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"Do you see that old tree there?" said the witch, pointing to one which stood by the side of the road. It is quite hollow, and if you climb to the top you will see a hole, through which you can let yourself down, right to the bottom of it. I will tie a rope round your body, so as to pull you up when call to me."
"And what am I to do down there, inside the tree?" the soldier asked.
"You are to fetch money," the witch said. "For you must know that when you reach the bottom of the tree, you will find yourself in a large hall, lighted by more than a hundred lamps. Then you will see three doors, which you may open, for the keys are in the locks.
"If you will go into the first room you will see in the middle of the floor, a large box on which a dog is seated. It has eyes as large as tea-cups, but you need not mind it. I will give you my blue check apron, which you must spread out upon the floor, then walk straight up to the dog, lay hold of him, and place him upon my apron, when you can take out as many pennies as you like. It is all copper money; but if you would rather have silver, you must go into the next room. There sits a dog with eyes as large as the wheels of a water-mill; but do not let that trouble you, for if you place it upon my apron, you can take the money.
'If, however, you prefer gold, you can have that too, and as much of it as you like to carry, by going into the third room. But the dog that is
seated on the money-box there has two eyes, each one as big as the Round Tower of Copenhagen. That is a dog, if you like; but you need not mind him, only put him upon my apron, when he will not hurt you, and you can take as much gold out of the box as you like."
"That is not so bad," the soldier said; "but what must I give you, old witch, for of course you will want something?"
"No," said the witch, "not a single penny do I want. For you need only bring me an old tinderbox, which my grandmother forgot the last time she was there."
"Well, then, tie the rope round me at once," the soldier said.
"Here it is," said the witch, "and here, too, is my blue check apron."
Then the soldier climbed up the tree, let himself down through the hole, and found himself as the witch had said, in the large hall, where the many lamps were burning.
Now he opened the first door, and there, sure enough, sat the dog with eyes like big cups, staring at him.
Well, you are a prty fellow," the sol dier said, and then took him up and placed him upon the apron, while he filled his pockets with pence. After this he locked the box, and having put the dog back upon it, went into the next room, where he found the dog with eyes like mill-wheels.
"Now you shouldn't look at me in that way," the soldier said, "for it may strain your eyes and
injure your sight." He then placed the dog upon the apron, and no sooner did he see all the silver in the box, than he threw away the copper money he had, and filled his pockets and knapsack with that more valuable metal. He then went into the third room, and oh! what an ugly beast he saw there! The dog's eyes were indeed as large as the Round Tower, and kept turning round in his head exactly like mill-wheels.
"Good day to you," the soldier said, touching his cap, for he had never seen such a dog in all his life; but after looking at him for a time he thought he would go on, so he took him up, placed him upon the apron, and opened the box. Oh, what a large quantity of gold there was there! With that he could buy the whole of Copenhagen, and all the gingerbread horses, all the tin soldiers, whips, and rocking-horses in the whole world. He now threw out all the silver he had in his pockets and knapsack, and put gold in them instead. Yes, his pockets, his knapsack, his cap, and even his boots were filled with it, so that he could scarcely walk. He was now rich, so he put the dog back on the box, shut the door, and called to the old witch
"Now pull me up."
"And have you got the tinder-box?" she asked.
Well, to be sure, I had clean forgotten that," the soldier said; so he went back and fetched it. The witch now pulled him up, and there he stood again on the high road, but this time with his pockets, knapsack, cap, and boots filled with gold,
"And what do you think of doing with the tinder-box?" he asked.
"That is no business of yours," the witch replied. "You have got your gold, so give me my tinder-box."
"What does all this mean?" the soldier said: "tell me at once what you are going to do with the tinder-box, or I'll draw my sword and cut off your head."
"No," the witch said.
So the soldier drew his sword, and the witch hastily ran away. But he tied up all his gold in her apron, slung it across his shoulder, and putting the tinder-box in his pocket, walked on straight to the town.
That was a beautiful town, and he turned into the finest hotel, where he ordered the best rooms, and told the landlord to get him a good dinner, for he was rich now he had got so much money.
It certainly appeared to the servant, as he cleaned his boots, that they were paltry things to belong to so wealthy a person, for he had not yet bought him new ones, so the next day he obtained new boots and fine clothes. The soldier now became a gentleman of rank, and people told him all sorts of wonderful things about the town, and the king, and the beautiful princess his daughter. "How can any one get to see her?" the soldier asked.
"No one is allowed to see her," the people said, 'for she lives in a castle made of brass, surrounded by many walls and towers. No one but the king
himself has the right of entrance, for it has been foretold that the princess will be married to a common soldier, to which the king is not willing to agree." "I should like to see her," the soldier thought, but he could in no way obtain permission.
Now he led a happy life, went to the theatre, visited the king's garden, and gave a great deal of money to the poor, which was a good thing to do. He was now a wealthy man, had fine clothes and many friends, who all praised him as being a thorough gentleman, which the soldier was pleased to hear. But by spending money every day and receiving none, it came to pass after a while that he had only a shilling left; so he was obliged to leave his grand house and live in a garret under the tiles, and no more of his friends came to see him, for there were so many stairs to mount.
THE TINDER BOX.
It had grown quite dark, and he had not even money sufficient to buy a candle; but then he remembered that there was a small taper in the tinder box which he had brought out of the hollow tree. He fetched the flint and steel out of the box, and when he had struck a few sparks, the dog which had eyes as big as a tea cup stood before him to know his commands.
"How is this?" the soldier said. "This is a