Andersen's Fairy Tales
the floor with knife and fork in its breast, till it came up to the poor little girl; when--the
match went out and nothing but the thick, cold, damp wall was left behind. She lighted
another match. Now there she was sitting under the most magnificent Christmas tree: it was
still larger, 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 gaily-colored pictures, such
as she had seen in the shop-windows, looked down upon her. The little maiden 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 as stars in heaven; one fell down and formed a
long trail 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 no more, had told her, that when a star falls, a soul
ascends to God.
She drew another match against the wall: it was again light, and in the lustre there stood the
old grandmother, so bright and radiant, so mild, and with such an expression of love.
"Grandmother!" cried the little one. "Oh, take me with you! You go away when the match
burns out; you vanish like the warm stove, like the delicious roast goose, and like the
magnificent Christmas tree!" And she rubbed the whole bundle of matches quickly against
the wall, for she wanted to be quite sure of keeping her grandmother near her. And the
matches gave such a brilliant light that it was brighter than at noon-day: never formerly had
the grandmother been so beautiful and so tall. She took the little maiden, on her arm, and
both flew in brightness and in joy so high, so very high, and then above was neither cold,
nor hunger, nor anxiety--they were with God.
But in the corner, at the cold hour of dawn, sat the poor girl, with rosy cheeks and with a
smiling mouth, leaning against the wall--frozen to death on the last evening of the old year.
Stiff and stark sat the child there with her matches, of which one bundle had been burnt.
"She wanted to warm herself," people said. No one had the slightest suspicion of what
beautiful things she had seen; no one even dreamed of the splendor in which, with her
grandmother she had entered on the joys of a new year.