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Main > Fairy tale > All authors > Andersen Hans Christian > Fairy tale "The Shirt Collar"

The Shirt Collar

There was once a perfect gentleman whose whole household goods consisted of one bootjack and a comb. But he also had one of the most remarkable shirt collars in the world. I'll tell you a story about it.

When the shirt collar had passed his prime he turned his thoughts to marriage. In the fullness of time he went to the wash, and there he met with a garter.

"My!" said the collar, "anyone so slender, so tender, so neat and nice as you are, I never did see. May I know your name?"

"No," said the garter. "I won't tell you."

"Then at least tell me where you live?" asked the collar.

But the garter was so modest that she couldn't bring herself to answer such an embarrassing question.

"I believe you are a girdle," said the collar. "A sort of underneath girdle. And I dare say you're as useful as you are beautiful, my pretty little dear."

"I forbid you to speak to me," said the garter. "I'm sure I haven't given you the slightest encouragement."

"Your beauty is every encouragement," said the collar.

"Kindly keep away from me," said the garter. "You look too masculine."

"Oh, I'm a perfect gentleman," said the collar. "I've a bootjack and a comb to prove it."

This wasn't true at all, for they belonged to his master, but he liked to boast.

"Please don't come so close," said the garter. "I'm not used to such behaviour."

"Prude!" the collar called her as they took him from the washtub. They starched him, hung him over a chair back in the sun, and then stretched him out on an ironing board. There he met with a sadiron.

"My dear lady," said the collar, "you adorable widow woman, the closer you come the warmer I feel. I'm a changed collar since I met you, without a wrinkle left in me. You burn clear through me. Oh, won't you be mine?"

"Rag!" said the sadiron, as she flattened him out, for she went her way like a railway engine pulling cars down a track. "Rag!" was what she said.

The collar was the worse for wear at the edges, so the scissors were called for to trim him.

"Oh," said the collar, "you must be a ballet dancer. How straight you stretch your legs out. Such a graceful performance!

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