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Children's Prattle

Hans Christian Andersen

The A-B-C Book The Angel Anne Lisbeth At the Uttermost Parts of the Sea Aunty Aunty Toothache "Beautiful" The Beetle The Bell The Bell Deep The Bird of Folklore The Bishop of Börglum and his Men The Bond of Friendship The Bottle Neck The Brave Tin Soldier The Buckwheat Butterfly The Candles Chicken Grethe's Family The Child in the Grave Children's Prattle Clumsy Hans The Comet The Court Cards The Cripple Croak! The Daisy Dance, Dance, Doll of Mine! Danish Popular Legends The Darning Needle The Days of the Week The Drop of Water The Dryad The Elder-Tree Mother The Elf Mound The Emperor's New Clothes Everything in its Proper Place Danish Popular Legends The Farmyard Cock and the Weathercock The Fir Tree Five Peas from a Pod The Flax The Flea and the Professor The Flying Trunk Folks Say - The Galoshes of Fortune The Gardener and the Noble Family The Garden of Paradise The Gate Key The Girl Who Trod on the Loaf The Goblin and the Grocer The Goblin and the Woman God Can Never Die Godfather's Picture Book Golden Treasure A Good Humor Grandmother Great-Grandfather The Great Sea Serpent The Happy Family Heartache Holger Danske Ib and Little Christine The Ice Maiden In the Children's Room In the Duck Yard It's Quite True! Jack the Dullard The Jewish Girl The Jumpers Kept Secret but not Forgotten The Last Pearl A Leaf from Heaven Little Claus and Big Claus The Little Green Ones Little Ida's Flowers The Little Match Seller The Little Mermaid Little Tuck Luck May Lie in a Pin Lucky Peer The Marsh King's Daughter The Metal Pig The Money Pig The Most Incredible Thing Moving Day The Naughty Boy The Neighboring Families The New Century's Goddess The Nightcap of the "Pebersvend" The Nightingale The Old Church Bell The Old House The Old Oak Tree's Last Dream The Old Street Lamp The Old Tombstone Ole Lukoie Ole, the Tower Keeper On Judgment Day Peiter, Peter, and Peer Pen and Inkstand The Penman The Phoenix Bird Picturebook Without Pictures A Picture from the Ramparts The Pigs The Poor Woman and the Little Canary Bird The Porter's Son The Princess and the Pea The Psyche The Puppet-show Man The Racers The Rags The Red Shoes The Rose Elf A Rose from Homer's Grave The Shadow The Shepherdess and the Chimney-Sweep She Was Good for Nothing The Shirt Collar The Silent Book The Silver Shilling The Snail and the Rosebush The Snowdrop The Snow Man The Snow Queen Something Soup on a Sausage Peg The Stone of the Wise Man The Storks The Storm Shifts the Signboards A Story A Story from the Sand Dunes The Story of a Mother The Story of the Year A String of Pearls Sunshine Stories The Swan's Nest The Sweethearts; or, The Top and the Ball The Swineherd The Talisman The Teapot There is a Difference This Fable is Intended for You The Thorny Road of Honor Thousands of Years from Now Thumbelina The Tinder Box The Toad The Traveling Companion Twelve by the Mail Two Brothers Two Maidens The Ugly Duckling Under The Willow Tree Urbanus A View from Vartou's Window Vänö and Glänö What Happened to the Thistle What Old Johanne Told What One Can Invent What the Old Man Does is Always Right What the Whole Family Said Which Was the Happiest? The Wicked Prince The Wild Swans The Will-o'-the-Wisps Are in Town The Windmill The Wind Tells about Valdemar Daae and His Daughters The World's Fairest Rose

There was a large party for children at the house of the merchant; rich people's children and important people's children were all there. Their host, the merchant, was a learned man; his father had insisted that he have a college education. You see, his father had been only a cattle dealer, but he had always been honest and thrifty. This business had brought him a fortune, and his son, the merchant, had later managed to increase this fortune. Clever as he was, he also had a kind heart, but there was less talk about his heart than about his money. His house was always full of guests; some who had "blue blood," as it is called, and some who had mind; some who had both, and some who had neither. But this time it was a children's party, with children's prattle; and children say what they mean. Among the guests was a pretty little girl, most absurdly proud that her father was a groom of the bedchamber. The servants had taught her this arrogance, not her parents; they were much too sensible.

"I'm a child of the chamber," she said. She might as well have been a child of the cellar, for no one can help his birth. Then she explained to the other children that she had "birth," and insisted that anyone who didn't have "birth" from the beginning couldn't in any way get it; it did no good to study or be ever so industrious if you didn't have "birth." And as for people whose names ended with "sen," she declared, "They'll never amount to anything. You must put your arms out at the side and keep them, these 'sen' people, at a distance, like this!" And with this she stretched her delicate little arms with the elbows turned out to show what she meant-and the little arms were very pretty. Sweet child!

But the little daughter of the merchant was very angry, for her father's name was Madsen, and of course she knew that ended with "sen," so she answered, as proudly as she could: "My father can buy a hundred dollars' worth of sugar candy and just throw it away; can your father afford to do that?"

"Yes, but my father," said the little daughter of a writer, "can put your father and her father and everybody else's father into a newspaper! My mother says everybody is afraid of him because he owns the paper!" And then she strutted as though she were a real little princess who knows how to strut!

Meanwhile a poor boy stood right outside the half-open door, peeping through the crack. This youngster was so humble that he wasn't even allowed into the room; he had been helping the cook by turning the spit, and now he had permission to peep through the door at the beautifully dressed children who were enjoying themselves inside, and that meant a lot to him.

"Wish I were one of them," he thought, and then he heard what they said, and that was enough to make him very sad. His parents had not saved a penny; they couldn't afford to buy a newspaper, much less write for one. Worst of all, his father's name, and hence his own, ended with "sen." He could never amount to anything in this world! That was sad, indeed. But still it seemed to him he had been "born." Yes, just like everybody else-it couldn't possibly be otherwise.

So much for that evening.

Many years had passed, and in that time children grow up. Now there stood in the city a handsome house, full of beautiful treasures, and everybody wanted to see it, even people who lived outside the city came to see it. And which of the children we have told you about owned this house? Yes, that's very easy for you to guess. No, it's not so very easy after all! That house belonged to the poor little boy! He had amounted to something, in spite of the "sen" at the end of his name-Thorvaldsen!

And the three other children-the children of blue blood, money, and intellectual pride? Well, one had nothing to reproach the other with. They were all equal as children, and they turned into charming and pleasant people, for they were really good at heart; what they had thought and said that evening had just been children's prattle.

The End

Fables & Tales Nonfiction Poetry Short Stories

Aesop Andersen, H.C. Dickinson, Emily Frost, Robert Grimm Henry, O Kipling, Rudyard Longfellow, Henry Poe, Edgar Allan Shakespeare, William Thoreau, Henry Twain, Mark Wilde, Oscar