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Main > Fairy tale > All authors > Andersen Hans Christian > Fairy tale "Under The Willow Tree"

Under The Willow Tree

It opened, and she stepped out; the light fell upon her beloved face, and she smiled, thanked them graciously, and appeared deeply touched. Knud looked straight into her eyes, and she into his, but she never knew him. A gentleman with a decoration glittering on his breast gave her his arm - people said they were betrothed.

Then Knud went home and packed his knapsack. He had decided to return to his own home, to the elder and willow trees - ah, beneath the willow tree!

The old couple begged him to remain, but no words could change his mind. It was in vain that they pointed out to him that winter was coming and the snow had already fallen in the mountains. He replied that he could march, with his knapsack on his back, and supported by his cane, in the wake of a slow-moving carriage, for which a path would have to be cleared.

So Knud left for the mountains and climbed up them and down them. His strength grew less, but still he saw no village or house; always he plodded onward toward the North. High above him the stars gleamed; his feet stumbled, and his head grew dizzy with the heights. Stars seemed to shine deep in the valley, too, as if there were another sky below him. He felt ill. More and more stars became visible below him; they glowed brighter and brighter and moved to and fro. Then he realized it was the lights of a little town that were shining down there. When he was sure of that, he put forth the last of his strength and finally reached the shelter of a humble inn.

He remained there that night and the whole of the next day, for his body was in desperate need of rest and refreshment. The ice was beginning to thaw, and there was rain in the valley. But on the second morning a man with a hand organ came to the inn and played a Danish melody - and now Knud could not remain.

He resumed his journey northward, tramping on for many days, hurrying as though he were trying to reach home before all were dead there. But to no man did he speak of his longing, for no one would have believed in the sorrow of his spirit, the deepest a human heart can feel.

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