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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THE PUPPET SHOWMAN
741
formance, and the candidate was again present, I felt fairly overflowing with humour. I once heard from a player that when he acted a lover he* always thought of one particular lady among the audience ; he only played for her, and forgot all the rest of the house ; and now the Polytechnic candidate was my " she," my only spectator, for whom alone I played. And when the perform­ance was over, all the puppets were called before the curtain, and the Polytechnic candidate invited me into his room to take a glass of wine ; and he spoke of my comedies, and I of his science ; and I believe we were both equally pleased. But I had the best of it, for there was much in what he did of which he could not always give me an explanation. For instance, that a piece of iron that falls through a spiral should become magnetic. Now, how does that happen ? The spirit comes upon it ; but whence does it come ? It is as with people in this world ; they are made to tumble through the spiral of the time, and the spirit comes upon them, and there stands a Napoleon, or a Luther, or a person of that kind. " The whole world is a series of miracles," said the candidate ; " but we are so accustomed to them that we call them everyday matters." And he went on explaining things to me until my skull seemed lifted up over my brain, and I declared that if I were not an old fellow I would at once go to the Poly­technic Institution, that I might learn to look at the seamy side of the world, though I am one of the happiest of men. " One of the happiest! " said the candidate, and he seemed to take real pleasure in it. " Are you happy ? " " Yes," I replied, ' and they welcome me in all the towns where I come with my company ; but I certainly have one wish, which sometimes comes over me, like a nightmare, and rides upon my good humour : I should like to become a real theatrical manager, the director of a real troupe of men and women ! " "I see," he said, " you would like to have life breathed into your puppets, so that they might be real actors, and you their director ; and would you then be quite happy ? " He did not believe it; but I believed it, and we talked it over all manner of ways without coming any nearer to an agreement; but we clinked our glasses together, and the wine was excellent.