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LUISA DURÁN DE LAGOS

Among the presents I was given on my 7th birthday I received a book by H. C. Andersen containing the story "The Princess on the Pea". At that time, few girls were interested in the authors of stories. We were trapped by its contents and if the character - as in this story - was a Princess whose dress disguised her real status, the story became even more attractive and enchanting (in the full meaning of the word).

The suspense that Andersen gradually created in me with the desire to know whether the real identity of the young girls that went to the Palace was going to be discovered or not, or whether the Prince would marry the Princess, prevented me from sitting down at the table when I was called to dinner.

And my mind was full of questions: how would they identify the Princess?, what would happen to the other girls who were not princesses?, how were they different?. These were all questions I would ask my parents when they were available, and I would save others for my grandmother. I would then anxiously return to the book to find the answers.   

When I finished reading the book I was marvelled. The Princess was so delicate and sensitive that she could be identified because she felt uncomfortable with a pea placed under several mattresses - and was thus able to marry the Prince. This story lingered on in my imagination, together with other Andersen stories that later in life I read to my children and hope to do the same to my grandchildren. 

This is one more sample of the talent of this man who wrote his stories so long ago and yet they have continued to liven the imagination and teach many generations of children and adults! 

Now, when we celebrate the bicentenary of Andersen's birth, I again encounter his existence and am distinguished as his Ambassador. And it is in this capacity that I plant a small seed (perhaps of a pea?) so that the rich legacy left to us by this writer may continue to be disseminated in my country.