« ПретходнаНастави »
LVII.-THE LITTLE MATCH SELLER.
1. 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 girl, with bare head and naked feet, roamed through the streets. It is true she had on a pair of slippers when she left home, but they were not of much use.
2. They were very large, very large indeed, for they once 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.
3. So the little girl went on with her little naked feet, which 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 any thing of her the whole day, nor had any one given her even a penny.
4. Shivering with cold and hunger she crept along. Poor little child! she looked the picture of misery. The snow-flakes fell on her long, fair hair, which hung in curls on her shoulders; but she regarded them not. Lights were shining from every window, and there was a savory smell of roast goose, for it was New Year's eve; yes, she remembered that.
5. 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; and she dared not go home, for she had sold no matches, and could not take home even a penny
6. Her father would certainly beat her; besides, it was almost as cold at home as here, for they had only the roof to cover them, through which the wind howled, although the largest holes had been stopped up with straw and rags. Her little hands were almost frozen with the cold.
7. Ah! perhaps a burning match might be of some use, 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.
8. It seemed to the little girl as if 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 lo! the flame of the match went out, the stove vanished, and she had only the remains of the half-burnt match in her hand.
9. She rubbed another match on the wall. It burst into a flame, and when its light fell upon the wall it became as transparent as a veil, and she could see into the room. The table was covered with a snowy wbite table-cloth, on which stood a splendid dinner service and a steaming roast goose stuffed with apples and dried plums.
10. And, what was still more wonderful, the goose jumped down from the dish and waddled across the floor, with a knife and fork in its breast, to the little girl. Then the match went out and there remained nothing but the thick, damp, cold wall before her.
11. She lighted another match, and then she found herself sitting under a beautiful Christmas-tree. It was larger and more beautifully decorated than the one she had seen through the glass door of the rich merchant.
12. Thousands of tapers were burning upon
green branches of the tree, and colored pictures, like those she had seen in the show-windows, looked down upon it all. The little one stretched out her hand towards them and the match went out.
13. The Christmas lights rose higher and higher, till they looked to her like the stars in the sky. Then she baw a star fall, leaving behind a bright streak of fire. “Some one is dying,” thought the little girl; for her old grandmother, the only one who had ever loved her, and who was now dead, had told her that when a star falls a soul is going up to God.
14. She again rubbed a match on the wall, and the light shone around her. In the brightness stood her old grandmother, clear and shining, yet mild and loving in her appearance. “Grandmother,” cried the little one, “O, take me with you; I know you will go away when the match burns out; you will vanish like the warm stove, the roast goose, and the large, glorious Christmastree."
15. And she made haste to light the whole bundle of matches, for she wished to keep her grandmother there. And the matches glowed with a light that was brighter than the noonday, and her grandmother had never appeared so large or so beautiful. She took the
. little girl in her arms, and they both flew upwards in brightness and joy far above the earth, where there was neither cold nor hunger nor pain, for they were with God.
16. In the dawn of morning there lay the poor little one, with pale cheeks and smiling mouth, leaning against the wall. She had been frozen to death on the last evening of the old year; and the new year's sun rose and shone upon a little corpse.
17. The child still sat, in the stiffness of death, hold
ing the matches in her hand, one bundle of which was burnt. “She tried to warm herself,” said some. No one imagined what beautiful things she had seen, nor into what glory she had entered with her grandmother on New Year's day.
HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN.
LVIII.-FULTON'S FIRST STEAM-BOAT.
1. One of the most remarkable discoveries of modern times is the art of propelling vessels by steam. For the first successful application of this discovery the world is indebted to Robert Fulton, an American. His account of the construction of his first steam-boat (in 1807) is well worthy the perusal of my young readers. It is taken from Judge Story's discourse before the Boston Mechanics' Institution.
2. When (said Fulton) I was building my first stearnboat at New York, the project was viewed by the public either with indifference or with contempt, as a visionary scheme. My friends indeed were civil, but they were shy. They listened with patience to my explanations, but with a settled cast of incredulity on their countenances.
3. As I had occasion to pass daily to and from the building yard, while my boat was in progress, I have often loitered unknown near the idle groups of strangers gathering in little circles, and heard various inquiries as to the object of this new vehicle. The language was uniformly that of scorn or sneer or ridicule.
4. I heard the wise calculation of losses and expenditures, the dry jest, the dull but endless repetition of the “Fulton folly," and the loud laugh often rose at my expense. Never did a single encouraging remark, a bright hope, or a warm wish, cross my path. Silence itself was but politeness, veiling its doubts or hiding its reproaches.
5. At length the day arrived when the experiment was to be put in operation. To me it was a most trying and interesting occasion. I invited my friends to go on board to witness the first successful trip. Many of them did me the favor to attend, as a matter of personal respect; but it was manifest that they did it with reluctance, fearing to be the partners of my mortification, and not of my triumph.
6. I was well aware that in my case there were many reasons to doubt of my own success. The machinery was new and ill made; many parts of it were constructed by mechanics unaccustomed to such work; and unexpected difficulties might reasonably be presumed to present themselves from other causes.
7. The moment arrived in which the word was to be given for the vessel to move. My friends were in groups on the deck. There was anxiety mixed with fear among theni. They were silent and sad. I read in their looks nothing but disaster, and almost repented of my efforts. .
8. The signal was given, and the boat moved on a short distance, and then stopped. To the silence of the preceding moment now succeeded murmurs of discontent, and agitations and whispers and shrugs. I could hear distinctly repeated, “I told you it would be so it is a foolish scheme — I wish we were well out of it."
9. I elevated myself upon a platform and addressed the assembly. I stated that I knew not what was the matter; but if they would be quiet, and indulge me for a half hour, I would either go on or abandon the voyage for that time.
10. This short respite was conceded without objection. I went below, examined the machinery, and discovered that the cause was a slight maladjustment of some of