prison for thee ; thou wilt forsake thy dwelling, forsake thy nature, and fly away and mix with