That houses are haunted and apparitions frequently seen therein are pretty well established facts. The preceding chapters have dealt with this aspect of the subject, and, in view of the weight of evidence to prove the truth of the stories tol... Read more of Haunted Places at Scary Stories.caInformational Site Network Informational
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The Steadfast Tin-soldier

from The Yellow Fairy Book





There were once upon a time five-and twenty tin-soldiers--all
brothers, as they were made out of the same old tin spoon. Their
uniform was red and blue, and they shouldered their guns and
looked straight in front of them. The first words that they
heard in this world, when the lid of the box in which they lay
was taken off, were: 'Hurrah, tin-soldiers!' This was exclaimed
by a little boy, clapping his hands; they had been given to him
because it was his birthday, and now he began setting them out on
the table. Each soldier was exactly like the other in shape,
except just one, who had been made last when the tin had run
short; but there he stood as firmly on his one leg as the others
did on two, and he is the one that became famous.

There were many other playthings on the table on which they were
being set out, but the nicest of all was a pretty little castle
made of cardboard, with windows through which you could see into
the rooms. In front of the castle stood some little trees
surrounding a tiny mirror which looked like a lake. Wax swans
were floating about and reflecting themselves in it. That was
all very pretty; but the most beautiful thing was a little lady,
who stood in the open doorway. She was cut out of paper, but she
had on a dress of the finest muslin, with a scarf of narrow blue
ribbon round her shoulders, fastened in the middle with a
glittering rose made of gold paper, which was as large as her
head. The little lady was stretching out both her arms, for she
was a Dancer, and was lifting up one leg so high in the air that
the Tin-soldier couldn't find it anywhere, and thought that she,
too, had only one leg.

'That's the wife for me!' he thought; 'but she is so grand, and
lives in a castle, whilst I have only a box with four-and-twenty
others. This is no place for her! But I must make her
acquaintance.' Then he stretched himself out behind a snuff-box
that lay on the table; from thence he could watch the dainty
little lady, who continued to stand on one leg without losing her
balance.

When the night came all the other tin-soldiers went into their
box, and the people of the house went to bed. Then the toys
began to play at visiting, dancing, and fighting. The
tin-soldiers rattled in their box, for they wanted to be out too,
but they could not raise the lid. The nut-crackers played at
leap-frog, and the slate-pencil ran about the slate; there was
such a noise that the canary woke up and began to talk to them,
in poetry too! The only two who did not stir from their places
were the Tin-soldier and the little Dancer. She remained on
tip-toe, with both arms outstretched; he stood steadfastly on his
one leg, never moving his eyes from her face.

The clock struck twelve, and crack! off flew the lid of the
snuff- box; but there was no snuff inside, only a little black
imp--that was the beauty of it.

'Hullo, Tin-soldier!' said the imp. 'Don't look at things that
aren't intended for the likes of you!'

But the Tin-soldier took no notice, and seemed not to hear.

'Very well, wait till to-morrow!' said the imp.

When it was morning, and the children had got up, the Tin-soldier
was put in the window; and whether it was the wind or the little
black imp, I don't know, but all at once the window flew open and
out fell the little Tin-soldier, head over heels, from the third-
storey window! That was a terrible fall, I can tell you! He
landed on his head with his leg in the air, his gun being wedged
between two paving-stones.

The nursery-maid and the little boy came down at once to look for
him, but, though they were so near him that they almost trod on
him, they did not notice him. If the Tin-soldier had only called
out 'Here I am!' they must have found him; but he did not think
it fitting for him to cry out, because he had on his uniform.

Soon it began to drizzle; then the drops came faster, and there
was a regular down-pour. When it was over, two little street
boys came along.

'Just look!' cried one. 'Here is a Tin-soldier! He shall sail
up and down in a boat!'

So they made a little boat out of newspaper, put the Tin-soldier
in it, and made him sail up and down the gutter; both the boys
ran along beside him, clapping their hands. What great waves
there were in the gutter, and what a swift current! The
paper-boat tossed up and down, and in the middle of the stream it
went so quick that the Tin-soldier trembled; but he remained
steadfast, showed no emotion, looked straight in front of him,
shouldering his gun. All at once the boat passed under a long
tunnel that was as dark as his box had been.

'Where can I be coming now?' he wondered. 'Oh, dear! This is
the black imp's fault! Ah, if only the little lady were sitting
beside me in the boat, it might be twice as dark for all I should
care!'

Suddenly there came along a great water-rat that lived in the
tunnel.

'Have you a passport?' asked the rat. 'Out with your passport!'

But the Tin-soldier was silent, and grasped his gun more firmly.

The boat sped on, and the rat behind it. Ugh! how he showed his
teeth, as he cried to the chips of wood and straw: 'Hold him,
hold him! he has not paid the toll! He has not shown his
passport!'

But the current became swifter and stronger. The Tin-soldier
could already see daylight where the tunnel ended; but in his
ears there sounded a roaring enough to frighten any brave man.
Only think! at the end of the tunnel the gutter discharged
itself into a great canal; that would be just as dangerous for
him as it would be for us to go down a waterfall.

Now he was so near to it that he could not hold on any longer.
On went the boat, the poor Tin-soldier keeping himself as stiff
as he could: no one should say of him afterwards that he had
flinched. The boat whirled three, four times round, and became
filled to the brim with water: it began to sink! The Tin-soldier
was standing up to his neck in water, and deeper and deeper sank
the boat, and softer and softer grew the paper; now the water was
over his head. He was thinking of the pretty little Dancer,
whose face he should never see again, and there sounded in his
ears, over and over again:

'Forward, forward, soldier bold!
Death's before thee, grim and cold!'


The paper came in two, and the soldier fell--but at that moment
he was swallowed by a great fish.

Oh! how dark it was inside, even darker than in the tunnel, and
it was really very close quarters! But there the steadfast
little Tin-soldier lay full length, shouldering his gun.

Up and down swam the fish, then he made the most dreadful
contortions, and became suddenly quite still. Then it was as if
a flash of lightning had passed through him; the daylight
streamed in, and a voice exclaimed, 'Why, here is the little
Tin-soldier!' The fish had been caught, taken to market, sold,
and brought into the kitchen, where the cook had cut it open with
a great knife. She took up the soldier between her finger and
thumb, and carried him into the room, where everyone wanted to
see the hero who had been found inside a fish; but the
Tin-soldier was not at all proud. They put him on the table,
and--no, but what strange things do happen in this world!--the
Tin-soldier was in the same room in which he had been before! He
saw the same children, and the same toys on the table; and there
was the same grand castle with the pretty little Dancer. She was
still standing on one leg with the other high in the air; she too
was steadfast. That touched the Tin-soldier, he was nearly going
to shed tin-tears; but that would not have been fitting for a
soldier. He looked at her, but she said nothing.

All at once one of the little boys took up the Tin-soldier, and
threw him into the stove, giving no reasons; but doubtless the
little black imp in the snuff-box was at the bottom of this too.

There the Tin-soldier lay, and felt a heat that was truly
terrible; but whether he was suffering from actual fire, or from
the ardour of his passion, he did not know. All his colour had
disappeared; whether this had happened on his travels or whether
it was the result of trouble, who can say? He looked at the
little lady, she looked at him, and he felt that he was melting;
but he remained steadfast, with his gun at his shoulder.
Suddenly a door opened, the draught caught up the little Dancer,
and off she flew like a sylph to the Tin-soldier in the stove,
burst into flames--and that was the end of her! Then the
Tin-soldier melted down into a little lump, and when next morning
the maid was taking out the ashes, she found him in the shape of
a heart. There was nothing left of the little Dancer but her
gilt rose, burnt as black as a cinder.





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