Once upon a
time...a little girl tried to make a
living by selling matches in the street.
It was New
Year's Eve and the snow-clad streets
were deserted. From brightly lit windows came the tinkle of laughter
and the sound of singing. People were getting ready to bring in the New
Year. But the poor little matchseller sat sadly beside the fountain.
Her ragged dress and worn shawl did not keep out the cold and she tried
tokeep her bare feet from touching the frozen ground.
sold one box of matches all day and she
was frightened to go home, for her father would certainly be angry. It
wouldn't be much warmer anyway, in the draughty attic that was her
home. The little girl's fingers were stiff with cold. If only she could
light a match! But what would her father say it such a waste!
she took out a match and lit it. What
a nice warm flame! The little matchseller cupped her hand over it, and
as she did so, she magically saw in its light a big brightly burning
stove. She held out her hands to the heat, but just then the match went
out and the vision faded. The night seemed blacker than before and it
was getting colder. A shiver ran through the little girl's thin body.
hesitating for a long time, she struck
another match on the wall, and this time, the glimmer turned the wall
into a great sheet of crystal. Beyond that stood a fine table laden
with food and lit by a candlestick.
her arms towards the plates, the
little matchseller seemed to pass through the glass, but then the match
went out and the magic faded. Poor thing. In just a few seconds she had
caught a glimpse of everything that life had denied her - warmth and
good things to eat. Her eyes filled with tears and she lifted her gaze
to the lit windows, praying that she too might know a little of such
She lit the
third match and an even more wonderful
thing happened. There stood a Christmas tree hung with hundreds of
candles, glittering with tinsel and colored balls.
lovely!" exclaimed the little
matchseller, holding up the match.
the match burned her finger and flickered out. The light from the
Christmas candles rose higher and higher,then one of the lights fell,
leaving a trail behind it.
dying," murmured the little girl, as
she remembered her beloved Granny who used to say: "When astar falls, a
heart stops beating!"
aware of what she was doing, the little
matchseller lit another match. This time, she saw her grandmother.
stay with me!" she pleaded, as she lit one match after the other, so
that her grandmother could not disappear like all the other visions.
Granny did not vanish, but gazed
smilingly at her. Then she opened her arms and the little girl hugged
her crying: "Granny, take me away with you!"
A cold day
dawned and a pale sun shone on the
fountain and the icy road. Close by lay the lifeless body of a little
girl surrounded by spent matches.
little thing!" exclaimed the passersby. "She
was trying to keep warm!"
But by that
time, the little matchseller was far
away where there is neither cold, hunger, nor pain.