Death of Match Girl
…Her little hands were almost frozen with the cold.
Ah! Perhaps a burning match might be some good, if she could draw
it from the bundle and strike it against the wall, just to warm her
fingers. She drew one out — "scratch!" how it sputtered as it burnt.
It gave a warm bright light, like a little candle, as she held her
hand over it. It was really a wonderful light. It seemed to the
little girl that she was sitting by a large iron stove, with
polished brass feet and a brass ornament. How the fire burned! And
seemed so beautifully warm that the child stretched out her feet as
if to warm them, when, lo, the flame of the match went out, the
stove vanished, and she had only the remains of the half-burnt match
in her hand.
She rubbed another match on the wall. It burst into
a flame, and where its light fell upon the wall it became as
transparent as a veil, and she could see into the room. The table
was covered with a snowy white table-cloth, on which stood a
splendid dinner service, and a steaming roast goose, stuffed with
apples and dried plums. And what was still more wonderful, the goose
jumped down from the dish and waddled across the floor, with a knife
and fork in its breast, to the little girl.
She lighted another match, and then she found
herself sitting under a beautiful Christmas tree. It was larger and
more beautifully decorated that the one she had seen through the
glass door at the rich merchant’s. Thousands of tapers were burning
upon the green branches, and colored pictures, like those she had
seen in the show-windows, looked down upon it all. The little one
stretched out her hand towards them, and the match went out.
The Christmas lights rose higher and higher, till
they looked to her like stars in the sky. Then she saw a star fall,
leaving behind it a bright streak of fire. Someone is dying,"
thought the little girls, for her old grandmother, the only one who
had ever loved her, and who was now dead, had told her that when a
star falls, a soul was going up to God.
She again rubbed a match on the wall, and the light
shone round her; in the brightness stood her old grandmother, clear
and shining, yet mild and loving in her appearance. "Grandmother,"
cried the little one, "O take me with you; I know you will go away
when the match burns out; you will vanish like the warm stove, the
roast goose, and the large, glorious Christmas-tree." And she made
haste to light the whole bundle of matches, for she wished to keep
her grandmother there. And the matches glowed with a light that was
brighter than the noonday, and her grandmother had never appeared so
large or so beautiful. She took the little girl in her arms, and
they both flew upwards in the brightness and joy far above earth,
where there was neither cold nor hunger nor pain, for they were with
In the dawn of morning there lay the poor little one, with pale
cheeks and smiling mouth, leaning against the wall; she had been
frozen to death on the last evening of the year; and the New-year’s
sun rose and shone upon a little corpse! The child still sat, in the
stiffness of death, holding the matches in her hand, one bundle of
which was burnt. "She tried to warm herself," said some. No one
imagined what beautiful things she had seen, nor into what glory she
had entered with her grandmother, on New-year’s day,