Andersen Fairy Tales, Andersen-Hans Christian

The Great Sea-Serpent

The Great Sea-SerpentThe Great Sea-Serpent

The fish of the sea were minding their own business when a great coil came down and sunk through the water. It was long and skinny. It seemed to go on and on as far as any fish could tell. The coil went lower and lower through the water and finally rested way down upon the sea floor. Those above knew it for a telegraph line, but those below knew it for a sea serpent.

The fish began to investigate. It was a sea serpent, or a great eel. It certainly wasn’t a fish. Fish ventured near it, but not too near. A rag-tag group including fish, whales, a shark, and an actual great eel got together to investigate They said the sea serpent had been starved. He had no skin and no stomach.

The sea cow, or mermaid, eventually came along and said it was not a sea serpent but an invention from the world of men. It was a way to communicate across the ocean. It carried ideas and thoughts across long distances. It was a great achievement. Some of the other fish thought this was not so great, but the little fish thought that perhaps the sea serpent was the greatest fish of all for what it did.


Hans really loved himself some telegraph. This is not the first time Hans has written a story mentioning it. Telegraphing was like the texting back in the day. All the people were into it, no doubt someone tried to telegraph an entire letter and got slapped with an exorbitant telegraph fee.


Hans loved the telegraph and it was a great triumph. Before the telegraph, you had to write letters and those letters had to go by horse, train, and boats to get to where they needed to be. If you wanted to send a letter to a cousin in New York, but you were in Paris, you had to write the letter, put a stamp on it, take it to wherever letters had to be dropped off, then it went on a carriage to a train station, then from a train station to another place, then it would get off the train and be taken to a ship somehow, probably by horse, and then your letter sat on a boat for a while, anywhere from a week to a month, then it still had to repeat the process, but backwards, in the United States to get to the cousin in New York. This took quite a while, as you can imagine.

This story is about Hans being really, really excited about being able to telegraph people presented in a childlike manner. Who doesn’t like the idea of venturing under the sea?


I wonder if Hans ever pranked telegraphed people? Like he telegraphed a friend and says something like, “Your house burnt down,” while they’re on vacation and uses the name of the local fire chief instead of his own.

Weigh In

What do you think Hans would think of texting?

Would he write a story about it?


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