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THE BRAVE TIN SOLDIER
Adapted from Hans Christian Andersen
by Charles Eliot Norton, "Heart of Oak Books," III.
By permission of D. C. Heath & Co.
THERE were once five-and-twenty tin soldiers who were
all brothers, for they had been made out of the same
old tin spoon. They shouldered arms and looked
straight before them. They wore splendid red and blue
uniforms. They were given to a little boy for a
birthday present, and he stood at a table to set them
The soldiers were all exactly alike, except one, who had
only one leg; he had been left until the last, and
there had not been enough of the melted tin to finish
him. But he stood just as firmly on one leg as the
others did on two, and on that account he was very
The table on which the tin soldiers stood was covered
with other playthings, but the prettiest was a little
paper castle. Through the small windows the rooms
could be seen. In front of the castle a number of
little trees stood around a bit of looking-glass,
 which was meant for a lake. Swans, made of wax, swam on
the lake. 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, too, was made of paper, and
she wore a dress of the thinnest muslin, with a narrow
blue ribbon over her shoulders, just like a scarf. In
the middle of the dress was 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, too, had only one leg.
"That is the wife for me," he thought; "yet she is too
grand, and lives in a castle, while I have only a box
to live in—five-and-twenty of us all together; that is
no place for her. Still, I must try to make her
When evening came the people of the house went to bed.
Then the playthings began to visit together and to give
balls. The tin soldiers rattled in their box. The
pencil jumped about the table. There was such a noise
that the canary woke up and began to talk. But the tin
soldier and the dancer remained in their places. She
stood on the tip of her toe, with her arms
outstretched, as firmly as he upon his one leg. He
never took his eyes from her a minute.
The clock struck twelve, and, with a bounce, out jumped
the little black goblin from the snuff-box.
"Tin soldier," said the goblin, "do not wish for what
does not belong to you." But the tin soldier pretended
not to hear.
When the children came in the morning they placed the
tin soldier on the window. Now, whether it was the
goblin that did it, or the draught, the window
 blew open, and out fell the tin soldier, heels over
head, into the street beneath. It was a terrible fall;
for he came head downward, with his one leg up in the
air. The little boy went down directly to look for
him. If the tin soldier had called out, "Here I am,"
it would have been all right; but he was too proud to
call for help while he wore a uniform.
It began to rain, and the drops fell fast until there
was a heavy shower. Two boys passed by, and they said:
"Look, here is a tin soldier! He ought to have a boat
to sail in."
So they made a boat out of newspaper, and sent the tin
soldier sailing down the gutter, while they ran along
beside and clapped their hands.
Good gracious! What large waves arose in the gutter!
The paper boat rocked up and down, and the tin soldier
trembled, but he remained firm. He looked straight
before him and shouldered his musket. Suddenly the
boat shot under a bridge which crossed the drain, and
it was as dark as the tin soldier's box.
"Where am I going?" he thought. "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
"Have you a passport?" asked the rat. "Give it to me
at once." But the tin soldier remained silent, and
held his musket tighter.
The boat sailed on, and the rat followed it. He
gnashed his teeth and called out: "Stop him, stop him!
He has not paid toll, and has not shown his pass."
But the stream rushed on stronger and stronger. The tin soldier
could see daylight where the arch ended. He heard a
terrible roaring where the gutter
 emptied into
the drain. He was too close to it to stop. The boat
rushed in, and the poor tin soldier could only hold
himself as stiffly as possible—to show that he was not
afraid. The boat whirled around and filled with water
to the very edge; nothing could save it from sinking.
At last the water closed over the soldier's head, the
paper boat fell to pieces, and the soldier sank into
the water and was immediately swallowed by a great
How dark it was inside the fish! Darker than in the
drain and narrower, too, but the tin soldier remained
firm, and lay at full length, shouldering his musket.
The fish swam to and fro, making the most terrible
movements, and, at last, lay still.
A voice cried out: "I declare, here is the tin
The fish had been caught, taken to market, and sold to
the cook, who had cut him open on the kitchen table.
She picked up the soldier and held him by the waist
between her thumb and finger, and carried him into
another room. The people were all anxious to see this
tin soldier who had traveled about inside of a fish,
but he was not at all proud. They set him on the
table—there he was in the very same room from the
window of which he had fallen! There were the same
children; the same playthings, and the fine castle with
the pretty little dancer at the door. She still
balanced herself on one leg and held up the other. She
was as firm as himself. The tin soldier nearly wept
tin tears to see her, but he kept them back.
Presently one of the little boys took up the tin
soldier and threw him into the stove. He had no reason
for doing this, so it must have been the fault of the
 The flames lighted up the tin soldier; the heat
was terrible. The bright colors of his uniform were
faded—whether from his journey or from the effects of
his sorrow no one could tell. He looked at the little
lady and she looked at him. He felt himself melting
away, but he still remained firm with the gun on his
Suddenly a draught of air caught the little dancer.
She fluttered like a sylph right into the stove by the
side of the little tin soldier, was instantly in flames
and gone. The tin soldier melted down into a lump, and
the next morning when the servant took the ashes out of
the stove she found him in the shape of a little tin
heart. Of the little dancer nothing remained but the
tinsel rose, which was burned black as a cinder.