THE OLD HOUSE
withered flowers ; they were certainly also half a century old—at least they looked it; and the pendulum of the great clock went to and fro, and the hands turned round, and everything in the room grew older still, but no one noticed it.
1 They say at home,' said the little boy, ' that you are always terribly solitary.'
6 Oh,' answered the old man, ' old thoughts come, with all that they bring, to visit me ; and now you come as well, I'm very well off.'
And then he took from a shelf a book with pictures : there were long processions of wonderful coaches, such as one never sees at the present day, soldiers like the knave of clubs, and citizens with waving flags. The tailors had a flag with shears on it held by two lions, and the shoemakers a flag, without boots, but with an eagle that had two heads ; for among the shoemakers everything must be so arranged that they can say, * There 's a pair.' Yes, that was a picture-book ! And the old man went into the other room, to fetch preserves, and apples, and nuts. It was really glorious in that old house.
41 can't stand it,' said the Tin Soldier, who stood upon the shelf. * It is terribly lonely and dull here. When a person has been accustomed to family life, one cannot get accustomed to their existence here. I cannot stand it! The day is long enough, but the evening is longer still! Here it is not at all as it was in your house opposite, where your father and mother were always conversing cheerfully together, and you and all the other dear children made a famous noise. How solitary it is here at the old man's ! Do you think he gets any kisses ? Do you think he gets friendly looks, or a Christmas tree ? He'll get nothing but a funeral ! I cannot stand it!'
1 You must not look at it from the sorrowful side,' said the little boy. ' To me it all appears remarkably pretty, and all the old thoughts, with all they bring with them, come to visit here.'
' Yes, but I don't see them, and don't know them,' objected the Tin Soldier. ' I can't bear it !'
' You must bear it,' said the little boy.
And the old man came with the pleasantest face and