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 DOOR-KEY                          1083
The chamberlain thought that such a tale was too rude a jest. These two could never talk about the key, the apothecary was stupid on the subject of keys.
The chamberlain made progress in the knowledge of keys ; the key was his amusement and his hobby.
One evening the chamberlain was just about to go to bed—he stood half undressed, and then he heard a knocking on the door out in the passage; it was the cellar-man who came so late ; he also was half undressed, but he had, he said, suddenly got a thought which he was afraid he could not keep over the night.
1 It is my daughter, Lotte-Lena, I must speak about. She is a pretty girl, and she is confirmed, and now I would like to see her well placed.'
' I am not yet a widower,' said the chamberlain, and smiled, ' and I have no son I can offer her ! '
' You understand me, I suppose, Chamberlain,' said the cellar-man. ' She can play the piano, and sing ; you might be able to hear her up here in the house. You don't know all that that girl can hit upon. She can imitate everybody in speaking and walking. She is made for comedy, and that is a good way for pretty girls of good family, they might be able to marry a count, but that is not the thought with me or Lotte-Lena. She can sing and she can play the piano ! so I went with her the other day up to the music school. She sang, but she has not the finest kind of voice for a woman ; she has not the canary-shriek in the highest notes which one demands in lady singers, and so they advised her against that career. Then, I thought, if she cannot be a singer, she can at any rate be an actress, which only requires speech. To-day I spoke to the instructor, as they call him. " Has she education ? " he asked. " No," said I, " absolutely none ! " " Education is necessary for an artist! " said he. She can get that yet, I thought, and so I went home. She can go into a lending library and read what is there. But as I sat this evening, undressing, it occurred to me, why hire books when one can borrow them? The chamberlain is full up with books, let her read them ; that is education enough, and she can have that free ! '
' Lotte-Lena is a nice girl ! ' said the chamberlain, ' a pretty girl ! She shall have books for her education. But