The Complete Fairy Tales & Other Stories
By Hans Christian Andersen - online book

Oxford Complete Illustrated Edition all his stories written between 1835 and 1872.

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Alfbed the sculptor—you know him ? We all know him : he won the gold medal, went to Italy, and then came home again. He was young in those days, and indeed he is young yet, though he is ten years older than he was then.
After his return he visited one of the little provincial towns on the island of Zealand. The whole town knew who the stranger was, and one of the richest persons gave a party in honour of him, and all who were of any con­sequence, or possessed any property, were invited. It was quite an event, and all the town knew of it without its being announced by beat of drum. Apprentice boys, and children of poor people, and even some of the poor people themselves, stood in front of the house, and looked at the lighted curtain ; and the watchman could fancy that he was giving a party, so many people were in the streets. There was quite an air of festivity about, and in the house was festivity also, for Mr. Alfred the sculptor was there.
He talked, and told anecdotes, and all listened to him with pleasure and a certain kind of awe ; but none felt such respect for him as did the elderly widow of an official: she seemed, so far as Mr. Alfred was concerned, like a fresh piece of blotting paper, that absorbed all that was spoken, and asked for more. She was very receptive and incredibly ignorant—a kind of female Caspar Hauser.
' I should like to see Rome,' she said. ' It must be a lovely city, with all the strangers who are continually arriving there. Now, do give us a description of Rome. How does the city look when you come in by the gate ? '
' I cannot very well describe it,' replied the sculptor. ' A great open place, and in the midst of it an obelisk, which is four thousand years old.'
* An organist! ' exclaimed the lady, who had never met with the word obelisk.
A few of the guests could hardly keep from laughing, nor could the sculptor quite keep his countenance ; but the smile that rose to his lips faded away, for he saw, close by the inquisitive dame, a pair of dark-blue eyes—they