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Main > Fairy tale > All authors > Andersen Hans Christian > Fairy tale "She Was Good for Nothing"

She Was Good for Nothing

laughed Maren. "The big dinner today at the Mayor's would have been postponed if everything hadn't been prepared. I heard the news from the porter. A letter came, an hour ago, telling them that the Mayor's younger brother, in Copenhagen, is dead."

"Dead!" cried the laundress, turning as white as a ghost.

"What does it matter to you" said Maren. "Of course, you must have known him, since you worked in the house."

"Is he really dead? He was the best and kindest of men-indeed, there aren't many like him!" Tears were rolling down her cheeks. "Oh, my God! Everything is going around! That's because I emptied the bottle. I couldn't stand so much. I feel so ill!" And she leaned against the fence for support.

"Good heavens, you are ill, indeed!" said Maren. "Try to get over it! No, you really are sick! I'd better get you home!"

"But the washing there!"

"I'll take care of that. Here, give me your arm. The boy can stay here and watch it till I come back and wash what's left. It's only a few pieces."

The poor laundress' legs were trembling under her. "I've stood too long in the cold water, with no food since yesterday! I have a burning fever. Oh, dear Lord Jesus, help me to get home! Oh, my poor child!" And she wept.

The boy cried too, as he sat alone beside the river, guarding the wet linen. The two women made their way slowly, the washerwoman dragging her shaky limbs up the little alley and through the street where the Mayor lived. Just as she reached the front of his house, she sank down on the cobblestones. A crowd gathered around her.

Limping Maren ran into his yard for help. The Mayor and his guests came to the windows.

"It's the washerwoman!" he said. "She's had a bit too much to drink; she's no good! It's a pity for that handsome boy of hers, I really like that child, but his mother is good for nothing."

And the washerwoman was brought to her own humble room, where she was put to bed. Kindly Maren hastened to prepare a cup of warm ale with butter and sugar-she could think of no better medicine in such a case-and then returned to the river, where, although she meant well, she did a very poor job with the washing; she only pulled the wet clothes out of the water and put them into a basket.

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