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Hans Christian Andersen : Fourth Evening
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Hans Christian Andersen : Fourth Evening

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Fourth Evening

"Last night I saw a German play, " the Moon said. "It was in a small town, where a stable had been converted into a theater; that is to say, the stalls were still there, but had been fitted up as boxes, and all the woodwork was covered with colored paper. From the low roof hung a small iron chandelier; an inverted tub was fastened over it so that, as in a real theater, the lights could be drawn up when the prompter's bell tinkled.

" 'Ting-a-ling,' and the little iron chandelier skipped up half a yard; this was the sign that the play was about to begin.

"A young nobleman and his lady, who happened to be passing through the town, were present at the performance, and consequently the house was filled to capacity. The space directly under the chandelier, however, was as clear as a small crater; not a soul sat there, for the candles of the chandelier dripped down - drip, drip!

"I could see everything that happened, for it was so hot that the windows were left open, and at every window the servants could be seen peeping in from the outside, though the constables were posted inside the door and threatened the intruders with their sticks. The young noble pair sat close to the orchestra in two old armchairs, which were usually occupied by the burgomaster and his wife. But tonight they had to sit on the wooden benches, like the rest of the townspeople. 'Aye, look there now,' one woman whispered to another, 'one sparrow hawk in turn outflies another!' Everything took on a more dignified aspect on this memorable occasion. The chandelier hopped; the mob outside got their knuckles rapped, and I - yes, the Moon was present too through the whole performance."