The Story of the Toy Soldier
Once there was a rich old lady who lived all alone in her manor house. She once had a handsome fiancé, but he had died in a long ago revolution. Now she collected clockwork figures to pass the time. The Toy Soldier was her favourite. He wore her fiancé’s old uniform.
Every day she would sit him down and talk at him over high tea. There were cakes and scones and cucumber sandwiches in little triangles with the crusts cut off. She taught him how to take proper English tea and how to talk like a real officer, using all the right expressions like “what, what!” and “tally ho, old chap!” She trained him to compliment her on her hair and tell here how divine she looked.
Sometimes she made him say things he didn’t understand.
Years passed, and the old lady became older still, until eventually she died. The mansion was sold and her clockwork collection was donated to the Victoria and Albert Museum, where the Toy Soldier was put to work as a walking exhibit. But nobody wanted to talk to him. He was lonely.
So one day, the walking exhibit walked straight out of the museum and onto the street. The outside world was scary and confusing, and the Toy Soldier didn’t know what to do. Nobody seemed to want to talk to him here either. He wandered around, lost and directionless – until the recruiting party came his way.
The people were very kind. They taught him how to march and play the drums and hand out leaflets. But sometimes they made him say things he didn’t understand.
Then one day, outside a local den of iniquity, he heard a wonderful, haunting sound: a song being sung by the most beautiful voice he had ever heard. He followed the music down to a dark, seedy bar – and there he beheld an Angel.
The Angel was blind, and couldn’t tell that the Toy Soldier wasn’t real. The Soldier swore he would do anything for his new found love. Finally, he understood what the word meant. But the Angel didn’t love him back – not really.
The Angel fell in love with a real girl of flesh and blood, and forgot everything else. The Soldier was filled with jealousy and rage. So one night, when the world was asleep, he stroked the breath from the Angel’s throat and stole the beautiful voice for his own.
Reckless and without purpose, the Toy Soldier joined the ranks of the Rose Reds and fought in the bloody conflict of the Revolution.
In the battle’s aftermath, Mr and Mrs Bittersnipe salvaged memorabilia. Their shop was the renowned Emporium for Valuable Antiques, Curios and High Quality Dentures. It was Mr Bittersnipe’s job to “check” the corpses. But on the last body, Mr Bittersnipe stubbed his toe.
They uncovered the remains of the Toy Soldier. He was broken and battered and his uniform was stained. They patched him up and propped him in the window of their shop. On the surface he looked as good as new, but something remained lost.
Meanwhile, a wandering band of minstrels were in a fix. Their singer was in prison following a disconcerting incident, and they needed a replacement by that evening. They spotted the Toy Soldier in the shop window. They tested him out, and he sang like an angel.
Pierrette gazed at him, and love drenched her heart.
That night, the Soldier was happy for the first time in a very long while. For, though his body was mended, his heart remembered nothing. All feeling was gone.
It felt fantastic.