There was once a miller who had a beautiful daughter, and when she was grown up he became anxious that she should be well married and taken care of; so he thought, “If a decent sort of man comes and asks her in marriage, I will give her to him.” Soon after a suitor came forward who seemed very well to do, and as the miller knew nothing to his disadvantage, he promised him his daughter. But the girl did not seem to love him as a bride should love her bridegroom; she had no confidence in him; as often as she saw him or thought about him, she felt a chill at her heart. One day he said to her, “You are to be my bride, and yet you have never been to see me.” The girl answered, “I do not know where your house is.” Then he said, “My house is a long way in the wood.” She began to make excuses, and said she could not find the way to it; but the bridegroom said, “You must come and pay me a visit next Sunday; I have already invited company, and I will strew ashes on the path through the wood, so that you will be sure to find it.”

When Sunday came, and the girl set out on her way, she felt very uneasy without knowing exactly why; and she filled both pockets full of peas and lentils. There were ashes strewed on the path through the wood, but, nevertheless, at each step she cast to the right and left a few peas on the ground. So she went on the whole day until she came to the middle of the wood, where it was the darkest, and there stood a lonely house, not pleasant in her eyes, for it was dismal and unhomelike. She walked in, but there was no one there, and the greatest stillness reigned. Suddenly she heard a voice cry,

“Turn back, turn back, thou pretty bride,
Within this house thou must not bide,
For here do evil things betide.”

The girl glanced round, and perceived that the voice came from a bird who was hanging in a cage by the wall. And again it cried,

“Turn back, turn back, thou pretty bride,
Within this house thou must not bide,
For here do evil things betide.”

Then the pretty bride went on from one room into another through the whole house, but it was quite empty, and no soul to be found in it. At last she reached the cellar, and there sat a very old woman nodding her head. “Can you tell me,” said the bride, “if my bridegroom lives here?” – “Oh, poor child,” answered the old woman, “do you know what has happened to you? You are in a place of cutthroats. You thought you were a bride, and soon to be married, but death will be your spouse. Look here, I have a great kettle of water to set on, and when once they have you in their power they will cut you in pieces without mercy, cook you, and eat you, for they are cannibals. Unless I have pity on you, and save you, all is over with you!”

Then the old woman hid her behind a great cask, where she could not be seen. “Be as still as a mouse,” said she; “do not move or go away, or else you are lost. At night, when the robbers are asleep, we will escape. I have been waiting a long time for an opportunity.” No sooner was it settled than the wicked gang entered the house. They brought another young woman with them, dragging her along, and they were drunk, and would not listen to her cries and groans. They gave her wine to drink, three glasses full, one of white wine, one of red, and one of yellow, and then they cut her in pieces. The poor bride all the while shaking and trembling when she saw what a fate the robbers had intended for her. One of them noticed on the little finger of their victim a golden ring, and as he could not draw it off easily, he took an axe and chopped it off, but the finger jumped away, and fell behind the cask on the bride’s lap. The robber took up a light to look for it, but he could not find it. Then said one of the others, “Have you looked behind the great cask?” But the old woman cried, “Come to supper, and leave off looking till to-morrow; the finger cannot run away.”

Then the robbers said the old woman was right, and they left off searching, and sat down to eat, and the old woman dropped some sleeping stuff into their wine, so that before long they stretched themselves on the cellar floor, sleeping and snoring. When the bride heard that, she came from behind the cask, and had to make her way among the sleepers lying all about on the ground, and she felt very much afraid lest she might awaken any of them. But by good luck she passed through, and the old woman with her, and they opened the door, and they made all haste to leave that house of murderers. The wind had carried away the ashes from the path, but the peas and lentils had budded and sprung up, and the moonshine upon them showed the way. And they went on through the night, till in the morning they reached the mill. Then the girl related to her father all that had happened to her.

When the wedding-day came, the friends and neighbours assembled, the miller having invited them, and the bridegroom also appeared. When they were all seated at table, each one had to tell a story. But the bride sat still, and said nothing, till at last the bridegroom said to her, “Now, sweetheart, do you know no story? Tell us something.” She answered, “I will tell you my dream. I was going alone through a wood, and I came at last to a house in which there was no living soul, but by the wall was a bird in a cage, who cried,

“Turn back, turn back, thou pretty bride,
Within this house thou must not bide,
For evil things do here betide.”

And then again it said it. Sweetheart, the dream is not ended. Then I went through all the rooms, and they were all empty, and it was so lonely and wretched. At last I went down into the cellar, and there sat an old old woman, nodding her head. I asked her if my bridegroom lived in that house, and she answered, ‘ Ah, poor child, you have come into a place of cut-throats; your bridegroom does live here, but he will kill you and cut you in pieces, and then cook and eat you.’ Sweetheart, the dream is not ended. But the old woman hid me behind a great cask, and no sooner had she done so than the robbers came home, dragging with them a young woman, and they gave her to drink wine thrice, white, red, and yellow. Sweetheart, the dream is not yet ended. And then they killed her, and cut her in pieces. Sweetheart, my dream is not yet ended. And one of the robbers saw a gold ring on the finger of the young woman, and as it was difficult to get off, he took an axe and chopped off the finger, which jumped upwards, and then fell behind the great cask on my lap. And here is the finger with the ring!” At these words she drew it forth, and showed it to the company.

The robber, who during the story had grown deadly white, sprang up, and would have escaped, but the folks held him fast, and delivered him up to justice. And he and his whole gang were, for their evil deeds, condemned and executed.

FIRST STORY

A shoemaker, by no fault of his own, had become so poor that at last he had nothing left but leather for one pair of shoes. So in the evening, he cut out the shoes which he wished to begin to make the next morning, and as he had a good conscience, he lay down quietly in his bed, commended himself to God, and fell asleep. In the morning, after he had said his prayers, and was just going to sit down to work, the two shoes stood quite finished on his table. He was astounded, and knew not what to say to it. He took the shoes in his hands to observe them closer, and they were so neatly made that there was not one bad stitch in them, just as if they were intended as a masterpiece. Soon after, a buyer came in, and as the shoes pleased him so well, he paid more for them than was customary, and, with the money, the shoemaker was able to purchase leather for two pairs of shoes. He cut them out at night, and next morning was about to set to work with fresh courage; but he had no need to do so, for, when he got up, they were already made, and buyers also were not wanting, who gave him money enough to buy leather for four pairs of shoes. The following morning, too, he found the four pairs made; and so it went on constantly, what he cut out in the evening was finished by the morning, so that he soon had his honest independence again, and at last became a wealthy man. Now it befell that one evening not long before Christmas, when the man had been cutting out, he said to his wife, before going to bed, “What think you if we were to stay up to-night to see who it is that lends us this helping hand?” The woman liked the idea, and lighted a candle, and then they hid themselves in a corner of the room, behind some clothes which were hanging up there, and watched. When it was midnight, two pretty little naked men came, sat down by the shoemaker’s table, took all the work which was cut out before them and began to stitch, and sew, and hammer so skilfully and so quickly with their little fingers that the shoemaker could not turn away his eyes for astonishment. They did not stop until all was done, and stood finished on the table, and they ran quickly away.

Next morning the woman said, “The little men have made us rich, and we really must show that we are grateful for it. They run about so, and have nothing on, and must be cold. I’ll tell thee what I’ll do: I will make them little shirts, and coats, and vests, and trousers, and knit both of them a pair of stockings, and do thou, too, make them two little pairs of shoes.” The man said, “I shall be very glad to do it;” and one night, when everything was ready, they laid their presents all together on the table instead of the cut-out work, and then concealed themselves to see how the little men would behave. At midnight they came bounding in, and wanted to get to work at once, but as they did not find any leather cut out, but only the pretty little articles of clothing, they were at first astonished, and then they showed intense delight. They dressed themselves with the greatest rapidity, putting the pretty clothes on, and singing,

“Now we are boys so fine to see,
Why should we longer cobblers be?”
Then they danced and skipped and leapt over chairs and benches. At last they danced out of doors. From that time forth they came no more, but as long as the shoemaker lived all went well with him, and all his undertakings prospered.

SECOND STORY

There was once a poor servant-girl, who was industrious and cleanly, and swept the house every day, and emptied her sweepings on the great heap in front of the door. One morning when she was just going back to her work, she found a letter on this heap, and as she could not read, she put her broom in the corner, and took the letter to her master and mistress, and behold it was an invitation from the elves, who asked the girl to hold a child for them at its christening. The girl did not know what to do, but at length, after much persuasion, and as they told her that it was not right to refuse an invitation of this kind, she consented. Then three elves came and conducted her to a hollow mountain, where the little folks lived. Everything there was small, but more elegant and beautiful than can be described. The baby’s mother lay in a bed of black ebony ornamented with pearls, the coverlids were embroidered with gold, the cradle was of ivory, the bath of gold. The girl stood as godmother, and then wanted to go home again, but the little elves urgently entreated her to stay three days with them. So she stayed, and passed the time in pleasure and gaiety, and the little folks did all they could to make her happy. At last she set out on her way home. Then first they filled her pockets quite full of money, and after that they led her out of the mountain again. When she got home, she wanted to begin her work, and took the broom, which was still standing in the corner, in her hand and began to sweep. Then some strangers came out of the house, who asked her who she was, and what business she had there? And she had not, as she thought, been three days with the little men in the mountains, but seven years, and in the meantime her former masters had died.

THIRD STORY

A certain mother’s child had been taken away out of its cradle by the elves, and a changeling with a large head and staring eyes, which would do nothing but eat and drink, laid in its place. In her trouble she went to her neighbour, and asked her advice. The neighbour said that she was to carry the changeling into the kitchen, set it down on the hearth, light a fire, and boil some water in two egg-shells, which would make the changeling laugh, and if he laughed, all would be over with him. The woman did everything that her neighbour bade her. When she put the egg-shells with water on the fire, the imp said, “I am as old now as the Wester forest, but never yet have I seen any one boil anything in an egg-shell!” And he began to laugh at it. Whilst he was laughing, suddenly came a host of little elves, who brought the right child, set it down on the hearth, and took the changeling away with them.

There was once upon a time a tailor who had three sons, and only one goat. But as the goat supported the whole of them with her milk, she was obliged to have good food, and to be taken every day to pasture. The sons, therefore, did this, in turn. Once the eldest took her to the churchyard, where the finest herbs were to be found, and let her eat and run about there. At night when it was time to go home he asked, “Goat, hast thou had enough?” The goat answered,

“I have eaten so much,
Not a leaf more I’ll touch, meh! meh!”

“Come home, then,” said the youth, and took hold of the cord round her neck, led her into the stable and tied her up securely. “Well,” said the old tailor, “has the goat had as much food as she ought?” – “Oh,” answered the son, “she has eaten so much, not a leaf more she’ll touch.” But the father wished to satisfy himself, and went down to the stable, stroked the dear animal and asked, “Goat, art thou satisfied?” The goat answered,

“Wherewithal should I be satisfied?
Among the graves I leapt about,
And found no food, so went without, meh! meh!”

“What do I hear?” cried the tailor, and ran upstairs and said to the youth, “Hollo, thou liar: thou saidest the goat had had enough, and hast let her hunger!” and in his anger he took the yard-measure from the wall, and drove him out with blows.

Next day it was the turn of the second son, who looked out for a place in the fence of the garden, where nothing but good herbs grew, and the goat cleared them all off.

At night when he wanted to go home, he asked, “Goat, art thou satisfied?” The goat answered,

“I have eaten so much,
Not a leaf more I’ll touch, meh! meh!”

“Come home, then,” said the youth, and led her home, and tied her up in the stable. “Well,” said the old tailor, “has the goat had as much food as she ought?” – “Oh,” answered the son, “she has eaten so much, not a leaf more she’ll touch.” The tailor would not rely on this, but went down to the stable and said, “Goat, hast thou had enough?” The goat answered,

“Wherewithal should I be satisfied?
Among the graves I leapt about,
And found no food, so went without, meh! meh!”

“The godless wretch!” cried the tailor, “to let such a good animal hunger,” and he ran up and drove the youth out of doors with the yard-measure.

Now came the turn of the third son, who wanted to do the thing well, and sought out some bushes with the finest leaves, and let the goat devour them. In the evening when he wanted to go home, he asked, “Goat, hast thou had enough?” The goat answered,

“I have eaten so much,
Not a leaf more I’ll touch, meh! meh!”

“Come home, then,” said the youth, and led her into the stable, and tied her up. “Well,” said the old tailor, “has the goat had a proper amount of food?” – “She has eaten so much, not a leaf more she’ll touch.” The tailor did not trust to that, but went down and asked, “Goat, hast thou had enough?” The wicked beast answered,

“Wherewithal should I be satisfied?
Among the graves I leapt about,
And found no leaves, so went without, meh! meh!”

“Oh, the brood of liars!” cried the tailor, “each as wicked and forgetful of his duty as the other! Ye shall no longer make a fool of me,” and quite beside himself with anger, he ran upstairs and belabored the poor young fellow so vigorously with the yard-measure that he sprang out of the house.

The old tailor was now alone with his goat. Next morning he went down into the stable, caressed the goat and said, “Come, my dear little animal, I will take thee to feed myself.” He took her by the rope and conducted her to green hedges, and amongst milfoil, and whatever else goats like to eat. “There thou mayest for once eat to thy heart’s content,” said he to her, and let her browse till evening. Then he asked, “Goat, art thou satisfied?” She replied,

“I have eaten so much,
Not a leaf more I’ll touch, meh! meh!”

“Come home, then,” said the tailor, and led her into the stable, and tied her fast. When he was going away, he turned round again and said, “Well, art thou satisfied for once?” But the goat did not behave the better to him, and cried,

“Wherewithal should I be satisfied?
Among the graves I leapt about,
And found no leaves, so went without, meh! meh!”

When the tailor heard that, he was shocked, and saw clearly that he had driven away his three sons without cause. “Wait, thou ungrateful creature,” cried he, “it is not enough to drive thee forth, I will mark thee so that thou wilt no more dare to show thyself amongst honest tailors.” In great haste he ran upstairs, fetched his razor, lathered the goat’s head, and shaved her as clean as the palm of his hand. And as the yard-measure would have been too good for her, he brought the horsewhip, and gave her such cuts with it that she ran away in violent haste.

When the tailor was thus left quite alone in his house he fell into great grief, and would gladly have had his sons back again, but no one knew whither they were gone. The eldest had apprenticed himself to a joiner, and learnt industriously and indefatigably, and when the time came for him to go travelling, his master presented him with a little table which had no particular appearance, and was made of common wood, but it had one good property; if anyone set it out, and said, “Little table, spread thyself,” the good little table was at once covered with a clean little cloth, and a plate was there, and a knife and fork beside it, and dishes with boiled meats and roasted meats, as many as there was room for, and a great glass of red wine shone so that it made the heart glad. The young journeyman thought, “With this thou hast enough for thy whole life,” and went joyously about the world and never troubled himself at all whether an inn was good or bad, or if anything was to be found in it or not. When it suited him he did not enter an inn at all, but either on the plain, in a wood, a meadow, or wherever he fancied, he took his little table off his back, set it down before him, and said, “Cover thyself,” and then everything appeared that his heart desired. At length he took it into his head to go back to his father, whose anger would now be appeased, and who would now willingly receive him with his wishing-table. It came to pass that on his way home, he came one evening to an inn which was filled with guests. They bade him welcome, and invited him to sit and eat with them, for otherwise he would have difficulty in getting anything. “No,” answered the joiner, “I will not take the few bites out of your mouths; rather than that, you shall be my guests.” They laughed, and thought he was jesting with them; he, however, placed his wooden table in the middle of the room, and said, “Little table, cover thyself.” Instantly it was covered with food, so good that the host could never have procured it, and the smell of it ascended pleasantly to the nostrils of the guests. “Fall to, dear friends,” said the joiner; and the guests when they saw that he meant it, did not need to be asked twice, but drew near, pulled out their knives and attacked it valiantly. And what surprised them the most was that when a dish became empty, a full one instantly took its place of its own accord. The innkeeper stood in one corner and watched the affair; he did not at all know what to say, but thought, “Thou couldst easily find a use for such a cook as that in thy kitchen.” The joiner and his comrades made merry until late into the night; at length they lay down to sleep, and the young apprentice also went to bed, and set his magic table against the wall. The host’s thoughts, however, let him have no rest; it occurred to him that there was a little old table in his lumber-room which looked just like the apprentice’s and he brought it out quite softly, and exchanged it for the wishing-table. Next morning, the joiner paid for his bed, took up his table, never thinking that he had got a false one, and went his way. At mid-day he reached his father, who received him with great joy. “Well, my dear son, what hast thou learnt?” said he to him. “Father, I have become a joiner.” – “A good trade,” replied the old man; “but what hast thou brought back with thee from thy apprenticeship?” – “Father, the best thing which I have brought back with me is this little table.” The tailor inspected it on all sides and said, “Thou didst not make a masterpiece when thou mad’st that; it is a bad old table.” – “But it is a table which furnishes itself,” replied the son. “When I set it out, and tell it to cover itself, the most beautiful dishes stand on it, and a wine also, which gladdens the heart. Just invite all our relations and friends, they shall refresh and enjoy themselves for once, for the table will give them all they require.” When the company was assembled, he put his table in the middle of the room and said, “Little table, cover thyself,” but the little table did not bestir itself, and remained just as bare as any other table which did not understand language. Then the poor apprentice became aware that his table had been changed, and was ashamed at having to stand there like a liar. The relations, however, mocked him, and were forced to go home without having eaten or drunk. The father brought out his patches again, and went on tailoring, but the son went to a master in the craft.

The second son had gone to a miller and had apprenticed himself to him. When his years were over, the master said, “As thou hast conducted thyself so well, I give thee an ass of a peculiar kind, which neither draws a cart nor carries a sack.” – “To what use is he put, then?” asked the young apprentice. “He lets gold drop from his mouth,” answered the miller. “If thou settest him on a cloth and sayest ‘Bricklebrit,’ the good animal will drop gold pieces for thee.” – “That is a fine thing,” said the apprentice, and thanked the master, and went out into the world. When he had need of gold, he had only to say “Bricklebrit” to his ass, and it rained gold pieces, and he had nothing to do but pick them off the ground. Wheresoever he went, the best of everything was good enough for him, and the dearer the better, for he had always a full purse. When he had looked about the world for some time, he thought, “Thou must seek out thy father; if thou goest to him with the gold-ass he will forget his anger, and receive thee well.” It came to pass that he came to the same public-house in which his brother’s table had been exchanged. He led his ass by the bridle, and the host was about to take the animal from him and tie him up, but the young apprentice said, “Don’t trouble yourself, I will take my grey horse into the stable, and tie him up myself too, for I must know where he stands.” This struck the host as odd, and he thought that a man who was forced to look after his ass himself, could not have much to spend; but when the stranger put his hand in his pocket and brought out two gold pieces, and said he was to provide something good for him, the host opened his eyes wide, and ran and sought out the best he could muster. After dinner the guest asked what he owed. The host did not see why he should not double the reckoning, and said the apprentice must give two more gold pieces. He felt in his pocket, but his gold was just at an end. “Wait an instant, sir host,” said he, “I will go and fetch some money;” but he took the table-cloth with him. The host could not imagine what this could mean, and being curious, stole after him, and as the guest bolted the stable-door, he peeped through a hole left by a knot in the wood. The stranger spread out the cloth under the animal and cried, “Bricklebrit,” and immediately the beast began to let gold pieces fall, so that it fairly rained down money on the ground. “Eh, my word,” said the host, “ducats are quickly coined there! A purse like that is not amiss.” The guest paid his score, and went to bed, but in the night the host stole down into the stable, led away the master of the mint, and tied up another ass in his place. Early next morning the apprentice travelled away with his ass, and thought that he had his gold-ass. At mid-day he reached his father, who rejoiced to see him again, and gladly took him in. “What hast thou made of thyself, my son?” asked the old man. “A miller,” dear father, he answered. “What hast thou brought back with thee from thy travels?” – “Nothing else but an ass.” – “There are asses enough here,” said the father, “I would rather have had a good goat.” – “Yes,” replied the son, “but it is no common ass, but a gold-ass, when I say ‘Bricklebrit,’ the good beast opens its mouth and drops a whole sheetful of gold pieces. Just summon all our relations hither, and I will make them rich folks.” – “That suits me well,” said the tailor, “for then I shall have no need to torment myself any longer with the needle,” and ran out himself and called the relations together. As soon as they were assembled, the miller bade them make way, spread out his cloth, and brought the ass into the room. “Now watch,” said he, and cried, “Bricklebrit,” but no gold pieces fell, and it was clear that the animal knew nothing of the art, for every ass does not attain such perfection. Then the poor miller pulled a long face, saw that he was betrayed, and begged pardon of the relatives, who went home as poor as they came. There was no help for it, the old man had to betake him to his needle once more, and the youth hired himself to a miller.

The third brother had apprenticed himself to a turner, and as that is skilled labour, he was the longest in learning. His brothers, however, told him in a letter how badly things had gone with them, and how the innkeeper had cheated them of their beautiful wishing-gifts on the last evening before they reached home. When the turner had served his time, and had to set out on his travels, as he had conducted himself so well, his master presented him with a sack and said, “There is a cudgel in it.” – “I can put on the sack,” said he, “and it may be of good service to me, but why should the cudgel be in it? It only makes it heavy.” – “I will tell thee why,” replied the master; “if any one has done anything to injure thee, do but say, ‘Out of the sack, Cudgel!’ and the cudgel will leap forth among the people, and play such a dance on their backs that they will not be able to stir or move for a week, and it will not leave off until thou sayest, “Into the sack, Cudgel!” The apprentice thanked him, and put the sack on his back, and when any one came too near him, and wished to attack him, he said, “Out of the sack, Cudgel!” and instantly the cudgel sprang out, and dusted the coat or jacket of one after the other on their backs, and never stopped until it had stripped it off them, and it was done so quickly, that before anyone was aware, it was already his own turn. In the evening the young turner reached the inn where his brothers had been cheated. He laid his sack on the table before him, and began to talk of all the wonderful things which he had seen in the world. “Yes,” said he, “people may easily find a table which will cover itself, a gold-ass, and things of that kind — extremely good things which I by no means despise — but these are nothing in comparison with the treasure which I have won for myself, and am carrying about with me in my sack there.” The inn-keeper pricked up his ears, “What in the world can that be?” thought he; “the sack must be filled with nothing but jewels; I ought to get them cheap too, for all good things go in threes.” When it was time for sleep, the guest stretched himself on the bench, and laid his sack beneath him for a pillow. When the inn-keeper thought his guest was lying in a sound sleep, he went to him and pushed and pulled quite gently and carefully at the sack to see if he could possibly draw it away and lay another in its place. The turner had, however, been waiting for this for a long time, and now just as the inn-keeper was about to give a hearty tug, he cried, “Out of the sack, Cudgel!” Instantly the little cudgel came forth, and fell on the inn-keeper and gave him a sound thrashing. The host cried for mercy; but the louder he cried, so much more heavily the cudgel beat the time on his back, until at length he fell to the ground exhausted. Then the turner said, “If thou dost not give back the table which covers itself, and the gold-ass, the dance shall begin afresh.” – “Oh, no,” cried the host, quite humbly, “I will gladly produce everything, only make the accursed kobold creep back into the sack.” Then said the apprentice, “I will let mercy take the place of justice, but beware of getting into mischief again!” So he cried, “Into the sack, Cudgel!” and let him have rest.

Next morning the turner went home to his father with the wishing-table, and the gold-ass. The tailor rejoiced when he saw him once more, and asked him likewise what he had learned in foreign parts. “Dear father,” said he, “I have become a turner.” – “A skilled trade,” said the father. “What hast thou brought back with thee from thy travels?” – “A precious thing, dear father,” replied the son, “a cudgel in the sack.” – “What!” cried the father, “a cudgel! That’s worth thy trouble, indeed! From every tree thou can cut thyself one.” – “But not one like this, dear father. If I say, ‘Out of the sack, Cudgel!’ the cudgel springs out and leads any one who means ill with me a weary dance, and never stops until he lies on the ground and prays for fair weather. Look you, with this cudgel have I got back the wishing-table and the gold-ass which the thievish inn-keeper took away from my brothers. Now let them both be sent for, and invite all our kinsmen. I will give them to eat and to drink, and will fill their pockets with gold into the bargain.” The old tailor would not quite believe, but nevertheless got the relatives together. Then the turner spread a cloth in the room and led in the gold-ass, and said to his brother, “Now, dear brother, speak to him.” The miller said, “Bricklebrit,” and instantly the gold pieces fell down on the cloth like a thunder-shower, and the ass did not stop until every one of them had so much that he could carry no more. (I can see in thy face that thou also wouldst like to be there.) Then the turner brought the little table, and said, “Now dear brother, speak to it.” And scarcely had the carpenter said, “Table, cover thyself,” than it was spread and amply covered with the most exquisite dishes. Then such a meal took place as the good tailor had never yet known in his house, and the whole party of kinsmen stayed together till far in the night, and were all merry and glad. The tailor locked away needle and thread, yard-measure and goose, in a press, and lived with his three sons in joy and splendour.

What, however, has become of the goat who was to blame for the tailor driving out his three sons? That I will tell thee. She was ashamed that she had a bald head, and ran to a fox’s hole and crept into it. When the fox came home, he was met by two great eyes shining out of the darkness, and was terrified and ran away. A bear met him, and as the fox looked quite disturbed, he said, “What is the matter with thee, brother Fox, why dost thou look like that?” – “Ah,” answered Redskin, “a fierce beast is in my cave and stared at me with its fiery eyes.” – “We will soon drive him out,” said the bear, and went with him to the cave and looked in, but when he saw the fiery eyes, fear seized on him likewise; he would have nothing to do with the furious beast, and took to his heels. The bee met him, and as she saw that he was ill at ease, she said, “Bear, thou art really pulling a very pitiful face; what has become of all thy gaiety?” – “It is all very well for thee to talk,” replied the bear, “a furious beast with staring eyes is in Redskin’s house, and we can’t drive him out.” The bee said, “Bear I pity thee, I am a poor weak creature whom thou wouldst not turn aside to look at, but still, I believe, I can help thee.” She flew into the fox’s cave, lighted on the goat’s smoothly-shorn head, and stung her so violently, that she sprang up, crying “Meh, meh,” and ran forth into the world as if mad, and to this hour no one knows where she has gone.

One very fine day it came to pass that the good God wished to enjoy himself in the heavenly garden, and took all the apostles and saints with him, so that no one stayed in heaven but Saint Peter. The Lord had commanded him to let no one in during his absence, so Peter stood by the door and kept watch. Before long some one knocked. Peter asked who was there, and what he wanted? “I am a poor, honest tailor who prays for admission,” replied a smooth voice. “Honest indeed,” said Peter, “like the thief on the gallows! Thou hast been light-fingered and hast snipped folks’ clothes away. Thou wilt not get into heaven. The Lord hath forbidden me to let any one in while he is out.” – “Come, do be merciful,” cried the tailor. “Little scraps which fall off the table of their own accord are not stolen, and are not worth speaking about. Look, I am lame, and have blisters on my feet with walking here, I cannot possibly turn back again. Only let me in, and I will do all the rough work. I will carry the children, and wash their clothes, and wash and clean the benches on which they have been playing, and patch all their torn clothes.” Saint Peter let himself be moved by pity, and opened the door of heaven just wide enough for the lame tailor to slip his lean body in. He was forced to sit down in a corner behind the door, and was to stay quietly and peaceably there, in order that the Lord, when he returned, might not observe him and be angry. The tailor obeyed, but once when Saint Peter went outside the door, he got up, and full of curiosity, went round about into every corner of heaven, and inspected the arrangement of every place. At length he came to a spot where many beautiful and delightful chairs were standing, and in the midst was a seat all of gold which was set with shining jewels, likewise it was much higher than the other chairs, and a footstool of gold was before it. It was, however, the seat on which the Lord sat when he was at home, and from which he could see everything which happened on earth. The tailor stood still, and looked at the seat for a long time, for it pleased him better than all else. At last he could master his curiosity no longer, and climbed up and seated himself in the chair. Then he saw everything which was happening on earth, and observed an ugly old woman who was standing washing by the side of a stream, secretly laying two veils on one side for herself. The sight of this made the tailor so angry that he laid hold of the golden footstool, and threw it down to earth through heaven, at the old thief. As, however, he could not bring the stool back again, he slipped quietly out of the chair, seated himself in his place behind the door, and behaved as if he had never stirred from the spot.
When the Lord and master came back again with his heavenly companions, he did not see the tailor behind the door, but when he seated himself on his chair the footstool was missing. He asked Saint Peter what had become of the stool, but he did not know. Then he asked if he had let anyone come in. “I know of no one who has been here,” answered Peter, “but a lame tailor, who is still sitting behind the door.” Then the Lord had the tailor brought before him, and asked him if he had taken away the stool, and where he had put it? “Oh, Lord,” answered the tailor joyously, “I threw it in my anger down to earth at an old woman whom I saw stealing two veils at the washing.” – “Oh, thou knave,” said the Lord, “were I to judge as thou judgest, how dost thou think thou couldst have escaped so long? I should long ago have had no chairs, benches, seats, nay, not even an oven-fork, but should have thrown everything down at the sinners. Henceforth thou canst stay no longer in heaven, but must go outside the door again. Then go where thou wilt. No one shall give punishment here, but I alone, the Lord.”

Peter was obliged to take the tailor out of heaven again, and as he had torn shoes, and feet covered with blisters, he took a stick in his hand, and went to “Wait-a-bit,” where the good soldiers sit and make merry.

There was once a man who had a daughter who was called Clever Else, and when she was grown up, her father said she must be married, and her mother said, “Yes, if we could only find some one that would consent to have.” At last one came from a distance, and his name was Hans, and when he proposed to her, he made it a condition that Clever Else should be very careful as well. “Oh,” said the father, “she does not want for brains.” – “No, indeed,” said the mother, “she can see the wind coming up the street and hear the flies cough.” – “Well,” said Hans, “if she does not turn out to be careful too, I will not have her.” Now when they were all seated at table, and had well eaten, the mother said, “Else, go into the cellar and draw some beer.” Then Clever Else took down the jug from the hook in the wall, and as she was on her way to the cellar she rattled the lid up and down so as to pass away the time. When she got there, she took a stool and stood it in front of the cask, so that she need not stoop and make her back ache with needless trouble. Then she put the jug under the tap and turned it, and while the beer was running, in order that her eyes should not be idle, she glanced hither and thither, and finally caught sight of a pickaxe that the workmen had left sticking in the ceiling just above her head. Then Clever Else began to cry, for she thought, “If I marry Hans, and we have a child, and it grows big, and we send it into the cellar to draw beer, that pickaxe might fall on his head and kill him.” So there she sat and cried with all her might, lamenting the anticipated misfortune. All the while they were waiting upstairs for something to drink, and they waited in vain. At last the mistress said to the maid, “Go down to the cellar and see why Else does not come.” So the maid went, and found her sitting in front of the cask crying with all her might. “What are you crying for?” said the maid. “Oh dear me,” answered she, “how can I help crying? if I marry Hans, and we have a child, and it grows big, and we send it here to draw beer, perhaps the pickaxe may fall on its head and kill it.” – “Our Else is clever indeed!” said the maid, and directly sat down to bewail the anticipated misfortune. After a while, when the people upstairs found that the maid did not return, and they were becoming more and more thirsty, the master said to the boy, “You go down into the cellar, and see what Else and the maid are doing.” The boy did so, and there he found both Clever Else and the maid sitting crying together. Then he asked what was the matter. “Oh dear me,” said Else, “how can we help crying? If I marry Hans, and we have a child, and it grows big, and we send it here to draw beer, the pickaxe might fall on its head and kill it.” – “Our Else is clever indeed!” said the boy, and sitting down beside her, he began howling with a good will. Upstairs they were all waiting for him to come back, but as he did not come, the master said to the mistress, “You go down to the cellar and see what Else is doing.” So the mistress went down and found all three in great lamentations, and when she asked the cause, then Else told her how the future possible child might be killed as soon as it was big enough to be sent to draw beer, by the pickaxe falling on it. Then the mother at once exclaimed, “Our Else is clever indeed!” and, sitting down, she wept with the rest. Upstairs the husband waited a little while, but as his wife did not return, and as his thirst constantly increased, he said, “I must go down to the cellar myself, and see what has become of Else.” And when he came into the cellar, and found them all sitting and weeping together, he was told that it was all owing to the child that Else might possibly have, and the possibility of its being killed by the pickaxe so happening to fall just at the time the child might be sitting underneath it drawing beer; and when he heard all this, he cried, “How clever is our Else!” and sitting down, he joined his tears to theirs. The intended bridegroom stayed upstairs by himself a long time, but as nobody came back to him, he thought he would go himself and see what they were all about And there he found all five lamenting and crying most pitifully, each one louder than the other. “What misfortune has happened?” cried he. “O my dear Hans,” said Else, “if we marry and have a child, and it grows big, and we send it down here to draw beer, perhaps that pickaxe which has been left sticking up there might fall down on the child’s head and kill it; and how can we help crying at that!” – “Now,” said Hans, “I cannot think that greater sense than that could be wanted in my household; so as you are so clever, Else, I will have you for my wife,” and taking her by the hand he led her upstairs, and they had the wedding at once.

A little while after they were married, Hans said to his wife, “I am going out to work, in order to get money; you go into the field and cut the corn, so that we may have bread.” – “Very well, I will do so, dear Hans,” said she. And after Hans was gone she cooked herself some nice stew, and took it with her into the field. And when she got there, she said to herself, “Now, what shall I do? shall I reap first, or eat first? All right, I will eat first.” Then she ate her fill of stew, and when she could eat no more, she said to herself, “Now, what shall I do? shall I reap first, or sleep first? All right, I will sleep first.” Then she lay down in the corn and went to sleep. And Hans got home, and waited there a long while, and Else did not come, so he said to himself, “My clever Else is so industrious that she never thinks of coming home and eating.” But when evening drew near and still she did not come, Hans set out to see how much corn she had cut; but she had cut no corn at all, but there she was lying in it asleep. Then Hans made haste home, and fetched a bird-net with little bells and threw it over her; and still she went on sleeping. And he ran home again and locked himself in, and sat him down on his bench to work. At last, when it was beginning to grow dark, Clever Else woke, and when she got up and shook herself, the bells jingled at each movement that she made. Then she grew frightened, and began to doubt whether she were really Clever Else or not, and said to herself, “Am I, or am I not?” And, not knowing what answer to make, she stood for a long while considering; at last she thought, “I will go home to Hans and ask him if I am I or not; he is sure to know.” So she ran up to the door of her house, but it was locked; then she knocked at the window, and cried, “Hans, is Else within?” – “Yes,” answered Hans, “she is in.” Then she was in a greater fright than ever, and crying, “Oh dear, then I am not I,” she went to inquire at another door, but the people hearing the jingling of the bells would not open to her, and she could get in nowhere. So she ran away beyond the village, and since then no one has seen her.

An aged count once lived in Switzerland, who had an only son, but he was stupid, and could learn nothing. Then said the father, “Hark thee, my son, I can get nothing into thy head, let me try as I will. Thou must go from hence, I will give thee into the care of a celebrated master, who shall see what he can do with thee.” The youth was sent into a strange town, and remained a whole year with the master. At the end of this time, he came home again, and his father asked, “Now, my son, what hast thou learnt?” – “Father, I have learnt what the dogs say when they bark.” – “Lord have mercy on us!” cried the father; “is that all thou hast learnt? I will send thee into another town, to another master.” The youth was taken thither, and stayed a year with this master likewise. When he came back the father again asked, “My son, what hast thou learnt?” He answered, “Father, I have learnt what the birds say.” Then the father fell into a rage and said, “Oh, thou lost man, thou hast spent the precious time and learnt nothing; art thou not ashamed to appear before mine eyes? I will send thee to a third master, but if thou learnest nothing this time also, I will no longer be thy father.” The youth remained a whole year with the third master also, and when he came home again, and his father inquired, “My son, what hast thou learnt?” he answered, “Dear father, I have this year learnt what the frogs croak.” Then the father fell into the most furious anger, sprang up, called his people thither, and said, “This man is no longer my son, I drive him forth, and command you to take him out into the forest, and kill him.” They took him forth, but when they should have killed him, they could not do it for pity, and let him go, and they cut the eyes and the tongue out of a deer that they might carry them to the old man as a token.

The youth wandered on, and after some time came to a fortress where he begged for a night’s lodging. “Yes,” said the lord of the castle, “if thou wilt pass the night down there in the old tower, go thither; but I warn thee, it is at the peril of thy life, for it is full of wild dogs, which bark and howl without stopping, and at certain hours a man has to be given to them, whom they at once devour.” The whole district was in sorrow and dismay because of them, and yet no one could do anything to stop this. The youth, however, was without fear, and said, “Just let me go down to the barking dogs, and give me something that I can throw to them; they will do nothing to harm me.” As he himself would have it so, they gave him some food for the wild animals, and led him down to the tower. When he went inside, the dogs did not bark at him, but wagged their tails quite amicably around him, ate what he set before them, and did not hurt one hair of his head. Next morning, to the astonishment of everyone, he came out again safe and unharmed, and said to the lord of the castle, “The dogs have revealed to me, in their own language, why they dwell there, and bring evil on the land. They are bewitched, and are obliged to watch over a great treasure which is below in the tower, and they can have no rest until it is taken away, and I have likewise learnt, from their discourse, how that is to be done.” Then all who heard this rejoiced, and the lord of the castle said he would adopt him as a son if he accomplished it successfully. He went down again, and as he knew what he had to do, he did it thoroughly, and brought a chest full of gold out with him. The howling of the wild dogs was henceforth heard no more; they had disappeared, and the country was freed from the trouble.

After some time he took it into his head that he would travel to Rome. On the way he passed by a marsh, in which a number of frogs were sitting croaking. He listened to them, and when he became aware of what they were saying, he grew very thoughtful and sad. At last he arrived in Rome, where the Pope had just died, and there was great difficulty as to whom they should appoint as his successor. They at length agreed that the person should be chosen as pope who should be distinguished by some divine and miraculous token. And just as that was decided on, the young count entered into the church, and suddenly two snow-white doves flew on his shoulders and remained sitting there. The ecclesiastics recognized therein the token from above, and asked him on the spot if he would be pope. He was undecided, and knew not if he were worthy of this, but the doves counselled him to do it, and at length he said yes. Then was he anointed and consecrated, and thus was fulfilled what he had heard from the frogs on his way, which had so affected him, that he was to be his Holiness the Pope. Then he had to sing a mass, and did not know one word of it, but the two doves sat continually on his shoulders, and said it all in his ear.

Once upon a time a mouse, a bird, and a sausage formed a partnership. They kept house together, and for a long time they lived in peace and prosperity, acquiring many possessions. The bird’s task was to fly into the forest every day to fetch wood. The mouse carried water, made the fire, and set the table. The sausage did the cooking.

Whoever is too well off always wants to try something different! Thus one day the bird chanced to meet another bird, who boasted to him of his own situation. This bird criticized him for working so hard while the other two enjoyed themselves at home. For after the mouse had made the fire and carried the water, she could sit in the parlor and rest until it was time for her to set the table. The sausage had only to stay by the pot watching the food cook. When mealtime approached, she would slither through the porridge or the vegetables, and thus everything was greased and salted and ready to eat. The bird would bring his load of wood home. They would eat their meal, and then sleep soundly until the next morning. It was a great life.

The next day, because of his friend’s advice, the bird refused to go to the forest, saying that he had been their servant long enough. He was no longer going to be a fool for them. Everyone should try a different task for a change. The mouse and the sausage argued against this, but the bird was the master, and he insisted that they give it a try. The sausage was to fetch wood, the mouse became the cook, and the bird was to carry water.

And what was the result? The sausage trudged off toward the forest; the bird made the fire; and the mouse put on the pot and waited for the sausage to return with wood for the next day. However, the sausage stayed out so long that the other two feared that something bad had happened. The bird flew off to see if he could find her. A short distance away he came upon a dog that had seized the sausage as free booty and was making off with her. The bird complained bitterly to the dog about this brazen abduction, but he claimed that he had discovered forged letters on the sausage, and that she would thus have to forfeit her life to him.

Filled with sorrow, the bird carried the wood home himself and told the mouse what he had seen and heard. They were very sad, but were determined to stay together and make the best of it. The bird set the table while the mouse prepared the food. She jumped into the pot, as the sausage had always done, in order to slither and weave in and about the vegetables and grease them, but before she reached the middle, her hair and skin were scalded off, and she perished.

When the bird wanted to eat, no cook was there. Beside himself, he threw the wood this way and that, called out, looked everywhere, but no cook was to be found. Because of his carelessness, the scattered wood caught fire, and the entire house was soon aflame. The bird rushed to fetch water, but the bucket fell into the well, carrying him with it, and he drowned.

An old woman lived in a village. She had gathered a serving of beans and wanted to cook them, so she prepared a fire in her fireplace. To make it burn faster she lit it with a handful of straw. While she was pouring the beans into the pot, one of them fell unnoticed to the floor, coming to rest next to a piece of straw. Soon afterward a glowing coal jumped out of the fireplace and landed next to them. The straw said, “Dear friends, where do you come from?” The coal answered, “I jumped from the fireplace, to my good fortune. If I had not forced my way out, I surely would have died. I would have burned to ash.” The bean said, “I too saved my skin. If the old woman had gotten me into the pot I would have been cooked to mush without mercy, just like my comrades.” – “Would my fate have been any better?” said the straw. “The old woman sent all my brothers up in fire and smoke. She grabbed sixty at once and killed them. Fortunately I slipped through her fingers.” – “What should we do now?” asked the coal. “Because we have so fortunately escaped death,” answered the bean, “I think that we should join together as comrades. To prevent some new misfortune from befalling us here, let us together make our way to another land.”

This proposal pleased the other two, and they set forth all together. They soon came to a small brook, and because there was neither a bridge nor a walkway there, they did not know how they would get across it. Then the straw had a good idea, and said, “I will lay myself across it, and you can walk across me like on a bridge.” So the straw stretched himself from one bank to the other. The coal, who was a hot-headed fellow, stepped brashly onto the newly constructed bridge, but when he got to the middle and heard the water rushing beneath him, he took fright, stopped, and did not dare to go any further. Then the straw caught fire, broke into two pieces, and fell into the brook. The coal slid after him, hissed as he fell into the water, and gave up the ghost. The bean who had cautiously stayed behind on the bank had to laugh at the event. He could not stop, and he laughed so fiercely that he burst. Now he too would have died, but fortunately a wandering tailor was there, resting near the brook. Having a compassionate heart, he got out a needle and thread and sewed the bean back together. The bean thanked him most kindly. However, because he had used black thread, since that time all beans have had a black seam.

There was once a girl who was lazy and would not spin, and her mother could not persuade her to it, do what she would. At last the mother became angry and out of patience, and gave her a good beating, so that she cried out loudly. At that moment the Queen was going by; as she heard the crying, she stopped; and, going into the house, she asked the mother why she was beating her daughter, so that every one outside in the street could hear her cries. The woman was ashamed to tell of her daughter’s laziness, so she said, “I cannot stop her from spinning; she is for ever at it, and I am poor and cannot furnish her with flax enough.” Then the Queen answered, “I like nothing better than the sound of the spinning-wheel, and always feel happy when I hear its humming; let me take your daughter with me to the castle – I have plenty of flax, she shall spin there to her heart’s content.” The mother was only too glad of the offer, and the Queen took the girl with her.

When they reached the castle the Queen showed her three rooms which were filled with the finest flax as full as they could hold.

“Now you can spin me this flax,” said she, “and when you can show it me all done you shall have my eldest son for bridegroom; you may be poor, but I make nothing of that – your industry is dowry enough.” The girl was inwardly terrified, for she could not have spun the flax, even if she were to live to be a hundred years old, and were to sit spinning every day of her life from morning to evening. And when she found herself alone she began to weep, and sat so for three days without putting her hand to it. On the third day the Queen came, and when she saw that nothing had been done of the spinning she was much surprised; but the girl excused herself by saying that she had not been able to begin because of the distress she was in at leaving her home and her mother. The excuse contented the Queen, who said, however, as she went away, “Tomorrow you must begin to work.”

When the girl found herself alone again she could not tell how to help herself or what to do, and in her perplexity she went and gazed out of the window. There she saw three women passing by, and the first of them had a broad flat foot, the second had a big under-lip that hung down over her chin, and the third had a remarkably broad thumb. They all of them stopped in front of the window, and called out to know what it was that the girl wanted. She told them all her need, and they promised her their help, and said, “Then will you invite us to your wedding, and not be ashamed of us, and call us your cousins, and let us sit at your table; if you will promise this, we will finish off your flax-spinning in a very short time.”

“With all my heart,” answered the girl; “only come in now, and begin at once.”

Then these same women came in, and she cleared a space in the first room for them to sit and carry on their spinning. The first one drew out the thread and moved the treddle that turned the wheel, the second moistened the thread, the third twisted it, and rapped with her finger on the table, and as often as she rapped a heap of yarn fell to the ground, and it was most beautifully spun. But the girl hid the three spinsters out of the Queen’s sight, and only showed her, as often as she came, the heaps of well-spun yarn; and there was no end to the praises she received. When the first room was empty they went on to the second, and then to the third, so that at last all was finished. Then the three women took their leave, saying to the girl, “Do not forget what you have promised, and it will be all the better for you.”

So when the girl took the Queen and showed her the empty rooms, and the great heaps of yarn, the wedding was at once arranged, and the bridegroom rejoiced that he should have so clever and diligent a wife, and praised her exceedingly.

“I have three cousins,” said the girl, “and as they have shown me a great deal of kindness, I would not wish to forget them in my good fortune; may I be allowed to invite them to the wedding, and to ask them to sit at the table with us?” The Queen and the bridegroom said at once, “There is no reason against it.”

So when the feast began in came the three spinsters in strange guise, and the bride said, “Dear cousins, you are welcome.”

“Oh,” said the bridegroom, “how come you to have such dreadfully ugly relations?” And then he went up to the first spinster and said, “How is it that you have such a broad flat foot?”

“With treading,” answered she, “with treading.” Then he went up to the second and said, “How is it that you have such a great hanging lip?”

“With licking,” answered she, “with licking.”

Then he asked the third, “How is it that you have such a broad thumb?”

“With twisting thread,” answered she, “with twisting thread.” Then the bridegroom said that from that time forward his beautiful bride should never touch a spinning-wheel. And so she escaped that tiresome flax-spinning.

The cock once said to the hen, “It is now the time when our nuts are ripe, so let us go to the hill together and for once eat our fill before the squirrel takes them all away.” – “Yes,” replied the hen, “come, we will have some pleasure together.” Then they went away to the hill, and on it was a bright day they stayed till evening. Now I do not know whether it was that they had eaten till they were too fat, or whether they had become proud, but they would not go home on foot, and the cock had to build a little carriage of nut-shells. When it was ready, the little hen seated herself in it and said to the cock, “Thou canst just harness thyself to it.” – “I like that!” said the cock, “I would rather go home on foot than let myself be harnessed to it; no, that is not our bargain. I do not mind being coachman and sitting on the box, but drag it myself I will not.”

As they were thus disputing, a duck quacked to them, “You thieving folks, who bade you go to my nut-hill? Well, you shall suffer for it!” and ran with open beak at the cock. But the cock also was not idle, and fell boldly on the duck, and at last wounded her so with his spurs that she also begged for mercy, and willingly let herself be harnessed to the carriage as a punishment. The little cock now seated himself on the box and was coachman, and thereupon they went off in a gallop, with “Duck, go as fast as thou canst.” When they had driven a part of the way they met two foot-passengers, a pin and a needle. They cried, “Stop! stop!” and said that it would soon be as dark as pitch, and then they could not go a step further, and that it was so dirty on the road, and asked if they could not get into the carriage for a while. They had been at the tailor’s public- house by the gate, and had stayed too long over the beer. As they were thin people, who did not take up much room, the cock let them both get in, but they had to promise him and his little hen not to step on their feet. Late in the evening they came to an inn, and as they did not like to go further by night, and as the duck also was not strong on her feet, and fell from one side to the other, they went in. The host at first made many objections, his house was already full, besides he thought they could not be very distinguished persons; but at last, as they made pleasant speeches, and told him that he should have the egg which the little hen has laid on the way, and should likewise keep the duck, which laid one every day, he at length said that they might stay the night. And now they had themselves well served, and feasted and rioted. Early in the morning, when day was breaking, and every one was asleep, the cock awoke the hen, brought the egg, pecked it open, and they ate it together, but they threw the shell on the hearth. Then they went to the needle which was still asleep, took it by the head and stuck it into the cushion of the landlord’s chair, and put the pin in his towel, and at the last without more ado they flew away over the heath. The duck who liked to sleep in the open air and had stayed in the yard, heard them going away, made herself merry and found a stream, down which she swam, which was a much quicker way of travelling than being harnessed to a carriage. The host did not get out of bed for two hours after this; he washed himself and wanted to dry himself, then the pin went over his face and made a red streak from one ear to the other. After this he went into the kitchen and wanted to light a pipe, but when he came to the hearth the egg-shell darted into his eyes. “This morning everything attacks my head, ” said he, and angrily sat down on his grandfather’s chair, but he quickly started up again and cried, “Woe is me, ” for the needle had pricked him still worse than the pin, and not in the head. Now he was thoroughly angry, and suspected the guests who had come so late the night before, and when he went and looked about for them, they were gone. Then he made a vow to take no more ragamuffins into his house, for they consume much, pay for nothing, and play mischievous tricks into the bargain by way of gratitude.