will I mount it. Now I like your cow, for one can walk quietly behind
her, and have, over and above, one's milk, butter and cheese every day
without fail. What would I not give to have such a cow." "Well," said
the countryman, "if it would give you so much pleasure, I do not mind
giving the cow for the horse." Hans agreed with the greatest delight;
the countryman jumped upon the horse, and rode quickly away.
Hans drove his cow quietly before him, and thought over his lucky
bargain. "If only I have a morsel of bread - -and that can hardly fail
me - -I can eat butter and cheese with it as often as I like; if I am
thirsty, I can milk my cow and drink the milk. Good heart, what more
can I want?"
When he came to an inn he made a halt, and in his great content ate up
what he had with him - -his dinner and supper - -and all he had, and with
his last few farthings had half a glass of beer. Then he drove his cow
onwards along the road to his mother's village.
As it drew nearer mid-day, the heat was more oppressive, and Hans found
himself upon a moor which it took about an hour to cross. He felt it
very hot and his tongue clave to the roof of his mouth with thirst. "I
can find a cure for this," thought Hans; "I will milk the cow now and
refresh myself with the milk." He tied her to a withered tree, and as
he had no pail he put his leather cap underneath; but try as he would,
not a drop of milk came. And as he set himself to work in a clumsy way,
the impatient beast at last gave him such a blow on his head with its
hind foot, that he fell on the ground, and for a long time could not
think where he was.
By good fortune a butcher just then came along the road with a
wheel-barrow, in which lay a young pig. "What sort of a trick is
this?" cried he, and helped the good Hans up. Hans told him what had
happened. The butcher gave him his flask and said, "Take a drink and
refresh yourself. The cow will certainly give no milk, it is an old beast;
at the best it is only fit for the plough, or for the butcher." "Well,
well," said Hans, as he stroked his hair down on his head, "who would
have thought it? Certainly it is a fine thing when one can kill a beast
like that at home; what meat one has! But I do not care much for beef,
it is not juicy enough for me. A young pig like that now is the thing
to have, it tastes quite different; and then there are the sausages!"
"Hark ye, Hans," said the butcher, "out of love for you I will exchange,
and will let you have the pig for the cow." "Heaven repay you for your
kindness!" said Hans as he gave up the cow, whilst the pig was unbound
from the barrow, and the cord by which it was tied was put in his hand.
Hans went on, and thought to himself how everything was going just
as he wished; if he did meet with any vexation it was immediately
set right. Presently there joined him a lad who was carrying a fine
white goose under his arm. They said good morning to each other,
and Hans began to tell of his good luck, and how he had always made
such good bargains. The boy told him that he was taking the goose to a
christening-feast. "Just lift her," added he, and laid hold of her by the
wings; "how heavy she is - -she has been fattened up for the last eight
weeks. Whoever has a bit of her when she is roasted will have to wipe
the fat from both sides of his mouth." "Yes," said Hans, as he weighed
her in one hand, "she is a good weight, but my pig is no bad one."
Meanwhile the lad looked suspiciously from one side to the other,
and shook his head. "Look here," he said at length, "it may not be all
right with your pig. In the village through which I passed, the Mayor
himself had just had one stolen out of its sty. I fear - -I fear that you
have got hold of it there. They have sent out some people and it would
be a bad business if they caught you with the pig; at the very least,
you would be shut up in the dark hole."
The good Hans was terrified. "Goodness!" he said, "help me out of this
fix; you know more about this place than I do, take my pig and leave me
your goose." "I shall risk something at that game," answered the lad,
"but I will not be the cause of your getting into trouble." So he took
the cord in his hand, and drove away the pig quickly along a by-path.
The good Hans, free from care, went homewards with the goose under
his arm. "When I think over it properly," said he to himself, "I have
even gained by the exchange; first there is the good roast-meat, then
the quantity of fat which will drip from it, and which will give me
dripping for my bread for a quarter of a year, and lastly the beautiful
white feathers; I will have my pillow stuffed with them, and then indeed
I shall go to sleep without rocking. How glad my mother will be!"
As he was going through the last village, there stood a scissors-grinder
with his barrow; as his wheel whirred he sang - -
"I sharpen scissors and quickly grind,
My coat blows out in the wind behind."
Hans stood still and looked at him; at last he spoke to him and said,
"All's well with you, as you are so merry with your grinding." "Yes,"
answered the scissors-grinder, "the trade has a golden foundation. A
real grinder is a man who as often as he puts his hand into his pocket
finds gold in it. But where did you buy that fine goose?"
"I did not buy it, but exchanged my pig for it."
"And the pig?"
"That I got for a cow."
"And the cow?"
"I took that instead of a horse."
"And the horse?"
"For that I gave a lump of gold as big as my head."
"And the gold?"
"Well, that was my wages for seven years' service."
"You have known how to look after yourself each time," said the
grinder. "If you can only get on so far as to hear the money jingle in
your pocket whenever you stand up, you will have made your fortune."
"How shall I manage that?" said Hans. "You must be a grinder, as I am;
nothing particular is wanted for it but a grindstone, the rest finds
itself. I have one here; it is certainly a little worn, but you need
not give me anything for it but your goose; will you do it?"
"How can you ask?" answered Hans. "I shall be the luckiest fellow on
earth; if I have money whenever I put my hand in my pocket, what need
I trouble about any longer?" and he handed him the goose and received
the grindstone in exchange. "Now," said the grinder, as he took up an
ordinary heavy stone that lay by him, "here is a strong stone for you
into the bargain; you can hammer well upon it, and straighten your old
nails. Take it with you and keep it carefully."
Hans loaded himself with the stones, and went on with a contented heart;
his eyes shone with joy. "I must have been born with a caul," he cried;
"everything I want happens to me just as if I were a Sunday-child."
Meanwhile, as he had been on his legs since daybreak, he began to feel
tired. Hunger also tormented him, for in his joy at the bargain by which
he got the cow he had eaten up all his store of food at once. At last
he could only go on with great trouble, and was forced to stop every
minute; the stones, too, weighed him down dreadfully. Then he could not
help thinking how nice it would be if he had not to carry them just then.
He crept like a snail to a well in a field, and there he thought that
he would rest and refresh himself with a cool draught of water, but in
order that he might not injure the stones in sitting down, he laid them
carefully by his side on the edge of the well. Then he sat down on it, and
was to stoop and drink, when he made a slip, pushed against the stones,
and both of them fell into the water. When Hans saw them with his own
eyes sinking to the bottom, he jumped for joy, and then knelt down, and
with tears in his eyes thanked God for having shown him this favour also,
and delivered him in so good a way, and without his having any need to
reproach himself, from those heavy stones which had been the only things
that troubled him.
"There is no man under the sun so fortunate as I," he cried out. With a
light heart and free from every burden he now ran on until he was with
his mother at home.
84 Hans Married
There was once upon a time a young peasant named Hans, whose uncle wanted
to find him a rich wife. He therefore seated Hans behind the stove, and
had it made very hot. Then he fetched a pot of milk and plenty of white
bread, gave him a bright newly-coined farthing in his hand, and said,
"Hans, hold that farthing fast, crumble the white bread into the milk,
and stay where you are, and do not stir from that spot till I come
back." "Yes," said Hans, "I will do all that." Then the wooer put on a
pair of old patched trousers, went to a rich peasant's daughter in the
next village, and said, "Won't you marry my nephew Hans - -you will get an
honest and sensible man who will suit you?" The covetous father asked,
"How is it with regard to his means? Has he bread to break?" "Dear
friend," replied the wooer, "my young nephew has a snug berth, a nice
bit of money in hand, and plenty of bread to break, besides he has quite
as many patches as I have," (and as he spoke, he slapped the patches
on his trousers, but in that district small pieces of land were called
patches also.) "If you will give yourself the trouble to go home with me,
you shall see at once that all is as I have said." Then the miser did
not want to lose this good opportunity, and said, "If that is the case,
I have nothing further to say against the marriage."
So the wedding was celebrated on the appointed day, and when the young
wife went out of doors to see the bridegroom's property, Hans took off
his Sunday coat and put on his patched smock-frock and said, "I might
spoil my good coat." Then together they went out and wherever a boundary
line came in sight, or fields and meadows were divided from each other,
Hans pointed with his finger and then slapped either a large or a small
patch on his smock-frock, and said, "That patch is mine, and that too,
my dearest, just look at it," meaning thereby that his wife should not
stare at the broad land, but look at his garment, which was his own.
"Were you indeed at the wedding?" "Yes, indeed I was there, and in
full dress. My head-dress was of snow; then the sun came out, and it
was melted. My coat was of cobwebs, and I had to pass by some thorns
which tore it off me, my shoes were of glass, and I pushed against a
stone and they said, "Klink," and broke in two.
85 The Gold-Children
There was once a poor man and a poor woman who had nothing but a little
cottage, and who earned their bread by fishing, and always lived from
hand to mouth. But it came to pass one day when the man was sitting by
the water-side, and casting his net, that he drew out a fish entirely
of gold. As he was looking at the fish, full of astonishment, it began
to speak and said, "Hark you, fisherman, if you will throw me back
again into the water, I will change your little hut into a splendid
castle." Then the fisherman answered, "Of what use is a castle to me,
if I have nothing to eat?" The gold fish continued, "That shall be
taken care of, there will be a cupboard in the castle in which, when
you open it, shall be dishes of the most delicate meats, and as many
of them as you can desire." "If that be true," said the man, "then I
can well do you a favour." "Yes," said the fish, "there is, however,
the condition that you shall disclose to no one in the world, whosoever
he may be, whence your good luck has come, if you speak but one single
word, all will be over." Then the man threw the wonderful fish back
again into the water, and went home. But where his hovel had formerly
stood, now stood a great castle. He opened wide his eyes, entered, and
saw his wife dressed in beautiful clothes, sitting in a splendid room,
and she was quite delighted, and said, "Husband, how has all this come
to pass? It suits me very well." "Yes," said the man, "it suits me too,
but I am frightfully hungry, just give me something to eat." Said the
wife, "But I have got nothing and don't know where to find anything
in this new house." "There is no need of your knowing," said the man,
"for I see yonder a great cupboard, just unlock it." When she opened it,
there stood cakes, meat, fruit, wine, quite a bright prospect.
Then the woman cried joyfully, "What more can you want, my dear?" and
they sat down, and ate and drank together. When they had had enough,
the woman said, "But husband, whence come all these riches?" "Alas,"
answered he, "do not question me about it, for I dare not tell you
anything; if I disclose it to any one, then all our good fortune will
fly." "Very good," said she, "if I am not to know anything, then I do
not want to know anything." However, she was not in earnest; she never
rested day or night, and she goaded her husband until in his impatience
he revealed that all was owing to a wonderful golden fish which he had
caught, and to which in return he had given its liberty. And as soon as
the secret was out, the splendid castle with the cupboard immediately
disappeared, they were once more in the old fisherman's hut, and the man
was obliged to follow his former trade and fish. But fortune would so
have it, that he once more drew out the golden fish. "Listen," said the
fish, "if you will throw me back into the water again, I will once more
give you the castle with the cupboard full of roast and boiled meats;
only be firm, for your life's sake don't reveal from whom you have it,
or you will lose it all again!" "I will take good care," answered the
fisherman, and threw the fish back into the water. Now at home everything
was once more in its former magnificence, and the wife was overjoyed
at their good fortune, but curiosity left her no peace, so that after a
couple of days she began to ask again how it had come to pass, and how
he had managed to secure it. The man kept silence for a short time,
but at last she made him so angry that he broke out, and betrayed the
secret. In an instant the castle disappeared, and they were back again
in their old hut. "Now you have got what you want," said he; "and we can
gnaw at a bare bone again." "Ah," said the woman, "I had rather not have
riches if I am not to know from whom they come, for then I have no peace."
The man went back to fish, and after a while he chanced to draw out the
gold fish for a third time. "Listen," said the fish, "I see very well
that I am fated to fall into your hands, take me home and cut me into six
pieces; give your wife two of them to eat, two to your horse and bury
two of them in the ground, then they will bring you a blessing." The
fisherman took the fish home with him, and did as it had bidden him. It
came to pass, however, that from the two pieces that were buried in the
ground two golden lilies sprang up, that the horse had two golden foals,
and the fisherman's wife bore two children who were made entirely of
gold. The children grew up, became tall and handsome, and the lilies
and horses grew likewise. Then they said, "Father, we want to mount our
golden steeds and travel out in the world." But he answered sorrowfully,
"How shall I bear it if you go away, and I know not how it fares with
you?" Then they said, "The two golden lilies remain here. By them you
can see how it is with us; if they are fresh, then we are in health;
if they are withered, we are ill; if they perish, then we are dead." So
they rode forth and came to an inn, in which were many people, and when
they perceived the gold-children they began to laugh, and jeer. When one
of them heard the mocking he felt ashamed and would not go out into the
world, but turned back and went home again to his father. But the other
rode forward and reached a great forest. As he was about to enter it,
the people said, It is not safe for you to ride through, the wood is
full of robbers who would treat you badly. You will fare ill, and when
they see that you are all of gold, and your horse likewise, they will
assuredly kill you.'
But he would not allow himself to be frightened, and said, "I must and
will ride through it." Then he took bear-skins and covered himself and
his horse with them, so that the gold was no more to be seen, and rode
fearlessly into the forest. When he had ridden onward a little he heard
a rustling in the bushes, and heard voices speaking together. From one
side came cries of, "There is one," but from the other, "Let him go,
'tis an idle fellow, as poor and bare as a church-mouse, what should we
gain from him?"
So the gold-child rode joyfully through the forest, and no evil befell
him. One day he entered a village wherein he saw a maiden, who was
so beautiful that he did not believe that any more beautiful than she
existed in the world. And as such a mighty love took possession of him,
he went up to her and said, "I love thee with my whole heart, wilt thou be
my wife?" He, too, pleased the maiden so much that she agreed and said,
"Yes, I will be thy wife, and be true to thee my whole life long." Then
they were married, and just as they were in the greatest happiness,
home came the father of the bride, and when he saw that his daughter's
wedding was being celebrated, he was astonished, and said, "Where is the
bridegroom?" They showed him the gold-child, who, however, still wore his
bear-skins. Then the father said wrathfully, "A vagabond shall never have
my daughter!" and was about to kill him. Then the bride begged as hard
as she could, and said, "He is my husband, and I love him with all my
heart!" until at last he allowed himself to be appeased. Nevertheless the
idea never left his thoughts, so that next morning he rose early, wishing
to see whether his daughter's husband was a common ragged beggar. But
when he peeped in, he saw a magnificent golden man in the bed, and the
cast-off bear-skins lying on the ground. Then he went back and thought,
"What a good thing it was that I restrained my anger! I should have
committed a great crime." But the gold-child dreamed that he rode out
to hunt a splendid stag, and when he awoke in the morning, he said to
his wife, "I must go out hunting." She was uneasy, and begged him to
stay there, and said, "You might easily meet with a great misfortune,"
but he answered, "I must and will go."
Thereupon he got up, and rode forth into the forest, and it was not long
before a fine stag crossed his path exactly according to his dream. He
aimed and was about to shoot it, when the stag ran away. He gave chase
over hedges and ditches for the whole day without feeling tired, but in
the evening the stag vanished from his sight, and when the gold-child
looked round him, he was standing before a little house, wherein
was a witch. He knocked, and a little old woman came out and asked,
"What are you doing so late in the midst of the great forest?" "Have
you not seen a stag?" "Yes," answered she, "I know the stag well," and
thereupon a little dog which had come out of the house with her, barked
at the man violently. "Wilt thou be silent, thou odious toad," said he,
"or I will shoot thee dead." Then the witch cried out in a passion,
"What! will you slay my little dog?" and immediately transformed him, so
that he lay like a stone, and his bride awaited him in vain and thought,
"That which I so greatly dreaded, which lay so heavily on my heart,
has come upon him!" But at home the other brother was standing by the
gold-lilies, when one of them suddenly drooped. "Good heavens!" said he,
"my brother has met with some great misfortune! I must away to see if
I can possibly rescue him." Then the father said, "Stay here, if I lose
you also, what shall I do?" But he answered, "I must and will go forth!"
Then he mounted his golden horse, and rode forth and entered the great
forest, where his brother lay turned to stone. The old witch came out of
her house and called him, wishing to entrap him also, but he did not go
near her, and said, "I will shoot you, if you will not bring my brother
to life again." She touched the stone, though very unwillingly, with her
forefinger, and he was immediately restored to his human shape. But the
two gold-children rejoiced when they saw each other again, kissed and
caressed each other, and rode away together out of the forest, the one
home to his bride, and the other to his father. The father then said,
"I knew well that you had rescued your brother, for the golden lily
suddenly rose up and blossomed out again." Then they lived happily,
and all prospered with them until their death.
86 The Fox and the Geese
The fox once came to a meadow in which was a flock of fine fat geese, on
which he smiled and said, "I come in the nick of time, you are sitting
together quite beautifully, so that I can eat you up one after the
other." The geese cackled with terror, sprang up, and began to wail and
beg piteously for their lives. But the fox would listen to nothing, and
said, "There is no mercy to be had! You must die." At length one of them
took heart and said, "If we poor geese are to yield up our vigorous young
lives, show us the only possible favour and allow us one more prayer,
that we may not die in our sins, and then we will place ourselves in
a row, so that you can always pick yourself out the fattest." "Yes,"
said the fox, "that is reasonable, and a pious request. Pray away, I
will wait till you are done." Then the first began a good long prayer,
for ever saying, "Ga! Ga!" and as she would make no end, the second did
not wait until her turn came, but began also, "Ga! Ga!" The third and
fourth followed her, and soon they were all cackling together.
When they have done praying, the story shall be continued further,
but at present they are still praying without stopping."
87 The Poor Man and the Rich Man
In olden times, when the Lord himself still used to walk about on this
earth amongst men, it once happened that he was tired and overtaken by
the darkness before he could reach an inn. Now there stood on the road
before him two houses facing each other; the one large and beautiful,
the other small and poor. The large one belonged to a rich man, and the
small one to a poor man.
Then the Lord thought, "I shall be no burden to the rich man, I will stay
the night with him." When the rich man heard some one knocking at his
door, he opened the window and asked the stranger what he wanted. The
Lord answered, "I only ask for a night's lodging."
Then the rich man looked at the traveler from head to foot, and as the
Lord was wearing common clothes, and did not look like one who had much
money in his pocket, he shook his head, and said, "No, I cannot take you
in, my rooms are full of herbs and seeds; and if I were to lodge everyone
who knocked at my door, I might very soon go begging myself. Go somewhere
else for a lodging," and with this he shut down the window and left the
Lord standing there.
So the Lord turned his back on the rich man, and went across to the
small house and knocked. He had hardly done so when the poor man opened
the little door and bade the traveler come in. "Pass the night with me,
it is already dark," said he; "you cannot go any further to-night." This
pleased the Lord, and he went in. The poor man's wife shook hands with
him, and welcomed him, and said he was to make himself at home and put
up with what they had got; they had not much to offer him, but what they
had they would give him with all their hearts. Then she put the potatoes
on the fire, and while they were boiling, she milked the goat, that they
might have a little milk with them. When the cloth was laid, the Lord
sat down with the man and his wife, and he enjoyed their coarse food,
for there were happy faces at the table. When they had had supper and
it was bed-time, the woman called her husband apart and said, "Hark you,
dear husband, let us make up a bed of straw for ourselves to-night, and
then the poor traveler can sleep in our bed and have a good rest, for he
has been walking the whole day through, and that makes one weary." "With
all my heart," he answered, "I will go and offer it to him;" and he
went to the stranger and invited him, if he had no objection, to sleep
in their bed and rest his limbs properly. But the Lord was unwilling
to take their bed from the two old folks; however, they would not be
satisfied, until at length he did it and lay down in their bed, while
they themselves lay on some straw on the ground.
Next morning they got up before daybreak, and made as good a breakfast as
they could for the guest. When the sun shone in through the little window,
and the Lord had got up, he again ate with them, and then prepared to
set out on his journey.
But as he was standing at the door he turned round and said, "As you