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were red and blue with cold, under her as well as she could; but she was colder than ever, and dared not go home, for, as she had sold no matches, her cruel father would beat her.
Besides, it was cold at home, for they lived just under the roof, and the wind blew in, though straw and old rags had been stuffed into the large cracks.
Her little hands were quite benumbed with cold. O how much good one match would do, if she dared but take it out of the bundle, draw it across the wall, and warm her fingers in the flame!
She took one out and drew it across the wall. How it sputtered and burned! It burned with a warm, bright flame, like a candle, and she bent her hand round it; it was a wonderful light!
It seemed to the little girl as if she were sitting before a large stove, in which the fire burned brightly, and gave out such comfort and such warmth!
She stretched out her feet to warm them, too—but the flame went out, the stove disappeared, and there she sat with a little bit of the burnt match in her hand.
Another was lighted; it burned, and, where the light fell upon the wall, she could see through it and into a large room.
There the table was covered with a cloth of dazzling white, and with fine china; and a roast goose was smoking upon it.
But what was still more delightful, the goose sprung down from the table, and, with a knife and fork sticking in its back, came towards the little girl.
Then the match went out, and she saw nothing but the thick, cold wall.
She lighted another; and now she was sitting under the most beautiful Christmas-tree. It was larger than those she had seen at Christmas through the windows of rich people.
Hundreds of candles were burning among the green branches, and beautiful pictures, such as she had seen in the shop-windows, looked down upon her. She stretched out both her hands, when the match went out.
She drew another match across the wall, and in the light it threw around, stood her old grandmother, so bright, so gentle, and so loving.
“Grandmother?" the little girl cried, “O take me with you! I know that you will disappear as soon as the match is burnt out, just like the warm stove, the roast goose, and the Christmas-tree!”
She quickly lighted the rest of the matches that remained in the bundle, for she wished to keep her grandmother with her as long as possible; and the matches burned so brightly that it was lighter than day.
Never before had her grandmother appeared so beautiful and so tall; and, taking the little girl in her arms, they flew high, high up into the heavens, where she felt neither cold, nor hunger, nor fear, any morefor they were with God!
But, in the corner between the two houses, in the cold morning air, lay the little girl with pale cheeks and smiling lips.
She was frozen to death during the last night of the Old Year. The first light of the New Year shone upon the dead body of the little girl, sitting there
with the matches, one bundle of which was nearly
“She has been trying to warm herself," people said; but no one knew what beautiful dreams she had had, or with what splendor she had entered with her grandmother into the joys of a New Year.
Coming and Going *
'HERE came to our fields a pair of birds that had
never built a nest nor seen a winter. How beautiful was everything! The fields were full of flowers, and the grass was growing tall, and the bees were humming everywhere.
Then one of the birds began singing, and the other bird said, “Who told you to sing?" And he answered, “The flowers told me, and the bees told me, and the winds and leaves told me, and the blue sky told me, and you told me to sing." Then his mate answered, “When did I tell you to sing?" And he said, “Every time you brought in tender grass for the nest, and every time your soft wings fluttered off again for hair and feathers to line the nest." Then his mate said, “What are you singing about?” And he answered, “I am singing about everything and nothing. It is because I am so happy that I sing."
By and by five little speckled eggs were in the nest, and his mate said, “Is there anything in all the world as pretty as my eggs?" Then they both looked down on some people that were passing by and pitied them because they were not birds.
In a week or two, one day, when the father-bird came home, the mother-bird said, “Oh, what do you think has happened?” “What?” “One of my eggs
* From Henry Ward Beecher's Norwood, by permission of Fords, Howard & Hulbert, publishers.
has been peeping and moving!" Pretty soon another egg moved under her feathers, and then another and another, till five little birds were hatched! Now the father-bird sang louder and louder than ever. The mother-bird, too, wanted to sing, but she had no time, and so she turned her song into work. So hungry were these little birds that it kept both parents busy feeding them. Away each one flew. The moment the little birds heard their wings fluttering among the leaves, five yellow mouths flew open wide, so that nothing could be seen but five yellow mouths!
“Can anybody be happier?" said the father-bird to the mother-bird. “We will live in this tree always, for there is no sorrow here. It is a tree that always bears joy."
Soon the little birds were big enough to fly, and great was their parents' joy to see them leave the nest and sit crumpled up upon the branches. There was then a great time! The two old birds talking and chatting to make the young ones go alone! In a little time they had learned to use their wings, and they flew away and away, and found their own food, and built their own nests, and sang their own songs of joy.
Then the old birds sat silent and looked at each other, until the mother-bird said, "Why don't you sing?" And he answered, "I can't sing–I can only think and think." "What are you thinking of?" "I am thinking how everything changes: the leaves are falling off from this tree, and soon there will be no roof over our heads; the flowers are all going; last night there was a frost; almost all the birds are flown away. Something calls me, and I feel as if I would like to fly far away."