The Tinderbox Oskar Klever Water Color Illustration Created between 1915 and 1954 - First published in book form, 1991, in Danish, 'Hans Christian Andersen. Fairy Tales. Illustrations by Oskar Klever' From an online gallery at Katrinahaney.com, The site for readers and writers.

The Tinderbox

This entry is part 1 of 4 in the series Hans Christian Anderson

Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Tinderbox” was one of the first four fairy tales Andersen published, along with “Little Claus and Big Claus,” “The Princess and the Pea,” and “Little Ida’s Flowers.” These four stories were first published in Danish on May 8, 1835, in a small unbound (61 pages) booklet titled “Fairy Tales, Told for Children, First Collection, First Installment” (as translated from Danish). The second installment followed shortly thereafter, on December 16 of the same year, with “Thumbelina,” “The Naughty Boy,” and “The Traveling Companion.” The third and final installment of this first series was released on April 7, 1837, with “The Little Mermaid,” and “The Emperor’s New Clothes.”

Andersen did not set out to become a children’s writer. But on New Year’s Day 1835, he wrote to his friend Henriette Hanck: “I am now starting on some ‘fairy tales for children.’ I am going to win over future generations, you may want to know.” Also, in a letter dated February 1835 he wrote to poet Bernhard Severin Ingemann:

“I have started some ‘Fairy Tales Told for Children’ and believe I have succeeded. I have told a couple of tales which as a child I was happy about, and which I do not believe are known, and have written them exactly the way I would tell them to a child.”

He was a writer, hungry for the glory and fame, and he had no idea his stories would make him world famous. But another very good friend of his by the name of Hans Christian Oersted (who was famous in his own right in the field of physics) said that if “The Improviser,” which was Andersen’s first novel, also published in 1835, had made him famous, his fairy tales would make him immortal. He did not know how very right those prophetic words were. Or perhaps he did.

Andersen, himself, repeated Oersted‘s prophecy to Admiral Wulff’s daughter, Henriette:

“I have also written some fairy tales for children; Orsted says about them that if ‘The Improvisatore’ makes me famous then these will make me immortal, for they are the most perfect things I have written; but I myself do not think so.”

On March 26, just before publication of the final installment, he observed that:

“…they [the fairy tales] will be published in April, and people will say: the work of my immortality! Of course I shan’t enjoy the experience in this world.”

At any rate, this is the first of my posts on Andersen’s Fairy Tales, which I plan to present here in the order of their publication, along with my own comments regarding them. Like the Grimm Brothers, Andersen’s early tales, and actually much folklore of the time, far from being the happy and charming tales that Andersen seemed to think they were, drew on oral traditions that “revel in cruelty, violence, earthiness, and vulgarity in a burlesque mode” that is much different from some of his later ones that he actually wrote himself. I really have to wonder how they affected the children of the time. “The Tinderbox” has behind it the ultimate theme that you can be guilty of everything from ingratitude, theft, cold-blooded murder, and the indirect cause of the death of virtually the whole governing body of the town, including the king and queen, and still get rewarded by becoming the new king and marrying the princess, who doesn’t seem to care that her parents are dead because of you. This is certainly not the kind of values we parents want to teach our children today.

So why am I presenting them here, as well as those of the Brothers Grimm and other folk tales from around the world? Because  as a lover of literature as well as history, these tales have a place. That place may not be as reading material for today’s children, but as historical literary artifacts. Fairy tales like these, some taken from old folk tales and others not, were wildly popular at the time. It behooves us to study them in that context. We might ask ourselves, why were they so popular? How did they affect the children of the time? Was that time so different from our own that dark, grim, unhappy tales were so commonplace as to not actually scare the children of the day?

One thing to note is that interspersed among the soldier’s preposterous behavior, there are some charming charming moments, such as the three dogs who are filled with wonder at the sight of the wedding. Perhaps it is moments like those, along with the beautiful illustrations that came out in later editions, that have kept this story alive despite its dark nature.

Speaking of illustrations, it is difficult not to notice the discrepancy between many of the tales and the illustrations that began to be included and are still being created by today’s artists. If you did not know the story before seeing many of these illustrations, you would think happy thoughts. Why did illustrators choose to make beautiful images that belied the darkness of the stories?

Andersen admitted that writing the tales was pure fun for him, and he considered his stories as charming trifles that had no particular literary value. I don’t think I can quite see them that way. But as I present the tales I will also present my own thoughts about them, and include some interesting facts about Andersen’s life and times as we go along.

I hope you enjoy this series as much as I am enjoying putting it together for you. I can’t in all honesty hope you enjoy all of the stories. Enjoy, no! Study, yes! Appreciate, yes! Appreciate them for the place they have in our literary history, and for what we can glean of the times in which they were written and popular. Some of them are actually enjoyable. But never read one to your children that you haven’t read for yourself yet.


The Tinderbox

 

A soldier came marching along the high road: “Left, right—left, right.” He had his knapsack on his back, and a sword at his side; he had been to the wars, and was now returning home.

As he walked on, he met a very frightful-looking old witch in the road. Her under-lip hung quite down on her breast, and she stopped and said, “Good evening, soldier; you have a very fine sword, and a large knapsack, and you are a real soldier; so you shall have as much money as ever you like.”

“Thank you, old witch,” said the soldier.

“Do you see that large tree,” said the witch, pointing to a tree which stood beside them. “Well, it is quite hollow inside, and you must climb to the top, when you will see a hole, through which you can let yourself down into the tree to a great depth. I will tie a rope round your body, so that I can pull you up again when you call out to me.”

“But what am I to do, down there in the tree?” asked the soldier.

“Get money,” she replied; “for you must know that when you reach the ground under the tree, you will find yourself in a large hall, lighted up by three hundred lamps; you will then see three doors, which can be easily opened, for the keys are in all the locks. On entering the first of the chambers, to which these doors lead, you will see a large chest, standing in the middle of the floor, and upon it a dog seated, with a pair of eyes as large as teacups. But you need not be at all afraid of him; I will give you my blue checked apron, which you must spread upon the floor, and then boldly seize hold of the dog, and place him upon it. You can then open the chest, and take from it as many pence as you please, they are only copper pence; but if you would rather have silver money, you must go into the second chamber. Here you will find another dog, with eyes as big as mill-wheels; but do not let that trouble you. Place him upon my apron, and then take what money you please. If, however, you like gold best, enter the third chamber, where there is another chest full of it. The dog who sits on this chest is very dreadful; his eyes are as big as a tower, but do not mind him. If he also is placed upon my apron, he cannot hurt you, and you may take from the chest what gold you will.”

“This is not a bad story,” said the soldier; “but what am I to give you, you old witch? for, of course, you do not mean to tell me all this for nothing.”

“No,” said the witch; “but I do not ask for a single penny. Only promise to bring me an old tinder-box, which my grandmother left behind the last time she went down there.”

“Very well; I promise. Now tie the rope round my body.”

“Here it is,” replied the witch; “and here is my blue checked apron.”

As soon as the rope was tied, the soldier climbed up the tree, and let himself down through the hollow to the ground beneath; and here he found, as the witch had told him, a large hall, in which many hundred lamps were all burning. Then he opened the first door. “Ah!” there sat the dog, with the eyes as large as teacups, staring at him.

“You’re a pretty fellow,” said the soldier, seizing him, and placing him on the witch’s apron, while he filled his pockets from the chest with as many pieces as they would hold. Then he closed the lid, seated the dog upon it again, and walked into another chamber, And, sure enough, there sat the dog with eyes as big as mill-wheels.

“You had better not look at me in that way,” said the soldier; “you will make your eyes water;” and then he seated him also upon the apron, and opened the chest. But when he saw what a quantity of silver money it contained, he very quickly threw away all the coppers he had taken, and filled his pockets and his knapsack with nothing but silver.

Then he went into the third room, and there the dog was really hideous; his eyes were, truly, as big as towers, and they turned round and round in his head like wheels.

“Good morning,” said the soldier, touching his cap, for he had never seen such a dog in his life. But after looking at him more closely, he thought he had been civil enough, so he placed him on the floor, and opened the chest. Good gracious, what a quantity of gold there was! enough to buy all the sugar-sticks of the sweet-stuff women; all the tin soldiers, whips, and rocking-horses in the world, or even the whole town itself There was, indeed, an immense quantity. So the soldier now threw away all the silver money he had taken, and filled his pockets and his knapsack with gold instead; and not only his pockets and his knapsack, but even his cap and boots, so that he could scarcely walk.

He was really rich now; so he replaced the dog on the chest, closed the door, and called up through the tree, “Now pull me out, you old witch.”

“Have you got the tinder-box?” asked the witch.

“No; I declare I quite forgot it.” So he went back and fetched the tinderbox, and then the witch drew him up out of the tree, and he stood again in the high road, with his pockets, his knapsack, his cap, and his boots full of gold.

“What are you going to do with the tinder-box?” asked the soldier.

“That is nothing to you,” replied the witch; “you have the money, now give me the tinder-box.”

“I tell you what,” said the soldier, “if you don’t tell me what you are going to do with it, I will draw my sword and cut off your head.”

“No,” said the witch.

The soldier immediately cut off her head, and there she lay on the ground. Then he tied up all his money in her apron. and slung it on his back like a bundle, put the tinderbox in his pocket, and walked off to the nearest town. It was a very nice town, and he put up at the best inn, and ordered a dinner of all his favorite dishes, for now he was rich and had plenty of money.

The servant, who cleaned his boots, thought they certainly were a shabby pair to be worn by such a rich gentleman, for he had not yet bought any new ones. The next day, however, he procured some good clothes and proper boots, so that our soldier soon became known as a fine gentleman, and the people visited him, and told him all the wonders that were to be seen in the town, and of the king’s beautiful daughter, the princess.

“Where can I see her?” asked the soldier.

“She is not to be seen at all,” they said; “she lives in a large copper castle, surrounded by walls and towers. No one but the king himself can pass in or out, for there has been a prophecy that she will marry a common soldier, and the king cannot bear to think of such a marriage.”

“I should like very much to see her,” thought the soldier; but he could not obtain permission to do so. However, he passed a very pleasant time; went to the theatre, drove in the king’s garden, and gave a great deal of money to the poor, which was very good of him; he remembered what it had been in olden times to be without a shilling. Now he was rich, had fine clothes, and many friends, who all declared he was a fine fellow and a real gentleman, and all this gratified him exceedingly. But his money would not last forever; and as he spent and gave away a great deal daily, and received none, he found himself at last with only two shillings left. So he was obliged to leave his elegant rooms, and live in a little garret under the roof, where he had to clean his own boots, and even mend them with a large needle. None of his friends came to see him, there were too many stairs to mount up. One dark evening, he had not even a penny to buy a candle; then all at once he remembered that there was a piece of candle stuck in the tinder-box, which he had brought from the old tree, into which the witch had helped him.

He found the tinder-box, but no sooner had he struck a few sparks from the flint and steel, than the door flew open and the dog with eyes as big as teacups, whom he had seen while down in the tree, stood before him, and said, “What orders, master?”

“Hallo,” said the soldier; “well this is a pleasant tinderbox, if it brings me all I wish for.”

“Bring me some money,” said he to the dog.

He was gone in a moment, and presently returned, carrying a large bag of coppers in his month. The soldier very soon discovered after this the value of the tinder-box. If he struck the flint once, the dog who sat on the chest of copper money made his appearance; if twice, the dog came from the chest of silver; and if three times, the dog with eyes like towers, who watched over the gold. The soldier had now plenty of money; he returned to his elegant rooms, and reappeared in his fine clothes, so that his friends knew him again directly, and made as much of him as before.

After a while he began to think it was very strange that no one could get a look at the princess. “Every one says she is very beautiful,” thought he to himself; “but what is the use of that if she is to be shut up in a copper castle surrounded by so many towers. Can I by any means get to see her. Stop! where is my tinder-box?” Then he struck a light, and in a moment the dog, with eyes as big as teacups, stood before him.

“It is midnight,” said the soldier, “yet I should very much like to see the princess, if only for a moment.”

The dog disappeared instantly, and before the soldier could even look round, he returned with the princess. She was lying on the dog’s back asleep, and looked so lovely, that every one who saw her would know she was a real princess. The soldier could not help kissing her, true soldier as he was. Then the dog ran back with the princess; but in the morning, while at breakfast with the king and queen, she told them what a singular dream she had had during the night, of a dog and a soldier, that she had ridden on the dog’s back, and been kissed by the soldier.

“That is a very pretty story, indeed,” said the queen. So the next night one of the old ladies of the court was set to watch by the princess’s bed, to discover whether it really was a dream, or what else it might be.

The soldier longed very much to see the princess once more, so he sent for the dog again in the night to fetch her, and to run with her as fast as ever he could. But the old lady put on water boots, and ran after him as quickly as he did, and found that he carried the princess into a large house. She thought it would help her to remember the place if she made a large cross on the door with a piece of chalk. Then she went home to bed, and the dog presently returned with the princess. But when he saw that a cross had been made on the door of the house, where the soldier lived, he took another piece of chalk and made crosses on all the doors in the town, so that the lady-in-waiting might not be able to find out the right door.

Early the next morning the king and queen accompanied the lady and all the officers of the household, to see where the princess had been.

“Here it is,” said the king, when they came to the first door with a cross on it.

“No, my dear husband, it must be that one,” said the queen, pointing to a second door having a cross also.

“And here is one, and there is another!” they all exclaimed; for there were crosses on all the doors in every direction.

So they felt it would be useless to search any farther. But the queen was a very clever woman; she could do a great deal more than merely ride in a carriage. She took her large gold scissors, cut a piece of silk into squares, and made a neat little bag. This bag she filled with buckwheat flour, and tied it round the princess’s neck; and then she cut a small hole in the bag, so that the flour might be scattered on the ground as the princess went along. During the night, the dog came again and carried the princess on his back, and ran with her to the soldier, who loved her very much, and wished that he had been a prince, so that he might have her for a wife. The dog did not observe how the flour ran out of the bag all the way from the castle wall to the soldier’s house, and even up to the window, where he had climbed with the princess. Therefore in the morning the king and queen found out where their daughter had been, and the soldier was taken up and put in prison. Oh, how dark and disagreeable it was as he sat there, and the people said to him, “To-morrow you will be hanged.” It was not very pleasant news, and besides, he had left the tinder-box at the inn. In the morning he could see through the iron grating of the little window how the people were hastening out of the town to see him hanged; he heard the drums beating, and saw the soldiers marching. Every one ran out to look at them. and a shoemaker’s boy, with a leather apron and slippers on, galloped by so fast, that one of his slippers flew off and struck against the wall where the soldier sat looking through the iron grating. “Hallo, you shoemaker’s boy, you need not be in such a hurry,” cried the soldier to him. “There will be nothing to see till I come; but if you will run to the house where I have been living, and bring me my tinder-box, you shall have four shillings, but you must put your best foot foremost.”

The shoemaker’s boy liked the idea of getting the four shillings, so he ran very fast and fetched the tinder-box, and gave it to the soldier. And now we shall see what happened. Outside the town a large gibbet had been erected, round which stood the soldiers and several thousands of people. The king and the queen sat on splendid thrones opposite to the judges and the whole council. The soldier already stood on the ladder; but as they were about to place the rope around his neck, he said that an innocent request was often granted to a poor criminal before he suffered death. He wished very much to smoke a pipe, as it would be the last pipe he should ever smoke in the world. The king could not refuse this request, so the soldier took his tinder-box, and struck fire, once, twice, thrice,— and there in a moment stood all the dogs;—the one with eyes as big as teacups, the one with eyes as large as mill-wheels, and the third, whose eyes were like towers. “Help me now, that I may not be hanged,” cried the soldier.

And the dogs fell upon the judges and all the councillors; seized one by the legs, and another by the nose, and tossed them many feet high in the air, so that they fell down and were dashed to pieces.

“I will not be touched,” said the king. But the largest dog seized him, as well as the queen, and threw them after the others. Then the soldiers and all the people were afraid, and cried, “Good soldier, you shall be our king, and you shall marry the beautiful princess.”

So they placed the soldier in the king’s carriage, and the three dogs ran on in front and cried “Hurrah!” and the little boys whistled through their fingers, and the soldiers presented arms. The princess came out of the copper castle, and became queen, which was very pleasing to her. The wedding festivities lasted a whole week, and the dogs sat at the table, and stared with all their eyes.

 


The Story in Popular Culture

 


The Tinderbox in Print

Several new editions of “The Brave (or Steadfast) Tin Soldier” have appeared recently, and many are very nicely illustrated by contemporary artists. These are some of the ones that look interesting to me. One of the them is a pop-up book and the last one is free for Kindle. You can also perform a search for The Brave Tin Soldier here.

 






Illustrations From Around the World


The Tinderbox on Stamps


Divider-Books

 

 

This Fairy Tales page was created by Katrina Haney, author, creative writer, ghost writer and all-around content writer. Illustrations by Walter Crane from the Fairy Tales and Other Stories, 1874. Please feel free to save, print or share this post with your friends or social communities. For more Fairy Tales posts , as well as other awesome information about books, words, writing and reading, please visit Katrina’s website at www.katrinahaney.com.
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The Steadfast Tin Soldier

This entry is part 2 of 4 in the series Hans Christian Anderson
Chibi Soldier and Ballerina by Simone - Deviant Art

Chibi Soldier and Ballerina
by Simone – Deviant Art

Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Steadfast Tin Soldier,” sometimes called “The Brave Tin Soldier,” is the first tale Andersen wrote that has neither a literary model nor a folk tale source. It marks a new independence in his writing, and is the zenith of his evocation of the nineteenth century nursery world with its toy dancers, castles, and swans.

“The Steadfast Tin Soldier” was first published in May of 1838, and it has been  in print in different editions ever since. Many, many, different artists have illustrated the story over the years, and new artists continue to do so today. Some of the earlier illustrators include Arthur Rackham, W. Heath Robinson, Harry Clarke, Mabel Lucie Attwell, Milo Winter, and others.

In The Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales, Joan G. Haahr writes: “The story is unusual among Andersen’s early tales, both in its emphasis on sensual desire and in its ambiguities. Blind fate, not intention, determines all events. Moreover, the narrative questions the very decorum it praises. The tin soldier’s passive acceptance of whatever happens to him, while exemplifying pietistic ideals of self-denial, also contributes to his doom. Were he to speak and act, the soldier might gain both life and love. Restrained, however, by inhibition and convention, he finds only tragedy and death. The tale is often read autobiographically, with the soldier viewed as symbolizing Andersen’s feelings of inadequacy with women, his passive acceptance of bourgeois class attitudes, or his sense of alienation as an artist and an outsider, from full participation in everyday life.”


The Steadfast Tin Soldier

Opening the Box with the Tin Soldiers From 'Andersens Sproken en vertellingen' (Dutch Edition) by Hans Christian Andersen Illustrated by Alfred Walter Bayes, 1895

Opening the Box with the Tin Soldiers
From ‘Andersens Sproken en vertellingen’ (Dutch Edition) by Hans Christian Andersen
Illustrated by Alfred Walter Bayes, 1895

There were once five-and-twenty tin soldiers, who were all brothers, for they had been made out of the same old tin spoon. They shouldered arms and looked straight before them, and wore a splendid uniform, red and blue. The first thing in the world they ever heard were the words, “Tin soldiers!” uttered by a little boy, who clapped his hands with delight when the lid of the box, in which they lay, was taken off. They were given him for a birthday present, and he stood at the table to set them up. The soldiers were all exactly alike, excepting one, who had only one leg; he had been left to the last, and then there was not enough of the melted tin to finish him, so they made him to stand firmly on one leg, and this caused him to be very remarkable.

 


 

 

The Table was filled with other playthings…
By Vilhelm Pedersen, Andersen’s first “Official” Illustrator
Hover over the red pin for more information


The table on which the tin soldiers stood, was covered with other playthings, but the most attractive to the eye was a pretty little paper castle. Through the small windows the rooms could be seen. In front of the castle a number of little trees surrounded a piece of looking-glass, which was intended to represent a transparent lake. Swans, made of wax, swam on the lake, and were reflected in it. All this was very pretty, but the prettiest of all was a tiny little lady, who stood at the open door of the castle; she, also, was made of paper, and she wore a dress of clear muslin, with a narrow blue ribbon over her shoulders just like a scarf. In front of these was fixed a glittering tinsel rose, as large as her whole face. The little lady was a dancer, and she stretched out both her arms, and raised one of her legs so high, that the tin soldier could not see it at all, and he thought that she, like himself, had only one leg.

He thought that she, like himself, had only one leg.

“That is the wife for me,” he thought; “but she is too grand, and lives in a castle, while I have only a box to live in, five-and-twenty of us altogether, that is no place for her. Still I must try and make her acquaintance.”

Then he laid himself at full length on the table behind a snuff-box that stood upon it, so that he could peep at the little delicate lady, who continued to stand on one leg without losing her balance. When evening came, the other tin soldiers were all placed in the box, and the people of the house went to bed. Then the playthings began to have their own games together, to pay visits, to have sham fights, and to give balls. The tin soldiers rattled in their box; they wanted to get out and join the amusements, but they could not open the lid. The nut-crackers played at leap-frog, and the pencil jumped about the table. There was such a noise that the canary woke up and began to talk, and in poetry too. Only the tin soldier and the dancer remained in their places. She stood on tiptoe, with her legs stretched out, as firmly as he did on his one leg. He never took his eyes from her for even a moment. The clock struck twelve, and, with a bounce, up sprang the lid of the snuff-box; but, instead of snuff, there jumped up a little black goblin; for the snuff-box was a toy puzzle.

Don't look at things that aren't intended for the likes of YOU From The Yellow Fairy Book, illustrated by H. J. Ford, 1894

Don’t look at things that aren’t intended for the likes of YOU
From The Yellow Fairy Book, illustrated by H. J. Ford, 1894

“Tin soldier,” said the goblin, “don’t wish for what does not belong to you.”

But the tin soldier pretended not to hear.

“Very well; wait till to-morrow, then,” said the goblin.

When the children came in the next morning, they placed the tin soldier in the window. Now, whether it was the goblin who did it, or the draft, is not known, but the window flew open, and out fell the tin soldier, heels over head, from the third story, into the street beneath. It was a terrible fall; for he came head downwards, his helmet and his bayonet stuck in between the flagstones, and his one leg up in the air. The servant maid and the little boy went down stairs directly to look for him; but he was nowhere to be seen, although once they nearly trod upon him. If he had called out, “Here I am,” it would have been all right, but he was too proud to cry out for help while he wore a uniform.

Presently it began to rain, and the drops fell faster and faster, till there was a heavy shower. When it was over, two boys happened to pass by, and one of them said, “Look, there is a tin soldier. He ought to have a boat to sail in.”

So they made a boat out of a newspaper, and placed the tin soldier in it, and sent him sailing down the gutter, while the two boys ran by the side of it, and clapped their hands. Good gracious, what large waves arose in that gutter! and how fast the stream rolled on! for the rain had been very heavy. The paper boat rocked up and down, and turned itself round sometimes so quickly that the tin soldier trembled; yet he remained firm; his countenance did not change; he looked straight before him, and shouldered his musket. Suddenly the boat shot under a bridge which formed a part of a drain, and then it was as dark as the tin soldier’s box.

“Where am I going now?” thought he. “This is the black goblin’s fault, I am sure. Ah, well, if the little lady were only here with me in the boat, I should not care for any darkness.”

Down the Drain From The Yellow Fairy Book, illustrated by H. J. Ford, 1894

Down the Drain
From The Yellow Fairy Book, illustrated by H. J. Ford, 1894

Suddenly there appeared a great water-rat, who lived in the drain.

“Have you a passport?“ asked the rat, “give it to me at once.” But the tin soldier remained silent and held his musket tighter than ever. The boat sailed on and the rat followed it. How he did gnash his teeth and cry out to the bits of wood and straw, “Stop him, stop him; he has not paid toll, and has not shown his pass.“ But the stream rushed on stronger and stronger. The tin soldier could already see daylight shining where the arch ended. Then he heard a roaring sound quite terrible enough to frighten the bravest man. At the end of the tunnel the drain fell into a large canal over a steep place, which made it as dangerous for him as a waterfall would be to us. He was too close to it to stop, so the boat rushed on, and the poor tin soldier could only hold himself as stiffly as possible, without moving an eyelid, to show that he was not afraid. The boat whirled round three or four times, and then filled with water to the very edge; nothing could save it from sinking. He now stood up to his neck in water, while deeper and deeper sank the boat, and the paper became soft and loose with the wet, till at last the water closed over the soldier’s head. He thought of the elegant little dancer whom he should never see again, and the words of the song sounded in his ears—

“Farewell, warrior! ever brave,
Drifting onward to thy grave.”

Then the paper boat fell to pieces, and the soldier sank into the water and immediately afterwards

From "Forty-two Stories by Hans Andersen" Illustrated by Robin Jacques, 1953.

From “Forty-two Stories by Hans Andersen”
Illustrated by Robin Jacques, 1953.

Oh how dark it was inside the fish! A great deal darker than in the tunnel, and narrower too, but the tin soldier continued firm, and lay at full length shouldering his musket. The fish swam to and fro, making the most wonderful movements, but at last he became quite still. After a while, a flash of lightning seemed to pass through him, and then the daylight approached, and a voice cried out, “I declare here is the tin soldier.”

Illustration from Hans Andersen's Fairy Stories. Anne Anderson, illustrator. London: Collins, 1924.

He was swallowed up by a great fish.
Illustration from Hans Andersen’s Fairy Stories. Anne Anderson, illustrator. London: Collins, 1924.

The fish had been caught, taken to the market and sold to the cook, who took him into the kitchen and cut him open with a large knife. She picked up the soldier and held him by the waist between her finger and thumb, and carried him into the room. They were all anxious to see this wonderful soldier who had traveled about inside a fish; but he was not at all proud. They placed him on the table, and—how many curious things do happen in the world!—there he was in the very same room from the window of which he had fallen, there were the same children, the same playthings, standing on the table, and the pretty castle with the elegant little dancer at the door; she still balanced herself on one leg, and held up the other, so she was as firm as himself.

She Was Caught Up Second Illustration by Vilhelm Pedersen, Andersen's first illustrator (1850)

She Was Caught Up
Second Illustration by Vilhelm Pedersen, Andersen’s first illustrator (1850)

It touched the tin soldier so much to see her that he almost wept tin tears, but he kept them back. He only looked at her and they both remained silent. Presently one of the little boys took up the tin soldier, and threw him into the stove. He had no reason for doing so, therefore it must have been the fault of the black goblin who lived in the snuff-box. The flames lighted up the tin soldier, as he stood, the heat was very terrible, but whether it proceeded from the real fire or from the fire of love he could not tell. Then he could see that the bright colors were faded from his uniform, but whether they had been washed off during his journey or from the effects of his sorrow, no one could say.

He looked at the little lady, and she looked at him. He felt himself melting away, but he still remained firm with his gun on his shoulder.

And That Was the End. From The Yellow Fairy Book, illustrated by H. J. Ford, 1894

And That Was the End.
From The Yellow Fairy Book, illustrated by H. J. Ford, 1894

Suddenly the door of the room flew open and the draft of air caught up the little dancer, she fluttered like a sylph right into the stove by the side of the tin soldier, and was instantly in flames and was gone.

The tin soldier melted down into a lump, and the next morning, when the maid servant took the ashes out of the stove, she found him in the shape of a little tin heart. But of the little dancer nothing remained but the tinsel rose, which was burnt black as a cinder.


The Story in Popular Culture

In 1992, it was adapted into an animated television movie which was produced by Hanna-Barbera.

In Disney’s film Fantasia 2000, an adaptation of the tale is set to the first movement of the Piano Concerto No. 2 in F Major by Dmitri Shostakovich. The segment differs slightly from Andersen’s tale: the ballerina appears to be made of porcelain; the soldier is disappointed to discover the ballerina has two legs, but the ballerina still accepts him; at the end, the jack-in-the-box villain is the one that perishes in the fire instead of the soldier and ballerina.

Other animated films for children have been produced on the tale, and, in 1975, a science fiction fantasy feature film, The Tin Soldier


The Brave Tin Soldier in Print

Several new editions of “The Brave (or Steadfast) Tin Soldier” have appeared recently, and many are very nicely illustrated by contemporary artists. These are some of the ones that look interesting to me. One of the them is a pop-up book and the last one is free for Kindle. You can also perform a search for The Brave Tin Soldier here.

 






 Illustrations from “Northern Fairy Tales”

by HL Broken City. Illustrations: RT Pritchett, FSA, and Clifford Merton. London. Sampson Low, Marston, Searle, and Rivington. 1879.

  • "The Steadfast Tin Soldier" (1 of 6) "On the table stood many other playthings..."  "Northern Fairy Tales" by HL Broken City. Illustrations: RT Pritchett, FSA, and Clifford Merton. London. Sampson Low, Marston, Searle, and Rivington. 1879. From a gallery on Katrinahaney.com

    "The Steadfast Tin Soldier" (1 of 6)
    "On the table stood many other playthings..."
    "Northern Fairy Tales" by HL Broken City.
    Illustrations: RT Pritchett, FSA, and Clifford Merton. London. Sampson Low, Marston, Searle, and Rivington. 1879.
    From a gallery on Katrinahaney.com

  • "The Steadfast Tin Soldier" (2 of 6) "The soldier fell off the windowsill." "Northern Fairy Tales" by HL Broken City. Illustrations: RT Pritchett, FSA, and Clifford Merton. London. Sampson Low, Marston, Searle, and Rivington. 1879. From a gallery on Katrinahaney.com

    "The Steadfast Tin Soldier" (2 of 6)
    "The soldier fell off the windowsill"
    "Northern Fairy Tales" by HL Broken City.
    Illustrations by RT Pritchett, FSA, and Clifford Merton. London. Sampson Low, Marston, Searle, and Rivington. 1879.
    From a gallery on Katrinahaney.com

  • "The Steadfast Tin Soldier" (3 of 6) "So they made a boat out of a newspaper, and placed the tin soldier in it." "Northern Fairy Tales" by HL Broken City. Illustrations: RT Pritchett, FSA, and Clifford Merton. London. Sampson Low, Marston, Searle, and Rivington. 1879. From a gallery on Katrinahaney.com

    "The Steadfast Tin Soldier" (3 of 6)
    "So they made a boat out of a newspaper, and placed the tin soldier in it."
    "Northern Fairy Tales" by HL Broken City.
    Illustrations by RT Pritchett, FSA, and Clifford Merton. London. Sampson Low, Marston, Searle, and Rivington. 1879.
    From a gallery on Katrinahaney.com

  • "The Steadfast Tin Soldier" (4 of 6) "'Have you a passport?' asked the rat" "Northern Fairy Tales" by HL Broken City. Illustrations: RT Pritchett, FSA, and Clifford Merton. London. Sampson Low, Marston, Searle, and Rivington. 1879. From a gallery on Katrinahaney.com

    "The Steadfast Tin Soldier" (4 of 6)
    "'Have you a passport?' asked the rat"
    "Northern Fairy Tales" by HL Broken City.
    Illustrations by RT Pritchett, FSA, and Clifford Merton. London. Sampson Low, Marston, Searle, and Rivington. 1879.
    From a gallery on Katrinahaney.com

  • "The Steadfast Tin Soldier" (5 of 6) "The cook took (the fish) into the kitchen and cut him open with a large knife." "Northern Fairy Tales" by HL Broken City. Illustrations: RT Pritchett, FSA, and Clifford Merton. London. Sampson Low, Marston, Searle, and Rivington. 1879. From a gallery on Katrinahaney.com

    "The Steadfast Tin Soldier" (5 of 6)
    "The cook took (the fish) into the kitchen and cut him open with a large knife."
    "Northern Fairy Tales" by HL Broken City.
    Illustrations by RT Pritchett, FSA, and Clifford Merton. London. Sampson Low, Marston, Searle, and Rivington. 1879.
    > From a gallery on Katrinahaney.com

  • "The Steadfast Tin Soldier" (6 of 6) "She fluttered like a sylph right into the stove by the side of the tin soldier." "Northern Fairy Tales" by HL Broken City. Illustrations: RT Pritchett, FSA, and Clifford Merton. London. Sampson Low, Marston, Searle, and Rivington. 1879. From a gallery on Katrinahaney.com

    "The Steadfast Tin Soldier" (6 of 6)
    "She fluttered like a sylph right into the stove by the side of the tin soldier."
    "Northern Fairy Tales" by HL Broken City.
    Illustrations by RT Pritchett, FSA, and Clifford Merton. London. Sampson Low, Marston, Searle, and Rivington. 1879.
    From a gallery on Katrinahaney.com


Illustrations From Around the World

  • Artist: Sandor Csala - Hungary

    Artist: Sandor Csala - Hungary ( http://www.csalasandor.blogspot.com)

  • Artist: Sandor Csala - Hungary

    Artist: Sandor Csala - Hungary ( http://www.csalasandor.blogspot.com)

  • Artist: Sandor Csala - Hungary

    Artist: Sandor Csala - Hungary ( http://www.csalasandor.blogspot.com)

  • Artist: Sandor Csala - Hungary

    Artist: Sandor Csala - Hungary ( http://www.csalasandor.blogspot.com)

  • Artist: Jose Coba - Mexico

    Artist: Jose Coba - Mexico

  • Artist: Zoe Shin - UK

    Artist: Zoe Shin - UK


The Brave Tin Soldier on Stamps

  • Stamp from Monaco 1980 - Scott # 1240

    Stamp from Monaco -1980 - Scott # 1240

  • Disney Stamp Sheet from Redonda -1986 - Brookman Disney Cat. # D66

    Disney Stamp Sheet from Redonda -1986 - Brookman Disney Cat. # D66

  • Stamp Sheet from Hungary -1987 - Scott # 3106

    Stamp Sheet from Hungary -1987 - Scott # 3106

  • Denmark Christmas Seals -1994 (Full Sheet)

    Denmark Christmas Seals -1994 (Full Sheet)

  • Denmark Christmas Seals -1994

    Denmark Christmas Seals -1994

  • Stamp from Poland 1987 - Scott # 2837

    Stamp from Poland -1987 - Scott # 2837


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This Fairy Tales page was created by Katrina Haney, author, creative writer, ghost writer and all-around content writer. Illustrations by Walter Crane from the Fairy Tales and Other Stories, 1874. Please feel free to save, print or share this post with your friends or social communities. For more Fairy Tales posts , as well as other awesome information about books, words, writing and reading, please visit Katrina’s website at www.katrinahaney.com.
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This Fable is Intended For You

This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series Hans Christian Anderson

 


This Fable is Intended For You

Wise men of ancient times ingeniously discovered how to tell people the truth without being blunt to their faces. You see, they held a magic mirror before the people, in which all sorts of animals and various wondrous things appeared, producing amusing as well as instructive pictures. They called these fables, and whatever wise or foolish deeds the animals performed, the people were to imagine themselves in their places and thereby think, “This fable is intended for you!” In this way no one’s feelings were hurt. Let us give you an example.

There were two high mountains, and at the top of each stood a castle. In the valley below ran a hungry dog, sniffing along the ground as if in search of mice or quail. Suddenly a trumpet sounded from one of the castles, to announce that mealtime was approaching. The dog immediately started running up the mountain, hoping to get his share; but when he was halfway up, the trumpeter ceased blowing, and a trumpet from the other castle commenced. “Up here,” thought the dog, “they will have finished eating before I arrive, but over there they are just getting ready to eat.” So he ran down, and up the other mountain. But now the first trumpet started again, while the second stopped. The dog ran down again, and up again; and this he continued until both trumpets stopped blowing, and the meals were over in both castles.

Now guess what the wise men of ancient times would have said about this fable, and who the fool could be who runs himself ragged without gaining anything, either here or there?


Divider-Books

This Fairy Tales page was created by Katrina Haney, author, creative writer, ghost writer and all-around content writer. Illustrations by Walter Crane from the Fairy Tales and Other Stories, 1874. Please feel free to save, print or share this post with your friends or social communities. For more Fairy Tales posts , as well as other awesome information about books, words, writing and reading, please visit Katrina’s website at www.katrinahaney.com.

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Little Claus and Big Claus

This entry is part 4 of 4 in the series Hans Christian Anderson

 

I hope you enjoy this series as much as I am enjoying putting it together for you. I can’t in all honesty hope you enjoy all of the stories. Enjoy, no! Study, yes! Appreciate, yes! Appreciate them for the place they have in our literary history, and for what we can glean of the times in which they were written and popular. Some of them are actually enjoyable. But never read one to your children that you haven’t read for yourself yet.


Little Claus and Big Claus

 

In a village there lived two men who had the self-same name. Both were named Claus. But one of them owned four horses, and the other owned only one horse; so to distinguish between them people called the man who had four horses Big Claus, and the man who had only one horse Little Claus. Now I’ll tell you what happened to these two, for this is a true story.

The whole week through, Little Claus had to plow for Big Claus and lend him his only horse. In return, Big Claus lent him all four of his horses, but only for one day a week and that had to be Sunday.

Each Sunday how proudly Little Claus cracked his whip over all the five horses, which were as good as his own on that day. How brightly the sun shone. How merry were the church bells that rang in the steeple. How well dressed were all the people who passed him with hymn books tucked under their arms. And as they went their way to church, to hear the parson preach, how the people did stare to see Little Claus plowing with all five horses. This made him feel so proud that he would crack his whip and hollo, “Get up, all my horses.”

“You must not say that,” Big Claus told him. “You know as well as I do that only one of those horses is yours.” But no sooner did another bevy of churchgoers come by than Little Claus forgot he mustn’t say it, and holloed, “Get up, all my horses.”

“Don’t you say that again,” Big Claus told him. “If you do, I’ll knock your horse down dead in his traces, and that will be the end of him.”

“You won’t catch me saying it again,” Little Claus promised. But as soon as people came by, nodding to him and wishing him “Good morning,” he was so pleased and so proud of how grand it looked to have five horses plowing his field, that he holloed again, “Get up, all my horses!”

“I’ll get up your horse for you,” Big Claus said, and he snatched up a tethering mallet, and he knocked Little Claus’s one and only horse on the head so hard that it fell down dead.

“Now I haven’t any horse at all,” said Little Claus, and he began to cry. But by and by he skinned his dead horse and hung the hide to dry in the wind. Then he crammed the dry skin in a sack, slung it up over his shoulder, and set out to sell it in the nearest town.

It was a long way to go, and he had to pass through a dark, dismal forest. Suddenly a terrible storm came up, and he lost his way. Before he could find it again, evening overtook him. The town was still a long way off, and he had come too far to get back home before night.

Not far from the road he saw a large farmhouse. The shutters were closed, but light showed through a crack at the top of the windows. “Maybe they’ll let me spend the night here,” Little Claus thought, as he went to the door and knocked.

The farmer’s wife opened it, but when she heard what he wanted she told him to go away. She said her husband wasn’t home, and she wouldn’t have any strangers in the house.

“Then I’ll have to sleep outside,” Little Claus decided, as she slammed the door in his face.

Near the farmhouse stood a large haystack, leading up to the thatched roof of a shed which lay between it and the house. “That’s where I’ll sleep,” said Little Claus when he noticed the thatch. “It will make a wonderful bed. All I hope is that the stork doesn’t fly down and bite my legs.” For a stork was actually standing guard on the roof where it had a nest.

So Little Claus climbed to the roof of the shed. As he turned over to make himself comfortable, he discovered that the farmhouse shutters didn’t come quite to the top of the windows, and he could see over them. He could see into a room where a big table was spread with wine and roast meat and a delicious fish. The farmer’s wife and the sexton were sitting there at the table, all by themselves. She kept helping him to wine, and he kept helping himself to fish. He must have loved fish.

“Oh, if only I could have some too,” thought Little Claus. By craning his neck toward the window he caught sight of a great, appetizing cake. Why, they were feasting in there!

Just then he heard someone riding down the road to the house. It was the farmer coming home. He was an excellent man except for just one thing. He could not stand the sight of a sexton. If he so much as caught a glimpse of one, he would fly into a furious rage, which was the reason why the sexton had gone to see the farmer’s wife while her husband was away from home, and the good woman could do no less than set before him all the good things to eat that she had in the house. When she heard the farmer coming, she trembled for the sexton, and begged him to creep into a big empty chest which stood in one corner of the room. He lost no time about it, because he knew full well that her poor husband couldn’t stand the sight of a sexton. The woman quickly set aside the wine and hid the good food in her oven, because if her husband had seen the feast he would have asked questions hard to answer.

“Oh dear!” Up on the shed Little Claus sighed to see all the good food disappearing.

“Who’s up there?” the farmer peered at Little Claus. “Whatever are you doing up there? Come into the house with me.” So Little Claus came down. He told the farmer how he had lost his way, and asked if he could have shelter for the night.

“Of course,” said the farmer, “but first let’s have something to eat.”

The farmer’s wife received them well, laid the whole table, and set before them a big bowl of porridge. The farmer was hungry and ate it with a good appetite, but Little Claus was thinking about the good roast meat, that fish and that cake in the oven. Beside his feet under the table lay his sack with the horsehide, for as we know he was on his way to sell it in the town. Not liking the porridge at all, Little Claus trod on the sack, and the dry hide gave a loud squeak.

“Sh!” Little Claus said to his sack, at the same time that he trod on it so hard that it squeaked even louder.

“What on earth have you got in there?” said the farmer.

“Oh, just a conjuror,” said Little Claus. “He tells me we don’t have to eat porridge, because he has conjured up a whole oven-full of roast meat, fish, and cake for us.”

“What do you say?” said the farmer. He made haste to open the oven, where he found all the good dishes. His wife had hidden them there, but he quite believed that they had been conjured up by the wizard in the sack. His wife didn’t dare open her mouth as she helped them to their fill of meat, fish and cake.

Then Little Claus trod upon the sack to make it squeak again.

“What does he say now?” asked the farmer.

“He says,” Little Claus answered, “that there are three bottles of wine for us in the corner by the oven.”

So the woman had to bring out the wine she had hidden. The farmer drank it till he grew merry, and wanted to get himself a conjuror just like the one Little Claus carried in his sack.

“Can he conjure up the devil?” the farmer wondered. “I’m in just the mood to meet him.”

“Oh, yes,” said Little Claus. “My conjuror can do anything I tell him. Can’t you?” he asked and trod upon the sack till it squeaked. “Did you hear him answer? He said ‘Yes.’ He can conjure up the devil, but he’s afraid we won’t like the look of him.”

“Oh, I’m not afraid. What’s he like?”

“Well, he looks an awful lot like a sexton.”

“Ho,” said the farmer, “as ugly as that? I can’t bear the sight of a sexton. But don’t let that stop us. Now that I know it’s just the devil I shan’t mind it so much. I’ll face him, provided he doesn’t come near me.”

“Wait, while I talk with my conjuror.” Little Claus trod on the sack and stooped down to listen.

“What does he say?”

“He says for you to go and open that big chest in the corner, and there you’ll find the devil doubled up inside it. But you must hold fast to the lid, so he doesn’t pop out.”

“Will you help me hold it?” said the farmer. He went to the chest in which his wife had hidden the sexton-once frightened, now terrified. The farmer lifted the lid a little, and peeped in.

“Ho!” he sprang back. “I saw him, and he’s the image of our sexton, a horrible sight!” After that they needed another drink, and sat there drinking far into the night.

“You must sell me your conjuror,” said the farmer. “You can fix your own price. I’d pay you a bushel of money right away.”

“Oh, I couldn’t do that,” Little Claus said. “Just think how useful my conjuror is.”

“But I’d so like to have him.” The farmer kept begging to buy it.

“Well,” said Little Claus at last, “you’ve been kind enough to give me a night’s lodging, so I can’t say no. You shall have my sack for a bushel of money, but it must be full to the brim.”

“You shall have it”, said the farmer. “But you must take that chest along with you too. I won’t have it in the house another hour. He might still be inside it. You never can tell.”

So Little Claus sold his sack with the dried horsehide in it, and was paid a bushel of money, measured up to the brim. The farmer gave him a wheelbarrow too, in which to wheel away the money and the chest.

“Fare you well,” said Little Claus, and off he went with his money and his chest with the sexton in it. On the further side of the forest was a deep, wide river, where the current ran so strong that it was almost impossible to swim against it. A big new bridge had been built across the river, and

When Little Claus came to the middle of it he said, very loud so the sexton could hear him:

“Now what would I be doing with this silly chest? It’s as heavy as stone, and I’m too tired to wheel it any further. So I’ll throw it in the river, and if it drifts down to my house, well and good, but if it sinks I haven’t lost much.” Then he tilted the chest a little, as if he were about to tip it into the river.

“Stop! Don’t!” the sexton shouted inside. “Let me get out first.”

“Oh,” said Little Claus pretending to be frightened, “is he still there? Then I’d better throw him into the river and drown him.”

“Oh no, don’t do that to me!” the sexton shouted. “I’d give a bushel of money to get out of this.”

“Why, that’s altogether different,” said Little Claus, opening the chest. The sexton popped out at once, pushed the empty chest into the water and hurried home to give Little Claus a bushel of money. What with the farmer’s bushel and the sexton’s bushel, Little Claus had his wheelbarrow quite full.

“I got a good price for my horse,” he said when he got home and emptied all the money in a heap on the floor of his room. “How Big Claus will fret when he finds out that my one horse has made me so rich, but I won’t tell him how I managed it.” Then he sent a boy to borrow a bushel measure from Big Claus.

“Whatever would he want with it?” Big Claus wondered, and smeared pitch on the bottom of the bushel so that a little of what he measured would stick to it. And so it happened that when he got his measure back he found three newly minted pieces of silver stuck to it.

“What’s this?” Big Claus ran to see Little Claus. “Where did you get so much money?”

“Oh, that’s what I got for the horsehide I sold last night.”

“Heavens above! How the price of hides must have gone up.” Big Claus ran home, took an ax, and knocked all four of his horses on the head. Then he ripped their hides off, and set out to town with them.

“Hides, hides! Who’ll buy hides?” he bawled, up and down the streets. All the shoemakers and tanners came running to ask what their price was. “A bushel of money apiece, ” he told them.

“Are you crazy?” they asked. “Do you think we spend money by the bushel?”

“Hides, hides! Who’ll buy hides?” he kept on shouting, and to those who asked how much, he said, “A bushel of money.”

“He takes us for fools,” they said. The shoemakers took their straps, and the tanners their leather aprons, and they beat Big Claus through the town.

“Hides, hides!” they mocked him. “We’ll tan your hide for you if you don’t get out of town.” Big Claus had to run as fast as he could. He had never been beaten so badly.

“Little Claus will pay for this,” he said when he got back home. “I’ll kill him for it.”

Now it so happened that Little Claus’s old grandmother had just died. She had been as cross as could be-never a kind word did she have for him-but he was sorry to see her die. He put the dead woman in his own warm bed, just in case she came to life again, and let her lie there all night while he napped in a chair in the corner, as he had done so often before.

As he sat there in the night, the door opened and in came Big Claus with an ax. He knew exactly where Little Claus’s bed was, so he went straight to it and knocked the dead grandmother on the head, under the impression that she was Little Claus.

“There,” he said, “You won’t fool me again.” Then he went home.

“What a wicked man,” said Little Claus. “Why, he would have killed me. It’s lucky for my grandmother that she was already dead, or he’d have been the death of her.”

He dressed up his old grandmother in her Sunday best, borrowed a neighbor’s horse, and hitched up his cart. On the back seat he propped up his grandmother, wedged in so that the jolts would not topple her over, and away they went through the forest.

When the sun came up they drew abreast of a large inn, where Little Claus halted and went in to get him some breakfast. The innkeeper was a wealthy man, and a good enough fellow in his way, but his temper was as fiery as if he were made of pepper and snuff.

“Good morning,” he said to Little Claus. “You’re up and dressed mighty early.”

“Yes,” said Little Claus. “I am bound for the town with my old grandmother, who is sitting out there in the cart. I can’t get her to come in, but you might take her a glass of mead. You’ll have to shout to make her hear you, for she’s deaf as a post.”

“I’ll take it right out.” The innkeeper poured a glass full of mead and took it to the dead grandmother, who sat stiffly on the cart.

“Your grandson sent you a glass of mead,” said the innkeeper, but the dead woman said never a word. She just sat there.

“Don’t you hear me?” the innkeeper shouted his loudest. “Here’s a glass of mead from your grandson.”

Time after time he shouted it, she didn’t budge. He flew into such a rage that he threw the glass in her face. The mead splashed all over her as she fell over backward, for she was just propped up, not tied in place.

“Confound it!” Little Claus rushed out the door and took the innkeeper by the throat. “You’ve gone and killed my grandmother. Look! There’s a big hole in her forehead.”

“Oh, what a calamity!” The innkeeper wrung his hands. “And all because of my fiery temper. Dear Little Claus, I’ll give you a bushel of money, and I’ll bury your grandmother as if she were my very own. But you must hush this thing up for me, or they’ll chop off my head-how I’d hate it.”

So it came about that Little Claus got another bushel of money, and the landlord buried the old grandmother as if she’d been his own.

Just as soon as Little Claus got home, he sent a boy to borrow a bushel measure from Big Claus.

“Little Claus wants to borrow it?” Big Claus asked. “Didn’t I kill him? I’ll go and see about that.” So he himself took the measure over to Little Claus.

“Where did you get all that money?” he asked when he saw the height of the money pile.

“When you killed my grandmother instead of me,” Little Claus told him, “I sold her for a bushel of money,”

“Heavens above! That was indeed a good price,” said Big Claus. He hurried home, took an ax, and knocked his old grandmother on the head. Then he put her in a cart, drove off to town, and asked the apothecary if he wanted to buy a dead body.

“Whose dead body?” asked the apothecary. “Where’d you get it?”

“It’s my grandmother’s dead body. I killed her for a bushel of money,” Big Claus told him.

“Lord,” said the apothecary. “Man, you must be crazy. Don’t talk like that or they’ll chop off your head.” Then he told him straight he had done a wicked deed, that he was a terrible fellow, and that the worst of punishments was much too good for him. Big Claus got frightened. He jumped in his cart, whipped up the horses, and drove home as fast as they would take him. The apothecary and everyone else thought he must be a madman, so they didn’t stand in his way.

“I’ll see that you pay for this,” said Big Claus when he reached the highroad. “Oh, won’t I make you pay for this, Little Claus!” The moment he got home he took the biggest sack he could find, went to see Little Claus, and said:

“You’ve deceived me again. First I killed my four horses. Then I killed my old grandmother, and it’s all your fault. But I’ll make sure you don’t make a fool of me again.” Then he caught Little Claus and put him in the sack, slung it up over his back and told him, “Now I shall take you and drown you.”

“It was a long way to the river, and Little Claus was no light load. The road went by the church, and as they passed they could hear the organ playing and the people singing very beautifully. Big Claus set down his sack just outside the church door. He thought the best thing for him to do was to go in to hear a hymn before he went any further. Little Claus was securely tied in the sack, and all the people were inside the church. So Big Claus went in too.

“Oh dear, oh dear!” Little Claus sighed in the sack. Twist and turn as he might, he could not loosen the knot. Then a white-haired old cattle drover came by, leaning heavily on his staff. The herd of bulls and cows he was driving bumped against the sack Little Claus was in, and overturned it.

“Oh dear,” Little Claus sighed, “I’m so young to be going to Heaven.”

“While I,” said the cattle drover,” am too old for this earth, yet Heaven will not send for me.”

“Open the sack!” Little Claus shouted. “Get in and take my place. You’ll go straight to Heaven.”

“That’s where I want to be, said the drover, as he undid the sack. Little Claus jumped out at once. “You must look after my cattle,” the old man said as he crawled in. As soon as Little Claus fastened the sack, he walked away from there with all the bulls and cows.

Presently Big Claus came out of church. He took the sack on his back and found it light, for the old drover was no more than half as heavy as Little Claus.

“How light my burden is, all because I’ve been listening to a hymn,” said Big Claus. He went on to the deep wide river, and threw the sack with the old cattle drover into the water.

“You’ll never trick me again,” Big Claus said, for he thought he had seen the last splash of Little Claus.

He started home, but when he came to the crossroads he met Little Claus and all his cattle.

“Where did you come from?” Big Claus exclaimed. “Didn’t I just drown you?”

“Yes,” said Little Claus. “You threw me in the river half an hour ago.”

“Then how did you come by such a fine herd of cattle?” Big Claus wanted to know.

“Oh, they’re sea cattle,” said Little Claus. “I’ll tell you how I got them, because I’m obliged to you for drowning me. I’m a made man now. I can’t begin to tell you how rich I am.

“But when I was in the sack, with the wind whistling in my ears as you dropped me off the bridge into the cold water, I was frightened enough. I went straight to the bottom, but it didn’t hurt me because of all the fine soft grass down there. Someone opened the sack and a beautiful maiden took my hand. Her clothes were white as snow, and she had a green wreath in her floating hair. She said, ‘So you’ve come, Little Claus. Here’s a herd of cattle for you, but they are just the beginning of my presents. A mile further up the road another herd awaits you.’

“Then I saw that the river is a great highway for the people who live in the sea. Down on the bottom of the river they walked and drove their cattle straight in from the sea to the land where the rivers end. The flowers down there are fragrant. The grass is fresh, and fish flit by as birds do up here. The people are fine, and so are the cattle that come grazing along the roadside.”

“Then why are you back so soon?” Big Claus asked. “If it’s all so beautiful, I’d have stayed there.”

“Well,” said Little Claus, “I’m being particularly clever. You remember I said the sea maiden told me to go one mile up the road and I’d find another herd of cattle. By ‘road’ she meant the river, for that’s the only way she travels. But I know how the river turns and twists, and it seemed too roundabout a way of getting there. By coming up on land I took a short cut that saves me half a mile. So I get my cattle that much sooner.”

“You are a lucky man,” said Big Claus, “Do you think I would get me some cattle too if I went down to the bottom of the river?”

“Oh, I’m sure you would,” said Little Claus. “Don’t expect me to carry you there in a sack, because you’re too heavy for me, but if you walk to the river and crawl into the sack, I’ll throw you in with the greatest of pleasure.”

“Thank you,” said Big Claus, “but remember, if I don’t get a herd of sea cattle down there, I’ll give you a thrashing, believe me.”

“Would you really?” said Little Claus.

As they came to the river, the thirsty cattle saw the water and rushed to drink it. Little Claus said, “See what a hurry they are in to get back to the bottom of the river.”

“Help me get there first,” Big Claus commanded, ” or I’ll give you that beating right now.” He struggled into the big sack, which had been lying across the back of one of the cattle. “Put a stone in, or I’m afraid I shan’t sink,” said Big Claus.

“No fear of that,” said Little Claus, but he put a big stone in the sack, tied it tightly, and pushed it into the river.

Splash! Up flew the water and down to the bottom sank Big Claus.

“I’m afraid he won’t find what I found!” said Little Claus as he herded all his cattle home.

 

 


The Story in Popular Culture

 


Little Claus and Big Claus in Print

Several new editions of “The Brave (or Steadfast) Tin Soldier” have appeared recently, and many are very nicely illustrated by contemporary artists. These are some of the ones that look interesting to me. One of the them is a pop-up book and the last one is free for Kindle. You can also perform a search for The Brave Tin Soldier here.

 






Illustrations From Around the World


Little Claus and Big Claus on Stamps


Divider-Books

 

 

This Fairy Tales page was created by Katrina Haney, author, creative writer, ghost writer and all-around content writer. Illustrations by Walter Crane from the Fairy Tales and Other Stories, 1874. Please feel free to save, print or share this post with your friends or social communities. For more Fairy Tales posts , as well as other awesome information about books, words, writing and reading, please visit Katrina’s website at www.katrinahaney.com.
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