ANDERSEN HANS CHRISTIAN
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Hans Christian Andersen
"WHENEVER a good child dies, an angel of God comes down
from heaven, takes the dead child in his arms, spreads out his
great white wings, and flies with him over all the places
which the child had loved during his life. Then he gathers a
large handful of flowers, which he carries up to the Almighty,
that they may bloom more brightly in heaven than they do on
earth. And the Almighty presses the flowers to His heart, but
He kisses the flower that pleases Him best, and it receives a
voice, and is able to join the song of the chorus of bliss."
These words were spoken by an angel of God, as he carried
a dead child up to heaven, and the child listened as if in a
dream. Then they passed over well-known spots, where the
little one had often played, and through beautiful gardens
full of lovely flowers.
"Which of these shall we take with us to heaven to be
transplanted there?" asked the angel.
Close by grew a slender, beautiful, rose-bush, but some
wicked hand had broken the stem, and the half-opened rosebuds
hung faded and withered on the trailing branches.
"Poor rose-bush!" said the child, "let us take it with us
to heaven, that it may bloom above in God's garden."
The angel took up the rose-bush; then he kissed the child,
and the little one half opened his eyes. The angel gathered
also some beautiful flowers, as well as a few humble
buttercups and heart's-ease.
"Now we have flowers enough," said the child; but the
angel only nodded, he did not fly upward to heaven.
It was night, and quite still in the great town. Here they
remained, and the angel hovered over a small, narrow street,
in which lay a large heap of straw, ashes, and sweepings from
the houses of people who had removed. There lay fragments of
plates, pieces of plaster, rags, old hats, and other rubbish
not pleasant to see. Amidst all this confusion, the angel
pointed to the pieces of a broken flower-pot, and to a lump of
earth which had fallen out of it. The earth had been kept from
falling to pieces by the roots of a withered field-flower,
which had been thrown amongst the rubbish.
"We will take this with us," said the angel, "I will tell
you why as we fly along."
And as they flew the angel related the history.
"Down in that narrow lane, in a low cellar, lived a poor
sick boy; he had been afflicted from his childhood, and even
in his best days he could just manage to walk up and down the
room on crutches once or twice, but no more. During some days
in summer, the sunbeams would lie on the floor of the cellar
for about half an hour. In this spot the poor sick boy would
sit warming himself in the sunshine, and watching the red
blood through his delicate fingers as he held them before his
face. Then he would say he had been out, yet he knew nothing
of the green forest in its spring verdure, till a neighbor's
son brought him a green bough from a beech-tree. This he would
place over his head, and fancy that he was in the beech-wood
while the sun shone, and the birds carolled gayly. One spring
day the neighbor's boy brought him some field-flowers, and
among them was one to which the root still adhered. This he
carefully planted in a flower-pot, and placed in a window-seat
near his bed. And the flower had been planted by a fortunate
hand, for it grew, put forth fresh shoots, and blossomed every
year. It became a splendid flower-garden to the sick boy, and
his little treasure upon earth. He watered it, and cherished
it, and took care it should have the benefit of every sunbeam
that found its way into the cellar, from the earliest morning
ray to the evening sunset. The flower entwined itself even in
his dreams- for him it bloomed, for him spread its perfume.
And it gladdened his eyes, and to the flower he turned, even
in death, when the Lord called him. He has been one year with
God. During that time the flower has stood in the window,
withered and forgotten, till at length cast out among the
sweepings into the street, on the day of the lodgers' removal.
And this poor flower, withered and faded as it is, we have
added to our nosegay, because it gave more real joy than the
most beautiful flower in the garden of a queen."
"But how do you know all this?" asked the child whom the
angel was carrying to heaven.
"I know it," said the angel, "because I myself was the
poor sick boy who walked upon crutches, and I know my own
Then the child opened his eyes and looked into the
glorious happy face of the angel, and at the same moment they
found themselves in that heavenly home where all is happiness
and joy. And God pressed the dead child to His heart, and
wings were given him so that he could fly with the angel, hand
in hand. Then the Almighty pressed all the flowers to His
heart; but He kissed the withered field-flower, and it
received a voice. Then it joined in the song of the angels,
who surrounded the throne, some near, and others in a distant
circle, but all equally happy. They all joined in the chorus
of praise, both great and small,- the good, happy child, and
the poor field-flower, that once lay withered and cast away on
a heap of rubbish in a narrow, dark street.