当前位置:首页 > 阅读




  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 thing!

  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 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.























4A英语网版权所有 (c) All Rights Reserved.