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Main > Fairy tale > All authors > Andersen Hans Christian > Fairy tale "The Bottle Neck"

The Bottle Neck

In the narrow, crooked street, among several shabby dwellings, stood a very tall and very narrow house, the framework of which had given so that it was out of joint in every direction. Only poor people lived here, and poorest of all were those who lived in the attic. Outside the small attic window an old, bent bird cage hung in the sunshine; it didn't even have a real bird glass, but had only a bottle neck, upside down, with a cork in its mouth, and filled with water. At the open window stood an old maid who had just been decking the cage with chickweed; the little canary in it hopped from perch to perch and sang with all his might.

"Yes, you may well sing!" said the Bottle Neck. Of course, it didn't say it audibly, as we're able to, for a bottle neck cannot speak, but it thought it, just as when we humans speak inwardly. "Yes, you may well sing - you, with your limbs whole! But what if you had lost your lower half as I have, and had only a neck and a mouth left, and then had a cork stuffed into you! You certainly wouldn't sing then! But it's good that somebody is pleased. I have no reason to sing, and I can't anyway; I could once, when I was a whole bottle, and someone rubbed me with a cork; they used to call me a real lark then, 'the grand lark.' Didn't I sing that day in the woods when the furrier's daughter became engaged? I can remember it as though it were yesterday. When I come to think of it, I've lived through many things; I've been through fire and water - down in the black earth, and higher up than most people. And now I hang here on the outside of the cage in the air and sunshine. It might be worth while to hear my story, but I'm not going to tell it aloud, because I can't!"

And so it inwardly told, or thought, its story, which was a strange one, and in the meantime the little bird sang merrily, and people rode or walked through the streets down below. Each thought of his own story or didn't think at all; but, at any rate, the Bottle Neck was engrossed in thought.

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