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

992                              THE DRYAD
It was a music that must set men, horses, carriages, trees, and houses dancing, if they could dance. An intoxicating joy arose in the Dryad's breast.
' How delightful and beautiful!' she cried joyfully, 11 am in Paris !'
The day which came, the night which followed, and again the next day, offered the same sights, the same stir, the same life, changing and yet always the same.
' Now I know every tree and every flower in the square here I I know every house, balcony and shop here, where I am placed in this little cramped corner which hides the great, mighty town from me. Where are the triumphal arches, the boulevards, and the Wonder of the World ? None of all these do I see ! I am imprisoned as in a cage amongst the tall houses, which I now know by heart, with their placards, and posters, and sign-boards, all these plaster sweetmeats, which I have no taste for any longer. Where is all that I heard about, know about, longed for, and for the sake of which I wished to come here ? What have I grasped, won, or found ! I am longing as before, I see a life which I must grasp and live in ! I must enter the ranks of the living ! I must revel there, fly like the birds, see and understand, become wholly human, seize half a day of that in place of years of life in everyday fatigue and tediousness, in which I sicken and droop, and vanish like the mist on the meadow. I must shine like the cloud, shine in the sunlight of life, look out over everything like the cloud, and pass away like it,óno one knows whither ! '
This was the Dryad's sigh, which lifted itself in prayer.
' Take my lifetime, and give me the half of the Ephemera's life ! Free me from my imprisonment, give me human life, human joy for a short space, only this single night, if it must be so, and punish me thus for my presumptuous spirit, my longing for life ! Annihilate me ; let the fresh, young tree that encloses me then wither and fall, become ashes, and be scattered to the winds.'
A rustling passed through the branches of the tree; there came a titillating feeling, a trembling in every leaf, as if fire ran through it or out of it, a blast went through the crown of the tree, and in the midst of it arose a woman's