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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

In a cloister there lived a young man named Urbanus, who was pious and studious. He was entrusted with the keys to the cloister's book collection and faithfully guarded this treasure. He wrote many beautiful books and frequently studied the Holy Scriptures and other works.

Then one day Urbanus, who had been reading the writings of the Apostle Paul, found in the Bible: "For a thousand years in Thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night." This impressed the young man as being quite impossible; he could not believe it, and he was tormented by doubt and ponderous thoughts.

It so happened that one morning the monk walked down from the gloomy library and out into the beautiful, sunlit cloister garden, and found a little, gaily colored wood bird sitting on the ground looking for a few grains of corn. Presently it flew up onto a branch, where it sang most strangely and wonderfully.

The little bird was not at all shy, and it permitted the monk to come very close. He would have liked to catch it, but the bird flew off, from tree to tree. The monk followed it, and it sang continuously with a clear and lovely voice. But the young monk could not catch it, although he pursued it for a considerable distance, from the cloister garden into the wood.

He finally gave up and returned to the cloister, but what he saw looked strangely changed to him. Everything had become extended, larger and more beautiful, both the buildings and the garden, and instead of the low, little old cloister church stood a mighty cathedral with three towers. The monk thought this strange and almost magic. And when he reached the cloister gate and hesitantly pulled the bell cord, he was met by a gatekeeper who was a complete stranger to him and who astoundedly drew away from him.

As the monk walked through the cloister cemetry, he noticed many, many tombstones that he did not remember having seen before.

And when he approached the cloister brethren they all drew away from him horrified.

Only the abbot, but not the abbot he had known - another, younger one, completely unknown to him - stood still, and pointing the crucifix toward him, he said, "In the name of the Crucified, who are you, unsaintly soul, who have risen from the grave, and what are you searching for among us the living?"

At that the monk shuddered, and with downcast eyes, he staggered like a senile old man. And, look, he had a long, silver-white beard that reached down below his belt, where the bunch of keys to the locked bookcases still hung.

With shy reverence the monks led the curious-looking stranger to the abbot's seat.

There the abbot gave the library key to a young monk, who opened the library door and brought forth a handwritten chronicle in which one could read that a monk named Urbanus had completely vanished some three hundred years previously. No one knew if he had escaped or had met with an accident.

"Oh, wood bird! Was it your song!" said the stranger with a sigh. "I followed you and listened to your song for less than three minutes, and in the meantime three centuries went by. You have sung for me the song about eternity, the eternity I could not understand. But now I understand, and worship you, O Lord, in the dust. I am but a grain of dust," he said, bowing his head, and his body vanished into dust.

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