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Main > Fairy tale > All authors > Andersen Hans Christian > Fairy tale "The Old Street Lamp"

The Old Street Lamp

Then the lamp would wish most particularly that a wax candle had been lighted inside it, for then the old woman would have been able to see everything in detail, just as the Lamp saw it- the tall trees with their great branches all entwined, the naked, black men riding horseback, and big herds of elephants, crushing the reeds and bushes with their huge feet.

"What good are all my faculties if I can't get a wax light?" sighed the Lamp. "They have only oil and tallow candle here, and they won't do."

One day the old man brought a number of wax-candle ends down into the cellar. The larger pieces were burned, and the smaller ones were used by the old woman for waxing her thread when she was sewing. There were plenty of wax candles then, but no one thought of putting a little piece into the Lamp.

"Here I am, with all my rare faculties!" said the Lamp. "I have everything within me, but I can't share it with those I love. They don't know that I can cover these white walls with the most gorgeous tapestry, or change them into noble forests, or show them anything they could wish to see! They don't know that!"

The Lamp stood neat and scoured in a corner, where it always caught the eyes of visitor, and although people considered it a piece of rubbish, the old couple didn't care; they loved the Lamp.

One day-it was the old watchman's birthday-the old woman went to the Lamp, smiling a little to herself. "I'll light it today, in his honor," she said.

Then the Lamp rattled its metal cover, for it thought, "At last they have a fine idea!" But it was only oil, and no wax candle. The Lamp burned throughout that whole evening, but now it understood at last that the gift the stars had given it, the best of all gifts, would be a lost treasure for all its life.

That night the Lamp had a dream, for with such faculties it is easy enough to dream. It seemed as if the old people were dead and the Lamp itself sent to the iron foundry to be melted down. It was as frightened as on that dreadful day when it appeared in the council hall to be inspected by the thirty-six council members.

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