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HERE came a Soldier marching along the highroad—one,
two! one, two! He had his knapsack on his back and
a saber by his side, for he had been in the wars and
now wanted to go home. And on the way he met with an
old Witch; she was very hideous, and her underlip hung
down upon her breast. She said: "Good evening, Soldier.
What a fine sword you have, and what a big knapsack!
You're a proper soldier! Now you shall have as much
money as you like to have."
"I thank you, you old Witch!" said the Soldier.
"Do you see that great tree?" quoth the Witch; and she
pointed to a tree which stood beside them. "It's quite
hollow inside. You must climb to the top, and then
you'll see a hole through which you can let yourself
down and get deep into the tree. I'll tie a rope round
your body so that I can pull you up again when you call
"What am I to do down in the tree?" asked the Soldier.
"Get money," replied the Witch. "Listen to me. When you
come down to the earth under the tree you will find
yourself in a great hall; it is quite light, for above
three hundred lamps are burning there. Then you will
see three doors; these you can open, for the keys are
hanging there. If you go into the
 first chamber you'll see a great chest in the middle of
the floor; on this chest sits a dog, and he's got a
pair of eyes as big as two teacups. But you need not
care for that. I'll give you my blue-checked apron, and
you can spread it out upon the floor; then go up
quickly and take the dog and set him on my apron; then
open the chest and take as many shillings as you like.
They are of copper; if you prefer silver you must go
into the second chamber. But there sits a dog with a
pair of eyes as big as mill-wheels. But do not care for
that. Set him upon my apron and take some of the money.
And if you want gold you can have that, too—in
fact, as much as you can carry—if you go into the
third chamber. But the dog that sits on the money-chest
there has two eyes as big as round towers. He is a
fierce dog, you may be sure, but you needn't be afraid,
for all that. Only set him on my apron and he won't
hurt you; and take out of the chest as much gold as you
"That's not so bad," said the Soldier. "But what am I
to give you, you old Witch, for you will not do it for
nothing, I fancy?"
"No," replied the Witch, "not a single shilling will I
have. You shall only bring me an old Tinder-box which
my grandmother forgot when she was down there last."
"Then tie the rope round my body," cried the Soldier.
"Here it is," said the Witch,"and here's my
Then the Soldier climbed up into the tree, let himself
slip down into the hole, and stood, as the Witch had
said, in the great hall where the three hundred lamps
Now he opened the first door. Ugh! there sat the dog
with eyes as big as teacups staring at him. "You're a
nice fellow!" exclaimed the Soldier; and he set him on
the Witch's apron and took as many copper shillings as
his pockets would hold, and then locked the chest, set
the dog on it again, and went into the second chamber.
Aha! there sat the dog with eyes as big as mill-wheels.
"You should not stare so hard at me," said the Soldier;
 might strain your eyes." And he set the dog upon the
Witch's apron. And when he saw the silver money in the
chest he threw away all the copper money he had and
filled his pockets and his knapsack with the silver
only. Then he went into the third chamber. Oh, but that
was horrid! The dog there really had eyes as big as
towers, and they turned round and round in his head
"Good evening!" said the Soldier; and he touched his
cap, for he had never seen such a dog as that before.
When he had looked at him a little more closely he
thought, "That will do," and lifted him down to the
floor and opened the chest. Mercy! what a quantity of
gold was there! He could buy with it the whole town,
and the sugar sucking-pigs of the cake-woman, and all
the tin soldiers, whips, and rocking-horses in the
whole world. Yes, that was a quantity of money! Now the
Soldier threw away all the silver coin with which he
had filled his pockets and his knapsack and took gold
instead; yes, all his pockets, his knapsack, his boots,
and his cap were filled so that he could scarcely walk.
Now indeed he had plenty of money. He put the dog on
the chest, shut the door, and then called up through
the tree, "Now pull me up, you old Witch."
"Have you the Tinder-box?" asked the Witch.
"Plague on it!" exclaimed the Soldier. "I had clean
forgotten that." And he went and brought it.
The Witch drew him up, and he stood on the highroad
again with pockets, boots, knapsack, and cap full of
"What are you going to do with the Tinder-box?" asked
"That's nothing to you," retorted the Witch. "You have
your money; just give me the Tinder-box."
"Nonsense!" said the Soldier. "Tell me directly what
you're going to do with it, or I'll draw my sword and
cut off your head."
"No!" cried the Witch.
So the Soldier cut off her head. There she lay! But he
tied up all his money in her apron, took it on his back
like a bundle,
 put the Tinder-box in his pocket, and went straight off
toward the town.
That was a splendid town! And he put up at the very
best inn, and asked for the finest rooms, and ordered
his favorite dishes, for now he was rich, as he had so
much money. The servant who had to clean his boots
certainly thought them a remarkably old pair for such a
rich gentleman; but he had not bought any new ones yet.
The next day he procured proper boots and handsome
clothes. Now our Soldier had become a fine gentleman;
and the people told him of all the splendid things
which were in their city, and about the King, and what
a pretty Princess the King's daughter was.
"Where can one get to see her?" asked the Soldier.
"She is not to be seen at all," said they all together;
"she lives in a great copper castle with a great many
walls and towers round about it; no one but the King
may go in and out there, for it has been prophesied
that she shall marry a common soldier, and the King
can't bear that."
"I should like to see her," thought the Soldier; but he
could not get leave to do so. Now he lived merrily,
went to the theater, drove in the King's garden, and
gave much money to the poor; and this was very kind of
him, for he knew from old times how hard it is when one
has not one shilling. Now he was rich, had fine
clothes, and gained many friends who all said he was a
rare one, a true cavalier; and that pleased the Soldier
well. But as he spent money every day and never earned
any, he had at last only two shillings left; and he was
obliged to turn out of the fine rooms in which he had
dwelt, and had to live in a little garret under the
roof and clean his boots for himself and mend them with
a darning-needle. None of his friends came to see him,
for there were too many stairs to climb.
It was quite dark one evening, and he could not even
buy himself a candle, when it occurred to him that
there was a candle-end in the Tinder-box which he had
taken out of the hollow tree into which the Witch had
helped him. He brought out the Tinder-box and the
candle-end; but as soon as he struck
 fire and the sparks rose up from the flint the door
flew open, and the dog who had eyes as big as a couple
of teacups and whom he had seen in the tree stood
before him and said:
"What are my lord's commands?"
"What is this?" said the Soldier. "That's a famous
Tinder-box if I can get everything with it that I want!
Bring me some money," said he to the dog;
and,whisk! the dog was gone, and, whisk!
he was back again with a great bag full of shillings in
Now the Soldier knew what a capital Tinder-box this
was. If he struck it once the dog came who sat upon the
chest of copper money; if he struck it twice the dog
came who had the silver; and if he struck it three
times then appeared the dog who had the gold. Now the
Soldier moved back into the fine rooms and appeared
again in handsome clothes; and all his friends knew him
again and cared very much for him indeed.
Once he thought to himself: "It is a very strange thing
that one cannot get to see the Princess. They all say
she is very beautiful; but what is the use of that if
she has always to sit in the great copper castle with
the many towers? Can I not get to see her at all? Where
is my Tinder-box?" And so he struck a light, and,
whisk! came the dog with the eyes as big as
"It is midnight, certainly," said the Soldier, "but I
should very much like to see the Princess only for one
And the dog was outside the door directly, and, before
the Soldier thought it, came back with the Princess.
She sat upon the dog's back and slept; and every one
could see she was a real princess, for she was so
lovely. The Soldier could not refrain from kissing her,
for he was a thorough soldier. Then the dog ran back
with the Princess. But when morning came and the King
and Queen were drinking tea, the Princess said she had
had a strange dream the night before about a dog and a
soldier—that she had ridden upon the dog and the
soldier had kissed her.
"That would be a fine history!" said the Queen.
 So one of the old court ladies had to watch the next
night by the Princess's bed to see if this was really a
dream or what it might be.
The Soldier had a great longing to see the lovely
Princess again; so the dog came in the night, took her
away, and ran as fast as he could. But the old lady put
on water-boots, and ran just as fast after him. When
she saw that they both entered a great house she
thought, "Now I know where it is"; and with a bit of
chalk she drew a great cross on the door. Then she went
home and lay down, and the dog came up with the
Princess; but when he saw that there was a cross drawn
on the door where the Soldier lived, he took a piece of
chalk, too, and drew crosses on all the doors in town.
And that was cleverly done, for now the lady could not
find the right door, because all the doors had crosses
In the morning early came the King and Queen, the old
court lady, and all the officers, to see where it was
the Princess had been. "Here it is!" said the King,
when he saw the first door with a cross upon it. "No,
my dear husband, it is there!" said the Queen, who
descried another door which also showed a cross. "But
there is one, and there is one!" said all, for wherever
they looked there were crosses on the doors. So they
saw that it would avail them nothing if they searched
But the Queen was an exceedingly clever woman, who
could do more than ride in a coach. She took her great
gold scissors, cut a piece of silk into pieces, and
made a neat little bag; this bag she filled with fine
wheat flour and tied it on the Princess's back; and
when that was done she cut a little hole in the bag, so
that the flour would be scattered along all the way
which the Princess should take.
In the night the dog came again, took the Princess on
his back, and ran with her to the Soldier, who loved
her very much and would gladly have been a prince so
that he might have her for his wife. The dog did not
notice at all how the flour ran out in a stream from
the castle to the windows of the Soldier's house, where
he ran up the wall with the Princess. In the
morn-  ing the King and the Queen saw well enough where their
daughter had been, and they took the Soldier and put
him in prison.
There he sat. Oh, but it was dark and disagreeable
there! And they said to him, "To-morrow you shall be
hanged." That was not amusing to hear, and he had left
his Tinder-box at the inn. In the morning he could see
through the iron grating of the little window how the
people were hurrying out of the town to see him hanged.
He heard the drums beat and saw the soldiers marching.
All the people were running out, and among them was a
shoemaker's boy with leather apron and slippers, and he
galloped so fast that one of his slippers flew off and
came right against the wall where the Soldier sat
looking through the iron grating.
"Halloo, you shoemaker's boy! You needn't be in such a
hurry!" cried the Soldier to him. "It will not begin
till I come. But if you will run to where I lived and
bring me my Tinder-box, you shall have four shillings;
but you must put your best leg foremost."
The shoemaker's boy wanted to get the four shillings,
so he went and brought the Tinder-box, and—well,
we shall hear now what happened.
Outside the town a great gallows had been built, and
round it stood the soldiers and many hundred thousand
people. The King and Queen sat on a splendid throne
opposite to the judges and the whole council. The
Soldier already stood upon the ladder; but as they were
about to put the rope round his neck he said that
before a poor criminal suffered his punishment an
innocent request was always granted to him. He wanted
very much to smoke a pipe of tobacco, and it would be
the last pipe he would smoke in the world. The King
would not say "No" to this; so the Soldier took his
Tinder-box and struck fire.
One—two—three!—and there suddenly
stood all the dogs— the one with eyes as big as
teacups, the one with eyes as large as mill-wheels, and
the one whose eyes were as big as round towers.
"Help me now, so that I may not be hanged," said the
And the dogs fell upon the judges and all the council,
 one by the leg and another by the nose, and tossed them
all many feet into the air, so that they fell down and
were all broken to pieces.
"I won't!" cried the King; but the biggest dog took him
and the Queen and threw them after the others. Then the
soldiers were afraid, and the people cried, "Little
Soldier, you shall be our king and marry the beautiful
So they put the Soldier into the King's coach, and all
the three dogs darted on in front and cried "Hurrah!"
and the boys whistled through their fingers, and the
soldiers presented arms. The Princess came out of the
copper castle and became Queen, and she liked that well
enough. The wedding lasted a week, and the three dogs
sat at the table, too, and opened their eyes wider than
ever at all they saw.