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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872                    THE SILVER SHILLING
And I trembled in the fingers of the holder each time I was to be secretly passed on as a coin of the country.
' What a miserable shilling I am ! Of what use is my silver to me, my value, my coinage, if all these things are looked on as worthless ? In the eyes of the world one has only the value the world chooses to put upon one. It must be terrible indeed to have a bad conscience, and to creep along on evil ways, if I, who am quite innocent, can feel so badly because I am only thought guilty.
* Each time I was brought out I shuddered at the thought of the eyes that would look at me, for I knew that I should be rejected and flung back upon the table, like an impostor and a cheat. Once I came into the hands of a poor old woman, to whom I was paid for a hard day's work, and she could not get rid of me at all. No one would accept me, and I was a perfect worry to the old dame.
'"I shall certainly be forced to deceive some one with this shilling," she said ; " for I cannot afford to hoard up a false shilling. The rich baker shall have him ; he will be able to bear the loss—but it's wrong in me to do it, after all."
*  " And I must lie heavy on that woman's conscience too," sighed I. " Am I really so much changed in my old age ? "
' And the woman went her way to the rich baker ; but he knew too well what kind of shillings were current, and he threw me back at the woman, who got no bread for me. And I felt miserably low to think that I should be the cause of distress to others—I who had been in my young days so proudly conscious of my value and of the correctness of my mintage. I became as miserable as a poor shilling can be whom no one will accept; but the woman took me home again, and looked at me with a friendly, hearty face, and said,
1 " No, I will not deceive any one with thee. I will bore a hole through thee, that every one may see thou art a false thing. And yet—it just occurs to me—perhaps this is a lucky shilling ; and the thought comes so strongly upon me that I am sure it must be true ! I will make a hole through the shilling, and pass a string through the hole, and hang the coin round the neck of my neighbour's little boy for a lucky shilling."