Friday, December 30, 2011

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

No one even looked at the scared little boy. The people from next door raced around examining things. The rough, loud wife liked the well kept kitchen. (she did give the boy a plate or two of hot food when his mama and papa first died). Her eldest son liked his spot in the second bedroom. The younger ones (there were two of them) would make do with cots in the kitchen. The husband and the landlord huddled in a corner 'discussing' things. And the lonely, little orphan sat down on a stool and waited. Max climbed up on his lap to keep him warm.

Then he heard a shout. The landlord yelled - You, boy! Come over here!...........He gently put Max down on the floor and walked over...... The landlord said - Get your things and clear out. These fine people will live here now.......... The little boy did not know what to say. He didn't know what to do. So he just dug into his pocket fished out the silver coins and offered them up........... The husband from next door stared down at the money. Then he looked at the little boy. How he wanted to grab those coins. But the landlord was there, so he just looked...........A few heartbeats later, the landlord said - What's this? Are you trying to tempt me?....And he laughed. The sly, sneaky husband from  next door laughed too. Then he said - I'm paying three times that! What cheek the little rat-a-kin has!............ And a bargain too! - said the landlord. Five minutes, boy and then it's all mine!!

So the little boy swerved past the evil men and ran upstairs. He did not have much, maybe a sweater, some socks, a change of under things or two. The pillow case made a handy sack. At first the eldest boy from next door tried to stop him from taking it, but when he saw the determined tears in the little boy's eyes he stepped back. Three minutes later it was over. He was out on the street. The door was locked and he was all alone. A few familiar faces peered out from behind closed curtains, but no one offered any help. It cost money to feed a child and he was so small. What could he possibly do in return? God would help him. That's what some of the 'nice' ones thought. The not so nice ones didn't think anything at all. And a few contemplated selling him  to a band of traveling tinkers.  Other children walked the streets alone. He would just be one more of them. Fortunately he had a few pieces of almond toast. The landlord did allow him to go back into the kitchen. But he stood there and watched, yelling - No spoons! No pots! No napkins!..... So the little boy had to leave without them. He almost forgot his new picture book, but  at the  last moment he remembered it and took it off the sofa while the two men were talking. And now he sat down on a curb. He was too shocked to cry. So he silently watched a brown, dead leaf float back and forth on a dirty puddle. Max jumped up and licked his face.

Prague is a very big place. The kings of old Bohemia once held court there. Good King Wensislaus Went Out On the Feast of Stephen..... Well, where do you think he went out from?.....Prague, he went out from right here. Indeed, the cathedral of Saint Stephen still towered above the city. Such a busy place it was, maybe the second or third greatest municipality in the whole Austro-Hungarian Empire. But the little boy did not know that. So he walked the cobbled streets searching for a place to hide from the cold, damp wind.. And the tiny puppy went with him....


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