Andersen's Fairy Tales HTML version
The Little Match Girl
Most terribly cold it was; it snowed, and was nearly quite dark, and evening-- the last
evening of the year. In this cold and darkness there went along the street a poor little girl,
bareheaded, and with naked feet. When she left home she had slippers on, it is true; but
what was the good of that? They were very large slippers, which her mother had hitherto
worn; so large were they; and the poor little thing lost them as she scuffled away across the
street, because of two carriages that rolled by dreadfully fast.
One slipper was nowhere to be found; the other had been laid hold of by an urchin, and off
he ran with it; he thought it would do capitally for a cradle when he some day or other
should have children himself. So the little maiden walked on with her tiny naked feet, that
were quite red and blue from cold. She carried a quantity of matches in an old apron, and
she held a bundle of them in her hand. Nobody had bought anything of her the whole
livelong day; no one had given her a single farthing.
She crept along trembling with cold and hunger--a very picture of sorrow, the poor little
The flakes of snow covered her long fair hair, which fell in beautiful curls around her neck;
but of that, of course, she never once now thought. From all the windows the candles were
gleaming, and it smelt so deliciously of roast goose, for you know it was New Year's Eve;
yes, of that she thought.
In a corner formed by two houses, of which one advanced more than the other, she seated
herself down and cowered together. Her little feet she had drawn close up to her, but she
grew colder and colder, and to go home she did not venture, for she had not sold any
matches and could not bring a farthing of money: from her father she would certainly get
blows, and at home it was cold too, for above her she had only the roof, through which the
wind whistled, even though the largest cracks were stopped up with straw and rags.
Her little hands were almost numbed with cold. Oh! a match might afford her a world of
comfort, if she only dared take a single one out of the bundle, draw it against the wall, and
warm her fingers by it. She drew one out. "Rischt!" how it blazed, how it burnt! It was a
warm, bright flame, like a candle, as she held her hands over it: it was a wonderful light. It
seemed really to the little maiden as though she were sitting before a large iron stove, with
burnished brass feet and a brass ornament at top. The fire burned with such blessed
influence; it warmed so delightfully. The little girl had already stretched out her feet to
warm them too; but--the small flame went out, the stove vanished: she had only the
remains of the burnt-out match in her hand.
She rubbed another against the wall: it burned brightly, and where the light fell on the wall,
there the wall became transparent like a veil, so that she could see into the room. On the
table was spread a snow-white tablecloth; upon it was a splendid porcelain service, and the
roast goose was steaming famously with its stuffing of apple and dried plums. And what
was still more capital to behold was, the goose hopped down from the dish, reeled about on