Page:Fairy tales and other stories (Andersen, Craigie).djvu/31

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19
GREAT CLAUS AND LITTLE CLAUS

and he crept into the sack at once, whereupon Little Claus tied it up, and went his way with all the cows and oxen.

Soon afterwards Great Claus came out of the church. He took the sack on his shoulders again, although it seemed to him as if the sack had become lighter; for the old drover was only half as heavy as Little Claus.

'How light he is to carry now! Yes, that is because I have heard a psalm.'

So he went to the river, which was deep and broad, threw the sack with the old drover in it into the water, and called after him, thinking that it was little Claus, 'You lie there! Now you shan't trick me any more!'

Then he went home; but when he came to a place where there was a cross-road, he met Little Claus driving all his beasts.

'What's this?' cried Great Claus. 'Have I not drowned you?'

'Yes,' replied Little Claus, 'you threw me into the river less than half an hour ago.'

'But wherever did you get all those fine beasts from?' asked Great Claus.

'These beasts are sea-cattle,' replied Little Claus. 'I'll tell you the whole story,—and thank you for drowning me, for now I'm at the top of the tree. I am really rich! How frightened I was when I lay huddled in the sack, and the wind whistled about my ears when you threw me down from the bridge into the cold water! I sank to the bottom immediately; but I did not knock myself, for the most splendid soft grass grows down there. Upon that I fell; and immediately the sack was opened, and the loveliest maiden, with snow-white garments and a green wreath upon her wet hair, took me by the hand, and said, "Are you come. Little Claus? Here you have some cattle to begin with. A mile farther along the road there is a whole herd more, which I will give to you." And now I saw that the river formed a great highway for the people of the sea. Down in its bed they walked and drove directly from the sea, and straight into the land, to where the river ends. There it was so beautifully full of flowers and of the freshest grass; the fishes, which swam in the water, shot past my ears, just as here the birds in the air. What pretty people