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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THE DRYAD
991
was a whole garden plot right in the middle of the square. The dead, uprooted tree, killed by gas-fumes, kitchen-fumes, and all the plant-killing vapours of a town, was laid on the cart and driven away. The crowd looked on, children and old people sat on benches on the grass, and looked up among the leaves of the newly-planted tree. And we, who tell about it, stood on the balcony, looked down on the young spring verdure just come from the fresh country air, and said, as the old priest would have said : ' Poor Dryad ! '
' How happy I am ! ' said the Dryad, ' and yet I cannot quite realize it, nor quite express what I feel ; everything is as I expected it ! and yet not quite as I expected ! '
The houses were so high, and so close : the sun shone properly only upon one wall, and it was pasted over with posters and placards, before which the people stood and made the place crowded. Vehicles went past, light and heavy; omnibuses, those over-filled houses on wheels, rolled along, riders trotted ahead, carts and carriages claimed the right to do the same. The Dryad wondered whether the tall houses, which stood so close, would also flit away, change their shapes like the clouds and glide aside, so that she could see into Paris, and out over it. Notre-Dame must show itself, and the Vendome Column, and the Wonder which had called and was calling so many strangers hither. But the houses did not move.
It was still day, when the lamps were lighted, the gas-rays shone out from the shops and up among the branches of the tree ; it was like summer sunshine. The stars came out overhead, the same ones the Dryad had seen in her native place ; she thought she felt a breeze from there, so pure and mild. She felt herself elevated and strengthened, and found she had the power of seeing right out through all the leaves of the tree, and had feeling to the farthest tips of the roots. She felt herself in the living human world, looked at with kindly eyes ; round about were bustle and music, colours and lights.
From a side street sounded wind-instruments, and the dance-inspiring tunes of the barrel-organ. Yes, to the dance, to the dance ! it sounded—to gladness and the pleasure of life.