LITTLE IDAS FLOWERS
FAIRY TALES OF HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN
LITTLE IDA'S FLOWERS
by Hans Christian Andersen
"My poor flowers are quite dead，" said little Ida， "they were so
pretty yesterday evening， and now all the leaves are hanging down
quite withered. What do they do that for，" she asked， of the student
who sat on the sofa; she liked him very much， he could tell the most
stories， and cut out the prettiest pictures; hearts， and
ladies dancing， castles with doors that opened， as well as flowers; he
was a delightful student. "Why do the flowers look so faded to-day?"
she asked again， and pointed to her nosegay， which was quite withered.
"Don't you know what is the matter with them?" said the student.
"The flowers were at a ball last night， and therefore， it is no wonder
they hang their heads."
"But flowers cannot dance?" cried little Ida.
"Yes indeed， they can，" replied the student. "When it grows
dark， and everybody is asleep， they jump about quite merrily. They
have a ball almost every night."
"Can children go to these balls?"
"Yes，" said the student， "little daisies and lilies of the valley."
"Where do the beautiful flowers dance?" asked little Ida.
"Have you not often seen the large castle outside the gates of the
town， where the king lives in summer， and where the beautiful garden
is full of flowers? And have you not fed the swans with bread when
they swam towards you? Well， the flowers have capital balls there，
"I was in the garden out there yesterday with my mother，" said
Ida， "but all the leaves were off the trees， and there was not a
single flower left. Where are they? to see so many in the
"They are in the castle，" replied the student. " know that
as soon as the king and all the court are gone into the town， the
flowers run out of the garden into the castle， and you should see
how merry they are. The two most beautiful roses seat themselves on
the throne， and are called the king and queen， then all the red
range themselves on each side， and bow， these are the
lords-in- in， and there
is a grand ball. The blue violets represent little naval cadets， and
which they call young ladies. The
tulips and tiger-lilies are the old ladies who sit and watch the
dancing， so that everything may be conducted with order and
"But，" said little Ida， "is there no one there to hurt the flowers
for dancing in the king's castle?"
"No one knows anything about it，" said the student. "The old
steward of the castle， who has to watch there at night， sometimes
in; but he carries a great bunch of keys， and as soon as the
flowers hear the keys rattle， they run and hide themselves behind
the long curtains， and stand quite still， peeping their heads
out. Then the old steward says， 'I smell flowers here，' but he
cannot see them."
"Oh how capital，" said little Ida， clapping her hands. "Should I
be able to see these flowers?"
"Yes，" said the student， "mind you think of it the next time you
go out， no doubt you will see them， if you peep through the window.
I did so to-day， and I saw a long yellow lily lying stretched out on
the sofa. She was a court lady."
"Can the flowers from the Botanical Gardens go to these balls?"
asked Ida. "It is such a distance!"
"Oh yes，" said the student 'whenever they like， for they can
fly. Have you not seen those beautiful red， white. and yellow
butterflies， that look like flowers? They were flowers once. They have
flown off their stalks into the air， and flap their leaves as if
sp; they were little wings to make them fly. Then， if they behave well，
they obtain permission to fly about during the day， instead of being
obliged to sit still on their stems at home， and so in time their
real wings. It may be， however， that the flowers in
the Botanical Gardens have never been to the king's palace， and，
therefore， they know nothing of the merry doings at night， which
take place there. I will tell you what to do， and the botanical
professor， who lives close by here， will be so surprised. You know him very well， do you not? Well， next time you go into his garden， tell one of the flowers that there is going to be a grand ball at the castle， then that flower will tell all the others， and they will
fly away to the castle as soon as possible. And when the professor
walks into his garden， there will not be a single flower left. How
"But how can one flower tell another? Flowers cannot speak?"
"No， certainly not，" replied the student; "but they can make
signs. Have you not often seen that when the wind blows they nod at
one another， all their green leaves?"
"Can the professor understand the signs?" asked Ida.
"Yes， to be sure he can. He went one morning into his garden，
making signs with its leaves to a
beautiful red carnation. It was saying， 'You are so pretty， I like you
very much.' But the professor did not approve of such nonsense， so
to stop it. Then the leaves，
which are its fingers， stung him so sharply that he has never ventured
"Oh how funny!" said Ida， and she laughed.
"How can anyone put such notions into a child's head?" said a
tiresome lawyer， to pay a visit， and sat on the sofa.
He did not like the student， and would grumble when he saw him cutting out droll or pictures. Sometimes it would be a man hanging on a gibbet and holding a heart in his hand as if he had been stealing hearts. So on her nose. But the lawyer did not like such jokes， and he would say as he had said， "How can anyone put such nonsense into a