The Little Robber Girl
The Boy Who Cried Wolf
AMERICAN INDIAN STORIES
Animal Sketches And Stories
Blondine Bonne Biche and Beau Minon
BRER RABBIT and HIS NEIGHBORS
CHINESE MOTHER-GOOSE RHYMES
FABLES FOR CHILDREN
FABLES FROM INDIA
FATHER PLAYS AND MOTHER PLAYS
FIRST STORIES FOR VERY LITTLE FOLK
For Classes Ii. And Iii.
For Classes Iv. And V.
For Kindergarten And Class I.
FUN FOR VERY LITTLE FOLK
Good Little Henry
JAPANESE AND OTHER ORIENTAL TALES]
Jean De La Fontaine
King Alexander's Adventures
KINGS AND WARRIORS
LAND AND WATER FAIRIES
Lessons From Nature
LITTLE STORIES that GROW BIG
MODERN FAIRY TALES
MOTHER GOOSE CONTINUED
MOTHER GOOSE JINGLES
MOTHER GOOSE SONGS AND STORIES
Myths And Legends
NEGLECT THE FIRE
ON POPULAR EDUCATION
PLACES AND FAMILIES
Poems Of Nature
RESURRECTION DAY (EASTER)
RHYMES CONCERNING "MOTHER"
RIDING SONGS for FATHER'S KNEE
ROMANCES OF THE MIDDLE AGES
SAINT VALENTINE'S DAY
Selections From The Bible
SLEEPY-TIME SONGS AND STORIES
Some Children's Poets
Songs Of Life
STORIES BY FAVORITE AMERICAN WRITERS
STORIES FOR CHILDREN
STORIES for LITTLE BOYS
STORIES FROM BOTANY
STORIES FROM GREAT BRITAIN
STORIES FROM IRELAND
STORIES FROM PHYSICS
STORIES FROM SCANDINAVIA
STORIES FROM ZOOLOGY
STORIES _for_ LITTLE GIRLS
THE DAYS OF THE WEEK
The King Of The Golden River; Or, The Black Brothers
The Little Grey Mouse
THE OLD FAIRY TALES
The Princess Rosette
THE THREE HERMITS
THE TWO OLD MEN
UNCLES AND AUNTS AND OTHER RELATIVES
VERSES ABOUT FAIRIES
WHAT MEN LIVE BY
WHERE LOVE IS, THERE GOD IS ALSO
The Little Match Girl
from Favorite Fairy Tales.
It was dreadfully cold, it was snowing fast, and almost dark; the
evening--the last evening of the Old Year--was drawing in. But cold and
dark as it was, a poor little girl, with bare head and feet, was still
wandering about the streets. When she left her home she had slippers on,
but they were much too large for her--indeed, really, they belonged to
her mother--and had dropped off her feet while she was running very fast
across the road, to get out of the way of two carriages. One of the
slippers was not to be found; the other had been snatched up by a little
boy, who ran off with it thinking it might serve him as a doll's cradle.
So the little girl now walked on, her bare feet quite red and blue with
the cold. She carried a small bundle of matches in her hand, and a good
many more in her tattered apron. No one had bought any of them the
livelong day--no one had given her a single penny. Trembling with cold
and hunger she crept on, the picture of sorrow; poor little child!
The snowflakes fell on her long fair hair, which curled in such pretty
ringlets over her shoulders; but she thought not of her own beauty, nor
of the cold. Lights were glimmering through every window, and the savor
of roast goose reached her from several houses. It was New Year's Eve,
and it was of this that she thought.
In a corner formed by two houses, one of which projected beyond the
other, she sat down, drawing her little feet close under her, but in
vain--she could not warm them. She dared not go home, she had sold no
matches, earned not a single penny, and perhaps her father would beat
her. Besides her home was almost as cold as the street--it was an attic;
and although the larger of the many chinks in the roof were stopped up
with straw and rags, the wind and snow often came through.
Her hands were nearly dead with cold; one little match from her bundle
would warm them, perhaps, if she dare light it. She drew one out, and
struck it against the wall. Bravo! it was a bright, warm flame, and she
held her hands over it. It was quite an illumination for that poor
little girl--nay, call it rather a magic taper--for it seemed to her as
though she were sitting before a large iron stove with brass ornaments,
so beautifully blazed the fire within! The child stretched out her feet
to warm them also. Alas! in an instant the flame had died away, the
stove vanished, the little girl sat cold and comfortless, with the
burnt match in her hand.
A second match was struck against the wall. It kindled and blazed, and
wherever its light fell the wall became transparent as a veil--the
little girl could see into the room within. She saw the table spread
with a snow-white damask cloth, whereon were ranged shining china
dishes; the roast goose, stuffed with apples and dried plums, stood at
one end, smoking hot, and--which was pleasantest of all to see-the
goose, with knife and fork still in her breast, jumped down from the
dish, and waddled along the floor right up to the poor child. Then the
match went out, and only the thick, hard wall was beside her.
She kindled a third match. Again up shot the flame. And now she was
sitting under a most beautiful Christmas tree, far larger, and far more
prettily decked out, than the one she had seen last Christmas Eve
through the glass doors of the rich merchant's house. Hundreds of wax
tapers lighted up the green branches, and tiny painted figures, such as
she had seen in the shop windows, looked down from the tree upon her.
The child stretched out her hands towards them in delight, and in that
moment the light of the match was quenched. Still, however, the
Christmas candles burned higher and higher--she beheld them beaming
like stars in heaven. One of them fell, the lights streaming behind
it like a long, fiery tail.
"Now someone is dying," said the little girl softly, for she had been
told by her old grandmother--the only person who had ever been kind to
her, and who was now dead--that whenever a star falls an immortal spirit
returns to God who gave it.
She struck yet another match against the wall. It flamed up, and,
surrounded by its light, appeared before her that same dear grandmother,
gentle and loving as always, but bright and happy as she had never
looked during her lifetime.
"Grandmother!" exclaimed the child, "Oh, take me with you! I know you
will leave me as soon as the match goes out. You will vanish like the
warm fire in the stove, like the splendid New Year's feast, like the
beautiful large Christmas tree!" And she hastily lighted all the
remaining matches in the bundle, lest her grandmother should disappear.
And the matches burned with such a blaze of splendor, that noonday could
scarcely have been brighter. Never had the good old grandmother looked
so tall and stately, so beautiful and kind. She took the little girl in
her arms, and they both flew together--joyfully and gloriously they
flew--higher and higher, till they were in that place where neither
cold, nor hunger, nor pain is ever known--they were in Paradise.
But in the cold morning hour, crouching in the corner of the wall, the
poor little girl was found--her cheeks glowing, her lips smiling--frozen
to death on the last night of the Old Year. The New Year's sun shone on
the lifeless child. Motionless she sat there with the matches in her
lap, one bundle of them quite burnt out.
"She has been trying to warm herself, poor thing!" the people said; but
no one knew of the sweet visions she had beheld, or how gloriously she
and her grandmother were celebrating their New Year's festival.
Next: Beauty And The Beast
Previous: The Three Bears