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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742                   THE PUPPET SHOWMAN
There was some magic in it, or I should certainly have become tipsy. But that did not happen; I retained my clear view of things, and somehow there was sunshine in the room, and sunshine beamed out of the eyes of the Polytechnic candidate. It made me think of the old gods, in their eternal youth, when they still wandered upon earth ; and I said so to him, and he smiled, and I could have sworn he was one of the ancient gods in disguise, or one of the family ! and certainly he must have been some­thing of the kind, for my highest wish was to be fulfilled, the puppets were to be gifted with life, and I was to be director of a real company. We drank to my success and clinked our glasses. He packed all my dolls into a box, bound the box on my back, and then let me fall through a spiral. I can still hear how I dumped down, and then I was lying on the floor—I know that quite well—and the whole company sprang out of the box. The spirit had come upon all of us : all the puppets had become distinguished artists, so they said themselves, and I was the director. All was ready for the first performance ; the whole company wanted to speak to me, and the public also. The dancing lady said the house would fall down if she did not stand on one leg ; for she was the great genius, and begged to be treated as such. The lady who acted the queen wished to be treated off the stage as a queen, or else she should get out of practice. The man who was only employed to deliver a letter gave himself just as many airs as the first lover, for he declared the little ones were just as important as the great ones, and all were of equal consequence, con­sidered in an artistic whole. The hero would only plajr parts composed of nothing but points ; for those brought down the applause. The prima donna would only play in a red light; for she declared that a blue one did not suit her complexion. It was like a company of flies in a bottle ; and I was in the bottle with them, for I was the director. My breath stopped and my head whirled round ; I was as miserable as a man can be. It was quite a novel kind of men among whom I now found myself. I only wished I had them all in the box again, and that I had never been a director at all; so I told them roundly that after all they were nothing but puppets ; and then