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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GREAT GRANDFATHER                  1035
and now the whole of the townspeople settled everything by the railway clock.
I laughed and thought it was a funny story, but Great­grandfather didn't laugh ; he became quite serious.
' There is a great deal in that story of yours,' he said, ' and I also understand your idea in telling it to me. There is instruction in your clockwork. It makes me think of another instance, my parents' simple old grandfather's clock, with its leaden weights ; it was their and my child­hood's chronometer : it did not go quite correctly, but it went, and we looked at the hands; we believed in them and did not think of the wheels inside. So also was it with the machinery of the state at that time ; one looked at it with confidence and believed in the hands. Now the state machine has become like a glass clock, where one can look right into the machinery and see the wheels turn and whirl. One gets quite afraid for this pivot and that wheel! I wonder how it will go with the striking, and I have no longer my childhood's faith. That is the weakness of the present time ! '
And so Great-grandfather talked himself quite angry. He and Frederick could not agree, but they could not separate either, just like the old and the new time ! They learned that, both of them and all the family, when Freder­ick had to start on a long journey, far away to America. It was on the business of the house that the journey had to be made. It was a terrible separation for Great-grand­father, and the journey was so long, right across the ocean to another part of the globe.
1 Every fortnight you will have a letter from me,' said Frederick, ' and quicker than all the letters, you will be able to hear from me by telegraph; the days become hours, and the hours minutes ! '
Over the telegraph wires came a message from England, when Frederick went on board. Quicker than a letter, even if the flying clouds had been the postman, came a message from America when Frederick landed. It was only a few hours since he had done so.
1 It is a divine thought which is granted to our time,' said Great-grandfather ; ' a blessing for mankind.'
* Yes, and Frederick has told me that it was in our