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

The Gate Key

One might have thought that he had had too much to drink; but it was not the punch, it was the key, that had gone to his head, and kept on turning there. They finally reached the Northgate guardhouse, slipped across the bridge and into the city.

"Now I am happy again, " said the Councilor's wife. "Here's our gate."

"But where is the gate key," said the Councilor. It was neither in the back pocket nor in the side pocket.

"Good gracious!" cried the Councilor's wife. "Haven't you got the key? You must have lost it after letting the Baron use it for the key trick. How will we get in now? You know the bell cord was broken this morning, and the watchman doesn't have a key to our home. We are in a hopeless situation!"

The servant girl began to cry. The Councilor was the only one who showed presence of mind.

"We must break in a windowpane at the grocer's downstairs!" he said, "get him up, and then we can get into the building."

He broke one pane; he broke two. "Petersen!" he shouted, as the put the handle of his umbrella in through the windowpanes. Whereupon the grocer's daughter began to scream loudly. The grocer threw open the door of his shop and shouted, "Watchman!" And before he had a chance to see and recognize the Councilor's family and let them in, the watchman blew his whistle, and in the next street another watchman answered and whistled. People appeared in the windows. "Where is the fire? Where is the cause of all the excitement?" they asked, and were still asking such questions even after the Councilor was in his room. There he removed his overcoat - and in it lay the gate key, not in the pocket, but inside the lining; it had slipped through a hole that should not have been in the pocket.

From that night on, the gate key held a unique and great importance, not only when it was taken out in the evening, but also when remaining at home, for in either case the Councilor would show how clever he was by making the key answer questions. He would think of the most likely answer and then pretend to let the key give it.

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