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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

But listen to fairy tales! No, indeed, there are certainly other things to attend to, more important things to do!"

"What do you mean?" the man asked. "And what do you know about the world? You never see anything but frogs and will-o'-the-wisps!"

"Beware of the will-o'-the-wisps!" said the Woman. "They're out- they're on the loose! That's what we should talk about! Come to me at the marsh, for I must go there now; there I'll tell you about it. But you must hurry and come while your seven four-leaved clovers, one of them with six leaves, are still fresh and the moon is still high!"

And the Woman of the Marsh was gone.

The town clock struck twelve, and before the last stroke had died away the man had left the house, crossed the garden, and stood in the meadow. The mist had cleared away; the Woman of the Marsh had finished her brewing. "You took your time getting here!" said the Woman of the Marsh. "Witches move much faster than men; I'm glad I'm a witch."

"What do you have to tell me now?" asked the man. "Anything about the fairy tale?"

"Is that all you can ever ask about?" said the Woman.

"Is it something about the poetry of the future that you can tell me?"

"Don't become impatient, " said the Woman, "and I'll answer you. You now think only of poetry. You ask about the fairy tale as if she were the mistress of everything. She's the oldest all right, but she always passes for the youngest; I know her very well. I was young once, and that's no children's disease! Once I was quite a pretty little elf maiden, and I danced with the others in the moonlight, listened to the nightingale, went into the forest, and met the fairy-tale maiden there, where she was always running about. Sometimes she spent the night in a halfopened tulip or in some field flower; sometimes she would slip into the church and wrap herself in the mourning crape that hung down from the altar candles."

"You seem to know all about it," said the man.

"I should at least know as much as you do," said the Woman of the Marsh.

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