The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen

It's a cold winter's day, and a poor little girl can't sell any of her matches to people in the street. She can't go home with no money. But how can she stay warm? That 31st December, the little match girl sees rich people's homes, Christmas trees, and wonderful things to eat. She also remembers her kind grandmother - now sadly dead. Can the New Year make things any better for the poor young girl?

- Hans Christian Andersen

Her Cold Little Home

The little girl lives with her mother and father. The wind comes in through the walls of their cold little house.

‘Anne Marie,’ the girl’s mother cries one day. ‘We’ve got no money. Go out and sell some matches!’

'Yes, Mother,' her daughter says. She puts some matches into her old apron.

Then she puts her feet into some shoes near the front door.

Don’t come back without any money,' her father says. 'Or I'm taking my belt to your back!'

'No, Father,' the little girl answers. She remembers her father's last beating, and she is afraid.

Her Mother’s Shoes

The little girl opens the door. She goes out into the cold street. It is snowing.

The shoes on her feet are very big for her. That is because they are her mother’s shoes.

When the little girl walks across the road, two coaches go past very quickly.

'Hey! Move!'cries one of the coach drivers angrily.

She runs across the road. The shoes fall from her feet.

She looks for them at once. But she can’t find one shoe in the snow…

... and a street boy takes the second shoe in his hands.

'When I'm older, my children can sleep in this little bed!' he laughs.

Then he runs away with the shoe.

The little girl now walks over the snow in her bare feet. They are very cold and blue.

‘Buy my matches!' she cries. But nobody buys any matches from her. No one gives her any money.

It is very cold now. Snow is falling, and the sky is darker. It is the last night of the year.

A Corner To Sit In

The poor little match girl is cold and hungry. So she walks slowly through the streets.

What a sad picture! What a poor thing, with her bare head and bare feet! The snow falls on her beautiful, long, yellow hair.

There are lights in all the windows. There is a wonderful smell of roast goose, too. This is because it is the night of 31st December - New Year’s Eve.

Just then, the girl sees a little house near a bigger house in front of her. The walls of the two houses make a corner in the street.

She goes and sits there out of the wind. She puts her little feet under her. She is colder now.

'But I can't go home with no money,' she thinks. 'I don’t want a beating.

The little girl's hands are very cold and white now. 'What can I do?' she thinks.

‘I know. I can take one little match and strike it against the wall. Perhaps then my cold hands can be warmer.'

The Stove And The Goose

The little girl takes a match. She strikes it against the wall. R-r-ritch! It makes a nice noise, and gives a good light, too.

The flame is yellow and warm. The little girl puts her cold hand over it.

In its light, she of her. It is big, sees a hot stove in front new - and beautiful!

She puts her cold feet near the nice warm stove . . .

. . . but then the little flame dies. The stove goes from before her eyes. Now she's got only a burnt match in her hand.

Again she takes a match. She strikes it against the wall of the house.

The light from it falls on the wall. Suddenly the girl can see into the room behind.

On the table there is a snow-white cloth, and on this there are beautiful plates.

A roast goose is sitting on the biggest plate. It smells wonderful.

Just then, the goose jumps down and walks across to the little girl. It has a big knife and fork in its back.

Candles And Stars

But then the flame from the second match dies. Now the little girl can see only the cold house wall in front of her.

She lights a third match. Now she is sitting under the most beautiful Christmas tree.

It is bigger and nicer than the one in the window of the old merchant's home last Christmas.

There are thousands of candles all over the green tree. And there are beautiful little pictures in different colours, too.

The little girl puts out her hand for them.

Then the flame of the match dies. But the Christmas lights stay.

They go up before the girl's eyes. She sees them now up in the sky: they are the stars.

Just then, a star falls. It makes a yellow line across the sky’

'Someone is dying,' the little girl thinks. She remembers her grandmother, and the old woman's love for her.

The kind old woman is now dead. But the little girl can't forget her grandmother's words to her, 'When a star falls, a soul is going up to God.’

Happy Little Soul

Again the little girl strikes a match on the wall.

In its light, she suddenly sees her grandmother. 'Oh, Grandmother! It's you!'the child cries.

'Please don't go away when the match flame dies.’

She quickly lights lots of matches. She doesn't want to lose her grandmother again.

And all the matches make a big, yellow flame lighter than the day.

Now the old woman is taller and more beautiful than before. 'Grandmother, please take me with you!' the girl cries.

Then the grandmother takes the little girl in her arms. They fly up happily into the sky.

They aren't cold, or hungry, or afraid now - because they are with God.

In the corner, against the wall, the little girl sits. Her mouth is smiling.

But she is cold and dead - frozen on the last night of the Old Year.

The New Year's sun looks down on her sad little body the next morning. In one hand, she's got lots of burnt matches.

'Poor thing - dead in the cold street,' people say.

No one knows about her beautiful visions of the night before.

Nobody knows of her happy feelings now, with her grandmother, on that wonderful New Year's Day.

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