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The Tinder Box
Start of Story
Next morning he could see through the iron grating in front of his
little window how the people were hurrying out of the town to see him
hanged. He heard the drums and saw the soldiers marching; all the
people were running to and fro. Just below his window was a shoemaker's
apprentice, with leather apron and shoes; he was skipping along so
merrily that one of his shoes flew off and fell against the wall, just
where the Soldier was sitting peeping through the iron grating.
'Oh, shoemaker's boy, you needn't be in such a hurry!' said the Soldier
to him. 'There's nothing going on till I arrive. But if you will run
back to the house where I lived, and fetch me my tinder-box, I will give
you four shillings. But you must put your best foot foremost.'
The shoemaker's boy was very willing to earn four shillings, and fetched
the tinder-box, gave it to the Soldier, and--yes--now you shall hear.
Outside the town a great scaffold had been erected, and all round were
standing the soldiers, and hundreds of thousands of people. The King and
Queen were sitting on a magnificent throne opposite the judges and the
The Soldier was already standing on the top of the ladder; but when they
wanted to put the rope round his neck, he said that the fulfilment of
one innocent request was always granted to a poor criminal before he
underwent his punishment. He would so much like to smoke a small pipe of
tobacco; it would be his last pipe in this world.
The King could not refuse him this, and so he took out his tinder-box,
and rubbed it once, twice, three times. And lo, and behold I there stood
all three dogs--the one with eyes as large as saucers, the second with
eyes as large as mill-wheels, and the third with eyes each as large as
the Round Tower of Copenhagen.