Category: 英语小故事  Clicks: 1650  Top: 10  Update Date: 2008/09/14

  • 1872



    by Hans Christian Andersen

    ANNE LISBETH was a beautiful young woman, with a red and white

    complexion, glittering white teeth, and clear soft eyes; and her

    footstep was light in the dance, but her mind was lighter still. She

    had a little child, not at all pretty; so he was put out to be

    nursed by a laborer's wife, and his mother went to the count's castle.

    She sat in splendid rooms, richly decorated with silk and velvet;

    not a breath of air was allowed to blow upon her, and no one was

    allowed to speak to her harshly, for she was nurse to the count's

    child. He was fair and delicate as a prince, and beautiful as an

    angel; and how she loved this child! Her own boy was provided for by

    being at the laborer's where the mouth watered more frequently than

    the pot boiled, and where in general no one was at home to take care

    of the child. Then he would cry, but what nobody knows nobody cares

    for; so he would cry till he was tired, and then fall asleep; and

    while we are asleep we can feel neither hunger nor thirst. Ah, yes;

    sleep is a capital invention.

    As years went on, Anne Lisbeth's child grew apace like weeds,

    although they said his growth had been stunted. He had become quite

    a member of the family in which he dwelt; they received money to

    keep him, so that his mother got rid of him altogether. She had become

    quite a lady; she had a comfortable home of her own in the town; and

    out of doors, when she went for a walk, she wore a bonnet; but she

    never walked out to see the laborer: that was too far from the town,

    and, indeed, she had nothing to go for, the boy now belonged to

    these laboring people. He had food, and he could also do something

    towards earning his living; he took care of Mary's red cow, for he

    knew how to tend cattle and make himself useful.

    The great dog by the yard gate of a nobleman's mansion sits

    proudly on the top of his kennel when the sun shines, and barks at

    every one that passes; but if it rains, he creeps into his house,

    and there he is warm and dry. Anne Lisbeth's boy also sat in the

    sunshine on the top of the fence, cutting out a little toy. If it

    was spring-time, he knew of three strawberry-plants in blossom,

    which would certainly bear fruit. This was his most hopeful thought,

    though it often came to nothing. And he had to sit out in the rain

    in the worst weather, and get wet to the skin, and let the cold wind

    dry the clothes on his back afterwards. If he went near the farmyard

    belonging to the count, he was pushed and knocked about, for the men

    and the maids said he was so horrible ugly; but he was used to all

    this, for nobody loved him. This was how the world treated Anne

    Lisbeth's boy, and how could it be otherwise. It was his fate to be

    beloved by no one. Hitherto he had been a land crab; the land at

    last cast him adrift. He went to sea in a wretched vessel, and sat

    at the helm, while the skipper sat over the grog-can. He was dirty and

    ugly, half-frozen and half-starved; he always looked as if he never

    had enough to eat, which was really the case.

    Late in the autumn, when the weather was rough, windy, and wet,

    and the cold penetrated through the thickest clothing, especially at

    sea, a wretched boat went out to sea with only two men on board, or,

    more correctly, a man and a half, for it was the skipper and his

    boy. There had only been a kind of twilight all day, and it soon

    grew quite dark, and so bitterly cold, that the skipper took a dram to

    warm him. The bottle was old, and the glass too. It was perfect in the

    upper part, but the foot was broken off, and it had therefore been

    fixed upon a little carved block of wood, painted blue. A dram is a

    great comfort, and two are better still, thought the skipper, while

    the boy sat at the helm, which he held fast in his hard seamed

    hands. He was ugly, and his hair was matted, and he looked crippled

    and stunted; they called him the field-laborer's boy, though in the

    church register he was entered as Anne Lisbeth's son. The wind cut

    through the rigging, and the boat cut through the sea. The sails,

    filled by the wind, swelled out and carried them along in wild career.

    It was wet and rough above and below, and might still be worse.

    Hold! what is that? What has struck the boat? Was it a waterspout,

    or a heavy sea rolling suddenly upon them?

    "Heaven help us!" cried the boy at the helm, as the boat heeled

    over and lay on its beam ends. It had struck on a rock, which rose

    from the depths of the sea, and sank at once, like an old shoe in a

    puddle. "It sank at once with mouse and man," as the saying is.

    There might have been mice on board, but only one man and a half,

    the skipper and the laborer's boy. No one saw it but the skimming

    sea-gulls and the fishes beneath the water; and even they did not

    see it properly, for they darted back with terror as the boat filled

    with water and sank. There it lay, scarcely a fathom below the

    surface, and those two were provided for, buried, and forgotten. The

    glass with the foot of blue wood was the only thing that did not sink,

    for the wood floated and the glass drifted away to be cast upon the

    shore and broken; where and when, is indeed of no consequence. It

    had served its purpose, and it had been loved, which Anne Lisbeth's

    boy had not been. But in heaven no soul will be able to say, "Never


    Anne Lisbeth had now lived in the town many years; she was

    called "Madame," and felt dignified in consequence; she remembered the

    old, noble days, in which she had driven in the carriage, and had

    associated with countess and baroness. Her beautiful, noble child

    had been a dear angel, and possessed the kindest heart; he had loved

    her so much, and she had loved him in return; they had kissed and

    loved each other, and the boy had been her joy, her second life. Now

    he was fourteen years of age, tall, handsome, and clever. She had

    not seen him since she carried him in her arms; neither had she been

    for years to the count's palace; it was quite a journey thither from

    the town.

    "I must make one effort to go," said Anne Lisbeth, "to see my

    darling, the count's sweet child, and press him to my heart. Certainly

    he must long to see me, too, the young count; no doubt he thinks of me

    and loves me, as in those days when he would fling his angel-arms

    round my neck, and lisp 'Anne Liz.' It was music to my ears. Yes, I

    must make an effort to see him again." She drove across the country in

    a grazier's cart, and then got out, and continued her journey on foot,

    and thus reached the count's castle. It was as great and magnificent

    as it had always been, and the garden looked the same as ever; all the

    servants were strangers to her, not one of them knew Anne Lisbeth, nor

    of what consequence she had once been there; but she felt sure the

    countess would soon let them know it, and her darling boy, too: how

    she longed to see him!

    Now that Anne Lisbeth was at her journey's end, she was kept

    waiting a long time; and for those who wait, time passes slowly. But

    before the great people went in to dinner, she was called in and

    spoken to very graciously. She was to go in again after dinner, and

    then she would see her sweet boy once more. How tall, and slender, and

    thin he had grown; but the eyes and the sweet angel mouth were still

    beautiful. He looked at her, but he did not speak, he certainly did

    not know who she was. He turned round and was going away, but she

    seized his hand and pressed it to her lips.

    "Well, well," he said; and with that he walked out of the room. He

    who filled her every thought! he whom she loved best, and who was

    her whole earthly pride!

    Anne Lisbeth went forth from the castle into the public road,

    feeling mournful and sad; he whom she had nursed day and night, and

    even now carried about in her dreams, had been cold and strange, and

    had not a word or thought respecting her. A great black raven darted

    down in front of her on the high road, and croaked dismally.

    "Ah," said she, "what bird of ill omen art thou?" Presently she

    passed the laborer's hut; his wife stood at the door, and the two

    women spoke to each other.

    "You look well," said the woman; "you're fat and plump; you are

    well off."

    "Oh yes," answered Anne Lisbeth.

    "The boat went down with them," continued the woman; "Hans the

    skipper and the boy were both drowned; so there's an end of them. I

    always thought the boy would be able to help me with a few dollars.

    He'll never cost you anything more, Anne Lisbeth."

    "So they were drowned," repeated Anne Lisbeth; but she said no

    more, and the subject was dropped. She felt very low-spirited, because

    her count-child had shown no inclination to speak to her who loved him

    so well, and who had travelled so far to see him. The journey had cost

    money too, and she had derived no great pleasure from it. Still she

    said not a word of all this; she could not relieve her heart by

    telling the laborer's wife, lest the latter should think she did not

    enjoy her former position at the castle. Then the raven flew over her,

    screaming again as he flew.

    "The black wretch!" said Anne Lisbeth, "he will end by frightening

    me today." She had brought coffee and chicory with her, for she

    thought it would be a charity to the poor woman to give them to her to

    boil a cup of coffee, and then she would take a cup herself.

    The woman prepared the coffee, and in the meantime Anne Lisbeth

    seated her in a chair and fell asleep. Then she dreamed of something

    which she had never dreamed before; singularly enough she dreamed of

    her own child, who had wept and hungered in the laborer's hut, and had

    been knocked about in heat and in cold, and who was now lying in the

    depths of the sea, in a spot only known by God. She fancied she was

    still sitting in the hut, where the woman was busy preparing the

    coffee, for she could smell the coffee-berries roasting. But

    suddenly it seemed to her that there stood on the threshold a

    beautiful young form, as beautiful as the count's child, and this

    apparition said to her, "The world is passing away; hold fast to me,

    for you are my mother after all; you have an angel in heaven, hold

    me fast;" and the child-angel stretched out his hand and seized her.

    Then there was a terrible crash, as of a world crumbling to pieces,

    and the angel-child was rising from the earth, and holding her by

    the sleeve so tightly that she felt herself lifted from the ground;

    but, on the other hand, something heavy hung to her feet and dragged

    her down, and it seemed as if hundreds of women were clinging to

    her, and crying, "If thou art to be saved, we must be saved too.

    Hold fast, hold fast." And then they all hung on her, but there were

    too many; and as they clung the sleeve was torn, and Anne Lisbeth fell

    down in horror, and awoke. Indeed she was on the point of falling over

    in reality with the chair on which she sat; but she was so startled

    and alarmed that she could not remember what she had dreamed, only

    that it was something very dreadful.

    They drank their coffee and had a chat together, and then Anne

    Lisbeth went away towards the little town where she was to meet the

    carrier, who was to drive her back to her own home. But when she

    came to him she found that he would not be ready to start till the

    evening of the next day. Then she began to think of the expense, and

    what the distance would be to walk. She remembered that the route by

    the sea-shore was two miles shorter than by the high road; and as

    the weather was clear, and there would be moonlight, she determined to

    make her way on foot, and to start at once, that she might reach

    home the next day.

    The sun had set, and the evening bells sounded through the air

    from the tower of the village church, but to her it was not the bells,

    but the cry of the frogs in the marshes. Then they ceased, and all

    around became still; not a bird could be heard, they were all at rest,

    even the owl had not left her hiding place; deep silence reigned on

    the margin of the wood by the sea-shore. As Anne Lisbeth walked on she

    could hear her own footsteps in the sands; even the waves of the sea

    were at rest, and all in the deep waters had sunk into silence.

    There was quiet among the dead and the living in the deep sea. Anne

    Lisbeth walked on, thinking of nothing at all, as people say, or

    rather her thoughts wandered, but not away from her, for thought is

    never absent from us, it only slumbers. Many thoughts that have lain

    dormant are roused at the proper time, and begin to stir in the mind

    and the heart, and seem even to come upon us from above. It is

    written, that a good deed bears a blessing for its fruit; and it is

    also written, that the wages of sin is death. Much has been said and

    much written which we pass over or know nothing of. A light arises

    within us, and then forgotten things make themselves remembered; and

    thus it was with Anne Lisbeth. The germ of every vice and every virtue

    lies in our heart, in yours and in mine; they lie like little grains

    of seed, till a ray of sunshine, or the touch of an evil hand, or

    you turn the corner to the right or to the left, and the decision is

    made. The little seed is stirred, it swells and shoots up, and pours

    its sap into your blood, directing your course either for good or

    evil. Troublesome thoughts often exist in the mind, fermenting

    there, which are not realized by us while the senses are as it were

    slumbering; but still they are there. Anne Lisbeth walked on thus with

    her senses half asleep, but the thoughts were fermenting within her.

    From one Shrove Tuesday to another, much may occur to weigh down

    the heart; it is the reckoning of a whole year; much may be forgotten,

    sins against heaven in word and thought, sins against our neighbor,

    and against our own conscience. We are scarcely aware of their

    existence; and Anne Lisbeth did not think of any of her errors. She

    had committed no crime against the law of the land; she was an

    honorable person, in a good position- that she knew.

    She continued her walk along by the margin of the sea. What was it

    she saw lying there? An old hat; a man's hat. Now when might that have

    been washed overboard? She drew nearer, she stopped to look at the

    hat; "Ha! what was lying yonder?" She shuddered; yet it was nothing

    save a heap of grass and tangled seaweed flung across a long stone,

    but it looked like a corpse. Only tangled grass, and yet she was

    frightened at it. As she turned to walk away, much came into her

    mind that she had heard in her childhood: old superstitions of

    spectres by the sea-shore; of the ghosts of drowned but unburied

    people, whose corpses had been washed up on the desolate beach. The

    body, she knew, could do no harm to any one, but the spirit could

    pursue the lonely wanderer, attach itself to him, and demand to be

    carried to the churchyard, that it might rest in consecrated ground.

    "Hold fast! hold fast!" the spectre would cry; and as Anne Lisbeth

    murmured these words to herself, the whole of her dream was suddenly

    recalled to her memory, when the mother had clung to her, and

    uttered these words, when, amid the crashing of worlds, her sleeve had

    been torn, and she had slipped from the grasp of her child, who wanted

    to hold her up in that terrible hour. Her child, her own child,

    which she had never loved, lay now buried in the sea, and might rise

    up, like a spectre, from the waters, and cry, "Hold fast; carry me

    to consecrated ground!"

    As these thoughts passed through her mind, fear gave speed to

    her feet, so that she walked faster and faster. Fear came upon her

    as if a cold, clammy hand had been laid upon her heart, so that she

    almost fainted. As she looked across the sea, all there grew darker; a

    heavy mist came rolling onwards, and clung to bush and tree,

    distorting them into fantastic shapes. She turned and glanced at the

    moon, which had risen behind her. It looked like a pale, rayless

    surface, and a deadly weight seemed to hang upon her limbs. "Hold,"

    thought she; and then she turned round a second time to look at the

    moon. A white face appeared quite close to her, with a mist, hanging

    like a garment from its shoulders. "Stop! carry me to consecrated

    earth," sounded in her ears, in strange, hollow tones. The sound did

    not come from frogs or ravens; she saw no sign of such creatures. "A

    grave! dig me a grave!" was repeated quite loud. Yes, it was indeed

    the spectre of her child. The child that lay beneath the ocean, and

    whose spirit could have no rest until it was carried to the

    churchyard, and until a grave had been dug for it in consecrated

    ground. She would go there at once, and there she would dig. She

    turned in the direction of the church, and the weight on her heart

    seemed to grow lighter, and even to vanish altogether; but when she

    turned to go home by the shortest way, it returned. "Stop! stop!"

    and the words came quite clear, though they were like the croak of a

    frog, or the wail of a bird. "A grave! dig me a grave!"

    The mist was cold and damp, her hands and face were moist and

    clammy with horror, a heavy weight again seized her and clung to

    her, her mind became clear for thoughts that had never before been


    In these northern regions, a beech-wood often buds in a single

    night and appears in the morning sunlight in its full glory of

    youthful green. So, in a single instant, can the consciousness of

    the sin that has been committed in thoughts, words, and actions of our

    past life, be unfolded to us. When once the conscience is awakened, it

    springs up in the heart spontaneously, and God awakens the

    conscience when we least expect it. Then we can find no excuse for

    ourselves; the deed is there and bears witness against us. The

    thoughts seem to become words, and to sound far out into the world. We

    are horrified at the thought of what we have carried within us, and at

    the consciousness that we have not overcome the evil which has its

    origin in thoughtlessness and pride. The heart conceals within

    itself the vices as well as the virtues, and they grow in the

    shallowest ground. Anne Lisbeth now experienced in thought what we

    have clothed in words. She was overpowered by them, and sank down

    and crept along for some distance on the ground. "A grave! dig me a

    grave!" sounded again in her ears, and she would have gladly buried

    herself, if in the grave she could have found forgetfulness of her


    It was the first hour of her awakening, full of anguish and

    horror. Superstition made her alternately shudder with cold or burn

    with the heat of fever. Many things, of which she had feared even to

    speak, came into her mind. Silently, as the cloud-shadows in the

    moonshine, a spectral apparition flitted by her; she had heard of it

    before. Close by her galloped four snorting steeds, with fire flashing

    from their eyes and nostrils. They dragged a burning coach, and within

    it sat the wicked lord of the manor, who had ruled there a hundred

    years before. The legend says that every night, at twelve o'clock,

    he drove into his castleyard and out again. He was not as pale as dead

    men are, but black as a coal. He nodded, and pointed to Anne

    Lisbeth, crying out, "Hold fast! hold fast! and then you may ride

    again in a nobleman's carriage, and forget your child."

    She gathered herself up, and hastened to the churchyard; but black

    crosses and black ravens danced before her eyes, and she could not

    distinguish one from the other. The ravens croaked as the raven had

    done which she saw in the daytime, but now she understood what they

    said. "I am the raven-mother; I am the raven-mother," each raven

    croaked, and Anne Lisbeth felt that the name also applied to her;

    and she fancied she should be transformed into a black bird, and

    have to cry as they cried, if she did not dig the grave. And she threw

    herself upon the earth, and with her hands dug a grave in the hard

    ground, so that the blood ran from her fingers. "A grave! dig me a

    grave!" still sounded in her ears; she was fearful that the cock might

    crow, and the first red streak appear in the east, before she had

    finished her work; and then she would be lost. And the cock crowed,

    and the day dawned in the east, and the grave was only half dug. An

    icy hand passed over her head and face, and down towards her heart.

    "Only half a grave," a voice wailed, and fled away. Yes, it fled

    away over the sea; it was the ocean spectre; and, exhausted and

    overpowered, Anne Lisbeth sunk to the ground, and her senses left her.

    It was a bright day when she came to herself, and two men were

    raising her up; but she was not lying in the churchyard, but on the

    sea-shore, where she had dug a deep hole in the sand, and cut her hand

    with a piece of broken glass, whose sharp stern was stuck in a

    little block of painted wood. Anne Lisbeth was in a fever.

    Conscience had roused the memories of superstitions, and had so

    acted upon her mind, that she fancied she had only half a soul, and

    that her child had taken the other half down into the sea. Never would

    she be able to cling to the mercy of Heaven till she had recovered

    this other half which was now held fast in the deep water.

    Anne Lisbeth returned to her home, but she was no longer the woman

    she had been. Her thoughts were like a confused, tangled skein; only

    one thread, only one thought was clear to her, namely that she must

    carry the spectre of the sea-shore to the churchyard, and dig a

    grave for him there; that by so doing she might win back her soul.

    Many a night she was missed from her home, and was always found on the

    sea-shore waiting for the spectre.

    In this way a whole year passed; and then one night she vanished

    again, and was not to be found. The whole of the next day was spent in

    a useless search after her.

    Towards evening, when the clerk entered the church to toll the

    vesper bell, he saw by the altar Anne Lisbeth, who had spent the whole

    day there. Her powers of body were almost exhausted, but her eyes

    flashed brightly, and on her cheeks was a rosy flush. The last rays of

    the setting sun shone upon her, and gleamed over the altar upon the

    shining clasps of the Bible, which lay open at the words of the

    prophet Joel, "Rend your hearts and not your garments, and turn unto

    the Lord."

    "That was just a chance," people said; but do things happen by

    chance? In the face of Anne Lisbeth, lighted up by the evening sun,

    could be seen peace and rest. She said she was happy now, for she

    had conquered. The spectre of the shore, her own child, had come to

    her the night before, and had said to her, "Thou hast dug me only half

    a grave: but thou hast now, for a year and a day, buried me altogether

    in thy heart, and it is there a mother can best hide her child!" And

    then he gave her back her lost soul, and brought her into the

    church. "Now I am in the house of God," she said, "and in that house

    we are happy."

    When the sun set, Anne Lisbeth's soul had risen to that region

    where there is no more pain; and Anne Lisbeth's troubles were at an


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