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

Chicken Grethe's Family

"Ludvig Holberg," the student said, and at that time it sounded like any other name. Now it resounds as one of Denmark's proudest names, but he was then only a young student, and unknown.

The boat slipped past the castle, and before daybreak they came to the open sea. A light breeze sprang up and the sails filled. The student sat down with the wind in his face, and fell asleep. And that wasn't exactly an advisable thing to do! On the third morning the boat was already at Falster.

"Do you know of anyone in this place with whom I can live cheaply?" Holberg asked the captain.

"I believe you had best go to the ferry man's wife at Borrehouse," he said. "If you want to be polite, call her Mother Soren Sorensen Moller, but she may turn angry if you show her too much politeness. Her husband is under arrest for some crime or other, and she runs the ferry herself. What fists she has!"

The student shouldered his knapsack and went to the ferry house. The door was not locked, so he lifted the latch and entered a brick-floored room in which a large folding bed with a big furred cover was the most noticeable piece of furniture. A white hen, with her chickens around her, was tied to the bedstead. She had upset her drinking dish, and water ran across the floor. No one was there or in the next room, except a little child who lay in a cradle.

The ferry boat came back with only one person on board - whether man or woman was hard to say. This person was wrapped in a great cloak, with a hood that covered the head.

When the boat was docked, it was a woman who entered the room. She had an impressive air as she straightened up and looked at him. Two proud eyes were set under her dark brows. It was Mother Soren, the ferry man's wife, though rooks, crows, and jackdaws could scream out another name by which we would know her better.

Glum she looked, and little enough she cared for talk, but it was settled that the student would stay and board with her for an undetermined time, until things went well again in Copenhagen.

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