Danish Fairy and Folk Tales/Money will Buy Everything

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search


MONEY WILL BUY EVERYTHING


THERE was once a soldier who stood sentry at a great man's house. As he grew tired from standing there alone, and wished to occupy himself in some way, he secured a piece of chalk and began to write on the house-wall. Whatever came into his mind he wrote down without giving much thought to it: there was no one to talk with, and writing was better than nothing. The by-passers read the words occasionally, but also without think- ing much about them. One day the soldier wrote upon the wall: "Money will buy everything." Many saw and read it; some smiled and some frowned. At length an officer stopped in front of the wall. "Who wrote that?" asked he. The soldier answered that the writing was his work. "We shall see," observed the officer, "if you are able to prove your words!" Now he told all his friends of the soldier's act, and soon every one was talking about the words which he had written on the wall. At length it reached the king's ear; he put on his crown, gathered his purple cloak
 
Danish fairy and folk tales 225.jpg

THE WRITING ON THE WALL

 
around him, and set out to see it with his own eyes.

"How dare you," said he to the soldier, "write this when you cannot prove it?" "Money will buy everything," replied the soldier.

The king became excited, and said again: "You shall prove what you say, upon my word! Take all the money you need from my treasury, and if you can prove your words within two years you may marry my daughter but if you cannot you shall lose your life. I will lock her up so securely that no one can enter her room. If you can manage, by means of gold, to open the doors and talk with her, I shall believe what you wrote on the wall."

There the soldier stood, realizing that he was in a sad scrape. There was nothing to do, however, but to try his best, for the king had given the order, and it was useless to evade it. If he did nothing he would be hanged; such was the king's decree, and kings always keep their word.

The princess was now placed in a firm tower built of rocks, and her father told her to stay there until the two years had passed. There was only one small window in the room where she lived, and no one but the king possessed the key of the iron-clad door behind which she sat.

Time passed, and the soldier determined to do something. He went into the treasury, and took all the gold and silver that he was able to carry with him. Then he left the town and walked out into the wide world.

One night he lost his way in a large forest, but seeing a light at a distance he walked towards it, and reached a small house where an old woman lived quite alone. The soldier asked her for a night's lodging, and was allowed to sleep in the hay up in the loft. As they fell to talking he told the good old woman how he was situated: that within two years he must marry the princess or lose his life; that he had enough money, but unless he knew what to do with it his riches were of little use to him.

"I think I can give you some advice," said the old woman. "Have a golden stag made, and let it be large enough to hold yourself. When it is finished creep into it, and hire some one to take it around and display it." She told him exactly how to proceed. Next morning the soldier bid the kind old woman good-bye, and pursued his way.

In the next town at which he arrived he engaged a jeweller to make a golden stag. It was to be large enough to hold him, and was to have a door on the one side in order that he might go in and out. His orders were promptly executed, and the door was so ingeniously concealed that no one could detect the slightest trace thereof. The soldier was much pleased with it, and paid a large sum of money to the skilful jeweller, whereupon he hired a man to display it, crept through the door, and closed it after him, bidding the man to start for the Royal residence.

The soldier had a great talent for music; he possessed a fine voice, and this he made use of the best he knew, while the man drew him along from one place to another. Every one stopped and listened—a golden stag which sang so beautifully they had never seen before. At length they passed the Royal palace. When the king learned the news of the singing stag, he came out to look at it, and was much pleased to hear that it could sing all the tunes which he liked best. He took such a fancy to the stag that he wished to buy it; but the man, who had received instructions from the soldier, asked such a large sum that the king declared the purchase impossible.

The princess had seen the stag from her window and heard its beautiful voice. When her father came into her room she besought him to buy it: she had been sitting alone in the dreadful tower for over a year, and the stag would help to cheer her solitude. The king thought this wish reasonable enough, and finally bought the stag, which was taken into the tower. The princess was happy, and as soon as she wished for a song the stag readily complied.

Towards evening, when the king had left his daughter, the soldier opened the door and jumped out. The princess was frightened, and began to scream at the top of her voice. No one heard her, however, and very soon the young man had explained all. He was very hungry, he said, and when he had eaten a little he would hide himself again. The next day she was to ask the king to remove the stag, and when this was done he would come out from his hiding-place and tell her father that money had opened her door for him in spite of the locks and bolts

The king thought, in the mean time, that it would be pleasant to hear one more tune from the wonderful stag before retiring for the night. So he entered the tower, and as he walked on tiptoe in order to disturb no one, neither his daughter nor the soldier heard his steps. They heard his voice, however, when he came in and found how the soldier had managed to pass the bolted doors. "You shall pay for this!" cried he, furiously, and forgetting himself entirely, he drew his golden sword, intending to kill the bold intruder. The soldier said, quietly but firmly: "My dear king! Money opened the doors for me in spite of your decrees. Keep your word, and give me your daughter's hand in marriage!" His majesty was obliged, of course, to do this, so the soldier married the princess, and needed no more to stand sentry or write on the house-wall.