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Main > Fairy tale > All authors > Andersen Hans Christian > Fairy tale "The Will-o'-the-Wisps Are in Town"

The Will-o'-the-Wisps Are in Town

A couple of old witches, who make a living riding broomsticks, were at the party, and they taught the young will o'-the-wisps how to slip through any keyhole as if the door stood open to them. These witches offered to carry the young ones to the town, which they knew quite well. They usually rode through the air on their own back hair fastened into a knot, for they prefer a hard seat. But now they sat on the hunting dogs and took on their laps the young will-o'-the-wisps, who were ready to go into town to start misleading and bewildering human beings. Whiz! and they were gone!

"That's what happened last night. Today the will-o'-the-wisps are in town and have started to work - but how, and where? Can you tell me that? Still, I have a telegraph wire in my big toe, and that always tells me something."

"That's a whole fairy tale!" said the man.

"Why, it's just the beginning of one," said the Woman. "Can you tell me how the will-o'-the-wisps are behaving themselves and what they're doing, in what shapes they're appearing and leading people astray?"

"I believe," said the man, "that a whole novel could be written about the will-o'-the-wisps, in twelve parts; or better still, a complete comedy-drama could be written about them."

"You should write it," said the Woman. " Or perhaps you'd better leave it undone."

"Yes, that's easier, and more pleasant," said the man. "Then we'll not be condemned by the newspapers, which is just as bad as it is for a will-o'-the-wisp to be shut in a rotten stump, shining, and afraid to say anything."

"It doesn't matter to me what you do," said the Woman. "Let the others write, if they can, or even if they can't. I'll give you and old tap from my cask; that will open the cabinet where I keep the poetry in bottles, and you can take anything you want. But you, my good man, seem to have stained your fingers enough with ink, and at the age and stability you have reached, you don't have to be running around every year looking for fairy tales, especially as there are much more important things to be done.

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