And then they came to a room where the walls were covered with pig-
skin, and golden flowers had been stamped on the leather.
" Flowors fadn fast.
But piir-skiu will last,"
said the walls.
And there stood chairs with quite high backs, with carved
work and elbows on each side.
"Sit down!" said they. "Oh, how it cracks inside me! Now I
shall be sure to have the gout, like the old cupboard. Gout in my
back, ugh ! "
And then the little boy came to the room where the old man sat.
" Thank you for the Tin Soldier, my little friend," said the old man,
" and thank you for coming over to me."
" Thanks ! thanks ! " or " Crick ! crack ! " said all the furniture ; there
were so many pieces that they almost stood in each other's way to see
the little boy.
And in the middle, on the wall, hung a picture, a beautiful lady, young
and cheerful in appearance, but dressed just like people of the old times,
with powder in her hair and skirts that stuck out stiffly. She said neither
thanks nor crack, but looked down upon the little boy with her mild
eyes ; and he at once asked the old man,
" Where did you get her from ? "
"From the dealer opposite," replied the old man. "Many pictures
are always hanging there. No one knew them or troubled himself about
The Old House. 369
them, for they are all buried. But many years ago I knew this lady, and
now she's been dead and gone for half a century."
And under the picture hung, behind glass, a nosegay of withered
flowers ; they were certainly also half a century old at least they
looked it ; and the pendulum of the great clock went to and fro, and
the hands turned round, and everything in the room grew older still,
but no one noticed it.
" They say at home," said the little boy, " that you are always terribly
" Oh," answered the old man, " old thoughts come, with all that they
bring, to visit me ; and now you are coming too, I 'm very well off."
And then he took from a shelf a book with pictures : there were long
processions of wonderful coaches, such as one never sees at the present
day, soldiers like the knave of clubs, and citizens with waving flags.
The tailors had a flag with shears on it held by two lions, and the shoe-
makers a flag without boots, but with an eagle that had two heads ; for
among the shoemakers everything must be so arranged that they can
sav, "There's a pair." Yes, that was a picture-book ! And the old
man went into the other room, to fetch preserves, and apples, and nuts.
It was really glorious in that old house.
" I can't stand it," said the Tin Soldier, who stood upon the shelf.
" It is terribly lonely and dull here. When a person has been accus-
tomed to family life, one cannot get accustomed to their existence here.
I cannot stand it ! The clay is long enough, but the evening is longer
still ! Here it is not at all like in your house opposite, where your
father and mother were always conversing cheerfully together, and you
and all the other dear children made a famous noise. How solitary it
is here at the old man's ! Do you think he gets any kisses ? Do you
think he gets friendly looks, or a Christinas tree? He'll get nothing
but a grave ! I cannot stand it ! "
" You must not look at it from the sorrowful side," said the little
boy. " To me all appears remarkably pretty, and all the old thoughts,
with all they bring with them, come to visit here."
" Yes, but I don't see them, and don't know them," objected the Tin
Soldier. " I can't bear it !"
"You must bear it," said the little boy.
And the old man came with the pleasantest face and with the best of
preserved fruits and apples and nuts ; and then the little boy thought
no more of the Tin Soldier. Happy and delighted, the youngster went
home ; and days went by, weeks went by, and there was much nodding
from the boy's home across to the old house and back ; and then the
little boy went over there again.
And the carved trumpeters blew, " Tanta-ra-ra ! tanta-ra-ra ! there 's
the little boy, tanta-ra-ra ! " and the swords and armour on the old
pictures rattled, and the silken dresses rustled, and the leather told
tales, and the old chairs had the gout in their backs. Ugh ! it was just
like the first time, for over there one day or one hour was just like
370 Stories for the Household.
" I cau't stand it ! " said the Tin Soldier. " I 've wept tears of tin.
It 's too dreamy here. I had rather go to war and lose my arms and
legs ; at any rate, that 's a change. I cannot stand it ! Now I know
what it means to have a visit from one's old thoughts and all they bring
with them. I 've had visits from my own, and you may believe me,
that's no pleasure in the long run. I was very nearly jumping down
from the shelf. I could see you all in the house opposite as plainly as
if you had been here. It was Sunday morning, and you children were
all standing round the table singing the psalm you sing every morning.
You were standing reverently with folded hands, and your father and
mother were just as piously disposed ; then the door opened, and your
little sister Maria, who is not two years old yet, and who always dances
when she hears music or song, of whatever description they may be, was
brought in. She was not to do it, but she immediately began to dance,
though she could not get into right time, for the song was too slow, so
she first stood on one leg and bent her head quite over in front, but it
was not long enough. You all stood very quietly, though that was
rather difficult ; but I laughed inwardly, and so I fell down from the
table and got a bruise which I have still ; for it was not right of one to
laugh. But all this, and all the rest that I have experienced, now passes
by my inward vision, and those must be the old thoughts with every-
thing they bring with them. Tell me, do you still sing on Sundays ?
Tell me something about little Maria. And how is my comrade and
brother tin soldier ? Yes, he must be very happy. I can't stand it!"
" You have been given away," said the little boy. " You must stay
where you are. Don't you see that ? "
And the old man came with a box in which many things were to be
seen : little rouge-pots and scent-boxes ; and old cards, so large and so
richly gilt as one never sees them in these days ; and many little boxes
were opened, likewise the piano ; and in this were painted landscapes,
inside the lid. But the piano was quite hoarse when the old man
played upon it ; and then he nodded to the picture that he had bought
at the dealer's, and the old man's eyes shone quite brightly.
"I'll go to the war! I'll go to the war!" cried the Tin Soldier, as
loud as he could ; and he threw himself down on the floor.
Where had he gone ? The old man searched, the little boy searched,
but he was gone, and could not be found.
" I shall find him," said the old man.
But he never found him : the flooring was so open and full of holes,
that the Tin Soldier had fallen through a crack, and there he lay as in an
And the day passed away, and the little boy went home ; and the
week passed by, and many weeks passed by. The windows were quite
frozen up, and the little boy had to sit and breathe upon the panes, to
make a peep-hole to look at the old house ; and snow had blown among
all the carving and the inscriptions, and covered the whole staircase, as
if no one were in the house at all. And, indeed, there teas no one in
the house, for the old man had died !
DISAPPEAEANCE OF THE TIN SOLDIEE.
Ill the evening a carriage stopped at the door, and in that he was
laid, in his coffin ; he was to rest in a family vault in the country. So
he was carried away ; but no one followed him on his last journey, for
all his friends were dead. And the little boy kissed his hand after the
coffin as it rolled away.
A few days later, and there was an auction in the old house ; and the
little boy saw from his window how the old knights and ladies, the
flower-pots with the long ears, the chairs and the cupboards were carried
away. One was taken here, and then there : lier portrait, that had been
bought by the dealer, went back into his shop, and there it was hung,
for no one cared for the old picture.
In the spring the house itself was pulled down, for the people said it
was old rubbish. One could look from the street straight into the room
with the leather wall-covering, which was taken down, ragged and torn ;
and the green of the balcony hung straggling over the beams, that
threatened to fall in altogether. And now a clearance was made.
' That does good ! " said a neighbour.
372 Stories for the Household.
And a capital house was built, with large windows and smooth white
walls ; but in front of the place where the old house had really stood, a
little garden was planted, and by the neighbour's wall tall vine shoots
clambered up. In front of the garden was placed a great iron railing
with an iron door ; and it had a stately look. The people stopped in
front, and looked through. And the sparrows sat down in dozens upon
the vine branches, and chattered all at once as loud as they could ; but
not about the old house, for they could not remember that, for many
years had gone by so many, that the little boy had grown to be a man,
a thorough man, whose parents rejoiced in him. And he had just married,
and was come with his wife to live in the house, in front of which was
the garden ; and here he stood next to her while she planted a field
flower which she considered very pretty ; she planted it with her little
hand, pressing the earth close round it with her fingers. " Ah, what
was that ? " She pricked herself. Out of the soft earth something
pointed was sticking up. Only think ! that was the Tin Soldier, the
same that had been lost up in the old man's room, and had been hidden
among old wood and rubbish for a long time, and had lain in the ground
many a year. And the young wife first dried the Soldier in a green leaf,
and then with her fine handkerchief, that smelt so deliciously. And the
Tin Soldier felt just as if he were waking from a fainting fit.
"Let me see him," said the young man. And then he smiled and
shook his head. " Yes, it can scarcely be the same ; but it reminds me
of an affair with a Tin Soldier which I had when I was a little boy."
And then he told his wife about the old house, and the old man, and
of the Tin Soldier he had sent across to the old man whom be had
thought so lonely ; and the tears came into the young wife's eyes for
the old house and the old man.
" It is possible, after all, that it may be the same Tin Soldier," said
she. " I will take care of him, and remember what you have told me ;
but you must show me the old man's grave."
"I don't know where that is," replied he, "and no one knows it.
All his friends were dead ; none tended his grave, and 1 was but a little
" Ah, how terribly lonely he must have been ! " said she.
"Yes, horribly lonely," said the Tin Soldier; "but it is glorious not
to be forgotten."
" Glorious ! " repeated a voice close to them.
But nobody except the Tin Soldier perceived that it came from a rag
of the pig's-leather hangings, which was now devoid of all gilding. It
looked like wet earth, but yet it had an opinion, which it expressed
" Gilding fades fast,
Pig-skin will last ! "
But the Tin Soldier did not believe that.
THE GBAND OLD SNAILS.
THE HAPPY FAMILY.
THE biggest leaf here in the country is certainly the burdock leaf.
Put one in front of your waist and it 's just like an apron, and if you lay
it upon your head it is almost as good as an umbrella, for it is quite re-
markably large. A burdock never grows alone ; where there is one tree
there are several more. It 's splendid to behold ! and all this splendour
is snails' meat. The great white snails, which the grand people in old
times used to have made into fricassees, and when they had eaten them
they would say, " H 'm, how good that is ! " for they had the idea that it
tasted delicious. These snails lived on burdock leaves, and that 's why
burdocks were sown.
Now there was an old estate, on which people ate snails no longer.
The snails had died out, but the burdocks had not. These latter grew
and grew in all the walks and on all the beds there was no stopping
them ; the place became a complete forest of burdocks. Here and there
stood an apple or plum tree ; but for this, nobody would have thought a
garden had been there. Everything was burdock, and among the bur-
docks lived the two last ancient Snails.
They did not know themselves how old they were, but they could very
well remember that there had been a great many more of them, that
they had descended from a foreign family, and that the whole forest had
been planted for them and theirs. They had never been away from
home, but it was known to them that something existed in the world
called the ducal palace, and that there one was boiled, and one became
black, and was laid upon a silver dish ; but what was done afterwards
they did not know. Moreover, they could not imagine what that might
374 Stories for the Household.
be, being boiled and laid upon a silver dish ; but it was stated to be fine,
and particularly grand ! Neither the cockchafer, nor the toad, nor the
earthworm, whom they questioned about it, could give them any in-
formation, for none of their own kind had ever been boiled and laid on
The old white Snails were the grandest in the world ; they knew that !
The forest was there for their sake, and the ducal palace too, so that they
might be boiled and laid on silver dishes.
They led a very retired and happy life, and as they themselves were
childless, they had adopted a little common snail, which they brought up
as their own 'child. But the little thing would not grow, for it was only
a common snail, though the old people, and particularly the mother, de-
clared one could easily see how he grew. And when the father could
not see it, she requested him to feel the little snail's shell, and he felt it,
and acknowledged that she was right.
One day it rained very hard.
" Listen, how it 's drumming on the burdock leaves, rum-dum-dum !
rum-dum-dum ! " said the Father-Snail.
" That 's what I call drops," said the mother. " It 's coming straight
down the stalks. You '11 see it will be wet here directly. I 'm only
glad that we have our good houses, and that the little one has his own.
There has been more done for us than for any other creature ; one can
see very plainly that we are the grand folks of the world .' "U'e have
houses from our birth, and the burdock forest has been planted for us :
I should like to know how far it extends, and what lies beyond it."
"There's nothing," said the Father-Snail, ''that can be better than
here at home ; I have nothing at all to wish for."
" Yes," said the mother, " I should like to bs taken to the ducal palace
and boiled, and laid upon a silver dish ; that has been done to all our
ancestors, and you may be sure it 's quite a distinguished honour."
" The ducal palace has perhaps fallen in," said the Father-Snail, " or
the forest of burdocks may have grown over it, so that the people can't
get out at all. You need not be in a hurry but you always hurry so,
and the little one is beginning just the same way. Has he not been
creeping up that stalk these three days ? My head quite aches when I
look up at him."
" You must not scold him," said the Mother-Snail. " He crawls very
deliberately. We shall have much joy in him ; and we old people have
nothing else to live for. But have you ever thought where we shall get
a wife for him ? Don't you think that farther in the wood there may
be some more of our kind ?"
" There may be black snails there, I think," said the old man, " black
snails without houses ! but they 're too vulgar. And they 're conceited,
for all that. But we can give the commission to the ants : they run to
and fro, as if they had business ; they 're sure to know of a wife for our
"I certainly know the most beautiful of brides," said one of the
Ants ] " but I fear she would not do, for she is the Queen ! "
The Happy Family. 375
" That does not matter," said the two old Snails. " Has sne a house r"
" She has a castle ! " replied the Ant. " The most beautiful ant's
castle, with seven hundred passages."
"Thank you," said the Mother-Snail; "our boy shall not go into an
ant-hill. If you know of nothing better, we '11 give the commission to
the white gnats ; they fly far about in rain and sunshine, and they know
the burdock wood, inside and outside."
" AVe have a wife for him," said the Gnats. "A hundred man-steps
from here a little snail with a house is sitting on a gooseberry bush ,
she is quite alone, and old enough to marry. It 's only a hundred man-
steps from here."
" Yes, let her come to him," said the old people. " He has a whole
burdock forest, and she has only a bush."
And so they brought the little maiden snail. Eight days passed
before she arrived, but that was the rare circumstance about it, for by
this one could see that she was of the right kind.
And then they had a wedding. Six glow-worms lighted as well as
they could : with this exception it went very quietly, for the old snail
people could not bear feasting and dissipation. But a capital speech
was made by the Mother-Snail. The father could not speak, he was so
much moved. Then they gave the young couple the whole burdock
forest for an inheritance, and said, what they had always said, namely
that it was the best place in the world, and that the young people, if
they lived honourably, and increased and multiplied, would some day be
taken with their children to the ducal palace, and boiled black, and laid
upon a silver dish. And when the speech was finished, the old people
crept into their houses and never came out again, for they slept.
The young snail pair now ruled in the forest, and had a numerous
progeny. But as the young ones were never boiled and put into silver
dishes, they concluded that the ducal palace had fallen in, and that all
the people in the world had died out. And as nobody contradicted them,
they must have been right. And the rain fell down upon the burdock
leaves to play the drum for them, and the sun shone to colour the
burdock forest for them ; and they were happy, very happy the whole
family was happy, uncommonly happy !
IN the midst of the garden grew a rose bush, which was quite covered
with roses ; and in one of them, the most beautiful of all, there dwelt
an elf. He was so tiny that no human eye could see him. Behind
every leaf in the rose he had a bed-room. He was as well formed and
beautiful as any child could be, and had wings that reached from his
shoulders to his feet. Oh, what a fragrance there was in his rooms !
and how clear and bright were the walls ! They were made of the pale
pink rose leaves.
The whole day he rejoiced in the warm sunshine, flew from flower to
flower, danced on the wings of the flying butterfly, and measured how
many steps he would have to take to pass along all the roads and cross-
roads that are marked out on a single hidden leaf. What we call veins
on the leaf were to him high roads and cross-roads. Yes, those were
long roads for him ! Before he had finished his journey the sun went
down, for he had begun his work too late !
It became very cold, the dew fell, and the wind blew : now the best
thing to be done was to come home. He made what haste he could,
but the rose had shut itself up, and he could not get in ; riot a single
rose stood open. The poor little elf was very much frightened. He
had never been out at night before ; he had always slumbered sweetly
and comfortably behind the warm rose leaves. Oh, it certainly would
be the death of him.
At the other end of the garden there was, he knew, an arbour of fine
honeysuckle. The flowers looked like great painted horns, and he wished
to go down into one of them to sleep till the next day.
He flew thither. Silence ! two people were in there a handsome
young man and a young girl. They sat side by side, and wished that
they need never part. They loved each other better than a good child
loves its father and mother.
" Yet we must part ! " said the young man. " Your brother does not
like us, therefore he sends me away on an errand so far over mountains
and seas. Farewell, my sweet bride, for that you shall be ! "
And they kissed each other, and the young girl wept, and gave him a
rose. But, before she gave it him, she impressed a kiss so firmly and
closely upon it that the flower opened. Then the little elf flew into it,
and leaned his head against the delicate fragrant walls. Here he could
plainly hear them say " Farewell ! farewell ! " and he felt that the rose
\\-as placed on the young man's heart. Oh, how that heart beats ! the
little elf could not go to sleep, it thumped so.
But not long did the rose rest undisturbed on that breast. The man
took it out, and as he went lonely through the wood, he kissed the
flower so often and so fervently that the little elf was almost crushed.
He could feel through the leaf how the man's lips burned, and the rose
itself had opened, as if under the hottest noonday sun.
Then came another man, gloomy and wicked ; lie was the bad brother
THE GIRL AND THE FLOWEK-POT.
of the pretty maiden. He drew out a sharp knife, and while the other
kissed the rose the bad man stabbed him to death, and then, cutting
off his head, buried both head and body in the soft earth under the
" Now he 's forgotten and gone ! " thought the wicked brother ; "he
will never come back again. He was to have taken a long journey over
mountains and seas. One can easily lose one's life, and he has lost his.
He cannot come back again, and my sister dare not ask news of him
Then with his feet he shuffled dry leaves over the loose earth, and
went home in the dark night. But he did not go alone, as he thought ;
the little elf accompanied him. The elf sat in a dry, rolled-up linden
leaf that had fallen on the wicked man's hair as he dug. The hat was
now placed over the leaf, and it was very dark in the hat, and the elf
trembled with fear and with auger at the evil deed.
In the morning hour the bad man got home ; he took off his hat, and
Went into his sister's bed-room. There lay the beautiful blooming girl.
378 Stories for the Household.
dreaming of him whom she loved from her heart, and of whom she now
believed that he was going across the mountains and through the forests.
And the wicked brother bent over her, and laughed hideously, as only a
fiend can laugh. Then the dry leaf fell out of his hair upon the cover-
let ; but he did not remark it, and he went out to sleep a little himself
in the morning hour. But the elf slipped forth from the withered leaf,
placed himself in the ear of the sleeping girl, and told her, as in a
dream, the dreadful history of the murder ; described to her the place
where her brother had slain her lover and buried his corpse ; told her
of the blooming linden tree close by it, and said,
" That you may not think it is only a dream that I have told you,
you will find on your bed a withered leaf."
And she found it when she awoke. Oh, what bitter tears she wept !
The window stood open the whole day : the little elf could easily get
out to the roses and all the other flowers, but he could not find it in
his heart to quit the afflicted maiden. In the window stood a plant, a
monthly rose bush : he seated himself in one of the flowers, and looked
at the poor girl. Her brother often came into the room, and, in spite
of his wicked deed, he always seemed cheerful, but she dared not say a
word of the grief that was in her heart.
As soon as the night came, she crept out of the house, went to the
wood, to the place where the linden tree stood, removed the leaves from
the ground, turned up the earth, and immediately found him who had
been slain. Oh, how she wept, and prayed that she might die also !
Gladly would she have taken the corpse home with her, but that
she could not do. Then she took the pale head with the closed eyes,
kissed the cold mouth, and shook the earth out of the beautiful hair.
" That I will keep," she said. And when she had laid earth upon the
dead body, she took the head, and a little sprig of the jasmine that
bloomed in the Avood where he was buried, home with her.
As soon as she came into her room, she brought the greatest flower-
pot she could find: in this she laid the dead man's head, strewed earth
upon it, and then planted the jasmine twig in the pot.