Drop of Water
By Hans Christian Andersen
Of course you know what is meant by a
magnifying glass—one of those round
spectacle-glasses that make everything look
a hundred times bigger than it is? When any
one takes one of these and holds it to his
eye, and looks at a drop of water from the
pond yonder, he sees above a thousand
wonderful creatures that are otherwise never
discerned in the water. But there they are,
and it is no delusion. It almost looks like
a great plateful of spiders jumping about in
a crowd. And how fierce they are! They tear
off each other’s legs. and arms and bodies,
before and behind; and yet they are merry
and joyful in their way.
Now, there once was an old man whom all the
people called Kribble-Krabble, for that was
his name. He always wanted the best of
everything, and when he could not manage it
otherwise, he did it by magic.
There he sat one day, and held his
magnifying-glass to his eye, and looked at a
drop of water that had been taken out of a
puddle by the ditch. But what a kribbling
and krabbling was there! All the thousands
of little creatures hopped and sprang and
tugged at one another, and ate each other
“That is horrible!” said old Kribble-Krabble.
“Can one not persuade them to live in peace
and quietness, so that each one may mind his
And he thought it over and over, but it
would not do, and so he had recourse to
“I must give them color, that they may be
seen more plainly,” said he; and he poured
something like a little drop of red wine
into the drop of water, but it was witches’
blood from the lobes of the ear, the finest
kind, at ninepence a drop. And now the
wonderful little creatures were pink all
over. It looked like a whole town of naked
“What have you there?” asked another old
magician, who had no name—and that was the
best thing about him.
“Yes, if you can guess what it is,” said
Kribble-Krabble, “I’ll make you a present of
But it is not so easy to find out if one
does not know.
And the magician who had no name looked
through the magnifying-glass.
It looked really like a great town reflected
there, in which all the people were running
about without clothes. It was terrible! But
it was still more terrible to see how one
beat and pushed the other, and bit and
hacked, and tugged and mauled him. Those at
the top were being pulled down, and those at
the bottom were struggling upwards.
“Look! look! his leg is longer than mine!
Bah! Away with it! There is one who has a
little bruise. It hurts him, but it shall
hurt him still more.”
And they hacked away at him, and they pulled
at him, and ate him up, because of the
little bruise. And there was one sitting as
still as any little maiden, and wishing only
for peace and quietness. But now she had to
come out, and they tugged at her, and pulled
her about, and ate her up.
“That’s funny!” said the magician.
“Yes; but what do you think it is?” said
Kribble-Krabble. “Can you find that out?”
“Why, one can see that easily enough,” said
the other. “That’s Paris, or some other
great city, for they’re all alike. It’s a
“It’s a drop of puddle water!” said