Page:Fairy tales and other stories (Andersen, Craigie).djvu/14

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2
THE TINDER-BOX

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 me.'

'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 many hundred lamps are burning there. Then you will see three doors; these you can open, for the keys are in the locks. 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 tea-cups. 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 farthings 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 you 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 the round tower of Copenhagen. 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 like.'

'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 farthing 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 blue-checked apron.'

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 many hundred lamps were burning.