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The Little Match Girl

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This version of Hans Christian Andersen’s story accompanies the assembly ‘Remembering to be grateful’

A lit match © saavem/www.sxc.hu

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 orphan girl, with bare head and naked feet, roamed through the streets. It is true she earlier had on a pair of slippers, 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 that 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 anyone given her even a penny. Shivering with cold and hunger, she crept along; poor little child, she looked the picture of misery.

Lights were shining from every window, and there was a savoury 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; her little hands were almost frozen. 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 suddenly, the flame of the match went out, the stove vanished, and she had only the remains of the half-burnt match in her hand.

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