Andersen Fairy Tales, Andersen-Hans Christian

The Golden Treasure

The Golden TreasureThe Golden Treasure

There was once a mother who knew the stork would come to visit her soon. She sat in church and looked upon the paintings of Cherubs. They had golden hair like the sunshine. She wished that her child might too look like an angel. When he was born his father played the fire drum for him, for that was his job. The child did have golden hair. It was light red and appeared as the sun’s rays. The boy was named Peter.

The child grew and was a joy to his parents. He said he would become a solider and the parents did not want this, especially the mother, but Peter went away to war anyway. He was gone and they did not know whether he was alive or dead. They did not know if his body lay on the battle field with many others or if he were safe, but one day he showed up and they were happy.

Peter developed a great talent for music. He was so good that he taught the burgomaster’s daughter how to play the piano. That was not all. Peter loved the daughter, but apparently, she didn’t love him so much. She married the son of a counsellor. Peter went on with his life. He became and amazing musician. He entertained kings and people of wealth all over. He made a name for himself, of the golden hair. His father died, but he kept his mother up.

One day he went home to his mother, where he saw all the old things, including the fire drum, which his father had first played for him. Peter played it again and the drum remembered what a treasure he had been.


I am assuming that a fire drum was a drum that was played to warn people of fire back in the day before fire alarms. I tried to look into this, but I didn’t get very far. Before sirens and smoke detectors, there were warnings that people used for various disasters. Most common, large bells have been used. If something is happening, someone goes and rings the bell at the church.

I know people have played bugles and other instruments for warnings and charges and so forth. Drummer boys did go to war. I would think that if a town was using a drum as a warning for fire, that they might be kind of irritated if some guy just started playing it one evening. On the other hand, this drum could be referring to something that was only used in time of war. Maybe the father did go to war with his drum. Maybe he did play it on the battlefield.


The mother wished for her child to be a golden treasure and he was. Not only did he have red-golden hair, he was a good person. He was a treasure in many senses. He was good to his parents. He rose above their humble beginning and made a name for himself as a famous musician. If that’s not a treasure in a child, I don’t know what is.

We all want to be able to treasure our children, if we have any. Some are better than others. This woman got her wish. This boy was as good as any boy could ever be.

Look, all you bratty kids, look at what this boy did with his life. He didn’t shoot up heroin or give herpes to all the neighbor girls; he was good. Maybe take a page out of his book…at least this is in some manner how parents would have liked to have used this story.


Be treasures to your parents, kids.

Weigh In

Do you think this story was meant as an ideal situation and an example story to children?

Why is Hans so fascinated with people rising out of poverty?


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