Andersen Fairy Tales, Andersen-Hans Christian

The Old House

The Old HouseThe Old House

There was once an old house. It was strangely built with dragon waterspouts and other odd features. There were children’s faces carved in the decorations on the house. A little boy lived across the street. He would often peek through the window across the street. There he saw an old man. The boy and the old man began to wave and wink at one another. The boy supposed the old man to be very lonely.

One day the little boy went and knocked on the door. He handed the servant who answered the door a tin soldier. The boy only had two tin soldiers, but he gave one to the old man because he felt the old man was awfully lonely.

After a while, there was an invitation to the old house. The little boy went in to visit the old man. Inside the house were many pictures of knights and grand ladies. The walls were covered with leather. There were fine things in the house, but there was also decay. An inner courtyard seemed to decay as the boy looked at it.

The old man and the boy had a pleasant time looking at old objects and photographs. The old man left at one point to grab some snacks.

While he was away, the tin soldier spoke to the little boy. He didn’t like it there. He was used to noise and to children. The old man was boring. There was nothing to do there. The boy insisted that the tin soldier must stay to keep the old man company. The tin soldier was not happy about this. The old man came back. He and the boy continued to visit with one another. The tin soldier propelled himself off of the shelf and onto the floor, but he fell through a crack in the floorboards. The old man and the boy could not find the tin soldier.

Time went on. The boy did visit a couple more times, but the old man soon died. The neighbors never liked looking at his house so it was torn down. The boy grew up. He became a man. He was married. A new house was built on the lot where the old house had once stood. The little boy, now a man, lived in this house with his new wife.

One day the wife and the man were out gardening in the yard when the wife found something. It was the tin soldier from all those years ago. The tin soldier was happy to not be forgotten, but nearby was a scrap of leather, which was also happy not to be forgotten.

“Gilding will fade in damp weather,

To endure, there is nothing like leather.”

The tin soldier believed no such thing about leather.

The end.

Observations

As described, this house sounds pretty neat. I wouldn’t mind visiting it. I mean, it does seem a bit creepy to live in. It sounds as if the old man was rather eccentric. Leather on the walls would be rather pricey. I’m sure people have done it, but talk about expensive. This old man had some money.

Hans has a thing for toys. So many of this stories mention toys. Toys this and toys that. It makes me wonder about Hans’ state of maturity.

Themes

This little boy went out of his way to spend time with this old man. In the end, the old man was not forgotten, which was nice. It’s nice to remembered and to be a part of someone’s life even when you’re not around anymore.

The toy soldier was rather sulky about this whole thing, but in the end, he was not forgotten either. The tin soldier was a token of the friendship between the little boy and the old man. The little boy was able to come back and build his own house where the former house had stood. He also had the tin soldier as a remembrance of what had happened in the past.

One small gesture can make a rather large impact in your life.

Overall

The tin soldier was a bit of a jerk.

Weigh In

Do you think it’s a shame that the old house was torn down?

What do you think about Hans and his mentions of toys?

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