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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
The Andersen Jubilee at Odense
By Hans Christian Andersen (1805–1875)
 
From ‘The Story of My Life’

I HEARD on the morning of December 6th [1867] that the town was decorated, that all the schools had a holiday, because it was my festival. I felt myself as humble, meek, and poor as though I stood before my God. Every weakness or error or sin, in thought, word, and deed, was revealed to me. All stood out strangely clear in my soul, as though it were doomsday—and it was my festival. God knows how humble I felt when men exalted and honored me so.  1
  Then came the first telegram from the Student Club. I saw that they shared and did not envy my joy. Then came a dispatch from a private club of students in Copenhagen, and from the Artisans’ Club of Slagelse. You will remember that I went to school in that town, and was therefore attached to it. Soon followed messages from sympathetic friends in Aarhuus, in Stege; telegram on telegram from all around. One of these was read aloud by Privy Councillor Koch. It was from the king. The assembly burst out in applause. Every cloud and shadow in my soul vanished!  2
  How happy I was! And yet man must not exalt himself. I was to feel that I was only a poor child of humanity, bound by the frailty of earth. I suffered from a dreadful toothache, which was increased unbearably by the heat and excitement. Yet at evening I read a Wonder Story for the little friends. Then the deputation came from the town corporations, with torches and waving banners through the street, to the guild-hall. And now the prophecy was to be fulfilled that the old woman gave when I left home as a boy. Odense was to be illuminated for me. I stepped to the open window. All was aglow with torchlight, the square was filled with people. Songs swelled up to me. I was overcome, emotionally. Physically racked with pain, I could not enjoy this crowning fruit of my life, the toothache was so intolerable. The ice-cold air that blew against me fanned the pain to an awful intensity, and, instead of enjoying the bliss of these never-to-be-repeated moments, I looked at the printed song to see how many verses had to be sung before I could step away from the torture which the cold air sent through my teeth. It was the acme of suffering. As the glow of the piled-up torches subsided, my pain subsided too. How thankful I was, though! Gentle eyes were fastened upon me all around. All wanted to speak with me, to press my hand. Tired out, I reached the bishop’s house and sought rest. But I got no sleep till toward morning, so filled and overflowing was I.  3
 
 
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