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

There was English-governess soup, and French potage à la coq, made from chicken legs and sparrow eggs and, in Danish, called 'cancan soup.' But the best of all soups was Copenhagen soup; the whole family said so."

Here stood "Tragedy," in a champagne bottle; it could make a popping noise, and that was as it should be. "Comedy" looked like fine sand to throw into people's eyes - that is, the more refined comedy; the broader kind was also bottled, but consisted only of future playbills; there were some excellent comedy titles, such as, Dare You spit in the Machinery?, One on the Jaw, The Sweet Ass, and She Is Dead Drunk!

While the man was completely lost in his thoughts, the Woman of the Marsh thought ahead; she wanted to put an end to this.

"By now you must have seen enough of the hodgepodge chest," she said. "You know what it is now. But I haven't told you the important thing you must know. The will-o'-the-wisps are in town! That's much more important than poetry or fairy tales. I really should keep my mouth shut about it, but it seems that a compulsion - a force - something has come over me, and it sticks in my throat and wants to come out. The will-o'-the-wisps are in town! They are on the loose! Take care, you mortals!"

"I don't understand a word you're saying!" said the man.

"Please sit down on the cabinet," she said, "but be careful not to fall through and break the bottles - you know what's inside them. I'll tell you about the great event. It happened only yesterday; yet it has happened before. And now it has three hundred and sixty-four days to go. I suppose you know how many days there are in a year?"

And this was the story of the Woman of the Marsh:

"There was much excitement yesterday out here in the marsh! There was a christening party! A little will-o'-the-wisp was born here; in face, twelve of them were born all at once. And they have permission to go out among men, if they want to, and move around and command, just as if they were human beings!

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Category: Andersen Hans Christian
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