The three black princesses

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 lake 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 entirely dressed 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 deliver 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.

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The king’s son who feared nothing

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 got to 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 art thou playing with my balls? Who gave thee strength to do it?” The King’s son looked up, saw the giant, and said, “Oh, thou blockhead, thou thinkest indeed that thou only hast 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 thou art one of that kind, go and bring me an apple of the tree of life.” – “What dost thou 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 travelled 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, “Thou really believest 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 thou dost get into the garden, and seest the apple hanging to the tree, it is still not thine; 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.

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Stories about snakes

There was once a little child whose mother gave her every afternoon a small bowl of milk and bread, and the child seated herself in the yard with it. When she began to eat however, a snake came creeping out of a crevice in the wall, dipped its little head in the dish, and ate with her. The child had pleasure in this, and when she was sitting there with her little dish and the snake did not come at once, she cried,

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The goose girl

There lived once an old Queen, whose husband had been dead many years. She had a beautiful daughter who was promised in marriage to a King’s son living a great way off. When the time appointed for the wedding drew near, and the old Queen had to send her daughter into the foreign land, she got together many costly things, furniture and cups and jewels and adornments, both of gold and silver, everything proper for the dowry of a royal Princess, for she loved her daughter dearly. She gave her also a waiting gentlewoman to attend her and to give her into the bridegroom’s hands; and they were each to have a horse for the journey, and the Princess’s horse was named Falada, and he could speak. When the time for parting came, the old Queen took her daughter to her chamber, and with a little knife she cut her own finger so that it bled; and she held beneath it a white napkin, and on it fell three drops of blood; and she gave it to her daughter, bidding her take care of it, for it would be needful to her on the way.

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The wolf and the fox

The wolf had the fox with him, and whatsoever the wolf wished, that the fox was compelled to do, for he was the weaker, and he would gladly have been rid of his master. It chanced that once as they were going through the forest, the wolf said, “Red-fox, get me something to eat, or else I will eat thee thyself.” Then the fox answered, “I know a farm-yard where there are two young lambs; if thou art inclined, we will fetch one of them.” That suited the wolf, and they went thither, and the fox stole the little lamb, took it to the wolf, and went away. The wolf devoured it, but was not satisfied with one; he wanted the other as well, and went to get it. As, however, he did it so awkwardly, the mother of the little lamb heard him, and began to cry out terribly, and to bleat so that the farmer came running there. They found the wolf, and beat him so mercilessly, that he went to the fox limping and howling. “Thou hast misled me finely,” said he; “I wanted to fetch the other lamb, and the country folks surprised me, and have beaten me to a jelly.” The fox replied, “Why art thou such a glutton?”
Next day they again went into the country, and the greedy wolf once more said, “Red-fox, get me something to eat, or I will eat thee thyself.” Then answered the fox, “I know a farm-house where the wife is baking pancakes to-night; we will get some of them for ourselves.” They went there, and the fox slipped round the house, and peeped and sniffed about until he discovered where the dish was, and then drew down six pancakes and carried them to the wolf. “There is something for thee to eat,” said he to him, and then went his way. The wolf swallowed down the pancakes in an instant, and said, “They make one want more,” and went thither and tore the whole dish down so that it broke in pieces. This made such a great noise that the woman came out, and when she saw the wolf she called the people, who hurried there, and beat him as long as their sticks would hold together, till with two lame legs, and howling loudly, he got back to the fox in the forest. “How abominably thou hast misled me!” cried he, “the peasants caught me, and tanned my skin for me.” But the fox replied, “Why art thou such a glutton?”

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The golden bird

In times gone by there was a king who had at the back of his castle a beautiful pleasure-garden, in which stood a tree that bore golden apples. As the apples ripened they were counted, but one morning one was missing. Then the king was angry, and he ordered that watch should be kept about the tree every night.

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Herr Korbes

There were once a cock and a hen who wanted to take a journey together. So the cock built a beautiful carriage, which had four red wheels, and harnessed four mice to it. The hen seated herself in it with the cock, and they drove away together. Not long afterwards they met a cat who said, “Where are you going?” The cock replied, “We are going to the house of Herr Korbes.” – “Take me with you,” said the cat. The cock answered, “Most willingly, get up behind, lest you fall off in front. Take great care not to dirty my little red wheels. And you little wheels, roll on, and you little mice pipe out, as we go forth on our way to the house of Herr Korbes.”
After this came a millstone, then an egg, then a duck, then a pin, and at last a needle, who all seated themselves in the carriage, and drove with them. When, however, they reached the house of Herr Korbes, Herr Korbes was not there. The mice drew the carriage into the barn, the hen flew with the cock upon a perch. The cat sat down by the hearth, the duck on the well-pole. The egg rolled itself into a towel, the pin stuck itself into the chair-cushion, the needle jumped on to the bed in the middle of the pillow, and the millstone laid itself over the door. Then Herr Korbes came home, went to the hearth, and was about to light the fire, when the cat threw a quantity of ashes in his face. He ran into the kitchen in a great hurry to wash it off, and the duck splashed some water in his face. He wanted to dry it with the towel, but the egg rolled up against him, broke, and glued up his eyes. He wanted to rest, and sat down in the chair, and then the pin pricked him. He fell in a passion, and threw himself on his bed, but as soon as he laid his head on the pillow, the needle pricked him, so that he screamed aloud, and was just going to run out into the wide world in his rage, but when he came to the house-door, the millstone leapt down and struck him dead. Herr Korbes must have been a very wicked man!

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The seven ravens

There was once a man who had seven sons, and still he had no daughter, however much he wished for one. At length his wife again gave him hope of a child, and when it came into the world it was a girl. The joy was great, but the child was sickly and small, and had to be privately baptized on account of its weakness. The father sent one of the boys in haste to the spring to fetch water for the baptism. The other six went with him, and as each of them wanted to be first to fill it, the jug fell into the well. There they stood and did not know what to do, and none of them dared to go home. As they still did not return, the father grew impatient, and said, “They have certainly forgotten it for some game, the wicked boys!” He became afraid that the girl would have to die without being baptized, and in his anger cried, “I wish the boys were all turned into ravens.” Hardly was the word spoken before he heard a whirring of wings over his head in the air, looked up and saw seven coal-black ravens flying away.

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The Nightingale and the Blindworm

Once upon a time there was a nightingale and a blindworm, each with one eye. For a long time they lived together peacefully and harmoniously in a house. However, one day the nightingale was invited to a wedding, and she said to the blindworm: “I’ve been invited to a wedding and don’t particularly want to go with one eye. Would you be so kind as to lend me yours? I’ll bring it back to you tomorrow.”

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The boots of buffalo-leather

A soldier who is afraid of nothing, troubles himself about nothing. One of this kind had received his discharge, and as he had learnt no trade and could earn nothing, he travelled about and begged alms of kind people. He had an old waterproof on his back, and a pair of riding-boots of buffalo-leather which were still left to him. One day he was walking he knew not where, straight out into the open country, and at length came to a forest. He did not know where he was, but saw sitting on the trunk of a tree, which had been cut down, a man who was well dressed and wore a green shooting-coat. The soldier shook hands with him, sat down on the grass by his side, and stretched out his legs. “I see thou hast good boots on, which are well blacked,” said he to the huntsman; “but if thou hadst to travel about as I have, they would not last long. Look at mine, they are of buffalo-leather, and have been worn for a long time, but in them I can go through thick and thin.” After a while the soldier got up and said, “I can stay no longer, hunger drives me onwards; but, Brother Bright-boots, where does this road lead to?” – “I don’t know that myself,” answered the huntsman, “I have lost my way in the forest.” – “Then thou art in the same plight as I,” said the soldier; “birds of a feather flock together, let us remain together, and seek our way.” The huntsman smiled a little, and they walked on further and further, until night fell. “We do not get out of the forest,” said the soldier, “but there in the distance I see a light shining, which will help us to something to eat.” They found a stone house, knocked at the door, and an old woman opened it. “We are looking for quarters for the night,” said the soldier, “and some lining for our stomachs, for mine is as empty as an old knapsack.” – “You cannot stay here,” answered the old woman; “this is a robber’s house, and you would do wisely to get away before they come home, or you will be lost.” – “It won’t be so bad as that,” answered the soldier, “I have not had a mouthful for two days, and whether I am murdered here or die of hunger in the forest is all the same to me. I shall go in.” The huntsman would not follow, but the soldier drew him in with him by the sleeve. “Come, my dear brother, we shall not come to an end so quickly as that!” The old woman had pity on them and said, “Creep in here behind the stove, and if they leave anything, I will give it to you on the sly when they are asleep.” Scarcely were they in the corner before twelve robbers came bursting in, seated themselves at the table which was already laid, and vehemently demanded some food. The old woman brought in some great dishes of roast meat, and the robbers enjoyed that thoroughly. When the smell of the food ascended the nostrils of the soldier, he said to the huntsman, “I cannot hold out any longer, I shall seat myself at the table, and eat with them.” thou wilt bring us to destruction,” said the huntsman, and held him back by the arm. But the soldier began to cough loudly. When the robbers heard that, they threw away their knives and forks, leapt up, and discovered the two who were behind the stove. “Aha, gentlemen, are you in the corner?” cried they, “What are you doing here? Have you been sent as spies? Wait a while, and you shall learn how to fly on a dry bough.” – “But do be civil,” said the soldier, “I am hungry, give me something to eat, and then you can do what you like with me.” The robbers were astonished, and the captain said, “I see that thou hast no fear; well, thou shalt have some food, but after that thou must die.” – “We shall see,” said the soldier, and seated himself at the table, and began to cut away valiantly at the roast meat. “Brother Brightboots, come and eat,” cried he to the huntsman; “thou must be as hungry as I am, and cannot have better roast meat at home,” but the huntsman would not eat. The robbers looked at the soldier in astonishment, and said, “The rascal uses no ceremony.” After a while he said, “I have had enough food, now get me something good to drink.” The captain was in the mood to humour him in this also, and called to the old woman, “Bring a bottle out of the cellar, and mind it be of the best.” The soldier drew the cork out with a loud noise, and then went with the bottle to the huntsman and said, “Pay attention, brother, and thou shalt see something that will surprise thee; I am now going to drink the health of the whole clan.” Then he brandished the bottle over the heads of the robbers, and cried, “Long life to you all, but with your mouths open and your right hands lifted up,” and then he drank a hearty draught. Scarcely were the words said than they all sat motionless as if made of stone, and their mouths were open and their right hands stretched up in the air. The huntsman said to the soldier, “I see that thou art acquainted with tricks of another kind, but now come and let us go home.” – “Oho, my dear brother, but that would be marching away far too soon; we have conquered the enemy, and must first take the booty. Those men there are sitting fast, and are opening their mouths with astonishment, but they will not be allowed to move until I permit them. Come, eat and drink.” The old woman had to bring another bottle of the best wine, and the soldier would not stir until he had eaten enough to last for three days. At last when day came, he said, “Now it is time to strike our tents, and that our march may be a short one, the old woman shall show us the nearest way to the town.” When they had arrived there, he went to his old comrades, and said, “Out in the forest I have found a nest full of gallows’ birds, come with me and we will take it.” The soldier led them, and said to the huntsman, “Thou must go back again with me to see how they shake when we seize them by the feet.” He placed the men round about the robbers, and then he took the bottle, drank a mouthful, brandished it above them, and cried, “Live again.” Instantly they all regained the power of movement, but were thrown down and bound hand and foot with cords. Then the soldier ordered them to be thrown into a cart as if they had been so many sacks, and said, “Now drive them straight to prison.” The huntsman, however, took one of the men aside and gave him another commission besides. “Brother Bright-boots,” said the soldier, “we have safely routed the enemy and been well fed, now we will quietly walk behind them as if we were stragglers!” When they approached the town, the soldier saw a crowd of people pouring through the gate of the town who were raising loud cries of joy, and waving green boughs in the air. Then he saw that the entire body-guard was coming up. “What can this mean?” said he to the huntsman. “Dost thou not know?” he replied, “that the King has for a long time been absent from his kingdom, and that to-day he is returning, and every one is going to meet him.” – “But where is the King?” said the soldier, “I do not see him.” – “Here he is,” answered the huntsman, “I am the King, and have announced my arrival.” Then he opened his hunting-coat, and his royal garments were visible. The soldier was alarmed, and fell on his knees and begged him to forgive him for having in his ignorance treated him as an equal, and spoken to him by such a name. But the King shook hands with him, and said, “Thou art a brave soldier, and hast saved my life. Thou shalt never again be in want, I will take care of thee. And if ever thou wouldst like to eat a piece of roast meat, as good as that in the robber’s house, come to the royal kitchen. But if thou wouldst drink a health, thou must first ask my permission.”

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