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

Chicken Grethe's Family

This is well worth hearing, but we shall not lose track of Chicken Grethe, who sits so happy and comfortable in her imposing chicken house.

The ship sailed off with Marie Grubbe. That was where we left off. Year upon year went by.

The plague was raging in Copenhagen. That was in the year of 1711. The Queen of Denmark went to her German home. The King left his capital, and every one who could made haste to leave. The students, even those who had free board and lodging, scurried out of the city. One of them, the last student left at what they called Borch's College, near the students' headquarters, made ready to go. At two o'clock in the morning he started out, with his knapsack stuffed with more books and manuscripts than clothes. A raw, dank mist hung over the city. Not a soul was to be seen in the street through which he passed. All around him the gates and doors were marked with the crosses which showed that there people lay ill or had died of the plague. Even in broad and winding Meatmonger's street - as the street leading from the round tower to the King's palace was called then - there was not a man to be seen. Suddenly a large hearse came rumbling by. The driver cracked his whip to urge his horses into a gallop, for the wagon was crammed with to urge his horses into a gallop, for the wagon was crammed with corpses. The young student covered his face with his hands, and breathed the fumes of strong spirits which he carried in a brass- boxed sponge.

From a grog shop in one of the streets came the sound of songs and forced laughter. Men were drinking the night away in an effort to forget that Death stood at their door, beckoning to them to come with him and join the other dead men in the hearse. The student hurried on to Castle Bridge, where two small boats were moored. One of them was just about to cast off and quit the plague-ridden city.

"If the Lord spares out lives and the wind serves us, we shall sail to Gronsund, on Falster," the captain said, and he asked the name of this student who wanted to go with them.

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