Print this Page

Grandmother

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

Grandmother is so very old; she has so many wrinkles, and her hair is completely white, but her eyes shine just like two stars; yes, yet they are much more beautiful; they are so gentle, so wonderful to look into. And then she knows the most delightful stories, and she has a gown of heavy, rustling silk, with great big flowers in it. Grandmother knows a great deal, for she was alive long before father and mother-that much is certain! She has a hymnbook with heavy clasps of silver, and often reads from it. In the middle of the book is a rose, which is very flat and dry, and not nearly so lovely as the roses she has in the vase, yet she smiles at it the most sweetly of all, and the tears even come into her eyes. Why is it that Grandmother looks that way at the withered flower in the old book? Do you know? Why, every time her tears fall upon the rose its colors become fresh again; the rose swells and fills the whole room with its perfume; the walls sink as if they were made of mist, and all about her is the green, beautiful wood, with the summer sunlight streaming through the leaves of the trees. And Grandmother-why, she's young again, a lovely girl with yellow curls and round red cheeks, pretty, graceful, fresher than any rose. But the eyes, the mild, blessed eyes, they are still Grandmother's eyes. Beside her is a man, so young, strong, and handsome; he hands her a rose, and she smiles. Grandmother cannot smile like that now. Yes, the smile is coming back now! He has gone, and with him many other thoughts and forms of the past; the handsome man has gone, and only the rose lies in the hymnbook, and Grandmother-yes, she still sits there, an old woman, glancing down at the withered rose in her book.

Now Grandmother is dead. She was sitting in her armchair, telling a long, long lovely story. "And now the story is finished," she said. "I am very tired. Let me sleep a little." And then she leaned back, breathed gently, and slept. But it became quieter and quieter, as her face became full of happiness and peace. It was as if the sunshine spread over her features; and then they said she was dead.

She was laid in the black coffin, and lay shrouded in folds of white linen, looking so beautiful, though her eyes were closed. All the wrinkles were gone, and there was a smile on her lips; her hair was so silvery and so venerable, and one wasn't at all afraid to look at the corpse, for it was sweet, dear, good Grandmother. The hymnbook was placed under her head, as she had wished, and the rose was still in the old book; and then they buried Grandmother.

They planted a rose tree on the grave beside the churchyard wall. It was full of roses, and the nightingale sang over it; and in the church the organ pealed forth the finest psalms, psalms that were written in the book under the dead one's head. And the moon shone down on the grave, but the dead one wasn't there. Any child could venture safely, even at night, and pluck a rose there beside the churchyard wall. A dead person knows more than all we living ones know. The dead know what terror would sweep over us if the strange thing were to happen that they should return among us. The dead are better than we; and they return no more. Dust has been piled over the coffin; dust is inside it; the leaves of the hymnbook are dust; and the rose, with all its memories, is asleep. But above bloom fresh roses, the nightingale sings, the organ peals, and we think of the old Grandmother with the gentle, eternally young eyes. Eyes can never die. Ours will some time behold Grandmother again, as young and beautiful as when for the first time she kissed the fresh red rose which is now dust in her grave.

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