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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

"Please let me see," said the man.

"All right, but there are much more important things to listen to," said the Woman of the Marsh.

"But we're right here at the cabinet," said the man, as he looked inside it. "Why, here are bottles of all sizes. What's in this one, and what's in that one over there?"

"This is what they call May dew," said the Woman. "I haven't tried it myself, but I know that if you spill only a little drop of it on the floor, you will see before you a lovely forest lake with water lilies, flowering rushes, and wild mint. You need pour only two drops on an old exercise book, even one from the lowest class in school, and the book becomes a complete, fragrant play that is good enough to be performed and to fall asleep over, so strong is its smell. It must be as a compliment to me that they labeled the bottle 'The Brew of the Woman of the Marsh.'

"Here stands the bottle of scandal. It looks as if there is only dirty water in it, and, of course, it is dirty water, but with sparkling powder, three ounces of lies, and two grains of truth, stirred with a birch twig, not taken from a stalk pickled in salt and used on the bleeding backs of sinners, nor a piece of the schoolmaster's switch - no, but taken right from the broom that had been used to sweep the gutter.

"Here stands the bottle with the pious poetry set to psalm music. Every drop has a sound like the slamming of hell's gates and has been made from the blood and sweat of punishment. Some say it's only the gall of a dove; but doves are the gentlest of animals; they have no gall, say people who don't know their natural history."

"Here stood the bottle of all bottles; it took up half of the cabinet. It was the bottle with 'Stories of Everyday Life,' and it was covered with both hogskin and bladder so that it couldn't lose any of its strength. Every nation could get its own soup here; what would come forth would depend upon how you'd turn and tip the bottle. Here was an old German blood soup with robber dumplings, and there was also thin peasant soup, with genuine court officials, who lay like vegetables on the bottom, while fat, philosophical eyes floated on the top.

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