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||Ðiều Chỉnh||Xếp Bài|
There was once upon a time a king who had a little boy in whose stars it had been foretold that he should be killed by a stag when he was sixteen years of age, and when he had reached that age the huntsmen once went hunting with him. In the forest, the king's son was separated from the others, and all at once he saw a great stag which he wanted to shoot, but could not hit. At length he chased the stag so far that they were quite out of the forest, and then suddenly a great tall man was standing there instead of the stag, and said, "It is well that I have you. I have already ruined six pairs of glass skates with running after you, and have not been able to reach you."
Then he took the king's son with him, and dragged him through a great lake to a great palace, and he had to sit down to table with him and eat something. When they had eaten something together the king said, "I have three daughters, you must keep watch over the eldest for one night, from nine in the evening till six in the morning, and every time the clock strikes, I will come myself and call, and if you then give me no answer, to-morrow morning you shall be put to death, but if you always give me an answer, you shall have her to wife."
When the young folks went to the bedroom there stood a stone image of St. Christopher, and the king's daughter said to it, "My father will come at nine o'clock, and every hour till it strikes three, when he calls, give him an answer instead of the king's son." Then the stone image of St. Christopher nodded its head quite quickly, and then more and more slowly till at last it again stood still. The next morning the king said to him, "You have done the business well, but I cannot give my daughter away. You must now watch a night by my second daughter, and then I will consider with myself, whether you can have my eldest daughter to wife, but I shall come every hour myself, and when I call you, answer me, and if I call you and you do not reply, your blood shall flow."
Then they both went into the sleeping-room, and there stood a still larger stone image of St. Christopher, and the king's daughter said to it, "If my father calls, answer him." Then the great stone image of St. Christopher again nodded its head quite quickly and then more and more slowly, until at last it stood still again. And the king's son lay down on the threshold, put his hand under his head and slept. The next morning the king said to him, "You have done the business really well, but I cannot give my daughter away, you must now watch a night by the youngest princess, and then I will consider with myself whether you can have my second daughter to wife. But I shall come every hour myself, and when I call you answer me, and if I call you and you answer not, your blood shall flow for me."
Then they once more went to the sleeping-room together, and there was a much greater and much taller image of St. Christopher than the two first had been. The king's daughter said to it, "When my father calls, answer." Then the great tall stone image of St. Christopher nodded quite half an hour with its head, until at length the head stood still again. And the king's son laid himself down on the threshold of the door and slept. The next morning the king said, "You have indeed watched well, but I cannot give you my daughter now, I have a great forest, if you cut it down for me between six o'clock this morning and six at night, I will think about it."
Then he gave him a glass axe, a glass wedge, and a glass mallet. When he got into the wood, he began at once to cut, but the axe broke in two. Then he took the wedge, and struck it once with the mallet, and it became as short and as small as sand. Then he was much troubled and believed he would have to die, and sat down and wept.
Now when it was noon the king said, "One of you girls must take him something to eat." "No," said the two eldest, "we will not take it to him, the one by whom he last watched, can take him something." Then the youngest was forced to go and take him something to eat. When she got into the forest, she asked him how he was getting on. "Oh," said he, "I am getting on very badly." Then she said he was to come and just eat a little. "Nay," said he, "I cannot do that, I have to die anyway, so I will eat no more." Then she spoke so kindly to him and begged him just to try, that he came and ate something. When he had eaten something she said, "I will pick your lice a while, and then you will feel happier."
So she loused him, and he became weary and fell asleep, and then she took her handkerchief and made a knot in it, and struck it three times on the earth, and said, "Earth-workers, come forth." In a moment, numbers of little earth-men came forth, and asked what the king's daughter commanded. Then said she, "In three hours, time the great forest must be cut down, and all the wood laid in heaps." So the little earth-men went about and got together the whole of their kindred to help them with the work. They began at once, and when the three hours were over, all was done, and they came back to the king's daughter and told her so. Then she took her white handkerchief again and said, "Earth-workers, go home." At this they all disappeared.
When the king's son awoke, he was delighted, and she said, "Come home when it has struck six o'clock." He did as she told him, and then the king asked, "Have you made away with the forest?" "Yes," said the king's son. When they were sitting at table, the king said, "I cannot yet give you my daughter to wife, you must still do something more for her sake." So he asked what it was to be. "I have a great fish-pond," said the king. "You must go to it to-morrow morning and clear it of all mud until it is as bright as a mirror, and fill it with every kind of fish."
The next morning the king gave him a glass shovel and said, "The fish-pond must be done by six o'clock." So he went away, and when he came to the fish-pond he stuck his shovel in the mud and it broke in two. Then he stuck his hoe in the mud, and it broke also. Then he was much troubled. At noon the youngest daughter brought him something to eat, and asked him how he was getting on. So the king's son said everything was going very ill with him, and he would certainly have to lose his head. "My tools have broken to pieces again." "Oh," said she, "you must just come and eat something, and then you will be in another frame of mind." "No," said he, "I cannot eat, I am far too unhappy for that." Then she gave him many good words until at last he came and ate something.
Then she loused him again, and he fell asleep, so once more she took her handkerchief, tied a knot in it, and struck the ground thrice with the knot, and said, "Earth-workers, come forth." In a moment a great many little earth-men came and asked what she desired, and she told them that in three hours, time, they must have the fish-pond entirely cleaned out, and it must be so clear that people could see themselves reflected in it, and every kind of fish must be in it. The little earth-men went away and summoned all their kindred to help them, and in two hours it was done. Then they returned to her and said, "We have done as you have commanded." The king's daughter took the handkerchief and once more struck thrice on the ground with it, and said, "earth-workers, go home again." Then they all went away.
When the king's son awoke the fish-pond was done. Then the king's daughter went away also, and told him that when it was six he was to come to the house. When he arrived at the house the king asked, "Have you got the fish-pond done?" "Yes," said the king's son. That was very good.
When they were again sitting at table the king said, "You have certainly done the fish-pond, but I cannot give you my daughter yet, you must just do one thing more." "What is that, then?" asked the king's son. The king said he had a great mountain on which there was nothing but briars which must all be cut down, and at the top of it the youth must build a great castle, which must be as strong as could be conceived, and all the furniture and fittings belonging to a castle must be inside it.
And when he arose next morning the king gave him a glass axe and a glass gimlet, and he was to have all done by six o'clock. As he was cutting down the first briar with the axe, it broke off short, and so small that the pieces flew all round about, and he could not use the gimlet either. Then he was quite miserable, and waited for his dearest to see if she would not come and help him in his need. When it was mid-day she came and brought him something to eat. He went to meet her and told her all, and ate something, and let her louse him and fell asleep.
Then she once more took the knot and struck the earth with it, and said, "Earth-workers, come forth." Then came once again numbers of earth-men, and asked what her desire was. Then said she, "In the space of three hours you must cut down the whole of the briars, and a castle must be built on the top of the mountain that must be as strong as any one could conceive, and all the furniture that pertains to a castle must be inside it." They went away, and summoned their kindred to help them and when the time was come, all was ready. Then they came to the king's daughter and told her so, and the king's daughter took her handkerchief and struck thrice on the earth with it, and said, "Earth-workers, go home, on which they all disappeared." When therefore the king's son awoke and saw everything done, he was as happy as a bird in air.
When it had struck six, they went home together. Then said the king, "Is the castle ready?" "Yes," said the king's son. When they sat down to table, the king said, "I cannot give away my youngest daughter until the two eldest are married." Then the king's son and the king's daughter were quite troubled, and the king's son had no idea what to do. But he went by night to the king's daughter and ran away with her. When they had got a little distance away, the king's daughter peeped round and saw her father behind her. "Oh," said she, "what are we to do? My father is behind us, and will take us back with him. I will at once change you into a briar, and myself into a rose, and I will shelter myself in the midst of the bush."
When the father reached the place, there stood a briar with one rose on it, and he was about to gather the rose, when the thorn pricked his finger so that he was forced to go home again. His wife asked why he had not brought their daughter back with him. So he said he had nearly got up to her, but that all at once he had lost sight of her, and a briar with one rose was growing on the spot. Then said the queen, "If you had but gathered the rose, the briar would have been forced to come too." So he went back again to fetch the rose, but in the meantime the two were already far over the plain, and the king ran after them. Then the daughter once more looked round and saw her father coming, and said, "Oh, what shall we do now? I will instantly change you into a church and myself into a priest, and I will stand up in the pulpit, and preach." When the king got to the place, there stood a church, and in the pulpit was a priest preaching. So he listened to the sermon, and then went home again.
Then the queen asked why he had not brought their daughter with him, and he said, "Nay, I ran a long time after her, and just as I thought I should soon overtake her, a church was standing there and a priest was in the pulpit preaching." "You should just have brought the priest," said his wife, "and then the church would soon have come. It is no use to send you, I must go there myself." When she had walked for some time, and could see the two in the distance, the king's daughter peeped round and saw her mother coming, and said, "Now we are undone, for my mother is coming herself, I will immediately change you into a fish-pond and myself into a fish."
When the mother came to the place, there was a large fish-pond, and in the midst of it a fish was leaping about and peeping out of the water, and it was quite merry. She wanted to catch the fish, but she could not. Then she was very angry, and drank up the whole pond in order to catch the fish, but it made her so ill that she was forced to vomit, and vomited the whole pond out again. Then she cried, "I see very well that nothing can be done now, and asked them to come back to her." Then the king's daughter went back again, and the queen gave her daughter three walnuts, and said, "With these you can help yourself when you are in your greatest need."
So the young folks once more went away together. And when they had walked quite ten miles, they arrived at the castle from whence the king's son came, and near it was a village. When they reached it, the king's son said, "Stay here, my dearest, I will just go to the castle, and then will I come with a carriage and with attendants to fetch you."
When he got to the castle they all rejoiced greatly at having the king's son back again, and he told them he had a bride who was now in the village, and they must go with the carriage to fetch her. Then they harnessed the horses at once, and many attendants seated themselves outside the carriage. When the king's son was about to get in, his mother gave him a kiss, and he forgot everything which had happened, and also what he was about to do. At this his mother ordered the horses to be taken out of the carriage again, and everyone went back into the house. But the maiden sat in the village and watched and watched, and thought he would come and fetch her, but no one came. Then the king's daughter took service in the mill which belonged to the castle, and was obliged to sit by the pond every afternoon and clean the tubs.
And the queen came one day on foot from the castle, and went walking by the pond, and saw the well-grown maiden sitting there, and said, "What a fine strong girl that is. She pleases me well." Then she and all with her looked at the maid, but no one knew her. So a long time passed by during which the maiden served the miller honorably and faithfully. In the meantime, the queen had sought a wife for her son, who came from quite a distant part of the world. When the bride came, they were at once to be married. And many people hurried together, all of whom wanted to see everything. Then the girl said to the miller that he might be so good as to give her leave to go also. So the miller said, "Yes, do go there." When she was about to go, she opened one of the three walnuts, and a beautiful dress lay inside it. She put it on, and went into the church and stood by the altar. Suddenly came the bride and bridegroom, and seated themselves before the altar, and when the priest was just going to bless them, the bride peeped half round and saw the maiden standing there. Then she stood up again, and said she would not be given away until she also had as beautiful a dress as that lady there.
So they went back to the house again, and sent to ask the lady if she would sell that dress. No, she would not sell it, but the bride might perhaps earn it. Then the bride asked her how she was to do this. Then the maiden said if she might sleep one night outside the king's son's door, the bride might have what she wanted. So the bride said, "Yes," she was willing to do that. But the servants were ordered to give the king's son a sleeping draught, and then the maiden laid herself down on the threshold and lamented all night long. She had had the forest cut down for him, she had had the fish-pond cleaned out for him, she had had the castle built for him, she had changed him into a briar, and then into a church, and at last into a fish-pond, and yet he had forgotten her so quickly.
The king's son did not hear one word of it, but the servants had been awakened, and had listened to it, and had not known what it could mean. The next morning when they were all up, the bride put on the dress, and went away to the church with the bridegroom. In the meantime the maiden opened the second walnut, and a still more beautiful dress was inside it. She put it on, and went and stood by the altar in the church, and everything happened as it had happened the time before. And the maiden again lay all night on the threshold which led to the chamber of the king's son, and the servant was once more to give him a sleeping draught. The servant, however, went to him and gave him something to keep him awake, and then the king's son went to bed, and the miller's maiden bemoaned herself as before on the threshold of the door, and told of all that she had done. All this the king's son heard, and was sore troubled, and what was past came back to him. Then he wanted to go to her, but his mother had locked the door.
The next morning, however, he went at once to his beloved, and told her everything which had happened to him, and prayed her not to be angry with him for having forgotten her. Then the king's daughter opened the third walnut, and within it was a still more magnificent dress, which she put on, and went with her bridegroom to church, and numbers of children came who gave them flowers, and offered them gay ribbons to bind about their feet, and they were blessed by the priest, and had a merry wedding. But the false mother and the bride had to depart. And the mouth of the person who last told all this is still warm.
There was once upon a time a princess who was extremely proud. If a wooer came she gave him some riddle to guess, and if he could not guess it, he was sent contemptuously away. She let it be made known also that whosoever solved her riddle should marry her, let him be who he might. At length, three tailors fell in with each other, the two eldest of whom thought they had done so many dexterous jobs of work successfully that they could not fail to succeed in this also, the third was a little, useless harum-scarum, who did not even know his trade, but thought he must have some luck in this venture, for where else was it to come from. Then the two others said to him, just stay at home, you cannot do much with your little understanding. The little tailor, however, did not let himself be discouraged, and said he had set his mind to work on this for once, and he would manage well enough, and he went forth as if the whole world were his.
They all three announced themselves to the princess, and said she was to propound her riddle to them, and that the right persons were now come, who had understandings so fine that they could be threaded in a needle. Then said the princess, "I have two kinds of hair on my head, of what color is it." "If that be all," said the first, "it must be black and white, like the cloth which is called pepper and salt." The princess said, "Wrongly guessed, let the second answer." Then said the second, "If it be not black and white, then it is brown and red, like my father's sunday coat." "Wrongly guessed," said the princess, "let the third give the answer for I see very well he knows it for certain." Then the little tailor stepped boldly forth and said, "The princess has a silver and a golden hair on her head, and those are the two different colors."
When the princess heard that, she turned pale and nearly fell down with terror, for the little tailor had guessed her riddle, and she had firmly believed that no man on earth could discover it. When her courage returned she said, "You have not won me yet by that. There is still something else that you must do. Below, in the stable is a bear with which you shall pass the night, and when I get up in the morning if you are still alive, you shall marry me." She expected, however, she would thus get rid of the tailor, for the bear had never yet left anyone alive who had fallen into his clutches. The little tailor did not let himself be frightened away, but was quite delighted, and said, "Boldly ventured is half won."
So when the evening came, our little tailor was taken down to the bear. The bear was about to set on the little fellow at once, and give him a hearty welcome with his paws. "Softly, softly," said the little tailor, "I will soon make you quiet." Then quite composedly, and as if he had no anxiety in the world, he took some nuts out of his pocket, cracked them, and ate the kernels. When the bear saw that, he was seized with a desire to have some nuts too. The tailor felt in his pockets, and reached him a handful, they were, however, not nuts, but pebbles. The bear put them in his mouth, but could get nothing out of them, let him bite as he would. "Eh," thought he, "what a stupid blockhead am I, I cannot even crack a nut." And then he said to the tailor, "Here, crack me the nuts." "There, see what a stupid fellow you are," said the little tailor, "to have such a great mouth, and not be able to crack a small nut." Then he took the pebble and nimbly put a nut in his mouth in the place of it, and crack, it was in two. "I must try the thing again," said the bear, "when I watch you, I then think I ought to be able to do it too." So the tailor once more gave him a pebble, and the bear tried and tried to bite into it with all the strength of his body. But even you do not believe that he managed it.
When that was over, the tailor took out a violin from beneath his coat, and played something to himself. When the bear heard the music, he could not help beginning to dance, and when he had danced a while, the thing pleased him so well that he said to the little tailor, "Listen, is it difficult to fiddle?" "Easy enough for a child. Look, with the left hand I lay my fingers on it, and with the right I stroke it with the bow, and then it goes merrily, hop sa sa vivallalera." "So," said the bear, "fiddling is a thing I should like to learn too, that I might dance whenever I felt like it. What do you think of that? Will you give me lessons?" "With all my heart," said the tailor, "if you have a talent for it. But just let me see your claws, they are terribly long, I must cut your nails a little." Then a vise was brought, and the bear put his claws in it, and the little tailor screwed it tight, and said, "Now wait until I come with the scissors." And he let the bear growl as he liked, and lay down in the corner on a bundle of straw, and fell asleep.
When the princess heard the bear growling so fiercely during the night, she believed nothing else but that he was growling for joy, and had made an end of the tailor. In the morning she arose careless and happy, but when she peeped into the stable, the tailor stood gaily before her, and was as healthy as a fish in water. Now she could not say another word against the wedding because she had given a promise before everyone, and the king ordered a carriage to be brought in which she was to drive to church with the tailor, and there she was to be married.
When they had climbed into the carriage, the two other tailors, who had false hearts and envied him his good fortune, went into the stable and unscrewed the bear again. The bear in great fury ran after the carriage. The princess heard snorting and growling. She was terrified, and she cried, "Ah, the bear is behind us and wants to get you." The tailor was quick and stood on his head, stuck his legs out of the window, and cried, "Do you see the vise? If you do not be off you shall be put into it again." When the bear saw that, he turned round and ran away. The tailor drove quietly to church, and the princess was married to him at once, and he lived with her as happy as a woodlark. Whosoever does not believe this, must pay a tailor.
A tailor's apprentice was traveling about the world in search of work, and at one time he could find none, and his poverty was so great that he had not a farthing to live on. Presently he met a Jew on the road, and as he thought he would have a great deal of money about him, the tailor thrust God out of his heart, fell on the Jew, and said, give me your money, or I will strike you dead. Then said the Jew, grant me my life, I have no money but eight farthings. But the tailor said, money you have, and it shall be produced, and used violence and beat him until he was near death. And when the Jew was dying, the last words he said were, the bright sun will bring it to light, and thereupon he died. The tailor's apprentice felt in his pockets and sought for money, but he found nothing but eight farthings, as the Jew had said. Then he took him up and carried him behind a clump of trees, and went onwards to seek work. After he had traveled about a long while, he found work in a town with a master who had a pretty daughter, with whom he fell in love, and he married her, and lived in good and happy wedlock.
After a long time when he and his wife had two children, the wife's father and mother died, and the young people kept house alone. One morning, when the husband was sitting on the table before the window, his wife brought him his coffee, and when he had poured it out into the saucer, and was just going to drink, the sun shone on it and the reflection gleamed hither and thither on the wall above, and made circles on it. Then the tailor looked up and said, yes, it would like very much to bring it to light, and cannot. The woman said, o, dear husband, and what is that, then. What do you mean by that. He answered, I must not tell you. But she said, if you love me, you must tell me, and used her most affectionate words, and said that no one should ever know it, and left him no rest. Then he told her how years ago, when he was traveling about seeking work and quite worn out and penniless, he had killed a Jew, and that in the last agonies of death, the Jew had spoken the words, the bright sun will bring it to light. And now, the sun had just wanted to bring it to light, and had gleamed and made circles on the wall, but had not been able to do it. After this, he again charged her particularly never to tell this, or he would lose his life, and she did promise. However, when he had sat down to work again, she went to her great friend and confided the story to her, and asked her never to repeat it to any human being, but before three days were over, the whole town knew it, and the tailor was brought to trial, and condemned. And thus, after all, the bright sun did bring it to light.
There was once on a time a soldier who for many years had served the king faithfully, but when the war came to an end could serve no longer because of the many wounds which he had received. The king said to him, "You may return to your home, I need you no longer, and you will not receive any more money, for he only receives wages who renders me serve for them." Then the soldier did not know how to earn a living, went away greatly troubled, and walked the whole day, until in the evening he entered a forest. When darkness came on, he saw a light, which he went up to, and came to a house wherein lived a witch. "Do give me one night's lodging, and a little to eat and drink," said he to her, "or I shall starve." "Oho," she answered, "who gives anything to a run-away soldier? Yet will I be compassionate, and take you in, if you will do what I wish." "What do you wish?" said the soldier. "That you should dig all round my garden for me, tomorrow." The soldier consented, and next day labored with all his strength, but could not finish it by the evening. "I see well enough," said the witch, "that you can do no more today, but I will keep you yet another night, in payment for which you must tomorrow chop me a load of wood, and chop it small." The soldier spent the whole day in doing it, and in the evening the witch proposed that he should stay one night more. "Tomorrow, you shall only do me a very trifling piece of work. Behind my house, there is an old dry well, into which my light has fallen, it burns blue, and never goes out, and you shall bring it up again."
Next day the old woman took him to the well, and let him down in a basket. He found the blue light, and made her a signal to draw him up again. She did draw him up, but when he came near the edge, she stretched down her hand and wanted to take the blue light away from him. "No," said he, perceiving her evil intention, "I will not give you the light until I am standing with both feet upon the ground." The witch fell into a passion, let him fall again into the well, and went away.
The poor soldier fell without injury on the moist ground, and the blue light went on burning, but of what use was that to him. He saw very well that he could not escape death. He sat for a while very sorrowfully, then suddenly he felt in his pocket and found his tobacco pipe, which was still half full. "This shall be my last pleasure," thought he, pulled it out, lit it at the blue light and began to smoke. When the smoke had circled about the cavern, suddenly a little black dwarf stood before him, and said, "Lord, what are your commands?" "What my commands are?" replied the soldier, quite astonished. "I must do everything you bid me," said the little man. "Good," said the soldier, "then in the first place help me out of this well." The little man took him by the hand, and led him through an underground passage, but he did not forget to take the blue light with him. On the way the dwarf showed him the treasures which the witch had collected and hidden there, and the soldier took as much gold as he could carry. When he was above, he said to the little man, "Now go and bind the old witch, and carry her before the judge."
In a short time she came by like the wind, riding on a wild tom-cat and screaming frightfully. Nor was it long before the little man re-appeared. "It is all done," said he, "and the witch is already hanging on the gallows. What further commands has my lord," inquired the dwarf. "At this moment, none," answered the soldier, "You can return home, only be at hand immediately, if I summon you." "Nothing more is needed than that you should light your pipe at the blue light, and I will appear before you at once." Thereupon he vanished from his sight.
The soldier returned to the town from which he had come. He went to the best inn, ordered himself handsome clothes, and then bade the landlord furnish him a room as handsome as possible. When it was ready and the soldier had taken possession of it, he summoned the little black mannikin and said, "I have served the king faithfully, but he has dismissed me, and left me to hunger, and now I want to take my revenge." "What am I to do?" asked the little man. "Late at night, when the king's daughter is in bed, bring her here in her sleep, she shall do servant's work for me." The mannikin said, "That is an easy thing for me to do, but a very dangerous thing for you, for if it is discovered, you will fare ill." When twelve o'clock had struck, the door sprang open, and the mannikin carried in the princess. "Aha, are you there?" cried the soldier, "Get to your work at once. Fetch the broom and sweep the chamber." When she had done this, he ordered her to come to his chair, and then he stretched out his feet and said, "Pull off my boots," and then he threw them in her face, and made her pick them up again, and clean and brighten them. She, however, did everything he bade her, without opposition, silently and with half-shut eyes. When the first cock crowed, the mannikin carried her back to the royal palace, and laid her in her bed.
Next morning when the princess arose she went to her father, and told him that she had had a very strange dream. "I was carried through the streets with the rapidity of lightning," said she, "and taken into a soldier's room, and I had to wait upon him like a servant, sweep his room, clean his boots, and do all kinds of menial work. It was only a dream, and yet I am just as tired as if I really had done everything." "The dream may have been true," said the king, "I will give you a piece of advice. Fill your pocket full of peas, and make a small hole in the pocket, and then if you are carried away again, they will fall out and leave a track in the streets." But unseen by the king, the mannikin was standing beside him when he said that, and heard all. At night when the sleeping princess was again carried through the streets, some peas certainly did fall out of her pocket, but they made no track, for the crafty mannikin had just before scattered peas in every street there was. And again the princess was compelled to do servant's work until cock-crow.
Next morning the king sent his people out to seek the track, but it was all in vain, for in every street poor children were sitting, picking up peas, and saying, "It must have rained peas, last night." "We must think of something else," said the king, "keep your shoes on when you go to bed, and before you come back from the place where you are taken, hide one of them there, I will soon contrive to find it." The black mannikin heard this plot, and at night when the soldier again ordered him to bring the princess, revealed it to him, and told him that he knew of no expedient to counteract this stratagem, and that if the shoe were found in the soldier's house it would go badly with him. "Do what I bid you," replied the soldier, and again this third night the princess was obliged to work like a servant, but before she went away, she hid her shoe under the bed.
Next morning the king had the entire town searched for his daughter's shoe. It was found at the soldier's, and the soldier himself, who at the entreaty of the dwarf had gone outside the gate, was soon brought back, and thrown into prison. In his flight he had forgotten the most valuable things he had, the blue light and the gold, and had only one ducat in his pocket. And now loaded with chains, he was standing at the window of his dungeon, when he chanced to see one of his comrades passing by. The soldier tapped at the pane of glass, and when this man came up, said to him, "Be so kind as to fetch me that small bundle I have lying in the inn, and I will give you a ducat for doing it."
His comrade ran thither and brought him what he wanted. As soon as the soldier was alone again, he lighted his pipe and summoned the black mannikin. "Have no fear," said the latter to his master. "Go wheresoever they take you, and let them do what they will, only take the blue light with you." Next day the soldier was tried, and though he had done nothing wicked, the judge condemned him to death. When he was led forth to die, he begged a last favor of the king. "What is it?" asked the king. "That I may smoke one more pipe on my way." "You may smoke three," answered the king, "but do not imagine that I will spare your life." Then the soldier pulled out his pipe and lighted it at the blue light, and as soon as a few wreaths of smoke had ascended, the mannikin was there with a small cudgel in his hand, and said, "What does my lord command?" "Strike down to earth that false judge there, and his constable, and spare not the king who has treated me so ill." Then the mannikin fell on them like lightning, darting this way and that way, and whosoever was so much as touched by his cudgel fell to earth, and did not venture to stir again. The king was terrified, he threw himself on the soldier's mercy, and merely to be allowed to live at all, gave him his kingdom for his own, and his daughter to wife.
Once upon a time there was a child who was wilful, and would not do what her mother wished. For this reason God had no pleasure in her, and let her become ill, and no doctor could do her any good, and in a short time she lay on her death-bed. When she had been lowered into her grave, and the earth was spread over her, all at once her arm came out again, and stretched upwards, and when they had put it in and spread fresh earth over it, it was all to no purpose, for the arm always came out again. Then the mother herself was obliged to go to the grave, and strike the arm with a rod, and when she had done that, it was drawn in, and then at last the child had rest beneath the ground.
There was once a king's son, who was no longer content to stay at home in his father's house, and as he had no fear of anything, he thought, I will go forth into the wide world, there the time will not seem long to me, and I shall see wonders enough. So he took leave of his parents, and went forth, and on and on from morning till night, and whichever way his path led it was the same to him. It came to pass that he arrived at the house of a giant, and as he was so tired he sat down by the door and rested. And as he let his eyes roam here and there, he saw the giant's playthings lying in the yard. These were a couple of enormous balls, and nine-pins as tall as a man. After a while he had a fancy to set the nine-pins up and then rolled the balls at them, and screamed and cried out when the nine-pins fell, and had a merry time of it.
The giant heard the noise, stretched his head out of the window, and saw a man who was not taller than other men, and yet played with his nine-pins. "Little worm," cried he, "why are you playing with my balls? Who gave you strength to do it?" The king's son looked up, saw the giant, and said, "Oh, you blockhead, you think indeed that you only have strong arms, I can do everything I want to do." The giant came down and watched the bowling with great admiration, and said, "Child of man, if you are one of that kind, go and bring me an apple of the tree of life." "What do you want with it?" said the king's son. "I do not want the apple for myself," answered the giant, "but I have a betrothed bride who wishes for it. I have traveled far about the world and cannot find the tree." "I will soon find it," said the king's son, "and I do not know what is to prevent me from getting the apple down." The giant said, "You really believe it to be so easy. The garden in which the tree stands is surrounded by an iron railing, and in front of the railing lie wild beasts, each close to the other, and they keep watch and let no man go in." "They will be sure to let me in," said the king's son. "Yes, but even if you do get into the garden, and see the apple hanging to the tree, it is still not yours. A ring hangs in front of it, through which any one who wants to reach the apple and break it off, must put his hand, and no one has yet had the luck to do it." "That luck will be mine," said the king's son. Then he took leave of the giant, and went forth over mountain and valley, and through plains and forests, until at length he came to the wondrous garden.
The beasts lay round about it, but they had put their heads down and were asleep. Moreover, they did not awake when he went up to them, so he stepped over them, climbed the fence, and got safely into the garden. There, in the very middle of it, stood the tree of life, and the red apples were shining upon the branches. He climbed up the trunk to the top, and as he was about to reach out for an apple, he saw a ring hanging before it, but he thrust his hand through that without any difficulty, and picked the apple. The ring closed tightly on his arm, and all at once he felt a prodigious strength flowing through his veins. When he had come down again from the tree with the apple, he would not climb over the fence, but grasped the great gate, and had no need to shake it more than once before it sprang open with a loud crash. Then he went out, and the lion which had been lying in front of the gate, was awake and sprang after him, not in rage and fierceness, but following him humbly as its master.
The king's son took the giant the apple he had promised him, and said, "You see, I have brought it without difficulty." The giant was glad that his desire had been so soon satisfied, hastened to his bride, and gave her the apple for which she had wished. She was a beautiful and wise maiden, and as she did not see the ring on his arm, she said, "I shall never believe that you have brought the apple, until I see the ring on your arm." The giant said, "I have nothing to do but go home and fetch it," and thought it would be easy to take away by force from the weak man, what he would not give of his own free will. He therefore demanded the ring from him, but the king's son refused it. "Where the apple is, the ring must be also," said the giant. "If you will not give it of your own accord, you must fight me for it."
They wrestled with each other for a long time, but the giant could not harm the king's son, who was strengthened by the magical power of the ring. Then the giant thought of a ruse, and said, "I have got warm with fighting, and so have you. We will bathe in the river, and cool ourselves before we begin again." The king's son, who knew nothing of falsehood, went with him to the water, and pulled off with his clothes the ring also from his arm, and sprang into the river. The giant instantly snatched the ring, and ran away with it, but the lion, which had observed the theft, pursued the giant, tore the ring out of his hand, and brought it back to its master. Then the giant placed himself behind an oak-tree, and while the king's son was busy putting on his clothes again, surprised him, and put both his eyes out.
And now the unhappy king's son stood there, and was blind and knew not how to help himself. Then the giant came back to him, took him by the hand as if he were someone who wanted to guide him, and led him to the top of a high rock. There he left him standing, and thought, "Just two steps more, and he will fall down and kill himself, and I can take the ring from him." But the faithful lion had not deserted its master. It held him fast by the clothes, and drew him gradually back again.
When the giant came and wanted to rob the dead man, he saw that his cunning had been in vain. "Is there no way, then, of destroying a weak child of man like that?" said he angrily to himself, and seized the king's son and led him back again to the precipice by another way, but the lion which saw his evil design, helped its master out of danger here also. When they had come close to the edge, the giant let the blind man's hand drop, and was going to leave him behind alone, but the lion pushed the giant so that he was thrown down and fell, dashed to pieces, on the ground.
The faithful animal again drew its master back from the precipice, and guided him to a tree by which flowed a clear brook. The king's son sat down there, but the lion lay down, and sprinkled the water in his face with its paws. Scarcely had a couple of drops wetted the sockets of his eyes, than he was once more able to see something, and noticed a little bird flying quite close by, which hit itself against the trunk of a tree. So it went down to the water and bathed itself therein, and then it soared upwards and swept between the trees without touching them, as if it had recovered its sight. Then the king's son recognized a sign from God and stooped down to the water, and washed and bathed his face in it. And when he arose he had his eyes once more, brighter and clearer than they had ever been.
The king's son thanked God for his great mercy, and traveled with his lion onwards through the world. And it came to pass that he arrived before a castle which was enchanted. In the gateway stood a maiden of beautiful form and fine face, but she was quite black. She spoke to him and said, "Ah, if you could but deliver me from the evil spell which is thrown over me." "What shall I do?" said the king's son. The maiden answered, "You must pass three nights in the great hall of this enchanted castle, but you must let no fear enter your heart. When they are doing their worst to torment you, if you bear it without letting a sound escape you, I shall be free. Your life they dare not take." Then said the king's son, "I have no fear, with God's help I will try it." So he went gaily into the castle, and when it grew dark he seated himself in the large hall and waited.
Everything was quiet, however, till midnight, when all at once a great tumult began, and out of every hole and corner came little devils. They behaved as if they did not see him, seated themselves in the middle of the room, lighted a fire, and began to gamble. When one of them lost, he said, "It is not right, some one is here who does not belong to us, it is his fault that I am losing." "Wait, you fellow behind the stove, I am coming," said another. The screaming became still louder, so that no one could have heard it without terror. The king's son stayed sitting quite calmly, and was not afraid, but at last the devils jumped up from the ground, and fell on him, and there were so many of them that he could not defend himself from them. They dragged him about on the floor, pinched him, pricked him, beat him, and tormented him, but no sound escaped from him. Towards morning they disappeared, and he was so exhausted that he could scarcely move his limbs, but when day dawned the black maiden came to him. She bore in her hand a little bottle wherein was the water of life wherewith she washed him, and he at once felt all pain depart and new strength flow through his veins. She said, "You have held out successfully for one night, but two more lie before you." Then she went away again, and as she was going, he observed that her feet had become white.
The next night the devils came and began their gambling anew. They fell on the king's son, and beat him much more severely than the night before, until his body was covered with wounds. But as he bore all quietly, they were forced to leave him, and when dawn appeared, the maiden came and healed him with the water of life. And when she went away, he saw with joy that she had already become white to the tips of her fingers. And now he had only one night more to go through, but it was the worst. The devils came again, "Are you still there?" cried they. "You shall be tormented till your breath stops." They pricked him and beat him, and threw him here and there, and pulled him by the arms and legs as if they wanted to tear him to pieces, but he bore everything, and never uttered a cry. At last the devils vanished, but he lay fainting there, and did not stir, nor could he raise his eyes to look at the maiden who came in, and sprinkled and bathed him with the water of life. But suddenly he was freed from all pain, and felt fresh and healthy as if he had awakened from sleep, and when he opened his eyes he saw the maiden standing by him, snow-white, and fair as day.
"Rise," said she, "and swing your sword three times over the stairs, and then all will be delivered." And when he had done that, the whole castle was released from enchantment, and the maiden was a rich king's daughter. The servants came and said that the table was set in the great hall, and dinner served up. Then they sat down and ate and drank together, and in the evening the wedding was solemnized with great rejoicings.
There was once a young huntsman who went into the forest to lie in wait. He had a fresh and joyous heart, and as he was going thither, whistling upon a leaf, an ugly old crone came up, who spoke to him and said, "Good-day, dear huntsman, truly you are merry and contented, but I am suffering from hunger and thirst, do give me an alms." The huntsman took pity on the poor old creature, felt in his pocket, and gave her what he could afford.
He was then about to go further, but the old woman stopped him and said, "Listen, dear huntsman, to what I tell you. I will make you a present in return for your good heart. Go on your way now, but in a little while you will come to a tree, whereon nine birds are sitting which have a cloak in their claws, and are fighting for it, take your gun and shoot into the midst of them. They will let the cloak fall down to you, but one of the birds will be hurt, and will drop down dead. Carry away the cloak, it is a wishing-cloak. When you throw it over your shoulders, you only have to wish to be in a certain place, and you will be there in the twinkling of an eye. Take out the heart of the dead bird and swallow it whole, and every morning early, when you get up, you will find a gold piece under your pillow." The huntsman thanked the wise woman, and thought to himself, "Those are fine things that she has promised me, if all does but come true." And verily when he had walked about a hundred paces, he heard in the branches above him such a screaming and twittering that he looked up and saw there a swarm of birds who were tearing a piece of cloth about with their beaks and claws, and tugging and fighting as if each wanted to have it all to himself. "Well," said the huntsman, "this is amazing, it has really come to pass just as the old crone foretold," and he took the gun from his shoulder, aimed and fired right into the midst of them, so that the feathers flew about. The birds instantly took to flight with loud outcries, but one dropped down dead, and the cloak fell at the same time. Then the huntsman did as the old woman had directed him, cut open the bird, sought the heart, swallowed it down, and took the cloak home with him.
Next morning, when he awoke, the promise occurred to him, and he wished to see if it also had been fulfilled. When he lifted up the pillow, the gold piece shone in his eyes, and next day he found another, and so it went on, every time he got up. He gathered together a heap of gold, but at last he thought, "Of what use is all my gold to me if I stay at home? I will go forth and see the world."
He then took leave of his parents, buckled on his huntsman's pouch and gun, and went out into the world. It came to pass, that one day he traveled through a dense forest, and when he came to the end of it, in the plain before him stood a fine castle. An old woman was standing with a wonderfully beautiful maiden, looking out of one of the windows. The old woman, however, was a witch and said to the maiden, "There comes one out of the forest, who has a wonderful treasure in his body. We must filch it from him, daughter of my heart, it is more suitable for us than for him. He has a bird's heart about him, by means of which a gold piece lies every morning under his pillow." She told her what she was to do to get it, and what part she had to play, and finally threatened her, and said with angry eyes, "And if you do not attend to what I say, it will be the worse for you." Now when the huntsman came nearer he noticed the maiden, and said to himself, "I have traveled about for such a long time, I will take a rest for once, and enter that beautiful castle. I have certainly money enough." Nevertheless, the real reason was that he had caught sight of the beautiful picture.
He entered the house, and was well received and courteously entertained. Before long he was so much in love with the young witch that he no longer thought of anything else, and only saw things as she saw them, and liked to do what she desired. The old woman then said, "Now we must have the bird's heart, he will never miss it." She brewed a potion, and when it was ready, poured it into a goblet and gave it to the maiden, who was to present it to the huntsman. She did so, saying, "Now, my dearest, drink to me."
So he took the goblet, and when he had swallowed the draught, he brought up the heart of the bird. The girl had to take it away secretly and swallow it herself, for the old woman would have it so. Thenceforward he found no more gold under his pillow, but it lay instead under that of the maiden, from whence the old woman fetched it away every morning, but he was so much in love and so befooled, that he thought of nothing else but of passing his time with the girl.
Then the old witch said, "We have the bird's heart, but we must also take the wishing-cloak away from him." The girl answered, "We will leave him that, he has lost his wealth." The old woman was angry and said, "Such a mantle is a wonderful thing, and is seldom to be found in this world. I must and will have it." She gave the girl several blows, and said that if she did not obey, it should fare ill with her. So she did the old woman's bidding, placed herself at the window and looked on the distant country, as if she were very sorrowful. The huntsman asked, "Why do you stand there so sorrowfully?" "Ah, my beloved," was her answer, "over yonder lies the garnet mountain, where the precious stones grow. I long for them so much that when I think of them, I feel quite sad, but who can get them. Only the birds, they fly and can reach them, but a man never." "Have you nothing else to complain of?" said the huntsman. "I will soon remove that burden from your heart." With that he drew her under his mantle, wished himself on the garnet mountain, and in the twinkling of an eye they were sitting on it together. Precious stones were glistening on every side so that it was a joy to see them, and together they gathered the finest and costliest of them.
Now, the old woman had, through her sorceries, contrived that the eyes of the huntsman should become heavy. He said to the maiden, "We will sit down and rest awhile, I am so tired that I can no longer stand on my feet." Then they sat down, and he laid his head in her lap, and fell asleep. When he was asleep, she unfastened the mantle from his shoulders, and wrapped herself in it, picked up the garnets and stones, and wished herself back at home with them.
But when the huntsman had slept his fill and awoke, and perceived that his sweetheart had betrayed him, and left him alone on the wild mountain, he said, "Oh, what treachery there is in the world," and sat down there in trouble and sorrow, not knowing what to do. But the mountain belonged to some wild and monstrous giants who dwelt thereon and lived their lives there, and he had not sat long before he saw three of them coming towards him, so he lay down as if he were sunk in a deep sleep.
Then the giants came up, and the first kicked him with his foot and said, "What sort of an earth-worm is this, lying here contemplating his inside?" The second said, "Step upon him and kill him." But the third said, contemptuously, "That would indeed be worth your while, just let him live, he cannot remain here, and when he climbs higher, toward the summit of of the mountain, the clouds will lay hold of him and bear him away." So saying they passed by. But the huntsman had paid heed to their words, and as soon as they were gone, he rose and climbed up to the summit of the mountain, and when he had sat there a while, a cloud floated towards him, caught him up, carried him away, and traveled about for a long time in the heavens. Then it sank lower, and let itself down on a great cabbage-garden, girt round by walls, so that he came softly to the ground on cabbages and vegetables.
Then the huntsman looked about him and said, "If I had but something to eat. I am so hungry, and to proceed on my way from here will be difficult. I see here neither apples nor pears, nor any other sort of fruit, everywhere nothing but cabbages, but at length he thought, at a pinch I can eat some of the leaves, they do not taste particularly good, but they will refresh me." With that he picked himself out a fine head of cabbage, and ate it, but scarcely had he swallowed a couple of mouthfuls than he felt very strange and quite different.
Four legs grew on him, a thick head and two long ears, and he saw with horror that he was changed into an ass. Still as his hunger increased every minute, and as the juicy leaves were suitable to his present nature, he went on eating with great zest. At last he arrived at a different kind of cabbage, but as soon as he had swallowed it, he again felt a change, and resumed his former human shape.
Then the huntsman lay down and slept off his fatigue. When he awoke next morning, he broke off one head of the bad cabbages and another of the good ones, and thought to himself, this shall help me to get my own again and punish treachery. Then he took the cabbages with him, climbed over the wall, and went forth to look for the castle of his sweetheart. After wandering about for a couple of days he was lucky enough to find it again. He dyed his face brown, so that his own mother would not have known him, and begged for shelter, "I am so tired," said he, "that I can go no further." The witch asked, "Who are you, countryman, and what is your business?" "I am a king's messenger, and was sent out to seek the most delicious salad which grows beneath the sun. I have even been so fortunate as to find it, and am carrying it about with me, but the heat of the sun is so intense that the delicate cabbage threatens to wither, and I do not know if I can carry it any further."
When the old woman heard of the exquisite salad, she was greedy, and said, "Dear countryman, let me just try this wonderful salad." "Why not?" answered he. "I have brought two heads with me, and will give you one of them," and he opened his pouch and handed her the bad cabbage. The witch suspected nothing amiss, and her mouth watered so for this new dish that she herself went into the kitchen and dressed it. When it was prepared she could not wait until it was set on the table, but took a couple of leaves at once, and put them in her mouth, but hardly had she swallowed them than she was deprived of her human shape, and she ran out into the courtyard in the form of an ass.
Presently the maid-servant entered the kitchen, saw the salad standing there ready prepared, and was about to carry it up, but on the way, according to habit, she was seized by the desire to taste, and she ate a couple of leaves. Instantly the magic power showed itself, and she likewise became an ass and ran out to the old woman, and the dish of salad fell to the ground.
Meantime the messenger sat beside the beautiful girl, and as no one came with the salad and she also was longing for it, she said, "I don't know what has become of the salad." The huntsman thought, the salad must have already taken effect, and said, "I will go to the kitchen and inquire about it." As he went down he saw the two asses running about in the courtyard, the salad, however, was lying on the ground. "All right," said he, "the two have taken their portion," and he picked up the other leaves, laid them on the dish, and carried them to the maiden. "I bring you the delicate food myself," said he, "in order that you may not have to wait longer." Then she ate of it, and was, like the others, immediately deprived of her human form, and ran out into the courtyard in the shape of an ass.
After the huntsman had washed his face, so that the transformed ones could recognize him, he went down into the courtyard, and said, "Now you shall receive the wages of your treachery," and bound them together, all three with one rope, and drove them along until he came to a mill. He knocked at the window, the miller put out his head, and asked what he wanted. "I have three unmanageable beasts, answered he, which I don't want to keep any longer. Will you take them in, and give them food and stable room, and manage them as I tell you, and then I will pay you what you ask?" The miller said, "Why not? But how am I to manage them?" The huntsman then said that he was to give three beatings and one meal daily to the old donkey, and that was the witch, one beating and three meals to the younger one, which was the servant-girl, and to the youngest, which was the maiden, no beatings and three meals, for he could not bring himself to have the maiden beaten. After that he went back into the castle, and found therein everything he needed.
After a couple of days, the miller came and said he must inform him that the old ass which had received three beatings and only one meal daily was dead. The two others, he continued, are certainly not dead, and are fed three times daily, but they are so sad that they cannot last much longer. The huntsman was moved to pity, put away his anger, and told the miller to drive them back again to him. And when they came, he gave them some of the good salad, so that they became human again. The beautiful girl fell on her knees before him, and said, "Ah, my beloved, forgive me for the evil I have done you, my mother drove me to it. It was done against my will, for I love you dearly. Your wishing-cloak hangs in a cupboard, and as for the bird's-heart I will take a vomiting potion." But he thought otherwise, and said, "Keep it. It is all the same, for I will take you for my true wife." So the wedding was celebrated, and they lived happily together until their death.
A poor servant-girl was once traveling with the family with which she was in service, through a great forest, and when they were in the midst of it, robbers came out of the thicket, and murdered all they found. All perished together except the girl, who had jumped out of the carriage in a fright, and hidden herself behind a tree. When the robbers had gone away with their booty, she came out and beheld the great disaster. Then she began to weep bitterly, and said, "What can a poor girl like me do now? I do not know how to get out of the forest, no human being lives in it, so I must certainly starve."
She walked about and looked for a road, but could find none. When it was evening she seated herself under a tree, gave herself into God's keeping, and resolved to sit waiting there and not go away, let happen what might. When she had sat there for a while, a white dove came flying to her with a little golden key in its beak. It put the little key in her hand, and said, "Do you see that great tree, therein is a little lock, open it with the tiny key, and you will find food enough, and suffer no more hunger."
Then she went to the tree and opened it, and found milk in a little dish, and white bread to break into it, so that she could eat her fill. When she was satisfied, she said, "It is now the time when the hens at home go to roost, I am so tired I could go to bed too." Then the dove flew to her again, and brought another golden key in its bill, and said, "Open that tree there, and you will find a bed." So she opened it, and found a beautiful white bed, and she prayed God to protect her during the night, and lay down and slept.
In the morning the dove came for the third time, and again brought a little key, and said, "Open that tree there, and you will find clothes." And when she opened it, she found garments beset with gold and with jewels, more splendid than those of any king's daughter. So she lived there for some time, and the dove came every day and provided her with all she needed, and it was a quiet good life.
Then one day the dove came and said, "Will you do something for my sake?" "With all my heart," said the girl. Then said the little dove, "I will guide you to a small house, enter it and inside it, an old woman will be sitting by the fire and will say, 'good-day.' But on your life give her no answer, let her do what she will, but pass by her on the right side. Further on, there is a door, which open, and you will enter into a room where a quantity of rings of all kinds are lying, amongst which are some magnificent ones with shining stones. Leave them, however, where they are, and seek out a plain one, which must likewise be amongst them, and bring it here to me as quickly as you can."
The girl went to the little house, and came to the door. There sat an old woman who stared when she saw her, and said, "Good-day my child." The girl gave her no answer, and opened the door. "Whither away?" cried the old woman, and seized her by the gown, and wanted to hold her fast, saying, "That is my house, no one can go in there if I choose not to allow it." But the girl was silent, got away from her, and went straight into the room.
Now there lay on the table an enormous quantity of rings, which gleamed and glittered before her eyes. She turned them over and looked for the plain one, but could not find it. While she was seeking, she saw the old woman and how she was stealing away, and wanting to go off with a bird-cage which she had in her hand. So she went after her and took the cage out of her hand, and when she raised it up and looked into it, a bird was inside which had the plain ring in its bill.
Then she took the ring, and ran quite joyously home with it, and thought the little white dove would come and get the ring, but it did not. Then she leant against a tree, determined to wait for the dove. As she thus stood, it seemed just as if the tree was soft and pliant, and was letting its branches down. And suddenly the branches twined around her, and were two arms, and when she looked around, the tree was a handsome man, who embraced and kissed her heartily, and said, "You have delivered me from the power of the old woman, who is a wicked witch. She had changed me into a tree, and every day for two hours I was a white dove, and so long as she possessed the ring I could not regain my human form." Then his servants and his horses, who had likewise been changed into trees, were freed from the enchanter also, and stood beside him. And he led them forth to his kingdom, for he was a king's son, and they married, and lived happily.
There was once a man who had three sons, and nothing else in the world but the house in which he lived. Now each of the sons wished to have the house after his father's death, but the father loved them all alike, and did not know what to do, he did not wish to sell the house, because it had belonged to his forefathers, else he might have divided the money amongst them. At last he conceived a plan, and he said to his sons, "Go into the world, and try each of you to learn a trade, and, when you all come back, he who makes the best masterpiece shall have the house."
The sons were well content with this, and the eldest determined to be a blacksmith, the second a barber, and the third a fencing-master. They fixed a time when they should all come home again, and then each went his way.
It chanced that they all found skillful masters, who taught them their trades well. The blacksmith had to shoe the king's horses, and he thought to himself, "The house is mine, without doubt." The barber shaved only distinguished people, and he too already looked upon the house as his own. The fencing-master suffered many a blow, but he grit his teeth, and let nothing vex him, for, said he to himself, "If you are afraid of a blow, you'll never win the house."
When the appointed time had gone by, the three brothers came back home to their father, but they did not know how to find the best opportunity for showing their skill, so they sat down and consulted together. As they were sitting thus, all at once a hare came running across the field. Ah, ha, just in time, said the barber. So he took his basin and soap, and lathered away until the hare drew near, then he soaped and shaved off the hare's whiskers whilst he was running at the top of his speed, and did not even cut his skin or injure a hair on his body. "Well done," said the old man. "If the others do not make a great effort, the house is yours."
Soon after, up came a nobleman in his coach, dashing along at full speed. "Now you shall see what I can do, father," said the blacksmith. So away he ran after the coach, took all four shoes off the feet of one of the horses whilst he was galloping, and put on four new shoes without stopping him. "You are a fine fellow, and as clever as your brother," said his father. "I do not know to which I ought to give the house."
Then the third son said, "Father, let me have my turn, if you please," and, as it was beginning to rain, he drew his sword, and flourished it backwards and forwards above his head so fast that not a drop fell upon him. It rained still harder and harder, till at last it came down in torrents, but he only flourished his sword faster and faster, and remained as dry as if he were sitting in a house. When his father saw this he was amazed, and said, "This is the masterpiece, the house is yours."
His brothers were satisfied with this, as was agreed beforehand, and, as they loved one another very much, they all three stayed together in the house, followed their trades, and, as they had learnt them so well and were so clever, they earned a great deal of money. Thus they lived together happily until they grew old, and at last, when one of them fell sick and died, the two others grieved so sorely about it that they also fell ill, and soon after died. And because they had been so clever, and had loved one another so much, they were all laid in the same grave.
There was a great war, and the king had many soldiers, but gave them small pay, so small that they could not live upon it, so three of them agreed among themselves to desert. One of them said to the others, "If we are caught we shall be hanged on the gallows, how shall we manage it?" Another said, "Look at that great cornfield, if we were to hide ourselves there, no one could find us, the troops are not allowed to enter it, and to-morrow they are to march away." They crept into the corn, only the troops did not march away, but remained lying all round about it. They stayed in the corn for two days and two nights, and were so hungry that they all but died, but if they had come out, their death would have been certain. Then said they, "What is the use of our deserting if we have to perish miserably here?"
But now a fiery dragon came flying through the air, and it came down to them, and asked why they had concealed themselves there. They answered, "We are three soldiers who have deserted because the pay was so bad, and now we shall have to die of hunger if we stay here, or to dangle on the gallows if we go out." "If you will serve me for seven years," said the dragon, "I will convey you through the army so that no one shall seize you." "We have no choice and are compelled to accept," they replied. Then the dragon caught hold of them with his claws, and carried them away through the air over the army, and put them down again on the earth far from it, but the dragon was no other than the devil. He gave them a small whip and said, "Whip with it and crack it, and then as much gold will spring up round about as you can wish for, then you can live like great lords, keep horses, and drive your carriages, but when the seven years have come to an end, you are my property."
Then he put before them a book which they were all three forced to sign. "But first I will ask you a riddle," said he, "and if you can guess it, you shall be free, and released from my power." Then the dragon flew away from them, and they went away with their whip, had gold in plenty, ordered themselves rich apparel, and traveled about the world. Wherever they were they lived in pleasure and magnificence, rode on horseback, drove in carriages, ate and drank, but did nothing wicked. The time slipped quickly by, and when the seven years were coming to an end, two of them were terribly anxious and alarmed, but the third took the affair easily, and said, "Brothers, fear nothing, I still have my wits about me, I shall guess the riddle." They went out into the open country and sat down, and the two pulled sorrowful faces. Then an aged woman came up to them who inquired why they were so sad. "Well," said they, "what has that got to do with you? After all, you cannot help us." "Who knows?" said she. "Just confide your trouble to me." So they told her that they had been the devil's servants for nearly seven years, and that he had provided them with gold as though it were hay, but that they had sold themselves to him, and were forfeited to him, if at the end of the seven years they could not guess a riddle.
The old woman said, "If you are to be saved, one of you must go into the forest, there he will come to a fallen rock which looks like a little house, he must enter that, and then he will obtain help." The two melancholy ones thought to themselves, "That will still not save us," and stayed where they were, but the third, the merry one, got up and walked on in the forest until he found the rockhouse. In the little house a very aged woman was sitting, who was the devil's grandmother, and asked the soldier where he came from, and what he wanted there. He told her everything that had happened, and as he pleased her well, she had pity on him, and said she would help him. She lifted up a great stone which lay above a cellar, and said, "Conceal yourself there, you can hear everything that is said here, only sit still, and do not stir. When the dragon comes, I will question him about the riddle, he tells everything to me, so listen carefully to his answer."
At twelve o'clock at night, the dragon came flying thither, and asked for his dinner. The grandmother laid the table, and served up food and drink, so that he was pleased, and they ate and drank together. In the course of conversation, she asked him what kind of a day he had had, and how many souls he had got. "Nothing went very well to-day," he answered, "but I have laid hold of three soldiers, I have them safe." "Indeed? Three soldiers, they're clever, they may escape you yet." The devil said mockingly, "They are mine. I will set them a riddle, which they will never be able to guess." "What riddle is that?" she inquired. "I will tell you, in the great north sea lies a dead dogfish, that shall be your roast meat, and the rib of a whale shall be your silver spoon, and a hollow old horse's hoof shall be your wineglass."
When the devil had gone to bed, the old grandmother raised up the stone, and let out the soldier. "Did you give heed to everything?" "Yes," said he, "I know enough, and will save myself." Then he had to go back another way, through the window, secretly and with all speed to his companions. He told them how the devil had been outwitted by the old grandmother, and how he had learned the answer to the riddle from him. Then they were all delighted, and of good cheer, and took the whip and whipped so much gold for themselves that it ran all over the ground.
When the seven years had fully gone by, the devil came with the book, showed the signatures, and said, "I will take you with me to hell. There you shall have a meal. If you can guess what kind of roast meat you will have to eat, you shall be free and released from your bargain, and may keep the whip as well." Then the first soldier began and said, "In the great north sea lies a dead dogfish, that no doubt is the roast meat."
The devil was angry, and began to mutter, "Hm. Hm. Hm." And asked the second, "But what will your spoon be?" "The rib of a whale, that is to be our silver spoon." The devil made a wry face, again growled, "Hm. Hm. Hm." He said to the third, "And do you also know what your wineglass is to be?" "An old horse's hoof is to be our wineglass." Then the devil flew away with a loud cry, and had no more power over them, but the three kept the whip, whipped as much money for themselves with it as they wanted, and lived happily to their end.
Once upon a time lived a man and a woman who so long as they were rich had no children, but when they were poor they got a little boy. They could find no godfather for him, so the man said he would just go to another village to see if he could get one there. On his way he met a poor man, who asked him where he was going. He said he was going to see if he could get a godfather, because he was so poor that no one would stand as godfather for him. "Oh," said the poor man, "you are poor, and I am poor. I will be godfather for you, but I am so badly off I can give the child nothing. Go home and tell the midwife that she is to come to the church with the child." When they all got to the church together, the beggar was already there, and he gave the child the name of Ferdinand the Faithful.
When he was going out of the church, the beggar said, "Now go home, I can give you nothing, and you likewise ought to give me nothing." But he gave a key to the midwife, and told her when she got home she was to give it to the father, who was to take care of it until the child was fourteen years old, and then he was to go on the heath where there was a castle which the key would fit, and that all which was therein should belong to him.
Now when the child was seven years old and had grown very big, he once went to play with some other boys, and each of them boasted that he had got more from his godfather than the other, but the child could say nothing, and was vexed, and went home and said to his father, "Did I get nothing at all, then, from my godfather?" "Oh, yes," said the father, "you have a key. If there is a castle standing on the heath, just go to it and open it." Then the boy went thither, but no castle was to be seen, or heard of.
After seven years more, when he was fourteen years old, he again went thither, and there stood the castle. When he had opened it, there was nothing within but a horse, - a white one. Then the boy was so full of joy because he had a horse, that he mounted on it and galloped back to his father. "Now I have a white horse, and I will travel," said he.
So he set out, and as he was on his way, a pen was lying on the road. At first he thought he would pick it up, but then again he thought to himself, "You should leave it lying there, you will easily find a pen where you are going, if you have need of one." As he was thus riding away, a voice called after him, "Ferdinand the Faithful, take it with you." He looked around, but saw no one, so he went back again and picked it up.
When he had ridden a little way farther, he passed by a lake, and a fish was lying on the bank, gasping and panting for breath, so he said, "Wait, my dear fish, I will help you to get into the water," and he took hold of it by the tail, and threw it into the lake. Then the fish put its head out of the water and said, "As you have helped me out of the mud I will give you a flute. When you are in any need, play on it, and then I will help you, and if ever you let anything fall in the water, just play and I will reach it out to you."
Then he rode away, and there came to him a man who asked him where he was going. "Oh, to the next place." "What is your name?" "Ferdinand the Faithful." "So, then we have almost the same name, I am called Ferdinand the Unfaithful." And they both set out to the inn in the nearest place.
Now it was unfortunate that Ferdinand the Unfaithful knew everything that the other had ever thought and everything he was about to do. He knew it by means of all kinds of wicked arts. There was in the inn an honest girl, who had a bright face and behaved very prettily. She fell in love with Ferdinand the Faithful because he was a handsome man, and she asked him whither he was going. "Oh, I am just traveling round about," said he. Then she said he ought to stay there, for the king of that country wanted an attendant or an outrider, and he ought to enter his service. He answered he could not very well go to any one like that and offer himself. Then said the maiden, "Oh, but I will soon do that for you." And so she went straight to the king, and told him that she knew of an excellent servant for him. He was well pleased with that, and had Ferdinand the Faithful brought to him, and wanted to make him his servant. He, however, liked better to be an outrider, for where his horse was, there he also wanted to be, so the king made him an outrider.
When Ferdinand the Unfaithful learnt that, he said to the girl, "What? Do you help him and not me?" "Oh," said the girl, "I will help you too." She thought, I must keep friends with that man, for he is not to be trusted. She went to the king, and offered him as a servant, and the king was willing.
Now when the king met his lords in the morning, he always lamented and said, "Oh, if I only had my love with me." Ferdinand the Unfaithful, however, was always hostile to Ferdinand the Faithful. So once, when the king was complaining thus, he said, "You have the outrider, send him away to get her, and if he does not do it, his head must be struck off." Then the king sent for Ferdinand the Faithful, and told him that there was, in this place or in that place, a girl he loved, and that he was to bring her to him, and if he did not do it he should die. Ferdinand the Faithful went into the stable to his white horse, and complained and lamented, "Oh, what an unhappy man am I." Then someone behind him cried, "Ferdinand the Faithful, why do you weep?" He looked round but saw no one, and went on lamenting. "Oh, my dear little white horse, now must I leave you, now I must die." Then someone cried once more, "Ferdinand the Faithful, why do you weep?" Then for the first time he was aware that it was his little white horse who was putting that question. "Do you speak, my little white horse? Can you do that?" And again, he said, "I am to go to this place and to that, and am to bring the bride. Can you tell me how I am to set about it?" Then answered the white horse, "Go to the king, and say if he will give you what you must have, you will get her for him. If he will give you a ship full of meat, and a ship full of bread, it will succeed. Great giants dwell on the lake, and if you take no meat with you for them, they will tear you to pieces, and there are the large birds which would pluck the eyes out of your head if you had no bread for them. Then the king made all the butchers in the land kill, and all the bakers bake, that the ships might be filled."
When they were full, the little white horse said to Ferdinand the Faithful, "Now mount me, and go with me into the ship, and then when the giants come, say - peace, peace, my dear little giants, I have had thought of ye, something I have brought for ye. And when the birds come, you shall again say - peace, peace, my dear little birds, I have had thought of ye, something I have brought for ye. Then they will do nothing to you, and when you come to the castle, the giants will help you. Then go up to the castle, and take a couple of giants with you. There the princess lies sleeping. You must, however, not awaken her, but the giants must lift her up, and carry her in her bed to the ship." And now everything took place as the little white horse had said, and Ferdinand the Faithful gave the giants and the birds what he had brought with him for them, and that made the giants willing, and they carried the princess in her bed to the king. And when she came to the king, she said she could not live, she must have her writings, they had been left in her castle.
Then by the instigation of Ferdinand the Unfaithful, Ferdinand the Faithful was called, and the king told him he must fetch the writings from the castle, or he should die. Then he went once more into the stable, and bemoaned himself and said, "Oh, my dear little white horse, now I am to go away again, how am I to do it?" Then the little white horse said he was just to load the ships full again. So it happened again as it had happened before, and the giants and the birds were satisfied, and made gentle by the meat. When they came to the castle, the white horse told Ferdinand the Faithful that he must go in, and that on the table in the princess's bed-room lay the writings. And Ferdinand the Faithful went in, and fetched them. When they were on the lake, he let his pen fall into the water. Then said the white horse, "Now I cannot help you at all." But he remembered his flute, and began to play on it, and the fish came with the pen in its mouth, and gave it to him. So he took the writings to the castle, where the wedding was celebrated.
The queen, however, did not love the king because he had no nose, but she would have much liked to love Ferdinand the Faithful. Once, therefore, when all the lords of the court were together, the queen said she could do feats of magic, that she could cut off anyone's head and put it on again, and that one of them ought just to try it. But none of them would be the first, so Ferdinand the Faithful, again at the instigation of Ferdinand the Unfaithful, undertook it and she hewed off his head, and put it on again for him, and it healed together directly, so that it looked as if he had a red thread round his throat. Then the king said to her, "My child, and where have you learnt that?" "Oh," she said, "I understand the art. Shall I just try it on you also." "Oh, yes," said he. So she cut off his head, but did not put it on again, and pretended that she could not get it on, and that it would not stay. Then the king was buried, but she married Ferdinand the Faithful.
He, however, always rode on his white horse, and once when he was seated on it, it told him that he was to go on to the heath which he knew, and gallop three times round it. And when he had done that, the white horse stood up on its hind legs, and was changed into a king's son.
In the days when wishing was still of some use, a king's son was bewitched by an old witch, and shut up in an iron stove in a forest. There he passed many years, and no one could rescue him. Then a king's daughter came into the forest, who had lost herself, and could not find her father's kingdom again. After she had wandered about for nine days, she at length came to the iron stove.
Then a voice came forth from it, and asked her, "Whence do you come, and whither are you going?" She answered, "I have lost my father's kingdom, and cannot get home again." Then a voice inside the iron stove said, "I will help you to get home again, and that indeed most swiftly, if you will promise to do what I desire of you. I am the son of a far greater king than your father, and I will marry you."
Then was she afraid, and thought, "Good heavens. What can I do with an iron stove?" But as she much wished to get home to her father, she promised to do as he desired. But he said, "You shall return here, and bring a knife with you, and scrape a hole in the iron." Then he gave her a companion who walked near her, but did not speak, and in two hours he took her home. There was great joy in the castle when the king's daughter came home, and the old king fell on her neck and kissed her. She, however, was sorely troubled, and said, "Dear father, what I have suffered. I should never have got home again from the great wild forest, if I had not come to an iron stove, but I have been forced to give my word that I will go back to it, set it free, and marry it."
Then the old king was so terrified that he all but fainted, for he had but this one daughter. They therefore resolved they would send, in her place, the miller's daughter, who was very beautiful. They took her there, gave her a knife, and said she was to scrape at the iron stove. So she scraped at it for four-and-twenty hours, but could not bring off the least morsel of it. When the day dawned, a voice in the stove said, "It seems to me it is day outside." Then she answered, "It seems so to me too, I fancy I hear the noise of my father's mill." "So you are a miller's daughter. Then go your way at once, and let the king's daughter come here."
Then she went away at once, and told the old king that the man outside there would have none of her - he wanted the king's daughter. Then the old king grew frightened, and the daughter wept. But there was a swine-herd's daughter, who was even prettier than the miller's daughter, and they determined to give her a piece of gold to go to the iron stove instead of the king's daughter. So she was taken thither and she also had to scrape for four-and-twenty hours. She, however, was no better at it. When the day broke, a voice inside the stove cried, "It seems to me it is day outside." Then answered she, "So it seems to me also, I fancy I hear my father's horn blowing." "Then you are a swineherd's daughter. Go away at once, and tell the king's daughter to come, and tell her all must be done as promised, and if she does not come, everything in the kingdom shall be ruined and destroyed, and not one stone be left standing on another."
When the king's daughter heard that she began to weep, but now there was nothing for it but to keep her promise. So she took leave of her father, put a knife in her pocket, and went forth to the iron stove in the forest. When she got there, she began to scrape, and the iron gave way, and when two hours were over, she had already scraped a small hole. Then she peeped in, and saw a youth so handsome, and so brilliant with gold and with precious jewels, that her very soul was delighted. So she went on scraping, and made the hole so large that he was able to get out.
Then said he, "You are mine, and I am yours, you are my bride, and have released me." He wanted to take her away with him to his kingdom, but she entreated him to let her go once again to her father, and the king's son allowed her to do so, but she was not to say more to her father than three words, and then she was to come back again. So she went home, but she spoke more than three words, and instantly the iron stove disappeared, and was taken far away over glass mountains and piercing swords, but the king's son was set free, and no longer shut up in it. After this she bade good-bye to her father, took some money with her, but not much, and went back to the great forest, and looked for the iron stove, but it was nowhere to be found.
For nine days she sought it, and then her hunger grew so great that she did not know what to do, for she had nothing to live on. When it was evening, she seated herself in a small tree, and made up her mind to spend the night there, as she was afraid of wild beasts. When midnight drew near she saw in the distance a small light, and thought, ah, there I should be saved. She got down from the tree, and went towards the light, but on the way she prayed. Then she came to a little old house, and much grass had grown all about it, and a small heap of wood lay in front of it. She thought, "Ah, whither have I come?" and peeped in through the window, but she saw nothing inside but toads, big and little, except a table covered with wine and roast meat, and the plates and glasses were of silver. Then she took courage, and knocked at the door, and immediately the fat toad cried, "Little green waiting-maid, Waiting-maid with the limping leg, Little dog of the limping leg, Hop hither and thither, And quickly see who is without."
And a small toad came walking by and opened the door to her. When she entered, they all bade her welcome, and she was forced to sit down. They asked, "Where have you come from, and whither are you going?" Then she related all that had befallen her, and how because she had transgressed the order which had been given her not to say more than three words, the stove, and the king's son also, had disappeared, and now she was about to seek him over the hill and dale until she found him. Then the old fat one said, "Little green waiting-maid, Waiting-maid with the limping leg, Little dog of the limping leg, Hop hither and thither, And bring me the great box."
Then the little one went and brought the box. After this they gave her meat and drink, and took her to a well-made bed, which felt like silk and velvet, and she laid herself therein, in God's name, and slept. When morning came she arose, and the old toad gave her three needles out of the great box which she was to take with her, they would be needed by her, for she had to cross a high glass mountain, and go over three piercing swords and a great lake. If she did all this she would get her lover back again.
Then she gave her three things, which she was to take the greatest care of, namely, three large needles, a plough-wheel, and three nuts. With these she traveled onwards, and when she came to the glass mountain which was so slippery, she stuck the three needles first behind her feet and then before them, and so got over it, and when she was over it, she hid them in a place which she marked carefully. After this she came to the three piercing swords, and then she seated herslef on her plough-wheel, and rolled over them. At last she arrived in front of a great lake, and when she had crossed it, she came to a large and beautiful castle. She went and asked for a place, she was a poor girl, she said, and would like to be hired. She knew, however, that the king's son whom she had released from the iron stove in the great forest was in the castle. Then she was taken as a scullery-maid at low wages. But already the king's son had another maiden by his side whom he wanted to marry, for he thought that she had long been dead.
In the evening, when she had washed up and was done, she felt in her pocket and found the three nuts which the old toad had given her. She cracked one with her teeth, and was going to eat the kernel when lo and behold there was a stately royal garment in it. But when the bride heard of this she came and asked for the dress, and wanted to buy it, and said, "It is not a dress for a servant-girl." "No," she said, she would not sell it, but if the bride would grant her one thing she should have it, and that was permission to sleep one night in her bridegroom's chamber. The bride gave her permission because the dress was so pretty, and she had never had one like it.
When it was evening she said to her bridegroom, "That silly girl will sleep in your room." "If you are willing, so am I," said he. She, however, gave him a glass of wine in which she had poured a sleeping-draught. So the bridegroom and the scullery-maid went to sleep in the room, and he slept so soundly that she could not waken him. She wept the whole night and cried, "I set you free when you were in an iron stove in the wild forest, I sought you, and walked over a glass mountain, and three sharp swords, and a great lake before I found you, and yet you will not hear me." The servants sat by the chamber-door, and heard how she thus wept the whole night through, and in the morning they told it to their lord.
And the next evening when she had washed up, she opened the second nut, and a far more beautiful dress was within it, and when the bride beheld it, she wished to buy that also. But the girl would not take money, and begged that she might once again sleep in the bridegroom's chamber. The bride, however, gave him a sleeping-draught, and he slept so soundly that he could hear nothing. But the scullery-maid wept the whole night long, and cried, "I set you free when you were in an iron stove in the wild forest, I sought you, and walked over a glass mountain, and over three sharp swords and a great lake before I found you, and yet you will not hear me." The servants sat by the chamber-door and heard her weeping the whole night through, and in the morning informed their lord of it.
And on the third evening, when she had washed up, she opened the third nut, and within it was a still more beautiful dress which was stiff with pure gold. When the bride saw that she wanted to have it, but the maiden only gave it up on condition that she might for the third time sleep in the bridegroom's apartment. The king's son, however, was on his guard, and threw the sleeping-draught away. Now when she began to weep and to cry, "Dearest love, I set you free when you were in the iron stove in the terrible wild forest" - the king's son leapt up and said, "You are the true one, you are mine, and I am yours."
Thereupon, while it was still night, he got into a carriage with her, and they took away the false bride's clothes so that she could not get up. When they came to the great lake, they sailed across it, and when they reached the three sharp-cutting swords they seated themselves on the plough-wheel, and when they got to the glass mountain they thrust the three needles in it, and so at length they got to the little old house, but when they went inside, it was a great castle, and the toads were all disenchanted, and were king's children, and full of happiness. Then the wedding was celebrated, and the king's son and the princess remained in the castle, which was much larger than the castle of their fathers. But as the old king grieved at being left alone, they fetched him away, and brought him to live with them, and they had two kingdoms, and lived in happy wedlock. A mouse did run, This story is done.
There was once a poor man who had four sons, and when they were grown up, he said to them, "My dear children, you must now go out into the world, for I have nothing to give you, so set out, go abroad and learn a trade, and see how you can make your way." So the four brothers took their sticks, bade their father farewell, and went through the town-gate together. When they had traveled about for some time, they came to a crossroads which branched off in four different directions. Then said the eldest, "Here we must separate, but on this day four years hence, we will meet each other again at this spot, and in the meantime we will seek our fortunes."
Then each of them went his way, and the eldest met a man who asked him where he was going, and what he was intending to do. "I want to learn a trade," he replied. Then the other said, "Come with me," and be a thief. "No," he answered, "that is no longer regarded as a reputable trade, and the end of it is that one has to swing on the gallows." "Oh," said the man, "you need not be afraid of the gallows, I will only teach you to get such things as no other man could ever lay hold of, and no one will ever detect you." So he allowed himself to be talked into it, and while with the man became an accomplished thief, and so dexterous that nothing was safe from him, if he once desired to have it.
The second brother met a man who put the same question to him - what he wanted to learn in the world. "I don't know yet," he replied. "Then come with me, and be an astronomer, there is nothing better than that, for nothing is hid from you." He liked the idea, and became such a skillful astronomer that when he had learnt everything, and was about to travel onwards, his master gave him a telescope and said to him, "With that you can see whatsoever takes place either on earth or in heaven, and nothing can remain concealed from you."
A huntsman took the third brother into training, and gave him such excellent instruction in everything which related to huntsmanship that he became an experienced hunter. When he went away, his master gave him a gun and said, "It will never fail you, whatsoever you aim at, you are certain to hit." The youngest brother also met a man who spoke to him, and inquired what his intentions were. "Would you not like to be a tailor?" said he. "Not that I know of," said the youth, "sitting doubled up from morning till night, driving the needle and the goose backwards and forwards, is not to my taste." "Oh, but you are speaking in ignorance," answered the man. "With me you would learn a very different kind of tailoring, which is respectable and proper, and for the most part very honorable." So he let himself be persuaded, and went with the man, and learnt his art from the very beginning. When they parted, the man gave the youth a needle, and said, "With this you can sew together whatever is given you, whether it is as soft as an egg or as hard as steel, and it will all become one piece of stuff, so that no seam will be visible."
When the appointed four years were over, the four brothers arrived at the same time at the cross-roads, embraced and kissed each other, and returned home to their father. "So now," said he, quite delighted, "the wind has blown you back again to me." They told him of all that had happened to them, and that each had learnt his own trade. Now they were sitting just in front of the house under a large tree, and the father said, "I will put you all to the test, and see what you can do." Then he looked up and said to his second son, "Between two branches up at the top of this tree, there is a chaffinch's nest, tell me how many eggs there are in it." The astronomer took his glass, looked up and said, "There are five." Then the father said to the eldest, "Fetch the eggs down without disturbing the bird which is sitting hatching them." The skillful thief climbed up, and took the five eggs from beneath the bird, which never observed what he was doing, and remained quietly sitting where she was, and brought them down to his father.
The father took them, and put one of them on each corner of the table, and the fifth in the middle, and said to the huntsman, "With one shot you shall shoot me the five eggs in two, through the middle." The huntsman aimed, and shot the eggs, all five as the father had desired, and that at one shot. He certainly must have had some of the powder for shooting round corners. "Now it's your turn," said the father to the fourth son, "You shall sew the eggs together again, and the young birds that are inside them as well, and you must do it so that they are not hurt by the shot." The tailor brought his needle, and sewed them as his father wished. When he had done this the thief had to climb up the tree again, and carry them to the nest, and put them back again under the bird without her being aware of it. The bird sat her full time, and after a few days the young ones crept out, and they had a red line round their necks where they had been sewn together by the tailor.
"Well," said the old man to his sons, "you really ought to be praised to the skies, you have used your time well, and learnt something good. I can't say which of you deserves the most praise. That will be proved if you have but an early opportunity of using your talents." Not long after this, there was a great uproar in the country, for the king's daughter was carried off by a dragon. The king was full of trouble about it, both by day an night, and caused it to be proclaimed that whosoever brought her back should have her to wife.
The four brothers said to each other, "This would be a fine opportunity for us to show what we can do." And resolved to go forth together and liberate the king's daughter. "I will soon know where she is," said the astronomer, and looked through his telescope and said, "I see her already, she is far away from here on a rock in the sea, and the dragon is beside her watching her."
Then he went to the king, and asked for a ship for himself and his brothers, and sailed with them over the sea until they came to the rock. There the king's daughter was sitting, and the dragon was lying asleep on her lap. The huntsman said, "I dare not fire, I should kill the beautiful maiden at the same time." "Then I will try my art," said the thief, and he crept thither and stole her away from under the dragon, so quietly and dexterously, that the monster never noticed it, but went on snoring.
Full of joy, they hurried off with her on board ship, and steered out into the open sea, but the dragon, who when he awoke had found no princess there, followed them, and came snorting angrily through the air. Just as he was circling above the ship, and about to descend on it, the huntsman shouldered his gun, and shot him to the heart. The monster fell down dead, but was so large and powerful that his fall shattered the whole ship. Fortunately, however, they laid hold of a couple of planks, and swam about the wide sea.
Then again they were in great peril, but the tailor, who was not idle, took his wondrous needle, and with a few stitches sewed the planks together and they seated themselves upon them, and collected together all the fragments of the vessel. Then he sewed these so skillfully together, that in a very short time the ship was once more seaworthy, and they could go home again in safety.
When the king once more saw his daughter, there were great rejoicings. He said to the four brothers, one of you shall have her to wife, but which of you it is to be you must settle among yourselves. Then a heated argument arose among them, for each of them preferred his own claim. The astronomer said, "If I had not seen the princess, all your arts would have been useless, so she is mine." The thief said, "What would have been the use of your seeing, if I had not got her away from the dragon. So she is mine." The huntsman said, "You and the princess, and all of you, would have been torn to pieces by the dragon if my ball had not hit him, so she is mine." The tailor said, "And if I, by my art, had not sewn the ship together again, you would all of you have been miserably drowned, so she is mine."
Then the king pronounced his verdict, each of you has an equal right, and as all of you cannot have the maiden, none of you shall have her, but I will give to each of you, as a reward, half a kingdom. The brothers were pleased with this decision, and said, it is better thus than that we should be at variance with each other. Then each of them received half a kingdom, and they lived with their father in the greatest happiness as long as it pleased God.
There was once a woman who had three daughters, the eldest of whom was called One-Eye, because she had only one eye in the middle of her forehead, and the second, Two-Eyes, because she had two eyes like other folks, and the youngest, Three-Eyes, because she had three eyes, and her third eye was also in the center of her forehead. However, as Two-Eyes saw just as other human beings did, her sisters and her mother could not endure her. They said to her, "You, with your two eyes, are no better than the common people, you do not belong to us." They pushed her about, and threw old clothes to her, and gave her nothing to eat but what they left, and did everything that they could to make her unhappy.
It came to pass that Two-Eyes had to go out into the fields and tend the goat, but she was still quite hungry, because her sisters had given her so little to eat. So she sat down on a ridge and began to weep, and so bitterly that two streams ran down from her eyes. And once when she looked up in her grief, a woman was standing beside her, who said, "Why are you weeping, little Two-Eyes?" Two-Eyes answered, "Have I not reason to weep, when I have two eyes like other people, and my sisters and mother hate me for it, and push me from one corner to another, throw old clothes to me, and give me nothing to eat but the scraps they leave. Today they have given me so little that I am still quite hungry." Then the wise woman said, "Wipe away your tears, Two-Eyes, and I will tell you something to stop your ever suffering from hunger again. Just say to your goat - `Bleat, my little goat, bleat, Cover the table with something to eat,' and then a clean well-spread little table will stand before you with the most delicious food upon it of which you may eat as much as you are inclined for, and when you have had enough, and have no more need of the little table, just say, `Bleat, bleat, my little goat, I pray, and take the table quite away,' and then it will vanish again from your sight." Hereupon the wise woman departed. But Two-Eyes thought, "I must instantly make a trial, and see if what she said is true, for I am far too hungry," and she said - "Bleat, my little goat, bleat, Cover the table with something to eat," and scarcely had she spoken the words than a little table, covered with a white cloth, was standing there, and on it was a plate with a knife and fork, and a silver spoon, and the most delicious food was there also, warm and smoking as if it had just come out of the kitchen. Then Two-Eyes said the shortest prayer she knew, "Lord God, be our guest forever, amen," and helped herself to some food, and enjoyed it. And when she was satisfied, she said, as the wise woman had taught her - "Bleat, bleat, my little goat, I pray, And take the table quite away," and immediately the little table and everything on it was gone again. That is a delightful way of keeping house, thought Two-Eyes, and was quite glad and happy.
In the evening, when she went home with her goat, she found a small earthenware dish with some food, which her sisters had set ready for her, but she did not touch it. Next day she again went out with her goat, and left the few bits of broken bread which had been handed to her, lying untouched. The first and second time that she did this, her sisters did not notice it at all, but as it happened every time, they did observe it, and said, "There is something wrong about Two-Eyes, she always leaves her food untasted, and she used to eat up everything that was given her, she must have discovered other ways of getting food." In order that they might learn the truth, they resolved to send One-Eye with Two-Eyes when she went to drive her goat to the pasture, to observe what Two-Eyes did when she was there, and whether anyone brought her anything to eat and drink.
So when Two-Eyes set out the next time, One-Eye went to her and said, "I will go with you to the pasture, and see that the goat is well taken care of, and driven where there is food." But Two-Eyes knew what was in One-Eye's mind, and drove the goat into high grass and said, "Come, One-Eye, we will sit down, and I will sing something to you." One-Eye sat down and was tired with the unaccustomed walk and the heat of the sun, and Two-Eyes sang constantly - "One-eye, are you waking? One-eye, are you sleeping?" Until One-Eye shut her one eye, and fell asleep, and as soon as Two-Eyes saw that One-Eye was fast asleep, and could discover nothing, she said, "Bleat, my little goat, bleat, Cover the table with something to eat," and seated herself at her table, and ate and drank until she was satisfied, and then she again cried - "Bleat, bleat, my little goat, I pray, And take the table quite away," and in an instant all had vanished. Two-Eyes now awakened One-Eye, and said, "One-Eye, you want to take care of the goat, and go to sleep while you are doing it, but in the meantime the goat might run all over the world. Come, let us go home again."
So they went home, and again Two-Eyes let her dish stand untouched, and One-Eye could not tell her mother why she would not eat it, and to excuse herself said, "I fell asleep when I was out." Next day the mother said to Three-Eyes, this time you shall go and observe if Two-Eyes eats anything when she is out, and if anyone fetches her food and drink, for she must eat and drink in secret. So Three-Eyes went to Two-Eyes, and said, "I will go with you and see if the goat is taken proper care of, and driven where there is food." But Two-Eyes knew what was in Three-Eyes' mind, and drove the goat into high grass and said, "We will sit down, and I will sing something to you, Three-Eyes." Three-Eyes sat down and was tired with the walk and with the heat of the sun, and Two-Eyes began the same song as before, and sang - "Three-Eyes, are you waking?"
But then, instead of singing - "Three-Eyes, are you sleeping?"
As she ought to have done, she thoughtlessly sang - "Two-Eyes, are you sleeping?"
And sang all the time - "Three-Eyes, are you waking? Two-Eyes, are you sleeping?"
Then two of the eyes which Three-Eyes had, shut and fell asleep, but the third, as it had not been named in the song, did not sleep. It is true that three-eyes shut it, but only in her cunning, to pretend it was asleep too, but it blinked, and could see everything very well. And when two-eyes thought that three-eyes was fast asleep, she used her little charm - "Bleat, my little goat, bleat, Cover the table with something to eat," and ate and drank as much as her heart desired, and then ordered the table to go away again, "Bleat, bleat, my little goat, I pray, And take the table quite away," and Three-Eyes had seen everything. Then Two-Eyes came to her, waked her and said, "Have you been asleep, Three-Eyes? You keep watch very well. Come, we will go home." And when they got home, Two-Eyes again did not eat, and Three-Eyes said to the mother, "Now, I know why that haughty thing there does not eat. When she is out, she says to the goat - `Bleat, my little goat, bleat, Cover the table with something to eat,' and then a little table appears before her covered with the best of food, much better than any we have here, and when she has eaten all she wants, she says - `Bleat, bleat, my little goat, I pray, And take the table quite away,' and all disappears. I watched everything closely. She put two of my eyes to sleep by means of a charm, but luckily the one in my forehead kept awake."
Then the envious mother cried, "Do you want to fare better than we do? The desire shall pass from you," and she fetched a butcher's knife, and thrust it into the heart of the goat, which fell down dead. When Two-Eyes saw that, she went out full of sadness, seated herself on the ridge of grass at the edge of the field, and wept bitter tears. Suddenly the wise woman once more stood by her side, and said, "Two-Eyes, why are you weeping?" "Have I not reason to weep?" she answered. "The goat which covered the table for me every day when I spoke your charm, has been killed by my mother, and now I shall again have to bear hunger and want." The wise woman said, "Two-Eyes, I will give you a piece of good advice, ask your sisters to give you the entrails of the slaughtered goat, and bury them in the ground in front of the house, and your fortune will be made." Then she vanished, and Two-Eyes went home and said to her sisters, "Dear sisters, do give me some part of my goat, I don't wish for what is good, but give me the entrails." Then they laughed and said, "If that's all you want, you can have it." So Two-Eyes took the entrails and buried them quietly in the evening, in front of the house-door, as the wise woman had counseled her to do.
Next morning, when they all awoke, and went to the house-door, there stood a strangely magnificent tree with leaves of silver, and fruit of gold hanging among them, so that in all the wide world there was nothing more beautiful or precious. They did not know how the tree could have come there during the night, but Two-Eyes saw that it had grown up out of the entrails of the goat, for it was standing on the exact spot where she had buried them. Then the mother said to One-Eye, "Climb up, my child, and gather some of the fruit of the tree for us." One-eye climbed up, but when she was about to get hold of one of the golden apples, the branch escaped from her hands, and that happened each time, so that she could not pluck a single apple, let her do what she might. Then said the mother, "Three-Eyes, you climb up, you with your three eyes can look about you better than One-Eye." One-Eye slipped down, and Three-Eyes climbed up. Three-Eyes was not more skillful, and might try as she would, but the golden apples always escaped her.
At length the mother grew impatient, and climbed up herself, but could get hold of the fruit no better than One-Eye and Three-Eyes, for she always clutched empty air. Then said Two-Eyes, "Let me go up, perhaps I may succeed better." The sisters cried, "You indeed, with your two eyes, what can you do?" But Two-Eyes climbed up, and the golden apples did not avoid her, but came into her hand of their own accord, so that she could pluck them one after the other, and brought a whole apronful down with her. The mother took them away from her, and instead of treating poor Two-Eyes any better for this, she and One-Eye and Three-Eyes were only envious, because Two-Eyes alone had been able to get the fruit, and they treated her still more cruelly.
It so befell that once when they were all standing together by the tree, a young knight came up. "Quick, Two-Eyes," cried the two sisters, "creep under this, and don't disgrace us," and with all speed they turned an empty barrel which was standing close by the tree over poor Two-Eyes, and they swept the golden apples which she had been gathering, under it too. When the knight came nearer he was a handsome lord, who stopped and admired the magnificent gold and silver tree, and said to the two sisters, "To whom does this fine tree belong? Anyone who would bestow one branch of it on me might in return for it ask whatsoever he desired." Then One-Eye and Three-Eyes replied that the tree belonged to them, and that they would give him a branch. They both took great trouble, but they were not able to do it, for the branches and fruit both moved away from them every time. Then said the knight, "It is very strange that the tree should belong to you, and that you should not have the power to break a piece off." They again asserted that the tree was their property.
Whilst they were saying so, Two-Eyes rolled out a couple of golden apples from under the barrel to the feet of the knight, for she was vexed with One-Eye and Three-Eyes, for not speaking the truth. When the knight saw the apples he was astonished, and asked where they came from. One-Eye and Three-Eyes answered that they had another sister, who was not allowed to show herself, for she had only two eyes like any common person. The knight, however, desired to see her, and cried, "Two-Eyes, come forth." Then Two-Eyes, quite comforted, came from beneath the barrel, and the knight was surprised at her great beauty, and said, "You, Two-Eyes, can certainly break off a branch from the tree for me." "Yes," replied Two-Eyes, "that I certainly shall be able to do, for the tree belongs to me." And she climbed up, and with the greatest ease broke off a branch with beautiful silver leaves and golden fruit, and gave it to the knight. Then said the knight, "Two-Eyes, what shall I give you for it?" "Alas, answered two-eyes, "I suffer from hunger and thirst, grief and want, from early morning till late night. If you would take me with you, and rescue me, I should be happy." So the knight lifted Two-Eyes on to his horse, and took her home with him to his father's castle, and there he gave her beautiful clothes, and meat and drink to her heart's content, and as he loved her so much he married her, and the wedding was solemnized with great rejoicing.
When Two-Eyes was thus carried away by the handsome knight, her two sisters grudged her good fortune in downright earnest. "The wonderful tree, however, still remains with us," thought they, "and even if we can gather no fruit from it, still every one will stand still and look at it, and come to us and admire it. Who knows what good things may be in store for us." But next morning, the tree had vanished, and all their hopes were at an end. And when Two-Eyes looked out of the window of her own room, to her great delight it was standing in front of it, and so it had followed her.
Two-Eyes lived a long time in happiness. Once two poor women came to her in her castle, and begged for alms. She looked in their faces, and recognized her sisters, One-Eye, and Three-Eyes, who had fallen into such poverty that they had to wander about and beg their bread from door to door. Two-Eyes, however, made them welcome, and was kind to them, and took care of them, so that they both with all their hearts repented the evil that they had done their sister in their youth.
"Good-day, father hollenthe." "Many thanks, pif-paf-poltrie." "May I be allowed to have your daughter?" "Oh, yes, if mother malcho milchcow, brother high-and-mighty, sister kasetraut, and fair katrinelje are willing, you can have her." "Where is mother malcho, then?" "She is in the cow-house, milking the cow."
"Good-day, mother malcho." "Many thanks, pif-paf-poltrie." "May I be allowed to have your daughter?" "Oh, yes, if father hollenthe, brother high-and-mighty, sister kasetraut, and fair katrinelje are willing, you can have her." "Where is brother high-and-mighty, then?" "He is in the room chopping some wood."
"Good-day, brother high-and-mighty." "Many thanks, pif-paf-poltrie." "May I be allowed to have your sister?" "Oh, yes, if father hollenthe, mother malcho, sister kasetraut, and fair katrinelje are willing, you can have her." "Where is sister kasetraut, then?" "She is in the garden cutting cabbages."
"Good-day, sister kasetraut." "Many thanks, pif-paf-poltrie." "May I be allowed to have your sister?" "Oh, yes, if father hollenthe, mother malcho, brother high-and-mighty, and fair katrinelje are willing, you may have her." "Where is fair katrinelje, then." "She is in the room counting out her farthings."
"Good day, fair katrinelje." "Many thanks, pif-paf-poltrie." "Will you be my bride?" "Oh, yes, if father hollenthe, mother malcho, brother high-and-mighty, and sister kasetraut are willing, I am ready."
"Fair katrinelje, how much dowry do you have?" "Fourteen farthings in ready money, three and a half groschen owing to me, half a pound of dried apples, a handful of pretzels, and a handful of roots. And many other things are mine, Have I not a dowry fine?"
"Pif-paf-poltrie, what is your trade? Are you a tailor?" "Something better." "A shoemaker?" "Something better." "A husbandman?" "Something better." "A joiner?" "Something better." "A smith?" "Something better." "A miller?" "Something better." "Perhaps a broom-maker?" "Yes, that's what I am, is it not a fine trade?"
There was once upon a time a king who had twelve daughters, each one more beautiful than the other. They all slept together in one chamber, in which their beds stood side by side, and every night when they were in them the king locked the door, and bolted it. But in the morning when he unlocked the door, he saw that their shoes were worn out with dancing, and no one could find out how that had come to pass. Then the king caused it to be proclaimed that whosoever could discover where they danced at night, should choose one of them for his wife and be king after his death, but that whosoever came forward and had not discovered it within three days and nights, should have forfeited his life.
It was not long before a king's son presented himself, and offered to undertake the enterprise. He was well received, and in the evening was led into a room adjoining the princesses, sleeping-chamber. His bed was placed there, and he was to observe where they went and danced, and in order that they might do nothing secretly or go away to some other place, the door of their room was left open. But the eyelids of the prince grew heavy as lead, and he fell asleep, and when he awoke in the morning, all twelve had been to the dance, for their shoes were standing there with holes in the soles. On the second and third nights there was no difference, and then his head was struck off without mercy.
Many others came after this and undertook the enterprise, but all forfeited their lives. Now it came to pass that a poor soldier, who had a wound, and could serve no longer, found himself on the road to the town where the king lived. There he met an old woman, who asked him where he was going. "I hardly know myself," answered he, and added in jest, "I had half a mind to discover where the princesses danced their shoes into holes, and thus become king." "That is not so difficult," said the old woman, "you must not drink the wine which will be brought to you at night, and must pretend to be sound asleep." With that she gave him a little cloak, and said, "If you wear this, you will be invisible, and then you can steal after the twelve." When the soldier had received this good advice, he fell to in earnest, took heart, went to the king, and announced himself as a suitor. He was as well received as the others, and royal garments were put upon him. He was conducted that evening at bed-time into the antechamber, and as he was about to go to bed, the eldest came and brought him a cup of wine, but he had tied a sponge under his chin, and let the wine run down into it, without drinking a drop.
Then he lay down and when he had lain a while, he began to snore, as if in the deepest sleep. The twelve princesses heard that, and laughed, and the eldest said, "He, too, might as well have saved his life." With that they got up, opened wardrobes, presses, cupboards, and brought out pretty dresses, dressed themselves before the mirrors, sprang about, and rejoiced at the prospect of the dance. Only the youngest said, "I know not how it is, you are very happy, but I feel very strange, some misfortune is certainly about to befall us." "You are a goose, who are always frightened," said the eldest. "Have you forgotten how many kings' sons have already come here in vain. I had hardly any need to give the soldier a sleeping-draught, the booby would not have awakened anyway."
When they were all ready they looked carefully at the soldier, but he had closed his eyes and did not move or stir, so they felt themselves safe enough. The eldest then went to her bed and tapped it, whereupon it immediately sank into the earth, and one after the other they descended through the opening, the eldest going first. The soldier, who had watched everything, tarried no longer, put on his little cloak, and went down last with the youngest. Half-way down the steps, he just trod a little on her dress, she was terrified at that, and cried out, "What is that? Who is pulling my dress?" "Don't be so silly," said the eldest, "you have caught it on a nail."
Then they went all the way down, and when they were at the bottom, they were standing in a wonderfully pretty avenue of trees, all the leaves of which were of silver, and shone and glistened. The soldier thought, "I must carry a token away with me," and broke off a twig from one of them, on which the tree cracked with a loud report. The youngest cried out again. "Something is wrong, did you hear the crack?" But the eldest said, "It is a gun fired for joy, because we have got rid of our prince so quickly." After that they came into an avenue where all the leaves were of gold, and lastly into a third where they were of bright diamonds, he broke off a twig from each, which made such a crack each time that the youngest started back in terror, but the eldest still maintained that they were salutes.
They went on and came to a great lake whereon stood twelve little boats, and in every boat sat a handsome prince, all of whom were waiting for the twelve, and each took one of them with him, but the soldier seated himself by the youngest. Then her prince said, "I wonder why the boat is so much heavier to-day. I shall have to row with all my strength, if I am to get it across." "What should cause that," said the youngest, "but the warm weather?" "I feel very warm too." On the opposite side of the lake stood a splendid, brightly-lit castle, from whence resounded the joyous music of trumpets and kettle-drums. They rowed there, entered, and each prince danced with the girl he loved, but the soldier danced with them unseen, and when one of them had a cup of wine in her hand he drank it up, so that the cup was empty when she carried it to her mouth, the youngest was alarmed at this, but the eldest always silenced her. They danced there till three o'clock in the morning when all the shoes were danced into holes, and they were forced to leave off, the princes rowed them back again over the lake, and this time the soldier seated himself by the eldest.
On the shore they took leave of their princes, and promised to return the following night. When they reached the stairs the soldier ran on in front and lay down in his bed, and when the twelve had come up slowly and wearily, he was already snoring so loudly that they could all hear him, and they said, "So far as he is concerned, we are safe." They took off their beautiful dresses, laid them away, put the worn-out shoes under the bed, and lay down. Next morning the soldier was resolved not to speak, but to watch the wonderful goings-on, and again went with them a second and a third night.
Then everything was just as it had been the first time, and each time they danced until their shoes were worn to pieces. But the third time he took a cup away with him as a token. When the hour had arrived for him to give his answer, he took the three twigs and the cup, and went to the king, but the twelve stood behind the door, and listened for what he was going to say. When the king put the question, "Where have my twelve daughters danced their shoes to pieces in the night?" He answered, "In an underground castle with twelve princes," and related how it had come to pass, and brought out the tokens. The king then summoned his daughters, and asked them if the soldier had told the truth, and when they saw that they were betrayed, and that falsehood would be of no avail, they were obliged to confess all. Thereupon the king asked which of them he would have to wife. He answered, "I am no longer young, so give me the eldest." Then the wedding was celebrated on the self-same day, and the kingdom was promised him after the king's death. But the princes were bewitched for as many days as they had danced nights with the twelve.
In olden times there lived an aged queen who was a sorceress, and her daughter was the most beautiful maiden under the sun. The old woman, however, had no other thought than how to lure mankind to destruction, and when a wooer appeared, she said that whosoever wished to have her daughter, must first perform a task, or die. Many had been dazzled by the daughter's beauty, and had actually risked this, but they never could accomplish what the old woman enjoined them to do, and then no mercy was shown, they had to kneel down, and their heads were struck off.
A certain king's son who had also heard of the maiden's beauty, said to his father, "Let me go there, I want to demand her in marriage." "Never," answered the king, "if you were to go, it would be going to your death." On this the son lay down and was sick unto death, and for seven years he lay there, and no physician could heal him. When the father perceived that all hope was over, with a heavy heart he said to him, "Go thither, and try your luck, for I know no other means of curing you." When the son heard that, he rose from his bed and was well again, and joyfully set out on his way.
And it came to pass that as he was riding across a heath, he saw from afar something like a great heap of hay laying on the ground, and when he drew nearer, he could see that it was the stomach of a man, who had laid himself down there, but the stomach looked like a small mountain. When the fat man saw the traveler, he stood up and said, "If you are in need of any one, take me into your service." The prince answered, "What can I do with such a clumsy man?" "Oh," said the stout one, "this is nothing, when I really puff myself up, I am three thousand times fatter." "If that's the case," said the prince, "I can make use of you, come with me."
So the stout one followed the prince, and after a while they found another man who was lying on the ground with his ear laid to the turf. "What are you doing there?" asked the king's son. "I am listening," replied the man. "What are you listening to so attentively?" "I am listening to what is just going on in the world, for nothing escapes my ears, I even hear the grass growing." "Tell me," said the prince, "what you hear at the court of the old queen who has the beautiful daughter." Then he answered, "I hear the whizzing of the sword that is striking off a wooer's head." The king's son said, "I can make use of you, come with me."
They went onwards, and then saw a pair of feet lying and part of a pair of legs, but could not see the rest of the body. When they had walked on for a great distance, they came to the body, and at last to the head also. "Why," said the prince, "what a tall rascal you are." "Oh," replied the tall one, "that is nothing at all yet, when I really stretch out my limbs, I am three thousand times as tall, and taller than the highest mountain on earth. I will gladly enter your service, if you will take me." "Come with me," said the prince, "I can make use of you."
They went onwards and found a man sitting by the road who had bound up his eyes. The prince said to him, "Have you weak eyes, that you cannot look at the light?" "No," replied the man, "but I must not remove the bandage, for whatsoever I look at with my eyes, splits to pieces, so powerful is my glance. If you can use that, I shall be glad to serve you." "Come with me," replied the king's son, "I can make use of you."
They journeyed onwards and found a man who was lying in the hot sunshine, trembling and shivering all over his body, so that not a limb was still. "How can you shiver when the sun is shining so warm?" said the king's son. "Alas," replied the man, "I am of quite a different nature. The hotter it is, the colder I am, and the frost pierces through all my bones, and the colder it is, the hotter I am. In the midst of ice, I cannot endure the heat, nor in the midst of fire, the cold." "You are a strange fellow," said the prince, "but if you will enter my service, follow me."
They traveled onwards, and saw a man standing who made a long neck and looked about him, and could see over all the mountains. "What are you looking at so eagerly?" said the king's son. The man replied, "I have such sharp eyes that I can see into every forest and field, and hill and valley, all over the world." The prince said, "Come with me if you will, for I am still in want of such an one."
And now the king's son and his six servants came to the town where the aged queen dwelt. He did not tell her who he was, but said, "If you will give me your beautiful daughter, I will perform any task you set me." The sorceress was delighted to get such a handsome youth as this into her net, and said, "I will set you three tasks, and if you are able to perform them all, you shall be husband and master of my daughter." "What is the first to be?" "You shall fetch me my ring which I have dropped into the red sea."
So the king's son went home to his servants and said, "The first task is not easy. A ring is to be got out of the red sea. Come, find some way of doing it." Then the man with the sharp sight said, "I will see where it is lying," and looked down into the water and said, "It is hanging there, on a pointed stone." The tall one carried them thither, and said, "I would soon get it out, if I could only see it." "Oh, is that all," cried the stout one, and lay down and put his mouth to the water, on which all the waves fell into it just as if it had been a whirlpool, and he drank up the whole sea till it was as dry as a meadow. The tall one stooped down a little, and brought out the ring with his hand.
Then the king's son rejoiced when he had the ring, and took it to the old queen. She was astonished, and said, "Yes, it is the right ring. You have safely performed the first task, but now comes the second. Do you see the meadow in front of my palace? Three hundred fat oxen are feeding there, and these must you eat, skin, hair, bones, horns and all, and down below in my cellar lie three hundred casks of wine, and these you must drink up as well, and if one hair of the oxen, or one little drop of the wine is left, your life will be forfeited to me." "May I invite no guests to this repast?" inquired the prince, "No dinner is good without some company." The old woman laughed maliciously, and replied, "You may invite one for the sake of companionship, but no more."
The king's son went to his servants and said to the stout one, "You shall be my guest to-day, and shall eat your fill." Hereupon the stout one puffed himself up and ate the three hundred oxen without leaving one single hair, and then he asked if he was to have nothing but his breakfast. Then he drank the wine straight from the casks without feeling any need of a glass, and drained them down to their dregs.
When the meal was over, the prince went to the old woman, and told her that the second task also was performed. She wondered at this and said, "No one has ever done so much before, but one task still remains," and she thought to herself, "You shall not escape me, and will not keep your head on your shoulders." "This night," said she, "I will bring my daughter to you in your chamber, and you shall put your arms round her, but when you are sitting there together, beware of falling asleep. When twelve o'clock is striking, I will come, and if she is then no longer in your arms, you are lost."
The prince thought, "The task is easy, I will most certainly keep my eyes open." Nevertheless he called his servants, told them what the old woman had said, and remarked, "Who knows what treachery lurks behind this? Foresight is a good thing - keep watch, and take care that the maiden does not go out of my room again." When night fell, the old woman came with her daughter, and gave her into the princes's arms, and then the tall one wound himself round the two in a circle, and the stout one placed himself by the door, so that no living creature could enter. There the two sat, and the maiden spoke never a word, but the moon shone through the window on her face, and the prince could behold her wondrous beauty. He did nothing but gaze at her, and was filled with love and happiness, and his eyes never felt weary. This lasted until eleven o'clock, when the old woman cast such a spell over all of them that they fell asleep, and at the self-same moment the maiden was carried away.
Then they all slept soundly until a quarter to twelve, when the magic lost its power, and all awoke again. "Oh, misery and misfortune," cried the prince, "now I am lost." The faithful servants also began to lament, but the listener said, "Be quiet, I want to listen." Then he listened for an instant and said, "She is on a rock, three hundred leagues from hence, bewailing her fate. You alone, tall one, can help her, if you will stand up, you will be there in a couple of steps."
"Yes," answered the tall one, "but the one with the sharp eyes must go with me, that we may destroy the rock." Then the tall one took the one with bandaged eyes on his back, and in the twinkling of an eye they were on the enchanted rock. The tall one immediately took the bandage from the other's eyes, and he did but look round, and the rock shivered into a thousand pieces. Then the tall one took the maiden in his arms, carried her back in a second, then fetched his companion with the same rapidity, and before it struck twelve they were all sitting as they had sat before, quite merrily and happily. When twelve struck, the aged sorceress came stealing in with a malicious face, as much as to say, "Now he is mine, for she believed that her daughter was on the rock three hundred leagues off." But when she saw her in the prince's arms, she was alarmed, and said, "Here is one who knows more than I do." She dared not make any opposition, and was forced to give him her daughter. But she whispered in her ear, "It is a disgrace to you to have to obey common people, and that you are not allowed to choose a husband to your own liking."
On this the proud heart of the maiden was filled with anger, and she meditated revenge. Next morning she caused three hundred great bundles of wood to be got together, and said to the prince that though the three tasks were performed, she would still not be his wife until someone was ready to seat himself in the midst of the wood, and bear the fire. She thought that none of his servants would let themselves be burnt for him, and that out of love for her, he himself would place himself upon it, and then she would be free. But the servants said, "Every one of us has done something except the frosty one, he must set to work, and they put him in the middle of the pile, and set fire to it." Then the fire began to burn, and burnt for three days until all the wood was consumed, and when the flames had burnt out, the frosty one was standing amid the ashes, trembling like an aspen leaf, and saying, "I never felt such a frost during the whole course of my life, if it had lasted much longer, I should have been benumbed."
As no other pretext was to be found, the beautiful maiden was now forced to take the unknown youth as a husband. But when they drove away to church, the old woman said, "I cannot endure the disgrace," and sent her warriors after them with orders to cut down all who opposed them, and bring back her daughter. But the listener had sharpened his ears, and heard the secret discourse of the old woman. "What shall we do?" said he to the stout one. But he knew what to do, and spat out once or twice behind the carriage some of the sea-water which he had drunk, and a great lake arose in which the warriors were caught and drowned.
When the sorceress perceived that, she sent her mailed knights, but the listener heard the rattling of their armor, and undid the bandage from one eye of sharp-eyes, who looked for a while rather fixedly at the enemy's troops, on which they all sprang to pieces like glass. Then the youth and the maiden went on their way undisturbed, and when the two had been blessed in church, the six servants took leave, and said to their master, "Your wishes are now satisfied, you need us no longer, we will go our way and seek our fortunes."
Half a league from the palace of the prince's father was a village near which a swineherd tended his herd, and when they came thither the prince said to his wife, "Do you know who I really am? I am no prince, but a herder of swine, and the man who is there with that herd, is my father. We two shall have to set to work also, and help him." Then he alighted with her at the inn, and secretly told the innkeepers to take away her royal apparel during the night. So when she awoke in the morning, she had nothing to put on, and the innkeeper's wife gave her an old gown and a pair of worsted stockings, and at the same time seemed to consider it a great present, and said, "If it were not for the sake of your husband I should have given you nothing at all." Then the princess believed that he really was a swineherd, and tended the herd with him, and thought to herself, "I have deserved this for my haughtiness and pride."
This lasted for a week, and then she could endure it no longer, for she had sores on her feet. And now came a couple of people who asked if she knew who her husband was. "Yes," she answered, "he is a swineherd, and has just gone out with cords and ropes to try to drive a little bargain." But they said, "Just come with us, and we will take you to him," and they took her up to the palace, and when she entered the hall, there stood her husband in kingly raiment. But she did not recognize him until he took her in his arms, kissed her, and said, "I suffered so much for you that you, too, had to suffer for me." And then the wedding was celebrated, and he who has related this, wishes that he, too, had been present at it.
A woman was walking about the fields with her daughter and her step-daughter cutting fodder, when the Lord came towards them in the form of a poor man, and asked, "Which is the way into the village?" "If you want to know," said the mother, "seek it for yourself," and the daughter added, "If you are afraid you will not find it, take a guide with you." But the step-daughter said, "Poor man, I will take you there, come with me."
Then God was angry with the mother and daughter, and turned His back on them, and wished that they should become as black as night and as ugly as sin. To the poor step-daughter, however, God was gracious, and went with her, and when they were near the village, He said a blessing over her, and spoke, "Choose three things for yourself, and I will grant them to you." Then said the maiden, "I should like to be as beautiful and fair as the sun," and instantly she was white and fair as day. "Then I should like to have a purse of money which would never grow empty." That the Lord gave her also, but He said, "Do not forget what is best of all." Said she, "For my third wish, I desire, after my death, to inhabit the eternal kingdom of heaven." That also was granted unto her, and then the Lord left her.
When the step-mother came home with her daughter, and they saw that they were both as black as coal and ugly, but that the step-daughter was white and beautiful, wickedness increased still more in their hearts, and they thought of nothing else but how they could do her an injury. The step-daughter, however, had a brother called Reginer, whom she loved much, and she told him all that had happened. And Reginer said to her, "Dear sister, I will paint your portrait, that I may continually see you before my eyes, for my love for you is so great that I should like always to look at you." Then she answered, "But, I pray you, let no one see the picture."
So he painted his sister and hung up the picture in his room, he, however, dwelt in the king's palace, for he was his coachman. Every day he went and stood before the picture, and thanked God for the happiness of having such a dear sister. Now it happened that the king whom he served, had just lost his wife, who had been so beautiful that no one could be found to compare with her, and on this account the king was in deep grief. The attendants about the court, however, noticed that the coachman stood daily before this beautiful picture, and they were jealous of him, so they informed the king. Then the latter ordered the picture to be brought to him, and when he saw that it was like his lost wife in every respect, except that it was still more beautiful, he fell mortally in love with it He caused the coachman to be brought before him, and asked whom the portrait represented. The coachman said it was his sister, so the king resolved to take no one but her as his wife, and gave him a carriage and horses and splendid garments of cloth of gold, and sent him forth to fetch his chosen bride.
When Reginer came on this errand, his sister was glad, but the black maiden was jealous of her good fortune, and grew angry above all measure, and said to her mother, "Of what use are all your arts to us now when you cannot procure such a piece of luck for me." "Be quiet," said the old woman, "I will soon divert it to you," - and by her arts of witchcraft, she so troubled the eyes of the coachman that he was half-blind, and she stopped the ears of the white maiden so that she was half-deaf. Then they got into the carriage, first the bride in her noble royal apparel, then the step-mother with her daughter, and Reginer sat on the box to drive. When they had been on the way for some time the coachman cried, "Cover thee well, my sister dear, That the rain may not wet thee, That the wind may not load thee with dust, That thou may'st be fair and beautiful When thou appearest before the king."
The bride asked, "What is my dear brother saying?" "Ah," said the old woman, "he says that you ought to take off your golden dress and give it to your sister." Then she took it off, and put it on the black maiden, who gave her in exchange for it a shabby grey gown. They drove onwards, and a short time afterwards, the brother again cried, "Cover thee well, my sister dear, That the rain may not wet thee, That the wind may not load thee with dust, That thou may'st be fair and beautiful When thou appearest before the king."
The bride asked, "What is my dear brother saying?" "Ah," said the old woman, "he says that you ought to take off your golden hood and give it to your sister." So she took off the hood and put it on her sister, and sat with her own head uncovered. And they drove on farther. After a while, the brother once more cried, "Cover thee well, my sister dear, That the rain may not wet thee, That the wind may not load thee with dust, That thou may'st be fair and beautiful When thou appearest before the king."
The bride asked, "What is my dear brother saying?" "Ah," said the old woman, "he says you must look out of the carriage." They happened to be on a bridge, which crossed deep water. When the bride stood up and leant forward out of the carriage, they both pushed her out, and she fell into the middle of the water. At the same moment that she sank, a snow-white duck arose out of the mirror-smooth water, and swam down the river.
The brother had observed nothing of it, and drove the carriage on until they reached the court. Then he took the black maiden to the king as his sister, and thought she really was so, because his eyes were dim, and he saw the golden garments glittering. When the king saw the boundless ugliness of his intended bride, he was very angry, and ordered the coachman to be thrown into a pit which was full of adders and nests of snakes. The old witch, however, knew so well how to flatter the king and deceive his eyes by her arts, that he kept her and her daughter until she appeared quite endurable to him, and he really married her.
One evening when the black bride was sitting on the king's knee, a white duck came swimming up the gutter to the kitchen, and said to the kitchen-boy, "Boy, light a fire, that I may warm my feathers." The kitchen-boy did it, and lighted a fire on the hearth. Then came the duck and sat down by it, and shook herself and smoothed her feathers to rights with her bill. While she was thus sitting and enjoying herself, she asked, "What is my brother Reginer doing?" The scullery-boy replied, "He is imprisoned in the pit with adders and with snakes." Then she asked, "What is the black witch doing in the house?" The boy answered, "She is loved by the king and happy." "May God have mercy on him," said the duck, and swam forth by the gutter.
The next night she came again and put the same questions, and the third night also. Then the kitchen-boy could bear it no longer, and went to the king and revealed all to him. The king, however, wanted to see it for himself, and next evening went thither, and when the duck thrust her head in through the gutter, he took his sword and cut through her neck, and suddenly she changed into a most beautiful maiden, exactly like the picture, which her brother had made of her. The king was full of joy, and as she stood there quite wet, he caused splendid apparel to be brought and had her clothed in it.
Then she told how she had been betrayed by cunning and falsehood, and at last thrown down into the water, and her first request was that her brother should be brought forth from the pit of snakes, and when the king had fulfilled this request, he went into the chamber where the old witch was, and asked if she knew the punishment for one who does this and that, and related what had happened. Then was she so blinded that she was aware of nothing and said, "She deserves to be stripped naked, and put into a barrel with nails, and that a horse should be harnessed to the barrel, and the horse sent all over the world." All of which was done to her, and to her black daughter. But the king married the white and beautiful bride, and rewarded her faithful brother, and made him a rich and distinguished man.
There was once upon a time a king who had a great forest near his palace, full of all kinds of wild animals. One day he sent out a huntsman to shoot him a roe, but he did not come back. Perhaps some accident has befallen him, said the king, and the next day he sent out two more huntsmen who were to search for him, but they too stayed away. Then on the third day, he sent for all his huntsmen, and said, scour the whole forest through, and do not give up until you have found all three. But of these also, none came home again, and of the pack of hounds which they had taken with them, none were seen again. From that time forth, no one would any longer venture into the forest, and it lay there in deep stillness and solitude, and nothing was seen of it, but sometimes an eagle or a hawk flying over it. This lasted for many years, when an unknown huntsman announced himself to the king as seeking a situation, and offered to go into the dangerous forest. The king, however, would not give his consent, and said, it is not safe in there, I fear it would fare with you no better than with the others, and you would never come out again. The huntsman replied, lord, I will venture it at my own risk, of fear I know nothing. The huntsman therefore betook himself with his dog to the forest. It was not long before the dog fell in with some game on the way, and wanted to pursue it, but hardly had the dog run two steps when it stood before a deep pool, could go no farther, and a naked arm stretched itself out of the water, seized it, and drew it under. When the huntsman saw that, he went back and fetched three men to come with buckets and bale out the water. When they could see to the bottom there lay a wild man whose body was brown like rusty iron, and whose hair hung over his face down to his knees. They bound him with cords, and led him away to the castle.
There was great astonishment over the wild man, the king, however, had him put in an iron cage in his court-yard, and forbade the door to be opened on pain of death, and the queen herself was to take the key into her keeping. And from this time forth every one could again go into the forest with safety. The king had a son of eight years, who was once playing in the court-yard, and while he was playing, his golden ball fell into the cage. The boy ran thither and said, give me my ball out. Not till you have opened the door for me, answered the man. No, said the boy, I will not do that, the king has forbidden it, and ran away. The next day he again went and asked for his ball. The wild man said, open my door, but the boy would not. On the third day the king had ridden out hunting, and the boy went once more and said, I cannot open the door even if I wished, for I have not the key. Then the wild man said, it lies under your mother's pillow, you can get it there.
The boy, who wanted to have his ball back, cast all thought to the winds, and brought the key. The door opened with difficulty, and the boy pinched his fingers. When it was open the wild man stepped out, gave him the golden ball, and hurried away. The boy had become afraid, he called and cried after him, oh, wild man, do not go away, or I shall be beaten. The wild man turned back, took him up, set him on his shoulder, and went with hasty steps into the forest. When the king came home, he observed the empty cage, and asked the queen how that had happened. She knew nothing about it, and sought the key, but it was gone. She called the boy, but no one answered. The king sent out people to seek for him in the fields, but they did not find him. Then he could easily guess what had happened, and much grief reigned in the royal court. When the wild man had once more reached the dark forest, he took the boy down from his shoulder, and said to him, you will never see your father and mother again, but I will keep you with me, for you have set me free, and I have compassion on you. If you do all I bid you, you shall fare well. Of treasure and gold have I enough, and more than anyone in the world. He made a bed of moss for the boy on which he slept, and the next morning the man took him to a well, and said, behold, the gold well is as bright and clear as crystal, you shall sit beside it, and take care that nothing falls into it, or it will be polluted. I will come every evening to see if you have obeyed my order. The boy placed himself by the brink of the well, and often saw a golden fish or a golden snake show itself therein, and took care that nothing fell in. As he was thus sitting, his finger hurt him so violently that he involuntarily put it in the water. He drew it quickly out again, but saw that it was quite gilded, and whatsoever pains he took to wash the gold off again, all was to no purpose. In the evening iron Hans came back, looked at the boy, and said, what has happened to the well. Nothing, nothing, he answered, and held his finger behind his back, that the man might not see it. But he said, you have dipped your finger into the water, this time it may pass, but take care you do not again let anything go in.
By daybreak the boy was already sitting by the well and watching it. His finger hurt him again and he passed it over his head, and then unhappily a hair fell down into the well. He took it quickly out, but it was already quite gilded. Iron Hans came, and already knew what had happened. You have let a hair fall into the well, said he. I will allow you to watch by it once more, but if this happens for the third time then the well is polluted, and you can no longer remain with me. On the third day, the boy sat by the well, and did not stir his finger, however much it hurt him. But the time was long to him, and he looked at the reflection of his face on the surface of the water. And as he still bent down more and more while he was doing so, and trying to look straight into the eyes, his long hair fell down from his shoulders into the water. He raised himself up quickly, but the whole of the hair of his head was already golden and shone like the sun. You can imagine how terrified the poor boy was. He took his pocket-handkerchief and tied it round his head, in order that the man might not see it. When he came he already knew everything, and said, take the handkerchief off. Then the golden hair streamed forth, and let the boy excuse himself as he might, it was of no use. You have not stood the trial, and can stay here no longer. Go forth into the world, there you will learn what poverty is. But as you have not a bad heart, and as I mean well by you, there is one thing I will grant you. If you fall into any difficulty, come to the forest and cry, iron Hans, and then I will come and help you. My power is great, greater than you think, and I have gold and silver in abundance. Then the king's son left the forest, and walked by beaten and unbeaten paths ever onwards until at length he reached a great city.
There he looked for work, but could find none, and he had learnt nothing by which he could help himself. At length he went to the palace, and asked if they would take him in. The people about court did not at all know what use they could make of him, but they liked him, and told him to stay. At length the cook took him into his service, and said he might carry wood and water, and rake the cinders together. Once when it so happened that no one else was at hand, the cook ordered him to carry the food to the royal table, but as he did not like to let his golden hair be seen, he kept his little cap on. Such a thing as that had never yet come under the king's notice, and he said, when you come to the royal table you must take your hat off. He answered, ah, lord, I cannot. I have a bad sore place on my head. Then the king had the cook called before him and scolded him, and asked how he could take such a boy as that into his service, and that he was to send him away at once. The cook, however, had pity on him, and exchanged him for the gardener's boy.
And now the boy had to plant and water the garden, hoe and dig, and bear the wind and bad weather. Once in summer when he was working alone in the garden, the day was so warm he took his little cap off that the air might cool him. As the sun shone on his hair it glittered and flashed so that the rays fell into the bed-room of the king's daughter, and up she sprang to see what that could be. Then she saw the boy, and cried to him, boy, bring me a wreath of flowers. He put his cap on with all haste, and gathered wild field-flowers and bound them together. When he was ascending the stairs with them, the gardener met him, and said, how can you take the king's daughter a garland of such common flowers. Go quickly, and get another, and seek out the prettiest and rarest. Oh, no, replied the boy, the wild ones have more scent, and will please her better. When he got into the room, the king's daughter said, take your cap off, it is not seemly to keep it on in my presence. He again said, I may not, I have a sore head. She, however, caught at his cap and pulled it off, and then his golden hair rolled down on his shoulders, and it was splendid to behold. He wanted to run out, but she held him by the arm, and gave him a handful of ducats. With these he departed, but he cared nothing for the gold pieces. He took them to the gardener, and said, I present them to your children, they can play with them. The following day the king's daughter again called to him that he was to bring her a wreath of field-flowers, and when he went in with it, she instantly snatched at his cap, and wanted to take it away from him, but he held it fast with both hands. She again gave him a handful of ducats, but he would not keep them, and gave them to the gardener for playthings for his children. On the third day things went just the same. She could not get his cap away from him, and he would not have her money. Not long afterwards, the country was overrun by war. The king gathered together his people, and did not know whether or not he could offer any opposition to the enemy, who was superior in strength and had a mighty army. Then said the gardener's boy, I am grown up, and will go to the wars also, only give me a I am grown up, and will go the the wars also, only give me a horse. The others laughed, and said, seek one for yourself when we are gone, we will leave one behind us in the stable for you.
When they had gone forth, he went into the stable, and led the horse out. It was lame of one foot, and limped hobblety jig, hobblety jig, nevertheless he mounted it, and rode away to the dark forest. When he came to the outskirts, he called 'iron Hans, three times so loudly that it echoed through the trees. Thereupon the wild man appeared immediately, and said, what do you desire. I want a strong steed, for I am going to the wars. That you shall have, and still more than you ask for. Then the wild man went back into the forest, and it was not long before a stable-boy came out of it, who led a horse that snorted with its nostrils, and could hardly be restrained, and behind them followed a great troop of warriors entirely equipped in iron, and their swords flashed in the sun. The youth made over his three-legged horse to the stable-boy, mounted the other, and rode at the head of the soldiers. When he got near the battle-field a great part of the king's men had already fallen, and little was wanting to make the rest give way. Then the youth galloped thither with his iron soldiers, broke like a hurricane over the enemy, and beat down all who opposed him. They began to flee, but the youth pursued, and never stopped, until there was not a single man left. Instead of returning to the king, however, he conducted his troop by byways back to the forest, and called forth iron Hans. What do you desire, asked the wild man. Take back your horse and your troops, and give me my three-legged horse again. All that he asked was done, and soon he was riding on his three-legged horse. When the king returned to his palace, his daughter went to meet him, and wished him joy of his victory. I am not the one who carried away the victory, said he, but a strange knight who came to my assistance with his soldiers. The daughter wanted to hear who the strange knight was, but the king did not know, and said, he followed the enemy, and I did not see him again. She inquired of the gardener where his boy was, but he smiled, and said, he has just come home on his three-legged horse, and the others have been mocking him, and crying, here comes our hobblety jig back again. They asked, too, under what hedge have you been lying sleeping all the time. So he said, I did the best of all, and it would have gone badly without me. And then he was still more ridiculed. The king said to his daughter, I will proclaim a great feast that shall last for three days, and you shall throw a golden apple. Perhaps the unknown man will show himself. When the feast was announced, the youth went out to the forest, and called iron Hans. What do you desire, asked he. That I may catch the king's daughter's golden apple. It is as safe as if you had it already, said iron Hans. You shall likewise have a suit of red armor for the occasion, and ride on a spirited chestnut-horse.
When the day came, the youth galloped to the spot, took his place amongst the knights, and was recognized by no one. The king's daughter came forward, and threw a golden apple to the knights, but none of them caught it but he, only as soon as he had it he galloped away. On the second day iron Hans equipped him as a white knight, and gave him a white horse. Again he was the only one who caught the apple, and he did not linger an instant, but galloped off with it. The king grew angry, and said, that is not allowed. He must appear before me and tell his name. He gave the order that if the knight who caught the apple, should go away again they should pursue him, and if he would not come back willingly, they were to cut him down and stab him. On the third day, he received from iron Hans a suit of black armor and a black horse, and again he caught the apple. But when he was riding off with it, the king's attendants pursued him, and one of them got so near him that he wounded the youth's leg with the point of his sword. The youth nevertheless escaped from them, but his horse leapt so violently that the helmet fell from the youth's head, and they could see that he had golden hair. They rode back and announced this to the king.
The following day the king's daughter asked the gardener about his boy. He is at work in the garden. The queer creature has been at the festival too, and only came home yesterday evening. He has likewise shown my children three golden apples which he has won. The king had him summoned into his presence, and he came and again had his little cap on his head. But the king's daughter went up to him and took it off, and then his golden hair fell down over his shoulders, and he was so handsome that all were amazed. Are you the knight who came every day to the festival, always in different colors, and who caught the three golden apples, asked the king. Yes, answered he, and here the apples are, and he took them out of his pocket, and returned them to the king. If you desire further proof, you may see the wound which your people gave me when they followed me. But I am likewise the knight who helped you to your victory over your enemies. If you can perform such deeds as that, you are no gardener's boy, tell me, who is your father. My father is a mighty king, and gold have I in plenty as great as I require. I well see, said the king, that I owe thanks to you, can I do anything to please you. Yes, answered he, that indeed you can. Give me your daughter to wife. The maiden laughed, and said, he does not stand much on ceremony, but I have already seen by his golden hair that he was no gardener's boy, and then she went and kissed him. His father and mother came to the wedding, and were in great delight, for they had given up all hope of ever seeing their dear son again. And as they were sitting at the marriage-feast, the music suddenly stopped, the doors opened, and a stately king came in with a great retinue. He went up to the youth, embraced him and said, I am iron Hans, and was by enchantment a wild man, but you have set me free. All the treasures which I possess, shall be your property.
East india was besieged by an enemy who would not retire until he had received six hundred dollars. Then the townsfolk caused it to be proclaimed by beat of drum that whosoever was able to procure the money should be burgomaster. Now there was a poor fisherman who fished on the sea with his son, and the enemy came and took the son prisoner, and gave the father six hundred dollars for him. So the father went and gave them to the great men of the town, and the enemy departed, and the fisherman became burgomaster. Then it was proclaimed that whosoever did not say 'mr. Burgomaster, should be put to death on the gallows. The son got away again from the enemy, and came to a great forest on a high mountain. The mountain opened, and he went into a great enchanted castle, wherein chairs, tables, and benches were all hung with black. Then came three young princesses who were dressed entirely in black, but had a little white on their faces. They told him he was not to be afraid, they would not hurt him, and that he could rescue them. He said he would gladly do that, if he did but know how. At this, they told him he must for a whole year not speak to them and also not look at them, and what he wanted to have he was just to ask for, and if they dared give him an answer they would do so. When he had been there for a long while he said he should like to go to his father, and they told him he might go. He was to take with him this purse with money, put on this coat, and in a week he must be back there again. Then he was lifted up, and was instantly in east india. He could no longer find his father in the fisherman's hut, and asked the people where the poor fisherman could be, and they told him he must not say that, or he would come to the gallows.
Then he went to his father and said, fisherman, how have you got here. Then the father said, you must not say that, if the great men of the town knew of that, you would come to the gallows. He, however, would not give in, and was brought to the gallows. When he was there, he said, o, my masters, just give me leave to go to the old fisherman's hut. Then he put on his old smock, and came back to the great men, and said, do you not now see. Am I not the son of the poor fisherman. Did I not earn bread for my father and mother in this dress. Hereupon his father knew him again, and begged his pardon, and took him home with him, and then related all that had happened to him, and how he had got into a forest on a high mountain, and the mountain had opened and he had gone into an enchanted castle, where all was black, and three young princesses had come to him who were black except a little white on their faces. And they had told him not to fear, and that he could rescue them. Then his mother said that might very likely not be a good thing to do, and that he ought to take a blessed candle with him, and drop some boiling wax on their faces. He went back again, and he was in great fear, and he dropped the wax on their faces as they were sleeping, and they all turned half-white. Then all the three princesses sprang up, and said, you accursed dog, our blood shall cry for vengeance on you. Now there is no man born in the world, nor will any ever be born who can set us free. We have still three brothers who are bound by seven chains - they shall tear you to pieces. Then there was a loud shrieking all over the castle, and he sprang out of the window, and broke his leg, and the castle sank into the earth again, the mountain closed again, and no one knew where the castle had stood.
Between werrel and soist there lived a man whose name was knoist, and he had three sons. One was blind, the other lame, and the third stark-naked. Once on a time they went into a field, and there they saw a hare. The blind one shot it, the lame one caught it, the naked one put it in his pocket. Then they came to a mighty big lake, on which there were three boats, one sailed, one sank, the third had no bottom to it. They all three got into the one with no bottom to it. Then they came to a mighty big forest in which there was a mighty big tree, in the tree was a mighty big chapel - in the chapel was a sexton made of beech-wood and a box-wood parson, who dealt out holy water with cudgels. How truly happy is that one who can from holy water run.
There were once upon a time a king and a queen who lived happily together and had twelve children, but they were all boys. Then said the king to his wife, if the thirteenth child which you are about to bring into the world, is a girl, the twelve boys shall die, in order that her possessions may be great, and that the kingdom may fall to her alone. He even caused twelve coffins to be made, which were already filled with shavings, and in each lay a little death pillow, and he had them taken into a locked-up room, and then he gave the queen the key of it, and bade her not to speak of this to anyone.
The mother, however, now sat and lamented all day long, until the youngest son, who was always with her, and whom she had named benjamin, from the bible, said to her, dear mother, why are you so sad.
Dearest child, she answered, I may not tell you. But he let her have no rest until she went and unlocked the room, and showed him the twelve coffins ready filled with shavings. Then she said, my dearest benjamin, your father has had these coffins made for you and for your eleven brothers, for if I bring a little girl into the world, you are all to be killed and buried in them. And as she wept while she was saying this, the son comforted her and said, weep not, dear mother, we will save ourselves, and go hence. But she said, go forth into the forest with your eleven brothers, and let one sit constantly on the highest tree which can be found, and keep watch, looking towards the tower here in the castle. If I give birth to a little son, I will put up a white flag, and then you may venture to come back. But if I bear a daughter, I will hoist a red flag, and then fly hence as quickly as you are able, and may the good God protect you. And every night I will rise up and pray for you - in winter that you may be able to warm yourself at a fire, and in summer that you may not faint away in the heat.
After she had blessed her sons therefore, they went forth into the forest. They each kept watch in turn, and sat on the highest oak and looked towards the tower. When eleven days had passed and the turn came to benjamin, he saw that a flag was being raised. It was, however, not the white, but the blood-red flag which announced that they were all to die. When the brothers heard that, they were very angry and said, are we all to suffer death for the sake of a girl. We swear that we will avenge ourselves - wheresoever we find a girl, her red blood shall flow.
Thereupon they went deeper into the forest, and in the midst of it, where it was the darkest, they found a little bewitched hut, which was standing empty. Then said they, here we will dwell, and you benjamin, who are the youngest and weakest, you shall stay at home and keep house, we others will go out and fetch food.
Then they went into the forest and shot hares, wild deer, birds and pigeons, and whatsoever there was to eat. This they took to benjamin, who had to dress it for them in order that they might appease their hunger. They lived together ten years in the little hut, and the time did not appear long to them.
The little daughter which their mother the queen had given birth to, was now grown up. She was good of heart, and fair of face, and had a golden star on her forehead. Once, on a great washing, she saw twelve men's shirts among the things, and asked her mother, to whom do these twelve shirts belong, for they are far too small for father. Then the queen answered with a heavy heart, dear child, these belong to your twelve brothers. Said the maiden, where are my twelve brothers, I have never yet heard of them. She replied, God knows where they are, they are wandering about the world. Then she took the maiden and opened the chamber for her, and showed her the twelve coffins with the shavings, and the death pillows. These coffins, said she, were destined for your brothers, who went away secretly before you were born, and she related to her how everything had happened. Then said the maiden, dear mother, weep not, I will go and seek my brothers.
So she took the twelve shirts and went forth, and straight into the great forest. She walked the whole day, and in the evening she came to the bewitched hut. Then she entered it and found a young boy, who asked, from whence do you come, and whither are you bound, and was astonished that she was so beautiful, and wore royal garments, and had a star on her forehead. And she answered, I am a king's daughter, and am seeking my twelve brothers, and I will walk as far as the sky is blue until I find them. And she showed him the twelve shirts which belonged to them. Then benjamin saw that she was his sister, and said, I am benjamin, your youngest brother. And she began to weep for joy, and benjamin wept also, and they kissed and embraced each other with the greatest love. But after this he said, dear sister, there is still one difficulty. We have agreed that every maiden whom we meet shall die, because we have been obliged to leave our kingdom on account of a girl. Then said she, I will willingly die, if by so doing I can save my twelve brothers.
No, answered he, you shall not die. Seat yourself beneath this tub until our eleven brothers come, and then I will soon come to an agreement with them.
She did so, and when it was night the others came from hunting, and their dinner was ready. And as they were sitting at table, and eating, they asked, what news is there. Said benjamin, don't you know anything. No, they answered. He continued, you have been in the forest and I have stayed at home, and yet I know more than you do. Tell us then, they cried. He answered, but promise me that the first maiden who meets us shall not be killed.
Yes, they all cried, she shall have mercy, only do tell us. Then said he, our sister is here, and he lifted up the tub, and the king's daughter came forth in her royal garments with the golden star on her forehead, and she was beautiful, delicate and fair. Then they were all rejoiced, and fell on her neck, and kissed and loved her with all their hearts.
Now she stayed at home with benjamin and helped him with the work. The eleven went into the forest and caught game, and deer, and birds, and wood-pigeons that they might have food, and the little sister and benjamin took care to make it ready for them. She sought for the wood for cooking and herbs for vegetables, and put the pans on the fire so that the dinner was always ready when the eleven came. She likewise kept order in the little house, and put beautifully white clean coverings on the little beds and the brothers were always contented and lived in great harmony with her.
Once upon a time the two at home had prepared a wonderful feast, and when they were all together, they sat down and ate and drank and were full of gladness. There was, however, a little garden belonging to the bewitched house wherein stood twelve lily flowers, which are likewise called student-lilies. She wished to give her brothers pleasure, and plucked the twelve flowers, and thought she would present each brother with one while at dinner. But at the self-same moment that she plucked the flowers the twelve brothers were changed into twelve ravens, and flew away over the forest, and the house and garden vanished likewise. And now the poor maiden was alone in the wild forest, and when she looked around, an old woman was standing near her who said, my child, what have you done. Why did you not leave the twelve white flowers growing. They were your brothers, who are now forevermore changed into ravens. The maiden said, weeping, is there no way of saving them.
No, said the woman, there is but one in the whole world, and that is so hard that you will not save them by it, for you must be dumb for seven years, and may not speak or laugh, and if you speak one single word, and only an hour of the seven years is wanting, all is in vain, and your brothers will be killed by the one word.
Then said the maiden in her heart, I know with certainty that I shall set my brothers free, and went and sought a high tree and seated herself in it and spun, and neither spoke nor laughed. Now it so happened that a king was hunting in the forest, who had a great greyhound which ran to the tree on which the maiden was sitting, and sprang about it, whining, and barking at her. Then the king came by and saw the beautiful king's daughter with the golden star on her brow, and was so charmed with her beauty that he called to ask her if she would be his wife. She made no answer, but nodded a little with her head. So he climbed up the tree himself, carried her down, placed her on his horse, and bore her home. Then the wedding was solemnized with great magnificence and rejoicing, but the bride neither spoke nor smiled. When they had lived happily together for a few years, the king's mother, who was a wicked woman, began to slander the young queen, and said to the king, this is a common beggar girl whom you have brought back with you. Who knows what wicked tricks she practises secretly. Even if she be dumb, and not able to speak, she still might laugh for once. But those who do not laugh have bad consciences.
At first the king would not believe it, but the old woman urged this so long, and accused her of so many evil things, that at last the king let himself be persuaded and sentenced her to death. And now a great fire was lighted in the courtyard in which she was to be burnt, and the king stood above at the window and looked on with tearful eyes, because he still loved her so much. And when she was bound fast to the stake, and the fire was licking at her clothes with its red tongue, the last instant of the seven years expired. Then a whirring sound was heard in the air, and twelve ravens came flying towards the place, and sank downwards, and when they touched the earth they were her twelve brothers, whom she had saved. They tore the fire asunder, extinguished the flames, set their dear sister free, and kissed and embraced her. And now as she dared to open her mouth and speak, she told the king why she had been dumb, and had never laughed. The king rejoiced when he heard that she was innocent, and they all lived in great unity until their death. The wicked step-mother was taken before the judge, and put into a barrel filled with boiling oil and venomous snakes, and died an evil death.
Whither do you go. To walpe. I to walpe, you to walpe, so, so, together we'll go. Have you a man. What is his name. Cham. My man cham, your man cham. I to walpe, you to walpe, so, so, together we'll go. Have you a child, how is he styled. Wild. My child wild, your child wild, my man cham, your man cham. I to walpe, you to walpe, so, so, together we'll go. Have you a cradle. How do you call your cradle. Hippodadle. My cradle hippodadle, your cradle hippodadle, my child wild, your child wild, my man cham, your man cham. I to walpe, you to walpe, so, so, together we'll go. Have you also a drudge. What name has your drudge. From-work-do-not-budge. My drudge from-work-do-not-budge, your drudge from-work-do-not-budge, my cradle hippodadle, your cradle hippodadle, my child wild, your child wild, my man cham, your man cham. I to walpe, you to walpe, so, so, together we'll go.
There were once a little brother and a little sister, who loved each other with all their hearts. Their own mother, however, was dead, and they had a step-mother who was not kind to them, and secretly did everything she could to hurt them. It so happened that the two were playing with other children in a meadow before the house, and there was a pond in the meadow which came up to one side of the house. The children ran about it, and caught each other, and played at counting out. Eneke beneke, let me live, and I to you my bird will give. The little bird, it straw shall seek, the straw I'll give to the cow to eat. The pretty cow shall give me milk, the milk I'll to the baker take. The baker he shall bake a cake, the cake I'll give unto the cat. The cat shall catch some mice for that, the mice I'll hang up in the smoke, and then you'll see the snow. They stood in a circle while they played this, and the one to whom the word snow fell, had to run away and all the others ran after him and caught him.
As they were running about so merrily the step-mother watched them from the window, and grew angry. And as she understood arts of witchcraft she bewitched them both, and changed the little brother into a fish, and the little sister into a lamb. Then the fish swam here and there about the pond and was very sad, and the lambkin walked up and down the meadow, and was miserable, and could not eat or touch one blade of grass. Thus passed a long time, and then strangers came as visitors to the castle. The false step-mother thought, this is a good opportunity, and called the cook and said to him, go and fetch the lamb from the meadow and kill it, we have nothing else for the visitors. Then the cook went away and got the lamb, and took it into the kitchen and tied its feet, and all this it bore patiently. When he had drawn out his knife and was whetting it on the door-step to kill the lamb, he noticed a little fish swimming backwards and forwards in the water, in front of the gutter-stone and looking up at him. This, however, was the brother, for when the fish saw the cook take the lamb away, it followed them and swam along the pond to the house, then the lamb cried down to it, ah, brother, in the pond so deep, how sad is my poor heart. The cook he whets his knife to take away my life. The little fish answered, ah, little sister, up on high how sad is my poor heart while in this pond I lie. When the cook heard that the lambkin could speak and said such sad words to the fish down below, he was terrified and thought this could be no common lamb, but must be bewitched by the wicked woman in the house. Then said he, be easy, I will not kill you, and took another sheep and made it ready for the guests, and conveyed the lambkin to a good peasant woman, to whom he related all that he had seen and heard. The peasant, however, was the very woman who had been foster-mother to the little sister, and she suspected at once who the lamb was, and went with it to a wise woman. Then the wise woman pronounced a blessing over the lambkin and the little fish, by means of which they regained their human forms, and after this she took them both into a little hut in a great forest, where they lived alone, but were contented and happy.
There were once two brothers, the one rich, the other poor. The rich one, however, gave nothing to the poor one, and he gained a scanty living by trading in corn, and often did so badly that he had no bread for his wife and children. Once when he was wheeling a barrow through the forest he saw, on one side of him, a great, bare, naked-looking mountain, and as he had never seen it before, he stood still and stared at it with amazement. While he was thus standing he saw twelve great, wild men coming towards him, and as he believed they were robbers he pushed his barrow into the thicket, climbed up a tree, and waited to see what would happen.
The twelve men, however, went to the mountain and cried, semsi mountain, semsi mountain, open up, and immediately the barren mountain opened down the middle, and the twelve went into it, and as soon as they were within, it shut. After a short time, it opened again, and the men came forth carrying heavy sacks on their shoulders, and when they were all once more in the daylight they said, semsi mountain, semsi mountain, shut yourself, then the mountain closed together, and there was no longer any entrance to be seen to it, and the twelve went away. When they were quite out of sight the poor man got down from the tree, and was curious to know what was secretly hidden in the mountain. So he went up to it and said, semsi mountain, semsi mountain, open up, and the mountain opened up to him also. Then he went inside, and the whole mountain was a cavern full of silver and gold, and behind lay great piles of pearls and sparkling jewels, heaped up like corn. The poor man hardly knew what to do, and whether he might take any of these treasures for himself or not. At last he filled his pockets with gold, but he left the pearls and precious stones where they were. When he came out again he also said, semsi mountain, semsi mountain, shut yourself, and the mountain closed itself, and he went home with his barrow.
And now he had no more cause for anxiety, but could buy bread for his wife and children with his gold, and wine into the bargain. He lived joyously and honorably, gave help to the poor, and did good to every one. When the money came to an end, however, he went to his brother, borrowed a measure that held a bushel, and brought himself some more, but did not touch any of the most valuable things. When for the third time he wanted to fetch something, he again borrowed the measure of his brother. But the rich man had long been envious of his brother's possessions, and of the handsome household which he kept up, and could not understand from whence the riches came, and what his brother wanted with the measure. Then he thought of a cunning trick, and covered the bottom of the measure with pitch, and when he got the measure back a piece of gold was sticking to it. He at once went to his brother and asked him, what have you been measuring in the bushel measure. Corn and barley, said the other. Then he showed him the piece of gold and threatened that if he did not tell the truth he would accuse him before a court of justice.
The poor man then told him everything, just as it had happened. So the rich man ordered his carriage to be made ready, and drove away, resolved to use the opportunity better than his brother had done, and to bring back with him quite different treasures. When he came to the mountain he cried, semsi mountain, semsi mountain, open up. The mountain opened, and he went inside it. There lay the treasures all before him, and for a long time he did not know which to grab first. At length he loaded himself with as many precious stones as he could carry. He wished to carry his burden outside, but as his heart and soul were entirely full of the treasures, he had forgotten the name of the mountain, and cried, simeli mountain, simeli mountain, open up. That, however, was not the right name, and the mountain never stirred, but remained shut. Then he was alarmed, and the longer he thought about it the more his thoughts confused themselves, and all his treasures were of no help to him. In the evening the mountain opened, and the twelve robbers came in, and when they saw him they laughed, and cried out, bird, have we caught you at last. Did you think we had never noticed that you had been in here twice. We could not catch you then, this third time you shall not get out again. Then he cried, it was not I, it was my brother, but let him beg for his life and say what he would, they cut off his head.
There was once a poor woman who had a son, who much wished to travel, but his mother said, how can you travel. We have no money at all for you to take away with you. Then said the son, I will manage very well for myself. I will always say, not much, not much, not much. So he walked for a long time and always said, not much, not much, not much. Then he passed by a company of fishermen and said, God speed you. Not much, not much, not much. What do you say, churl, not much. And when the net was drawn out they had not caught much fish. So one of them fell on the youth with a stick and said, have you never seen me threshing. What ought I to say, then, asked the youth. You must say - get it full, get it full. After this he again walked a long time, and said, get it full, get it full, until he came to the gallows, where they had got a poor sinner whom they were about to hang. Then said he, good morning, get it full, get it full. What do you say, knave, get it full. Do you want to make out that there are still more wicked people in the world. Is not this enough. And he again got some blows on his back. What am I to say, then, said he. You must say, may God have pity on the poor soul. Again the youth walked on for along while and said, may God have pity on the poor soul. Then he came to a pit by which stood a knacker who was cutting up a horse. The youth said, good morning. God have pity on the poor soul. What do you say, you ill-tempered knave, and the knacker gave him such a box on the ear, that he could not see out of his eyes. What am I to say, then. You must say, let the carrion lie in the pit. So he walked on, and always said, let the carrion lie in the pit, let the carrion lie in the pit. And he came to a cart full of people, so he said, good morning, let the carrion lie in the pit. Then the cart fell into a pit, and the driver took his whip and cracked it upon the youth, till he was forced to crawl back to his mother, and as long as he lived he never went out a traveling again.
Once upon a time there lived a king and a queen, who were rich, and had everything they wanted, but no children. The queen lamented over this day and night, and said, I am like a field on which nothing grows. At last God gave her her wish, but when the child came into the world, it did not look like a human child, but was a little donkey. When the mother saw that, her lamentations and outcries began in real earnest. She said she would far rather have had no child at all than have a donkey, and that they were to throw it into the water that the fishes might devour it. But the king said, no, since God has sent him he shall be my son and heir, and after my death sit on the royal throne, and wear the kingly crown. The donkey, therefore, was brought up and grew bigger, and his ears grew up high and straight. And he was of a merry disposition, jumped about, played and took especial pleasure in music, so that he went to a celebrated musician and said, teach me your art, that I may play the lute as well as you do. Ah, dear little master, answered the musician, that would come very hard to you, your fingers are not quite suited to it, and are far too big. I am afraid the strings would not last. But no excuses were of any use. The donkey was determined to play the lute. And since he was persevering and industrious, he at last learnt to do it as well as the master himself.
The young lordling once went out walking full of thought and came to a well. He looked into it and in the mirror-clear water saw his donkey's form. He was so distressed about it, that he went out into the wide world and only took with him one faithful companion. They traveled up and down, and at last they came into a kingdom where and old king reigned who had a single but wonderfully beautiful daughter. The donkey said, here we will stay, knocked at the gate, and cried, a guest is without. Open, that he may enter. When the gate was not opened, he sat down, took his lute and played it in the most delightful manner with his two fore-feet. Then the door-keeper opened his eyes, and gaped, and ran to the king and said, outside by the gate sits a young donkey which plays the lute as well as an experienced master. Then let the musician come to me, said the king. But when a donkey came in, everyone began to laugh at the lute-player. And when the donkey was asked to sit down and eat with the servants, he was unwilling, and said, I am no common stable-ass, I am a noble one. Then they said, if that is what you are, seat yourself with the soldiers. No, said he, I will sit by the king.
The king smiled, and said good-humoredly, yes, it shall be as you will, little ass, come here to me. Then he asked, little ass, how does my daughter please you. The donkey turned his head towards her, looked at her, nodded and said, I like her above measure, I have never yet seen anyone so beautiful as she is. Well, then, you shall sit next her too, said the king. That is exactly what I wish, said the donkey, and he placed himself by her side, ate and drank, and knew how to behave himself daintily and cleanly. When the noble beast had stayed a long time at the king's court, he thought, what good does all this do me, I shall still have to go home again, let his head hang sadly, and went to the king and asked for his dismissal. But the king had grown fond of him, and said, little ass, what ails you. You look as sour as a jug of vinegar, I will give you what you want. Do you want gold. No, said the donkey, and shook his head. Do you want jewels and rich dress. No. Do you wish for half my kingdom. Indeed, no. Then said the king, if I did but know what would make you content. Will you have my pretty daughter to wife. Ah, yes, said the ass, I should indeed like her, and all at once he became quite merry and full of happiness, for that was exactly what he was wishing for. So a great and splendid wedding was held.
In the evening, when the bride and bridegroom were led into their bed-room, the king wanted to know if the ass would behave well, and ordered a servant to hide himself there. When they were both within, the bridegroom bolted the door, looked around, and as he believed that they were quite alone, he suddenly threw off his ass's skin, and stood there in the form of a handsome royal youth. Now, said he, you see who I am, and see also that I am not unworthy of you. Then the bride was glad, and kissed him, and loved him dearly. When morning came, he jumped up, put his animal's skin on again, and no one could have guessed what kind of a form was hidden beneath it. Soon came the old king. Ah, cried he, so the little ass is already up. But surely you are sad, said he to his daughter, that you have not got a proper man for your husband. Oh, no, dear father, I love him as well as if he were the handsomest in the world, and I will keep him as long as I live. The king was surprised, but the servant who had concealed himself came and revealed everything to him. The king said, that cannot be true. Then watch yourself the next night, and you will see it with your own eyes, and hark you, lord king, if you were to take his skin away and throw it in the fire, he would be forced to show himself in his true shape.
Your advice is good, said the king, and at night when they were asleep, he stole in, and when he got to the bed he saw by the light of the moon a noble-looking youth lying there, and the skin lay stretched on the ground. So he took it away, and had a great fire lighted outside, and threw the skin into it, and remained by it himself until it was all burnt to ashes. But since he was anxious to know how the robbed man would behave himself, he stayed awake the whole night and watched. When the youth had slept his fill, he got up by the first light of morning, and wanted to put on the ass's skin, but it was not to be found. At this he was alarmed, and, full of grief and anxiety, said, now I shall have to contrive to escape. But when he went out, there stood the king, who said, my son, whither away in such haste. What have you in mind. Stay here, you are such a handsome man, you shall not go away from me. I will now give you half my kingdom, and after my death you shall have the whole of it. Then I hope that what begins so well may end well, and I will stay with you, said the youth. And the old man gave him half the kingdom, and in a year's time, when he died, the youth had the whole, and after the death of his father he had another kingdom as well, and lived in all magnificence.
A man and his wife were once sitting by the door of their house, and they had a roasted chicken set before them, and were about to eat it together. Then the man saw that his aged father was coming, and hastily took the chicken and hid it, for he would not permit him to have any of it. The old man came, took a drink, and went away. Now the son wanted to put the roasted chicken on the table again, but when he took it up, it had become a great toad, which jumped into his face and sat there and never went away again, and if any one wanted to take it off, it looked venomously at him as if it would jump in his face, so that no one would venture to touch it. And the ungrateful son was forced to feed the toad every day, or else it fed itself on his face, and thus he went about the world knowing no rest.
There were once two brothers who both served as soldiers, one of them was rich, and the other poor. Then the poor one, to escape from his poverty, doffed his soldier's coat, and turned farmer. He dug and hoed his bit of land, and sowed it with turnip-seed. The seed came up, and one turnip grew there which became large and strong, and visibly grew bigger and bigger, and seemed as if it would never stop growing, so that it might have been called the princess of turnips, for never was such an one seen before, and never will such an one be seen again. At length it was so enormous that by itself it filled a whole cart, and two oxen were required to draw it, and the farmer had not the least idea what he was to do with the turnip, or whether it would be a fortune to him or a misfortune. At last he thought, if you sell it, what will you get for it that is of any importance, and if you eat it yourself, why, the small turnips would do you just as much good. It would be better to take it to the king, and make him a present of it. So he placed it on a cart, harnessed two oxen, took it to the palace, and presented it to the king.
What strange thing is this, said the king. Many wonderful things have come before my eyes, but never such a monster as this. From what seed can this have sprung, or are you a favorite of good fortune and have met with it by chance. Ah, no, said the farmer, no favorite am I. I am a poor soldier, who because he could no longer support himself hung his soldier's coat on a nail and took to farming land. I have a brother who is rich and well known to you, lord king, but I, because I have nothing, am forgotten by everyone. Then the king felt compassion for him, and said, you shall be raised from your poverty, and shall have such gifts from me that you shall be equal to your rich brother. Then he bestowed on him much gold, and lands, and meadows, and herds, and made him immensely rich, so that the wealth of the other brother could not be compared with his. When the rich brother heard what the poor one had gained for himself with one single turnip, he envied him, and thought in every way how he also could come by a similar piece of luck. He set about it in a much more cunning way, however, and took gold and horses and carried them to the king, and made certain the king would give him a much larger present in return. If his brother had got so much for one turnip, what would he not carry away with him in return for such beautiful things as these. The king accepted his present, and said he had nothing to give him in return that was more rare and excellent than the great turnip.
So the rich man was obliged to put his brother's turnip in a cart and have it taken to his home. There, he did not know on whom to vent his rage and anger, until bad thoughts came to him, and he resolved to kill his brother. He hired murderers, who were to lie in ambush, and then he went to his brother and said, dear brother, I know of a hidden treasure, we will dig it up together, and divide it between us. The other agreed to this, and accompanied him without suspicion. While they were on their way the murderers fell on him, bound him, and would have hanged him to a tree. But just as they were doing this, loud singing and the sound of a horse's feet were heard in the distance. On this their hearts were filled with terror, and they pushed their prisoner hastily into the sack, hung it on a branch, and took to flight. He, however, worked up there until he had made a hole in the sack through which he could put his head. The man who was coming by was no other than a traveling student, a young fellow who rode on his way through the wood joyously singing his song. When he who was aloft saw that someone was passing below him, he cried, good day. You have come at a lucky moment. The student looked round on every side, but did not know whence the voice came. At last he said, who calls me. Then an answer came from the top of the tree, raise your eyes, here I sit aloft in the sack of wisdom. In a short time have I learnt great things, compared with this all schools are a jest, in a very short time I shall have learnt everything, and shall descend wiser than all other men. I understand the stars, and the tracks of the winds, the sand of the sea, the healing of illness, and the virtues of all herbs, birds and stones. If you were once within it you would feel what noble things issue forth from the sack of knowledge.
The student, when he heard all this, was astonished, and said, blessed be the hour in which I have found you. May not I also enter the sack for a while. He who was above replied as if unwillingly, for a short time I will let you get into it, if you reward me and give me good words, but you must wait an hour longer, for one thing remains which I must learn before I do it. When the student had waited a while he became impatient, and begged to be allowed to get in at once, his thirst for knowledge was so very great. So he who was above pretended at last to yield, and said, in order that I may come forth from the house of knowledge you must let it down by the rope, and then you shall enter it. So the student let the sack down, untied it, and set him free, and then cried, now draw me up at once, and was about to get into the sack. Halt, said the other, that won't do, and took him by the head and put him upside down into the sack, fastened it, and drew the disciple of wisdom up the tree by the rope. Then he swung him in the air and said, how goes it with you, my dear fellow. Behold, already you feel wisdom coming, and you are gaining valuable experience. Keep perfectly quiet until you become wiser. Thereupon he mounted the student's horse and rode away, but in an hour's time sent someone to let the student out again.
At the time when our Lord still walked this earth, he and St. Peter stopped one evening at a smith's and received free quarters. Then it came to pass that a poor beggar, hard pressed by age and infirmity, came to this house and begged alms of the smith. St. Peter had compassion on him and said, Lord and master, if it please you, cure his torments that he may be able to win his own bread. The Lord said kindly, smith, lend me your forge, and put on some coals for me, and then I will make this ailing old man young again. The smith was quite willing, and St. Peter blew the bellows, and when the coal fire sparkled up large and high our Lord took the little old man, pushed him in the forge in the midst of the red-hot fire, so that he glowed like a rose-bush, and praised God with a loud voice. After that the Lord went to the quenching tub, put the glowing little man into it so that the water closed over him, and after he had carefully cooled him, gave him his blessing, when behold the little man sprang nimbly out, looking fresh, straight, healthy, and as if he were but twenty.
The smith, who had watched everything closely and attentively, invited them all to supper. He, however, had an old half-blind crooked, mother-in-law who went to the youth, and with great earnestness asked if the fire had burnt him much. He answered that he had never felt more comfortable, and that he had sat in the red heat as if he had been in cool dew. The youth's words echoed in the ears of the old woman all night long, and early next morning, when the Lord had gone on his way again and had heartily thanked the smith, the latter thought he might make his old mother-in-law young again likewise, as he had watched everything so carefully, and it lay in the province of his trade. So he called to ask her if she, too, would like to go bounding about like a girl of eighteen. She said, with all my heart, as the youth has come out of it so well. So the smith made a great fire, and thrust the old woman into it, and she writhed about this way and that, and uttered terrible cries of murder. Sit still. Why are you screaming and jumping about so, cried he, and as he spoke he blew the bellows again until all her rags were burnt. The old woman cried without ceasing, and the smith thought to himself, I have not quite the right art, and took her out and threw her into the cooling-tub. Then she screamed so loudly that the smith's wife upstairs and her daughter-in-law heard it, and they both ran downstairs, and saw the old woman lying in a heap in the quenching-tub, howling and screaming, with her face wrinkled and shriveled and all out of shape. Thereupon the two, who were both with child, were so terrified that that very night two boys were born who were not made like men but apes, and they ran into the woods, and from them sprang the race of apes.
A certain king had three sons who were all equally dear to him, and he did not know which of them to appoint as his successor after his own death. When the time came when he was about to die, he summoned them to his bedside and said, dear children, I have been thinking of something which I will declare unto you, whichsoever of you is the laziest shall have the kingdom. The eldest said, then, father, the kingdom is mine, for I am so idle that if I lie down to rest, and a drop falls in my eye, I will not open it that I may sleep. The second said, father, the kingdom belongs to me, for I am so idle that when I am sitting by the fire warming myself, I would rather let my heel be burnt off than draw back my leg. The third said, father, the kingdom is mine, for I am so idle that if I were going to be hanged, and had the rope already round my neck, and any one put a sharp knife into my hand with which I might cut the rope, I would rather let myself be hanged than raise my hand to the rope. When the father heard that, he said, you have carried it the farthest, and shall be king.
There was once upon a time a shepherd boy whose fame spread far and wide because of the wise answers which he gave to every question. The king of the country heard of it likewise, but did not believe it, and sent for the boy. Then he said to him, if you can give me an answer to three questions which I will ask you, I will look on you as my own child, and you shall dwell with me in my royal palace. The boy said, what are the three questions. The king said, the first is, how many drops of water are there in the ocean. The shepherd boy answered, lord king, if you will have all the rivers on earth dammed up so that not a single drop runs from them into the sea until I have counted it, I will tell you how many drops there are in the sea. The king said, the next question is, how many stars are there in the sky. The shepherd boy said, give me a great sheet of white paper, and then he made so many fine points on it with a pen that they could scarcely be seen, and it was all but impossible to count them, any one who looked at them would have lost his sight. Then he said, there are as many stars in the sky as there are points on the paper. Just count them. But no one was able to do it. The king said, the third question is, how many seconds of time are there in eternity. Then said the shepherd boy, in lower pomerania is the diamond mountain, which is two miles high, two miles wide, and two miles deep. Every hundred years a little bird comes and sharpens its beak on it, and when the whole mountain is worn away by this, then the first second of eternity will be over. The king said, you have answered the three questions like a wise man, and shall henceforth dwell with me in my royal palace, and I will regard you as my own child.
There was once upon a time a little girl whose father and mother were dead, and she was so poor that she no longer had a room to live in, or bed to sleep in, and at last she had nothing else but the clothes she was wearing and a little bit of bread in her hand which some charitable soul had given her. She was good and pious, however. And as she was thus forsaken by all the world, she went forth into the open country, trusting in the good God. Then a poor man met her, who said, ah, give me something to eat, I am so hungry. She handed him the whole of her piece of bread, and said, may God bless you, and went onwards. Then came a child who moaned and said, my head is so cold, give me something to cover it with. So she took off her hood and gave it to him. And when she had walked a little farther, she met another child who had no jacket and was frozen with cold. Then she gave it her own, and a little farther on one begged for a frock, and she gave away that also. At length she got into a forest and it had already become dark, and there came yet another child, and asked for a shirt, and the good little girl thought to herself, it is a dark night and no one sees you, you can very well give your shirt away, and took it off, and gave away that also. And as she so stood, and had not one single thing left, suddenly some stars from heaven fell down, and they were nothing else but hard smooth pieces of money, and although she had just given her shirt away, she had a new one which was of the very finest linen. Then she put the money into it, and was rich all the days of her life.
A father was one day sitting at dinner with his wife and his children, and a good friend who had come on a visit ate with them. And as they thus sat, and it was striking twelve o'clock, the stranger saw the door open, and a very pale child dressed in snow-white clothes came in. It did not look around, and it did not speak, but went straight into the next room. Soon afterwards it came back, and went out at the door again in the same quiet manner. On the second and on the third day, it came also exactly in the same way. At last the stranger asked the father to whom the beautiful child that went into the next room every day at noon belonged. I have never seen it, said he, neither did he know to whom it could belong. The next day when it again came, the stranger pointed it out to the father, who however did not see it, and the mother and the children also all saw nothing. At this the stranger got up, went to the room door, opened it a little, and peeped in. Then he saw the child sitting on the ground, and busily digging and seeking about between the boards of the floor, but when it saw the stranger, it disappeared. He now told what he had seen and described the child exactly, and the mother recognized it, and said, ah, it is my dear child who died a month ago. They took up the boards and found two farthings which the child had once received from its mother that it might give them to a poor man. It, however, had thought, you can buy yourself a biscuit for that, and had kept the farthings, and hidden them in the openings between the boards. And therefore it had had no rest in its grave, and had come every day at noon to seek for these farthings. The parents gave the money at once to a poor man, and after that the child was never seen again.
There was once a young shepherd who wanted very much to marry, and was acquainted with three sisters who were all equally pretty, so that it was difficult for him to make a choice, and he could not decide to give the preference to any one of them. Then he asked his mother for advice, and she said, invite all three, and set some cheese before them, and watch how they eat it. The youth did so, the first swallowed the cheese with the rind on, the second hastily cut the rind off the cheese, but she cut it so quickly that she left much good cheese with it, and threw that away also, the third peeled the rind off carefully, and cut neither too much nor too little. The shepherd told all this to his mother, who said, take the third for your wife. This he did, and lived contentedly and happily with her.
A sparrow had four young ones in a swallow's nest. When they were fledged, some naughty boys pulled out the nest, but fortunately all the birds got safely away in the high wind. Then the old bird was grieved that as his sons had all gone out into the world, he had not first warned them of every kind of danger, and given them good instruction how to deal with each. In the autumn a great many sparrows assembled together in a wheatfield, and there the old bird met his four children again, and full of joy took them home with him. Ah, my dear sons, how I have been worrying about you all through the summer, because you got away in the wind without my teaching. Listen to my words, obey your father, and be well on your guard. Little birds have to encounter great dangers. And then he asked the eldest where he had spent the summer, and how he had supported himself. I stayed in the gardens, and looked for caterpillars and small worms, until the cherries were ripe. Ah, my son, said the father, tit-bits are not bad, but there is great risk about them. On that account take great care of yourself henceforth, and particularly when people are going about the gardens who carry long green poles which are hollow inside and have a little hole at the top. Yes, father, but what if a little green leaf is stuck over the hole with wax, said the son. Where have you seen that. In a merchant's garden, said the youngster. Oh, my son, merchant folks are smart folks, said the father. If you have been among the children of the world, you have learned worldly craftiness enough, only see that you use it well, and do not be too confident. Then he asked the next, where have you passed your time. At court, said the son. Sparrows and silly little birds are of no use in that place. There one finds much gold, velvet, silk, armor, harnesses, sparrow-hawks, screech-owls and lanners. Keep to the horses, stable where they winnow oats, or thresh, and then fortune may give you your daily grain of corn in peace. Yes, father, said the son, but when the stable-boys make traps and fix their gins and snares in the straw, many a one is caught. Where have you seen that, said the old bird. At court, among the stable-boys. Oh, my son, court boys are bad boys. If you have been to court and among the lords, and have left no feathers there, you have learnt a fair amount, and will know very well how to go about the world, but look around you and above you, for the wolves often devour the wisest dogs.
The father examined the third also, where did you seek your fortune. I have cast my tub and rope on the cart-roads and highways, and sometimes met with a grain of corn or barley. That is indeed dainty fare, said the father, but take care what you are about and look carefully around, especially when you see anyone stooping and about to pick up a stone, for then you have not much time to waste. That is true, said the son, but what if anyone should carry a bit of rock, or ore, ready beforehand in his breast or pocket. Where have you seen that. Among the miners, dear father. When they get out of the pit, they generally take little bits of ore with them. Mining folks are working folks, and clever folks. If you have been among mining lads, you have seen and learnt something, but when you go thither beware, for many a sparrow has been brought to a bad end by a mining boy throwing a piece of cobalt. At length the father came to the youngest son, you, my dear chirping nestling, were always the silliest and weakest. Stay with me, the world has many rough, wicked birds which have crooked beaks and long claws, and lie in wait for poor little birds and swallow them. Keep with those of your own kind, and pick up little spiders and caterpillars from the trees, or the houses, and then you will live long in peace.
My dear father, he who feeds himself without injury to other people fares well, and no sparrow-hawk, eagle, or kite will hurt him if he commits himself and his lawful food, evening and morning, faithfully to God, who is the creator and preserver of all forest and village birds, who likewise heareth the cry and prayer of the young ravens, for no sparrow or wren ever falls to the ground except by his will. Where have you learnt this. The son answered, when the great blast of wind tore me away from you I came to a church, and there during the summer I have picked up the flies and spiders from the windows, and heard this discourse preached. The father of all sparrows fed me all the summer through, and kept me from all misfortune and from ferocious birds. Indeed, my dear son, if you take refuge in the churches and help to clear away spiders and buzzing flies, and chirp unto God like the young ravens, and commend yourself to the eternal creator, all will be well with you, and that even if the whole world were full of wild malicious birds. He who to God commits his ways, in silence suffers, waits, and prays, preserves his faith and conscience pure, he is of God's protection sure.
There was once a poor widow who lived in a lonely cottage. In front of the cottage was a garden wherein stood two rose-trees, one of which bore white and the other red roses. She had two children who were like the two rose-trees, and one was called Snow-White, and the other Rose-Red. They were as good and happy, as busy and cheerful as ever two children in the world were, only Snow-White was more quiet and gentle than Rose-Red. Rose-red liked better to run about in the meadows and fields seeking flowers and catching butterflies, but Snow-White sat at home with her mother, and helped her with her house-work, or read to her when there was nothing to do. The two children were so fond of one another that they always held each other by the hand when they went out together, and when Snow-White said, we will not leave each other, Rose-Red answered, never so long as we live, and their mother would add, what one has she must share with the other.
They often ran about the forest alone and gathered red berries, and no beasts did them any harm, but came close to them trustfully. The little hare would eat a cabbage-leaf out of their hands, the roe grazed by their side, the stag leapt merrily by them, and the birds sat still upon the boughs, and sang whatever they knew. No mishap overtook them, if they had stayed too late in the forest, and night came on, they laid themselves down near one another upon the moss, and slept until morning came, and their mother knew this and did not worry on their account. Once when they had spent the night in the wood and the dawn had roused them, they saw a beautiful child in a shining white dress sitting near their bed. He got up and looked quite kindly at them, but said nothing and went away into the forest. And when they looked round they found that they had been sleeping quite close to a precipice, and would certainly have fallen into it in the darkness if they had gone only a few paces further. And their mother told them that it must have been the angel who watches over good children.
Snow-white and Rose-Red kept their mother's little cottage so neat that it was a pleasure to look inside it. In the summer Rose-Red took care of the house, and every morning laid a wreath of flowers by her mother's bed before she awoke, in which was a rose from each tree. In the winter Snow-White lit the fire and hung the kettle on the hob. The kettle was of brass and shone like gold, so brightly was it polished. In the evening, when the snowflakes fell, the mother said, go, Snow-White, and bolt the door, and then they sat round the hearth, and the mother took her spectacles and read aloud out of a large book, and the two girls listened as they sat and spun. And close by them lay a lamb upon the floor, and behind them upon a perch sat a white dove with its head hidden beneath its wings.
One evening, as they were thus sitting comfortably together, someone knocked at the door as if he wished to be let in. The mother said, quick, Rose-Red, open the door, it must be a traveler who is seeking shelter. Rose-red went and pushed back the bolt, thinking that it was a poor man, but it was not. It was a bear that stretched his broad, black head within the door. Rose-red screamed and sprang back, the lamb bleated, the dove fluttered, and Snow-White hid herself behind her mother's bed. But the bear began to speak and said, do not be afraid, I will do you no harm. I am half-frozen, and only want to warm myself a little beside you. Poor bear, said the mother, lie down by the fire, only take care that you do not burn your coat. Then she cried, Snow-White, Rose-Red, come out, the bear will do you no harm, he means well. So they both came out, and by-and-by the lamb and dove came nearer, and were not afraid of him. The bear said, here, children, knock the snow out of my coat a little. So they brought the broom and swept the bear's hide clean, and he stretched himself by the fire and growled contentedly and comfortably.
It was not long before they grew quite at home, and played tricks with their clumsy guest. They tugged his hair with their hands, put their feet upon his back and rolled him about, or they took a hazel-switch and beat him, and when he growled they laughed. But the bear took it all in good part, only when they were too rough he called out, leave me alive, children, Snow-White, Rose-Red, will you beat your wooer dead. When it was bed-time, and the others went to bed, the mother said to the bear, you can lie there by the hearth, and then you will be safe from the cold and the bad weather. As soon as day dawned the two children let him out, and he trotted across the snow into the forest. Henceforth the bear came every evening at the same time, laid himself down by the hearth, and let the children amuse themselves with him as much as they liked. And they got so used to him that the doors were never fastened until their black friend had arrived.
When spring had come and all outside was green, the bear said one morning to Snow-White, now I must go away, and cannot come back for the whole summer. Where are you going, then, dear bear, asked Snow-White. I must go into the forest and guard my treasures from the wicked dwarfs. In the winter, when the earth is frozen hard, they are obliged to stay below and cannot work their way through, but now, when the sun has thawed and warmed the earth, they break through it, and come out to pry and steal. And what once gets into their hands, and in their caves, does not easily see daylight again. Snow-white was quite sorry at his departure, and as she unbolted the door for him, and the bear was hurrying out, he caught against the bolt and a piece of his hairy coat was torn off, and it seemed to Snow-White as if she had seen gold shining through it, but she was not sure about it. The bear ran away quickly, and was soon out of sight behind the trees.
A short time afterwards the mother sent her children into the forest to get fire-wood. There they found a big tree which lay felled on the ground, and close by the trunk something was jumping backwards and forwards in the grass, but they could not make out what it was. When they came nearer they saw a dwarf with an old withered face and a Snow-White beard a yard long. The end of the beard was caught in a crevice of the tree, and the little fellow was jumping about like a dog tied to a rope, and did not know what to do. He glared at the girls with his fiery red eyes and cried, why do you stand there. Can you not come here and help me. What are you up to, little man, asked Rose-Red. You stupid, prying goose, answered the dwarf. I was going to split the tree to get a little wood for cooking. The little bit of food that we people get is immediately burnt up with heavy logs. We do not swallow so much as you coarse, greedy folk. I had just driven the wedge safely in, and everything was going as I wished, but the cursed wedge was too smooth and suddenly sprang out, and the tree closed so quickly that I could not pull out my beautiful white beard, so now it is tight in and I cannot get away, and the silly, sleek, milk-faced things laugh. Ugh. How odious you are. The children tried very hard, but they could not pull the beard out, it was caught too fast. I will run and fetch someone, said Rose-Red. You senseless goose, snarled the dwarf. Why should you fetch someone. You are already two too many for me. Can you not think of something better. Don't be impatient, said Snow-White, I will help you, and she pulled her scissors out of her pocket, and cut off the end of the beard.
As soon as the dwarf felt himself free he laid hold of a bag which lay amongst the roots of the tree, and which was full of gold, and lifted it up, grumbling to himself, uncouth people, to cut off a piece of my fine beard. Bad luck to you, and then he swung the bag upon his back, and went off without even once looking at the children. Some time afterwards Snow-White and Rose-Red went to catch a dish of fish. As they came near the brook they saw something like a large grasshopper jumping towards the water, as if it were going to leap in. They ran to it and found it was the dwarf. Where are you going, said Rose-Red, you surely don't want to go into the water. I am not such a fool, cried the dwarf. Don't you see that the accursed fish wants to pull me in.
The little man had been sitting there fishing, and unluckily the wind had tangled up his beard with the fishing-line. A moment later a big fish made a bite and the feeble creature had not strength to pull it out. The fish kept the upper hand and pulled the dwarf towards him. He held on to all the reeds and rushes, but it was of little good, for he was forced to follow the movements of the fish, and was in urgent danger of being dragged into the water. The girls came just in time. They held him fast and tried to free his beard from the line, but all in vain, beard and line were entangled fast together. There was nothing to do but to bring out the scissors and cut the beard, whereby a small part of it was lost. When the dwarf saw that he screamed out, is that civil, you toadstool, to disfigure a man's face. Was it not enough to clip off the end of my beard. Now you have cut off the best part of it. I cannot let myself be seen by my people. I wish you had been made to run the soles off your shoes. Then he took out a sack of pearls which lay in the rushes, and without another word he dragged it away and disappeared behind a stone.
It happened that soon afterwards the mother sent the two children to the town to buy needles and thread, and laces and ribbons. The road led them across a heath upon which huge pieces of rock lay strewn about. There they noticed a large bird hovering in the air, flying slowly round and round above them. It sank lower and lower, and at last settled near a rock not far away. Immediately they heard a loud, piteous cry. They ran up and saw with horror that the eagle had seized their old acquaintance the dwarf, and was going to carry him off. The children, full of pity, at once took tight hold of the little man, and pulled against the eagle so long that at last he let his booty go. As soon as the dwarf had recovered from his first fright he cried with his shrill voice, could you not have done it more carefully. You dragged at my brown coat so that it is all torn and full of holes, you clumsy creatures. Then he took up a sack full of precious stones, and slipped away again under the rock into his hole. The girls, who by this time were used to his ingratitude, went on their way and did their business in the town.
As they crossed the heath again on their way home they surprised the dwarf, who had emptied out his bag of precious stones in a clean spot, and had not thought that anyone would come there so late. The evening sun shone upon the brilliant stones. They glittered and sparkled with all colors so beautifully that the children stood still and stared at them. Why do you stand gaping there, cried the dwarf, and his ashen-gray face became copper-red with rage. He was still cursing when a loud growling was heard, and a black bear came trotting towards them out of the forest. The dwarf sprang up in a fright, but he could not reach his cave, for the bear was already close. Then in the dread of his heart he cried, dear mr. Bear, spare me, I will give you all my treasures, look, the beautiful jewels lying there. Grant me my life. What do you want with such a slender little fellow as I. You would not feel me between your teeth. Come, take these two wicked girls, they are tender morsels for you, fat as young quails, for mercy's sake eat them. The bear took no heed of his words, but gave the wicked creature a single blow with his paw, and he did not move again.
The girls had run away, but the bear called to them, Snow-White and Rose-Red, do not be afraid. Wait, I will come with you. Then they recognised his voice and waited, and when he came up to them suddenly his bearskin fell off, and he stood there, a handsome man, clothed all in gold. I am a king's son, he said, and I was bewitched by that wicked dwarf, who had stolen my treasures. I have had to run about the forest as a savage bear until I was freed by his death. Now he has got his well-deserved punishment. Snow-white was married to him, and Rose-Red to his brother, and they divided between them the great treasure which the dwarf had gathered together in his cave. The old mother lived peacefully and happily with her children for many years. She took the two rose-trees with her, and they stood before her window, and every year bore the most beautiful roses, white and red.
Let no one ever say that a poor tailor cannot do great things and win high honors. All that is needed is that he should go to the right smithy, and what is of most consequence, that he should have good luck. A civil, smart tailor's apprentice once went out traveling, and came into a great forest, and, as he did not know the way, he lost himself. Night fell and nothing was left for him to do in this painful solitude, but to seek a bed. He might certainly have found a good bed on the soft moss, but the fear of wild beasts let him have no rest there, and at last he made up his mind to spend the night in a tree. He sought out a high oak, climbed up to the top of it, and thanked God that he had his goose with him, for otherwise the wind which blew over the top of the tree would have carried him away. After he had spent some hours in the darkness, not without fear and trembling, he saw at a very short distance the glimmer of a light, and as he thought that a human habitation might be there, where he would be better off than on the branches of a tree, he got carefully down and went towards the light. It guided him to a small hut that was woven together of reeds and rushes.
He knocked boldly, the door opened, and by the light which came forth he saw a little hoary old man who wore a coat made of bits of colored stuff sewn together. Who are you, and what do you want, asked the man in a grumbling voice. I am a poor tailor, he answered, whom night has surprised here in the wilderness, and I earnestly beg you to take me into your hut until morning. Go your way, replied the old man in a surly voice, I will have nothing to do with tramps, seek for yourself a shelter elsewhere. Having said this, he was about to slip into his hut again, but the tailor held him so tightly by the corner of his coat, and pleaded so piteously, that the old man, who was not so ill-natured as he wished to appear, was at last softened, and took him into the hut with him where he gave him something to eat, and then offered him a very good bed in a corner. The weary tailor needed no rocking, but slept sweetly till morning, but even then would not have thought of getting up, if he had not been aroused by a great noise. A violent sound of screaming and roaring forced its way through the thin walls of the hut. The tailor, full of unwonted courage, jumped up, put his clothes on in haste, and hurried out. Then close by the hut, he saw a great black bull and a beautiful stag, which were just preparing for a violent struggle. They rushed at each other with such extreme rage that the ground shook with their trampling, and the air resounded with their cries. For a long time it was uncertain which of the two would gain the victory, at length the stag thrust his horns into his adversary's body, whereupon the bull fell to the earth with a terrific roar, and was finished off by a few strokes from the stag. The tailor, who had watched the fight with astonishment, was still standing there motionless, when the stag in full career bounded up to him, and before he could escape, caught him up on his great horns. He had not much time to collect his thoughts, for it went in a swift race over stock and stone, mountain and valley, wood and meadow. He held with both hands to the ends of the horns, and resigned himself to his fate. It seemed to him just as if he were flying away. At length the stag stopped in front of a wall of rock, and gently let the tailor down. The tailor, more dead than alive, required some time to come to himself. When he had in some degree recovered, the stag, which had remained standing by him, pushed its horns with such force against a door in the rock, that it sprang open. Flames of fire shot forth, after which followed a great smoke, which hid the stag from his sight. The tailor did not know what to do, or whither to turn, in order to get out of this desert and back to human beings again. Whilst he was standing thus undecided, a voice sounded out of the rock, which cried to him, enter without fear, no evil shall befall you. He hesitated, but driven by a mysterious force, he obeyed the voice and went through the iron-door into a large spacious hall, whose ceiling, walls and floor were made of shining polished square stones, on each of which were carved signs which were unknown to him. He looked at everything full of admiration, and was on the point of going out again, when he once more heard the voice which said to him, step on the stone which lies in the middle of the hall, and great good fortune awaits you. His courage had already grown so great that he obeyed the order. The stone began to give way under his feet, and sank slowly down into the depths. When it was once more firm, and the tailor looked round, he found himself in a hall which in size resembled the former. Here, however, there was more to look at and to admire.
Hollow places were cut in the walls, in which stood vases of transparent glass and filled with colored spirit or with a bluish vapor. On the floor of the hall two great glass chests stood opposite to each other, which at once excited his curiosity. When he went to one of them he saw inside it a handsome structure like a castle surrounded by farm-buildings, stables and barns, and a quantity of other good things. Everything was small, but exceedingly carefully and delicately made, and seemed to be carved out by a dexterous hand with the greatest precision. He might not have turned away his eyes from the consideration of this rarity for some time, had not the voice once more made itself heard. It ordered him to turn round and look at the glass chest which was standing opposite. How his admiration increased when he saw therein a maiden of the greatest beauty. She lay as if asleep, and was wrapped in her long fair hair as in a precious mantle. Her eyes were closely shut, but the brightness of her complexion and a ribbon which her breathing moved to and fro, left no doubt that she was alive. The tailor was looking at the beauty with beating heart, when she suddenly opened her eyes, and started up at the sight of him with a shock of joy. Divine providence, cried she, my deliverance is at hand. Quick, quick, help me out of my prison. If you push back the bolt of this glass coffin, then I shall be free. The tailor obeyed without delay, and she immediately raised up the glass lid, came out and hastened into the corner of the hall, where she covered herself with a large cloak. Then she seated herself on a stone, ordered the young man to come to her, and after she had imprinted a friendly kiss on his lips, she said, my long-desired deliverer, kind heaven has guided you to me, and put an end to my sorrows.
On the self-same day when they end, shall your happiness begin. You are the husband chosen for me by heaven, and shall pass your life in unbroken joy, loved by me, and rich to overflowing in every earthly possession. Seat yourself, and listen to the story of my life. I am the daughter of a rich count. My parents died when I was still in my tender youth, and recommended me in their last will to my elder brother, by whom I was brought up. We loved each other so tenderly, and were so alike in our way of thinking and our inclinations, that we both embraced the resolution never to marry, but to stay together to the end of our lives. In our house there was no lack of company. Neighbors and friends visited us often, and we showed the greatest hospitality to every one. So it came to pass one evening that a stranger came riding to our castle, and, under pretext of not being able to get on to the next place, begged for shelter for the night. We granted his request with ready courtesy, and he entertained us in the most agreeable manner during supper by conversation intermingled with stories. My brother liked the stranger so much that he begged him to spend a couple of days with us, to which, after some hesitation, he consented. We did not rise from table until late in the night, the stranger was shown to a room, and I hastened, as I was tired, to lay my limbs in my soft bed. Hardly had I fallen off to sleep, when the sound of faint and delightful music awoke me. As I could not conceive from whence it came, I wanted to summon my waiting-maid who slept in the next room, but to my astonishment I found that speech was taken away from me by an unknown force. I felt as if a nightmare were weighing down my breast, and was unable to make the very slightest sound. In the meantime, by the light of my night-lamp, I saw the stranger enter my room through two doors which were fast bolted. He came to me and said, that by magic arts which were at his command, he had caused the lovely music to sound in order to awaken me, and that he now forced his way through all fastenings with the intention of offering his hand and heart. My dislike of his magic arts was so great, however, that I refused to answer him. He remained for a time standing without moving, apparently with the idea of waiting for a favorable decision, but as I continued to keep silence, he angrily declared he would revenge himself and find means to punish my pride, and left the room. I passed the night in the greatest disquietude, and fell asleep only towards morning. When I awoke, I hurried to my brother, but did not find him in his room, and the attendants told me that he had ridden forth with the stranger to the chase at daybreak.
I at once suspected nothing good. I dressed myself quickly, ordered my palfrey to be saddled, and accompanied only by one servant, rode full gallop to the forest. The servant fell with his horse, and could not follow me, for the horse had broken its foot. I pursued my way without halting, and in a few minutes I saw the stranger coming towards me with a beautiful stag which he led by a cord. I asked him where he had left my brother, and how he had come by this stag, out of whose great eyes I saw tears flowing. Instead of answering me, he began to laugh loudly. I fell into a great rage at this, pulled out a pistol and discharged it at the monster, but the ball rebounded from his breast and went into my horse's head. I fell to the ground, and the stranger muttered some words which deprived me of consciousness. When I came to my senses again I found myself in this underground cave in a glass coffin. The magician appeared once again, and said he had changed my brother into a stag, my castle with all that belonged to it, diminished in size by his arts, he had shut up in the other glass chest, and my people, who were all turned into smoke, he had confined in glass bottles. He told me that if I would now comply with his wish, it would be an easy thing for him to put everything back in its former state, as he had nothing to do but open the vessels, and everything would return once more to its natural form. I answered him as little as I had done the first time. He vanished and left me in my prison, in which a deep sleep came on me. Among the visions which passed before my eyes, the most comforting was that in which a young man came and set me free, and when I opened my eyes to-day I saw you, and beheld my dream fulfilled. Help me to accomplish the other things which happened in those visions. The first is that we lift the glass chest in which my castle is enclosed, on to that broad stone. As soon as the stone was laden, it began to rise up on high with the maiden and the young man, and mounted through the opening of the ceiling into the upper hall, from whence they then could easily reach the open air. Here the maiden opened the lid, and it was marvellous to behold how the castle, the houses, and the farm buildings which were enclosed, stretched themselves out and grew to their natural size with the greatest rapidity. After this, the maiden and the tailor returned to the cave beneath the earth, and had the vessels which were filled with smoke carried up by the stone. The maiden had scarcely opened the bottles when the blue smoke rushed out and changed itself into living men, in whom she recognized her servants and her people. Her joy was still more increased when her brother, who had killed the magician in the form of the bull, came out of the forest towards them in his human form, and on the self-same day the maiden, in accordance with her promise, gave her hand at the altar to the lucky tailor.
Harry was lazy, and although he had nothing else to do but drive his goat daily to pasture, he nevertheless groaned when he went home after his day's work was done. It is indeed a heavy burden, said he, and a wearisome employment to drive a goat into the field this way year after year, till late into the autumn. If one could but lie down and sleep, but no, one must have one's eyes open lest the goat hurts the young trees, or squeezes itself through the hedge into a garden, or runs away altogether. How can one have any rest, or enjoy one's life. He seated himself, collected his thoughts, and considered how he could set his shoulders free from this burden. For a long time all thinking was to no purpose, but suddenly it was as if scales fell from his eyes. I know what I will do, he cried, I will marry fat Trina who has also a goat, and can take mine out with hers, and then I shall have no more need to trouble myself. So Harry got up, set his weary legs in motion, and went right across the street, for it was no farther, to where the parents of fat Trina lived, and asked for their industrious and virtuous daughter in marriage. The parents did not reflect long. Birds of a feather, flock together, they thought, and consented. So fat Trina became Harry's wife, and led out both the goats. Harry had a good time of it, and had no work that he required to rest from but his own idleness. He went out with her only now and then, and said, I merely do it that I may afterwards enjoy rest more, otherwise one loses all feeling for it. But fat Trina was no less idle.
Dear Harry, said she one day, why should we make our lives so toilsome when there is no need for it, and thus ruin the best days of our youth. Would it not be better for us to give the two goats which disturb us every morning in our sweetest sleep with their bleating, to our neighbor, and he will give us a beehive for them. We will put the beehive in a sunny place behind the house, and trouble ourselves no more about it. Bees do not require to be taken care of, or driven into the field. They fly out and find the way home again for themselves, and collect honey without giving the very least trouble. You have spoken like a sensible woman, replied Harry. We will carry out your proposal without delay, and besides all that, honey tastes better and nourishes one better than goat's milk, and it can be kept longer too. The neighbor willingly gave a beehive for the two goats. The bees flew in and out from early morning till late evening without ever tiring, and filled the hive with the most beautiful honey, so that in autumn Harry was able to take a whole pitcherful out of it. They placed the jug on a board which was fixed to the wall of their bed-room, and as they were afraid that it might be stolen, or that the mice might find it, Trina brought in a stout hazel-stick and put it beside her bed, so that without unnecessary motion she might reach it with her hand, and drive away the uninvited guests.
Lazy Harry did not like to leave his bed before noon. He who rises early, said he, wastes his substance. One morning when he was still lying amongst the feathers in broad daylight, resting after his long sleep, he said to his wife, women are fond of sweet things, and you are always tasting the honey in private. It will be better for us to exchange it for a goose with a young gosling, before you eat up the whole of it. But, answered Trina, not before we have a child to take care of them. Am I to worry myself with the little geese, and spend all my strength on them to no purpose. Do you think, said Harry, that the youngster will look after geese. Now-a-days children no longer obey, they do according to their own fancy, because they consider themselves cleverer than their parents, just like that lad who was sent to seek the cow and chased three blackbirds. Oh, replied Trina, this one shall fare badly if he does not do what I say. I will take a stick and belabor his skin with more blows than I can count. Look, Harry, cried she in her zeal, and seized the stick with which she used to drive the mice away, look, this is the way I will fall on him. She reached her arm out to strike, but unhappily hit the honey-pitcher above the bed. The pitcher struck against the wall and fell down in shards, and the fine honey streamed out on the ground. There lie the goose and the young gosling, said Harry, and want no looking after. But it is lucky that the pitcher did not fall on my head.
We have all reason to be satisfied with our lot. And then as he saw that there was still some honey in one of the shards he stretched out his hand for it, and said quite gaily, the remains, my wife, we will still eat with relish, and we will rest a little after the fright we have had. What does it matter if we do get up a little later. The day is always long enough. Yes, answered Trina, we shall always get to the end of it at the proper time. You know, the snail was once asked to a wedding and set out to go, but arrived at the christening. In front of the house it fell over the fence, and said, speed does no good.
There was once upon a time a king, but where he reigned and what he was called, I do not know. He had no son, but an only daughter who had always been ill, and no doctor had been able to cure her. Then it was foretold to the king that his daughter would find her health by eating an apple. So he ordered it to be proclaimed throughout the whole of his kingdom, that whosoever brought his daughter an apple with which she could find her health, should have her to wife, and be king.
This became known to a peasant who had three sons, and he said to the eldest, go out into the garden and take a basketful of those beautiful apples with the red cheeks and carry them to the court, perhaps the king's daughter will be able to find her health with them, and then you will marry her and be king. The lad did so, and set out. When he had gone a short way he met a hoary little man who asked him what he had there in the basket, to which replied Uele for so was he named, frogs, legs. At this the little man said, well, so shall it be, and remain, and went away. At length Uele arrived at the palace, and made it known that he had brought apples which would cure the king's daughter if she ate them. This delighted the king hugely, and he caused Uele to be brought before him, but, alas. When he opened the basket, instead of having apples in it he had frogs, legs which were still kicking about. On this the king grew angry, and had him driven out of the house.
When he got home he told his father how it had fared with him. Then the father sent the next son, who was called same, but all went with him just as it had gone with Uele. He also met the hoary little man, who asked what he had there in the basket. Same said, hogs, bristles, and the hoary man said, well, so shall it be, and remain. When same got to the king's palace and said he brought apples with which the king's daughter might find her health, they did not want to let him go in, and said that one fellow had already been there, and had treated them as if they were fools. Same, however, maintained that he certainly had the apples, and that they ought to let him go in. At length they believed him, and led him to the king. But when he uncovered the basket, he had but hogs, bristles. This enraged the king most terribly, so he caused same to be whipped out of the house.
When he got home he related all that had befallen him, whereupon the youngest boy, whose name was Hans, but who was always called stupid Hans, came and asked his father if he might go with some apples. Oh, said the father, you would be just the right fellow for such a thing. If the clever one can't manage it, what can you do. The boy, however, insisted and said, indeed, father, I wish to go. Just get away, you stupid fellow, you must wait till you are wiser, said the father to that, and turned his back. Hans, however, pulled at the back of his smock and said, indeed, father, I wish to go. Well, then, so far as I am concerned you may go, but you will soon come home again, replied the old man in a spiteful voice. The boy was tremendously delighted and jumped for joy. Well, act like a fool. You grow more stupid every day, said the father again. But Hans was not discouraged, and did not let it spoil his pleasure, but as it was then night, he thought he might as well wait until the morrow, for he could not get to court that day. All night long he could not sleep in his bed, and if he did doze for a moment, he dreamt of beautiful maidens, of palaces, of gold, and of silver, and all kinds of things of that sort.
Early in the morning, he went forth on his way, and directly afterwards the little shabby-looking man in his icy clothes, came to him and asked what he was carrying in the basket. Hans gave him the answer that he was carrying apples with which the king's daughter was to find her health. Then, said the little man, so shall they be, and remain. But at the court they would none of them let Hans go in, for they said two had already been there who had told them that they were bringing apples, and one of them had frogs, legs, and the other hogs, bristles. Hans, however, resolutely maintained that he most certainly had no frogs, legs, but some of the most beautiful apples in the whole kingdom. As he spoke so pleasantly, the door-keeper thought he could not be telling a lie, and asked him to go in, and he was right, for when Hans uncovered his basket in the king's presence, golden-yellow apples came tumbling out.
The king was delighted, and caused some of them to be taken to his daughter, and then waited in anxious expectation until news should be brought to him of the effect they had. But before much time had passed by, news was brought to him. And who do you think it was who came. It was the daughter herself. As soon as she had eaten of those apples, she was cured, and sprang out of her bed. The joy the king felt cannot be described. But now he did not want to give his daughter in marriage to Hans, and said he must first make him a boat which would go quicker on dry land than on water. Hans agreed to the condition, and went home, and related how it had fared with him. Then the father sent Uele into the forest to make a boat of that kind. He worked diligently, and whistled all the time.
At mid-day, when the sun was at its highest, came the little icy man and asked what he was making. Uele gave him for answer, wooden bowls for the kitchen. The icy man said, so it shall be, and remain. By evening Uele thought he had now made the boat, but when he wanted to get into it, he had nothing but wooden bowls. The next day same went into the forest, but everything went with him just as it had done with Uele. On the third day stupid Hans went. He worked away most industriously, so that the whole forest resounded with the heavy blows, and all the while he sang and whistled right merrily. At mid-day, when it was the hottest, the little man came again, and asked what he was making. A boat which will go quicker on dry land than on water, replied Hans, and when I have finished it, I am to have the king's daughter for my wife. Well, said the little man, such an one shall it be, and remain.
In the evening, when the sun had turned into gold, Hans finished his boat, and all that was wanted for it. He got into it and rowed to the palace. The boat went as swiftly as the wind. The king saw it from afar, but would not give his daughter to Hans yet, and said he must first take a hundred hares out to pasture from early morning until late evening, and if one of them got away, he should not have his daughter. Hans was contented with this, and the next day went with his flock to the pasture, and took great care that none of them ran away.
Before many hours had passed came a servant from the palace, and told Hans that he must give her a hare instantly, for some visitors had come unexpectedly. Hans, however, was very well aware what that meant, and said he would not give her one. The king might set some hare soup before his guest next day. The maid, however, would not accept his refusal, and at last she began to argue with him. Then Hans said that if the king's daughter came herself, he would give her a fare. The maid told this in the palace, and the daughter did go herself.
In the meantime the little man came again to Hans, and asked him what he was doing there. He said he had to watch over a hundred hares and see that none of them ran away, and then he might marry the king's daughter and be king. Good, said the little man, there is a whistle for you, and if one of them runs away, just whistle with it, and then it will come back again. When the king's daughter came, Hans gave her a hare into her apron, but when she had gone about a hundred steps with it, he whistled, and the hare jumped out of the apron, and before she could turn round was back to the flock again. When the evening came the hare-herd whistled once more, and looked to see if all were there, and then drove them to the palace.
The king wondered how Hans had been able to take a hundred hares to graze without losing any of them, but he still would not give him his daughter yet, and said he must now bring him a feather from the griffin's tail. Hans set out at once, and walked straight forwards. In the evening he came to a castle, and there he asked for a night's lodging, for at that time there were no inns. The lord of the castle promised him that with much pleasure, and asked where he was going. Hans answered, to the griffin. Oh, to the griffin. They tell me he knows everything, and I have lost the key of an iron money-chest. So you might be so good as to ask him where it is. Yes, indeed, said Hans, I will do that.
Early the next morning he went onwards, and on his way arrived at another castle in which he again stayed the night. When the people who lived there learnt that he was going to the griffin, they said they had in the house a daughter who was ill, and that they had already tried every means to cure her, but none of them had done her any good, and he might be so kind as to ask the griffin what would make their daughter healthy again. Hans said he would willingly do that, and went onwards. Then he came to a lake, and instead of a ferry-boat, a tall, tall man was there who had to carry everybody across. The man asked Hans whither he was journeying. To the griffin, said Hans. Then when you get to him, said the man, just ask him why I am forced to carry everybody over the lake. Yes, indeed, most certainly I'll do that, said Hans. Then the man took him up on his shoulders, and carried him across.
At length Hans arrived at the griffin's house, but the wife only was at home, and not the griffin himself. Then the woman asked him what he wanted. Thereupon he told her everything - that he had to get a feather out of the griffin's tail, and that there was a castle where they had lost the key of their money-chest, and he was to ask the griffin where it was - that in another castle the daughter was ill, and he was to learn what would cure her - and then not far from thence there was a lake and a man beside it, who was forced to carry people across it, and he was very anxious to learn why the man was obliged to do it. Then said the woman, look here, my good friend, no Christian can speak to the griffin. He devours them all, but if you like you can lie down under his bed, and in the night, when he is quite fast asleep, you can reach out and pull a feather out of his tail, and as for those things which you are to learn, I will ask about them myself. Hans was quite satisfied with this, and got under the bed. In the evening, the griffin came home, and as soon as he entered the room, said, wife, I smell a Christian. Yes, said the woman, one was here to-day, but he went away again. And on that the griffin said no more. In the middle of the night when the griffin was snoring loudly, Hans reached out and plucked a feather from his tail. The griffin woke up instantly, and said, wife, I smell a Christian, and it seems to me that somebody was pulling at my tail. His wife said, you have certainly been dreaming, and I told you before that a Christian was here to-day, but that he went away again.
He told me all kinds of things - that in one castle they had lost the key of their money-chest, and could find it nowhere. Oh. The fools, said the griffin. The key lies in the wood-house under a log of wood behind the door. And then he said that in another castle the daughter was ill, and they knew no remedy that would cure her. Oh. The fools, said the griffin. Under the cellar-steps a toad has made its nest of her hair, and if she got her hair back she would be well. And then he also said that there was a place where there was a lake and a man beside it who was forced to carry everybody across. Oh, the fool, said the griffin. If he only put one man down in the middle, he would never have to carry another across.
Early the next morning the griffin got up and went out. Then Hans came forth from under the bed, and he had a beautiful feather, and had heard what the griffin had said about the key, and the daughter, and the man. The griffin's wife repeated it all once more to him that he might not forget it, and then he went home again. First he came to the man by the lake, who asked him what the griffin had said, but Hans replied that he must first carry him across, and then he would tell him. So the man carried him across, and when he was over Hans told him that all he had to do was to set one person down in the middle of the lake, and then he would never have to carry over any more.
The man was hugely delighted, and told Hans that out of gratitude he would take him once more across, and back again. But Hans said no, he would save him the trouble, he was quite satisfied already, and pursued his way. Then he came to the castle where the daughter was ill. He took her on his shoulders, for she could not walk, and carried her down the cellar-steps and pulled out the toad's nest from beneath the lowest step and gave it into her hand, and she sprang off his shoulder and up the steps before him, and was quite cured. Then were the father and mother beyond measure rejoiced, and they gave Hans gifts of gold and of silver, and whatsoever else he wished for, that they gave him. And when he got to the other castle he went at once into the wood-house, and found the key under the log of wood behind the door, and took it to the lord of the castle. He was not a little pleased, and gave Hans as a reward much of the gold that was in the chest, and all kinds of things besides, such as cows, and sheep, and goats.
When Hans arrived before the king, with all these things - with the money, and the gold, and the silver and the cows, sheep and goats, the king asked him how he had come by them. Then Hans told him that the griffin gave every one whatsoever he wanted. So the king thought he himself could make use of such things, and set out on his way to the griffin, but when he got to the lake, it happened that he was the very first who arrived there after Hans, and the man put him down in the middle of it and went away, and the king was drowned. Hans, however, married the daughter, and became king.
There were once a man and a woman who had an only child, and lived quite alone in a solitary valley. It came to pass that the mother once went into the wood to gather branches of fir, and took with her little Hans, who was just two years old. As it was spring-time, and the child took pleasure in the many-colored flowers, she went still further onwards with him into the forest. Suddenly two robbers sprang out of the thicket, seized the mother and child, and carried them far away into the black forest, where no one ever came from one year's end to another.
The poor woman urgently begged the robbers to set her and her child free, but their hearts were made of stone, they would not listen to her prayers and entreaties, and drove her on farther by force. After they had worked their way through bushes and briars for about two miles, they came to a rock where there was a door, at which the robbers knocked and it opened at once. They had to go through a long dark passage, which burnt on the hearth. On the wall hung swords, sabres, and other deadly weapons which gleamed in the light, and in the midst stood a black table at which four other robbers were sitting gambling, and the captain sat at the head of it. As soon as he saw the woman he came and spoke to her, and told her to be at ease and have no fear, they would do nothing to hurt her, but she must look after the housekeeping, and if she kept everything in order, she should not fare ill with them. Thereupon they gave her something to eat, and showed her a bed where she might sleep with her child.
The woman stayed many years with the robbers, and Hans grew tall and strong. His mother told him stories, and taught him to read an old book of tales about knights which she found in the cave. When Hans was nine years old, he made himself a strong club out of a branch of fir, hid it behind the bed, and then went to his mother and said, dear mother, pray tell me who is my father. I must and will know. His mother was silent and would not tell him, that he might not become home-sick. Moreover she knew that the godless robbers would not let him go away, but it almost broke her heart that Hans should not go to his father.
In the night, when the robbers came home from their robbing expedition, Hans brought out his club, stood before the captain, and said, I now wish to know who my father is, and if you do not tell me at once I will strike you down. Then the captain laughed, and gave Hans such a box on the ear that he rolled under the table. Hans got up again, held his tongue, and thought, I will wait another year and then try again, perhaps I shall do better then. When the year was over, he brought out his club again, rubbed the dust off it, looked at it well, and said, it is a stout strong club. At night the robbers came home, drank one jug of wine after another, and their heads began to be heavy. Then Hans brought out his club, placed himself before the captain, and asked him who his father was. But the captain again gave him such a vigorous box on the ear that Hans rolled under the table. However, it was not long before he was up again, and so beat the captain and the robbers with his club, that they could no longer move either their arms or their legs.
His mother stood in a corner full of admiration for his bravery and strength. When Hans had done his work, he went to his mother, and said, now I have shown myself to be in earnest, but now I must also know who my father is. Dear Hans, answered the mother, come, we will go and seek him until we find him. She took from the captain the key to the entrance-door, and Hans fetched a great meal-sack and packed into it gold and silver, and whatsoever else he could find that was beautiful, until it was full, and then he took it on his back.
They left the cave, but how Hans did open his eyes when he came out of the darkness into daylight, and saw the green forest, and the flowers, and the birds, and the morning sun in the sky. He stood there and wondered at everything just as if he were not quite right in the head. His mother looked for the way home, and when they had walked for a couple of hours, they got safely into their lonely valley and to their little house. The father was sitting in the doorway. He wept for joy when he recognized his wife and heard that Hans was his son, for he had long regarded them both as dead.
But Hans, although he was not twelve years old, was a head taller than his father. They went into the little room together, but Hans had scarcely put his sack on the bench by the stove, than the whole house began to crack - the bench broke down and then the floor, and the heavy sack fell through into the cellar. God save us, cried the father, what's that. Now you have broken our little house to pieces. Don't let that turn your hair grey, dear father, answered Hans. There, in that sack, is more than is wanting for a new house. The father and Hans at once began to build a new house, to buy cattle and land, and to keep a farm. Hans ploughed the fields, and when he followed the plough and pushed it into the ground, the bullocks had scarcely any need to draw. The next spring, Hans said, keep all the money and have made for me a walking-stick that weighs a hundred-weight, that I may go a-traveling.
When the stick was ready, he left his father's house, went forth, and came to a deep, dark forest. There he heard something crunching and cracking, looked round, and saw a fir-tree which was wound round like a rope from the bottom to the top, and when he looked upwards he saw a great fellow who had laid hold of the tree and was twisting it like a willow-wand. Hullo, cried Hans, what are you doing up there. The fellow replied, I got some faggots together yesterday and am twisting a rope for them. That is what I like, thought Hans, he has some strength, and he called to him, leave that alone, and come with me. The fellow came down, and he was taller by a whole head than Hans, and Hans was not little. Your name is now Fir-Twister, said Hans to him.
Thereupon they went further and heard something knocking and hammering with such force that the ground shook at every stroke. Shortly afterwards they came to a mighty rock, before which a giant was standing and striking great pieces of it away with his fist. When Hans asked what he was doing, he answered, at night, when I want to sleep, bears, wolves, and other vermin of that kind come, which sniff and snuffle about me and won't let me rest, so I want to build myself a house and lay myself inside it, so that I may have some peace. Oh indeed, thought Hans, I can make use of this one also, and said to him, leave your house-building alone, and go with me. You shall be called Rock-Splitter.
The man consented, and they all three roamed through the forest, and wherever they went the wild beasts were terrified, and ran away from them. In the evening they came to an old deserted castle, went up into it, and laid themselves down in the hall to sleep. The next morning Hans went into the garden. It had run quite wild, and was full of thorns and brambles. And as he was thus walking round about, a wild boar rushed at him, he, however, gave it such a blow with his club that it fell directly. He took it on his shoulders and carried it in, and they put it on a spit, roasted it, and enjoyed themselves. Then they arranged that each day, in turn, two should go out hunting, and one should stay at home, and cook nine pounds of meat for each of them. Fir-Twister stayed at home the first, and Hans and Rock-Splitter went out hunting.
When Fir-Twister was busy cooking, a little shrivelled-up old mannikin came to him in the castle, and asked for some meat. Be off, you sneaking imp, he answered, you need no meat. But how astonished Fir-Twister was when the little insignificant dwarf sprang up at him, and belabored him so with his fists that he could not defend himself, but fell on the ground and gasped for breath. The dwarf did not go away until he had thoroughly vented his anger on him. When the two others came home from hunting, Fir-Twister said nothing to them of the old mannikin and of the blows which he himself had received, and thought, when they stay at home, they may just try their chance with the little scrubbing-brush, and the mere thought of that gave him pleasure already. The next day Rock-Splitter stayed at home, and he fared just as Fir-Twister had done, being very ill-treated by the dwarf because he was not willing to give him any meat.
When the others came home in the evening, Fir-Twister saw clearly what he had suffered, but both kept silence, and thought, Hans also must taste some of that soup. Hans, who had to stay at home the next day, did his work in the kitchen as it had to be done, and as he was standing skimming the pan, the dwarf came and without more ado demanded a piece of meat. Then Hans thought, he is a poor wretch, I will give him some of my share, that the others may not run short, and handed him a bit. When the dwarf had devoured it, he again asked for some meat, and good-natured Hans gave it to him, and told him it was a handsome piece, and that he was to be content with it. But the dwarf begged again for the third time. You are shameless, said Hans, and gave him none. Then the malicious dwarf wanted to spring on him and treat him as he had treated Fir-Twister and Rock-Splitter, but he had chosen the wrong man. Hans, without exerting himself much, gave him a couple of blows which made him jump down the castle steps.
Hans was about to run after him, but fell right over, flat on his face. When he rose up again, the dwarf had got the start of him. Hans hurried after him as far as the forest, and saw him slip into a hole in the rock. Hans now went home, but he had marked the spot. When the two others came back, they were surprised that Hans was so well. He told them what had happened, and then they no longer concealed how it had fared with them. Hans laughed and said, it served you quite right. Why were you so mean with your meat. It is a disgrace that you who are so big should have let yourselves be beaten by the dwarf. Thereupon they took a basket and a rope, and all three went to the hole in the rock into which the dwarf had slipped, and let Hans and his club down in the basket. When Hans had reached the bottom, he found a door, and when he opened it a maiden was sitting there who was lovely as any picture, nay, so beautiful that no words can express it, and by her side sat the dwarf and grinned at Hans like a sea-cat. She, however, was bound with chains, and looked so mournfully at him that Hans felt great pity for her, and thought to himself, you must deliver her out of the power of the wicked dwarf, and gave him such a blow with his club that he fell down dead.
Immediately the chains fell from the maiden, and Hans was enraptured with her beauty. She told him she was a king's daughter whom a savage count had stolen away from her home, and imprisoned there among the rocks, because she would have nothing to say to him. The count, however, had set the dwarf as a watchman, and he had made her suffer misery and vexation enough. And now Hans placed the maiden in the basket and had her drawn up.
The basket came down again, but Hans did not trust his two companions, and thought, they have already shown themselves to be false, and told me nothing about the dwarf. Who knows what design they may have against me. So he put his club in the basket, and it was lucky he did, for when the basket was half-way up, they let it fall again, and if Hans had really been sitting in it he would have been killed. But now he did not know how he was to work his way out of the depths, and when he turned it over and over in his mind he found no counsel. It is indeed sad, said he to himself, that I have to waste away down here, and as he was thus walking backwards and forwards, he once more came to the little chamber where the maiden had been sitting, and saw that the dwarf had a ring on his finger which shone and sparkled. Then he drew it off and put it on, and when he turned it round on his finger, he suddenly heard something rustle over his head.
He looked up and saw spirits of the air hovering above, who told him he was their master, and asked what his desire might be. Hans was at first struck dumb, but afterwards he said that they were to carry him up again. They obeyed instantly, and it was just as if he had flown up himself. But when he had arrived there, he found no one in sight. Fir-Twister and Rock-Splitter had hurried away, and had taken the beautiful maiden with them. But Hans turned the ring, and the spirits of the air came and told him that the two were on the sea.
Hans ran and ran without stopping, until he came to the sea-shore, and there far, far out on the water, he perceived a little boat in which his faithless comrades were sitting, and in fierce anger he leapt, without thinking what he was doing, club in hand into the water, and began to swim, but the club, which weighed a hundredweight, dragged him deep down until he was all but drowned. Then in the very nick of time he turned his ring, and immediately the spirits of the air came and bore him as swift as lightning into the boat. He swung his club and gave his wicked comrades the reward they merited and threw them into the water, and then he sailed with the beautiful maiden, who had been in the greatest alarm, and whom he delivered for the second time, home to her father and mother, and married her, and all rejoiced exceedingly.
A poor wood-cutter lived with his wife and three daughters in a little hut on the edge of a lonely forest. One morning as he was about to go to his work, he said to his wife, let our eldest daughter bring me my dinner into the forest, or I shall never get my work done, and in order that she may not miss her way, he added, I will take a bag of millet with me and strew the seeds on the path. When, therefore, the sun was just above the centre of the forest, the girl set out on her way with a bowl of soup, but the field-sparrows, and wood-sparrows, larks and finches, blackbirds and siskins had picked up the millet long before, and the girl could not find the track. Trusting to chance, she went on and on, until the sun sank and night began to fall. The trees rustled in the darkness, the owls hooted, and she began to be afraid. Then in the distance she perceived a light which glimmered between the trees. There ought to be some people living there, who can take me in for the night, thought she, and went up to the light. It was not long before she came to a house the windows of which were all lighted up. She knocked, and a rough voice from inside cried, come in. The girl stepped into the dark entrance, and knocked at the door of the room. Just come in, cried the voice, and when she opened the door, an old gray-haired man was sitting at the table, supporting his face with both hands, and his white beard fell down over the table almost as far as the ground.
By the stove lay three animals, a hen, a cock, and a brindled cow. The girl told her story to the old man, and begged for shelter for the night. The man said, my pretty hen, my pretty cock, my pretty brindled cow, what are you saying now. Duks, answered the animals, and that must have meant, we are willing, for the old man said, here you shall have shelter and food, go to the fire, and cook us our supper. The girl found in the kitchen abundance of everything, and cooked a good supper, but had no thought of the animals. She carried the full bowl to the table, seated herself by the gray-haired man, ate and satisfied her hunger. When she had had enough, she said, but now I am tired, where is there a bed in which I can lie down, and sleep. The animals replied, thou hast eaten with him, thou hast drunk with him, thou hast had no thought for us, so find out for thyself where thou canst pass the night. Then said the old man, just go upstairs, and you will find a room with two beds, shake them up, and put white linen on them, and then I, too, will come and lie down to sleep. The girl went up, and when she had shaken the beds and put clean sheets on, she lay down in one of them without waiting any longer for the old man. After some time the gray-haired man came, held his candle over the girl and shook his head. When he saw that she had fallen into a sound sleep, he opened a trap-door, and let her down into the cellar. Late at night, the wood-cutter came home, and reproached his wife for leaving him to hunger all day. It is not my fault, she replied, the girl went out with your dinner, and must have lost herself, but surely she will come back to-morrow. The wood-cutter, however, arose before dawn to go into the forest, and requested that the second daughter should take him his dinner that day. I will take a bag with lentils, said he, the seeds are larger than millet, the girl will see them better, and can't lose her way.
At dinner-time, therefore, the girl took out the food, but the lentils had disappeared. The birds of the forest had picked them up as they had done the day before, and had left none. The girl wandered about in the forest until night, and then she too reached the house of the old man, was told to go in, and begged for food and a bed. The man with the white beard again asked the animals, my pretty hen, my pretty cock, my pretty brindled cow, what are you saying now. The animals again replied 'duks, and everything happened just as it had happened the day before. The girl cooked a good meal, ate and drank with the old man, and did not concern herself about the animals, and when she inquired about her bed they answered, thou hast eaten with him, thou hast drunk with him, thou hast had no thought for us, so find out for thyself where thou canst pass the night. When she was asleep the old man came, looked at her, shook his head, and let her down into the cellar. On the third morning the wood-cutter said to his wife, send our youngest child out with my dinner to-day, she has always been good and obedient, and will stay in the right path, and not rove about like her sisters, the wild bumble-bees. The mother did not want to do it, and said, am I to lose my dearest child, as well. Have no fear, he replied, the girl will not go astray. She is too prudent and sensible. Besides I will take some peas with me, strew them about. They are still larger than lentils, and will show her the way. But when the girl went out with her basket on her arm, the wood-pigeons had already got all the peas in their crops, and she did not know which way she was to turn. She was full of sorrow and never ceased to think how hungry her father would be, and how her good mother would grieve, if she did not go home. At length when it grew dark, she saw the light and came to the house in the forest. She begged quite prettily to be allowed to spend the night there, and the man with the white beard again asked his animals, my pretty hen, my pretty cock, my pretty brindled cow, what are you saying now. Duks, said they.
Then the girl went to the stove where the animals were lying, and petted the cock and hen, and stroked their smooth feathers with her hand, and caressed the brindled cow between her horns, and when, in obedience to the old man's orders, she had made ready some good soup, and the bowl was placed upon the table, she said, am I to eat as much as I want, and the good animals to have nothing. Outside is food in plenty, I will look after them first. So she went and brought some barley and stewed it for the cock and hen, and a whole armful of sweet-smelling hay for the cow. I hope you will like it, dear animals, said she, and you shall have a refreshing draught in case you are thirsty. Then she fetched a bucketful of water, and the cock and hen jumped on to the edge of it and dipped their beaks in, and then held up their heads as the birds do when they drink, and the brindled cow also took a hearty draught. When the animals were fed, the girl seated herself at the table by the old man, and ate what he had left. It was not long before the cock and the hen began to thrust their heads beneath their wings, and the eyes of the cow likewise began to blink. Then said the girl, ought we not to go to bed. My pretty hen, my pretty cock, my pretty brindled cow, what are you saying now. The animals answered, duks, thou hast eaten with us, thou hast drunk with us, thou hast had kind thought for all of us, we wish thee good-night. Then the maiden went upstairs, shook the feather-beds, and laid clean sheets on them, and when she had done it the old man came and lay down in one of the beds, and his white beard reached down to his feet. The girl lay down on the other, said her prayers, and fell asleep.
She slept quietly till midnight, and then there was such a noise in the house that she awoke. There was a sound of cracking and splitting in every corner, and the doors sprang open, and beat against the walls. The beams groaned as if they were being torn out of their joints, it seemed as if the staircase were falling down, and at length there was a crash as if the entire roof had fallen in. When, however, all grew quiet once more, and the girl was not hurt, she stayed quietly lying where she was, and fell asleep again. But when she woke up in the morning with the brilliancy of the sunshine, what did her eyes behold. She was lying in a vast hall, and everything around her shone with royal splendor. On the walls, golden flowers grew up on a ground of green silk, the bed was of ivory, and the canopy of red velvet, and on a chair close by, was a pair of slippers embroidered with pearls. The girl believed that she was in a dream, but three richly clad attendants came in, and asked what orders she would like to give. If you will go, she replied, I will get up at once and make ready some soup for the old man, and then I will feed the pretty hen, and the pretty cock, and the pretty brindled cow. She thought the old man was up already, and looked round at his bed. He, however, was not lying in it, but a stranger.
And while she was looking at him, and becoming aware that he was young and handsome, he awoke, sat up in bed, and said, I am a king's son, and was bewitched by a wicked witch, and made to live in this forest, as an old gray-haired man. No one was allowed to be with me but my three attendants in the form of a cock, a hen, and a brindled cow. The spell was not to be broken until a girl came to us whose heart was so good that she showed herself full of love, not only towards mankind, but towards animals - and that you have done, and by you at midnight we were set free, and the old hut in the forest was changed back again into my royal palace. And when they had arisen, the king's son ordered the three attendants to set out and fetch the father and mother of the girl to the marriage feast. But where are my two sisters, inquired the maiden. I have locked them in the cellar, and to-morrow they shall be led into the forest, and shall live as servants to a charcoal-burner, until they have grown kinder, and do not leave poor animals to suffer hunger.
There was once upon a time a very old woman, who lived with her flock of geese in a remote clearing in the mountains, and there had a little house. The clearing was surrounded by a large forest, and every morning the old woman took her crutch and hobbled into it. There, however, she was quite active, more so than any one would have thought, considering her age, and collected grass for her geese, picked all the wild fruit she could reach, and carried everything home on her back. Anyone would have thought that the heavy load would have weighed her to the ground, but she always brought it safely home. If anyone met her, she greeted him quite courteously. Good day, dear countryman, it is a fine day. Ah, you wonder that I should drag grass about, but everyone must take his burden on his back. Nevertheless, people did not like to meet her if they could help it, and took by preference a round-about way, and when a father with his boys passed her, he whispered to them, beware of the old woman. She has claws beneath her gloves. She is a witch.
One morning, a handsome young man was going through the forest. The sun shone bright, the birds sang, a cool breeze crept through the leaves, and he was full of joy and gladness. He had as yet met no one, when he suddenly perceived the old witch kneeling on the ground cutting grass with a sickle. She had already thrust a whole load into her bundle, and near it stood two baskets, which were filled with wild apples and pears. But, good little mother, said he, how can you carry all that away. I must carry it, dear sir, answered she, rich folk's children have no need to do such things, but with the peasant folk the saying goes, don't look behind you, you will only see how crooked your back is. Will you help me, she said, as he remained standing by her. You have still a straight back and young legs, it would be a trifle to you. Besides, my house is not so very far from here, it stands there on the heath behind the hill. How soon you would bound up thither. The young man took compassion on the old woman. My father is certainly no peasant, replied he, but a rich count. Nevertheless, that you may see that it is not only peasants who can carry things, I will take your bundle. If you will try it, said she, I shall be very glad. You will certainly have to walk for an hour, but what will that matter to you, only you must carry the apples and pears as well. The young man felt somewhat uneasy when he heard of an hour's walk, but the old woman would not let him off, packed the bundle on his back, and hung the two baskets on his arm. See, it is quite light, said she. No, it is not light, answered the count, and pulled a rueful face. Verily, the bundle weighs as heavily as if it were full of cobblestones, and the apples and pears are as heavy as lead. I can scarcely breathe. He had a mind to put everything down again, but the old woman would not allow it. Just look, said she mockingly, the young gentleman will not carry what I, an old woman, have so often dragged along. You are ready with fine words, but when it comes to be earnest, you want to take to your heels. Why are you standing loitering there. She continued, step out. No one will take the bundle off again. As long as he walked on level ground, it was still bearable, but when they came to the hill and had to climb, and the stones rolled down under his feet as if they were alive, it was beyond his strength. Drops of sweat stood on his forehead, and ran, hot and cold, down his back. Mother, said he, I can go no farther. I want to rest a little. Not here, answered the old woman, when we have arrived at our journey's end, you can rest. But now you must go forward. Who knows what good it may do you. Old woman, you are becoming shameless, said the count, and tried to throw off the bundle, but he labored in vain. It stuck as fast to his back as if it grew there. He turned and twisted, but he could not get rid of it.
The old woman laughed at this, and sprang about quite delighted on her crutch. Don't get angry, dear sir, said she, you are growing as red in the face as a turkey-cock. Carry your bundle patiently. I will give you a good present when we get home. What could he do. He was obliged to submit to his fate, and crawl along patiently behind the old woman. She seemed to grow more and more nimble, and his burden still heavier. All at once she made a bound, jumped on to the bundle and seated herself on the top of it. And however withered she might be, she was yet heavier than the stoutest country lass. The youth's knees trembled, but when he did not go on, the old woman hit him about the legs with a switch and with stinging-nettles. Groaning continually, he climbed the mountain, and at length reached the old woman's house, when he was just about to drop. When the geese perceived the old woman, they flapped their wings, stretched out their necks, ran to meet her, cackling all the while.
Behind the flock walked, stick in hand, an old wench, strong and big, but ugly as night. Good mother, said she to the old woman, has anything happened to you, you have stayed away so long. By no means, my dear daughter, answered she, I have met with nothing bad, but, on the contrary, with this kind gentleman, who has carried my burden for me. Only think, he even took me on his back when I was tired. The way, too, has not seemed long to us. We have been merry, and have been cracking jokes with each other all the time.
At last the old woman slid down, took the bundle off the young man's back, and the baskets from his arm, looked at him quite kindly, and said, now seat yourself on the bench before the door, and rest. You have fairly earned your wages, and they shall not be wanting. Then she said to the goose-girl, go into the house, my dear daughter, it is not becoming for you to be alone with a young gentleman. One must not pour oil on to the fire, he might fall in love with you. The count knew not whether to laugh or to cry. Such a sweetheart as that, thought he, could not touch my heart, even if she were thirty years younger.
In the meantime the old woman stroked and fondled her geese as if they were children, and then went into the house with her daughter. The youth lay down on the bench, under a wild apple-tree. The air was warm and mild. On all sides stretched a green meadow, which was set with cowslips, wild thyme, and a thousand other flowers. Through the midst of it rippled a clear brook on which the sun sparkled, and the white geese went walking backwards and forwards, or paddled in the water. It is quite delightful here, said he, but I am so tired that I cannot keep my eyes open. I will sleep a little. If only a gust of wind does not come and blow my legs off my body, for they are as rotten as tinder. When he had slept a little while, the old woman came and shook him till he awoke. Sit up, said she, you can not stay here. I have certainly treated you ill enough, still it has not cost you your life. Of money and land you have no need, here is something else for you. Thereupon she thrust a little box into his hand, which was cut out of a single emerald. Take great care of it, said she, it will bring you good fortune. The count sprang up, and as he felt that he was quite fresh, and had recovered his vigor, he thanked the old woman for her present, and set off without even once looking back at the beautiful daughter.
When he was already some way off, he still heard in the distance the noisy cry of the geese. For three days the count had to wander in the wilderness before he could find his way out. He then reached a large town, and as no one knew him, he was led into the royal palace, where the king and queen were sitting on their throne. The count fell on one knee, drew the emerald box out of his pocket, and laid it at the queen's feet. She bade him rise and hand her the little box. Hardly, however, had she opened it, and looked therein, than she fell as if dead to the ground. The count was seized by the king's servants, and was being led to prison, when the queen opened her eyes, and ordered them to release him, and every one was to go out, as she wished to speak with him in private.
When the queen was alone, she began to weep bitterly, and said, of what use to me are the splendors and honors with which I am surrounded. Every morning I awake in pain and sorrow. I had three daughters, the youngest of whom was so beautiful that the whole world looked on her as a wonder. She was as white as snow, as rosy as apple-blossom, and her hair as radiant as sun-beams. When she cried, not tears fell from her eyes, but pearls and jewels only. When she was fifteen years old, the king summoned all three sisters to come before his throne. You should have seen how all the people gazed when the youngest entered, it was just as if the sun were rising. Then the king spoke, my daughters, I know not when my last day may arrive. I will to-day decide what each shall receive at my death. You all love me, but the one of you who loves me best, shall fare the best.
Each of them said she loved him best. Can you not express to me, said the king, how much you do love me, and thus I shall see what you mean. The eldest spoke, I love my father as dearly as the sweetest sugar. The second, I love my father as dearly as my prettiest dress. But the youngest was silent. Then the father said, and you, my dearest child, how much do you love me. I do not know, and can compare my love with nothing. But her father insisted that she should name something. So she said at last, the best food does not please me without salt, therefore I love my father like salt. When the king heard that, he fell into a passion, and said, if you love me like salt, your love shall also be repaid you with salt. Then he divided the kingdom between the two elder, but caused a sack of salt to be bound on the back of the youngest, and two servants had to lead her forth into the wild forest. We all begged and prayed for her, said the queen, but the king's anger was not to be appeased. How she cried when she had to leave us. The whole road was strewn with the pearls which flowed from her eyes. The king soon afterwards repented of his great severity, and had the whole forest searched for the poor child, but no one could find her.
When I think that the wild beasts have devoured her, I know not how to contain myself for sorrow. Many a time I console myself with the hope that she is still alive, and may have hidden herself in a cave, or has found shelter with compassionate people. But picture to yourself, when I opened your little emerald box, a pearl lay therein, of exactly the same kind as those which used to fall from my daughter's eyes. And then you can also imagine how the sight of it stirred my heart. You must tell me how you came by that pearl. The count told her that he had received it from the old woman in the forest, who had appeared very strange to him, and must be a witch, but he had neither seen nor heard anything of the queen's child. The king and the queen resolved to seek out the old woman. They thought that there where the pearl had been, they would obtain news of their daughter.
The old woman was sitting in that lonely place at her spinning-wheel spinning. It was already dusk, and a log which was burning on the hearth gave a scanty light. All at once there was a noise outside, the geese were coming home from the pasture, and uttering their hoarse cries. Soon afterwards the daughter also entered. But the old woman scarcely thanked her, and only shook her head a little. The daughter sat down beside her, took her spinning-wheel, and twisted the threads as nimbly as a young girl. Thus they both sat for two hours, and exchanged never a word. At last something rustled at the window and two fiery eyes peered in. It was an old night-owl, which cried 'uhu, three times.
The old woman looked up just a little, then she said, now, my little daughter, it is time for you to go out and do your work. She rose and went out, and where did she go. Over the meadows ever onward into the valley. At last she came to a well, with three old oak-trees standing beside it. Meanwhile the moon had risen large and round over the mountain, and it was so light that one could have found a needle. She removed a skin which covered her face, then bent down to the well, and began to wash herself. When she had finished, she dipped the skin also in the water, and then laid it on the meadow, so that it should bleach in the moonlight, and dry again. But how the maiden was changed. Such a change as that was never seen before. When the gray mask fell off, her golden hair broke forth like sun-beams, and spread about like a mantle over her whole form. Her eyes shone out as brightly as the stars in heaven, and her cheeks bloomed a soft red like apple-blossom. But the fair maiden was sad. She sat down and wept bitterly. One tear after another forced itself out of her eyes, and rolled through her long hair to the ground.
There she sat, and would have remained sitting a long time, if there had not been a rustling and cracking in the boughs of the neighboring tree. She sprang up like a roe which has been overtaken by the shot of the hunter. Just then the moon was obscured by a dark cloud, and in an instant the maiden had put on the old skin and vanished, like a light blown out by the wind. She ran back home, trembling like an aspen-leaf. The old woman was standing on the threshold, and the girl was about to relate what had befallen her, but the old woman laughed kindly, and said, I already know all. She led her into the room and lighted a new log. She did not, however, sit down to her spinning again, but fetched a broom and began to sweep and scour. All must be clean and sweet, she said to the girl. But, mother, said the maiden, why do you begin work at so late an hour. What do you expect. Do you know then what time it is, asked the old woman. Not yet midnight, answered the maiden, but already past eleven o'clock. Do you not remember, continued the old woman, that it is three years to-day since you came to me. Your time is up, we can no longer remain together.
The girl was terrified, and said, alas, dear mother, will you cast me off. Where shall I go. I have no friends, and no home to which I can go. I have always done as you bade me, and you have always been satisfied with me. Do not send me away. The old woman would not tell the maiden what lay before her. My stay here is over, she said to her, but when I depart, house and parlor must be clean. Therefore do not hinder me in my work. Have no care for yourself, you shall find a roof to shelter you, and the wages which I will give you shall also content you. But tell me what is about to happen, the maiden continued to entreat. I tell you again, do not hinder me in my work. Do not say a word more, go to your chamber, take the skin off your face, and put on the silken gown which you had on when you came to me, and then wait in your chamber until I call you. But I must once more tell of the king and queen, who had journeyed forth with the count in order to seek out the old woman in the wilderness.
The count had strayed away from them in the wood by night, and had to walk onwards alone. Next day it seemed to him that he was on the right track. He still went forward, until darkness came on, then he climbed a tree, intending to pass the night there, for he feared that he might lose his way. When the moon illumined the surrounding country he perceived a figure coming down the mountain. She had no stick in her hand, but yet he could see that it was the goose-girl, whom he had seen before in the house of the old woman. Oho, cried he, there she comes, and if I once get hold of one of the witches, the other shall not escape me. But how astonished he was, when she went to the well, took off the skin and washed herself, when her golden hair fell down all about her, and she was more beautiful than anyone whom he had ever seen in the whole world. He hardly dared to breathe, but stretched his head as far forward through the leaves as he could, and stared at her. Either he bent over too far, or whatever the cause might be, the bough suddenly cracked, and that very moment the maiden slipped into the skin, sprang away like a roe, and as the moon was suddenly covered, disappeared from his sight.
Hardly had she disappeared, before the count descended from the tree, and hastened after her with nimble steps. He had not been gone long before he saw, in the twilight, two figures coming over the meadow. It was the king and queen, who had perceived from a distance the light shining in the old woman's little house, and were going to it. The count told them what wonderful things he had seen by the well, and they did not doubt that it had been their lost daughter. They walked onwards full of joy, and soon came to the little house. The geese were sitting all round it, and had thrust their heads under their wings and were sleeping, and not one of them moved. The king and queen looked in at the window, where the old woman was sitting quite quietly spinning, nodding her head and never looking round. The room was perfectly clean, as if the little mist men, who carry no dust on their feet, lived there. Their daughter, however, they did not see. They gazed at all this for a long time, until at last they took heart, and knocked softly at the window. The old woman appeared to have been expecting them. She rose, and called out quite kindly, come in. I know you already.
When they had entered the room, the old woman said, you might have spared yourself the long walk, if you had not three years ago unjustly driven away your child, who is so good and lovable. No harm has come to her. For three years she has had to tend the geese. With them she has learnt no evil, but has preserved her purity of heart. You, however, have been sufficiently punished by the misery in which you have lived. Then she went to the chamber and called, come out, my little daughter. Thereupon the door opened, and the princess stepped out in her silken garments, with her golden hair and her shining eyes, and it was as if an angel from heaven had entered. She went up to her father and mother, fell on their necks and kissed them. There was no help for it, they all had to weep for joy. The young count stood near them, and when she perceived him she became as red in the face as a moss-rose, she herself did not know why. The king said, my dear child, I have given away my kingdom, what shall I give you. She needs nothing, said the old woman. I give her the tears that she has wept on your account. They are precious pearls, finer than those that are found in the sea, and worth more than your whole kingdom, and I give her my little house as payment for her services.
When the old woman had said that, she disappeared from their sight. The walls rattled a little, and when the king and queen looked round, the little house had changed into a splendid palace, a royal table had been spread, and the servants were running hither and thither. The story goes still further, but my grandmother, who related it to me, had partly lost her memory, and had forgotten the rest. I shall always believe that the beautiful princess married the count, and that they remained together in the palace, and lived there in all happiness so long as God willed it. Whether the snow-white geese, which were kept near the little hut, were verily young maidens no one need take offence, whom the old woman had taken under her protection, and whether they now received their human form again, and stayed as handmaids to the young queen, I do not exactly know, but I suspect it. This much is certain, that the old woman was no witch, as people thought, but a wise woman, who meant well. Very likely it was she who, at the princess's birth, gave her the gift of weeping pearls instead of tears. That does not happen nowadays, or else the poor would soon become rich.
When Adam and Eve were driven out of paradise, they were compelled to build a house for themselves on barren ground, and eat their bread in the sweat of their brow. Adam dug up the land, and Eve spun. Every year Eve brought a child into the world, but the children were unlike each other, some pretty, and some ugly. After a considerable time had gone by, God sent an angel to them, to announce that he was coming to inspect their household. Eve, delighted that the lord should be so gracious, cleaned her house diligently, decked it with flowers, and strewed rushes on the floor. Then she brought in her children, but only the beautiful ones. She washed and bathed them, combed their hair, put clean raiment on them, and cautioned them to conduct themselves decorously and modestly in the presence of the Lord. They were to bow down before him civilly, hold out their hands, and to answer his questions modestly and sensibly. The ugly children, however, were not to let themselves be seen. One hid himself beneath the hay, another under the roof, a third in the straw, the fourth in the stove, the fifth in the cellar, the sixth under a tub, the seventh beneath the wine-cask, the eighth under an old fur cloak, the ninth and tenth beneath the cloth out of which she always made their clothes, and the eleventh and twelfth under the leather out of which she cut their shoes. She had scarcely got ready, before there was a knock at the house-door. Adam looked through a chink, and saw that it was the Lord. Adam opened the door respectfully, and the heavenly father entered. There, in a row, stood the pretty children, and bowed before him, held out their hands, and knelt down. The Lord, however, began to bless them, laid his hands on the first, and said, thou shalt be a powerful king, and to the second, thou a prince, to the third, thou a count, to the fourth, thou a knight, to the fifth, thou a nobleman, to the sixth, thou a burgher, to the seventh, thou a merchant, to the eighth, thou a learned man. He bestowed upon them also all his richest blessings.
When Eve saw that the Lord was so mild and gracious, she thought, I will bring hither my ill-favored children also, it may be that he will bestow his blessing on them likewise. So she ran and brought them out of the hay, the straw, the stove, and wherever else she had concealed them. Then came the whole coarse, dirty, scabby, sooty band. The Lord smiled, looked at them all, and said, I will bless these also. He laid his hands on the first, and said to him, thou shalt be a peasant, to the second, thou a fisherman, to the third, thou a smith, to the fourth, thou a tanner, to the fifth, thou a weaver, to the sixth, thou a shoemaker, to the seventh, thou a tailor, to the eighth, thou a potter, to the ninth, thou a waggoner, to the tenth, thou a sailor, to the eleventh, thou a messenger, to the twelfth, thou a scullion all the days of thy life. When Eve had heard all this she said, Lord, how unequally thou dividest thy gifts. After all they are all of them my children, whom I have brought into the world, thy favors should be given to all alike. But God answered, Eve, thou dost not understand. It is right and necessary that the entire world should be supplied from thy children. If they were all princes and lords, who would grow corn, thresh it, grind and bake it. Who would be blacksmiths, weavers, carpenters, masons, laborers, tailors and seamstresses. Each shall have his own place, so that one shall support the other, and all shall be fed like the limbs of one body. Then Eve answered, ah, Lord, forgive me, I was too quick in speaking to thee. Have thy divine will with my children.
There was once upon a time a miller who lived with his wife in great contentment. They had money and land, and their prosperity increased year by year more and more. But ill luck comes like a thief in the night. As their wealth had increased so did it again decrease, year by year, and at last the miller could hardly call the mill in which he lived, his own. He was in great distress, and when he lay down after his day's work, found no rest, but tossed about in his bed, sorely troubled.
One morning he rose before daybreak and went out into the open air, thinking that perhaps there his heart might become lighter. As he was stepping over the mill-dam the first sunbeam was just breaking forth, and he heard a rippling sound in the pond. He turned round and perceived a beautiful woman, rising slowly out of the water. Her long hair, which she was holding off her shoulders with her soft hands, fell down on both sides, and covered her white body. He soon saw that she was the nixie of the mill-pond, and in his fright did not know whether he should run away or stay where he was. But the nixie made her sweet voice heard, called him by his name, and asked him why he was so sad. The miller was at first struck dumb, but when he heard her speak so kindly, he took heart, and told her how he had formerly lived in wealth and happiness, but that now he was so poor that he did not know what to do. Be easy, answered the nixie, I will make you richer and happier than you have ever been before, only you must promise to give me the young thing which has just been born in your house. What else can that be, thought the miller, but a puppy or a kitten, and he promised her what she desired.
The nixie descended into the water again, and he hurried back to his mill, consoled and in good spirits. He had not yet reached it, when the maid-servant came out of the house and cried to him to rejoice, for his wife had given birth to a little boy. The miller stood as if struck by lightning. He saw very well that the cunning nixie had been aware of it, and had cheated him. Hanging his head, he went up to his wife's bedside and when she said, why do you not rejoice over the fine boy, he told her what had befallen him, and what kind of a promise he had given to the nixie. Of what use to me are riches and prosperity, he added, if I am to lose my child. But what can I do. Even the relatives, who had come thither to wish them joy, did not know what to say.
In the meantime prosperity again returned to the miller's house. All that he undertook succeeded. It was as if presses and coffers filled themselves of their own accord, and as if money multiplied nightly in the cupboards. It was not long before his wealth was greater than it had ever been before. But he could not rejoice over it untroubled, for the bargain which he had made with the nixie tormented his soul. Whenever he passed the mill-pond, he feared she might ascend and remind him of his debt. He never let the boy himself go near the water. Beware, he said to him, if you do but touch the water, a hand will rise, seize you, and draw you down. But as year after year went by and the nixie did not show herself again, the miller began to feel at ease. The boy grew up to be a youth and was apprenticed to a huntsman. When he had learnt everything, and had become an excellent huntsman, the lord of the village took him into his service. In the village lived a beautiful and true-hearted maiden, who pleased the huntsman, and when his master perceived that, he gave him a little house, the two were married, lived peacefully and happily, and loved each other with all their hearts.
One day the huntsman was chasing a roe. And when the animal turned aside from the forest into the open country, he pursued it and at last shot it. He did not notice that he was now in the neighborhood of the dangerous mill-pond, and went, after he had disembowelled the roe, to the water, in order to wash his blood-stained hands. Scarcely, however, had he dipped them in than the nixie ascended, smilingly wound her dripping arms around him, and drew him quickly down under the waves, which closed over him. When it was evening, and the huntsman did not return home, his wife became alarmed. She went out to seek him, and as he had often told her that he had to be on his guard against the snares of the nixie, and dared not venture into the neighborhood of the mill-pond, she already suspected what had happened.
She hastened to the water, and when she found his hunting-pouch lying on the shore, she could no longer have any doubt of the misfortune. Lamenting her sorrow, and wringing her hands, she called on her beloved by name, but in vain. She hurried across to the other side of the pond, and called him anew. She reviled the nixie with harsh words, but no answer greeted her. The surface of the water remained calm, only the crescent moon stared steadily back at her. The poor woman did not leave the pond. With hasty steps, she paced round and round it, without resting a moment, sometimes in silence, sometimes uttering a loud cry, sometimes sobbing softly. At last her strength came to an end, she sank down to the ground and fell into a heavy sleep. Presently a dream took possession of her.
She was anxiously climbing upwards between great masses of rock. Thorns and briars caught her feet, the rain beat in her face, and the wind tossed her long hair about. When she had reached the summit, quite a different sight presented itself to her. The sky was blue, the air soft, the ground sloped gently downwards, and on a green meadow, gay with flowers of every color, stood a pretty cottage. She went up to it and opened the door. There sat an old woman with white hair, who beckoned to her kindly. At that very moment, the poor woman awoke, day had already dawned, and she at once resolved to act in accordance with her dream. She laboriously climbed the mountain. Everything was exactly as she had seen it in the night. The old woman received her kindly, and pointed out a chair on which she might sit. You must have met with a misfortune, she said, since you have sought out my lonely cottage. With tears, the woman related what had befallen her. Be comforted, said the old woman, I will help you. Here is a golden comb for you. Tarry till the full moon has risen, then go to the mill-pond, seat yourself on the shore, and comb your long black hair with this comb. When you have done, lay it down on the bank, and you will see what will happen.
The woman returned home, but the time till the full moon came, passed slowly. When at last the shining disc appeared in the heavens, she went out to the mill-pond, sat down and combed her long black hair with the golden comb, and when she had finished, she laid it down at the water's edge. It was not long before there was a movement in the depths, a wave rose, rolled to the shore, and bore the comb away with it. In not more than the time necessary for the comb to sink to the bottom, the surface of the water parted, and the head of the huntsman arose. He did not speak, but looked at his wife with sorrowful glances. At the same instant, a second wave came rushing up, and covered the man's head. All had vanished, the mill-pond lay peaceful as before, and nothing but the face of the full moon shone on it. Full of sorrow, the woman went back, but again the dream showed her the cottage of the old woman.
Next morning she again set out and complained of her woes to the wise woman. The old woman gave her a golden flute, and said, tarry till the full moon comes again, then take this flute. Play a beautiful air on it, and when you have finished, lay it on the sand. Then you will see what will happen. The wife did as the old woman told her. No sooner was the flute lying on the sand than there was a stirring in the depths, and a wave rushed up and bore the flute away with it. Immediately afterwards the water parted, and not only the head of the man, but half of his body also arose. He stretched out his arms longingly towards her, but a second wave came up, covered him, and drew him down again. Alas, what does it help me, said the unhappy woman, that I should see my beloved, only to lose him again. Despair filled her heart anew, but the dream led her a third time to the house of the old woman. She set out, and the wise woman gave her a golden spinning-wheel, consoled her and said, all is not yet fulfilled, tarry until the time of the full moon, then take the spinning-wheel, seat yourself on the shore, and spin the spool full, and when you have done that, place the spinning-wheel near the water, and you will see what will happen. The woman obeyed all she said exactly.
As soon as the full moon showed itself, she carried the golden spinning-wheel to the shore, and span industriously until the flax came to an end, and the spool was quite filled with the threads. No sooner was the wheel standing on the shore than there was a more violent movement than before in the depths of the pond, and a mighty wave rushed up, and bore the wheel away with it. Immediately the head and the whole body of the man rose into the air, in a water-spout. He quickly sprang to the shore, caught his wife by the hand and fled. But they had scarcely gone a very little distance, when the whole pond rose with a frightful roar, and streamed out over the open country. The fugitives already saw death before their eyes, when the woman in her terror implored the help of the old woman, and in an instant they were transformed, she into a toad, he into a frog. The flood which had overtaken them could not destroy them, but it tore them apart and carried them far away. When the water had dispersed and they both touched dry land again, they regained their human form, but neither knew where the other was. They found themselves among strange people, who did not know their native land. High mountains and deep valleys lay between them. In order to keep themselves alive, they were both obliged to tend sheep.
For many long years they drove their flocks through field and forest and were full of sorrow and longing. When spring had once more broken forth on the earth, they both went out one day with their flocks, and as chance would have it, they drew near each other. They met in a valley, but did not recognize each other. Yet they rejoiced that they were no longer so lonely. Henceforth they each day drove their flocks to the same place. They did not speak much, but they felt comforted. One evening when the full moon was shining in the sky, and the sheep were already at rest, the shepherd pulled the flute out of his pocket, and played on it a beautiful but sorrowful air. When he had finished he saw that the shepherdess was weeping bitterly. Why are you weeping, he asked. Alas, answered she, thus shone the full moon when I played this air on the flute for the last time, and the head of my beloved rose out of the water. He looked at her, and it seemed as if a veil fell from his eyes, and he recognized his dear wife, and when she looked at him, and the moon shone in his face she knew him also. They embraced and kissed each other, and no one need ask if they were happy.
There was once a poor shepherd-boy whose father and mother were dead, and he was placed by the authorities in the house of a rich man, who was to feed him and bring him up. The man and his wife, however, had bad hearts, and were greedy and jealous of their riches, and vexed whenever anyone put a morsel of their bread in his mouth. The poor young fellow might do what he liked, he got little to eat, but only so many blows the more. One day he had to watch a hen and her chickens, but she escaped through a hedge with them, and a hawk darted down instantly, and carried her off through the air. The boy called, thief, thief, rascal, with all the strength of his body. But what good did that do. The hawk did not bring its prey back again. The man heard the noise, and ran to the spot, and as soon as he saw that his hen was gone, he fell in a rage, and gave the boy such a beating that he could not stir for two days. Then he had to take care of the chickens without the hen, but now his difficulty was greater, for one ran here and the other there. He thought he was doing a very wise thing when he tied them all together with a string, because then the hawk would not be able to steal any of them away from him. But he was very much mistaken. After two days, worn out with running about and hunger, he fell asleep. The bird of prey came, and seized one of the chickens, and as the others were tied fast to it, it carried them all off together, perched itself on a tree, and devoured them. The farmer was just coming home, and when he saw the misfortune, he got angry and beat the boy so unmercifully that he was forced to lie in bed for several days. When he was on his legs again, the farmer said to him, you are too stupid for me, I cannot make a herdsman of you, you must go as errand-boy. Then he sent him to the judge, to whom he was to carry a basketful of grapes, and he gave him a letter as well.
On the way hunger and thirst tormented the unhappy boy so violently that he ate two grapes. He took the basket to the judge, but when the judge had read the letter, and counted the grapes he said, two are missing. The boy confessed quite honestly that, driven by hunger and thirst, he had devoured the two which were missing. The judge wrote a letter to the farmer, and asked for the same number of grapes again. These also the boy had to take to him with a letter. As he again was so extremely hungry and thirsty, he could not help it, and again ate two grapes. But first he took the letter out of the basket, put it under a stone and seated himself thereon in order that the letter might not see and betray him. The judge, however, again made him give an explanation about the missing grapes. Ah, said the boy, how have you learnt that. The letter could not know about it, for I put it under a stone before I did it. The judge could not help laughing at the boy's simplicity, and sent the man a letter wherein he cautioned him to look after the poor boy better, and not let him want for meat and drink, and also that he was to teach him what was right and what was wrong. I will soon show you the difference, said the hard man, if you will eat, you must work, and if you do anything wrong, you shall be quite sufficiently taught by blows. The next day he set him a hard task. He was to chop two bundles of hay for food for the horses, and then the man threatened, in five hours, said he, I shall be back again, and if the hay is not chopped by that time, I will beat you until you can not move a limb. The farmer went with his wife, the man-servant and the girl, to the yearly fair, and left nothing behind for the boy but a small bit of bread. The boy seated himself on the bench, and began to work with all his might.
As he got warm over it he put his little coat off and threw it on the hay. In his terror lest he should not get done in time he kept constantly cutting, and in his haste, without noticing it, he chopped his little coat as well as the hay. He became aware of the misfortune too late. There was no repairing it. Ah, cried he, now all is over with me. The wicked man did not threaten me for nothing. If he comes back and sees what I have done, he will kill me. Rather than that I will take my own life. The boy had once heard the farmer's wife say, I have a pot with poison in it under my bed. She, however, had only said that to keep away greedy people, for there was honey in it. The boy crept under the bed, brought out the pot, and ate all that was in it. I do not know, said he, folks say death is bitter, but it tastes very sweet to me. It is no wonder that the farmer's wife has so often longed for death. He seated himself in a little chair, and was prepared to die. But instead of becoming weaker he felt himself strengthened by the nourishing food. It cannot have been poison, thought he, but the farmer once said there was a small bottle of poison for flies in the closet in which he keeps his clothes. That, no doubt, will be the true poison, and bring death to me. It was, however, no poison for flies, but hungarian wine. The boy got out the bottle, and emptied it. This death tastes sweet too, said he, but shortly after when the wine began to mount into his brain and stupefy him, he thought his end was drawing near. I feel that I must die, said he, I will go away to the churchyard, and seek a grave. He staggered out, reached the churchyard, and laid himself in a newly dug grave. He lost his senses more and more. In the neighborhood was an inn where a wedding was being held. When he heard the music, he fancied he was already in paradise, until at length he lost all consciousness. The poor boy never awoke again. The heat of the strong wine and the cold night-dew deprived him of life, and he remained in the grave in which he had laid himself. When the farmer heard the news of the boy's death he was terrified, and afraid of being brought to justice - indeed, his distress took such a powerful hold of him that he fell fainting to the ground. His wife, who was standing by the hearth with a pan of hot fat, ran to him to help him. But the flames enveloped the pan, the whole house caught fire, in a few hours it lay in ashes, and the rest of the years they had to live they passed in poverty and misery, tormented by the pangs of conscience
There was once upon a time a girl who was young and beautiful, but she had lost her mother when she was quite a child, and her step-mother did all she could to make the girl's life wretched. Whenever this woman gave her anything to do, she worked at it indefatigably, and did everything that lay in her power. Still she could not touch the heart of the wicked woman, she was never satisfied, it was never enough. The harder the girl worked, the more work was put upon her, and all that the woman thought of was how to weigh her down with still heavier burdens, and make her life still more miserable. One day she said to her, here are twelve pounds of feathers which you must pick, and if they are not done this evening, you may expect a good beating. Do you imagine you are to idle away the whole day. The poor girl sat down to the work, but tears ran down her cheeks as she did so, for she saw plainly enough that it was quite impossible to finish the work in one day. Whenever she had a little heap of feathers lying before her, and she sighed or smote her hands together in her anguish, they flew away, and she had to pick them up again, and begin her work anew. Then she put her elbows on the table, laid her face in her two hands, and cried, is there no one, then, on God's earth to have pity on me. Then she heard a low voice which said, be comforted, my child, I have come to help you. The maiden looked up, and an old woman was by her side. She took the girl kindly by the hand, and said, only tell me what is troubling you. As she spoke so kindly, the girl told her of her miserable life, and how one burden after another was laid upon her, and she never could get to the end of the work which was given to her. If I have not done these feathers by this evening, my step-mother will beat me, she has threatened she will, and I know she keeps her word. Her tears began to flow again, but the good old woman said, do not be afraid, my child, rest a while, and in the meantime I will look to your work. The girl lay down on her bed, and soon fell asleep. The old woman seated herself at the table with the feathers, and how they did fly off the quills, which she scarcely touched with her withered hands. The twelve pounds were soon finished, and when the girl awoke, great snow-white heaps were lying, piled up, and everything in the room was neatly cleared away, but the old woman had vanished. The maiden thanked God, and sat still till evening came, when the step-mother came in and marveled to see the work completed. Just look, you awkward creature, said she, what can be done when people are industrious, and why could you not set about something else. There you sit with your hands crossed.
When she went out she said, the creature is worth more than her salt. I must give her some work that is still harder. Next morning she called the girl, and said there is a spoon for you. With that you must empty out the great pond which is beside the garden, and if it is not done by night, you know what will happen. The girl took the spoon, and saw that it was full of holes, but even if it had not been, she never could have emptied the pond with it. She set to work at once, knelt down by the water, into which her tears were falling, and began to empty it. But the good old woman appeared again, and when she learnt the cause of her grief, she said, be of good cheer, my child. Go into the thicket and lie down and sleep, I will soon do your work. As soon as the old woman was alone, she barely touched the pond, and a vapor rose up on high from the water, and mingled itself with the clouds. Gradually the pond was emptied, and when the maiden awoke before sunset and came thither, she saw nothing but the fishes which were struggling in the mud. She went to her step-mother, and showed her that the work was done. It ought to have been done long before this, said she, and grew white with anger, but she meditated something new. On the third morning she said to the girl, you must build me a castle on the plain there, and it must be ready by the evening. The maiden was dismayed, and said, how can I complete such a great work. I will endure no opposition, screamed the step-mother. If you can empty a pond with a spoon that is full of holes, you can build a castle too. I will take possession of it this very day, and if anything is wanting, even if it be the most trifling thing in the kitchen or cellar, you know what lies before you. She drove the girl out, and when she entered the valley, the rocks were there, piled up one above the other, and all her strength would not have enabled her even to move the very smallest of them. She sat down and wept, and still she hoped the old woman would help her.
The old woman was not long in coming, she comforted her and said, lie down there in the shade and sleep, and I will soon build the castle for you. If it would be a pleasure to you, you can live in it yourself. When the maiden had gone away, the old woman touched the gray rocks. They began to rise, moved together and stood there as if giants had built the walls, and on these the building arose and it seemed as if countless hands were working invisibly, and placing one stone upon another. There was a dull heavy noise from the ground, pillars arose of their own accord on high, and placed themselves in order near each other. The tiles laid themselves in order on the roof, and when noon-day came, the great weather-cock was already turning itself on the summit of the tower, like a golden maid with fluttering garments. The inside of the castle was being finished while evening was drawing near. How the old woman managed it, I know not, but the walls of the rooms were hung with silk and velvet, embroidered chairs were there, and richly ornamented arm-chairs by marble tables, crystal chandeliers hung down from the ceilings, and mirrored themselves in the smooth floor, green parrots were there in gilt cages, and so were strange birds which sang most beautifully, and there was on all sides as much magnificence as if a king were going to live there. The sun was just setting when the girl awoke, and the brightness of a thousand lights flashed in her face. She hurried to the castle, and entered by the open door. The steps were spread with red cloth, and the golden balustrade beset with flowering trees. When she saw the splendor of the rooms, she stood as if turned to stone. Who knows how long she might have stood there if she had not remembered the step-mother. Alas, she said to herself, if she could but be satisfied at last, and would give up making my life a misery to me. The girl went and told her that the castle was ready. I will move into it at once, said she, and rose from her seat. When they entered the castle, she was forced to hold her hand before her eyes, the brilliancy of everything was so dazzling. You see, said she to the girl, how easy it has been for you to do this, I ought to have given you something harder. She went through all the rooms, and examined every corner to see if anything was wanting or defective, but she could discover nothing.
Now we will go down below, said she, looking at the girl with malicious eyes. The kitchen and the cellar still have to be examined and if you have forgotten anything you shall not escape your punishment. But the fire was burning on the hearth, and the meat was cooking in the pans, the tongs and shovel were leaning against the wall, and the shining brazen utensils all arranged in sight. Nothing was missing, not even a coal-box and a water-pail. Which is the way to the cellar, she cried. If that is not abundantly filled with wine casks it shall go ill with you. She herself raised up the trap-door and descended, but she had hardly made two steps before the heavy trap-door which was only laid back, fell down. The girl heard a scream, lifted up the door very quickly to go to her aid, but she had fallen down, and the girl found her lying lifeless at the bottom. And now the magnificent castle belonged to the girl alone. She at first did not know how to reconcile herself to her good fortune. Beautiful dresses were hanging in the wardrobes, the chests were filled with gold and silver, or with pearls and jewels, and she never felt a desire that she was not able to gratify. And soon the fame of the beauty and riches of the maiden went over all the world. Wooers presented themselves daily but none pleased her. At length the son of the king came and he knew how to touch her heart, and she betrothed herself to him. In the garden of the castle was a lime-tree, under which they were one day sitting together, when he said to her, I will go home and obtain my father's consent to our marriage. I entreat you to wait for me under this lime-tree, I shall be back with you in a few hours. The maiden kissed him on his left cheek, and said, keep true to me, and never let any one else kiss you on this cheek. I will wait here under the lime-tree until you return. The maid stayed beneath the lime-tree until sunset, but he did not return. She sat three days from morning till evening, waiting for him, but in vain. As he still was not there by the fourth day, she said, some accident has assuredly befallen him. I will go out and seek him, and will not come back until I have found him. She packed up three of her most beautiful dresses, one embroidered with bright stars, the second with silver moons, the third with golden suns, tied up a handful of jewels in her handkerchief, and set out. She inquired everywhere for her betrothed, but no one had seen him, no one knew anything about him. Far and wide did she wander through the world, but she found him not. At last she hired herself to a farmer as a cowherd, and buried her dresses and jewels beneath a stone. And now she lived as a herdswoman, guarded her herd, and was very sad and full of longing for her beloved. She had a little calf which she taught to know her, and fed it out of her own hand, and when she said, little calf, little calf, kneel by my side, and do not forget your cowherd-maid, as the prince forgot his betrothed bride, who waited for him 'neath the lime-tree's shade. The little calf knelt down, and she stroked it. And when she had lived for a couple of years alone and full of grief, a report was spread over all the land that the king's daughter was about to celebrate her marriage. The road to the town passed through the village where the maiden was living, and it came to pass that once when the maiden was driving out her herd, the bridegroom traveled by. He was sitting proudly on his horse, and never looked round, but when she saw him she recognized her beloved, and it was just as if a sharp knife had pierced her heart. Alas, said she, I believed him true to me, but he has forgotten me. Next day he again came along the road. When he was near her she said to the little calf, little calf, little calf, kneel by my side, and do not forget your cowherd-maid, as the prince forgot his betrothed bride, who waited for him 'neath the lime-tree's shade. When he was aware of the voice, he looked down and reined in his horse. He looked into the girl's face and then put his hands before his eyes as if he were trying to remember something, but he soon rode onwards and was out of sight.
Alas, said she, he no longer knows me. And her grief was ever greater. Soon after this a great festival three days long was to be held at the king's court, and the whole country was invited to it. Now will I try my last chance, thought the maiden, and when evening came she went to the stone under which she had buried her treasures. She took out the dress with the golden suns, put it on, and adorned herself with the jewels. She let down her hair, which she had concealed under a handkerchief, and it fell down in long curls about her, and thus she went into the town, and in the darkness was observed by no one. When she entered the brightly lighted hall, every one started back in amazement, but no one knew who she was. The king's son went to meet her, but he did not recognize her. He led her out to dance, and was so enchanted with her beauty, that he thought no more of the other bride. When the feast was over, she vanished in the crowd, and hastened before daybreak to the village, where she once more put on her herd's dress. Next evening she took out the dress with the silver moons, and put a half-moon made of precious stones in her hair. When she appeared at the festival, all eyes were turned upon her, but the king's son hastened to meet her, and filled with love for her, danced with her alone, and no longer so much as glanced at anyone else. Before she went away she was forced to promise him to come again to the festival on the last evening. When she appeared for the third time, she wore the star-dress which sparkled at every step she took, and her hair-ribbon and girdle were starred with jewels. The prince had already been waiting for her for a long time, and forced his way up to her. Do but tell who you are, said he, I feel just as if I had already known you a long time. Do you not know what I did when you left me. Then she stepped up to him, and kissed him on his left cheek, and in a moment it was as if scales fell from his eyes, and he recognized the true bride. Come, said he to her, here I stay no longer, gave her his hamd, and led her down to the carriage. The horses hurried away to the magic castle as if the wind had been harnessed to the carriage. The illuminated windows already shone in the distance. When they drove past the lime-tree, countless glow-worms were swarming about it. It shook its branches, and sent forth their fragrance. On the steps flowers were blooming, and the room echoed with the song of strange birds, but in the hall the entire court was assembled, and the priest was waiting to marry the bridegroom and the true bride.
There was once a girl whose father and mother died while she was still a little child. All alone, in a small house at the end of the village, dwelt her godmother, who supported herself by spinning, weaving, and sewing. The old woman took the forlorn child to live with her, kept her to her work, and educated her in all that is good. When the girl was fifteen years old, the old woman became ill, called the child to her bedside, and said, dear daughter, I feel my end drawing near. I leave you the little house, which will protect you from wind and weather, and my spindle, shuttle, and needle, with which you can earn your bread. Then she laid her hands on the girl's head, blessed her, and said, only preserve the love of God in your heart, and all will go well with you. Thereupon she closed her eyes, and when she was laid in the earth, the maiden followed the coffin, weeping bitterly, and paid her the last mark of respect. And now the maiden lived quite alone in the little house, and was industrious, and spun, wove, and sewed, and the blessing of the good old woman was on all that she did. It seemed as if the flax in the room increased of its own accord, and whenever she wove a piece of cloth or carpet, or had made a shirt, she at once found a buyer who paid her amply for it, so that she was in want of nothing, and even had something to share with others. About this time, the son of the king was traveling about the country looking for a bride. He was not to choose a poor one, and did not want to have a rich one. So he said, she shall be my wife who is the poorest, and at the same time the richest. When he came to the village where the maiden dwelt, he inquired, as he did wherever he went, who was the richest and also the poorest girl in the place. They first named the richest.
The poorest, they said, was the girl who lived in the small house quite at the end of the village. The rich girl was sitting in all her splendor before the door of her house, and when the prince approached her, she got up, went to meet him, and made him a low curtsy. He looked at her, said nothing, and rode on. When he came to the house of the poor girl, she was not standing at the door, but sitting in her little room. He stopped his horse, and saw through the window, on which the bright sun was shining, the girl sitting at her spinning-wheel, busily spinning. She looked up, and when she saw that the prince was looking in, she blushed all over her face, let her eyes fall, and went on spinning. I do not know whether, just at that moment, the thread was quite even, but she went on spinning until the king's son had ridden away again. Then she went to the window, opened it, and said, it is so warm in this room, and she looked after him as long as she could distinguish the white feathers in his hat. Then she sat down to work again in her room and went on with her spinning, and a saying which the old woman had often repeated when she was sitting at her work, came into her mind, and she sang these words to herself, spindle, my spindle, haste, haste thee away, and here to my house bring the wooer, I pray. And what do you think happened. The spindle sprang out of her hand in an instant, and out of the door, and when, in her astonishment, she got up and looked after it, she saw that it was dancing out merrily into the open country, and drawing a shining gold thread after it. Before long, it had entirely vanished from her sight. As she had now no spindle, the girl took the weaver's shuttle in her hand, sat down to her loom, and began to weave.
The spindle, however, danced continually onwards, and just as the thread came to an end, reached the prince. What do I see, he cried, the spindle certainly wants to show me the way, turned his horse about, and rode back with the golden thread. The girl however, was sitting at her work singing, shuttle, my shuttle, weave well this day, and guide the wooer to me, I pray. Immediately the shuttle sprang out of her hand and out by the door. Before the threshold, however, it began to weave a carpet which was more beautiful than the eyes of man had ever yet beheld. Lilies and roses blossomed on both sides of it, and on a golden ground in the center green branches ascended, under which bounded hares and rabbits, stags and deer stretched their heads in between them, brightly-colored birds were sitting in the branches above, they lacked nothing but the gift of song. The shuttle leapt hither and thither, and everything seemed to grow of its own accord. As the shuttle had run away, the girl sat down to sew. She held the needle in her hand and sang, needle, my needle, sharp-pointed and fine, prepare for the wooer this house of mine. Then the needle leapt out of her fingers, and flew everywhere about the room as quick as lightning. It was just as if invisible spirits were working, it covered tables and benches with green cloth in an instant, and the chairs with velvet, and hung the windows with silken curtains.
Hardly had the needle put in the last stitch than the maiden saw through the window the white feathers of the prince, whom the spindle had brought thither by the golden thread. He alighted, stepped over the carpet into the house, and when he entered the room, there stood the maiden in her poor garments, but she shone out from within them like a rose surrounded by leaves. You are the poorest and also the richest, said he to her. Come with me, you shall be my bride. She did not speak, but she gave him her hand. Then he gave her a kiss, led her forth, lifted her on to his horse, and took her to the royal castle, where the wedding was solemnized with great rejoicings. The spindle, shuttle, and needle were preserved in the treasure-chamber, and held in great honor.
There was once upon a time a princess, who, high under the battlements in her castle, had an apartment with twelve windows, which looked out in every possible direction, and when she climbed up to it and looked around her, she could inspect her whole kingdom. When she looked out of the first, her sight was more keen than that of any other human being, from the second she could see still better, from the third more distinctly still, and so it went on, until the twelfth, from which she saw everything above the earth and under the earth, and nothing at all could be kept secret from her. Moreover, as she was haughty, and would be subject to no one, but wished to keep the dominion for herself alone, she caused it to be proclaimed that no one should ever be her husband who could not conceal himself from her so effectively, that it should be quite impossible for her to find him. He who tried this, however, and was discovered by her, was to have his head struck off, and stuck on a post. Ninety-seven posts with the heads of dead men were already standing before the castle, and no one had come forward for a long time. The princess was delighted, and thought to herself, now I shall be free as long as I live. Then three brothers appeared before her, and announced to her that they were desirous of trying their luck. The eldest believed he would be quite safe if he crept into a lime-pit, but she saw him from the first window, made him come out, and had his head cut off. The second crept into the cellar of the palace, but she perceived him also from the first window, and his fate was sealed. His head was placed on the nine and ninetieth post. Then the youngest came to her and entreated her to give him a day for consideration, and also to be so gracious as to overlook it if she should happen to discover him twice, but if he failed the third time, he would look on his life as over. As he was so handsome, and begged so earnestly, she said, yes, I will grant you that, but you will not succeed.
Next day he meditated for a long time how he should hide himself, but all in vain. Then he seized his gun and went out hunting. He saw a raven, took a good aim at him, and was just going to fire, when the bird cried, don't shoot, I will reward you. He put his gun down, went on, and came to a lake where he surprised a large fish which had come up from the depths below to the surface of the water. When he had aimed at it, the fish cried, don't shoot, and I will reward you. He allowed it to dive down again, went onwards, and met a fox which was lame. He fired and missed it, and the fox cried, you had much better come here and draw the thorn out of my foot for me. He did this, but when he wanted to kill the fox and skin it, the fox said, stop, and I will reward you. The youth let him go, and then as it was evening, returned home. Next day he was to hide himself, but no matter how he puzzled his brains over it, he did not know where. He went into the forest to the raven and said, I let you live on, so now tell me where I am to hide myself, so that the king's daughter will not see me. The raven hung his head and thought it over for a long time. At length he croaked, I have it. He fetched an egg out of his nest, cut it into two parts, and shut the youth inside it, then made it whole again, and seated himself on it. When the king's daughter went to the first window she could not discover him, nor could she from the others, and she began to be uneasy, but from the eleventh she saw him. She ordered the raven to be shot, and the egg to be brought and broken, and the youth was forced to come out. She said, for once you are excused, but if you do not better than this, you are lost.
Next day he went to the lake, called the fish to him and said, I suffered you to live, now tell me where to hide myself so that the king's daughter may not see me. The fish thought for a while, and at last cried, I have it, I will shut you up in my stomach. He swallowed him, and went down to the bottom of the lake. The king's daughter looked through her windows, and even from the eleventh did not see him, and was alarmed, but at length from the twelfth she saw him. She ordered the fish to be caught and killed, and then the youth appeared. It is easy to imagine the state of mind he was in. She said, twice you are forgiven, but be sure that your head will be set on the hundredth post. On the last day, he went with a heavy heart into the country, and met the fox. You know how to find all kinds of hiding-places, said he, I let you live, now advise me where I shall hide myself so that the king's daughter shall not discover me. That's a hard task, answered the fox, looking very thoughtful. At length he cried, I have it, and went with him to a spring, dipped himself in it, and came out as a stall-keeper in the market, and dealer in animals. The youth had to dip himself in the water also, and was changed into a small sea-hare. The merchant went into the town, and showed the pretty little animal, and many persons gathered together to see it. At length the king's daughter came likewise, and as she liked it very much, she bought it, and gave the merchant a good deal of money for it. Before he gave it over to her, he said to it, when the king's daughter goes to the window, creep quickly under the braids of her her hair. And now the time arrived when she was to search for him. She went to one window after another in turn, from the first to the eleventh, and did not see him. When she did not see him from the twelfth either, she was full of anxiety and anger, and shut it down with such violence that the glass in every window shivered into a thousand pieces, and the whole castle shook. She went back and felt the sea-hare beneath the braids of her hair. Then she seized it, and threw it on the ground exclaiming, away with you, get out of my sight. It ran to the merchant, and both of them hurried to the spring, wherein they plunged, and received back their true forms. The youth thanked the fox, and said, the raven and the fish are idiots compared with you, you know the right tune to play, there is no denying that. The youth went straight to the palace. The princess was already expecting him, and abandoned herself to her fate. The wedding was solemnized, and now he was king, and lord of all the kingdom. He never told her where he had concealed himself for the third time, and who had helped him, so she believed that he had done everything by his own skill, and she had a great respect for him, for she thought to herself, he is able to do more than I.
One day an old man and his wife were sitting in front of a miserable house resting a while from their work. Suddenly a splendid carriage with four black horses came driving up, and a richly-dressed man descended from it. The peasant stood up, went to the great man, and asked what he wanted, and in what way he could serve him. The stranger stretched out his hand to the old man, and said, I want nothing but to enjoy for once a country dish, cook me some potatoes, in the way you always have them, and then I will sit down at your table and eat them with pleasure. The peasant smiled and said, you are a count or a prince, or perhaps even a duke, noble gentlemen often have such fancies, but you shall have your wish. The wife then went into the kitchen and began to wash and rub the potatoes, and to make them into balls, as they are eaten by the country-folks. Whilst she was busy with this work, the peasant said to the stranger, come into my garden with me for a while, I have still something to do there. He had dug some holes in the garden, and now wanted to plant trees in them. Have you no children, asked the stranger, who could help you with your work. No, answered the peasant, I had a son, it is true, but it is long since he went out into the world. He was a ne'er-do-well, clever and knowing, but he would learn nothing and was full of bad tricks. At last he ran away from me, and since then I have heard nothing of him. The old man took a young tree, put it in a hole, drove in a post beside it, and when he had shovelled in some earth and had trampled it firmly down, he tied the stem of the tree above, below, and in the middle, fast to the post by a rope of straw. But tell me, said the stranger, why you don't tie that crooked knotted tree, which is lying in the corner there, bent down almost to the ground, to a post also that it may grow straight, as well as these. The old man smiled and said, sir, you speak according to your knowledge, it is easy to see that you are not familiar with gardening. That tree there is old, and mis-shapen, no one can make it straight now. Trees must be trained while they are young. That is how it was with your son, said the stranger, if you had trained him while he was still young, he would not have run away. Now he too must have grown hard and mis-shapen. Truly it is a long time since he went away, replied the old man, he must have changed. Would you know him again if he were to come to you, asked the stranger.
Hardly by his face, replied the peasant, but he has a mark about him, a birth-mark on his shoulder, that looks like a bean. When he had said that the stranger pulled off his coat, bared his shoulder, and showed the peasant the bean. Good God, cried the old man, you are really my son, and love for his child stirred in his heart. But, he added, how can you be my son, you have become a great lord and live in wealth and luxury. How have you contrived to do that. Ah, father, answered the son, the young tree was bound to no post and has grown crooked. Now it is too old, it will never be straight again. How have I come by all this. I have become a thief, but do not be alarmed, I am a master-thief. For me there are neither locks nor bolts, whatsoever I desire is mine. Do not imagine that I steal like a common thief, I only take some of the superfluity of the rich. Poor people are safe, I would rather give to them than take anything from them. It is the same with anything which I can have without trouble, cunning, and dexterity - I never touch it. Alas, my son, said the father, it still does not please me, a thief is still a thief, I tell you it will end badly. He took him to his mother, and when she heard that was her son, she wept for joy, but when he told her that he had become a master-thief, two streams flowed down over her face. At length she said, even if he has become a thief, he is still my son, and my eyes have beheld him once more. They sat down to table, and once again he ate with his parents the wretched food which he had not eaten for so long. The father said, if our lord, the count up there in the castle, learns who you are, and what trade you follow, he will not take you in his arms and cradle you in them as he did when he held you at the font, but will cause you to swing from a halter. Be easy, father, he will do me no harm, for I understand my trade. I will go to him myself this very day.
When evening drew near, the master-thief seated himself in his carriage, and drove to the castle. The count received him civilly, for he took him for a distinguished man. When, however, the stranger made himself known, the count turned pale and was quite silent for some time. At length he said, you are my godson, and on that account mercy shall take the place of justice, and I will deal leniently with you. Since you pride yourself on being a master-thief, I will put your art to the proof, but if you do not stand the test, you must marry the rope-maker's daughter, and the croaking of the raven must be your music on the occasion. Lord count, answered the master-thief, think of three things, as difficult as you like, and if I do not perform your tasks, do with me what you will. The count reflected for some minutes, and then said, well, then, in the first place, you shall steal the horse I keep for my own riding, out of the stable. In the next, you shall steal the sheet from beneath the bodies of my wife and myself when we are asleep, without our observing it, and the wedding-ring of my wife as well. Thirdly and lastly, you shall steal away out of the church, the parson and clerk. Mark what I am saying, for your life depends on it. The master-thief went to the nearest town, there he bought the clothes of an old peasant woman, and put them on. Then he stained his face brown, and painted wrinkles on it as well, so that no one could have recognized him. Then he filled a small cask with old hungary wine in which was mixed a powerful sleeping-drink. He put the cask in a basket, which he took on his back, and walked with slow and tottering steps to the count's castle. It was already dark when he arrived. He sat down on a stone in the court-yard and began to cough, like an asthmatic old woman, and to rub his hands as if he were cold. In front of the door of the stable some soldiers were lying round a fire, one of them observed the woman, and called out to her, come nearer, old mother, and warm yourself beside us. After all, you have no bed for the night, and must take one where you can find it. The old woman tottered up to them, begged them to lift the basket from her back, and sat down beside them at the fire. What have you got in your little cask, old hag, asked one. A good mouthful of wine, she answered. I live by trade, for money and fair words I am quite ready to let you have a glass. Let us have it here, then, said the soldier, and when he had tasted one glass he said, when wine is good, I like another glass, and had another poured out for himself, and the rest followed his example. Hallo, comrades, cried one of them to those who were in the stable, here is an old girl who has wine that is as old as herself, take a draught, it will warm your stomachs far better than our fire. The old woman carried her cask into the stable. One of the soldiers had seated himself on the saddled riding-horse, another held its bridle in his hand, a third had laid hold of its tail. She poured out as much as they wanted until the spring ran dry.
It was not long before the bridle fell from the hand of the one, and he fell down and began to snore, the other left hold of the tail, lay down and snored still louder. The one who was sitting in the saddle, did remain sitting, but bent his head down almost to the horse's neck, and slept and blew with his mouth like the bellows of a forge. The soldiers outside had already been asleep for a long time, and were lying on the ground motionless, as if dead. When the master-thief saw that he had succeeded, he gave the first a rope in his hand instead of the bridle, and the other who had been holding the tail, a wisp of straw, but what was he to do with the one who was sitting on the horse's back. He did not want to throw him down, for he might have awakened and have uttered a cry. He had a good idea, he unbuckled the girths of the saddle, tied a couple of ropes which were hanging to a ring on the wall fast to the saddle, and drew the sleeping rider up into the air on it, then he twisted the rope round the posts, and made it fast. He soon unloosed the horse from the chain, but if he had ridden over the stony pavement of the yard they would have heard the noise in the castle. So he wrapped the horse's hoofs in old rags, led him carefully out, leapt upon him, and galloped off. When day broke, the master galloped to the castle on the stolen horse. The count had just got up, and was looking out of the window. Good morning, sir count, he cried to him, here is the horse, which I have got safely out of the stable. Just look, how beautifully your soldiers are lying there sleeping, and if you will but go into the stable, you will see how comfortable your watchers have made it for themselves. The count could not help laughing. Then he said, for once you have succeeded, but things won't go so well the second time, and I warn you that if you come before me as a thief, I will handle you as I would a thief. When the countess went to bed that night, she closed her hand with the wedding-ring tightly together, and the count said, all the doors are locked and bolted, I will keep awake and wait for the thief, but if he gets in by the window, I will shoot him. The master-thief, however, went in the dark to the gallows, cut a poor sinner who was hanging there down from the halter, and carried him on his back to the castle. Then he set a ladder up to the bedroom, put the dead body on his shoulders, and began to climb up. When he had got so high that the head of the dead man showed at the window, the count, who was watching in his bed, fired a pistol at him, and immediately the master let the poor sinner fall down, descended the ladder, and hid himself in one corner. The night was sufficiently lighted by the moon, for the master to see distinctly how the count got out of the window on to the ladder, came down, carried the dead body into the garden, and began to dig a hole in which to lay it. Now, thought the thief, the favorable moment has come, stole nimbly out of his corner, and climbed up the ladder straight into the countess's bedroom.
Dear wife, he began in the count's voice, the thief is dead, but, after all, he is my godson, and has been more of a scape-grace than a villain. I will not put him to open shame, besides, I am sorry for the parents. I will bury him myself before daybreak in the garden, that the thing may not be known. So give me the sheet, I will wrap up the body in it, and not bury him like a dog. The countess gave him the sheet. I tell you what, continued the thief, I have a fit of magnanimity, give me the ring too, - the unhappy man risked his life for it, so he may take it with him into his grave. She would not gainsay the count, and although she did it unwillingly she drew the ring from her finger, and gave it to him. The thief made off with both these things, and reached home safely before the count in the garden had finished his work of burying. What a long face the count did pull when the master came next morning, and brought him the sheet and the ring. Are you a wizard, said he, who has fetched you out of the grave in which I myself laid you, and brought you to life again. You did not bury me, said the thief, but the poor sinner on the gallows, and he told him exactly how everything had happened, and the count was forced to own to him that he was a clever, crafty thief. But you have not reached the end yet, he added, you have still to perform the third task, and if you do not succeed in that, all is of no use. The master smiled and returned no answer.
When night had fallen he went with a long sack on his back, a bundle under his arms, and a lantern in his hand to the village church. In the sack he had some crabs, and in the bundle short wax-candles. He sat down in the churchyard, took out a crab, and stuck a wax-candle on his back. Then he lighted the little light, put the crab on the ground, and let it creep about. He took a second out of the sack, and treated it in the same way, and so on until the last was out of the sack. Hereupon he put on a long black garment that looked like a monk's cowl, and stuck a gray beard on his chin. When at last he was quite unrecognizable, he took the sack in which the crabs had been, went into the church, and ascended the pulpit. The clock in the tower was just striking twelve, when the last stroke had sounded, he cried with a loud and piercing voice, hearken, sinful men, the end of all things has come. The last day is at hand. Hearken. Hearken. Whosoever wishes to go to heaven with me must creep into the sack. I am peter, who opens and shuts the gate of heaven. Behold how the dead outside there in the chuchyard are wandering about collecting their bones. Come, come, and creep into the sack, the world is about to be destroyed. The cry echoed through the whole village. The parson and clerk who lived nearest to the church, heard it first, and when they saw the lights which were moving about the churchyard, they observed that something unusual was going on, and went into the church. They listened to the sermon for a while, and then the clerk nudged the parson and said, it would not be amiss if we were to use the opportunity together, and before the dawning of the last day, find an easy way of getting to heaven. To tell the truth, answered the parson, that is what I myself have been thinking, so if you are inclined, we will set out on our way. Yes, answered the clerk, but you, the pastor, have the precedence, I will follow. So the parson went first, and ascended the pulpit where the master opened his sack. The parson crept in first, and then the clerk. The master immediately tied up the sack tightly, seized it by the middle, and dragged it down the pulpit-steps, and whenever the heads of the two fools bumped against the steps, he cried, we are going over the mountains. Then he drew them through the village in the same way, and when they were passing through puddles, he cried, now we are going through wet clouds.
And when at last he was dragging them up the steps of the castle, he cried, now we are on the steps of heaven, and will soon be in the outer court. When he had got to the top, he pushed the sack into the pigeon-house, and when the pigeons fluttered about, he said, hark how glad the angels are, and how they are flapping their wings. Then he bolted the door upon them, and went away. Next morning he went to the count, and told him that he had performed the third task also, and had carried the parson and clerk out of the church. Where have you left them, asked the Lord. They are lying upstairs in a sack in the pigeon-house, and imagine that they are in heaven. The count went up himself, and convinced himself that the master had told the truth. When he had delivered the parson and clerk from their captivity, he said, you are an arch-thief, and have won your wager. For once you escape with a whole skin, but see that you leave my land, for if ever you set foot on it again, you may count on your elevation to the gallows. The arch-thief took leave of his parents, once more went forth into the wide world, and no one has ever heard of him since.
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