The Money Box by Hans Christian Andersen
IN a nursery where a number of toys lay scattered about, a money box
stood on the top of a very high wardrobe. It was made of clay in the
shape of a pig and had been bought of the potter. In the back of the
pig was a slit, and this slit had been enlarged with a knife so that
dollars, or even crown pieces, might slip throughand indeed there
were two in the box, besides a number of pence. The money-pig was
stuffed so full that it could no longer rattle, which is the highest
state of perfectness to which a money-pig can attain.
There he stood upon the cupboard, high and lofty, looking down upon
everything else in the room. He knew very well that he had enough
inside himself to buy up all the other toys, and this gave him a very
good opinion of his own value.
The rest thought of this fact also, although they did not express
it, there were so many other things to talk about. A large doll, still
handsome (though rather old, for her neck had been mended) lay inside
one of the drawers, which was partly open. She called out to the
others, Let us have a game at being men and women; that is something
worth playing at.
Upon this there was a great uproar; even the engravings which hung
in frames on the wall turned round in their excitement and showed that
they had a wrong side to them, although they had not the least
intention of exposing themselves in this way or of objecting to the
It was late at night, but as the moon shone through the windows,
they had light at a cheap rate. And as the game was now to begin, all
were invited to take part in it, even the children's wagon, which
certainly belonged among the coarser playthings. Each has its own
value, said the wagon; we cannot all be noblemen; there must be some
to do the work.
The money-pig was the only one who received a written invitation. He
stood so high that they were afraid he would not accept a verbal
message. But in his reply he said if he had to take a part he must
enjoy the sport from his own home; they were to arrange for him to do
so. And so they did.
The little toy theater was therefore put up in such a way that the
money-pig could look directly into it. Some wanted to begin with a
comedy and afterwards to have a tea party and a discussion for mental
improvement, but they began with the latter first.
The rocking-horse spoke of training and races; the wagon, of
railways and steam powerfor these subjects belonged to each of their
professions, and it was right they should talk of them. The clock
talked politicsTick, tick. He professed to know what was the time
of the day, but there was a whisper that he did not go correctly. The
bamboo cane stood by, looking stiff and proud (he was vain of his brass
ferrule and silver top), and on the sofa lay two worked cushions,
pretty but stupid.
When the play at the little theater began, the rest sat and looked
on; they were requested to applaud and stamp, or crack, whenever they
felt gratified with what they saw. The riding whip said he never
cracked for old people, only for the youngthose who were not yet
married. I crack for everybody, said the nutcracker.
Yes, and a fine noise you make, thought the audience as the play
It was not worth much, but it was very well played, and all the
actors turned their painted sides to the audience, for they were made
to be seen only on one side. The acting was wonderful, excepting that
sometimes the actors came out beyond the lamps, because the wires were
a little too long.
The doll whose neck had been mended was so excited that the place in
her neck burst, and the money-pig declared he must do something for one
of the players as they had all pleased him so much. So he made up his
mind to mention one of them in his will as the one to be buried with
him in the family vault, whenever that event should happen.
They enjoyed the comedy so much that they gave up all thoughts of
the tea party and only carried out their idea of intellectual
amusement, which they called playing at men and women. And there was
nothing wrong about it, for it was only play. All the while each one
thought most of himself or of what the money-pig could be thinking. The
money-pig's thoughts were on (as he supposed) a very far-distant
timeof making his will, and of his burial, and of when it might all
come to pass.
Certainly sooner than he expected; for all at once down he came from
the top of the press, fell on the floor, and was broken to pieces. Then
all the pennies hopped and danced about in the most amusing manner. The
little ones twirled round like tops, and the large ones rolled away as
far as they could, especially the one great silver crown piece, who had
often wanted to go out into the world. And he had his wish as well as
all the rest of the money. The pieces of the money-pig were thrown into
the dustbin, and the next day there stood a new money-pig on the
cupboard, but it had not a farthing inside it yet, and therefore, like
the old one, could not rattle.
This was the beginning with him, and with us it shall be the end of