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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1052             THE GREAT SEA-SERPENT
two long stalks with eyes sticking out, lay and stared to see what the result of all the commotion would be.
The cable lay without moving, but life and thought were in it all the same. The thoughts of men went through it.
' The thing is cunning ! said the whale. ' It is quite capable of hitting me in the stomach, and that is my tender spot! *
' Let us feel our way !' said the polypus. {I have long arms, I have supple fingers ! I have touched it, I will now take hold a little more firmly.'
And it stretched its supple, longest arm down to the cable and round about it.
1 It has no scales/ said the polypus, ' it has no skin.'
The sea-eel laid itself down beside the cable, and stretched itself out as far as it could.
' The thing is longer than I !' it said, ' but it is not the length that matters, one must have skin, stomach, and suppleness.'
The whale, the strong young whale, dropped itself down deeper than it had ever been before.
1 Are you fish or plant ?' he asked, ' or are you only something from above which cannot thrive down here amongst us ?'
But the cable answered nothing: that is not its way of doing. Thoughts went through it; the thoughts of men ; they ran in a second, many hundreds of miles from land to land.
' Will you answer or will you be snapped ? ' asked the ferocious shark, and all the other big fishes asked the same. 1 Will you answer or be snapped ?'
The cable paid no attention, it had its own thoughts ; it is full of thoughts.
' Only let them snap me, and I shall be pulled up and put right again; that has happened to others of my kind in lesser channels.'
And so it answered nothing, it had other things to do; it telegraphed and lay in lawful occupation at the bottom of the sea.
Up above the sun set, as men say; it looked like the reddest fire, and all the clouds in the sky shone like fire, the one more magnificent than the other.