The Little Match Girl
Artwork: Ellr, ArtStreet
In the midst of a frigid and dark evening, on the last day of the year, a destitute little girl wandered bareheaded through the snow-covered streets, her feet bare and vulnerable. Initially clad in slippers that were too large, she lost them while darting across the road, one stolen by a passing boy with the promise of turning it into a cradle for his future children.
Undeterred by the biting cold, the girl continued her journey, her only possessions a worn apron containing bundles of unsold matches and another bundle clutched in her hands. No one had purchased her matches throughout the day, and she hadn't earned a single penny.
Shivering from cold and hunger, the little girl, a portrait of misery, pressed on. As snowflakes adorned her flaxen hair, she paid no heed to her own beauty. Amid the darkness, the scent of roasting goose permeated the air, signaling the arrival of New Year's Eve. Her thoughts lingered on the savory aroma, and she sought refuge in a corner created by two houses.
Huddled against the cold, she had tucked her feet under her, yet the chill persisted. Fearful of returning home empty-handed, she pressed on, knowing her father's wrath awaited her. The dilapidated roof over their heads provided little protection from the biting wind.
With her little hands nearly frozen, she clutched a bundle of matches, hoping a single one could provide some warmth. She carefully drew one out and, with a swift rub against the wall, ignited a flame. The warmth, akin to a little candle, comforted her frozen fingers. In the glow, she imagined a great iron stove with polished brass feet, a comforting vision that soon faded as the match burned out.
Undeterred, she lit another match, and the light unveiled a scene of a sumptuous Christmas feast. A roast goose, adorned with apples and prunes, sent forth a tantalizing aroma. In a mesmerizing moment, the goose, with knife and fork still in its breast, waddled towards her. But as the match extinguished, the warmth and vision vanished.
Despite the temporary reprieve, she struck another match, revealing a vision of a splendid Christmas tree adorned with hundreds of wax tapers. Figures resembling those in shop windows adorned the tree. The child reached out to them, but the match flickered out, leaving only the twinkling lights as stars in the sky.
As one star fell, the girl softly murmured, recalling her grandmother's words that a falling star represented a soul ascending to God. Desiring to see her grandmother, she struck another match, revealing a radiant vision of her dear grandmother, grander and more beautiful than ever before.
Overwhelmed with joy, the child pleaded to join her grandmother. Fearing her grandmother's disappearance, she hurriedly struck the entire bundle of matches against the wall, creating a brilliant light brighter than noon. In that radiant glow, her grandmother appeared, taking the little girl in her arms. Together, they ascended joyously, leaving behind hunger, cold, and care.
At dawn, in the corner of a cold street, sat the lifeless form of the little girl, a smile on her face, having frozen to death on the last evening of the old year. People commented on her attempt to warm herself, unaware of the sweet visions and the glorious journey she had embarked upon with her beloved grandmother into the joys of a new year.
Source: The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen