THERE was once a merchant who was so rich that he could
have paved the whole street with gold, and would even then
have had enough for a small alley. But he did not do so; he
knew the value of money better than to use it in this way. So
clever was he, that every shilling he put out brought him a
crown; and so he continued till he died. His son inherited his
wealth, and he lived a merry life with it; he went to a
masquerade every night, made kites out of five pound notes,
and threw pieces of gold into the sea instead of stones,
making ducks and drakes of them. In this manner he soon lost
all his money. At last he had nothing left but a pair of
slippers, an old dressing-gown, and four shillings. And now
all his friends deserted him, they could not walk with him in
the streets; but one of them, who was very good-natured, sent
him an old trunk with this message, 'Pack up!' 'Yes,' he said,
'it is all very well to say 'pack up,' 'but he had nothing
left to pack up, therefore he seated himself in the trunk. It
was a very wonderful trunk; no sooner did any one press on the
lock than the trunk could fly. He shut the lid and pressed the
lock, when away flew the trunk up the chimney with the
merchant's son in it, right up into the clouds. Whenever the
bottom of the trunk cracked, he was in a great fright, for if
the trunk fell to pieces he would have made a tremendous
somerset over the trees. However, he got safely in his trunk
to the land of Turkey. He hid the trunk in the wood under some
dry leaves, and then went into the town: he could so this very
well, for the Turks always go about dressed in dressing-gowns
and slippers, as he was himself. He happened to meet a nurse
with a little child. 'I say, you Turkish nurse,' cried he,
'what castle is that near the town, with the windows placed so
'The king's daughter lives there,' she replied; 'it has
been prophesied that she will be very unhappy about a lover,
and therefore no one is allowed to visit her, unless the king
and queen are present.'
'Thank you,' said the merchant's son. So he went back to
the wood, seated himself in his trunk, flew up to the roof of
the castle, and crept through the window into the princess's
room. She lay on the sofa asleep, and she was so beautiful
that the merchant's son could not help kissing her. Then she
awoke, and was very much frightened; but he told her he was a
Turkish angel, who had come down through the air to see her,
which pleased her very much. He sat down by her side and
talked to her: he said her eyes were like beautiful dark
lakes, in which the thoughts swam about like little mermaids,
and he told her that her forehead was a snowy mountain, which
contained splendid halls full of pictures. And then he related
to her about the stork who brings the beautiful children from
the rivers. These were delightful stories; and when he asked
the princess if she would marry him, she consented
'But you must come on Saturday,' she said; 'for then the
king and queen will take tea with me. They will be very proud
when they find that I am going to marry a Turkish angel; but
you must think of some very pretty stories to tell them, for
my parents like to hear stories better than anything. My
mother prefers one that is deep and moral; but my father likes
something funny, to make him laugh.'
'Very well,' he replied; 'I shall bring you no other
marriage portion than a story,' and so they parted. But the
princess gave him a sword which was studded with gold coins,
and these he could use.
Then he flew away to the town and bought a new
dressing-gown, and afterwards returned to the wood, where he
composed a story, so as to be ready for Saturday, which was no
easy matter. It was ready however by Saturday, when he went to
see the princess. The king, and queen, and the whole court,
were at tea with the princess; and he was received with great
'Will you tell us a story?' said the queen,- 'one that is
instructive and full of deep learning.'
'Yes, but with something in it to laugh at,' said the
'Certainly,' he replied, and commenced at once, asking
them to listen attentively. 'There was once a bundle of
matches that were exceedingly proud of their high descent.
Their genealogical tree, that is, a large pine-tree from which
they had been cut, was at one time a large, old tree in the
wood. The matches now lay between a tinder-box and an old iron
saucepan, and were talking about their youthful days. 'Ah!
then we grew on the green boughs, and were as green as they;
every morning and evening we were fed with diamond drops of
dew. Whenever the sun shone, we felt his warm rays, and the
little birds would relate stories to us as they sung. We knew
that we were rich, for the other trees only wore their green
dress in summer, but our family were able to array themselves
in green, summer and winter. But the wood-cutter came, like a
great revolution, and our family fell under the axe. The head
of the house obtained a situation as mainmast in a very fine
ship, and can sail round the world when he will. The other
branches of the family were taken to different places, and our
office now is to kindle a light for common people. This is how
such high-born people as we came to be in a kitchen.'
''Mine has been a very different fate,' said the iron pot,
which stood by the matches; 'from my first entrance into the
world I have been used to cooking and scouring. I am the first
in this house, when anything solid or useful is required. My
only pleasure is to be made clean and shining after dinner,
and to sit in my place and have a little sensible conversation
with my neighbors. All of us, excepting the water-bucket,
which is sometimes taken into the courtyard, live here
together within these four walls. We get our news from the
market-basket, but he sometimes tells us very unpleasant
things about the people and the government. Yes, and one day
an old pot was so alarmed, that he fell down and was broken to
pieces. He was a liberal, I can tell you.'
''You are talking too much,' said the tinder-box, and the
steel struck against the flint till some sparks flew out,
crying, 'We want a merry evening, don't we?'
''Yes, of course,' said the matches, 'let us talk about
those who are the highest born.'
''No, I don't like to be always talking of what we are,'
remarked the saucepan; 'let us think of some other amusement;
I will begin. We will tell something that has happened to
ourselves; that will be very easy, and interesting as well. On
the Baltic Sea, near the Danish shore'- ''What a pretty
commencement!' said the plates; 'we shall all like that story,
I am sure.'
''Yes; well in my youth, I lived in a quiet family, where
the furniture was polished, the floors scoured, and clean
curtains put up every fortnight,'
''What an interesting way you have of relating a story,'
said the carpet-broom; 'it is easy to perceive that you have
been a great deal in women's society, there is something so
pure runs through what you say.'
''That is quite true,' said the water-bucket; and he made
a spring with joy, and splashed some water on the floor.
'Then the saucepan went on with his story, and the end was
as good as the beginning.
'The plates rattled with pleasure, and the carpet-broom
brought some green parsley out of the dust-hole and crowned
the saucepan, for he knew it would vex the others; and he
thought, 'If I crown him to-day he will crown me to-morrow.'
''Now, let us have a dance,' said the fire-tongs; and then
how they danced and stuck up one leg in the air. The
chair-cushion in the corner burst with laughter when she saw
''Shall I be crowned now?' asked the fire-tongs; so the
broom found another wreath for the tongs.
''They were only common people after all,' thought the
matches. The tea-urn was now asked to sing, but she said she
had a cold, and could not sing without boiling heat. They all
thought this was affectation, and because she did not wish to
sing excepting in the parlor, when on the table with the grand
'In the window sat an old quill-pen, with which the maid
generally wrote. There was nothing remarkable about the pen,
excepting that it had been dipped too deeply in the ink, but
it was proud of that.
''If the tea-urn won't sing,' said the pen, 'she can leave
it alone; there is a nightingale in a cage who can sing; she
has not been taught much, certainly, but we need not say
anything this evening about that.'
''I think it highly improper,' said the tea-kettle, who
was kitchen singer, and half-brother to the tea-urn, 'that a
rich foreign bird should be listened to here. Is it patriotic?
Let the market-basket decide what is right.'
''I certainly am vexed,' said the basket; 'inwardly vexed,
more than any one can imagine. Are we spending the evening
properly? Would it not be more sensible to put the house in
order? If each were in his own place I would lead a game; this
would be quite another thing.'
''Let us act a play,' said they all. At the same moment
the door opened, and the maid came in. Then not one stirred;
they all remained quite still; yet, at the same time, there
was not a single pot amongst them who had not a high opinion
of himself, and of what he could do if he chose.
''Yes, if we had chosen,' they each thought, 'we might
have spent a very pleasant evening.'
'The maid took the matches and lighted them; dear me, how
they sputtered and blazed up!
''Now then,' they thought, 'every one will see that we are
the first. How we shine; what a light we give!' Even while
they spoke their light went out.
'What a capital story,' said the queen, 'I feel as if I
were really in the kitchen, and could see the matches; yes,
you shall marry our daughter.'
'Certainly,' said the king, 'thou shalt have our
daughter.' The king said thou to him because he was going to
be one of the family. The wedding-day was fixed, and, on the
evening before, the whole city was illuminated. Cakes and
sweetmeats were thrown among the people. The street boys stood
on tiptoe and shouted 'hurrah,' and whistled between their
fingers; altogether it was a very splendid affair.
'I will give them another treat,' said the merchant's son.
So he went and bought rockets and crackers, and all sorts of
fire-works that could be thought of, packed them in his trunk,
and flew up with it into the air. What a whizzing and popping
they made as they went off! The Turks, when they saw such a
sight in the air, jumped so high that their slippers flew
about their ears. It was easy to believe after this that the
princess was really going to marry a Turkish angel.
As soon as the merchant's son had come down in his flying
trunk to the wood after the fireworks, he thought, 'I will go
back into the town now, and hear what they think of the
entertainment.' It was very natural that he should wish to
know. And what strange things people did say, to be sure!
every one whom he questioned had a different tale to tell,
though they all thought it very beautiful.
''I saw the Turkish angel myself,' said one; 'he had eyes
like glittering stars, and a head like foaming water.'
'He flew in a mantle of fire,' cried another, 'and lovely
little cherubs peeped out from the folds.'
He heard many more fine things about himself, and that the
next day he was to be married. After this he went back to the
forest to rest himself in his trunk. It had disappeared! A
spark from the fireworks which remained had set it on fire; it
was burnt to ashes! So the merchant's son could not fly any
more, nor go to meet his bride. She stood all day on the roof
waiting for him, and most likely she is waiting there still;
while he wanders through the world telling fairy tales, but
none of them so amusing as the one he related about the