By Hans Christian Andersen
There was once a big wax-candle which knew
its own importance quite well.
' I am born of wax and moulded in a shape,'
it said ; ' I give better light and burn
longer than other candles ; my place is in a
chandelier or on a silver candlestick ! '
' That must be a lovely existence ! ' said
the tallowcandle. ' I am only made of tallow,
but I comfort myself with the thought that
it is always a little better than being a
farthing dip : that is only dipped twice,
and I am dipped eight times to get my proper
thickness. I am content ! it is certainly
finer and more fortunate to be born of wax
instead of tallow, but one does not settle
one's own place in this world. You are
placed in the big room in the glass
chandelier, I remain in the kitchen, but
that is also a good place from there the
whole house gets its food.'
' But there is something which is more
important than food,' said the wax-candle. '
Society ! to see it shine, and to shine
oneself ! There is a ball this evening, and
soon I and all my family will be fetched.'
Scarcely was the word spoken, when all the
wax-candles were fetched, but the
tallow-candle also went with them. The lady
herself took it in her dainty hand, and
carried it out to the kitchen : a little boy
stood there with a basket, which was filled
with potatoes ; two or three apples also
found their way there. The good lady gave
all this to the poor boy.
' There is a candle for you as well, my
little friend,' said she. ' Your mother sits
and works till late in the night ; she can
use it ! '
The little daughter of the house stood close
by, and when she heard the words ' late in
the night ', she said with great delight, '
I also shall stay up till late in the night
! We shall have a ball, and I shall wear my
big red sash ! ' How her face shone ! that
was with joy ! No wax-candle can shine like
two childish eyes !
' That is a blessing to see,' thought the
' I shall never forget it, and I shall
certainly never see it again.'
And so it was laid in the basket, under the
lid, and the boy went away with it.
' Where shall I go now ? ' thought the
candle ; ' I shall go to poor people, and
perhaps not even get a brass candle- stick,
while the wax-candle sits in silver and sees
all the grand people. How lovely it must be
to shine for the grand people ! but it was
my lot to be tallow and not wax ! '
And so the candle came to poor people, a
widow with three children, in a Itttle, low
room, right opposite the rich house.
' God bless the good lady for her gifts,'
said the mother,
' what a lovely candle that is ! it can burn
till late in the night.'
And then the candle was lighted.
Fut, foi,' it said, ' what a horrid
-smelling match that was she lighted me with
! the wax-candle over in the rich house
would not have such treatment offered to
There also the candles were lighted : they
shone out across the street ; the carriages
rolled up with the elegant ball-guests and
the music played.
' Now they begin across there,' the tallow
-candle noticed, and thought of the beaming
face of the rich little girl, more sparkling
than all the wax-lights. ' That sight I
shall never see again ! '
Then the smallest of the children in the
poor house, a little girl, came and took her
brother and sister round the neck : she had
something very important to tell them, and
it must be whispered. ' To-night we shall
have just think ! To-night we shall have hot
potatoes ! '
And her face shone with happiness : the
tallow-candle shone right into it, and it
saw a gladness, a happiness as great as over
in the rich house, where the little girl
said, ' We shall have a ball to-night, and I
shall wear my big red sash ! '
' It is just as much to get hot potatoes,'
thought the candle. ' Here there is just as
much joy amongst the children.' And it
sneezed at that ; that is to say, it
sputtered ; a tallow-candle can do no more.
The table was laid, and the potatoes eaten.
Oh, how good they tasted ! it was a perfect
feast, and each one got an apple besides,
and the smallest child said the little verse
'Thou good God, I give thanks to Thee
That Thou again hast nourished me.
' Was that not nicely said, Mother ? ' broke
out the little one.
' You must not ask that again,' said the
mother ; ' you must think only of the good
God who has fed you.'
The little ones went to bed, got a kiss and
fell asleep at once, and the mother sat and
sewed late into the night to get the means
of support for them and for herself. And
over from the big house the lights shone and
the music sounded. The stars shone over all
the houses, over the rich and over the poor,
equally clear and blessed. ' This has really
been a delightful evening ! ' thought
the tallow-candle. ' I wonder if the
wax-candles had it any better in the silver
candlestick ? I would like to know that
before I am burned out.'
And it thought of the two happy ones, the
one lighted by the wax-candle, and the other
by the tallow-candle.
Yes, that is the whole story !