The Magic Tinderbox
The Magic Tinderbox
Once upon a time a brave soldier was returning from war. His only possession was his sword. As he walked through a forest on his way home, he ran into a witch, who said to him: “Hello, good soldier, would you like to earn a bag of money?”
“Money? Yes, I'd do anything for money.”
“Great!” said the witch. “It won't be hard! All you have to do is go down that hollow tree till you reach a cave. There, you'll find three doors. When you open the first door, you'll see a big dog with eyes like plates, guarding a large chest of copper coins. Behind the second door is a treasure of silver coins, guarded by a dog with eyes the size of millstones. When you open the third door, you'll come upon another dog, with eyes the size of a castle tower, beside a treasure of gold. Now, if you lay this old apron of mine before these dogs, they'll crouch on it and won't hurt you. You'll be able to carry away all the coins you want. What do you think of that?”
The soldier asked, “What do you want in return?”
“Just bring me back an old tinderbox my grandfather left down there, long ago.”
So the young soldier tied a rope around his waist and he lowered himself into the hollow tree. To his surprise, he found the three doorways and the three dogs, just as the witch had said. Soon he was back, his pockets bulging with coins, but before he handed the tinderbox to the old witch, he asked her, “What do you want it for?”
The witch threw herself at the soldier, screaming, “Give it to me!”
When the witch attacked him, the soldier exclaimed, “So this is the thanks I get! I'll show you!” He undid the rope from around his waist and tied up the old woman. Then off he went. When he reached the town, he said to himself, “Now I can eat at as many restaurants as I like!” After years of getting by on little pay, with his sudden wealth the soldier felt almost like a prince. He bought a new pair of boots and he went to the best tailor in town, ordering up lots of fancy new clothes.
The soldier was quick to spend his newfound wealth, and the money soon ran out. When the innkeeper discovered that the soldier could no longer pay his bill, he kicked him out. So the poor soldier ended up in an attic of a deserted building.
One evening, he realized he had never used the old witch's tinderbox. So he rubbed it, and as it sparked, the dog with the eyes like saucers suddenly appeared. “Tell me your wish,” it said.
“Bring me loads of money!” said the soldier. A second later, the dog was back with a bag of coins. Every time he rubbed the tinderbox, the dog brought him more money. Then when he rubbed it quickly twice in a row, the dog with eyes like millstones stood before him, carrying silver coins. And when the soldier rubbed the tinderbox three times in a row, the third dog came carrying gold.
Rich once again, the soldier chose the best hotel in town and went back to living the high life. One day, the soldier was told that the king would not allow anyone to meet his gorgeous daughter, for he believed in a saying that the Princess's fate was to marry a simple soldier.
That evening, the soldier rubbed the tinderbox. “Bring me the princess,” was his new wish. Immediately the dog returned with the beautiful princess, fast asleep. The soldier kissed her. Next morning, the girl told her parents that she had had a dream that she was kissed by a soldier. The queen became suspicious, and ordered one of the ladies-in-waiting to guard her daughter every minute. The dog was seen when it came the next evening and the alarm sounded. The king's guards followed the dog, and the soldier was arrested and put in the dungeon.
When the king asked the prisoner to appear before him and present his case, the soldier brought the tinderbox. He rubbed it and the three dogs appeared. Amazed at this, the king agreed that the soldier and his daughter should marry. They lived happily every after, occasionally using the tinderbox to charm the people of the kingdom.