Andersen's Fairy Tales HTML version
But Night stood still and mute. Then the mother wrung her hands, sang and wept, and there
were many songs, but yet many more tears; and then Night said, "Go to the right, into the
dark pine forest; thither I saw Death take his way with thy little child!"
The roads crossed each other in the depths of the forest, and she no longer knew whither
she should go! then there stood a thorn-bush; there was neither leaf nor flower on it, it was
also in the cold winter season, and ice-flakes hung on the branches.
"Hast thou not seen Death go past with my little child?" said the mother.
"Yes," said the thorn-bush; "but I will not tell thee which way he took, unless thou wilt first
warm me up at thy heart. I am freezing to death; I shall become a lump of ice!"
And she pressed the thorn-bush to her breast, so firmly, that it might be thoroughly
warmed, and the thorns went right into her flesh, and her blood flowed in large drops, but
the thornbush shot forth fresh green leaves, and there came flowers on it in the cold winter
night, the heart of the afflicted mother was so warm; and the thorn-bush told her the way
she should go.
She then came to a large lake, where there was neither ship nor boat. The lake was not
frozen sufficiently to bear her; neither was it open, nor low enough that she could wade
through it; and across it she must go if she would find her child! Then she lay down to
drink up the lake, and that was an impossibility for a human being, but the afflicted mother
thought that a miracle might happen nevertheless.
"Oh, what would I not give to come to my child!" said the weeping mother; and she wept
still more, and her eyes sunk down in the depths of the waters, and became two precious
pearls; but the water bore her up, as if she sat in a swing, and she flew in the rocking waves
to the shore on the opposite side, where there stood a mile-broad, strange house, one knew
not if it were a mountain with forests and caverns, or if it were built up; but the poor
mother could not see it; she had wept her eyes out.
"Where shall I find Death, who took away my little child?" said she.
"He has not come here yet!" said the old grave woman, who was appointed to look after
Death's great greenhouse! "How have you been able to find the way hither? And who has
"OUR LORD has helped me," said she. "He is merciful, and you will also be so! Where
shall I find my little child?"
"Nay, I know not," said the woman, "and you cannot see! Many flowers and trees have
withered this night; Death will soon come and plant them over again! You certainly know
that every person has his or her life's tree or flower, just as everyone happens to be settled;
they look like other plants, but they have pulsations of the heart. Children's hearts can also