The Tin Soldier

The Tin Soldier :

There were once twenty five tin soldiers. All of them wore the same uniform which was red and blue. They were all similar to look at because they were made from the same tin spoon. They all stood straight on their legs except for one who stood only one leg because he was the last one to be prepared where there was not enough of melted tin left. The last tin soldier was the special one as he stood only on one leg and everyone marveled him. The children used to lock up all the tin soldiers in one big wooden box.

The table on which the tin soldiers stood was covered with other playthings. But the most attractive to the eye was a pretty little paper castle. Through the small windows the rooms could be seen. In front of the castle, a number of little trees surrounded a piece of looking-glass which was intended to represent a transparent lake. Swans, made of wax, swam on the lake and were reflected in it. All this was very pretty. But the prettiest of all was a tiny little lady who stood at the open door of the castle. She, also, was made of paper and she wore a dress of clear muslin with a narrow blue ribbon over her shoulders just like a scarf. In front of these was fixed a glittering tinsel rose as large as her whole face. The little lady was a dancer and she stretched out both her arms and raised one of her legs so high that the tin soldier could not see it at all and he thought that she, like himself, had only one leg.

“She is the wife for me." he thought, “but she is too grand and lives in a castle while I have only a box to live in five and twenty of us altogether that is no place for her. Still I must try and make her acquaintance.”

Then he laid himself at full length on the table behind a snuff-box that stood upon it so that he could peep at the little delicate lady who continued to stand on one leg without losing her balance.

As the night fell, the kids went to bed leaving the little play things to themselves and they started their own games. All the tin soldiers were playing in their wooden box. The frog was playing with the tiny rat which was next to it. The dancer alone stood in her place without moving. The tin soldier did not dare to move away his eyes away from her. He grew so fond of her. At this a goblin jumped out of its case and said, “Never eye on what that is not yours!!”

But the tin soldier pretended not to hear. The goblin then said, “All right, if you don’t listen to me, you will have it!” and ran away.

The next morning, when the children came to play, they placed the tin soldier next to the window away from the dancer where he could not see her at all. The tin soldier could see the slight smile on the Goblin’s face. He could not make out if the Goblin was responsible for doing that or the children changed their mind. But, he was very sad and disappointed as he could not see the dancer anymore. Now, as he stood there, suddenly in the evening there was a huge gush of wind and the tin soldier fell from the window. It was a terrible fall as the soldier fell head over heels and right on a stone. The servant maid and the little boy went down stairs directly to look for him. But he was nowhere to be seen although once they nearly trod upon him.

If he had called out, “Here I am,” it would have been all right. But he was too proud to cry out for help while he wore a uniform.

Presently it began to rain and the drops fell faster and faster, till there was a heavy shower.

When it was over, two boys happened to pass by and one of them said, “Look, there is a tin soldier. He ought to have a boat to sail in.”

So they made a boat out of a newspaper and placed the tin soldier in it and sent him sailing down the gutter while the two boys ran by the side of it and clapped their hands. Good gracious, what large waves arose in that gutter and how fast the stream rolled on for the ram had been very heavy. The paper boat rocked up and down and turned itself round sometimes so quickly that the tin soldier trembled. Yet he remained firm. His countenance did not change. He looked straight before him and shouldered his musket. Suddenly the boat shot under a bridge which formed a part of a drain and then it was as dark as the tin soldier's box.

“Where am I going now?” thought he, “This is the black goblin’s fault. I am sure. Ah, well, if the little lady were only here with me in the boat, I should not care for any darkness.”

Suddenly there appeared a great water-rat who lived in the drain.

“Have you a passport?” asked the rat, “give it to me at once.”

But the tin soldier remained silent and held his musket tighter than ever. The boat sailed on and the rat followed it.

How he did gnash his teeth and cry out to the bits of wood and straw, “Stop him, stop him. He has not paid loll and has not shown his pass.”

But the stream rushed on stronger and stronger. The tin soldier could already see daylight shining where the arch ended. Then he heard a roaring sound quite terrible enough to frighten the bravest man. At the end of the tunnel the drain fell into a large canal over a steep place which made it as dangerous for him as a water all would be to us. He was too close to it to stop, so the boat I rushed on and the poor tin soldier could only hold himself as stiffly as possible without moving an eyelid to show that he was not afraid. The boat whirled round three or four times and then filled with water to the very edge. Nothing could save it from sinking. He now stood up to his neck in water while deeper and deeper sank the boat and the paper became soft and loose with the wet till at last the water closed over the soldier’s head.

The soldier wept and wept when suddenly it became dark again. He then saw that he was inside a stomach of a huge fish. The fish moved back and forth and suddenly became still. Then there was sunlight like ever before and the tin soldier was so happy to find himself outside the darkness.

Then he heard a small cry, “I declare here is the tin soldier. The fish had been caught and taken to the market and sold to the cook who took him into the kitchen and cut him open with a large knife. She picked up the soldier and held him by the waist between her finger and thumb and carried him into the room. They were all anxious to see this wonderful soldier who had traveled about inside a fish. But he was not at all proud. He then was placed on a table. How surprising!!! It was the same table on which he was always placed and there were the same children and the same house and the same playthings around him. He smiled to himself as he saw the dancer.

She still stood and balanced on one leg. He was so glad to see her again. He watched her closely for many days. And one day, the little boy took the tin soldier by his waist and threw him into the fire for apparently no reason. The tin soldier wondered what wrong he had done or perhaps he had grown old. He felt himself melting away. But he still remained firm with his gun on his shoulder. He saw, the beautiful dancer for one last time and smiled at her and she looked back at him. The tin soldier thought of all the wonderful moments in which he had stayed with her.

Suddenly the door of the room flew open and the draught of air caught up the little dancer. She fluttered like a paper right into the stove by the side of the tin soldier and was instantly in flames and was gone. The tin soldier melted down into a lump and the next morning when the maid servant took the ashes out of the stove, she found him in the shape of a little tin heart. But of the little dancer nothing remained but the tinsel rose which was burnt black as a cinder.

The Tin Soldier

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