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Main > Fairy tale > All authors > Andersen Hans Christian > Fairy tale "Vänö and Glänö"

Vänö and Glänö

Near the coast of Zealand, off Holsteinborg castle, there once lay two wooded islands, Vänö and Glänö, on which were villages, churches, and farms. The islands were quite close to the coast and quite close to each other; now there is but one of these tracts remaining.

One night a fierce tempest broke loose. The ocean rose higher than ever before within man's memory. The storm increased; it was like doomsday weather, and it sounded as if the earth were splitting. The church bells began to swing and rang without the help of man.

That night Vänö vanished into the ocean depths; it was as if that island had never existed. But afterward on many a summer night, when the still, clear water was at low tide, and the fisherman was out on his boat to catch eel by the light of a torch, he could, on looking sharply, see Vänö, with its white church tower and high church wall, deep down below. He would recall the saying, "Vänö is waiting to take Glänö," as he saw the island, and he could hear the church bells ringing down there, but in that he was mistaken, for the sound came from the many wild swans which frequently rested on the water there, and whose clucking and complaining sounded like faraway church bells.

There was a time when there were still many old people on Glänö who well remembered that stormy night, and that they, when little, had ridden between the two islands at ebb tide, as we nowadays ride from the coast of Zealand over to Glänö, the water reaching up only to the middle of the wheels.

"Vänö is waiting to take Glänö," it was said, and this saying was accepted as a certainty. Many little boys and girls would lie in bed on stormy nights and think, "Tonight the hour will come when Vänö calls for Glänö." In fear, they said the Lord's Prayer, fell asleep, had sweet dreams - and the following morning Glänö was still there, with its woods and cornfields, its friendly farmhouses and hop gardens; the bird sang and the deer sprang; the gopher couldn't smell sea water, however far he could dig.

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