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The Little Green Ones

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

A rose tree drooped in the window. Not so long ago it was green and blooming, but now it looked sickly - something was wrong with it. A regiment of invaders were eating it up; and, by the way, it was a very decent and respectable regiment, dressed in green uniforms. I spoke to one of the invaders; he was only three days old but already a grandfather. Do you know what he said? Well, what he said is all true - he spoke of himself and the rest of the invaders. Listen!

"We're the strangest regiment of creatures in the world! Our young ones are born in the summertime, for the weather is pleasant then. We're engaged and have the wedding at once. When it gets cold we lay our eggs, and the little ones are snug and warm. The ant, that wisest of creatures (we have a great deal of respect for him!), studies us and appreciates us. He doesn't eat us up all at once; instead, he takes our eggs and lays them out on the ground floor of his and his family's anthill - stores layer after layer of them, all labeled and numbered, side by side, so that every day a new one may creep out of the egg. Then he keeps us in a stable, pinches our hind legs, and milks us, and then we die. It is really a great pleasure. The ants have the prettiest name for us - `little milch cow!'

"All creatures who have the common sense that the ant has call us that; it's only humans who don't, and that is an insult great enough to embitter all our lives. Couldn't you write us a protest against it? Couldn't you put those people in their right place? They look at us so stupidly, look at us with jealous eyes, just because we eat rose leaves, while they eat everything that's created, everything that is green or grows. Oh, they give us the most despicable, the most distasteful name: I won't even repeat it! Ugh! It turns my stomach; no, I won't repeat it - at least not when I'm wearing my uniform, and I am always wearing my uniform!

"I was born on a rose leaf. My whole regiment and I live off the rose tree; but then it lives again in us, who are of a higher order of beings. Humans detest us! They come and kill us with soapsuds - that's a horrible drink! I seem to smell it even now; it's dreadful to be washed when you're born not to be washed. Man, you who look at us with your stupid soapsud eyes, consider what our place in nature is; consider our artistic way of laying eggs and breeding children! We have been blessed to accomplish and multiply! We are born on the roses and we die in the roses - our whole life is a lovely poem. Don't call us by that name which you yourself think most despicable and ugly - the name I can't bear to speak or to repeat! Instead, call us the ants' milch cows, the rose-tree regiment, the little green ones!"

And I, the man, stood looking at the tree and at the little green ones - whose name I'll not mention, for I shouldn't like to hurt the feelings of a citizen of the rose tree, a large family with eggs and youngsters. And the soapsuds I was going to wash them in, for I had come with soap and water and evil intentions - I'll blow it to foam and use it for soap bubbles instead. Look at the splendor! Perhaps there's a fairy tale in each. And the bubble grows so large with radiant colors, looking as if there were a silver pearl lying inside it!

The bubble swayed, and drifted to the door, and burst; but the door sprung wide open, and there was Mother Fairy Tale herself! Yes, now she will tell you better than I can about - I won't say the name - the little green ones.

"Tree lice!" said Mother Fairy Tale. "You should call things by their right names; if you do not always dare to do so, you should at least be able to do it in a fairy tale!"

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