Once upon a time, in a kingdom far far away, there lived a handsome prince who wanted to marry a real princess. If only he knew a way to tell which princesses were real.Continue reading →
Once upon a time, there was a duck. She lived in the forest. One day she laid some eggs. There was one very big egg among the eggs she laid.Continue reading →
Many years ago, there lived an emperor who cared too much about his looks. He liked to wear the most fancy suits and parade around his kingdom. He had a new coat for evry hour of the day and often liked to show off his outfits.Continue reading →
A miller had three sons, his mill, a donkey and a tom cat; the sons had to grind, the donkey had to get grain and carry flour away and the cat had to catch the mice away. When the miller died, the three brothers divided their inheritance, the oldest received the mill, the second the donkey and the third the tom cat, further was nothing left for him. Thereon he was sad ans spoke to himself: “But I have gotten all the worst, my oldest brother can mill, my second can ride on his donkey, what can I start with the tom cat? Let me make a pair of fur gloves out of his pelt, so it’s over.”Continue reading →
A rich farmer was one day standing in his yard inspecting his fields and gardens. The corn was growing up vigorously and the fruit-trees were heavily laden with fruit. The grain of the year before still lay in such immense heaps on the floors that the rafters could hardly bear it. Then he went into the stable, where were well-fed oxen, fat cows, and horses bright as looking-glass. At length he went back into his sitting-room, and cast a glance at the iron chest in which his money lay.
Whilst he was thus standing surveying his riches, all at once there was a loud knock close by him. The knock was not at the door of his room, but at the door of his heart. It opened, and he heard a voice which said to him, “Hast thou done good to thy family with it? Hast thou considered the necessities of the poor? Hast thou shared thy bread with the hungry? Hast thou been contented with what thou hast, or didst thou always desire to have more?” The heart was not slow in answering, “I have been hard and pitiless, and have never shown any kindness to my own family. If a beggar came, I turned away my eyes from him. I have not troubled myself about God, but have thought only of increasing my wealth. If everything which the sky covers had been mine own, I should still not have had enough.”
There was once upon a time a very old woman, who lived with he flock of geese in a waste place among the mountains, and there had a little house. The waste was surrounded by a large forest, and every morning the old woman took her crutch and hobbled into it. There, however, the dame 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. Any one would have thought that the heavy load would have weighed her to the ground, but she always brought it safely home. If any one 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 every one must take his burthen 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.”Continue reading →
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, adroit tailor’s apprentice once went out travelling, 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, but to seek a bed in this painful solitude. 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 was forced to make 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 runagates; seek for yourself a shelter elsewhere.” After these words 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 pointed out to him a very good bed in a corner.
The Lord God had created all animals, and had chosen out the wolf to be his dog, but he had forgotten the goat. Then the Devil made ready and began to create also, and created goats with fine long tails. Now when they went to pasture, they generally remained caught in the hedges by their tails, then the Devil had to go there and disentangle them, with a great deal of trouble. This enraged him at last, and he went and bit off the tail of every goat, as may be seen to this day by the stump. Then he let them go to pasture alone, but it came to pass that the Lord God perceived how at one time they gnawed away at a fruitful tree, at another injured the noble vines, or destroyed other tender plants. This distressed him, so that in his goodness and mercy he summoned his wolves, who soon tore in pieces the goats that went there. When the devil observed this, he went before the Lord and said, “Thy creatures have destroyed mine.” The Lord answered, “Why didst thou create things to do harm?” The Devil said, “I was compelled to do it: inasmuch as my thoughts run on evil, what I create can have no other nature, and thou must pay me heavy damages.” – “I will pay thee as soon as the oak leaves fall; come then, thy money will then be ready counted out.” When the oak-leaves had fallen, the Devil came and demanded what was due to him. But the Lord said, “In the church of Constantinople stands a tall oak-tree which still has all its leaves.” With raging and curses, the Devil departed, and went to seek the oak, wandered in the wilderness for six months before he found it, and when he returned, all the oaks had in the meantime covered themselves again with green leaves. Then he had to forfeit his indemnity, and in his rage he put out the eyes of all the remaining goats, and put his own in instead.
This is why all goats have devil’s eyes, and their tails bitten off, and why he likes to assume their shape.
A peasant had a faithful horse which had grown old and could do no more work, so his master would no longer give him anything to eat and said, “I can certainly make no more use of thee, but still I mean well by thee; if thou provest thyself still strong enough to bring me a lion here, I will maintain thee, but now take thyself away out of my stable,” and with that he chased him into the open country. The horse was sad, and went to the forest to seek a little protection there from the weather. Then the fox met him and said, “Why dost thou hang thy head so, and go about all alone?” – “Alas,” replied the horse, “avarice and fidelity do not dwell together in one house. My master has forgotten what services I have performed for him for so many years, and because I can no longer plough well, he will give me no more food, and has driven me out.” – “Without giving thee a chance?” asked the fox. “The chance was a bad one. He said, if I were still strong enough to bring him a lion, he would keep me, but he well knows that I cannot do that.” The fox said, “I will help thee, just lay thyself down, stretch thyself out, as if thou wert dead, and do not stir.” The horse did as the fox desired, and the fox went to the lion, who had his den not far off, and said, “A dead horse is lying outside there, just come with me, thou canst have a rich meal.” The lion went with him, and when they were both standing by the horse the fox said, “After all, it is not very comfortable for thee here I tell thee what I will fasten it to thee by the tail, and then thou canst drag it into thy cave, and devour it in peace.”
This advice pleased the lion: he lay down, and in order that the fox might tie the horse fast to him, he kept quite quiet. But the fox tied the lion’s legs together with the horse’s tail, and twisted and fastened all so well and so strongly that no strength could break it. When he had finished his work, he tapped the horse on the shoulder and said, “Pull, white horse, pull.” Then up sprang the horse at once, and drew the lion away with him. The lion began to roar so that all the birds in the forest flew out in terror, but the horse let him roar, and drew him and dragged him over the country to his master’s door. When the master saw the lion, he was of a better mind, and said to the horse, “Thou shalt stay with me and fare well,” and he gave him plenty to eat until he died.
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, “Thou mayst return to thy home, I need thee no longer, and thou wilt not receive any more money, for he only receives wages who renders me service 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 to-day, but I will keep you yet another night, in payment for which you must to-morrow chop me a load of wood, and make 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. “To-morrow, 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 for me.” 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 thee the light until I am standing with both feet upon the ground.” The witch fell into a passion, let him down 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 thy commands?” – “What commands have I to give thee?” replied the soldier, quite astonished. “I must do everything thou biddest 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, with frightful cries, came riding by, as swift as the wind on a wild tom-cat, nor was it long after that 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; “Thou canst return home, only be at hand immediately, if I summon thee.” – “Nothing more is needed than that thou shouldst light thy pipe at the blue light, and I will appear before thee at once.” Thereupon he vanished from his sight.