<< Предыдущий рассказ
Следующий рассказ >>
The Flying Trunk
There once was a merchant so wealthy that he
could have paved a whole street with silver, and still have had
enough left over to pave a little alley. But he did nothing of the
sort. He knew better ways of using his money than that. If he parted
with pennies they came back to him as crowns. That's the sort of
merchant he was-and then he died.
Now his son got all the money, and he led a
merry life, went to masquerades every night, made paper dolls out of
banknotes, and played ducks and drakes at the lake with gold pieces
instead of pebbles. This makes the money go, and his inheritance was
soon gone. At last he had only four pennies, and only a pair of
slippers and a dressing gown to wear.
Now his former friends didn't care for him any
more, as he could no longer appear in public with them, but one of
them was so good as to send him an old trunk, with the hint that he
pack and be off. This was all very well, but he had nothing to pack,
so he sat himself in it.
It was no ordinary trunk. Press on the lock
and it would fly. And that's just what it did. Whisk! It
flew up the chimney, and over the clouds, and away through the
skies. The bottom of it was so creaky that he feared he would fall
through it, and what a fine somersault he would have made then! Good
gracious! But at long last he came down safely, in the land of the
Turks. He hid his trunk under some dry leaves in the woods, and set
off toward the nearest town. He could do so very well, for the Turks
all wear dressing gowns and slippers, just as he did.
When he passed a nurse with a child, he said,
"Hello, Turkish nurse. Tell me, what's that great big palace at the
edge of town? The one that has its windows up so high."
"That's where the Sultan's daughter lives,"
said the nurse. "It has been foretold that she will be unhappy when
she falls in love, so no one is ever permitted to visit her except
in the presence of her mother and father."
"Thank you," said the merchant's son. Back he
went to the woods, sat in his trunk, and whisked off to the roof of
the palace. From there, he climbed in at the Princess's window.
She lay fast asleep on a sofa, and she looked
so lovely that the merchant's son couldn't help kissing her. She
woke up and was terribly frightened, but he told her he was a
Turkish prophet, who had sailed through the air just to see her.
This pleased her very much.
As they sat there, side by side, he told her
stories about her eyes. He said they were beautifully dark, deep
lakes in which her thoughts went swimming by like mermaids. He told
her about her forehead, which he compared to a snow-covered
mountainside with its many wonderful halls and pictures. Then he
told her about the stork, which brings lovely little children from
over the sea. Oh, they were such pretty stories! Then he asked her
to marry him, and the Princess said yes, right away.
"But you must come on Saturday," she told him,
"when my mother and father will be here to have tea with me. They
will be so proud when I tell them I am going to marry a prophet. But
be sure you have a really pretty tale to tell them, for both my
parents love stories. My mother likes them to be elevating and
moral, but my father likes them merry, to make him laugh."
"I shall bring no other wedding present than a
fairy tale," he told her, and so they parted. But first the Princess
made him a present of a gold saber all covered with gold pieces, and
this came in very handy.
He flew away, bought himself a new dressing
gown, and went to the woods to invent a fairy tale. That wasn't so
easy. However, he had it ready promptly on Saturday. The Sultan, his
wife and the whole court awaited him at the Princess's tea party.
They gave him a splendid reception.
"Won't you tell us a story?" said the Sultan's
wife. "One that is instructive and thoughtful."
"One that will make us laugh, too," said the
"To be sure," he said, and started his story.
Now listen closely.
"There once was a bundle of matches, and they
were particularly proud of their lofty ancestry. Their family
tree-that is to say, the great pine tree of which they were little
splinters-had been a great old tree in the forest. As the matches
lay on the kitchen shelf, they talked of their younger days to the
tinder box and an old iron pot beside them.
" 'When we were a part of the green branches,'
they said, 'then we really were on a green branch! Every morning and
evening we were served the diamond tea that is called dew drops. We
had sunshine all day long, and the little birds had to tell us
stories. It was plain to see that we were wealthy, for while the
other trees' garments lasted only the summer, our family could
afford to wear green clothes all the year round. But then the
woodcutters came, there was a big revolution, and our family was
broken up. The chief support of our family got a place as the
mainmast of a fine ship, that could sail around the world if need
be. The other branches were scattered in different directions, and
now our task is to bring light to the lower classes. That's the
reason we distinguished people came to this kitchen.'
" 'My lot has been quite different,' said the
iron pot, who stood next to the matches. 'From the moment I came
into this world, I've known little but cooking and scouring, day in,
day out. I look after the solid and substantial part, and am in fact
the most important thing in the house. My only amusement comes when
dinner is over. Then, clean and tidy, I take my place here to have a
sound conversation with my associates. But except for the watering
pot, who now and then makes excursions into the yard, we always live
indoors. Our only source of news is the market basket, and he speaks
most alarmingly about the government and the people. Why, just the
other day an old conservative pot was so upset that he fell down and
burst. That basket is a liberal, I tell you!'
" 'You talk too much,' the tinder box flashed
sparks from his flint. 'Let's have a pleasant evening.'
" 'Yes, let's talk about who among us is most
aristocratic,' said the matches.
" 'No. I don't like to talk about myself,'
said the earthenware crock. 'Let's have some entertainment this
evening. I'll begin. I'll tell you the sort of things we already
know. That won't tax our imaginations, and it is so amusing. By the
Baltic sea, by the beech trees of Denmark-'
" 'That's a very pretty beginning,' the plates
chattered. 'That's just the kind of story we like.'
" 'There I passed my youth in a quiet home,
where they polished the furniture, and swept the floor, and hung up
fresh curtains every fourteenth day!'
" 'How well you tell a story!' said the broom.
'You can hear right away that it's a woman who tells it. There's not
a speck of dirt in it.'
" 'Yes, one feels that,' said the water pail,
and made a happy little jump so the water splashed on the floor.
" 'The crock went on with her story, and the
end was as good as the beginning.
"All the plates clattered for joy. The broom
made a wreath of parsley to crown the crock, because she knew how
that would annoy the others. And the broom thought, 'If I crown her
tonight, she will crown me tomorrow.'
"'Now I'll do a dance,' said the fire tongs,
and dance she did. Yes, good heavens, how she could kick one of her
legs up in the air! The old chair cover in the corner split to see
it. 'Will you crown me too?' said the tongs, so they gave her a
" 'What a common mob,' said the matches.
" 'The tea pot was asked to sing, but she had
a cold in her throat. She said nothing short of boiling water could
make her sing, but that was sheer affectation. She wished to sing
only for the ladies and gentlemen in the drawing room.
"On the window sill was an old quill pen that
the servant used. There was nothing remarkable about him except that
he had been dipped too deep in the ink, but in that difference he
" 'The tea pot can sing or not, as she
pleases,' he declared. 'In a cage, outside my window, there's a
nightingale who will sing for us. He hasn't practiced for the
occasion, but tonight we won't be too critical.'
" 'I find it highly improper,' said the tea
kettle, who was the official kitchen singer, and a half-sister of
the tea pot. 'Why should we listen to a foreign bird? Is that
patriotic? Let the market basket make the decision.
" 'I am most annoyed,' said the market basket.
'I am more annoyed than anyone can imagine. Is this any way to spend
an evening? Wouldn't it be better to call the house to order?
Everyone take his appointed place, and I shall run the whole game.
That will be something quite different.'
" 'Yes. Let us all make a noise,' they
"Just then the servant opened the door, and
they stood stock-still. Not one had a word to say. But there was not
a pot among them who did not know what he could do, and how well
qualified he was. 'If I had wanted to,' each one thought, 'we could
have a gay evening. No question about it!'
" 'The servant girl took the matches and
struck a light with them. My stars, how they sputtered and flared!
" 'Now,' they thought, 'everyone can see we
are the first. How brilliant we are! What a light we spread.' Then
they burned out."
"That was a delightful story," said the
Sultan's wife. "I felt myself right in the kitchen with the matches.
My dear prophet, thou shalt certainly marry our daughter."
"Yes indeed," said the Sultan. "Thou shalt
marry her on Monday." They said "Thou" to him now, for he was soon
to be one of the family.
So the wedding day was set, and on the evening
that preceded it the whole city was gay with lights. Cookies and
cakes were thrown among the people. The boys in the street stood on
tiptoe. They shouted, "Hurrah!" and whistled through their fingers.
It was all so grand.
"I suppose I really ought to do something
too," said the merchant's son. So he bought firecrackers, and
rockets, and fireworks of every sort, loaded his trunk with them,
and flew over the town.
Pop! went the crackers, and
swoosh! went the rockets. The Turks jumped so high that their
slippers flopped over their ears. Such shooting stars they never had
seen. Now they could understand that it was the prophet of the Turks
himself who was to marry their Princess.
As soon as the merchant's son came down in the
woods, he thought, "I'll go straight to the town to hear what sort
of impression I made." It was the natural thing to do.
Oh, what stories they told! Every last man he
asked had his own version, but all agreed it had been fine. Very
"I saw the prophet himself," said one. "His
eyes shone like stars, and his beard foamed like water."
"He was wrapped in a fiery cloak," said
another. "The heads of beautiful angels peeped out of the folds of
Yes, he heard wonderful things, and his
wedding was to be on the following day. He went back to the woods to
rest in his trunk-but what had become of it? The trunk was burned! A
spark from the fireworks had set it on fire, and now the trunk was
burned to ashes. He couldn't fly any more. He had no way to reach
his bride. She waited for him on the roof, all day long. Most likely
she is waiting there still. But he wanders through the world,
telling tales which are not half so merry as that one he told about