DANSK

Den lille pige med svovlstikkerne

ENGLISH

The little match-seller


Det var så grueligt koldt; det sneede og det begyndte at blive mørk aften; det var også den sidste aften i året, nytårsaften. I denne kulde og i dette mørke gik på gaden en lille, fattig pige med bart hoved og nøgne fødder; ja hun havde jo rigtignok haft tøfler på, da hun kom hjemme fra; men hvad kunne det hjælpe! det var meget store tøfler, hendes moder havde sidst brugt dem, så store var de, og dem tabte den lille, da hun skyndte sig over gaden, idet to vogne fór så grueligt stærkt forbi; den ene tøffel var ikke at finde og den anden løb en dreng med; han sagde, at den kunne han bruge til vugge, når han selv fik børn.

Dér gik nu den lille pige på de nøgne små fødder, der var røde og blå af kulde; i et gammelt forklæde holdt hun en mængde svovlstikker og ét bundt gik hun med i hånden; ingen havde den hele dag købt af hende; ingen havde givet hende en lille skilling; sulten og forfrossen gik hun og så så forkuet ud, den lille stakkel! Snefnuggene faldt i hendes lange gule hår, der krøllede så smukt om nakken, men den stads tænkte hun rigtignok ikke på. Ud fra alle vinduer skinnede lysene og så lugtede der i gaden så dejligt af gåsesteg; det var jo nytårsaften, ja det tænkte hun på.

Henne i en krog mellem to huse, det ene gik lidt mere frem i gaden end det andet, der satte hun sig og krøb sammen; de små ben havde hun trukket op under sig, men hun frøs endnu mere og hjem turde hun ikke gå, hun havde jo ingen svovlstikker solgt, ikke fået en eneste skilling, hendes fader ville slå hende og koldt var der også hjemme, de havde kun taget lige over dem og der peb vinden ind, skønt der var stoppet strå og klude i de største sprækker. Hendes små hænder var næsten ganske døde af kulde. Ak! en lille svovlstik kunne gøre godt. Turde hun bare trække én ud af bundtet, stryge den mod væggen og varme fingrene. Hun trak én ud, "ritsch!" hvor sprudede den, hvor brændte den! det var en varm, klar lue, ligesom et lille lys, da hun holdt hånden om den; det var et underligt lys! Den lille pige syntes hun sad foran en stor jernkakkelovn med blanke messingkugler og messingtromle; ilden brændte så velsignet, varmede så godt! nej, hvad var det! - Den lille strakte allerede fødderne ud for også at varme disse, – – da slukkedes flammen, kakkelovnen forsvandt, - hun sad med en lille stump af den udbrændte svovlstik i hånden.

En ny blev strøget, den brændte, den lyste, og hvor skinnet faldt på muren, blev denne gennemsigtig, som et flor; hun så lige ind i stuen, hvor bordet stod dækket med en skinnende hvid dug, med fint porcelæn, og dejligt dampede den stegte gås, fyldt med svesker og æbler! og hvad der endnu var prægtigere, gåsen sprang fra fadet, vraltede hen af gulvet med gaffel og kniv i ryggen; lige hen til den fattige pige kom den; da slukkedes svovlstikken og der var kun den tykke, kolde mur at se.

Hun tændte en ny. Da sad hun under det dejligste juletræ; det var endnu større og mere pyntet, end det hun gennem glasdøren havde set hos den rige købmand, nu sidste jul; tusinde lys brændte på de grønne grene og brogede billeder, som de der pynter butiksvinduerne, så ned til hende. Den lille strakte begge hænder i vejret - da slukkedes svovlstikken; de mange julelys gik højere og højere, hun så de var nu de klare stjerner, én af dem faldt og gjorde en lang ildstribe på himlen.

"Nu dør der én!" sagde den lille, for gamle mormor, som var den eneste, der havde været god mod hende, men nu var død, havde sagt: Når en stjerne falder, går der en sjæl op til Gud.

Hun strøg igen mod muren en svovlstik, den lyste rundt om, og i glansen stod den gamle mormor, så klar, så skinnende, så mild og velsignet.

"Mormor!" råbte den lille, "Oh tag mig med! jeg ved, du er borte, når svovlstikken går ud; borte ligesom den varme kakkelovn, den dejlige gåsesteg og det store velsignede juletræ!" - og hun strøg i hast den hele rest svovlstikker, der var i bundtet, hun ville ret holde på mormor; og svovlstikkerne lyste med en sådan glans, at det var klarere end ved den lyse dag. Mormor havde aldrig før været så smuk, så stor; hun løftede den lille pige op på sin arm, og de fløj i glans og glæde, så højt, så højt; og der var ingen kulde, ingen hunger, ingen angst, - de var hos Gud!

Men i krogen ved huset sad i den kolde morgenstund den lille pige med røde kinder, med smil om munden - død, frosset ihjel den sidste aften i det gamle år. Nytårsmorgen gik op over det lille lig, der sad med svovlstikkerne, hvoraf et knippe var næsten brændt. Hun har villet varme sig! sagde man; ingen vidste, hvad smukt hun havde set, i hvilken glans hun med gamle mormor var gået ind til nytårs glæde!
It was terribly cold and nearly dark on the last evening of the old year, and the snow was falling fast. In the cold and the darkness, a poor little girl, with bare head and naked feet, roamed through the streets. It is true she had on a pair of slippers when she left home, but they were not of much use. They were very large, so large, indeed, that they had belonged to her mother, and the poor little creature had lost them in running across the street to avoid two carriages that were rolling along at a terrible rate. One of the slippers she could not find, and a boy seized upon the other and ran away with it, saying that he could use it as a cradle, when he had children of his own. So the little girl went on with her little naked feet, which were quite red and blue with the cold. In an old apron she carried a number of matches, and had a bundle of them in her hands. No one had bought anything of her the whole day, nor had any one given here even a penny. Shivering with cold and hunger, she crept along; poor little child, she looked the picture of misery. The snowflakes fell on her long, fair hair, which hung in curls on her shoulders, but she regarded them not.

Lights were shining from every window, and there was a savory smell of roast goose, for it was New-year's eve– yes, she remembered that. In a corner, between two houses, one of which projected beyond the other, she sank down and huddled herself together. She had drawn her little feet under her, but she could not keep off the cold; and she dared not go home, for she had sold no matches, and could not take home even a penny of money. Her father would certainly beat her; besides, it was almost as cold at home as here, for they had only the roof to cover them, through which the wind howled, although the largest holes had been stopped up with straw and rags. 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. Then the match went out, and there remained nothing but the thick, damp, cold wall before her.

She lighted another match, and then she found herself sitting under a beautiful Christmas-tree. It was larger and more beautifully decorated than the one which 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 the stars in the sky. Then she saw a star fall, leaving behind it a bright streak of fire. "Some one is dying," thought the little girl, 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 noon-day, 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 brightness and joy far above the earth, where there was neither cold nor hunger nor pain, for they were with God.

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.




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