The Golden Soldier
Once upon a time, there was a handsome young soldier who had just
finished fighting in a war. His country was now at peace, but the young man
decided that he liked to fight in battle and that he would become a soldier
of fortune. So the young man set off into the world, looking for battles to
join and glory to win.
After a while he came to a village. When he entered the village, he found
people sitting in the streets. He was amazed to find no one working. The
people were mostly sitting quietly on logs or benches, or under trees. No one
was building or fixing or moving anything. Even the children were too lazy to
play and sat about idle. Everyone looked hungry and filthy and many were
sick. The young soldier stopped in front of a large group and asked why they
were not working.
"What is the use?" replied one old man slowly, "I remember a day, long
ago, when people worked but that was before we fell under the rule of our
"The king forbids you to work?" asked the soldier.
"No, but he taxes us so heavily that there is nothing left for our use.
He takes all of our food, money, craft items and anything useful for himself
so that we have no more
than you see now. We decided long ago not to produce anything, as it will
only be taken away." replied the old man.
"That is ridiculous!" exclaimed the young man, "Why do you not take up
arms against him and rebuild your village?"
"There is no use," answered the villager, "We have no weapons, our tools
are broken, we have no money for materials and most of our young people are
ill or undernourished. There is nothing that we can do."
The young soldier thought to himself, "I could fight with these people
and help them but I cannot fight for them all by myself."
So he left the village in disgust.
After a while, he came to a town. The people in the town seemed busy
enough but as soon as they saw the soldier, they scurried into their houses
like mice into their holes and the soldier could hear all of the bolts slam
"Hallo-o! Hallo-o!" cried the soldier, "Good day to ye!"
But no one answered him and no one came out of their house.
The soldier passed through he town, unable to find a bite to eat, even
where the sign said tavern or inn.
When he reached the other side of the town though, one door opened a see
crack and a lady stretched out her finger and beckoned to him.
"What do you want here - what is your business?" she hissed through the
"Good day mother!" I've come into the world to fight battles." said the
"Hush! Not so loud! The walls have ears and even the trees have eyes, you
Then she explained to the soldier that the town was under the control of
a terrible tyrant. This tyrant had created such a big web of spies and
trickery that the people had become afraid of each other. People were thrown
into dungeons anytime their neighbors reported any misdeed, however small.
And everyone told tales about everyone else in an effort to keep themselves
out of trouble. No one liked or trusted anyone else, not even in their own
"How can you live in such a way!" said the soldier, "Why do you not take
up arms and overthrow the tyrant?"
"No one could trust anyone else to make such plans and not turn them in.
It is quite impossible." answered the lady.
Just at that moment, a band of townspeople swarmed down the street,
eagerly pointing to the young man and he could see that they were leading the
way for the tyrant's guards, so he took to his heels and ran until he was
In a week or two he found himself in a city that was beautifully built
and gloriously decorated. The citizens wore gold and jewelry and much finery
and the soldier was greatly impressed. But after he had been in the city a
while, he began to notice that the people all had very haughty and superior
expressions on their faces and that everyone looked at him like he was a
simpleton. In fact, they all looked at each other that way, too!
So he asked his innkeeper why everyone seemed so proud.
"Why shouldn't we be proud?" asked the innkeeper in return, "We live in
the biggest city in the world, the richest city in the world and everyone is
so educated that we all know everything."
The soldier had already seen bigger and finer cities and it was a little
hard to believe that everyone could know everything, so he asked the
innkeeper to prove it.
"Sure." said the innkeeper, "Just ask me anything."
So the young man began to ask questions like what are two and two, what
kind of animal lays eggs, what color is the grass and how do you say the
"Two and two are nine, donkeys lay eggs, the grass is blue and the
alphabet goes S,Q,O,L,T,I,...."
"Stop!" shouted the soldier, "That is all wrong!"
"It cannot be wrong," said the innkeeper indignantly, "Because we have
all of our facts straight from our ruler, who is a very wise dictator. His
answers are the only ones allowed and they are always right!"
The innkeeper went off in an angry huff and the soldier decided to leave
a city where everyone was ignorant and proud of it. He passed through the
city gates in great despair.
The road led him through a great forest and after three days he found a
little hut. He knocked and a kind old woman came to the door and bade him
enter. When the young soldier was fed and rested, he told the old woman all
that he had seen and heard and he said,
"I would like to fight to free those people from their oppressors but I
can't do it alone and they don't seem to want to free themselves."
"No one will follow you, my son, until you have the golden sword and
shield which the dragon is guarding in a cave on the mountain. If you had the
golden sword, they would all follow you into freedom."
"Is that all?" said the soldier. "Fighting a dragon is not too difficult.
That is what I'll do - I'll get the sword and come back to free the people."
"You have my blessing my son." said the old woman. And the young man set
When he reached the dragon's cave in the mountain, the brash young fellow
whooped and hollered until the dragon woke up from his nap. The dragon
slithered off his glittering treasure hoard and crawled out of the cave into
the daylight. The dragon did not take kindly to being woken up. He fought a
great battle with the soldier but in the end, the soldier won and the dragon
Then the young man rushed into the cave and began to look for the golden
sword. He spent hours and hours. He opened every treasure chest and he moved
every diamond bracelet. He turned over every gold coin but he finally
realized that there was no golden sword to be found. He was so angry and
frustrated that he sat down on a treasure chest and cried.
The soldier had never cried before in his life - but he had never felt so
frustrated before, either. He cried and cried so much that a pool of tears
began to form on the floor at his feet. He did not notice until he stopped,
that the floor of the dragon's cave, being magic, had turned the tears to
gold, which lay in a solid lump at his feet. He picked up the heavy lump and
"Now what in the world should I do with this?"
"Take it to the dwarfs." said a mysterious voice.
The soldier looked around and he saw a golden cup encircled with jewels
standing alone on a high stone pedestal. A light was shining from the cup and
the voice seemed to come from it, too. As the soldier stared, it spoke again.
"Take it to the dwarfs deep in the mountain and they will fashion the
gold into a sword for you. And take me with you, too."
Then the light went out and the soldier took hold of the cup. Behind the
pedestal was a door. There was a long narrow stairway that went down. The
soldier went down, down, down hundreds and hundreds of stairs until it seemed
that he was at the very center of the earth. There he found an enormous
cavern full of dwarfs busily working at goldsmithing. They did not seem
surprised to see him and they took the gold from him and set to work on the
Although the dwarfs appeared to be working very busily, every time the
soldier asked for the sword, the dwarfs said, "It is not ready yet." The task
was taking so long that he grew very impatient. To amuse himself, he took the
golden cup out of the sack and began to examine it. There were seven jewels
embedded around the cup and the soldier spent one day looking at each jewel.
On the first day, the soldier looked at a beautiful green emerald. As he
did so, it revealed to him everything there is to see of the beauty of the
On the second day a deep blue sapphire showed him the unfathomable
mystery of the heavenly sky.
On the third day, a fiery red ruby taught him about the purifying power
On the fourth day, a golden yellow topaz took him through the secrets of
On the fifth day, a delicate peach tourmaline brought him to the mystery
of the human heart.
On the sixth day, a violet amethyst taught him the language of the wind.
On the seventh day, the purest sparkling diamond gave him the wisdom of
When the soldier had completed the round of jewels he began to weep. This
time his tears were tears of compassion for the earth and everything upon the
earth, for mankind and everything that mankind is, was and could be. And so
many tears of love were shed that they filled the cup to the brim.
When he stopped crying, the soldier looked up and saw a great crowd of
dwarfs in a circle around him.
"That is what we have been waiting for." said the chief goldsmith, "Now
pour your tears into the fire."
The soldier emptied the cup into the forge, where the tears immediately
became molten gold. From this gold, the dwarfs fashioned a magnificent shield.
"Now the sword can be completed." said the chief dwarf, "We could not do
so without the shield."
Last, he took the cup from the soldier and melted it down and made a
golden crown with the jewels set all around it.
When all was ready, the dwarfs presented the sword, shield and crown to
soldier and showed him the way back to the surface of the earth.
When the young man arrived in the world again, he found to his surprise
that each day that he had spent looking at the jewels had been ten years
upon the earth! He had not aged at all but everyone else had. The people he
had met were either very old or had died and a new generation of young people
had been born.
The soldier found that the evil king who ruled the village had been
replaced by his son and his son's son, both of whom were just as oppressive.
The people still had not begun to work at all. But as the soldier entered the
village, he carried the golden sword high and upright. And as it shone in the
sun, they young people picked themselves up out of the dust and began to
follow in a crowd behind him. Then the soldier spoke to the young people
about freedom and the satisfaction to be found in good labor.
The young people heard and understood and for the first time in memory,
they began to collect materials and to fashion tools. They worked long and
hard and in the end were able to create for themselves all that they needed
to rebuild their lives. They also fashioned weapons to defend themselves
against the king. They decided to give the king a small share, but only as
much as was his due and they were able to uphold that decision.
Then the golden soldier passed on to the hostile town. There, the younger
people came out from behind closed doors and when they were assembled, the
soldier turned his shield to face them. The mirror-smooth golden surface
reflected each one back and revealed every fault and every lie. No deception
could live in the face of it.
When the intricate web of mistrust and lies broke down, each young man
and woman turned to their neighbor and embraced him or her. They found trust
and love in the knowledge of who they really were and from that day on, the
tyrant's power was broken.
The golden soldier then came to the city. Since the young people had
never seen anyone like him, they were full of curiosity. They followed him to
the plaza in the center of the city. When they were all gathered together,
the soldier began to turn slowly and the diamond on his crown began to shine.
The diamond light filled the young people's eyes and opened them to the light
of real wisdom. For the first time, they could see for themselves the
difference between truth and falsehood and their pride was melted. Armed with
this inner knowledge, they closed their ears to the wicked dictator and
listened only to the truth within their hearts.
The golden soldier, having completed these tasks, journeyed on throughout
the wide world - helping people set themselves free everywhere he went.