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Main > Fairy tale > All authors > Andersen Hans Christian > Fairy tale "The Gate Key"

The Gate Key

Every key has a history, and there are many kinds of keys - a chamberlain's key, a watch key, Saint Peter's key. We could tell you about all the keys; but now we will only tell about the councilor's gate key.

It had come into being at a locksmith's, but it might well have believed it had been made by a blacksmith, the way the man had worked on it with hammer and file. It was too large for one's trouser pocket, so it had to be put into the overcoat pocket. There it often lay in utter darkness; yet it had its own special hanging place on the wall, beside a childhood silhouette of the Councilor, in which he looked like a dumpling dressed in a frilled shirt.

It is said that every human being acquires in his character and conduct something from the astrological sign under which he has been born, such as the Bull, the Virgin, or Scorpion, as they are called in the almanacs. The Councilor's wife never mentioned the names of any of these; she said that her husband was born under the sign of the "Wheelbarrow," for he always had to be pushed on. His father had pushed him into an office; his mother had pushed him into matrimony; and his wife had pushed him on to become a councilor; the latter fact, however, she did not mention, being a good, sensible sort of woman who kept quiet in the right place and spoke and pushed in the right place.

He was now along in years - "well proportioned," as he said himself - a well-read man, good-natured, and "key wise" as well, which is something we shall better understand later. He was always in a good humor, loved all mankind, and liked to talk to everybody. If he went into the city, it was difficult to get him home again when his wife was not with him to push him along. He simply had to talk to every acquaintance he met; he had a lot of acquaintances, and this often made him late for dinner. Mrs. Councilor would sit at the window and watch for him. "Here he comes," she would say to the maid; "put the pot on the fire. Now he has stopped to speak to somebody, so take the pot off, or the food will be cooked too much.

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