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H.C. Andersen : Twenty-second Evening
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H.C. Andersen : Twenty-second Evening

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Twenty-second Evening

"I saw a little girl weeping," the Moon said, "weeping over the wickedness of the world. She had received the loveliest doll as a gift. Oh, what a doll that was, so pretty and delicate, and surely it could not have been made to experience hardship! But the little girl's brothers, who were tall boys, had placed the doll in a high tree in the garden, and had then run away. The little girl couldn't reach the doll, and had no way of helping it down, and that was why she was crying. The doll undoubtedly wept too, for it stretched out its arms through the green branches and looked very sad indeed.

"Yes, this was one of the hardships of the world, of which Mamma spoke so often. Oh, that poor doll! The evening twilight was already coming on, and night would soon be here. Did it have to sit alone in the tree out here all night long? No, the little girl didn't have the heart to let it do that. 'I'll stay with you!' she said, although she really was not very brave. She already imagined she could see the little goblins, in their tall pointed caps, peeping out from the bushes, and tall ghosts dancing in the dark walk, coming closer and closer, stretching out their hands toward the tree where the doll sat, and laughingly pointing their fingers at it. Oh, how frightened the little girl was! 'But if we haven't done anything sinful,' she thought, 'the evil spirits can't hurt us. I wonder if I have done something wrong!' She thought for a moment. 'Oh, yes!' she said. 'I laughed at the poor little duck that had a red rag around its leg. It's so funny when it limps, and that's why I laughed at it! But I know it's wrong to laugh at animals.' Then she looked up at her doll. 'Have you ever laughed at animals?' she asked. And it seemed as if the doll shook its head."