Andersen's Fairy Tales HTML version
and boots to be confirmed in from the innkeeper's son, and he was to give them back by a
certain hour; the third said that he never went to a strange place if his parents were not with
him--that he had always been a good boy hitherto, and would still be so now that he was
confirmed, and that one ought not to laugh at him for it: the others, however, did make fun
of him, after all.
There were three, therefore, that did not go; the others hastened on. The sun shone, the
birds sang, and the children sang too, and each held the other by the hand; for as yet they
had none of them any high office, and were all of equal rank in the eye of God.
But two of the youngest soon grew tired, and both returned to town; two little girls sat
down, and twined garlands, so they did not go either; and when the others reached the
willow-tree, where the confectioner was, they said, "Now we are there! In reality the bell
does not exist; it is only a fancy that people have taken into their heads!"
At the same moment the bell sounded deep in the wood, so clear and solemnly that five or
six determined to penetrate somewhat further. It was so thick, and the foliage so dense, that
it was quite fatiguing to proceed. Woodroof and anemonies grew almost too high;
blooming convolvuluses and blackberry-bushes hung in long garlands from tree to tree,
where the nightingale sang and the sunbeams were playing: it was very beautiful, but it was
no place for girls to go; their clothes would get so torn. Large blocks of stone lay there,
overgrown with moss of every color; the fresh spring bubbled forth, and made a strange
"That surely cannot be the bell," said one of the children, lying down and listening. "This
must be looked to." So he remained, and let the others go on without him.
They afterwards came to a little house, made of branches and the bark of trees; a large wild
apple-tree bent over it, as if it would shower down all its blessings on the roof, where roses
were blooming. The long stems twined round the gable, on which there hung a small bell.
Was it that which people had heard? Yes, everybody was unanimous on the subject, except
one, who said that the bell was too small and too fine to be heard at so great a distance, and
besides it was very different tones to those that could move a human heart in such a
manner. It was a king's son who spoke; whereon the others said, "Such people always want
to be wiser than everybody else."
They now let him go on alone; and as he went, his breast was filled more and more with the
forest solitude; but he still heard the little bell with which the others were so satisfied, and
now and then, when the wind blew, he could also hear the people singing who were sitting
at tea where the confectioner had his tent; but the deep sound of the bell rose louder; it was
almost as if an organ were accompanying it, and the tones came from the left hand, the side
where the heart is placed. A rustling was heard in the bushes, and a little boy stood before
the King's Son, a boy in wooden shoes, and with so short a jacket that one could see what
long wrists he had. Both knew each other: the boy was that one among the children who
could not come because he had to go home and return his jacket and boots to the