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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revolve around the door-key. The sunbeams light it up like silver; the wind, the spirit of the universe, rushes in on it, so that it whistles. It is the key of all keys, it was the chamberlain's door-key, now it is the key of the gate of Heaven, it is the Pope's key, it is ' infallible '.
' Malice,' said the chamberlain, ' colossal malice !
He and the apothecary did not see each other again except at the funeral of the chamberlain's wife.
She died first.
There was sorrow and regret in the house. Even the branches of cherry-tree, which had sent out fresh shoots and flowers, sorrowed and withered ; they stood forgotten, she cared for them no more.
The chamberlain and the apothecary followed her coffin, side by side, as the two nearest relations ; here was no time or inclination for wrangling.
Lotte-Lena sewed the mourning-band round the chamber­lain's hat. She was here in the house, come back long ago without victory and fortune in her artistic career. But it would come ; Lotte-Lena had a future. The key had said it, and the chamberlain had said it.
She came up to him. They talked of the dead, and they wept, Lotte-Lena was tender ; they talked of art, and Lotte-Lena was strong.
' The theatre life is charming ! ' said she, ' but there is so much quarrelling and jealousy ! I would rather go my own way. First myself, then art !'
Knigge had spoken truly in his chapter about actors ; she saw that the key had not spoken truly, but she did not speak about that to the chamberlain ; she thought too much of him.
The door-key was his comfort and consolation all the year of mourning. He asked it questions and it gave answers. And when the year was ended, and he and Lotte-Lena sat together one evening, he asked the key,
' Shall I marry, and whom shall I marry ? '
There was no one to push him, he pushed the key, and it said ' Lotte-Lena \ So it was said, and Lotte-Lena became the chamberlain's wife.
1 Victory and Fortune ! ' These words had been said beforehand—by the door-key.