Page:Fairy tales and other stories (Andersen, Craigie).djvu/48

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36
THUMBELINA

beautiful flowers, and said nasty things about them, for he had never seen them.

Thumbelina had to sing, and she sang 'Cockchafer, fly away,' and 'When the parson goes afield.' Then the Mole fell in love with her, because of her delicious voice; but he said nothing, for he was a sedate man.

A short time before, he had dug a long passage through the earth from his own house to theirs; and Thumbelina and the Field Mouse obtained leave to walk in this passage as much as they wished. But he begged them not to be afraid of the dead bird which was lying in the passage. It was an entire bird, with wings and a beak. It certainly must have died only a short time before, when the winter began, and was now buried just where the Mole had made his passage.

The Mole took a bit of decayed wood in his mouth, for that glimmers like fire in the dark; and then he went first and lighted them through the long dark passage. When they came where the dead bird lay, the Mole thrust up his broad nose against the ceiling and pushed the earth, so that a great hole was made, through which the daylight could shine down. In the middle of the floor lay a dead Swallow, his beautiful wings pressed close against his sides, and his head and feet drawn in under his feathers: the poor bird had certainly died of cold. Thumbelina was very sorry for this; she was very fond of all the little birds, who had sung and twittered so prettily for her through the summer; but the Mole gave him a push with his short legs, and said, 'Now he doesn't pipe any more. It must be miserable to be born a little bird. I'm thankful that none of my children can be that: such a bird has nothing but his "tweet-tweet", and has to starve in the winter!'

'Yes, you may well say that, like a sensible man,' observed the Field Mouse. 'Of what use is all this "tweet-tweet" to a bird when the winter comes? He must starve and freeze. But they say that's very aristocratic'

Thumbelina said nothing; but when the two others turned their backs on the bird, she bent down, put the feathers aside which covered his head, and kissed him upon his closed eyes.

'Perhaps it was he who sang so prettily to me in the