The Blue Light





There was once upon a time a soldier who for many years had served the

king faithfully, but when the war came to an end could serve no longer

because of the many wounds which he had received. The king said to him:

'You may return to your home, I need you no longer, and you will not

receive any more money, for he only receives wages who renders me

service for them.' Then the soldier did not know how to earn a living,

went away greatly troubled, and walked the whole day, until in the

evening he entered a forest. When darkness came on, he saw a light,

which he went up to, and came to a house wherein lived a witch. 'Do give

me one night's lodging, and a little to eat and drink,' said he to

her, 'or I shall starve.' 'Oho!' she answered, 'who gives anything to a

run-away soldier? Yet will I be compassionate, and take you in, if you

will do what I wish.' 'What do you wish?' said the soldier. 'That you

should dig all round my garden for me, tomorrow.' The soldier consented,

and next day laboured with all his strength, but could not finish it by

the evening. 'I see well enough,' said the witch, 'that you can do no

more today, but I will keep you yet another night, in payment for

which you must tomorrow chop me a load of wood, and chop it small.' The

soldier spent the whole day in doing it, and in the evening the witch

proposed that he should stay one night more. 'Tomorrow, you shall only

do me a very trifling piece of work. Behind my house, there is an old

dry well, into which my light has fallen, it burns blue, and never goes

out, and you shall bring it up again.' Next day the old woman took him

to the well, and let him down in a basket. He found the blue light, and

made her a signal to draw him up again. She did draw him up, but when he

came near the edge, she stretched down her hand and wanted to take the

blue light away from him. 'No,' said he, perceiving her evil intention,

'I will not give you the light until I am standing with both feet upon

the ground.' The witch fell into a passion, let him fall again into the

well, and went away.



The poor soldier fell without injury on the moist ground, and the blue

light went on burning, but of what use was that to him? He saw very well

that he could not escape death. He sat for a while very sorrowfully,

then suddenly he felt in his pocket and found his tobacco pipe, which

was still half full. 'This shall be my last pleasure,' thought he,

pulled it out, lit it at the blue light and began to smoke. When the

smoke had circled about the cavern, suddenly a little black dwarf stood

before him, and said: 'Lord, what are your commands?' 'What my commands

are?' replied the soldier, quite astonished. 'I must do everything you

bid me,' said the little man. 'Good,' said the soldier; 'then in the

first place help me out of this well.' The little man took him by the

hand, and led him through an underground passage, but he did not forget

to take the blue light with him. On the way the dwarf showed him the

treasures which the witch had collected and hidden there, and the

soldier took as much gold as he could carry. When he was above, he said

to the little man: 'Now go and bind the old witch, and carry her before

the judge.' In a short time she came by like the wind, riding on a wild

tom-cat and screaming frightfully. Nor was it long before the little man

reappeared. 'It is all done,' said he, 'and the witch is already hanging

on the gallows. What further commands has my lord?' inquired the dwarf.

'At this moment, none,' answered the soldier; 'you can return home, only

be at hand immediately, if I summon you.' 'Nothing more is needed than

that you should light your pipe at the blue light, and I will appear

before you at once.' Thereupon he vanished from his sight.



The soldier returned to the town from which he came. He went to the

best inn, ordered himself handsome clothes, and then bade the landlord

furnish him a room as handsome as possible. When it was ready and the

soldier had taken possession of it, he summoned the little black manikin

and said: 'I have served the king faithfully, but he has dismissed me,

and left me to hunger, and now I want to take my revenge.' 'What am I to

do?' asked the little man. 'Late at night, when the king's daughter is

in bed, bring her here in her sleep, she shall do servant's work for

me.' The manikin said: 'That is an easy thing for me to do, but a very

dangerous thing for you, for if it is discovered, you will fare ill.'

When twelve o'clock had struck, the door sprang open, and the manikin

carried in the princess. 'Aha! are you there?' cried the soldier, 'get

to your work at once! Fetch the broom and sweep the chamber.' When

she had done this, he ordered her to come to his chair, and then he

stretched out his feet and said: 'Pull off my boots,' and then he

threw them in her face, and made her pick them up again, and clean

and brighten them. She, however, did everything he bade her, without

opposition, silently and with half-shut eyes. When the first cock

crowed, the manikin carried her back to the royal palace, and laid her

in her bed.



Next morning when the princess arose she went to her father, and told

him that she had had a very strange dream. 'I was carried through the

streets with the rapidity of lightning,' said she, 'and taken into a

soldier's room, and I had to wait upon him like a servant, sweep his

room, clean his boots, and do all kinds of menial work. It was only a

dream, and yet I am just as tired as if I really had done everything.'

'The dream may have been true,' said the king. 'I will give you a piece

of advice. Fill your pocket full of peas, and make a small hole in the

pocket, and then if you are carried away again, they will fall out and

leave a track in the streets.' But unseen by the king, the manikin was

standing beside him when he said that, and heard all. At night when

the sleeping princess was again carried through the streets, some peas

certainly did fall out of her pocket, but they made no track, for the

crafty manikin had just before scattered peas in every street there

was. And again the princess was compelled to do servant's work until

cock-crow.



Next morning the king sent his people out to seek the track, but it was

all in vain, for in every street poor children were sitting, picking up

peas, and saying: 'It must have rained peas, last night.' 'We must think

of something else,' said the king; 'keep your shoes on when you go to

bed, and before you come back from the place where you are taken, hide

one of them there, I will soon contrive to find it.' The black manikin

heard this plot, and at night when the soldier again ordered him to

bring the princess, revealed it to him, and told him that he knew of no

expedient to counteract this stratagem, and that if the shoe were found

in the soldier's house it would go badly with him. 'Do what I bid you,'

replied the soldier, and again this third night the princess was obliged

to work like a servant, but before she went away, she hid her shoe under

the bed.



Next morning the king had the entire town searched for his daughter's

shoe. It was found at the soldier's, and the soldier himself, who at the

entreaty of the dwarf had gone outside the gate, was soon brought back,

and thrown into prison. In his flight he had forgotten the most valuable

things he had, the blue light and the gold, and had only one ducat in

his pocket. And now loaded with chains, he was standing at the window of

his dungeon, when he chanced to see one of his comrades passing by. The

soldier tapped at the pane of glass, and when this man came up, said to

him: 'Be so kind as to fetch me the small bundle I have left lying in

the inn, and I will give you a ducat for doing it.' His comrade ran

thither and brought him what he wanted. As soon as the soldier was alone

again, he lighted his pipe and summoned the black manikin. 'Have no

fear,' said the latter to his master. 'Go wheresoever they take you, and

let them do what they will, only take the blue light with you.' Next day

the soldier was tried, and though he had done nothing wicked, the judge

condemned him to death. When he was led forth to die, he begged a last

favour of the king. 'What is it?' asked the king. 'That I may smoke one

more pipe on my way.' 'You may smoke three,' answered the king, 'but do

not imagine that I will spare your life.' Then the soldier pulled out

his pipe and lighted it at the blue light, and as soon as a few wreaths

of smoke had ascended, the manikin was there with a small cudgel in his

hand, and said: 'What does my lord command?' 'Strike down to earth that

false judge there, and his constable, and spare not the king who has

treated me so ill.' Then the manikin fell on them like lightning,

darting this way and that way, and whosoever was so much as touched by

his cudgel fell to earth, and did not venture to stir again. The king

was terrified; he threw himself on the soldier's mercy, and merely to

be allowed to live at all, gave him his kingdom for his own, and his

daughter to wife.





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