Doctor Knowall

The Blue Light

There was once on a time, a soldier who for many years had served the King faithfully. But when the war came to an end he 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. You…

The Spindle, the Shuttle, and the Needle

7 mins read
Read aloud in 11 mins


There was once on a time, a soldier who for many years had served the King faithfully. But when the war came to an end he 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. You will not receive any more money, for only he 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 toward, 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 runaway 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, to-morrow.”

The soldier consented, and next day labored 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 to-day. But I will keep you yet another night, in payment for which you must to-morrow chop me a load of wood, and make 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. “To-morrow, you shall 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 for me.”

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 down 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 pipe, which was still half full of tobacco.262 “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 Man stood before him, and said, “Master, what are your commands?”

“What commands have I to give you?” 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 the soldier did not forget to take the Blue Light with him. On the way the Little Man showed him treasures 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, with frightful cries, came riding by, as swift as the wind, on a wild tom-cat, nor was it long after that 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 Little Man.

“At this moment, none,” answered the soldier; “you may 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 sight.

The soldier returned to the town from which he had come. He went to the best inn, ordered himself handsome clothes, and then bade the landlord furnish him a room as magnificent as possible.

When it was ready and the soldier had taken possession of it, he summoned the Little Black Man and said, “I have served the King faithfully, but he has dismissed me, and left me to hunger, and now I want to punish him.”

“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 Little Man 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 Little Man 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. Then he stretched out his feet and said, “Pull off my boots for me,” 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 Little Man 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, and264 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 it, 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 Little Man 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 Little Man had just before scattered peas in every other street. 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 find it.”

The Little Black Man 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 way to overcome 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 Little Man, had gone outside the city-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 Little Black Man.

“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 favor 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 ascended266 the Little Man 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 Little Man fell on them like lightning, darting this way and that, 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 begged merely to be allowed to live. He gave him his kingdom for his own, and the Princess to wife.

Book Reviews (1)

Rate this book

Scary Stories Subscribe