Once upon a time an old tinsmith was casting tin soldiers. But he didn't have enough tin for the last soldier, so he cast it with just one leg.
Along with 24 other tin soldiers, he was placed in a box which was given to a small boy as a gift. The boy stood the soldiers on a table where there were already many other toys. The one-legged tin soldier caught sight of a pretty little dancer standing on one leg. He thought she had only one leg like him, and fell instantly in love.
So then he lay down behind a box and gazed at her, entranced. When the clock struck midnight, all the toys began to play. And suddenly an imp popped out of a snuff box and threatened the soldier because he was staring at the lovely dancer.
Next morning the little boy stood the tin soldier on the window sill. Suddenly, the window flew open and the soldier fell out and landed head first in the street. A couple of urchins found him, put him in a newspaper boat and let him sail along in the gutter. But his voyage ended out in the lake, where the newspaper boat went under and the soldier too. He thought then of the pretty dancer who he would never set eyes on again.
The soldier was inside the belly of a fish for a while, but suddenly daylight streamed in. The fish had been caught, sold at the marketplace and ended up in exactly the same parlour where the other toys and the pretty dancer were. For whatever reason - perhaps the imp was to blame - the boy took the tin soldier and threw him into the stove.
But just at that moment a door opened, the wind caught the dancer and she flew straight into the stove, to the tin soldier. Next morning the maid found a shiny tin heart in the ashes, and a tiny sequin burnt to a cinder.