Hans Andersen Fairy Tales Kay Nielsen

Pook Press The Elder Tree Mother

Fairy Tales of Hans Christian Andersen

This story is taken from The Fairy Tales of Hans Christian Andersen – Illustrated by Kay Nielsen. It was a undertaking that took Nielsen twelve years to finish, and his illustrations completely capture the other-worldly spirit of Andersen’s material.

A story for a boy who acquired his ft wet, a golden wedding-day, and a tale in a teapot.


A Hans Christian Andersen Story


THERE was once somewhat boy who had caught cold; he had gone out and received moist ft; nobody might think about the way it had happened, for it was quite dry weather. Now his mom undressed him, put him to bed, and had the tea-urn introduced in to make him a great cup of elder tea, for that warms nicely. At the similar time there also got here in on the door the pleasant previous man who lived on their lonesome at the prime of the house, and was very solitary. He had neither wife nor youngsters, however he was very keen on all youngsters, and knew so many tales that it was fairly pleasant.

“Now you are to drink your tea,” stated the mother, “and then perhaps you will hear a story.”

“Ah! if one only could tell a new one!” stated the previous man, with a pleasant nod. “But where did the little man get his feet wet?” he requested.

“Yes,” replied the mother, “no one can imagine how that came about.”

“Shall I have a story?” requested the boy.

“Yes, if you can tell me at all accurately—for I must know that first—how deep the gutter is in the little street through which you go to school.”

“Just half-way up to my knee,” answered the boy, “that is, if I put my feet in the deep hole.”

“You see, that’s how we get our feet wet,” stated the previous gentleman. “Now I ought certainly to tell you a story; but I don’t know any more.”

“You can make up one directly,” answered the little boy. “Mother says that everything you look at can be turned into a story, and that you can make a tale of everything you touch.”

“Yes, but those stories and tales are worth nothing! No, the real ones come of themselves. They knock at my forehead, and say, “Here I am!”

“Will there soon be a knock?” asked the little boy, and the mom laughed, and put elder tea within the pot, and poured scorching water upon it.

“A story! a story!”

“Yes, if a story would come of itself; but that kind of thing is very grand; it only comes when it’s in the humour.—Wait!” he cried abruptly; “here we have it. Look you; there’s one in the tea-pot now.”

And the little boy seemed across on the tea-pot. The lid raised itself increasingly, and the elder flowers came forth from it, white and recent; they shot forth long recent branches even out of the spout, they spread abroad in all directions, and became bigger and bigger; there was probably the most superb elder bush—the truth is, fairly a terrific tree. It penetrated even to the mattress, and thrust the curtains apart; how fragrant it was, and the way it bloomed! And in the midst of the tree sat an previous, pleasant-looking lady in a wierd gown. It was fairly inexperienced, like the leaves of the elder tree, and bordered with nice white elder blossoms; one couldn’t directly discern whether this border was of stuff or of dwelling inexperienced and actual flowers.

“What is the woman’s name?” the little boy asked.

The Elder-Tree Mother, illustrated by Arthur Rackham

“The Romans and Greeks,” replied the previous man, “used to call her a Dryad; but we don’t understand that: out in the sailors’ quarter we have a better name for her; there she’s called Elder Tree Mother, and it is to her you must pay attention; only listen, and look at that glorious elder tree.”

“Just such a great blooming tree stands out in the sailors’ quarter; it grew there in the corner of a poor little yard, and under this tree two old people sat one afternoon in the brightest sunshine. It was an old, old sailor, and his old, old wife; they had great-grandchildren, and were soon to celebrate their golden wedding; but they could not quite make out the date, and the Elder Tree Mother sat in the tree and looked pleased, just as she does here. ‘I know very well when the golden wedding is to be,’ said she; but they did not hear it—they were talking of old times.”

“ ‘Yes, do you remember,’ ” stated the previous seaman, ‘when we were quite little, and ran about and played together! It was in the very same yard where we are sitting now, and we planted little twigs in the yard, and made a garden.’ ”

“Yes,” replied the previous lady, “I remember it very well: we watered the twigs, and one of them was an elder twig; that struck root, shot out other green twigs, and has become the great tree, under which we old people sit.”

“Surely,” stated he; “and yonder in the corner stood a butt of water; there I swam my boat; I had cut it out myself. How it could sail! But I certainly soon had to sail in a different fashion myself.”

“But first we went to school and learned something,” stated she, “and then we were confirmed; we both cried, but in the afternoon we went hand in hand to the round tower, and looked out into the wide world, over Copenhagen and across the water; then we went out to Fredericksberg, where the King and Queen were sailing in their splendid boats upon the canals.”

The Elder-Tree Mother, illustrated by Arthur Rackham

“But I was obliged to sail in another fashion, and that for many years, far away on long voyages.”

“Yes, I often cried about you,” she stated. “I thought you were dead and gone, and lying down in the deep waters, rocked by the waves. Many a night I got up to look if the weathercock was turning. Yes, it turned indeed; but you did not come. I remember so clearly how the rain streamed down one day. The man with the cart who fetched away the dust came to the place where I was in service. I went down to him with the dust-bin, and remained standing in the doorway. What wretched weather it was! And just as I stood there the postman came up and gave me a letter. It was from you! How that letter had travelled about! I tore it open and read; I laughed and wept at once, I was so glad. There it stood written that you were in the warm countries where the coffee-beans grow. What a delightful land that must be! You told me so much, and I read it all while the rain was streaming down, and I stood by the dust-bin. Then somebody came and clasped me round the waist.”

“And you gave him a terrible box on the ear—one that sounded?”

“I did not know that it was you. You had arrived just as quickly as your letter. And you were so handsome; but that you are still. You had a long yellow silk handkerchief in your pocket, and a shiny hat on your head. You were so handsome! And, gracious! what weather it was, and how the street looked!”

“Then we were married,” stated he; “do you remember? And then when our first little boy came, and then Marie, and Neils, and Peter and Hans Christian?”

“Yes, and how all of these have grown up to be respectable people, and every one likes them.”

“And their children have had little ones in their turn,” stated the previous sailor. “Yes, those are children’s children! They’re of the right sort. It was, if I don’t mistake, at this very season of the year that we were married?”

“Yes; this is the day of your golden wedding,” stated the Elder Tree Mother, placing out her head simply between the 2 previous individuals; they usually thought it was a neighbour nodding to them, they usually checked out one another, and took hold of one another’s palms.

Quickly afterwards got here their youngsters and grandchildren; these knew very nicely that it was the golden wedding-day; that they had already introduced their congratulations in the morning, but the previous individuals had forgotten it, whereas they remembered every part proper nicely that had occurred years and years in the past.

And the elder tree smelt so robust, and the sun that was simply setting shone simply within the faces of the previous individuals, in order that their cheeks appeared fairly pink; and the youngest of their grandchildren danced about them, and cried out quite gleefully that there was to be a feast this night, for they have been to have scorching potatoes; and the Elder Mother nodded within the tree, and referred to as out “hurrah!” with all the remaining.

“But that was not a story,” stated the little boy who had heard it informed.

“Yes, if you could understand it,” replied the previous man; “but let us ask the Elder Mother about it.”

“That was not a story,” stated the Elder Mother; “but now it comes; but of truth the strangest stories are formed, otherwise my beautiful elder tree could not have sprouted forth out of the tea-pot.”

And then she took the little boy away from bed, and laid him upon her bosom, and the blossoming elder branches wound round them, so that they sat because it have been in the thickest arbour, and this arbour flew with them via the air. It was indescribably lovely. Elder Mother all of sudden turned a reasonably young woman; however her gown was nonetheless of the inexperienced stuff with the white blossoms that Elder Mother had worn; in her bosom she had a real elder blossom, and about her yellow curly hair a wreath of elder flowers; her eyes have been so giant and blue, they have been lovely to take a look at. She and the boy have been of the same age, they usually kissed one another and felt comparable joys.

Hand in hand they went forth out of the arbour, and now they stood in the beauteous flower garden of residence. The father’s employees was tied up close to the recent grass-plot, and for the little boy there was life in that employees. As quickly as they seated themselves upon it, the polished head was a noble neighing horse’s head, with a flowing mane, and four slender legs shot forth; the creature was robust and spirited, they usually rode at a gallop round the grass-plot—hurrah!

“Now we’re going to ride many miles away,” stated the boy; “we’ll ride to the nobleman’s estate, where we went last year!”

They usually rode spherical and around the grass-plot, and the little woman, who, as we all know, was nobody else but Elder Mother, stored crying out.

“Now we’re in the country! Do you see the farmhouse, with the great baking-oven standing out of the wall like an enormous egg by the wayside? The elder tree spreads its branches over it, and the cock walks about, scratching for his hens; look how he struts! Now we are near the church; it lies high up on the hill, among the great oak trees, one of which is half dead. Now we are at the forge, where the fire burns and the half-clad men beat with their hammers, so that the sparks fly far around. Away, away to the nobleman’s splendid seat!”

And every part that the little maiden mentioned, as she sat on the stick behind him, flew past them, and the little boy saw all of it, though they have been only driving spherical and around the grass-plot. Then they played in the side-walk, and scratched up the earth to make just a little garden; and she or he took elder flowers out of her hair and planted them, they usually grew identical to people who the previous individuals had planted once they have been little, as has been already advised. They went hand in hand just as the previous individuals had finished of their childhood; however to not the spherical tower, or to the Fredericksberg Backyard. No, the little woman took maintain of the boy round the body, after which they flew right here and there over the entire of Denmark.

And it was spring, and summer time came, and autumn, and winter, and hundreds of images have been mirrored in the boy’s eyes and heart, and the little maiden was all the time singing to him.

He will never forget that; and all through their entire journey the elder tree smelt so candy, so fragrant; he observed the roses and the recent beech timber; however the elder tree smelt stronger than all, for its flowers hung round the little woman’s coronary heart, and he typically leaned towards them as they flew onward.

“How beautiful it is here in spring!” stated the little woman.

They usually stood in the new-leaved beech wooden, the place the green woodruff lay spread in perfume at their ft, and the pale pink anemones seemed superb among the many vivid green.

“Oh, that it were always spring in the fragrant Danish beech woods!”

“How beautiful it is here in summer!” stated she.

They usually handed by previous castles of knightly days, castles whose purple partitions and pointed gables have been mirrored within the canals, the place swans swam about, and appeared down the previous shady avenues. In the fields the corn waved like a sea, within the ditches yellow and pink flowers have been rising, and within the hedges wild hops and blooming convolvulus. In the evening the moon rose spherical and enormous, and the haystacks within the meadows smelt candy.

“How beautiful it is here in autumn!” stated the little woman.

And the sky seemed twice as lofty and twice as blue as before, and the forest was decked in probably the most beautiful tints of pink, yellow, and green. The searching canine raced about; entire flocks of wild geese flew screaming over the ancient grave-mound, on which bramble bushes twined over the previous stones. The sea was dark blue, and coated with ships and white sails; and within the barns sat previous ladies, women, and youngsters, choosing hops into a large tub: the young individuals sang songs, and the older ones informed tales of magicians and goblins. It could not be finer anyplace.

“How beautiful it is here in winter!” stated the little woman.

The Elder-Tree Mother, illustrated by Kay Knielsen

And all of the timber have been coated with hoar frost, in order that they seemed like white timber of coral. The snow crackled beneath one’s ft, as if every one had new boots on; and one capturing star after another fell from the sky. In the room the Christmas tree was lighted up, and there have been presents, and there was happiness. Within the country individuals’s farmhouses the violin sounded, and there have been merry video games for apples; and even the poorest youngster stated, “It is beautiful in winter!”

Yes, it was lovely; and the little woman showed the boy every little thing; and nonetheless the blossoming tree smelt candy, and nonetheless waved the pink flag with the white cross, the flag beneath which the previous seaman had sailed. The boy turned a youth, and was to exit into the large world, distant to the recent nations the place the espresso grows. However once they have been to half the little woman took an elder blossom from her breast, and gave it to him to maintain. It was laid in his hymn-book, and in the overseas land, when he opened the guide, it was all the time on the place the place the flower of remembrance lay; and the extra he seemed on the flower the brisker it turned, so that he appeared, because it have been, to breathe the forest air of house; then he plainly saw the little woman searching together with her clear blue eyes from between the petals of the flower, after which she whispered, “How beautiful it is here in spring, summer, autumn, and winter!” and lots of of pictures glided by way of his ideas.

Thus many years glided by, and now he was an previous man, and sat together with his previous wife beneath the blossoming elder tree: they have been holding each other by the hand, simply as the great-grandmother and great-grandfather had finished earlier than; and, like these, they spoke of previous occasions and of the golden wedding ceremony. The little maiden with the blue eyes and with the elder blossoms in her hair sat up in the tree, and nodded to each of them, and stated, “To-day is the golden wedding-day!” after which she took two flowers out of her hair and kissed them, they usually gleamed first like silver and then like gold, and when she laid them on the heads of the previous individuals every turned into a golden crown. There they both sat, like a King and a Queen, beneath the fragrant tree which seemed quite like an elder bush, and he advised his previous spouse of the story of the Elder Tree Mother, because it had been informed to him when
he was fairly a bit boy, they usually both thought that there was so much within the story that resembled their own, and those elements they appreciated the perfect.

“Yes, thus it is!” stated the little woman within the tree. “Some call me Elder Tree Mother, others the Dryad, but my real name is Remembrance: it is I who sit in the tree that grows on and on, and I can think back and tell stories. Let me see if you have still your flower.”

And the previous man opened his hymn-book; there lay the elder blossom as recent as if it had only simply been positioned there; and Remembrance nodded, and the 2 previous individuals with the golden crowns on their heads sat within the purple night daylight, they usually closed their eyes, and—and—the story was finished.

The little boy lay in his mattress and didn’t know whether he had been dreaming or had heard a tale advised; the tea-pot stood on the desk, however no elder bush was growing out of it, and the previous man who had informed about it was simply going out of the door, and indeed he went.

“How beautiful that was!” stated the little boy. “Mother I have been in the hot countries.”

“Yes, I can imagine that!” replied his mother. “When one drinks two cups of hot elder tea one very often gets into the hot countries!” And she or he coated him up nicely, that he won’t take cold. “You have slept well while I disputed with him as to whether it was a story or a fairy tale.”

“And where is the Elder Tree Mother?” asked the little lad.

“She’s in the teapot,” replied his mom; “and there she may stay.”

Fairy Tales of Hans Christian Andersen
Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen - Arthur Rackham