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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so very respectable, but Agent Fab, whom Auntie called Flab, called her theatre-mad.
' The theatre is my schoolroom,' said she, ' my fountain of knowledge ; from it I have freshened up my Bible history ; " Moses," " Joseph and his brethren," these are operas ! From the theatre I have my general history, geography and knowledge of mankind ! From the French plays I know the life of Paris—naughty,but highly interest­ing ! How I have wept over " The Riquebourg Family " ; to think that the husband should drink himself to death, so that his wife should get her young sweetheart! Yes, how many tears I have shed in the fifty years I have been a " regular ticket-holder ".'
Auntie knew every piece, every bit of scenery, every person who came on, or had ever come on. She really lived only in the nine theatrical months. The summer-time, without a play, was a time which made her old, whilst a play-night which lasted till past midnight was a lengthen­ing of life. She did not say like other people, ' Now spring is coming, the stork has arrived ! ' or ' There is mention in the papers of the first strawberry '. On the contrary, she announced the coming of autumn : ' Have you seen that the theatre seats are being taken ; now the performances will begin ! •
She reckoned the worth of a house and its situation by how near it lay to the theatre. It was a grief to her to leave the little lane behind the theatre and remove to the bigger street a little farther off, and there live in a house where she had no opposite neighbours.
1 At home my window has to be my theatre-box ! one can't sit and think only of oneself ; one must see people. But now I live as if I had removed right out into the country. If I wish to see people, I must go out into my kitchen and climb on to the sink ; only there have I opposite neighbours. Now, when I lived in my lane, I could see right into the flax-dealer's, and then I had only three steps to the theatre ; now I have three thousand life­guard's steps.'
Auntie might be ill, but however bad she was, she never neglected the theatre. One evening her doctor ordered her to have poultices on her feet ; she did as he directed, but