Tuesday, January 10, 2012

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

A man stepped down from the Gypsy caravan, but whether he was truly Romani, or 'Cikan,' as they say in these parts is open to interpretation. Others have adopted the 'traveler' ways. He could be just about anything. He held a steaming chamber pot out before him. And without even looking at the boys, heaved it's sloshing contents onto the snow. A few viscous drops almost hit them. 

The man wore high leather boots and full Magyar trousers. He had a long, flowing mustache and a jaunty, little Tyrolian hat with a feather. His skin was mottled and dark from the road and he reeked from wine and tobacco. His shrewd, appraising eyes took in the scene....... Nice dog. - he said.......At least he spoke Czech. The boys simply starred and said nothing, as the man jumped down from the first wooden step and proceeded to wash his piss pot in the snow. Then he turned to his young audience and said - So... who wants to get warm?......... Still, they said nothing. Even Napoleon was quiet. The woman inside rapidly cackled something in a high pitched, grating whine.  And although he didn't respond, the man still took in what she said....... There's a little coal pot inside...a little oven. See the smoke from the pipe? It's nice in there. Come. Sit down. Have a bit of soup.... I insist. - he crooned...... The new boy looked to the little match boy. The match boy just shrugged. He was frightened. He did not know what to do.  Everyone feared the Gypsies. Babicki scared children with stories of mysterious abductions. So he held tight to the dog and looked down at the snow. But his new friend piped right up and said - Yes, sure. I'll come in. I'll have some soup!......... Splendid! - said the colorful traveler, as he stole a quick glance into the wagon. The new friend quickly whispered to the match boy - I'll go first. If it's all right, I'll get you........ The little match boy, still staring down at the crusty snow, just nodded. And an instant later the new  boy jumped up and scrambled into the tiny, movable house. The man with the flowing mustache clapped him on the shoulder as he passed. Then he muttered something toward the innocent six year old on the ground, before climbing inside and slamming the door. 

Nine heartbeats later, someone up front (the match boy could not see) cracked a whip and the magic cottage was off, racing over the icy streets on slick, long, curving runners. And it was only after they rounded the corner and passed from sight that the match boy realized his things were inside. All he had was in the canvas sack. And the canvas sack was gone. So he huddled against the dog and ate a bit of snow. 

They stayed like that for hours. Two homeless young ones beneath a leaden sky. 

And then, sometime in the afternoon, a gendarme approached. So they both got up and quickly ran away.



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1 comment:

Jon Snow said...

Man, this kid CAN'T catch a break!

Don't take candy (or soup) from a stranger, indeed . . .