THE STEADFAST TIN-SOLDIER 311
Suddenly there came along a great water-rat that lived in the tunnel.
' Have you a passport ? ' asked the rat. ' Out with your pass≠port !'
But the Tin-soldier was silent, and grasped his gun more firmly.
The boat sped on, and the rat behind it. Ugh ! how he showed his teeth, as he cried to the chips of wood and straw : ' Hold him, hold him ! he has not paid the toll! He has not shown his pass≠port !'
But the current became swifter and stronger. The Tin-soldier could already see daylight where the tunnel ended; but in his ears there sounded a roaring enough to frighten any brave man. Only think! at the end of the tunnel the gutter discharged itself into a great canal; that would be just as dangerous for him as it would be for us to go down a waterfall.
Now he was so near to it that he could not hold on any longer. On went the boat, the poor Tin-soldier keeping himself as stiff as he could : no one should say of him afterwards that he had flinched. The boat whirled three, four times round, and became filled to the brim with water: it began to sink ! The Tin-soldier was stand≠ing up to his neck in water, and deeper and deeper sank the boat, and softer and softer grew the paper; now the water was over his head. He was thinking of the pretty little Dancer, whose face ho should never see again, and there sounded in his ears, over and over again:
' Forward, forward, soldier bold !
Death's before thee, grim and cold ! '
The paper came in two, and the soldier fellóbut at that moment he was swallowed by a great fish.
Oh ! how dark it was inside, even darker than in the tunnel, and it was really very close quarters! But there the steadfast little Tin-soldier lay full length, shouldering his gun.
Up and down swam the fish, then he made the most dreadful contortions, and became suddenly quite still. Then it was as if a flash of lightning had passed through him; the daylight streamed in, and a voice exclaimed, 'Why, here is the little Tin-soldier!' The fish had been caught, taken to market, sold, and brought into the kitchen, where the cook had cut it open with a groat knife. She took up the soldier between her finger and thumb, and carried him
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