I do pirouettes on the table in front of a cardboard castle while little boys play with their toy soldiers on the floor. The castle has little windows, and I can see inside them when the breeze spins me round.
In front of the castle, cardboard trees gaze at their reflections in the mirror of a lake. Wax swans swim on its surface as if they are spellbound by the sight of their grace in the mirror. I am glad I can dance!
My dress is made of fluffy gauze, and a tiny blue ribbon flies over my shoulder when I spin. In the middle of the ribbon a spangle flashes like a diamond, as big as my face.
A tin soldier stands on the table in front of me. The boys don’t play war games with him because he is missing a leg. He looks at me with such admiration that I am always wishing for breeze so that I can spin and sparkle for him. We have something in common. We balance on one leg. I must say, that steadfast tin soldier positively melts my heart!
The Paper Dancer in The Steadfast Tin Soldier, Hans Christian Andersen. Illustration by Michelle Tocher.