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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The giant and the tailor

A certain tailor who was great at boasting but ill at doing, took it into his head to go abroad for a while, and look about the world. As soon as he could manage it, he left his workshop, and wandered on his way, over hill and dale, sometimes hither, sometimes thither, but ever on and on. Once when he was out he perceived in the blue distance a steep hill, and behind it a tower reaching to the clouds, which rose up out of a wild dark forest. “Thunder and lightning,” cried the tailor, “what is that?” and as he was strongly goaded by curiosity, he went boldly towards it. But what made the tailor open his eyes and mouth when he came near it, was to see that the tower had legs, and leapt in one bound over the steep hill, and was now standing as an all powerful giant before him. “What dost thou want here, thou tiny fly’s leg?” cried the giant, with a voice as if it were thundering on every side. The tailor whimpered, “I want just to look about and see if I can earn a bit of bread for myself, in this forest.” If that is what thou art after,” said the giant, “thou mayst have a place with me.” – “If it must be, why not? What wages shall I receive?” – “Thou shalt hear what wages thou shalt have. Every year three hundred and sixty-five days, and when it is leap-year, one more into the bargain. Does that suit thee?” – “All right,” replied the tailor, and thought, in his own mind, “a man must cut his coat according to his cloth; I will try to get away as fast as I can.” On this the giant said to him, “Go, little ragamuffin, and fetch me a jug of water.” – “Had I not better bring the well itself at once, and the spring too?” asked the boaster, and went with the pitcher to the water. “What! the well and the spring too,” growled the giant in his beard, for he was rather clownish and stupid, and began to be afraid. “That knave is not a fool, he has a wizard in his body. Be on thy guard, old Hans, this is no serving-man for thee.” When the tailor had brought the water, the giant bade him go into the forest, and cut a couple of blocks of wood and bring them back. “Why not the whole forest, at once, with one stroke. The whole forest, young and old, with all that is there, both rough and smooth?” asked the little tailor, and went to cut the wood. “What! the whole forest, young and old, with all that is there, both rough and smooth, and the well and its spring too,” growled the credulous giant in his beard, and was still more terrified. “The knave can do much more than bake apples, and has a wizard in his body. Be on thy guard, old Hans, this is no serving-man for thee!” When the tailor had brought the wood, the giant commanded him to shoot two or three wild boars for supper. “Why not rather a thousand at one shot, and bring them all here?” inquired the ostentatious tailor. “What!” cried the timid giant in great terror; “Let well alone to-night, and lie down to rest.”
The giant was so terribly alarmed that he could not close an eye all night long for thinking what would be the best way to get rid of this accursed sorcerer of a servant. Time brings counsel. Next morning the giant and the tailor went to a marsh, round which stood a number of willow-trees. Then said the giant, “Hark thee, tailor, seat thyself on one of the willow-branches, I long of all things to see if thou art big enough to bend it down.” All at once the tailor was sitting on it, holding his breath, and making himself so heavy that the bough bent down. When, however, he was compelled to draw breath, it hurried him (for unfortunately he had not put his vgoose in his pocket) so high into the air that he never was seen again, and this to the great delight of the giant. If the tailor has not fallen down again, he must be hovering about in the air.

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The peasant in heaven

Once on a time a poor pious peasant died, and arrived before the gate of heaven. At the same time a very rich, rich lord came there who also wanted to get into heaven. Then Saint Peter came with the key, and opened the door, and let the great man in, but apparently did not see the peasant, and shut the door again. And now the peasant outside, heard how the great man was received in heaven with all kinds of rejoicing, and how they were making music, and singing within. At length all became quiet again, and Saint Peter came and opened the gate of heaven, and let the peasant in. The peasant, however, expected that they would make music and sing when he went in also, but all remained quite quiet; he was received with great affection, it is true, and the angels came to meet him, but no one sang. Then the peasant asked Saint Peter how it was that they did not sing for him as they had done when the rich man went in, and said that it seemed to him that there in heaven things were done with just as much partiality as on earth.

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The twelve idle servants

Twelve servants who had done nothing all the day would not exert themselves at night either, but laid themselves on the grass and boasted of their idleness. The first said, “What is your laziness to me, I have to concern myself about mine own? The care of my body is my principal work, I eat not a little and drink still more. When I have had four meals, I fast a short time until I feel hunger again, and that suits me best. To rise betimes is not for me; when it is getting near mid-day, I already seek out a resting-place for myself. If the master call, I do exactly as if I had not heard him, and if he call for the second time, I wait awhile before I get up, and go to him very slowly. In this way life is endurable.”
The second said, “I have a horse to look after, but I leave the bit in his mouth, and if I do not want to do it, I give him no food, and I say he has had it already. I, however, lay myself in the oat-chest and sleep for four hours. After this I stretch out one foot and move it a couple of times over the horse’s body, and then he is combed and cleaned. Who is going to make a great business of that? Nevertheless service is too toilsome for me.”

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Iron John

There was once on 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 ye 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 more. 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 a strange 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 thee no better than with the others, and thou wouldst 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.

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The three apprentices

There were once three apprentices, who had agreed to keep always together while travelling, and always to work in the same town. At one time, however, their masters had no more work to give them, so that at last they were in rags, and had nothing to live on. Then one of them said, “What shall we do? We cannot stay here any longer, we will travel once more, and if we do not find any work in the town we go to, we will arrange with the innkeeper there, that we are to write and tell him where we are staying, so that we can always have news of each other, and then we will separate.” And that seemed best to the others also. They went forth, and met on the way a richly-dressed man who asked who they were. “We are apprentices looking for work; Up to this time we have kept together, but if we cannot find anything to do we are going to separate.” – “There is no need for that,” said the man, “if you will do what I tell you, you shall not want for gold or for work; nay, you shall become great lords, and drive in your carriages!” One of them said, “If our souls and salvation be not endangered, we will certainly do it.” – “They will not,” replied the man, “I have no claim on you.” One of the others had, however, looked at his feet, and when he saw a horse’s foot and a man’s foot, he did not want to have anything to do with him. The Devil, however, said, “Be easy, I have no designs on you, but on another soul, which is half my own already, and whose measure shall but run full.” As they were now secure, they consented, and the Devil told them what he wanted. The first was to answer, “All three of us,” to every question; the second was to say, “For money,” and the third, “And quite right too!” They were always to say this, one after the other, but they were not to say one word more, and if they disobeyed this order, all their money would disappear at once, but so long as they observed it, their pockets would always be full. As a beginning, he at once gave them as much as they could carry, and told them to go to such and such an inn when they got to the town. They went to it, and the innkeeper came to meet them, and asked if they wished for anything to eat? The first replied, “All three of us.” – “Yes,” said the host, “that is what I mean.” The second said, “For money.” – “Of course,” said the host. The third said, “And quite right too!” – “Certainly it is right,” said the host.
Good meat and drink were now brought to them, and they were well waited on. After the dinner came the payment, and the innkeeper gave the bill to the one who said, “All three of us,” the second said, “For money,” and the third, “and quite right too!” – “Indeed it is right,” said the host, “all three pay, and without money I can give nothing.” They, however, paid still more than he had asked. The lodgers, who were looking on, said, “These people must be mad.” – “Yes, indeed they are,” said the host, “they are not very wise.” So they stayed some time in the inn, and said nothing else but, “All three of us,” – “For money,” and “And quite right too!” But they saw and knew all that was going on. It so happened that a great merchant came with a large sum of money, and said, “Sir host, take care of my money for me, here are three crazy apprentices who might steal it from me.” The host did as he was asked. As he was carrying the trunk into his room, he felt that it was heavy with gold. Thereupon he gave the three apprentices a lodging below, but the merchant came up-stairs into a separate apartment. When it was midnight, and the host thought that all were asleep, he came with his wife, and they had an axe and struck the rich merchant dead; and after they had murdered him they went to bed again. When it was day there was a great outcry; the merchant lay dead in bed bathed in blood. All the guests ran at once but the host said, “The three crazy apprentices have done this;” the lodgers confirmed it, and said, “It can have been no one else.” The innkeeper, however, had them called, and said to them, “Have you killed the merchant?” – “All three of us,” said the first, “For money,” said the second; and the third added, “And quite right too!” – “There now, you hear,” said the host, “they confess it themselves.” They were taken to prison, therefore, and were to be tried. When they saw that things were going so seriously, they were after all afraid, but at night the Devil came and said, “Bear it just one day longer, and do not play away your luck, not one hair of your head shall be hurt.”

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Wise folks

One day a peasant took his good hazel-stick out of the corner and said to his wife, “Trina, I am going across country, and shall not return for three days. If during that time the cattle-dealer should happen to call and want to buy our three cows, you may strike a bargain at once, but not unless you can get two hundred thalers for them; nothing less, do you hear?” – “For heaven’s sake just go in peace,” answered the woman, “I will manage that.” – “You, indeed,” said the man. “You once fell on your head when you were a little child, and that affects you even now; but let me tell you this, if you do anything foolish, I will make your back black and blue, and not with paint, I assure you, but with the stick which I have in my hand, and the colouring shall last a whole year, you may rely on that.” And having said that, the man went on his way.
Next morning the cattle-dealer came, and the woman had no need to say many words to him. When he had seen the cows and heard the price, he said, “I am quite willing to give that, honestly speaking, they are worth it. I will take the beasts away with me at once.” He unfastened their chains and drove them out of the byre, but just as he was going out of the yard-door, the woman clutched him by the sleeve and said, “You must give me the two hundred thalers now, or I cannot let the cows go.” – “True,” answered the man, “but I have forgotten to buckle on my money-belt. Have no fear, however, you shall have security for my paying. I will take two cows with me and leave one, and then you will have a good pledge.” The woman saw the force of this, and let the man go away with the cows, and thought to herself, “How pleased Hans will be when he finds how cleverly I have managed it!” The peasant came home on the third day as he had said he would, and at once inquired if the cows were sold? “Yes, indeed, dear Hans,” answered the woman, “and as you said, for two hundred thalers. They are scarcely worth so much, but the man took them without making any objection.” – “Where is the money?” asked the peasant. “Oh, I have not got the money,” replied the woman; “he had happened to forget his money-belt, but he will soon bring it, and he left good security behind him.” – “What kind of security?” asked the man. “One of the three cows, which he shall not have until he has paid for the other two. I have managed very cunningly, for I have kept the smallest, which eats the least.” The man was enraged and lifted up his stick, and was just going to give her the beating he had promised her. Suddenly he let the stick fail and said, “You are the stupidest goose that ever waddled on God’s earth, but I am sorry for you. I will go out into the highways and wait for three days to see if I find anyone who is still stupider than you. If I succeed in doing so, you shall go scot-free, but if I do not find him, you shall receive your well-deserved reward without any discount.”

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The singing, springing lark

There was once on a time a man who was about to set out on a long journey, and on parting he asked his three daughters what he should bring back with him for them. Whereupon the eldest wished for pearls, the second wished for diamonds, but the third said, “Dear father, I should like a singing, soaring lark.” The father said, “Yes, if I can get it, you shall have it,” kissed all three, and set out. Now when the time had come for him to be on his way home again, he had brought pearls and diamonds for the two eldest, but he had sought everywhere in vain for a singing, soaring lark for the youngest, and he was very unhappy about it, for she was his favorite child. Then his road lay through a forest, and in the midst of it was a splendid castle, and near the castle stood a tree, but quite on the top of the tree, he saw a singing, soaring lark. “Aha, you come just at the right moment!” he said, quite delighted, and called to his servant to climb up and catch the little creature. But as he approached the tree, a lion leapt from beneath it, shook himself, and roared till the leaves on the trees trembled. “He who tries to steal my singing, soaring lark,” he cried, “will I devour.” Then the man said, “I did not know that the bird belonged to thee. I will make amends for the wrong I have done and ransom myself with a large sum of money, only spare my life.” The lion said, “Nothing can save thee, unless thou wilt promise to give me for mine own what first meets thee on thy return home; and if thou wilt do that, I will grant thee thy life, and thou shalt have the bird for thy daughter, into the bargain.” But the man hesitated and said, “That might be my youngest daughter, she loves me best, and always runs to meet me on my return home.” The servant, however, was terrified and said, “Why should your daughter be the very one to meet you, it might as easily be a cat, or dog?” Then the man allowed himself to be over-persuaded, took the singing, soaring lark, and promised to give the lion whatsoever should first meet him on his return home.
When he reached home and entered his house, the first who met him was no other than his youngest and dearest daughter, who came running up, kissed and embraced him, and when she saw that he had brought with him a singing, soaring lark, she was beside herself with joy. The father, however, could not rejoice, but began to weep, and said, “My dearest child, I have bought the little bird dear. In return for it, I have been obliged to promise thee to a savage lion, and when he has thee he will tear thee in pieces and devour thee,” and he told her all, just as it had happened, and begged her not to go there, come what might. But she consoled him and said, “Dearest father, indeed your promise must be fulfilled. I will go thither and soften the lion, so that I may return to thee safely.” Next morning she had the road pointed out to her, took leave, and went fearlessly out into the forest. The lion, however, was an enchanted prince and was by day a lion, and all his people were lions with him, but in the night they resumed their natural human shapes. On her arrival she was kindly received and led into the castle. When night came, the lion turned into a handsome man, and their wedding was celebrated with great magnificence. They lived happily together, remained awake at night, and slept in the daytime. One day he came and said, “To-morrow there is a feast in thy father’s house, because your eldest sister is to be married, and if thou art inclined to go there, my lions shall conduct thee.” She said, “Yes, I should very much like to see my father again,” and went thither, accompanied by the lions. There was great joy when she arrived, for they had all believed that she had been torn in pieces by the lion, and had long ceased to live. But she told them what a handsome husband she had, and how well off she was, remained with them while the wedding-feast lasted, and then went back again to the forest. When the second daughter was about to be married, and she was again invited to the wedding, she said to the lion, “This time I will not be alone, thou must come with me.” The lion, however, said that it was too dangerous for him, for if when there a ray from a burning candle fell on him, he would be changed into a dove, and for seven years long would have to fly about with the doves. She said, “Ah, but do come with me, I will take great care of thee, and guard thee from all light.” So they went away together, and took with them their little child as well. She had a chamber built there, so strong and thick that no ray could pierce through it; in this he was to shut himself up when the candles were lit for the wedding-feast. But the door was made of green wood which warped and left a little crack which no one noticed. The wedding was celebrated with magnificence, but when the procession with all its candles and torches came back from church, and passed by this apartment, a ray about the bredth of a hair fell on the King’s son, and when this ray touched him, he was transformed in an instant, and when she came in and looked for him, she did not see him, but a white dove was sitting there. The dove said to her, “For seven years must I fly about the world, but at every seventh step that you take I will let fall a drop of red blood and a white feather, and these will show thee the way, and if thou followest the trace thou canst release me.” Thereupon the dove flew out at the door, and she followed him, and at every seventh step a red drop of blood and a little white feather fell down and showed her the way.

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