388 THE OLD HOUSE
and brother Tin Soldier ? Yes, he must be very happy, I can't stand it !'
■ You have been given away,' said the little boy. ' You must stay where you are. Don't you see that ? '
And the old man came with a box in which many things were to be seen : little rouge-pots and scent-boxes ; and old cards, larger and more richly gilt than one ever sees them in these days ; and many large drawers were opened, likewise the piano ; and in this were painted landscapes, inside the lid. But the piano was quite hoarse when the old man played upon it, and then he hummed a song. ' Yes, she could sing that,' he said, and then he nodded to the picture that he had bought at the dealer's, and the old man's eyes shone quite brightly.
' I'll go to the war ! I'll go to the war ! ' cried the Tin Soldier, as loud as he could; and he threw himself down on the floor.
Where had he gone ? The old man searched, the little boy searched, but he was gone, and could not be found.
' I shall find him,' said the old man.
But he never found him : the flooring was so open and full of holes, that the Tin Soldier had fallen through a crack, and there he lay as in an open grave.
And the day passed away, and the little boy went home ; and the week passed by, and many weeks passed by. The windows were quite frozen up, and the little boy had to sit and breathe upon the panes, to make a peep-hole to look at the old house ; and snow had blown among all the carving and the inscriptions, and covered the whole staircase, as if no one were in the house at all. And, indeed, there was no one in the house, for the old man had died !
In the evening a carriage stopped at the door, and in that he was laid, in his coffin ; he was to rest in a family vault in the country. So he was carried away; but no one followed him on his last journej^, for all his friends were dead. And the little boy kissed his hand after the coffin as it rolled away.
A few days later, and there was an auction in the old house ; and the little boy saw from his window how the old knights and ladies, the flower-pots with the long ears, the chairs and the cupboards, were carried awav,. One was