Tuesday, July 31, 2012

little ida's flowers part one

Little Ida's Flowers illustrated by Edna F. Hart

Hans Christian Andersen

Little Ida's Flowers illustrated by Edna F. Hart

Wind Anemone

Little Ida's Flowers

written by Hans Christian Andersen (1835)

"My poor flowers, you are wither'd!" said little Ida. "Yesterday evening 
you were so pretty, and now all your leaves are drooping! 
What is the reason of it?" asked she of a youth sitting on a sofa, 
and whom she liked very much, because he told her the most 
beautiful fairytales, and cut out pasteboard houses for her,
and such wonderful pictures too; he could cut out hearts with little
ladies dancing in them; flowers he could cut out, and castles 
with doors that would open. He was a very charming youth.

"Why do these flowers look so faded?" asked she again, 
showing him a withered nosegay.

"Don't you know what ails them? answered he; 
 "your flowers have been allnight at a ball, 
and that's the reason they all hang their heads."

"Flowers cannot dance!" exclaimed little Ida.

"Certainly they can! When it is dark, and we are all asleep, 
then they dance about right merrily. 
They have a ball almost every night!" said the youth.

"May children go to the flowers' ball too?" asked little Ida.

"Yes," answered the youth. "Little tiny daisies, and lilies of the valley."

"Where do the prettiest flowers dance?" asked little Ida.

"Have you never been to the large castle, just outside the gates, 
which is the King's country house, and where there is a beautiful 
garden with so many flowers in it? You have surely seen the swans 
that come swimming towards you on the lake when you throw them 
crumbs of bread? The flowers have regular balls there, I can tell you."

"I was in the garden yesterday with my mother," said Ida; "but there 
were no leaves on the trees, and I did not see a single flower. 
Where were they, then? There were so many of them there in summer!"

"They are in the palace now," said the youth. "As soon as the King 
leaves his summer palace, and goes to town with his court, 
all the flowers go directly out of the garden into the palace, and make 
merry there, and enjoy themselves famously. 
If you could but see it once! The two most beautiful roses 
seat themselves on the throne, and play at King and Queen. 
Then the red cockscombs range themselves in rows on both sides, 
and make a lowbow; these are the gentlemen of the bedchamber.
Then the nicest flowers enter, and the great ball begins. 
The blue violets are midshipmen and cadets, and they dance 
with hyacinths and crocuses, which they call young ladies. 
The tulips and great yellow lilies, they are old ladies who look on 
and see that the dancing goes on properly, 
and that all is conducted with propriety."

"But," said little Ida, quite astonished, "may the flowers give a ball 
in the King's palace in that way, and does nobody come in 
to disturb them?"

"No one in the palace knows anything about it," answered the youth. 
"It's true, sometimes the old inspector of the palace comes 
up stairs in the night with his great bunch of keys, to see if all is safe; 
but as soon as the flowers hear the rattling of his keys, 
they keep quite still, and hide themselves behind the long silken 
windowcurtains, and peep out with their little heads. 

"I smell flowers here somewhere about," says the old inspector; 
 but he cannot find out where they are."

"That's very droll," said little Ida, clapping her hands. 
"But could I not see the flowers?"

"Of course you can see them," answered the youth. "Only peep in 
at the window when you go again to the palace. I looked in today, 
and I saw a long pale white lily reclining on the sofa. 
That was a maid of honor." 

"Can the flowers in the Botanic Garden go there too?" asked she. 
"Are they able to go all that way?"

"Certainly, that you may believe," said the youth, "for if the flowers 
choose, they can fly. Have you not seen the pretty red and yellow 
butterflies, and the white ones too, that almost look like flowers, 
are in reality nothing else. They have grown on stalks, 
high up in the air, and then they have leaves given them
to jump from their stems, they move their leaves as if they were wings,
and so fly about; and as they always behave well, they are allowed 
to flutter hither and thither by day, instead of sitting quietly on their
stems, till at last, real wings grow out of their leaves. 
Why, you have seen it often enough yourself. However, it may be that 
the flowers in the Botanic Garden did not know that there was 
such merrymaking in the King's palace of a night, and so have never 
been there. But I'll tell you something that will put the Professor of 
Botany, who lives beside the garden, into a perplexity;
when you go there again, you have only to whisper it to one flower, 
that there is a ball to be given at night at Friedricksburg, and one will
tell it to the other till they all know it, and then all the flowers
are sure to fly there. Then when the Professor comes into the garden,
and does not find any of his flowers, he will not be able to
comprehend what is become of them."

"Ah!" said little Ida, somewhat vexed at the strange story, 
how should the flowers be able to tell each other what I say? 
Flowers cannot speak!"

"No, they cannot properly talk; there you are quite right," 
continued the youth; "but they make themselves understood by
gestures. Have you not often seen how they bend to and fro,
and nod and move all their green leaves, when there is
the gentlest breeze? To them this is as intelligible as words are to us."

"Does the Professor understand their gestures, then?" said little Ida.

"To be sure he does. One morning he came into the garden 
and remarked that a great stinging nettle was conversing on very
intimate terms with a pretty young carnation.

'You are so beautiful,' said the nettle to the carnation,' 
and I love you so devotedly!' 

But the Professor would not suffer any thing of the sort, and tapped 
the nettle on his leaves - for those are its fingers; but they stung him 
so that from that day forward he has never ventured to meddle 
with a stinging nettle again."

"Ha! ha! ha! that was good fun indeed." laughed little Ida.

"What's the meaning of this," said the Professor of Mathematics, 
who had just come to pay a visit, "to tell the child such nonsense!" 
He could not bear the young man, and always scolded when he saw 
him cutting out pasteboard figures as, for example, a man 
on the gallows with a heart in his hand, which was meant for 
a stealer of hearts; or an old witch riding on a broomstick, carrying 
her husband on the tip of her nose. The cross Professor could not
bear any of these, and then he used to say as he did now, 
"What's the meaning of that - to teach the child such nonsense! 
That's your stupid Imagination, I suppose!"

But little Ida thought it was very amusing, and could not leave off 
thinking of what the youth had told her about the flowers. No doubt 
her flowers did hang their heads because they really had been 
to the ball yesterday. She therefore carried them to the table 
where all sorts of toys were nicely arranged, and in the drawer 
were many pretty things besides. Her doll lay in a little bed, 
to go to sleep; but Ida said to her, "Really, Sophie, you must get up, 
and be satisfied with the drawer for tonight; for the poor flowers are ill, 
and must sleep in your bed. Then perhaps they may be well by
tomorrow." So she took the doll out of bed; but the good lady
did not say a single word, she only made a wry face at being obliged
to leave her bed for the sake of the old flowers.

Ida laid the withered flowers in her doll's bed, covered them up 
with the counterpane, tucked them in very nicely, and told them to lie 
quite still, and in the meantime she would make some tea 
for them to drink, that they might be quite well by tomorrow morning. 
And she drew the curtains close all round the bed, so that the sun 
might not shine in their eyes.

The whole evening she kept on thinking of what she had heard, and
just before going to bed she ran to the window where her mother's
tulips and hyacinths were standing, and she whispered quite softly
to them, "I know very well that you are going to the ball tonight." 
But the flowers seemed as if they heard nothing, and moved not a leaf; 
but little Ida knew what she knew. 
When she was in bed, she lay for a long time thinking how delightful 
it would be to see the flowers dancing at the King's palace.
"Have my flowers really been there?" But before she could think about 
the answer, she had fallen asleep. She awoke again in the night; 
she had dreamed of the youth and the flowers, and the professor 
of Mathematics, who always said the youth stuffed her head 
with nonsense, and that she believed every thing. It was quite still
in the sleeping room; the night lamp burnt on the table, and her father 
and mother were fast asleep.
"I wonder if my flowers are still in Sophie's bed!" said she. 
"I should like so much to know!"
She sat up in her bed, looked towards the door which was half open, 
and there lay the flowers and her playthings all as she had left them. 
She listened, and it seemed to her as if some one was playing 
on the piano in the next room, but quite softly, and yet so beautifully 
that she thought she had never heard the like.
"Now, then, my flowers are all dancing for certain!" said she. 
"Oh, how I should like to go and see them!" 
But she did not dare to get up, for fear of awaking her father and mother.

"If they would but come in here!" said she.