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Main > English folktales > Fairy tale "The Golden Snuff-Box"

The Golden Snuff-Box

Well! all of a sudden he remembered the little golden snuff-box.

"I'm near enough to death," quoth he to himself, as he drew it out and opened it.

And no sooner had he opened it than out hopped three funny little red men in red night-caps, rubbing their eyes and yawning; for, see you, they had been locked up in the box for years, and years, and years.

"What do you want, Master?" they said between their yawns. But Jack heard that clock a-whirring and knew he hadn't a moment to lose, so he just gabbled off his orders. Then the clock began to strike, and the little men flew out of the window, and suddenly

Bang! bang! bang! bang! bang! bang!

went the guns, and the last one must have broken the leg of the four-post bed, for there at the window was the gay young daughter in her nightcap, gazing with astonishment at the lake four miles round, with the fleet of vessels floating on it!

And so did Jack! He had never seen such a sight in his life, and he was quite sorry when the three little red men disturbed him by flying in at the window and scrambling into the golden snuff-box.

"Give us a little more time when you want us next, Master," they said sulkily. Then they shut down the lid, and Jack could hear them yawning inside as they settled down to sleep.

As you may imagine, the master of the house was fair astonished, while as for the gay young daughter, she declared at once that she would never marry any one else but the young man who could do such wonderful things; the truth being that she and Jack had fallen in love with each other at first sight.

But her father was cautious. "It is true, my dear," says he, "that the young fellow seems a bully boy; but for aught we know it may be chance, not skill, and he may have a broken feather in his wing. So we must try him again."

Then he said to Jack, "My daughter must have a fine house to live in. Therefore by to-morrow morning at eight o'clock there must be a magnificent castle standing on twelve golden pillars in the middle of the lake, and there must be a church beside it.

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