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

The Gate Key

Well-to-do families from the city would come to this place and drink their afternoon tea. They could get hot water at a small farmhouse in the field outside the park, but they had to bring their own tea service along.

One sunny Sunday afternoon the Councilor and his wife went out to the park, the servant girl walking in front with the tea service, a basket of food, and a "sip of Spendrup's Liqueur."

"Bring the gate key," Mrs. Councilor had said, "so we can get in by ourselves when we return; you know, they lock the gate here at nightfall, and the bell cord was broken this morning! It will be late before we get home! After we've been in Frederiksberg Park, we are going to the Casorti's theater at Vesterbro to see the pantomime, Harlequin, Chief of the Thrashers. You see them come down in a cloud; it costs two kroner a person."

And so they went to Frederiksberg, heard the music, saw the royal barges with their waving banners, saw the old King and the white swans. After drinking some very good tea, they hurried away; yet they did not arrive at the theater on time.

The rope-dance act was finished, the dance on stilts was finished, and the pantomime had started; as always, they were too late, and that was the Councilor's fault; every moment on the road, he had stopped to speak to an acquaintance. Within the theater he also found several good friends, and when the performance was over, he and his wife were obliged to accompany a family home at Vesterbro, to enjoy a glass of punch; they would stop for only ten minutes. But this was extended to a whole hour. They talked and talked. Especially entertaining was a Swedish baron, or, perhaps, he was German, for the Councilor hadn't quite caught which - but, on the other hand, the trick with the key that the baron taught him he caught and always remembered. This trick was extraordinarily interesting! He could get the key to answer everything that one asked it, even questions pertaining to the most secret matters. The Councilor's gate key was particularly suitable for performing this trick; its bit was heavy, and this part had to hang downward.

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