The matches now lay upon the shelf between a tinder box and an old iron pot, and to these they told
the tale of their youth.
"'Yes, when we were on the green branch,' said they, 'then we were indeed happy! Every morning and evening diamond tea, that is to say, dew. Sunshine al
l day in summer, and all the little birds to tell us stories. We could see very well that we, too, were rich, for the leaf trees were only dressed up in summer, but our family had the: right to wear clothes both summer and winter. But then came the wood-cutters; that was the great revolution, and our family was felled to the ground. The head of the family got a place as main-mast on board a splendid ship, which could sail round the world if it liked
; the other branches went elsewhere, and our mission now is to light candles for the common people-that is why we distinguished people have come down to the kitchen.'
"'Well, things are very different with me!' sai
d the iron pot, by the side of which lay the matches, 'ever since I came out in the world I have been scoured and boiled many and many a time. I look to solidity, and, properlyspeaking, am the first person in the house. My only joy is to lie neat and clean after dinner on the shelf and to have a sensible chat with my comrades; but if I except the pail, which occasionally goes down into the garden, we always live indoors. Our only newsmonger is the
market-basket, and it is always talking about the Government and the people.
「『是的，』他们说：『当我们在绿芽上的时候，那才算是真正的快乐！ 每天早上和晚上我们总喝着珍珠茶──指露珠。 整个夏天在阳光的照拂下，所有的小鸟都来讲故事给我们听。 我们可以看得很清楚，而且非常富有的，因为一般的宽叶树只是在夏天才有衣服穿，而我们家里的人在冬天和夏天都有办法穿上绿衣服。 不过，伐木工人一来就会发生重大的变化，而且我们的家庭就要破碎了！ 我们家族变成了一艘漂亮轮船上的主桅，而这艘船只要它愿意，可以走遍世界。至于别的枝干就到别的地方去了。而我们的工作，却只是一些为普通人点火的小事情而已。因此我们这些出自高贵家世的就到厨房里来了。』
「『我的命运可不一样，』站在柴火旁边的老铁罐说：『我一出生到这世界上来，就饱受许多摩擦和煎熬！ 我做的是很实际的工作，严格说来，就是这屋子里的第一件工作。 我唯一的快乐是饭后能干净又整齐的躺在架子上，并和我的朋友们天南地北的聊天。除了那个水罐偶尔到院子里去一下以外，我们始终待在家里。 我们唯一的新闻传播者就是那个到市场去买菜的篮子，他经常慎重地说一些有关于政府和老百姓的消息。