THE TINDER BOX
bundle over his shoulder, put the tinder-box in his pocket, and set out towards the town.
It was a splendid town ! He turned into the finest inn, ordered the best chamber and his favourite dinner ; for now that he had so much money he was really rich.
It certainly occurred to the servant who had to clean his boots that they were astonishingly old boots for such a rich lord. But that was because he had not yet bought new ones ; next day he appeared in respectable boots and fine clothes. Now, instead of a common soldier he had become a noble lord, and the people told him about all the grand doings of the town and the King, and what a beautiful Princess his daughter was.
' How can one get to see her '?' asked the Soldier.
' She is never to be seen at all! ' they told him; ' she lives in a great copper castle, surrounded by many walls and towers ! No one except the King may go in or out, for it is prophesied that she will marry a common soldier, and the King cannot submit to that.'
' I should very much like to see her,' thought the Soldier ; but he could not get permission.
Now he lived very gaily, went to the theatre, drove in the King's garden, and gave the poor a great deal of money, which was very nice of him ; he had experienced in former times how hard it is not to have a farthing in the world. Now he was rich, wore fine clothes, and made many friends, who all said that he was an excellent man, a real nobleman. And the Soldier liked that. But as he was always spending money, and never made any more, at last the day came when he had nothing left but two shillings, and he had to leave the beautiful rooms in which he had been living, and go into a little attic under the roof, and clean his own boots, and mend them with a darning-needle. None of his friends came to visit him there, for there were too many stairs to climb.
It was a dark evening, and he could not even buy a light. But all at once it flashed across him that there was a little end of tinder in the tinder-box, which he had taken from the hollow tree into which the Witch had helped him down. He found the box with the tinder in it; but just as he was kindling a light, and had struck a spark out of the tinder-box, the door burst open, and the dog with eyes as large as saucers, which he had seen down in the tree, stood before him and said :
' What does my lord command ? '
' What's the meaning of this ? ' exclaimed the Soldier. ' This is