By Hans Christian Andersen
A soldier came marching along the high road:
"Left, right- left, right." He had his
knapsack on his back, and a sword at his
side; he had been to the wars, and was now
As he walked on, he met a very
frightful-looking old witch in the road. Her
under-lip hung quite down on her breast, and
she stopped and said, "Good evening, soldier;
you have a very fine sword, and a large
knapsack, and you are a real soldier; so you
shall have as much money as ever you like."
"Thank you, old witch," said the soldier.
"Do you see that large tree," said the witch,
pointing to a tree which stood beside them.
"Well, it is quite hollow inside, and you
must climb to the top, when you will see a
hole, through which you can let yourself
down into the tree to a great depth. I will
tie a rope round your body, so that I can
pull you up again when you call out to me."
"But what am I to do, down there in the tree?"
asked the soldier.
"Get money," she replied; "for you must know
that when you reach the ground under the
tree, you will find yourself in a large
hall, lighted up by three hundred lamps; you
will then see three doors, which can be
easily opened, for the keys are in all the
locks. On entering the first of the chambers,
to which these doors lead, you will see a
large chest, standing in the middle of the
floor, and upon it a dog seated, with a pair
of eyes as large as teacups. But you need
not be at all afraid of him; I will give you
my blue checked apron, which you must spread
upon the floor, and then boldly seize hold
of the dog, and place him upon it. You can
then open the chest, and take from it as
many pence as you please, they are only
copper pence; but if you would rather have
silver money, you must go into the second
chamber. Here you will find another dog,
with eyes as big as mill-wheels; but do not
let that trouble you. Place him upon my
apron, and then take what money you please.
If, however, you like gold best, enter the
third chamber, where there is another chest
full of it. The dog who sits on this chest
is very dreadful; his eyes are as big as a
tower, but do not mind him. If he also is
placed upon my apron, he cannot hurt you,
and you may take from the chest what gold
"This is not a bad story," said the soldier;
"but what am I to give you, you old witch?
for, of course, you do not mean to tell me
all this for nothing."
"No," said the witch; "but I do not ask for
a single penny. Only promise to bring me an
old tinder-box, which my grandmother left
behind the last time she went down there."
"Very well; I promise. Now tie the rope
round my body."
"Here it is," replied the witch; "and here
is my blue checked apron."
As soon as the rope was tied, the soldier
climbed up the tree, and let himself down
through the hollow to the ground beneath;
and here he found, as the witch had told him,
a large hall, in which many hundred lamps
were all burning. Then he opened the first
door. "Ah!" there sat the dog, with the eyes
as large as teacups, staring at him.
"You're a pretty fellow," said the soldier,
seizing him, and placing him on the witch's
apron, while he filled his pockets from the
chest with as many pieces as they would
hold. Then he closed the lid, seated the dog
upon it again, and walked into another
chamber, And, sure enough, there sat the dog
with eyes as big as mill-wheels.
"You had better not look at me in that way,"
said the soldier; "you will make your eyes
water;" and then he seated him also upon the
apron, and opened the chest. But when he saw
what a quantity of silver money it contained,
he very quickly threw away all the coppers
he had taken, and filled his pockets and his
knapsack with nothing but silver.
Then he went into the third room, and there
the dog was really hideous; his eyes were,
truly, as big as towers, and they turned
round and round in his head like wheels.
"Good morning," said the soldier, touching
his cap, for he had never seen such a dog in
his life. But after looking at him more
closely, he thought he had been civil enough,
so he placed him on the floor, and opened
the chest. Good gracious, what a quantity of
gold there was! enough to buy all the
sugar-sticks of the sweet-stuff women; all
the tin soldiers, whips, and rocking-horses
in the world, or even the whole town itself.
There was, indeed, an immense quantity. So
the soldier now threw away all the silver
money he had taken, and filled his pockets
and his knapsack with gold instead; and not
only his pockets and his knapsack, but even
his cap and boots, so that he could scarcely
He was really rich now; so he replaced the
dog on the chest, closed the door, and
called up through the tree, "Now pull me
out, you old witch."
"Have you got the tinder-box?" asked the
"No; I declare I quite forgot it." So he
went back and fetched the tinderbox, and
then the witch drew him up out of the tree,
and he stood again in the high road, with
his pockets, his knapsack, his cap, and his
boots full of gold.
"What are you going to do with the
tinder-box?" asked the soldier.
"That is nothing to you," replied the witch;
"you have the money, now give me the
"I tell you what," said the soldier, "if you
don't tell me what you are going to do with
it, I will draw my sword and cut off your
"No," said the witch.
The soldier immediately cut off her head,
and there she lay on the ground. Then he
tied up all his money in her apron. and
slung it on his back like a bundle, put the
tinderbox in his pocket, and walked off to
the nearest town. It was a very nice town,
and he put up at the best inn, and ordered a
dinner of all his favorite dishes, for now
he was rich and had plenty of money.
The servant, who cleaned his boots, thought
they certainly were a shabby pair to be worn
by such a rich gentleman, for he had not yet
bought any new ones. The next day, however,
he procured some good clothes and proper
boots, so that our soldier soon became known
as a fine gentleman, and the people visited
him, and told him all the wonders that were
to be seen in the town, and of the king's
beautiful daughter, the princess.
"Where can I see her?" asked the soldier.
"She is not to be seen at all," they said; "she
lives in a large copper castle, surrounded
by walls and towers. No one but the king
himself can pass in or out, for there has
been a prophecy that she will marry a common
soldier, and the king cannot bear to think
of such a marriage."
"I should like very much to see her,"
thought the soldier; but he could not obtain
permission to do so. However, he passed a
very pleasant time; went to the theatre,
drove in the king's garden, and gave a great
deal of money to the poor, which was very
good of him; he remembered what it had been
in olden times to be without a shilling. Now
he was rich, had fine clothes, and many
friends, who all declared he was a fine
fellow and a real gentleman, and all this
gratified him exceedingly. But his money
would not last forever; and as he spent and
gave away a great deal daily, and received
none, he found himself at last with only two
shillings left. So he was obliged to leave
his elegant rooms, and live in a little
garret under the roof, where he had to clean
his own boots, and even mend them with a
large needle. None of his friends came to
see him, there were too many stairs to mount
up. One dark evening, he had not even a
penny to buy a candle; then all at once he
remembered that there was a piece of candle
stuck in the tinder-box, which he had
brought from the old tree, into which the
witch had helped him.
He found the tinder-box, but no sooner had
he struck a few sparks from the flint and
steel, than the door flew open and the dog
with eyes as big as teacups, whom he had
seen while down in the tree, stood before
him, and said, "What orders, master?"
"Hallo," said the soldier; "well this is a
pleasant tinderbox, if it brings me all I
"Bring me some money," said he to the dog.
He was gone in a moment, and presently
returned, carrying a large bag of coppers in
his month. The soldier very soon discovered
after this the value of the tinder-box. If
he struck the flint once, the dog who sat on
the chest of copper money made his
appearance; if twice, the dog came from the
chest of silver; and if three times, the dog
with eyes like towers, who watched over the
gold. The soldier had now plenty of money;
he returned to his elegant rooms, and
reappeared in his fine clothes, so that his
friends knew him again directly, and made as
much of him as before.
After a while he began to think it was very
strange that no one could get a look at the
princess. "Every one says she is very
beautiful," thought he to himself; "but what
is the use of that if she is to be shut up
in a copper castle surrounded by so many
towers. Can I by any means get to see her.
Stop! where is my tinder-box?" Then he
struck a light, and in a moment the dog,
with eyes as big as teacups, stood before
"It is midnight," said the soldier, "yet I
should very much like to see the princess,
if only for a moment."
The dog disappeared instantly, and before
the soldier could even look round, he
returned with the princess. She was lying on
the dog's back asleep, and looked so lovely,
that every one who saw her would know she
was a real princess. The soldier could not
help kissing her, true soldier as he was.
Then the dog ran back with the princess; but
in the morning, while at breakfast with the
king and queen, she told them what a
singular dream she had had during the night,
of a dog and a soldier, that she had ridden
on the dog's back, and been kissed by the
"That is a very pretty story, indeed," said
the queen. So the next night one of the old
ladies of the court was set to watch by the
princess's bed, to discover whether it
really was a dream, or what else it might be.
The soldier longed very much to see the
princess once more, so he sent for the dog
again in the night to fetch her, and to run
with her as fast as ever he could. But the
old lady put on water boots, and ran after
him as quickly as he did, and found that he
carried the princess into a large house. She
thought it would help her to remember the
place if she made a large cross on the door
with a piece of chalk. Then she went home to
bed, and the dog presently returned with the
princess. But when he saw that a cross had
been made on the door of the house, where
the soldier lived, he took another piece of
chalk and made crosses on all the doors in
the town, so that the lady-in-waiting might
not be able to find out the right door.
Early the next morning the king and queen
accompanied the lady and all the officers of
the household, to see where the princess had
"Here it is," said the king, when they came
to the first door with a cross on it.
No, my dear husband, it must be that one,"
said the queen, pointing to a second door
having a cross also.
"And here is one, and there is another!"
they all exclaimed; for there were crosses
on all the doors in every direction.
So they felt it would be useless to search
any farther. But the queen was a very clever
woman; she could do a great deal more than
merely ride in a carriage. She took her
large gold scissors, cut a piece of silk
into squares, and made a neat little bag.
This bag she filled with buckwheat flour,
and tied it round the princess's neck; and
then she cut a small hole in the bag, so
that the flour might be scattered on the
ground as the princess went along. During
the night, the dog came again and carried
the princess on his back, and ran with her
to the soldier, who loved her very much, and
wished that he had been a prince, so that he
might have her for a wife. The dog did not
observe how the flour ran out of the bag all
the way from the castle wall to the
soldier's house, and even up to the window,
where he had climbed with the princess.
Therefore in the morning the king and queen
found out where their daughter had been, and
the soldier was taken up and put in prison.
Oh, how dark and disagreeable it was as he
sat there, and the people said to him, "To-morrow
you will be hanged." It was not very
pleasant news, and besides, he had left the
tinder-box at the inn. In the morning he
could see through the iron grating of the
little window how the people were hastening
out of the town to see him hanged; he heard
the drums beating, and saw the soldiers
marching. Every one ran out to look at them.
and a shoemaker's boy, with a leather apron
and slippers on, galloped by so fast, that
one of his slippers flew off and struck
against the wall where the soldier sat
looking through the iron grating. "Hallo,
you shoemaker's boy, you need not be in such
a hurry," cried the soldier to him. "There
will be nothing to see till I come; but if
you will run to the house where I have been
living, and bring me my tinder-box, you
shall have four shillings, but you must put
your best foot foremost."
The shoemaker's boy liked the idea of
getting the four shillings, so he ran very
fast and fetched the tinder-box, and gave it
to the soldier. And now we shall see what
happened. Outside the town a large gibbet
had been erected, round which stood the
soldiers and several thousands of people.
The king and the queen sat on splendid
thrones opposite to the judges and the whole
council. The soldier already stood on the
ladder; but as they were about to place the
rope around his neck, he said that an
innocent request was often granted to a poor
criminal before he suffered death. He wished
very much to smoke a pipe, as it would be
the last pipe he should ever smoke in the
world. The king could not refuse this
request, so the soldier took his tinder-box,
and struck fire, once, twice, thrice,- and
there in a moment stood all the dogs;- the
one with eyes as big as teacups, the one
with eyes as large as mill-wheels, and the
third, whose eyes were like towers. "Help me
now, that I may not be hanged," cried the
And the dogs fell upon the judges and all
the councillors; seized one by the legs, and
another by the nose, and tossed them many
feet high in the air, so that they fell down
and were dashed to pieces.
"I will not be touched," said the king. But
the largest dog seized him, as well as the
queen, and threw them after the others. Then
the soldiers and all the people were afraid,
and cried, "Good soldier, you shall be our
king, and you shall marry the beautiful
So they placed the soldier in the king's
carriage, and the three dogs ran on in front
and cried "Hurrah!" and the little boys
whistled through their fingers, and the
soldiers presented arms. The princess came
out of the copper castle, and became queen,
which was very pleasing to her. The wedding
festivities lasted a whole week, and the
dogs sat at the table, and stared with all