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Main > Fairy tale > All authors > Andersen Hans Christian > Fairy tale "Chicken Grethe's Family"

Chicken Grethe's Family

The wind was sharp, and the flock of black birds that croaked over her head were not as homeless as she.

First she rode south, almost to Germany. She turned a couple of gold rings with precious stones into ready money. She went east and she went west, with no fixed goal. She was angry with everybody and even with the good Lord himself, so sick was her mind. And soon her body was sick too. She could scarcely drag her feet along. The lapwing flew up from its tuft of grass when she stumbled upon it and fell. The bird screamed, as it always does, "You thief, you thief!" Yet she had never stolen her neighbors' goods, except for the birds' eggs and nestlings taken from the clumps of grass and the tall trees when she was a little girl. She thought of that now.

From where she lay, she could see the sand dunes along the beach. Fishermen lived there, but she was too ill to crawl so far. The great white sea gulls came screaming over her as the rooks, crows, and jackdaws screamed above the trees at home. The birds flew nearer and nearer, until at last she thought they were black birds. But then everything went black before her eyes.

When she opened her eyes again she was being carried in the arms of a tall, strapping fellow. She looked straight into his bearded face, and saw that he had a scar over one eye that appeared to divide the eyebrow in two. Sick as she was, he carried her to his ship, where he was abused by the shipmaster for bringing such a burden.

The ship set sail next day. Marie Grubbe sailed with it - she was not put ashore. Didn't she ever come back? Yes, but when and how?

The parish clerk could tell about this too. It was not a tale which he had pieced together. He had the whole strange story from a reliable book which we can get and read for ourselves.

The Danish author, Ludvig Holberg, who has written so many books worth reading and so many gay comedies by which we get to know his time and its people, mentions Marie Grubbe in his letters, which tell how and in what part of the world he found her.

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