The Story Finder

Voices in Fairy Tales

by Michelle Tocher

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Toy Soldier

Themes: Love | Separation

I am one of twenty-five tin soldiers. We are all brothers, born of the same old tin spoon. We shoulder our muskets and look straight ahead, splendid in our red and blue uniforms. We all look exactly alike. I am the only one who is different. I was the last to be cast and so I am missing a leg. But I can stand as steady on one leg as any of the other soldiers can stand on two.

I was left to stand on the table in the nursery where I watched a paper dancer spin in front of a cardboard castle. She wore a blue scarf and a tinsel rose that blinded me when it caught the light. I had never seen anyone so beautiful, and, like me, she knew how to balance on one leg. I felt that we were meant to be together for eternity.

Then one night when the clock struck twelve, the lid of a box on the table popped open. Out bounced a little bogey, a jack-in-the-box.

“Tin soldier,” he said. “Will you please keep your eyes to yourself?”

I pretended not to hear him.

“Just you wait till tomorrow,” said the bogey.

When morning came, and the children got up, I was picked up and put on the window ledge. And whether the bogey did it, or there was a gust of wind, I don’t know. But all of a sudden the window flew open and I was pitched out from the third floor. I fell at breathtaking speed and landed head first, with my bayonet buried between the paving stones and my one leg stuck straight in the air. The housemaid and the little boy ran down to look for me, and though they nearly stepped on me, they walked right past without seeing me. I wanted to shout, “Here I am!” but I thought it would be unfitting to raise an uproar while wearing my uniform.

The Toy Soldier in The Steadfast Tin Soldier, Hans Christian Andersen. Painting by Charles White.