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Live Stream: Little Ida’s Flowers by Hans Christian Andersen

Written by Rachael Norris, 18th June 2020

On Tuesdays and Thursdays at 1pm you can join us on Facebook live for your bi-weekly dose of literature read aloud. We'll be looking at poems and texts that inspire us, reading along together and offering the chance for people to share their thoughts and get involved in discussions. If you'd like your lunch time to involve some literature, sit back and enjoy.

Today we are reading Little Ida's Flowers by Hans Christian Andersen from the Bread and Roses anthology which you can download here.

Little Ida's Flowers by Hans Christian Andersenn

“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,” sheasked, of the student who sat on the sofa; she liked him very much, he could tell the mostamusing stories, and cut out the prettiest pictures; hearts, and ladies dancing, castleswith doors that opened, as well as flowers; he was a delightful student. “Why do theflowers look so faded to-day?” she asked again, and pointed to her nosegay, which wasquite withered.“Don’t you know what is the matter with them?” said the student. “The flowers were at aball 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 kinglives in summer, and where the beautiful garden is full of flowers? And have you not fedthe swans with bread when they swam towards you? Well, the flowers have capital ballsthere, believe me.”“I was in the garden out there yesterday with my mother,” said Ida, “but all the leaves wereoff the trees, and there was not a single flower left. Where are they? I used to see so manyin the summer.”“They are in the castle,” replied the student. “You must know that as soon as the king andall the court are gone into the town, the flowers run out of the garden into the castle, andyou should see how merry they are. The two most beautiful roses seat themselves on thethrone, and are called the king and queen, then all the red cockscombs range themselveson each side, and bow, these are the lords-in-waiting. After that the pretty flowers comein, and there is a grand ball. The blue violets represent little naval cadets, and dance withhyacinths and crocuses which they call young ladies. The tulips and tiger-lilies are the oldladies who sit and watch the dancing, so that everything may be conducted with order andpropriety.”“But,” said little Ida, “is there no one there to hurt the flowers for dancing in the king’scastle?”7“No one knows anything about it,” said the student. “The old steward of the castle, whohas to watch there at night, sometimes comes in; but he carries a great bunch of keys, andas soon as the flowers hear the keys rattle, they run and hide themselves behind the longcurtains, and stand quite still, just peeping their heads out. Then the old steward says, ‘Ismell 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 willsee them, if you peep through the window. I did so to-day, and I saw a long yellow lily lyingstretched 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 adistance!”“Oh yes,” said the student “whenever they like, for they can fly. Have you not seen thosebeautiful 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 they were little wingsto make them fly. Then, if they behave well, they obtain permission to fly about during theday, instead of being obliged to sit still on their stems at home, and so in time their leavesbecome real wings. It may be, however, that the flowers in the Botanical Gardens havenever been to the king’s palace, and, therefore, they know nothing of the merry doings atnight, which take place there. I will tell you what to do, and the botanical professor, wholives close by here, will be so surprised. You know him very well, do you not? Well, next timeyou go into his garden, you must tell one of the flowers that there is going to be a grandball at the castle, then that flower will tell all the others, and they will fly away to the castleas soon as possible. And when the professor walks into his garden, there will not be asingle flower left. How he will wonder what has become of them!”“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 seenthat when the wind blows they nod at one another, and rustle 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, and saw a stinging nettlemaking signs with its leaves to a beautiful red carnation. It was saying, ‘You are so pretty, Ilike you very much.’ But the professor did not approve of such nonsense, so he clapped hishands on the nettle to stop it. Then the leaves, which are its fingers, stung him so sharplythat he has never ventured to touch a nettle since.”“Oh how funny!” said Ida, and she laughed.

Posted by The Reader on Thursday, June 18, 2020

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