But the Tin Soldier pretended not to hear him. "Just you wait till to- morrow!" said the Goblin. But when the morning came, and the children got up, the Tin Soldier was placed in the window; and whether it was the Goblin or the draft that did it, all at once the window flew open, and the Soldier fell, head over heels, out of the third story. That was a terrible passage! He put his leg straight up, and struck with his helmet downward, and his bayonet between the paving stones.
The servant maid and the little boy came down directly to look for him, but though they almost trod upon him they could not see him. If the Soldier had cried out, "Here I am!" they would have found him; but he did not think it fitting to call out loudly, because he was in uniform.
Now it began to rain; the drops soon fell thicker, and at last it came down in a complete stream. When the rain was past, two street boys came by.
"Just look!" said one of them, "there lies a tin soldier. He must come out and ride in the boat."
And they made a boat out of a newspaper, and put the Tin Soldier in the middle of it; and so he sailed down the gutter, and the two boys ran beside him and clapped their hands. Goodness preserve us! how the waves rose in that gutter, and how fast the stream ran! But then it had been a heavy rain. The paper boat rocked up and down, and sometimes turned round so rapidly that the Tin Soldier trembled; but he remained firm and never changed countenance, and looked straight before him, and shouldered his musket.
All at once the boat went into a long drain, and it became as dark as if he had been in his box.
"Where am I going now?" he thought. "Yes, yes, that's the Goblin's fault. Ah! if the little Lady only sat here with me in the boat, it might be twice as dark for what I should care."
Suddenly there came a great water rat, which lived under the drain.
"Have you a passport?" said the Rat. "Give me your passport."
But the Tin Soldier kept silence, and only held his musket tighter than ever.
The boat went on, but the Rat came after it. Hu! how he gnashed his teeth, and called out to the bits of straw and wood:
"Hold him! hold him! he hasn't paid toll-he hasn't showed his passport!"
But the stream became stronger and stronger. The Tin Soldier could see the bright daylight where the arch ended; but he heard a roaring noise, which might well frighten a bolder man. Only think-just where the tunnel ended the drain ran into a great canal; and for him that would have been as dangerous as for us to be carried down a great waterfall.
Now he was already so near it that he could not stop. The boat was carried out, the poor Tin Soldier stiffening himself as much as he could, and no one could say that he moved an eyelid. The boat whirled round three or four times, and was full of water to the very edge- it must sink. The Tin Soldier stood up to his neck in water, and the boat sank deeper and deeper, and the paper was loosened more and more, and now the water closed over the Soldier's head. Then he thought of the pretty little dancer, and how he should never see her again; and it sounded in the Soldier's ears:
'Farewell, farewell, thou warrior brave,
Die shalt thou this day."
And now the paper parted, and the Tin Soldier fell out; but at that moment he was snapped up by a great fish.
Oh, how dark it was in that fish's body! It was darker yet than in the drain tunnel; and then it was very narrow, too. But the Tin Soldier remained unmoved, and lay at full length, shouldering his musket.
The fish swam to and fro; he made the most wonderful movements, and then became quite still. At last something flashed through him like lightning. The daylight shone quite clear, and a voice said aloud, "The Tin Soldier!" The fish had been caught, carried to market, bought, and taken into the kitchen, where the cook cut him open with a large knife. She seized the Soldier round the body with both her hands, and carried him into the room, where all were anxious to see the remarkable man who had traveled about in the inside of a fish; but the Tin Soldier was not at all proud. They placed him on the table, and there-no!
What curious things may happen in the world! The Tin Soldier was in the very room in which he had been before! he saw the same children, and the same toys stood upon the table; and there was the pretty castle with the graceful little Dancer. She was still balancing herself on one leg and held the other extended in the air. She was faithful, too.
That moved the Tin Soldier: he was very near weeping tin tears, but that would not have been proper. He looked at her, but they said nothing to each other.
Then one of the little boys took the Tin Soldier and flung him into the stove. He gave no reason for doing this. It must have been the fault of the Goblin in the snuffbox.
The Tin Soldier stood there quite illuminated, and felt a heat that was terrible; but whether this heat proceeded from the real fire or from love he did not know. The colors had quite gone off from him; but whether that had happened on the journey, or had been caused by grief, no one could say. He looked at the little Lady, she looked at him, and he felt that he was melting; but he stood firm, shouldering his musket.
Then suddenly the door flew open, and the draft of air caught the Dancer, and she flew like a sylph just into the stove to the Tin Soldier, and flashed up in a flame, and then was gone! Then the Tin Soldier melted down into a lump, and when the servant maid took the ashes out next day, she found him in the shape of a little tin heart.
But of the Dancer nothing remained but the tinsel rose, and that was burned as black as coal.
THE FIR TREE
By Hans Christian Andersen
OUT in the woods stood a nice little Fir tree. The place he had was a very good one; the sun shone on him; as to fresh air, there was enough of that, and round him grew many large-sized comrades, pines as well as firs. But the little Fir wanted so very much to be a grown-up tree.
He did not think of the warm sun and of the fresh air; he did not care for the little cottage children that ran about and prattled when they were in the wood looking for wild strawberries. The children often came with a whole pitcher full of berries, or a long row of them threaded on a straw, and sat down near the young Tree and said, "Oh, how pretty he is! what a nice little fir!" But this was what the Tree could not bear to hear.
At the end of a year he had shot up a good deal, and after another year he was another long bit taller; for with fir trees one can always tell by the shoots how many years old they are.
"Oh, were I but such a high tree as the others are," sighed he. "Then I should be able to spread out my branches, and with the tops to look into the wide world! Then would the birds build nests among my branches; and when there was a breeze, I could bend with as much stateliness as the others!"
Neither the sunbeams, nor the birds, nor the red clouds which morning and evening sailed above him, gave the little Tree any pleasure.
In winter, when the snow lay glittering on the ground, a hare would often come leaping along, and jump right over the little Tree. Oh, that made him so angry! But two winters were past, and in the third the Tree was so large that the hare was obliged to go round it. "To grow and grow, to get older and be tall," thought the Tree-"that, after all, is the most delightful thing in the world!"
In autumn the woodcutters always came and felled some of the largest trees. This happened every year; and the young Fir tree, that had now grown to a very comely size, trembled at the sight; for the magnificent great trees fell to the earth with noise and cracking, the branches were lopped off, and the trees looked long and bare: they were hardly to be recognized; and then they were laid in carts, and the horses dragged them out of the wood.
Where did they go to? What became of them? In spring, when the Swallows and the Storks came, the Tree asked them: "Don't you know where they have been taken? Have you not met them anywhere?"
The Swallows did not know anything about it; but the Stork looked musing, nodded his head, and said: "Yes; I think I know; I met many ships as I was flying hither from Egypt; on the ships were magnificent masts, and I venture to assert that it was they that smelled so of fir.
I may congratulate you, for they lifted themselves on high most majestically!"
"Oh, were I but old enough to fly across the sea! But how does the sea look in reality? What is it like?"
"That would take a long time to explain," said the Stork, and with these words off he went.
"Rejoice in thy growth!" said the Sunbeams, "rejoice in thy vigorous growth, and in the fresh life that groweth within thee!"
And the Wind kissed the Tree, and the Dew wept tears over him; but the Fir understood it not.
When Christmas came, quite young trees were cut down; trees which often were not even as large or of the same age as this Fir tree, who could never rest, but always wanted to be off. These young trees, and they were always the finest looking, retained their branches; they were laid on carts, and the horses drew them out of the wood.
"Where are they going to?" asked the Fir.
"They are not taller than I; there was one indeed that was considerably shorter; -and why do they retain all their branches? Whither are they taken?"
"We know! we know!" chirped the Sparrows. "'We have peeped in at the windows in the town below! We know whither they are taken! The greatest splendor and the greatest magnificence one can imagine await them. We peeped through the windows, and saw them planted in the middle of the warm room, and ornamented with the most splendid things- with gilded apples, with gingerbread, with toys, and many hundred lights!"
"And then?" asked the Fir tree, trembling in every bough. "And then?
What happens then?"
"We did not see anything more: it was incomparably beautiful."
"I would fain know if I am destined for so glorious a career," cried the Tree, rejoicing. "That is still better than to cross the sea!
What a longing do I suffer! Were Christmas but come! I am now tall, and my branches spread like the others that were carried off last year!
Oh, were I but already on the cart! Were I in the warm room with all the splendor and magnificence! Yes; then something better, something still grander, will surely follow, or wherefore should they thus ornament me? Something better, something still grander, must follow- but what? Oh, how I long, how I suffer! I do not know myself what is the matter with me!"
"Rejoice in our presence!" said the Air and the Sunlight; "rejoice in thy own fresh youth!"
But the Tree did not rejoice at all; he grew and grew, and was green both winter and summer. People that saw him said, "What a fine tree!"
and toward Christmas he was one of the first that was cut down. The ax struck deep into the very pith; the tree fell to the earth with a sigh: he felt a pang -it was like a swoon; he could not think of happiness, for he was sorrowful at being separated from his home, from the place where he had sprung up. He well knew that he should never see his dear old comrades, the little bushes and flowers around him, any more; perhaps not even the birds! The departure was not at all agreeable.