Hans Christian Andersen
T.E.T SIVA Rewrite
It was very cold and almost dark on the last evening of the year, and the snow was falling fast. In this cold and darkness, a poor little girl, with bare head and naked feet, went along the street. It is true she had on a pair of slippers when she left home, but they were not much of use. The slippers on her feet were very big for her feet―slippers that her mother used until then, and the poor little thing had lost them in running across the street to avoid two coaches that went past very quickly.
One of the slippers she could not find, and a street boy in dirty clothes picked up the other in his hands and ran away with it; thinking ‘I will use it for a baby bed some day, when I’m older and have my child.’ So the little girl walked over the snow with her tiny naked feet, that were quite red and blue with the cold. She carried a number of matches in an old apron, and held a bundle of them also in her hands. ‘Buy my matches!’ she cried many times. But no one had bought anything of her all the long day, and no one had given her even a single penny of money.
Shivering with cold and hunger she walked slowly through the streets―a very picture of misery, the poor little thing!
The snowflakes covered her long yellow hair, which hung in beautiful curls around her neck; but she thought not of that nor of the cold. There were lights in all the windows. There was a wonderful smell of roast goose, too, for it was the night of 31st December―New Year’s Eve. Yes, of that she thought.
In a corner, between two houses, one of which projected beyond the other, she sat down and curled herself up. She had drawn her little feet under her, but still she grew colder and colder; and to go home she did not dare, for she had sold no matches, and could not bring a penny of money. Her father would certainly beat her; besides, at home it was as cold as here, for they had only the roof above them; and, although the largest holes had been stopped up with straw and rags, there were left many holes and cracks through which the cold wind whistled.
And now the little girl’s hands were nearly frozen with the cold. Alas! Perhaps a burning match might be some good, if she could draw it from the bundle and strike it against the wall, just to warm her fingers. So at last the little girl took a match. She struck it against the wall. ‘R-r-ritch!’ how it blazed and burnt! It made a nice noise and gave a warm, bright flame like a little candle, as she put her cold hands over it. In its light, it seemed really to the little girl as if she were sitting in front of a hot stove, with polished brass feet and brass shovel and tongs. The fire burned with such blessed influence; it warmed so delightfully. The little girl stretched out her feet to warm them too. How comfortable she was! But the little flame went out, the stove vanished, and she had only the remains of the half-burnt match in her hand.
Again she rubbed another match against the wall. It burned brightly, and where the light fell upon the wall, suddenly it became transparent like a veil, so that she could see through the room. On the table there was a snowy white tablecloth, on which there were many beautiful plates. A steaming roast goose, stuffed with apples and dried plums, was sitting on the biggest plate. And what was still more wonderful, the goose jumped down from the dish and walked across the floor, with a knife and fork still in its breast, straight to the little girl. But the match went out then, and nothing was left to her but the thick, cold, damp wall.
She lighted a third match. Now there she was sitting under the most beautiful Christmas tree: It was bigger and more decorated than the one which she had seen through the glass door in the rich merchant’s house.
Thousands of lights were burning on the green branches, and there are beautiful little pictures in different colors, such as she had seen in the shop-windows, looked down upon her. The little girl stretched out her hands towards them when―the match went out. The lights of the Christmas tree rose higher and higher, she saw them now stars in the sky; one of them fell down, leaving behind a bright streak of fire.
‘Someone is just dead!’ said the little girl; for her old grandmother, the only person who had loved her, and who was now dead, had told her that when a star falls a soul was going up to God. She struck yet another match against the wall, and again it was light; and in the brightness there appeared before her the dead old grandmother, clear and shining, yet mild and loving. ‘Oh, Grandmother’ cried the little one, ‘Take me with you; I know you will go away when the match burns out. You, too, will vanish, like the warm stove, the delicious roast goose, and like the beautiful Christmas tree!’ And she rubbed the whole bundle of matches quickly against the wall, for she wished to keep her grandmother there. And the matches burned with a big yellow flame that it became brighter than noonday; never formerly had the grandmother been so grand and beautiful. ‘
Grandmother, please take me with you!’ the little girls cried. She took the little girl in her arms, and they both flew together upwards in brightness and joy far above the earth, where there was neither cold nor hunger nor pain, for they were with God.
But in the corner, at the dawn of day, there lay the poor little one, with rosy cheeks and smiling mouth―frozen to death on the last evening of the old year. Stiff and cold she sat, with her matches, one bundle of which was burned. ‘She tried to warm herself, poor little thing,’ people said. No one imagined what beautiful thing she had seen; or no one even dreamed of the splendor in which, with her grandmother, she had entered upon the joys of a new year.