老房子的童话故事

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所属分类:民间故事

老房子的故事简介

这个故事说的是在一座很老很老的房子里,生活着一个孤独的老人。可只有一个小孩会去看望老人而且送了一个锡兵给老人。可锡兵也忍受不了孤独,逃走了。最后老人死了,老房子也拆了。小孩也长大了,并且他的妻子偶然拾到了那个锡兵,而关于老房子的故事也就这样流传下来了。

老房子的故事

街上有一幢很老很老的房子,它几乎有三百年的历史,这点人们在它的大梁上就可以看得出来;那上面刻着郁金香和牵藤的啤酒花花纹——在这中间刻着的是它兴建的年月。在那上面人们还可以看到整首用古老的字体刻出来的诗篇。在每个窗子上的桁条上还刻着做出讥笑样子的脸谱。第二层楼比第一层楼向外突出很多;屋檐下有一个刻着龙头的铅水笕。雨水本来应该是从龙的嘴里流出来的,但它却从它的肚皮中冒出来了,因为水笕有一个洞。

街上所有的别的房子都是很新、很整齐的;它们的墙很光,窗玻璃很宽,人们可以看得出,它们不愿意跟这座老房子有什么来往。它们无疑地在想:“那个老垃圾堆作为街上的一个笑柄还能站得住多久呢?它的吊窗凸出墙外太远,谁也不能从我们的窗子这边看到那边所发生的事情。它的楼梯宽得像宫殿里的楼梯,高得像是要通到一个教堂的塔里面去。它的铁栏杆像一个家庭墓窖的门——上面还装置着黄铜小球。这真可笑!”

它的对面也是整齐的新房子。它们也有同样的看法。不过这儿有一个孩子坐在窗子里面。他有一副红润的面孔和一对闪耀的眼睛。他特别喜欢这幢老房子,不论在太阳光里或在月光里都是这样。他看到那些泥灰全都脱落了的墙壁,就坐着幻想出许多奇怪的图景来——这条街、那些楼梯、吊窗和尖尖的山形墙,在古时会像一个什么样子呢?他可以看到拿着戟的兵士,以及形状像龙和鲛的水笕。

这的确是一幢值得一看的房子!那里面住着一个老人。他穿着一条天鹅绒的马裤,一件有大黄铜扣子的上衣;他还戴着一副假发①——人们一眼就可以看出这是真正的假发。每天早晨有一个老仆人来为他打扫房间和跑腿。除此以外,这座老房子里就只孤独地住着这位穿天鹅绒马裤的老人了。他偶尔来到窗子跟前,朝外面望一眼。这时这个小孩就对他点点头,作为回答。他们就这样相互认识了,而且成了朋友,虽然他们从来没有讲过一句话。不过事实上也没有这个必要。小孩曾经听到他的父母说过:“对面的那个老人很富有,不过他是非常孤独的!”

在下一个星期天,这孩子用一张纸包了一点东西,走到门口。当那个为这老人跑腿的仆人走过时,他就对他说:“请听着!你能不能把这东西带给对面的那个老人呢?我有两个锡兵②。这是其中的一个;我要送给他,因为我知道他是非常孤独的。”

老仆人表示出高兴的样子。他点了点头,于是就把锡兵带到老房子里去了。不久他就来问小孩,愿意不愿意亲自去拜访一次。他的爸爸妈妈准许他去。所以他就去拜访那个老房子了。

台阶栏杆上的那些铜球比平时要光亮得多;人们很可能以为这是专门为了他的拜访而擦亮的。那些雕刻出来的号手——因为门上都刻着号手,他们立在郁金香花里——都在使劲地吹喇叭;他们的双颊比以前要圆得多。是的,他们在吹:“嗒-嗒-啦-啦!小朋友到来了!嗒-嗒-啦-啦!”于是门便开了。

整个走廊里挂满了古老的画像:穿着铠甲的骑士和穿着丝绸的女子。铠甲发出响声,绸衣在窸窸窣窣地颤动。接着就是一个楼梯。它高高地伸向上面去,然后就略微弯下一点。这时他就来到一个阳台上。它的确快要坍塌了。处处是长长的裂痕和大洞,不过它们里面却长出了许多草和叶子。因为阳台、院子和墙都长满了那么多的绿色植物,所以它们整个看起来像一个花园。但这还不过是一个阳台。

这儿有些古旧的花盆;它们都有一个面孔和驴耳朵。花儿自由自在地随处乱长。有一个花盆全被石竹花铺满了,这也就是说:长满了绿叶子,冒出了许多嫩芽——它们在很清楚地说:“空气抚爱着我,太阳吻着我,同时答应让我在下星

期日开出一朵小花——下星期日开出一朵小花啦!”

于是他走进一个房间。这儿的墙上全都糊满了猪皮;猪皮上印着金花。墙儿说:

镀金消失得很快,

但猪皮永远不坏!

沿墙摆着许多高背靠椅;每张椅子都刻着花,而且还有扶手。

“请坐吧!请坐吧!”它们说。“啊,我的身体真要裂开了!

像那个老碗柜一样,我想我一定得了痛风病!我背上得了痛风病,噢!”

不一会儿孩子走进一个客厅,那个吊窗就在这儿,那个老人也在这儿。

“亲爱的小朋友,多谢你送给我的锡兵!”老人说,“多谢你来看我!”

“谢谢!谢谢!”——也可以说是——“嘎!啪!”这是所有的家具讲的话。它们的数目很多,当它们都来看这孩子的时候,它们几乎挤做一团。

墙中央挂着一个美丽女子的画像。她的样子很年轻和快乐,但是却穿着古时的衣服;她的头发和挺直的衣服都扑满了粉。她既不说“谢谢”,也不说“啪”;她只是用温和的眼睛望着这个小孩子。他当时就问这老人:“您从什么地方弄到这张像的?”

“从对面的那个旧货商人那里!”老人说。“那儿挂着许多画像。谁也不认识他们,也不愿意去管他们,因为他们早就被埋葬掉了。不过从前我认识这个女子,现在她已经死了,而且死了半个世纪啦。”

在这幅画下边,在玻璃的后面,挂着一个枯萎了的花束。它们无疑也有半个世纪的历史,因为它们的样子也很古老。那个大钟的摆摇来摇去;钟上的针在转动。这房间里每件东西在时时刻刻地变老,但是人们却不觉得。

小孩子说:“家里的人说,你一直是非常孤独的!”

“哎,”老人说,“旧时的回忆以及与回忆相联的事情,都来拜访,现在你也来拜访了!我感到非常快乐!”

于是他从书架上取出一本画册:那里面有许多我们现在见不到的华丽的马车行列,许多打扮得像纸牌上的“贾克”的兵士和挥着旗子的市民。裁缝挥着的旗帜上绘着一把由两只狮子抬着的大剪刀;鞋匠挥着的旗子上绘有一只双头鹰——不是靴子,因为鞋匠必须把一切东西安排得使人一看就说:“那是一双。”是的,就是这样的一本画册!

老人走到另外一个房间里去拿出一些蜜饯、苹果和硬壳果来——这个老房子里的一切东西真是可爱。

“我再也忍受不了!”立在五斗柜上的那个锡兵说。“这儿是那么寂寞,那么悲哀。一个惯于过家庭生活的人,在这儿实在住不下去!我再也忍受不了!日子已经够长了,而晚间却是更长!这儿的情形跟他们那儿的情形完全不一样。你的爸爸和妈妈总是愉快地在一起聊天,你和别的一些可爱的孩子也发出高兴的闹声。嗨!这个老人,他是多么寂寞啊!你以为他会得到什么吻么?你以为会有人温和地看他一眼么?或者他会有一棵圣诞树么?他什么也没有,只有等死!我再也忍受不了!”

“你不能老是从悲哀的角度去看事情呀!”小孩子说。“我觉得这儿什么东西都可爱!而且旧时的回忆以及与回忆相联的事情都到这儿来拜访!”

“是的,但是我看不见它们,也不认识它们!”锡兵说。

“我再也忍受不了!”

“你要忍受下去。”小孩子说。

这时老人带着一副最愉快的面孔和最甜美的蜜饯、苹果以及硬壳果走来了。小孩子便不再想起锡兵了。

这个小年轻人,怀着幸福和高兴的心情,回到家来。许多日子、许多星期过去了。和对面那个老房子,又有许多往返不停的点头。最后小孩子又走过去拜访了。

那些雕刻的号手又吹起:“嗒-啦-啦,嗒-啦-啦!小朋友又来了!嗒-啦-啦!”接着那些骑士身上的剑和铠甲又响起来了,那些绸衣服又沙沙地动起来了。那些猪皮又讲起话来了,那些老椅子的背上又有痛风病了。噢!这跟头一次来的时候完全一样,因为在这儿,这一天,这一点钟完全跟另一天,另一点钟是一样。

“我再也忍受不了!”锡兵说。“我已经哭出了锡眼泪!这儿是太悲哀了!我宁愿上战场,牺牲掉我的手和脚——这种生活总算还有点变化。我再也忍受不了!现在我才懂得,回忆以及与回忆相联的事情来拜访是一种什么味道!我的回忆也来拜访了。请相信我,结果并不是太愉快。我几乎要从五斗柜上跳下来了。你们在对面房子里面的情形,我看得清清楚楚,好像你们就在这儿一样。又是一个礼拜天的早晨——你们都很熟悉的一天!你们孩子们围着桌子站着,唱你们每天早晨唱的圣诗。你们把手合在一起,庄严地站着;爸爸和妈妈也是同样地庄严。于是门开了,小妹妹玛利亚被领进来了——她还不到两岁;无论什么时候,只要她听到音乐或歌声,而且不管什么音乐或歌声,她就跳起舞来。她还不大会跳,但是她却要马上跳起来,虽然她跳得不合拍子,因为拍子是太长了。她先用一只腿站着,把头向前弯,然后又用另一只腿站着,又把头向前弯,可是这次却弯得不好。你们都站着不做一声,虽然这是很困难的。但是我在心里却笑起来了,因此我就从桌上滚下来了,而且还跌出一个包来——这个包现在还在——因为我笑是不对的。但是这一切,以及我所经历过的许多事情,现在又来到我的心里——这一定就是回忆以及与回忆相联的事情了。请告诉我,你们仍然在礼拜天唱歌吗?请告诉我一点关于小玛利亚的消息好吗?我的老朋友——那另一个锡兵——现在怎样了?是的,他一定是很快乐的!——我却是再也忍受不了!”

“你已经被送给别人了!”小孩子说。“你应该安心下来。这一点你还看不出来吗?”

这时那个老人拿着一个抽屉走进来。抽屉里有许多东西可看:粉盒、香膏盒、旧扑克牌——它们都很大,还镀着金,现在我们是看不到这样的东西的。他还抽开了许多抽屉,拉开了一架钢琴,钢琴盖上绘着风景画。当这老人弹着的时候,钢琴就发出粗哑的声音。于是他就哼出一支歌来。

“是的,她也能唱这支歌!”他说。于是他就对这幅从旧货商人那儿买来的画点点头。老人的眼睛变得明亮起来了。

“我要到战场上去!我要到战场上去!”锡兵尽量提高嗓子大叫;接着他就栽到地上去了。

是的,他到什么地方去了呢?老人在找,小孩也在找,但是他不见了,他失踪了。

“我会找到他的!”老人说。不过他永远也没有找到他,因为地板上有许多洞和裂口。锡兵滚到一个裂口里去了。他躺在那里,好像躺在一个没有盖土的坟墓里一样。

这一天过去了。小孩子回到家里。一星期又过去了,接着又有许多星期过去了。窗子上都结了冰,小孩子得坐下来,在窗玻璃上用嘴哈气融出一个小视孔来看看那座老房子。雪花飘进那些刻花和刻字中间去,把整个台阶都盖住了,好像这座老房子里没有住着什么人似的。的确,这里现在没有人,因为那个老人已经死了!

黄昏的时候,门外停着一辆马车。人们把他放进棺材,抬上马车。他不久就要给埋进他乡下的坟墓里,他现在就要被运到那儿去,可是没有人来送葬,因为他所有的朋友都已经死了。当棺材被运走的时候,小孩子在后面用手对他飞吻。

几天以后,这座老房子里举行一次拍卖。小孩子从他的窗子里看到那些古老的骑士和女子、那些有长耳朵的花盆、那些古旧的椅子和碗柜,统统都被人搬走了。有的搬到这儿去,有的搬到那儿去。她的画像——在那个旧货商店里找来的——仍然回到那个旧货商店里去了,而且一直挂在那里,因为谁也不认识她,谁也不愿意要一张老画。

到了春天,这座房子就被拆掉了,因为人们说它是一堆烂垃圾。人们可以从街上一眼就看到墙上贴着猪皮的那个房间。这些皮已经被拉下来了,并且被撕碎了。阳台上那些绿色植物凌乱地在倒下的屋梁间悬着。现在人们要把这块地方扫清。

“这才好啦!”周围的房子说。

一幢漂亮的新房子建立起来了;它有宽大的窗子和平整的白墙。不过那座老房子原来所在的地方恰恰成了一个小花园。邻近的墙上长满了野生的葡萄藤。花园前面有一道铁栏杆和一个铁门。它们的样子很庄严。行人在它们面前停下步子,朝里面望。

麻雀成群地栖在葡萄藤上,叽叽喳喳地互相叫着。不过它们不是谈着关于那幢老房子的事情,因为它们记不清那些事。许多年已经过去了,那个小孩子已经长大成人,长成了一个像他父母所期望的有能力的人。他刚结婚不久。他要同他的妻子搬进这幢有小花园的房子里来。当她正在栽一棵她认为很美丽的野花的时候,他站在她的身边。她用小巧的手栽着花,用指头在花周围紧按上些泥土。

“噢!这是什么?”她觉得有件什么东西刺着了她。

有一件尖东西在柔软的泥土里冒出来了。想想看吧!这就是那个锡兵——在那个老人房间里跑掉的锡兵。他曾经在烂木头和垃圾里混了很久,最后又在土里睡了许多年。

年轻的妻子先用一片绿叶子、然后又用她美丽的、喷香的手帕把锡兵擦干净。锡兵好像是从昏睡中恢复了知觉。

“让我瞧瞧他吧!”年轻人说。于是他笑起来,摇着头。

“啊!这不可能就是他,但是他使我记起了我小时候跟一个锡兵的一段故事!”

于是他就对他的妻子讲了关于那座老房子、那个老人和锡兵的故事。他把锡兵送给了老人,因为他是那么孤独。他讲得那么仔细,好像是真事一样。年轻的妻子不禁为那座老房子和那个老人流出泪来。

“这也许就是那个锡兵!”她说。“让我把他保存起来,以便记住你所告诉我的这些事情。但是你得把那个老人的坟指给我看!”

“我不知道它在什么地方呀,”他说,“谁也不知道它!他所有的朋友都死了;没有谁去照料它,而我自己那时还不过是一个小孩了!”

“那么他一定是一个非常孤独的人了!”她说。

“是的,可怕地孤独!”锡兵说,“不过他居然没有被人忘记掉,倒也真使人高兴!”

“高兴!”旁边一个声音喊。但是除了锡兵以外,谁也看不出这就是过去贴在墙上的一块猪皮。它上面的镀金已经全没有了。它的样子很像潮湿的泥土,但它还是有它的意见。它说:

镀金消失得很快,

但猪皮永远不坏!

不过锡兵不相信这套理论。

①古时欧洲的绅士和富有的人常常戴着假发,以掩住秃顶,同时也借此显得尊严一些。

②锡兵,这里是指用镀锡铁皮做成的玩具兵。

老房子的故事寓意

这个童话故事告诉我们:百善孝为先,事业很重要,但家庭更重要, 当你对家里的老人的喋喋不休感到烦扰时,请记住那是因为他们爱你,他们只是想和自己的子女在一起,老人们最怕的不是疾病,而是孤独;最想要的不是锦衣玉食,而是一家的温暖。

老房子英文版:The Old House

AVERY old house stood once in a street with several that were quite new and clean. The date of its erection had been carved on one of the beams, and surrounded by scrolls formed of tulips and hop-tendrils; by this date it could be seen that the old house was nearly three hundred years old. Verses too were written over the windows in old-fashioned letters, and grotesque faces, curiously carved, grinned at you from under the cornices. One story projected a long way over the other, and under the roof ran a leaden gutter, with a dragon’s head at the end. The rain was intended to pour out at the dragon’s mouth, but it ran out of his body instead, for there was a hole in the gutter. The other houses in the street were new and well built, with large window panes and smooth walls. Any one could see they had nothing to do with the old house. Perhaps they thought, “How long will that heap of rubbish remain here to be a disgrace to the whole street. The parapet projects so far forward that no one can see out of our windows what is going on in that direction. The stairs are as broad as the staircase of a castle, and as steep as if they led to a church-tower. The iron railing looks like the gate of a cemetery, and there are brass knobs upon it. It is really too ridiculous.”

Opposite to the old house were more nice new houses, which had just the same opinion as their neighbors.

At the window of one of them sat a little boy with fresh rosy cheeks, and clear sparkling eyes, who was very fond of the old house, in sunshine or in moonlight. He would sit and look at the wall from which the plaster had in some places fallen off, and fancy all sorts of scenes which had been in former times. How the street must have looked when the houses had all gable roofs, open staircases, and gutters with dragons at the spout. He could even see soldiers walking about with halberds. Certainly it was a very good house to look at for amusement.

An old man lived in it, who wore knee-breeches, a coat with large brass buttons, and a wig, which any one could see was a real wig. Every morning an old man came to clean the rooms, and to wait upon him, otherwise the old man in the knee-breeches would have been quite alone in the house. Sometimes he came to one of the windows and looked out; then the little boy nodded to him, and the old man nodded back again, till they became acquainted, and were friends, although they had never spoken to each other; but that was of no consequence.

The little boy one day heard his parents say, “The old man opposite is very well off, but is terribly lonely.” The next Sunday morning the little boy wrapped something in a piece of paper and took it to the door of the old house, and said to the attendant who waited upon the old man, “Will you please give this from me to the gentleman who lives here; I have two tin soldiers, and this is one of them, and he shall have it, because I know he is terribly lonely.”

And the old attendant nodded and looked very pleased, and then he carried the tin soldier into the house.

Afterwards he was sent over to ask the little boy if he would not like to pay a visit himself. His parents gave him permission, and so it was that he gained admission to the old house.

The brassy knobs on the railings shone more brightly than ever, as if they had been polished on account of his visit; and on the door were carved trumpeters standing in tulips, and it seemed as if they were blowing with all their might, their cheeks were so puffed out. “Tanta-ra-ra, the little boy is coming; Tanta-ra-ra, the little boy is coming.”

Then the door opened. All round the hall hung old portraits of knights in armor, and ladies in silk gowns; and the armor rattled, and the silk dresses rustled. Then came a staircase which went up a long way, and then came down a little way and led to a balcony, which was in a very ruinous state. There were large holes and long cracks, out of which grew grass and leaves, indeed the whole balcony, the courtyard, and the walls were so overgrown with green that they looked like a garden. In the balcony stood flower-pots, on which were heads having asses’ ears, but the flowers in them grew just as they pleased. In one pot pinks were growing all over the sides, at least the green leaves were shooting forth stalk and stem, and saying as plainly as they could speak, “The air has fanned me, the sun has kissed me, and I am promised a little flower for next Sunday—really for next Sunday.”

Then they entered a room in which the walls were covered with leather, and the leather had golden flowers stamped upon it.

“Gilding will fade in damp weather,

To endure, there is nothing like leather,”

said the walls. Chairs handsomely carved, with elbows on each side, and with very high backs, stood in the room, and as they creaked they seemed to say, “Sit down. Oh dear, how I am creaking. I shall certainly have the gout like the old cupboard. Gout in my back, ugh.”

And then the little boy entered the room where the old man sat.

“Thank you for the tin soldier my little friend,” said the old man, “and thank you also for coming to see me.”

“Thanks, thanks,” or “Creak, creak,” said all the furniture.

There was so much that the pieces of furniture stood in each other’s way to get a sight of the little boy.

On the wall near the centre of the room hung the picture of a beautiful lady, young and gay, dressed in the fashion of the olden times, with powdered hair, and a full, stiff skirt. She said neither “thanks” nor “creak,” but she looked down upon the little boy with her mild eyes; and then he said to the old man,

“Where did you get that picture?”

“From the shop opposite,” he replied. “Many portraits hang there that none seem to trouble themselves about. The persons they represent have been dead and buried long since. But I knew this lady many years ago, and she has been dead nearly half a century.”

Under a glass beneath the picture hung a nosegay of withered flowers, which were no doubt half a century old too, at least they appeared so.

And the pendulum of the old clock went to and fro, and the hands turned round; and as time passed on, everything in the room grew older, but no one seemed to notice it.

“They say at home,” said the little boy, “that you are very lonely.”

“Oh,” replied the old man, “I have pleasant thoughts of all that has passed, recalled by memory; and now you are come to visit me, and that is very pleasant.”

Then he took from the book-case, a book full of pictures representing long processions of wonderful coaches, such as are never seen at the present time. Soldiers like the knave of clubs, and citizens with waving banners. The tailors had a flag with a pair of scissors supported by two lions, and on the shoemakers’ flag there were not boots, but an eagle with two heads, for the shoemakers must have everything arranged so that they can say, “This is a pair.” What a picture-book it was; and then the old man went into another room to fetch apples and nuts. It was very pleasant, certainly, to be in that old house.

“I cannot endure it,” said the tin soldier, who stood on a shelf, “it is so lonely and dull here. I have been accustomed to live in a family, and I cannot get used to this life. I cannot bear it. The whole day is long enough, but the evening is longer. It is not here like it was in your house opposite, when your father and mother talked so cheerfully together, while you and all the dear children made such a delightful noise. No, it is all lonely in the old man’s house. Do you think he gets any kisses? Do you think he ever has friendly looks, or a Christmas tree? He will have nothing now but the grave. Oh, I cannot bear it.”

“You must not look only on the sorrowful side,” said the little boy; “I think everything in this house is beautiful, and all the old pleasant thoughts come back here to pay visits.”

“Ah, but I never see any, and I don’t know them,” said the tin soldier, “and I cannot bear it.”

“You must bear it,” said the little boy. Then the old man came back with a pleasant face; and brought with him beautiful preserved fruits, as well as apples and nuts; and the little boy thought no more of the tin soldier. How happy and delighted the little boy was; and after he returned home, and while days and weeks passed, a great deal of nodding took place from one house to the other, and then the little boy went to pay another visit. The carved trumpeters blew “Tanta-ra-ra. There is the little boy. Tanta-ra-ra.” The swords and armor on the old knight’s pictures rattled. The silk dresses rustled, the leather repeated its rhyme, and the old chairs had the gout in their backs, and cried, “Creak;” it was all exactly like the first time; for in that house, one day and one hour were just like another. “I cannot bear it any longer,” said the tin soldier; “I have wept tears of tin, it is so melancholy here. Let me go to the wars, and lose an arm or a leg, that would be some change; I cannot bear it. Now I know what it is to have visits from one’s old recollections, and all they bring with them. I have had visits from mine, and you may believe me it is not altogether pleasant. I was very nearly jumping from the shelf. I saw you all in your house opposite, as if you were really present. It was Sunday morning, and you children stood round the table, singing the hymn that you sing every morning. You were standing quietly, with your hands folded, and your father and mother. You were standing quietly, with your hands folded, and your father and mother were looking just as serious, when the door opened, and your little sister Maria, who is not two years old, was brought into the room. You know she always dances when she hears music and singing of any sort; so she began to dance immediately, although she ought not to have done so, but she could not get into the right time because the tune was so slow; so she stood first on one leg and then on the other, and bent her head very low, but it would not suit the music. You all stood looking very grave, although it was very difficult to do so, but I laughed so to myself that I fell down from the table, and got a bruise, which is there still; I know it was not right to laugh. So all this, and everything else that I have seen, keeps running in my head, and these must be the old recollections that bring so many thoughts with them. Tell me whether you still sing on Sundays, and tell me about your little sister Maria, and how my old comrade is, the other tin soldier. Ah, really he must be very happy; I cannot endure this life.”

“You are given away,” said the little boy; “you must stay. Don’t you see that?” Then the old man came in, with a box containing many curious things to show him. Rouge-pots, scent-boxes, and old cards, so large and so richly gilded, that none are ever seen like them in these days. And there were smaller boxes to look at, and the piano was opened, and inside the lid were painted landscapes. But when the old man played, the piano sounded quite out of tune. Then he looked at the picture he had bought at the broker’s, and his eyes sparkled brightly as he nodded at it, and said, “Ah, she could sing that tune.”

“I will go to the wars! I will go to the wars!” cried the tin soldier as loud as he could, and threw himself down on the floor. Where could he have fallen? The old man searched, and the little boy searched, but he was gone, and could not be found. “I shall find him again,” said the old man, but he did not find him. The boards of the floor were open and full of holes. The tin soldier had fallen through a crack between the boards, and lay there now in an open grave. The day went by, and the little boy returned home; the week passed, and many more weeks. It was winter, and the windows were quite frozen, so the little boy was obliged to breathe on the panes, and rub a hole to peep through at the old house. Snow drifts were lying in all the scrolls and on the inscriptions, and the steps were covered with snow as if no one were at home. And indeed nobody was home, for the old man was dead. In the evening, a hearse stopped at the door, and the old man in his coffin was placed in it. He was to be taken to the country to be buried there in his own grave; so they carried him away; no one followed him, for all his friends were dead; and the little boy kissed his hand to the coffin as the hearse moved away with it. A few days after, there was an auction at the old house, and from his window the little boy saw the people carrying away the pictures of old knights and ladies, the flower-pots with the long ears, the old chairs, and the cup-boards. Some were taken one way, some another. Her portrait, which had been bought at the picture dealer’s, went back again to his shop, and there it remained, for no one seemed to know her, or to care for the old picture. In the spring; they began to pull the house itself down; people called it complete rubbish. From the street could be seen the room in which the walls were covered with leather, ragged and torn, and the green in the balcony hung straggling over the beams; they pulled it down quickly, for it looked ready to fall, and at last it was cleared away altogether. “What a good riddance,” said the neighbors’ houses. Very shortly, a fine new house was built farther back from the road; it had lofty windows and smooth walls, but in front, on the spot where the old house really stood, a little garden was planted, and wild vines grew up over the neighboring walls; in front of the garden were large iron railings and a great gate, which looked very stately. People used to stop and peep through the railings. The sparrows assembled in dozens upon the wild vines, and chattered all together as loud as they could, but not about the old house; none of them could remember it, for many years had passed by, so many indeed, that the little boy was now a man, and a really good man too, and his parents were very proud of him. He was just married, and had come, with his young wife, to reside in the new house with the garden in front of it, and now he stood there by her side while she planted a field flower that she thought very pretty. She was planting it herself with her little hands, and pressing down the earth with her fingers. “Oh dear, what was that?” she exclaimed, as something pricked her. Out of the soft earth something was sticking up. It was—only think!—it was really the tin soldier, the very same which had been lost up in the old man’s room, and had been hidden among old wood and rubbish for a long time, till it sunk into the earth, where it must have been for many years. And the young wife wiped the soldier, first with a green leaf, and then with her fine pocket-handkerchief, that smelt of such beautiful perfume. And the tin soldier felt as if he was recovering from a fainting fit. “Let me see him,” said the young man, and then he smiled and shook his head, and said, “It can scarcely be the same, but it reminds me of something that happened to one of my tin soldiers 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 which he had sent across, because he thought the old man was lonely; and he related the story so clearly that tears came into the eyes of the young wife for the old house and the old man. “It is very likely that this is really the same soldier,” said she, and I will take care of him, and always remember what you have told me; but some day you must show me the old man’s grave.”

“I don’t know where it is,” he replied; “no one knows. All his friends are dead; no one took care of him, and I was only a little boy.”

“Oh, how dreadfully lonely he must have been,” said she.

“Yes, terribly lonely,” cried the tin soldier; “still it is delightful not to be forgotten.”

“Delightful indeed,” cried a voice quite near to them; no one but the tin soldier saw that it came from a rag of the leather which hung in tatters; it had lost all its gilding, and looked like wet earth, but it had an opinion, and it spoke it thus:—

“Gilding will fade in damp weather,

To endure, there is nothing like leather.”

But the tin soldier did not believe any such thing.

文章来源:安徒生童话

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