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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994                              THE DRYAD
Here sounded soft Italian melodies, there Spanish songs, accompanied by the beating of castanets, but strongest, and swelling above all, sounded the musical-box melodies of the moment, the tickling can-can music, unknown to Orpheus, and never heard by beautiful Helen; even the wheelbarrow must have danced on its one wheel if it could have danced. The Dryad danced, floated, flew, changing in colour like the honey-bird in the sunshine; each house and the world within it gave fresh tints to her. As the gleaming lotus-flower, torn from its root, is borne by the stream on its eddies, she drifted; and wherever she stood, she was again a new shape, therefore no one could follow her, recognize and watch her.
Like cloud-pictures everything flew past her, face after face, but not a single one did she know; she saw no form from her own home. There shone in her thoughts two bright eyes, and she thought of Marie, poor Marie ! the happy, ragged child with the red flower in her black hair. She was in the city of the world, rich, and dazzling, as when she drove past the priest's house, the Dryad's tree, and the old oak. She was here, no doubt, in the deafening noise; perhaps she had just got out of that magnificent coach waiting yonder; splendid carriages stood here with laced coachmen, and silk-stockinged footmen. The grand people alighting were all women, richly dressed ladies. They went through the open lattice-door, up the high, broad stairs, which led to a building with white marble columns. Was this perhaps the ' Wonder of the World ' ? Then certainly Marie was there !
1 Sancta Maria !' they sang within ; the clouds of incense floated under the lofty painted and gilded arches, where twilight reigned. It was the Church of the Madeleine. Dressed in black, in costly materials made after the latest fashion, ladies of the highest society glided over the polished floor. Coats of arms were on the silver clasps of the prayer-books bound in velvet, and on the fine, strongly-scented handkerchiefs trimmed with costly Brussels lace. Some of the ladies knelt in silent prayer before the altars, others sought the confessionals. The Dryad felt a restlessness, a fear, as if she had entered a place where she ought not to have set foot. Here was the home of silence, the palace of