Ask Hans

What do you remember?
I remember the copper dog
with saucer eyes galloping furiously at night  
- a princess sat on its back – & all because of one
stroke on a tinderbox!

What else do you remember?
I remember the witch said to the soldier: ‘Give
me the box immediately!’  He drew his sharp sword,
struck off her head - I saw it roll on the road!

Anything else?
Yes. A prentice-boy ran past the prison - kicked
his clog at the window - brought the tinderbox
& received (1 think) tuppence.

What did you see next?
I saw the King, Queen, Courtiers & some redcoated
buglers. The soldier (a rope round his neck) struck
One struck Two struck Three - & HUGE DOGS at once
(I positively saw them!) flung the Court in the air...

What next?!
I saw them sit 8 days at a feast.
They were happy as larks. I saw the princess
kissing & cuddling the soldier. I saw the huge
dogs glancing at the Courtiers & munching meat
& bones with glistening teeth...
(1 nearly said - but I won't

‘What else did you see?’ )
You're right about that!
There's no more to remember - unless I've missed
some of it somewhere. It's a very long time ago,
& who can tell?
Ask Hans!


If you doubt the truth of a fairy story you must question the author.

Naturally such writers do not greatly concern themselves over incidents involving death or violence: they are deeply interested in astonishing details which they utter in tones which apparently sound - to children, at any rate - simple, natural & convincing.