The Brave Tin Soldier
The Brave Tin Soldier
Once upon a time there was a little tin soldier made from an old spoon. He was one of twenty-five soldiers made from the same tin spoon. They all stood straight and wore decorated uniforms of red and blue. They were all exactly alike, except for one who had only one leg. He had been the last one made and there had not been enough tin to finish him.
The little boy who was given the twenty-five soldiers loved his one-legged tin soldier best of all. On the table where the boy played with his tin soldiers was a small black puzzle box, and a beautiful white-paper ballerina who held a red rose made of tinsel and glitter in her hands. Her dress was made from a fine silk handkerchief.
As soon as the tin soldier glimpsed her across the table, he fell in love. “She stands as straight and true as a soldier. I would give anything in the world to be with her.”
Just then, a little mischief-making goblin, who lived in the black puzzle box, popped out and said, “Tin Soldier, stop wishing for things you cannot have.”
The tin soldier ignored the goblin. He was fascinated by the ballerina, who stood high on one tiptoe, with her other leg stretched out. They both stood on one leg, so they had that in common, the tin soldier thought to himself.
The goblin was jealous of the attention that the tin soldier was giving to the ballerina, so he pushed the tin soldier off the table and out the window!
The little tin soldier fell to the ground, where he was found by two little boys.
“Look, there's a tin soldier!” said one boy.
“Let's put him in a boat,” said the other boy.
So they built a small boat and set the tin soldier afloat. Down the tiny stream he floated, standing straight and still.
At the entrance to the sewer stood a rat.
“Halt! Who goes there?” demanded the rat.
The tin soldier said nothing and floated past the ranting rat into the dark sewer where he swirled around in the darkness and floated out into the great river.
It wasn't long before a fish in the river saw the glint from the soldier's red coat and snapped him up in one bite. A moment later, the fish found itself caught in a net and hauled ashore.
“This is all the goblin's fault,” thought the tin soldier. “If only the ballerina were here with me, I wouldn't mind being caught in this fish's belly.”
Just then, there was a poke of a knife, and the fish's belly was slit open wide.
“Why look!” said the boy's mother, “Here is the lost tin soldier!” The fish had been caught and taken to market, and sold to the family of the very boy who owned the tin soldier.
The mother cleaned the soldier and put him back on the table where all of his brothers welcomed him home with quiet salutes.
The tin soldier was pleased to be back at last in full sight of the ballerina whom he loved.
Perhaps it was the goblin's curse, or perhaps it was just a mistake, but at that moment the boy ran into the room in a rage. He was angry because he had been unable to find his favorite toy, a special set of colorful marbles.
He picked up the tin soldier, which was the first thing he saw, and threw him into the fireplace.
The tin soldier felt the heat of the flames melting first his hat and then his gun. His legs were turning as red as his coat, and soon he knew he would be melted and gone.
Suddenly, though, the door to the room flew open, and a gust of wind caught the little ballerina. She flew into the air, and landed in the fire right next to the tin soldier. For a moment they stood beside each other, engulfed in bright flames.
In the next instant the ballerina caught on fire, and was gone. The tin soldier melted down into a little tin lump.
The next morning, there was nothing left of the little tin soldier but a tiny tin lump, shaped like a heart. Of the little dancer, nothing was left but her tinsel-and-glitter rose.