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H.C. Andersen : Fifth Evening
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The Hans Christian Andersen Center

H.C. Andersen : Fifth Evening

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Fifth Evening

"Yesterday," said the Moon, "I looked down on the busy city of Paris - and my gaze penetrated into the apartments of the Louvre. An old grandmother, poorly clad, for she belonged to the class of beggars, followed one of the attendants into the great, empty throne room. She had to see it, and it had cost her many a little sacrifice and many a fawning word before she had managed to make her way this far into the palace. She folded her scrawny hands and gazed around as solemnly as if she were in a church.

" 'It was here!' she said. 'Here!' And she approached the throne, from which the rich, gold-edged velvet covering hung down. 'There!' she said. 'There!' And she fell to her knees and kissed the purple hanging. I believe she wept.

" 'It wasn't this velvet,' said the attendant, a smile playing on his lips.

" 'But it was here! said the woman. 'And it looked the same then!'

" 'The same, and yet different,' replied the man. 'That day the windows were smashed in, the doors burst open, and the floor was red with blood. Yet you may truthfully say, "My grandson died upon the throne of France!"'

" 'Died!' repeated the old woman.

"I don't believe another word was spoken, and they soon left the hall. The evening twilight faded, and my beams streamed with greater brilliance on the rich velvet hangings of the throne of France. Now, who do you think the old woman was? I shall tell you a story.

"It was during the Revolution of July, near the close of the evening preceding the most brilliant day of victory, when every house was a fortress, every window a barricade. The people stormed the Tuileries, even women and children fighting among the combatants; the mob forced its way through the halls and the apartments of the palace. A poor, ragged, half-grown boy fought bravely in the ranks of his older comrades. Mortally wounded with several bayonet thrusts, he sank to the floor. This happened in the throne room, and the bleeding body was laid on the throne of France; his blood streamed over the royal purple hangings that partly covered his wounds. There was a picture! That magnificent room - the mob of fighting rebels! A broken standard lay on the floor, while the tricolor waved over the bayonets; and on the throne lay the beggar lad, with his pale, glorified features, his eyes turned heavenward, his limbs stiffening in death; his naked breast and his ragged coat were half hidden by the rich velvet hanging with its silver lilies.

"Perhaps at the boy's cradle it had been prophesied, 'He shall die upon the throne of France!' and the mother's heart had dreamed of a second Napoleon. My rays have kissed the wreath of immortality on his grave; my beam last night kissed the brow of the old grandmother, when she saw in a dream the picture you may draw here - the poor ragged beggar boy on the throne of France."