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The Drop of Water

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

Of course, you must know what a microscope is, that round magnifying glass which makes everything look hundreds of times larger than it really is. If you take it and hold it close to your eye and look at a single drop of ditchwater, you'll see thousands of strange little creatures, such as you couldn't imagine living in a drop of water. But they are really there. They look almost like a plateful of shrimp, all jumping and crowding against each other, and they are so ferocious they tear off each other's arm and legs; yet in their own way they are happy and merry.

Now, once there was an old man whom his neighbors called Krible-Krable, for that was his name. He always tried to make the best of everything, and if he couldn't do it any other way he would try magic.

One day he sat with his eye glued to his microscope, peering at a drop of water taken from a puddle in the ditch. My! How it crawled and squirmed! All those thousands of little imps leaping and springing about, devouring each other, or pulling each other to pieces.

"This is too hideous for words!" said the old Krible-Krable. "There must be some way to make them live in peace and quiet and each mind his own business." But though he thought and thought he couldn't find the answer. So he decided to use magic. "At least I can give them a color," he said, "so I can see them better." And then he let fall into the water a tiny drop of something that looked like red wine, but was really witches' blood, the very finest kind, and worth two pennies. Instantly the strange little creatures became red all over, and the drop of water now looked like a whole town full of naked wild men.

"What have you got there?" asked another old magician, who had no name at all, which made him very distinguished.

"If you can guess what it is," replied Krible-Krable, "I'll give it to you. But it's not very easy to find out if one doesn't know."

So the nameless magician peered down through the microscope. The scene before his eyes really resembled a town where all the inhabitants ran about without clothing. What a terrible sight it was! But it was still more horrible to see them kick and cuff, and struggle and fight, and pull and bite at each other. All those on the bottom were struggling to get to the top, and those on the top were being pushed to the bottom. "Look! Look!" the creatures seemed to be crying. "His leg is longer than mine! Bah! Off with it! And here's one with a little lump behind his ear! An innocent little lump, but it hurts him, and it'll hurt him more!" And they hacked at it and tore at him and devoured him, all because of the little lump.

But one sat very quiet and still, all by itself, like a modest maiden, wishing for nothing but peace and quiet. But the others couldn't stand for that-they pulled her out, beat her, cut her, and ate her.

This is extremely amusing!" said the magician.

"Yes, but what do you think it is?" asked Krible-Krable. "Can you find out?"

"Why, that's easy to see," answered the magician. "Of course, it is Copenhagen, or some other large city. I can't tell which, for they all look alike. But it's certainly some large city."

"It's a drop of ditchwater!" said Krible-Krable.

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