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leisure/['leʒə; 'li:ʒə]/ n. 空闲, 闲暇, 悠闲 a. 空闲的, 有闲的...

3 The Little Match-Girl(卖火柴的小女孩) Darlene Lee

The Little Match Girl

It was so dreadfully cold. It was snowing and the evening was beginning to darken. It was the last evening of the year, too—New Year’s Eve. Through the cold and dark, a poor little girl with bare head and naked feet was wandering along the road. She had indeed had a pair of slippers on when she left home. But what was the good of that? They were very big slippers. Her mother had worn them last. They were so big and the little child had lost them, hurrying across the road as two carts rattled dangerously past. One slipper could not be found and a boy ran off with the other. He said he could use it as a cradle when he had children of his own. So the little girl wandered along with her naked little feet, red and blue with cold. She was carrying a great pile of matches in an old apron. And she held one bundle in her hand as she walked. No one had bought a thing from her the whole day. No one had given her a half penny. Hungry and frozen, she went her way, looking so [worn-down]. Poor little thing!

The snowflakes fell upon her long, fair hair. They curled so prettily about the nape of her neck. But she suddenly wasn’t thinking of how nice she looked. Lights were shinning from all the windows, and there was a lovely smell of roast goose all down the street, for it was indeed New Year’s Eve. Yes, and that’s was what she was thinking about.

Over in a corner between two houses where one jutted a little farther out into the street than the other, she sat down and huddled together. She had drawn her little legs up under her. But she felt more frozen than ever, and she dared not go home for she had sold no matches and hadn’t got a single penny, and her father would beat her. Besides, it was cold at home, too. There was only the roof over them and the wind whistled in although the biggest cracks had been stopped up with straw and rags.

Her little hands were almost dead with cold. Ah, a little match might do some good. If she only dared pull one out of the bundle, strike it on the wall and warm her fingers. She drew one out. Woosh! How it spluttered! How it burned! It gave a warm, bright flame, just like a little candle when she held her hand round it. It was a wonderful light. The little girl thought she was sitting in front of a great iron stove with polished brass knobs and fittings. The fire was burning so cheerfully and its warmth was so comforting. Oh, what was that? The little girl had just stretched her feet out to warm them, too, when the fire went out. The stove disappeared, and she was sitting there with a little stump of burnt-out match in her hand. Another match was struck. It burned and flared, and while the light fell upon it, the wall became transparent like gauze. She could see right into the room, where the table stood covered with a shiny white cloth and set with fine china. And there was a roast goose, stuffed with plums and apples, steaming deliciously. But what was more gorgeous still, the goose jumped off the dish, waddled across the floor with knife and fork in its back, and went straight over to the poor girl. Then the match went out, and there was nothing to see but the thick, cold wall. She struck yet another, and then she was sitting beneath a lovely Christmas tree. It was even bigger and more beautifully decorated than the one she had seen in the last Christmas through the glass doors of the wealthy grocer’s shop. Thousands of candles were burning on its green branches, and the shop windows were looking down at her. The little girl stretched out both her hands, and then the match went out. The multitude of Christmas candles rose higher and higher, and now she saw they were the bright stars. One of them fell and made a long streak of fire across the sky. “Someone is now dying,” said the little girl. For her old Granny who was the only one that had been kind to her but who was now dead, had said that when a star falls, a soul goes up to God. Once more, she struck a match on the wall. It lit up the darkness round about her, and in its radiance stood old Granny, so bright and shinning, so wonderfully kind. “Granny,” cried the little girl. “Oh, take me with you. I know you’ll go away when the match goes out. You’ll go away just like the warm stove and the lovely roast goose and the wonderful big Christmas tree.” And she hastily struck all the rest of the matches in the bundle, for she wanted to keep her Granny there. And the matches shone with such brilliance that it was brighter than daylight. Granny had never before been so tall and beautiful. She lifted the little girl up on her arm and they flew away in splendor and joy. High, high up towards heaven, and there was no more cold and no more hunger and no more fear. They were with God. But in the corner by the house, in the cold of the early morning, the little girl sat with red cheeks and smile upon her lips, dead, frozen to death on the last evening of the Old Year.

The morning of the New Year, rose over the little dead body, sitting there with her matches, one bundle nearly all burnt out. “She wanted to keep herself warm,” they said, but no one knew what beautiful things she had seen, nor in what radiance she had gone with her old Granny into the joy of the New Year.
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