THE HARDY TIN SOLDIER
On the table on which they had been placed stood many
other playthings, but the toy that attracted most attention was a neat castle of
cardboard. Through the little windows one could see straight into the hall. Before the
castle some little trees were placed round a little
"That would be the wife for me," thought he;
"but she is very grand. She lives in a castle, and I have only a box, and there are
five-and-twenty of us in that. It is no place for her. But I must try to make acquaintance
And then he lay down at full length behind a snuff-box
which was on the table; there he could easily watch the little dainty lady, who continued
to stand upon one leg without losing her balance.
When the evening came all the other tin soldiers were put
into their box, and the people in the house went to bed. Now the toys began to play at
"visiting," and at "war," and "giving balls." The tin
soldiers rattled in their box, for they wanted to join, but could not lift the lid. The
nutcracker threw somersaults, and the pencil amused itself on the table: there was so much
noise that the canary woke up, and began to speak too, and even in verse. The only two who
did not stir from their places were the Tin Soldier and the Dancing Lady: she stood
straight up on the point of one of her toes, and stretched out both her arms; and he was
Now the clock struck twelve--and, bounce! the lid flew
off the snuff-box; but there was no snuff in it, but a little black Goblin: you see, it
was a trick.
"Tin Soldier!" said the Goblin, "don't
stare at things that don't concern you."
But the Tin Soldier pretended not to hear him.
"Just you wait till to-morrow!" said the
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 draught 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 stuck with
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
Now it began to rain; the drops soon fell thicker, and at
last it came down into 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.
All at once the boat went into a long drain, and it
became as dark as if he had been in his box.
Suddenly there came a great Water Rat, which lived under
"Have you a passport?" said the Rat. "Give
me your passport."
But the Tin Soldier kept silence, and 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
shown 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
"Farewell, farewell, thou warrior brave,
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,
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 snuff-box.
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 still stood firm, shouldering his
musket. Then suddenly the door flew open, and the draught 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 she 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
HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN
FROM THE BOOK:
<THE YOUNG FOLKS TREASURY>
THE UNIVERSITY SOCIETY INC.