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The Little Match Girl
December 24, 1996

(Music) WIND SOUND

It was extremely cold; it was Snowing and almost dark. A little girl, with no hat on her head and no shoes on her feet, went along the street of the big city. She had had shoes on her feet when she left home but they were too big and when she had to run across the street to get out of the way of a wagon driving fast straight at her, the shoes fell off and she couldn't find them. So her feet were awfully cold. In her pocket, she carried matches to sell and a box of them in her hand but no one had bought any from her all day; all day she had tried to sell her matches and she didn't have a penny.

She was hungry and she shivered in the cold wind. The snowflakes fall along her long yellow hair and fell on her thin blue dress, All up and down the street, lights shone in all the windows, and she could smell the gorgeous smell of roast turkey.

Where two houses came together, one a little bigger than the other, there was a slight corner, and she sat down in it to get out of the wind. She huddled there, her feet tucked under her, feeling colder and colder. She didn't dare go home, for she had not sold any matches, and her father would beat her. Anyway, it was cold at home too.

Her hands were almost numb with cold. And then she thought: ah--- a match! She could light a match and warm up her fingers a little! She took one out and struck it. It sputtered and almost went out. But it burned! Such a warm, bright flame, like a little candle, when she held her hands over it. It was so wonderful, she felt as though she were sitting in front of a big woodstove with polished brass feet and brass ornaments. How bright --- how warm --- she was stretched out her feet to warm them too, when -- out went the little flame, the stove disappeared, and she had only the burned match in her hand.

She struck another one; it burned with a bright light against the cold brick wall, and she could see through the wall to a room. A table with a white tablecloth and beautiful chlna dishes glittering in the candlelight and roast turkey stuffed with apples and prunes and nuts. And the turkey Jumped off the table and walked toward her as if to say, here, I'm yours, when just at that moment, out went the match, and only the cold brick wall was there. So she lit another match. And there she was sitting under a Christmas tree; it was the biggest and most beautiful one she'd ever seen, with big green boughs lit up with thousands of candles, and figures of shepherds and angels and horses and beautiful glass ornaments. The little girl stretched her hands towards them and -- out went the match. The Christmas candles rose higher and higher, till they were only the stars in the sky; one of them fell, leaving a long fiery trail behind it.

"Now, someone is dying" said the little girl, for her old grandmother, the only person who had ever been good to her and who was now dead, had said that when a star falls a soul goes up to heaven.

She struck another match on the wall; it lit with a flash and there stood her old grandmother, so bright, so sweet and kind. "Grandmother!" she cried. "Take me with you! Don't go away like the stove and the dinner and the Christmas tree."

And she took the whole box of matches, and lit them all at once, and they went up in a beautiful blaze as bright as day, and the old grandmother took the little girl in her arms, and they flew up together in brightness and joy, and there was no cold, or hunger, or sorrow.

But in the corner by the houses, in the cold dawn, the little girl was sitting, a smile on her dead lips, and a box of burned matches in her cold little hand.


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