Wednesday, December 28, 2011

THE LITTLE MATCH BOY ~~~~ a re-telling of H.C. Andersen's poignant tale part V

The little orphan boy and his puppy had a good dinner. He knew how to build a small fire in the black stove. True, he did get scared every time he had to strike the match. He'd pump some water into a pail, not too much, or he would not be able to lift it out of the sink. But just enough to splash out a fire. Max thought it was for him. He always tried to drink it, but the sides of the pail were too high for such a little puppy. So after a while he'd curl up on the floor, waiting for whatever they had to finish cooking. And believe me, most nights it was not much. Yet this time it was different. The boy used a bit of the money he got from the sale of his mother's fine new coat to buy some sausages. How nice they smelled sizzling in the pan. The boy knew how to cook sausages. Mama taught him, although she always stayed right by. It made him feel so big. But now he wished he did not feel so big. Now he wanted his mama. And he wanted his papa too.

When all the cooking was over, he took his bowl and went back into the sitting room. Mama did not approve of eating in there. But he liked to sit on the sofa right by the fire. He knew  how to keep it going. They had wood in the back, right through the kitchen door. There wasn't much left, so he did not use much. Sometimes the older boy from the house next door, hopped over the fence to steal some. But the little orphan never said anything. He was afraid. Only right now, he was not afraid. He smiled, as he watched Max dive into his little bowl of sausage and potatoes. Puppies love good dinners. So do little boys. When both bowls were wiped clean, he took them back into the kitchen and washed them in the sink. Papa once made a strong, little stool, just for him. He needed it to reach the sink and when he pushed it over, he used it to reach the big glass jars on the wide varnished shelf. That's where the almond bread was. One piece for him and one for Max. Then he washed it down with a drink of water and curled up on the sofa to look at his picture book.Were there crumbs on the sofa? Were there grease marks? No, there were not. The little orphan boy was very neat. Max jumped up to sit next to him. They snuggled into the quilts together. The orange glow flickering out from the hearth made the cozy, narrow house feel like a robber's cave. If he was alone, he might have been frightened, but Max was with him, so he was not. Besides, the people next door were very noisy and he always heard the papa stomp and yell. Just who it was he was slapping was difficult to tell, because they all cried exactly the same way. You could tell they were related.

He opened the book. The pages were clean and new. The colors were very bright. Mama and Papa used to read to him. He could read some of the words himself. If there was a word he did not know, the picture always gave him a clue. But he pretended they were there with him now, one on each side. The arm of the sofa was Mama. Max played the part of his Papa. Pirates sailed 'cross the first illustration. He could see them up in the rigging. He could see them running across the deck. Each page held new delights. A battle with the Turks. A unicorn plucked from a circus. A monkey does a dance, as the king gives every pirate a hat. And that was only the first tale. But he soon fell asleep, safe under the quilts. The fire burned down to a few glowing embers. But it would not go out, for the fire loved the little boy and would never leave him in the dark. The curtains were drawn. The door was bolted shut. The narrow, cozy house settled down for the night, as the souls of his parents watched him sleep.

The next day, the landlord came.

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