Andersen's Fairy Tales
by Andersen, Hans Christian
Andersen's Fairy Tales Tales 91-100 Summary
Tale 91: The Girl Who Stepped on Bread
- A girl named Inger is poor and cruel. Because she's pretty, she's also vain and arrogant. She gets to work as a maid in a well-off house, but she's a brat and never goes to visit her mom.
- Finally, her mistress sends her home with a big loaf of bread to bring along. When Inger reaches a swamp, though, she doesn't want to spoil her nice dress or shoes, so she throws the bread into a huge puddle. As she steps on it, the bread sinks into the mud, taking her with it.
- Inger sinks into the home of a bog witch, and there the Devil's great-grandmother sees her and decides to take her to hell to use as a statue to decorate the place (since Inger has frozen solid).
- For a long time, Inger is stuck there, covered in mud, with bugs crawling all over her, feeling like she's starving. Sometimes she feels tear drops on her head, since her mother cries for her (until her mother dies, anyway). What's worse is that some shepherd saw the whole thing happen, so now everyone knows that it was her pride that caused her to sink into the bog.
- Every time someone tells the story of how Inger stepped on the loaf, she hears about it in hell. Finally, one innocent child cries in sympathy upon hearing the story, and wishes that Inger could return to earth. That child grows old and dies while Inger's still in hell.
- Inger feels a great sorrow, and finally repents of her sins and acknowledges that she's not worth saving. Right then, a sunbeam from heaven shines down on her, and the statue vanishes, leaving a little bird in its place.
- Then Inger-as-bird flies around earth, and scrounges crumbs of bread to feed to the other birds that are hungry. When she's assembled enough crumbs to match the mass of the loaf of bread she'd thrown in the puddle, her soul ascends to heaven.
Tale 92: The Watchman of the Tower
- Our first-person narrator tells us that he likes to visit a watchman of a tower named Ole. He visits twice on New Year's Eve and hears some kooky stories about cobblestone, the Bible, and alcohol.
Tale 93: Anne Lisbeth
- Anne Lisbeth is a pretty young gal who has a child that she doesn't want, so she pays a ditch digger's wife to care for him. She snags a position nursing the count's baby, and finally ends up marrying a rich guy. Her son grows up, goes to sea, and dies. Anne Lisbeth hallucinates about his ghost wanting to be buried and goes mad—but apparently she finds the redemption she seeks and she believes she's about to go to heaven when she dies.
Tale 94: Children's Prattle
- A bunch of kids at a party brag about their fathers (one is rich, another is a newspaper editor, and so on). A poor boy who is only permitted to watch while helping in the kitchen wishes he were one of them. Upon growing up, he becomes a great artist: the sculptor Thorvaldsen. All the other kids just grow up to be decent human beings, since everything they'd said before was only children's prattle.
Tale 95: A String of Pearls
- The cities on a railroad line are like pearls on a string. Grandmother talks about trips to Copenhagen, and other highlights in Danish local history. Go Denmark!
Tale 96: The Pen and the Inkwell
- An inkwell and a pen have a conversation about which of them is the true source of the poetry that comes out of them. Then the poet they belong to uses them to write a poem praising God as the creator of all, but they miss the point and still think they're in charge. Suckas.
Tale 97: The Dead Child
- A family loses its youngest child and only son, and the mother is so crazed with grief that she renounces God. While visiting her son's grave, Death asks if she wants to go see her child, and she agrees. She sees her kid, who tells her that her grief for him is holding him back from heaven. Believing that this was a dream sent by God to guide her, she gets her act together and concentrates on being a good wife and mother to her surviving family.
Tale 98: The Cock and the Weathercock
- A cock and a weathercock on the same farm argue about who's better. The rooster brags and crows a bunch. The weathercock breaks and falls down. Guess it's better to be a live than to be a barn ornament.
Tale 99: "Lovely"
- A young sculptor named Hans Alfred gets a crush on a widow's daughter Kala, who is lovely. They marry, but he soon learns that she's actually pretty dull. Hans, Kala, and Kala's mother travel together, and afterward Kala dies. Hans then marries Kala's friend Sophie, who's ugly but smart and sensible. Sophie says Hans and Kala will meet again in heaven, and he'll again say, as when he first met her, that she's lovely. Aw, shucks.
Tale 100: A Story from the Dunes
- This story starts in Spain, where a well-off, pious young couple is happy with life and with God. They're sent north to Stockholm, where they'll go on to St. Petersburg so the man can be an ambassador there.
- The ship is wrecked, but the wife survives long enough to be found on the coast of Jutland. She gives birth to a boy and then dies. A fisherman and his wife take him in, naming him Jurgen. All this happens among the dunes along the coast.
- Jurgen grows up, loves exploring the world, and goes to sea as a cabin boy. He sails to Spain and feels a strange sense of belonging. When he inherits his foster father's house, he practically gives it to his best friend so he can marry his lady-love.
- Jurgen's best friend is murdered, and they think Jurgen did it (after all, he used to have a thing for the chick his friend was going to marry). So Jurgen is locked up for over a year until they find the real murderer.
- A kind merchant takes him in and provides for him. Jurgen falls in love with his daughter, but then the daughter dies in a shipwreck even though Jurgen tries to save her. Jurgen is hit in the head by some wood and is never quite the same again.
- The merchant's family continues to look after Jurgen, but eventually they die too. Jurgen wanders into a church, has a vision in which he marries his intended (Clara) in front of his (also dead) foster family, and then he dies. The whole church is buried among the dunes, so Jurgen has a nice tomb.
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