THE OLD HOUSE 389
taken here, and another there : her portrait, that had been bought from the dealer, went back into his shop, and there it was hung, for no one cared for the old picture.
In the spring the house itself was pulled down, for the people said it was old rubbish. One could look from the street straight into the room with the leather wall-covering, which was taken down, ragged and torn ; and the green of the balcony hung straggling over the beams, that threatened to fall in altogether. And now a clearance was made.
' That is good !' said the neighbour houses.
And a capital house was built, with large windows and smooth white walls; but in front of the place where the old house had really stood, a little garden was planted, and by the neighbour's wall tall vine shoots clambered up. In front of the garden was placed a great iron railing with an iron door ; and it had a stately look. The people stopped in front, and looked through. And the sparrows sat down in dozens upon the vine branches, and chattered all at once as loud as they could ; but not about the old house, for they could not remember that, for many years had gone by—so many, that the little boy had grown to be a man, a thorough man, whose parents rejoiced in him. And he had just married, and was come with his wife to live in the house, in front of which was the garden ; and here he stood next to her while she planted a field flower which she considered very pretty ; she planted it with her little hand, pressing the earth close round it with her fingers. ' Ah, what was that ? ' She pricked herself. Out of the soft earth something pointed was sticking up. Only think ! that was the Tin Soldier, the same that had been lost up in the old man's room, and had been hidden among old wood and rubbish for a long time, and had lain in the ground many a year. And the young wife first dried the Soldier in a green leaf, and then with her fine handkerchief, that smelt so deliciously. And the Tin Soldier felt just as if he were waking from a fainting fit.
1 Let me see him,' said the young man. And then he smiled and shook his head. ' Ah! it can scarcely be the same ; but it reminds me of an affair with a Tin Soldier which I had when I was a little boy.'