The Complete Grimm's Fairy Tales by Jacob Grimm

  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.

  The Old Woman in the Wood

  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 enchantment 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.

  The Three Brothers

  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 wh
at 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.

  The Devil and His Grandmother

  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 rock-house. 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” and 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.

  Ferdinand the Faithful and Ferdinand the Unfaithful

  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 na
me 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.

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