en-fr  Hans_Christian_Andersen_Little_Mermaid_3 Easy
The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen; part 3.

Truly, it was a magnificent affair, such as you never see on earth.

The walls and ceilings of the great ballroom were of glass, thick but clear.

Many hundreds of large mussel-shells, rose-red and grass-green, were set in rows on either side, with a blue flame burning in them that lighted up the whole hall and shone out through the walls, so that the sea outside was all lit up.

You could see all the innumerable fish, big and little, swimming round the glass walls.

The scales of some of them shone purple-red, on others they shone like silver and gold.

In the middle of the hall there flowed a broad rapid stream, and on it mermen and mermaids danced to their own beautiful singing.

Such charming voices no one on earth possesses.

The little mermaid sang the most beautifully of them all, and they clapped their hands at her, and for a moment she felt joy at her heart, for she knew that she had the loveliest voice of anyone on earth or sea.

But soon she began to think again about the world above her; she could not forget the handsome Prince, and her own sorrow that she did not, like him, possess an immortal soul.

So she stole out of her father's palace, and while everything there was song and merriment she sat sadly in her little garden.

There she heard the beating waves sounding down through the water, and she thought, sure, he is sailing up there, he whom I love more than father or mother, he to whom my thoughts cling and in whose hand I would lay the destiny of my life.

I would risk everything to win him and an immortal soul; while my sisters are dancing in my father's palace, I will go to the old Sea Witch. I've always been dreadfully afraid of her, but it may be she can advise me and help me.

So the little mermaid went off out of her garden, towards the roaring maelstrom behind which the witch lived.

She had never been that way before.

No flowers grew there, and no sea grass: only the bare grey sandy bottom stretched out round the maelstrom, where the water whirled round like a roaring millwheel and swept everything it caught hold of down with it into the deep.

Right through those tearing whirls she must go to enter the Sea Witch's domain, and here for a long way the only path ran over hot bubbling mire which the Witch called her peat moss.

Behind it lay her house, in the middle of a hideous wood.

All the trees and bushes of it were polypi, half animal and half plant, which looked like hundred-headed snakes growing out of the ground.

All their branches were long slimy arms with fingers like pliant worms, and joint after joint they kept in motion from the root till the outermost tip.

Everything in the sea that they could grasp they twined themselves about, and never let it go again.

The little mermaid was in terrible fear as she stopped outside the wood.

Her heart beat with terror, and she almost turned back, but then she thought of the Prince and of the human soul, and so she took courage.

She bound her long flowing hair close about her head, so that the polypi should not catch her by it; she joined her two hands together on her breast, and darted along as a fish darts through the water, in among the terrible polypi, which stretched out their pliant arms and fingers after her.

She saw that everyone of these held something it had caught, and hundreds of little arms held it like strong bands of iron.

Men who had been lost at sea and had sunk deep down there, looked out, white skeletons, from among the arms of the polypi.

Rudders of ships and chests they held fast; skeletons of land beasts, and even a little mermaid, which they had caught and killed.

That, to her, was almost the most frightful thing of all.

Now she came to a great slimy clearing in the wood, where large fat water-snakes wallowed, showing their ugly whitey-yellow coils.

In the centre of the clearing was a house built of the white bones of men: there the Sea Witch sat, making a toad feed out of her mouth, as we make a little canary bird eat sugar.

The hideous fat water-snakes she called her little chicks, and let them coil about over her great spongy bosom.

"I know well enough what you want," said the Sea Witch, "and a silly thing, too; all the same, you shall have your way, for it'll bring you to a bad end, my pretty Princess.

You want to be rid of your fish tail and have two props to walk on instead, like humans, so that the young Prince may fall in love with you, and you may get him and an immortal soul.

With that the Witch laughed so loud and so hideously that the toad and the snakes tumbled down on to the ground and wallowed about there.

"You've come just in the nick of time," said the Witch; "to-morrow after sunrise I couldn't help you till another year came round.

I shall make a drink for you, and with it you must swim to the land before the sun rises, put yourself on the beach there, and drink it up; then your tail will part and open into what men call pretty legs.

But it'll hurt, it'll be like a sharp sword going through you.

Everybody that sees you will say you are the prettiest human child they ever saw. You'll keep your swimming gait, and no dancer will be able to float along like you.

But every step you take will be as if you were treading on a sharp knife, so that you would think your blood must gush out. If you can bear all that, I will do what you wish."

"Yes," said the little mermaid, with a faltering voice; and she thought of the Prince and of winning an immortal soul.

"But remember," said the Witch, "when you've once taken a human shape, you can never become a mermaid again, you can never go down through the water to your sisters or to your father's palace; and if you don't win the love of the Prince, so that for you he forgets father and mother, and clings to you with all his thoughts, and makes the priest lay your hands in one another's, so that you become man and wife, then you won't get your immortal soul.

On the first morning after he is married to anyone else, your heart will break and you will become foam on the water."

"It is my wish," said the little mermaid, pale as a corpse.

"But I must be paid, too," said the witch, "and it's not a small matter that I require.

You have the loveliest voice of anyone down here at the bottom of the sea, and with it no doubt you think you'll be able to charm him; but that voice you must give me.

I must have the best thing you possess as the price of my precious drink. I shall have to give you my own blood in it, that the drink may be as sharp as a two-edged sword.

"But if you take away my voice," said the little mermaid, "what have I left?"

"Your beautiful form," said the witch, "and your floating gait, and your speaking eyes: with them you can easily delude a human heart.

What, have you lost courage? Put out your little tongue, and I'll cut it off for the price, and you shall have the potent drink."

"So be it," said the little mermaid, and the witch put her cauldron on the fire to boil the magic drink. "Cleanliness is a good thing," said she, and scoured out the cauldron with some snakes which she tied in a knot.

Then she scratched herself in the breast and let the black blood drip into the pot.

The steam took the most dreadful shapes, enough to fill one with fear and horror.

Every moment the witch cast something afresh into the cauldron, and when it was really boiling, the sound was like that of a crocodile weeping.

At last the drink was ready, and it looked like the clearest of water.

"There you are," said the witch, and cut off the tongue of the little mermaid.

Now she was dumb, she could neither sing nor speak.

"If the polypi should catch you when you are going back through my wood," said the Witch, "just throw one drop of that drink on them, and their arms and fingers will break into a thousand bits."

But there was no need for the little mermaid to do that; the polypi shrank back in fear before her when they saw the shining drink which glittered in her hand as if it had been a twinkling star.

So she passed quickly through the wood, and the marsh, and the roaring maelstrom.

She could see her father's palace.

The torches were quenched in the great ballroom.

No doubt everyone in there was asleep, but she dared not go to them now that she was dumb and was going to leave them for ever.

It seemed as if her heart must burst asunder with sorrow.

She stole into the garden and took one flower from each of her sister's flower-beds, and blew on her fingers a thousand kisses towards the palace, and rose up through the dark blue sea.

The sun was not yet up when she saw the Prince's palace, and clambered up the stately marble steps.

The moon was shining beautifully bright.

The little mermaid swallowed the sharp burning drink, and it was as though a two-edged sword was piercing her delicate body: she swooned with the pain, and lay as one dead.

When the sun shone out over the sea, she awoke and felt a torturing pang, but right in front of her stood the beautiful young Prince.

He fixed his coal-black eyes on her, so that she cast her own eyes down, and saw that her fish's tail was gone and that she now had the prettiest small white legs that any young girl could have.

But she was quite naked, so she wrapped herself in her masses of long hair.

The Prince asked who she was and how she had come there, and she gazed at him sweetly and yet sadly with her dark blue eyes, for she could not speak.

Then he took her by the hand and led her into the palace. Every step she took was, as the witch had warned her, as if she was treading on pointed swords and sharp knives, yet she bore it gladly.

Led by the Prince's hand, she walked light as a bubble, and he and everyone else marvelled at her graceful floating gait.

Costly robes of silk and muslin were put upon her, and she was the fairest of all in the palace; but she was dumb and could neither speak nor sing.

Beautiful slave girls clad in silks and gold came forward and sang to the Prince and his royal parents.

One sang more sweetly than all the rest, and the Prince applauded her and smiled on her.

Then the little mermaid was sad, for she knew that she herself had sung far more sweetly; and she thought: Oh! if he could but know that to be near him I have given my voice away for ever!

Then the slave girls danced graceful floating dances to the noblest of music, and now the little mermaid raised her pretty white arms and rose on tip-toe and floated over the floor, and danced as none had ever yet danced.

At every movement her beauty grew yet more on the sight, and her eyes spoke more deeply to the heart than the song of the slave girls.

Everyone was enraptured by it, and more than all, the Prince, who called her his little foundling; and she danced again and again, though every time her foot touched the ground it was as though she was treading on sharp knives.

The Prince said that now she should always be near him, and she was allowed to sleep outside his door on a cushion of silk.

He had a boy's dress made for her, so that she might ride with him on horseback.

hey rode through the sweet-smelling woods, where the green boughs brushed her shoulders, and the little birds sang in the cover of the young leaves.

With the Prince she clambered up the high mountains, and though her delicate feet were cut so that everyone could see, she only laughed, and followed him till they could see the clouds beneath them like a flock of birds flying towards the distant lands.

At home at the Prince's palace, when at night all the others were asleep, she would go out to the broad marble stairs, and it cooled her burning feet to stand in the cold sea water, and then she thought about those who were down in the deeps below.
unit 1
The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen; part 3.
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The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen; part 3.

Truly, it was a magnificent affair, such as you never see on earth.

The walls and ceilings of the great ballroom were of glass, thick but clear.

Many hundreds of large mussel-shells, rose-red and grass-green, were set in rows on either side, with a blue flame burning in them that lighted up the whole hall and shone out through the walls, so that the sea outside was all lit up.

You could see all the innumerable fish, big and little, swimming round the glass walls.

The scales of some of them shone purple-red, on others they shone like silver and gold.

In the middle of the hall there flowed a broad rapid stream, and on it mermen and mermaids danced to their own beautiful singing.

Such charming voices no one on earth possesses.

The little mermaid sang the most beautifully of them all, and they clapped their hands at her, and for a moment she felt joy at her heart, for she knew that she had the loveliest voice of anyone on earth or sea.

But soon she began to think again about the world above her; she could not forget the handsome Prince, and her own sorrow that she did not, like him, possess an immortal soul.

So she stole out of her father's palace, and while everything there was song and merriment she sat sadly in her little garden.

There she heard the beating waves sounding down through the water, and she thought, sure, he is sailing up there, he whom I love more than father or mother, he to whom my thoughts cling and in whose hand I would lay the destiny of my life.

I would risk everything to win him and an immortal soul; while my sisters are dancing in my father's palace, I will go to the old Sea Witch. I've always been dreadfully afraid of her, but it may be she can advise me and help me.

So the little mermaid went off out of her garden, towards the roaring maelstrom behind which the witch lived.

She had never been that way before.

No flowers grew there, and no sea grass: only the bare grey sandy bottom stretched out round the maelstrom, where the water whirled round like a roaring millwheel and swept everything it caught hold of down with it into the deep.

Right through those tearing whirls she must go to enter the Sea Witch's domain, and here for a long way the only path ran over hot bubbling mire which the Witch called her peat moss.

Behind it lay her house, in the middle of a hideous wood.

All the trees and bushes of it were polypi, half animal and half plant, which looked like hundred-headed snakes growing out of the ground.

All their branches were long slimy arms with fingers like pliant worms, and joint after joint they kept in motion from the root till the outermost tip.

Everything in the sea that they could grasp they twined themselves about, and never let it go again.

The little mermaid was in terrible fear as she stopped outside the wood.

Her heart beat with terror, and she almost turned back, but then she thought of the Prince and of the human soul, and so she took courage.

She bound her long flowing hair close about her head, so that the polypi should not catch her by it; she joined her two hands together on her breast, and darted along as a fish darts through the water, in among the terrible polypi, which stretched out their pliant arms and fingers after her.

She saw that everyone of these held something it had caught, and hundreds of little arms held it like strong bands of iron.

Men who had been lost at sea and had sunk deep down there, looked out, white skeletons, from among the arms of the polypi.

Rudders of ships and chests they held fast; skeletons of land beasts, and even a little mermaid, which they had caught and killed.

That, to her, was almost the most frightful thing of all.

Now she came to a great slimy clearing in the wood, where large fat water-snakes wallowed, showing their ugly whitey-yellow coils.

In the centre of the clearing was a house built of the white bones of men: there the Sea Witch sat, making a toad feed out of her mouth, as we make a little canary bird eat sugar.

The hideous fat water-snakes she called her little chicks, and let them coil about over her great spongy bosom.

"I know well enough what you want," said the Sea Witch, "and a silly thing, too; all the same, you shall have your way, for it'll bring you to a bad end, my pretty Princess.

You want to be rid of your fish tail and have two props to walk on instead, like humans, so that the young Prince may fall in love with you, and you may get him and an immortal soul.

With that the Witch laughed so loud and so hideously that the toad and the snakes tumbled down on to the ground and wallowed about there.

"You've come just in the nick of time," said the Witch; "to-morrow after sunrise I couldn't help you till another year came round.

I shall make a drink for you, and with it you must swim to the land before the sun rises, put yourself on the beach there, and drink it up; then your tail will part and open into what men call pretty legs.

But it'll hurt, it'll be like a sharp sword going through you.

Everybody that sees you will say you are the prettiest human child they ever saw. You'll keep your swimming gait, and no dancer will be able to float along like you.

But every step you take will be as if you were treading on a sharp knife, so that you would think your blood must gush out. If you can bear all that, I will do what you wish."

"Yes," said the little mermaid, with a faltering voice; and she thought of the Prince and of winning an immortal soul.

"But remember," said the Witch, "when you've once taken a human shape, you can never become a mermaid again, you can never go down through the water to your sisters or to your father's palace; and if you don't win the love of the Prince, so that for you he forgets father and mother, and clings to you with all his thoughts, and makes the priest lay your hands in one another's, so that you become man and wife, then you won't get your immortal soul.

On the first morning after he is married to anyone else, your heart will break and you will become foam on the water."

"It is my wish," said the little mermaid, pale as a corpse.

"But I must be paid, too," said the witch, "and it's not a small matter that I require.

You have the loveliest voice of anyone down here at the bottom of the sea, and with it no doubt you think you'll be able to charm him; but that voice you must give me.

I must have the best thing you possess as the price of my precious drink. I shall have to give you my own blood in it, that the drink may be as sharp as a two-edged sword.

"But if you take away my voice," said the little mermaid, "what have I left?"

"Your beautiful form," said the witch, "and your floating gait, and your speaking eyes: with them you can easily delude a human heart.

What, have you lost courage? Put out your little tongue, and I'll cut it off for the price, and you shall have the potent drink."

"So be it," said the little mermaid, and the witch put her cauldron on the fire to boil the magic drink. "Cleanliness is a good thing," said she, and scoured out the cauldron with some snakes which she tied in a knot.

Then she scratched herself in the breast and let the black blood drip into the pot.

The steam took the most dreadful shapes, enough to fill one with fear and horror.

Every moment the witch cast something afresh into the cauldron, and when it was really boiling, the sound was like that of a crocodile weeping.

At last the drink was ready, and it looked like the clearest of water.

"There you are," said the witch, and cut off the tongue of the little mermaid.

Now she was dumb, she could neither sing nor speak.

"If the polypi should catch you when you are going back through my wood," said the Witch, "just throw one drop of that drink on them, and their arms and fingers will break into a thousand bits."

But there was no need for the little mermaid to do that; the polypi shrank back in fear before her when they saw the shining drink which glittered in her hand as if it had been a twinkling star.

So she passed quickly through the wood, and the marsh, and the roaring maelstrom.

She could see her father's palace.

The torches were quenched in the great ballroom.

No doubt everyone in there was asleep, but she dared not go to them now that she was dumb and was going to leave them for ever.

It seemed as if her heart must burst asunder with sorrow.

She stole into the garden and took one flower from each of her sister's flower-beds, and blew on her fingers a thousand kisses towards the palace, and rose up through the dark blue sea.

The sun was not yet up when she saw the Prince's palace, and clambered up the stately marble steps.

The moon was shining beautifully bright.

The little mermaid swallowed the sharp burning drink, and it was as though a two-edged sword was piercing her delicate body: she swooned with the pain, and lay as one dead.

When the sun shone out over the sea, she awoke and felt a torturing pang, but right in front of her stood the beautiful young Prince.

He fixed his coal-black eyes on her, so that she cast her own eyes down, and saw that her fish's tail was gone and that she now had the prettiest small white legs that any young girl could have.

But she was quite naked, so she wrapped herself in her masses of long hair.

The Prince asked who she was and how she had come there, and she gazed at him sweetly and yet sadly with her dark blue eyes, for she could not speak.

Then he took her by the hand and led her into the palace. Every step she took was, as the witch had warned her, as if she was treading on pointed swords and sharp knives, yet she bore it gladly.

Led by the Prince's hand, she walked light as a bubble, and he and everyone else marvelled at her graceful floating gait.

Costly robes of silk and muslin were put upon her, and she was the fairest of all in the palace; but she was dumb and could neither speak nor sing.

Beautiful slave girls clad in silks and gold came forward and sang to the Prince and his royal parents.

One sang more sweetly than all the rest, and the Prince applauded her and smiled on her.

Then the little mermaid was sad, for she knew that she herself had sung far more sweetly; and she thought: Oh! if he could but know that to be near him I have given my voice away for ever!

Then the slave girls danced graceful floating dances to the noblest of music, and now the little mermaid raised her pretty white arms and rose on tip-toe and floated over the floor, and danced as none had ever yet danced.

At every movement her beauty grew yet more on the sight, and her eyes spoke more deeply to the heart than the song of the slave girls.

Everyone was enraptured by it, and more than all, the Prince, who called her his little foundling; and she danced again and again, though every time her foot touched the ground it was as though she was treading on sharp knives.

The Prince said that now she should always be near him, and she was allowed to sleep outside his door on a cushion of silk.

He had a boy's dress made for her, so that she might ride with him on horseback.

hey rode through the sweet-smelling woods, where the green boughs brushed her shoulders, and the little birds sang in the cover of the young leaves.

With the Prince she clambered up the high mountains, and though her delicate feet were cut so that everyone could see, she only laughed, and followed him till they could see the clouds beneath them like a flock of birds flying towards the distant lands.

At home at the Prince's palace, when at night all the others were asleep, she would go out to the broad marble stairs, and it cooled her burning feet to stand in the cold sea water, and then she thought about those who were down in the deeps below.