Grimms' Fairy Tales - 13

is the bacon, Hans?’ ‘I tied it to a rope, brought it home, dogs took
it.’ ‘That was ill done, Hans, you should have carried the bacon on your
head.’ ‘Never mind, will do better next time.’
‘Whither away, Hans?’ ‘To Gretel, mother.’ ‘Behave well, Hans.’ ‘I’ll
behave well. Goodbye, mother.’ ‘Goodbye, Hans.’ Hans comes to Gretel.
‘Good day, Gretel.’ ‘Good day, Hans, What good thing do you bring?’ ‘I
bring nothing, but would have something given.’ Gretel presents Hans
with a calf. ‘Goodbye, Gretel.’ ‘Goodbye, Hans.’
Hans takes the calf, puts it on his head, and the calf kicks his face.
‘Good evening, mother.’ ‘Good evening, Hans. Where have you been?’ ‘With
Gretel.’ ‘What did you take her?’ ‘I took nothing, but had something
given me.’ ‘What did Gretel give you?’ ‘A calf.’ ‘Where have you the
calf, Hans?’ ‘I set it on my head and it kicked my face.’ ‘That was
ill done, Hans, you should have led the calf, and put it in the stall.’
‘Never mind, will do better next time.’
‘Whither away, Hans?’ ‘To Gretel, mother.’ ‘Behave well, Hans.’ ‘I’ll
behave well. Goodbye, mother.’ ‘Goodbye, Hans.’
Hans comes to Gretel. ‘Good day, Gretel.’ ‘Good day, Hans. What good
thing do you bring?’ ‘I bring nothing, but would have something given.’
Gretel says to Hans: ‘I will go with you.’
Hans takes Gretel, ties her to a rope, leads her to the rack, and binds
her fast. Then Hans goes to his mother. ‘Good evening, mother.’ ‘Good
evening, Hans. Where have you been?’ ‘With Gretel.’ ‘What did you take
her?’ ‘I took her nothing.’ ‘What did Gretel give you?’ ‘She gave me
nothing, she came with me.’ ‘Where have you left Gretel?’ ‘I led her by
the rope, tied her to the rack, and scattered some grass for her.’ ‘That
was ill done, Hans, you should have cast friendly eyes on her.’ ‘Never
mind, will do better.’
Hans went into the stable, cut out all the calves’ and sheep’s eyes,
and threw them in Gretel’s face. Then Gretel became angry, tore herself
loose and ran away, and was no longer the bride of Hans.


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 you,
my son, try as I will I can get nothing into your head. You must go from
hence, I will give you into the care of a celebrated master, who shall
see what he can do with you.’ 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 have you
learnt?’ ‘Father, I have learnt what the dogs say when they bark.’ ‘Lord
have mercy on us!’ cried the father; ‘is that all you have learnt? I
will send you 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 have you learnt?’ He answered:
‘Father, I have learnt what the birds say.’ Then the father fell into a
rage and said: ‘Oh, you lost man, you have spent the precious time and
learnt nothing; are you not ashamed to appear before my eyes? I will
send you to a third master, but if you learn nothing this time also, I
will no longer be your 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 have you 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 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
you will pass the night down there in the old tower, go thither; but I
warn you, it is at the peril of your 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
After some time he took it in 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 doubt among
the cardinals 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.


It happened that the cat met the fox in a forest, and as she thought to
herself: ‘He is clever and full of experience, and much esteemed in the
world,’ she spoke to him in a friendly way. ‘Good day, dear Mr Fox,
how are you? How is all with you? How are you getting on in these hard
times?’ The fox, full of all kinds of arrogance, looked at the cat from
head to foot, and for a long time did not know whether he would give
any answer or not. At last he said: ‘Oh, you wretched beard-cleaner, you
piebald fool, you hungry mouse-hunter, what can you be thinking of? Have
you the cheek to ask how I am getting on? What have you learnt? How
many arts do you understand?’ ‘I understand but one,’ replied the
cat, modestly. ‘What art is that?’ asked the fox. ‘When the hounds are
following me, I can spring into a tree and save myself.’ ‘Is that all?’
said the fox. ‘I am master of a hundred arts, and have into the bargain
a sackful of cunning. You make me sorry for you; come with me, I will
teach you how people get away from the hounds.’ Just then came a hunter
with four dogs. The cat sprang nimbly up a tree, and sat down at the top
of it, where the branches and foliage quite concealed her. ‘Open your
sack, Mr Fox, open your sack,’ cried the cat to him, but the dogs had
already seized him, and were holding him fast. ‘Ah, Mr Fox,’ cried the
cat. ‘You with your hundred arts are left in the lurch! Had you been
able to climb like me, you would not have lost your life.’


‘Dear children,’ said a poor man to his four sons, ‘I have nothing to
give you; you must go out into the wide world and try your luck. Begin
by learning some craft or another, and see how you can get on.’ So the
four brothers took their walking-sticks in their hands, and their little
bundles on their shoulders, and after bidding their father goodbye, went
all out at the gate together. When they had got on some way they came
to four crossways, each leading to a different country. Then the eldest
said, ‘Here we must part; but this day four years we will come back
to this spot, and in the meantime each must try what he can do for
So each brother went his way; and as the eldest was hastening on a man
met him, and asked him where he was going, and what he wanted. ‘I am
going to try my luck in the world, and should like to begin by learning
some art or trade,’ answered he. ‘Then,’ said the man, ‘go with me, and
I will teach you to become the cunningest thief that ever was.’ ‘No,’
said the other, ‘that is not an honest calling, and what can one look
to earn by it in the end but the gallows?’ ‘Oh!’ said the man, ‘you need
not fear the gallows; for I will only teach you to steal what will be
fair game: I meddle with nothing but what no one else can get or care
anything about, and where no one can find you out.’ So the young man
agreed to follow his trade, and he soon showed himself so clever, that
nothing could escape him that he had once set his mind upon.
The second brother also met a man, who, when he found out what he was
setting out upon, asked him what craft he meant to follow. ‘I do not
know yet,’ said he. ‘Then come with me, and be a star-gazer. It is a
noble art, for nothing can be hidden from you, when once you understand
the stars.’ The plan pleased him much, and he soon became such a skilful
star-gazer, that when he had served out his time, and wanted to leave
his master, he gave him a glass, and said, ‘With this you can see all
that is passing in the sky and on earth, and nothing can be hidden from
The third brother met a huntsman, who took him with him, and taught him
so well all that belonged to hunting, that he became very clever in the
craft of the woods; and when he left his master he gave him a bow, and
said, ‘Whatever you shoot at with this bow you will be sure to hit.’
The youngest brother likewise met a man who asked him what he wished to
do. ‘Would not you like,’ said he, ‘to be a tailor?’ ‘Oh, no!’ said
the young man; ‘sitting cross-legged from morning to night, working
backwards and forwards with a needle and goose, will never suit me.’
‘Oh!’ answered the man, ‘that is not my sort of tailoring; come with me,
and you will learn quite another kind of craft from that.’ Not knowing
what better to do, he came into the plan, and learnt tailoring from the
beginning; and when he left his master, he gave him a needle, and said,
‘You can sew anything with this, be it as soft as an egg or as hard as
steel; and the joint will be so fine that no seam will be seen.’
After the space of four years, at the time agreed upon, the four
brothers met at the four cross-roads; and having welcomed each other,
set off towards their father’s home, where they told him all that had
happened to them, and how each had learned some craft.
Then, one day, as they were sitting before the house under a very high
tree, the father said, ‘I should like to try what each of you can do in
this way.’ So he looked up, and said to the second son, ‘At the top of
this tree there is a chaffinch’s nest; tell me how many eggs there are
in it.’ The star-gazer took his glass, looked up, and said, ‘Five.’
‘Now,’ said the father to the eldest son, ‘take away the eggs without
letting the bird that is sitting upon them and hatching them know
anything of what you are doing.’ So the cunning thief climbed up the
tree, and brought away to his father the five eggs from under the bird;
and it never saw or felt what he was doing, but kept sitting on at its
ease. Then the father took the eggs, and put one on each corner of the
table, and the fifth in the middle, and said to the huntsman, ‘Cut all
the eggs in two pieces at one shot.’ The huntsman took up his bow, and
at one shot struck all the five eggs as his father wished.
‘Now comes your turn,’ said he to the young tailor; ‘sew the eggs and
the young birds in them together again, so neatly that the shot shall
have done them no harm.’ Then the tailor took his needle, and sewed the
eggs as he was told; and when he had done, the thief was sent to take
them back to the nest, and put them under the bird without its knowing
it. Then she went on sitting, and hatched them: and in a few days they
crawled out, and had only a little red streak across their necks, where
the tailor had sewn them together.
‘Well done, sons!’ said the old man; ‘you have made good use of your
time, and learnt something worth the knowing; but I am sure I do not
know which ought to have the prize. Oh, that a time might soon come for
you to turn your skill to some account!’
Not long after this there was a great bustle in the country; for the
king’s daughter had been carried off by a mighty dragon, and the king
mourned over his loss day and night, and made it known that whoever
brought her back to him should have her for a wife. Then the four
brothers said to each other, ‘Here is a chance for us; let us try
what we can do.’ And they agreed to see whether they could not set the
princess free. ‘I will soon find out where she is, however,’ said the
star-gazer, as he looked through his glass; and he soon cried out, ‘I
see her afar off, sitting upon a rock in the sea, and I can spy the
dragon close by, guarding her.’ Then he went to the king, and asked for
a ship for himself and his brothers; and they sailed together over the
sea, till they came to the right place. There they found the princess
sitting, as the star-gazer had said, on the rock; and the dragon was
lying asleep, with his head upon her lap. ‘I dare not shoot at him,’
said the huntsman, ‘for I should kill the beautiful young lady also.’
‘Then I will try my skill,’ said the thief, and went and stole her away
from under the dragon, so quietly and gently that the beast did not know
it, but went on snoring.
Then away they hastened with her full of joy in their boat towards the
ship; but soon came the dragon roaring behind them through the air; for
he awoke and missed the princess. But when he got over the boat, and
wanted to pounce upon them and carry off the princess, the huntsman took
up his bow and shot him straight through the heart so that he fell down
dead. They were still not safe; for he was such a great beast that in
his fall he overset the boat, and they had to swim in the open sea
upon a few planks. So the tailor took his needle, and with a few large
stitches put some of the planks together; and he sat down upon these,
and sailed about and gathered up all pieces of the boat; and then tacked
them together so quickly that the boat was soon ready, and they then
reached the ship and got home safe.
When they had brought home the princess to her father, there was great
rejoicing; and he said to the four brothers, ‘One of you shall marry
her, but you must settle amongst yourselves which it is to be.’ Then
there arose a quarrel between them; and the star-gazer said, ‘If I had
not found the princess out, all your skill would have been of no use;
therefore she ought to be mine.’ ‘Your seeing her would have been of
no use,’ said the thief, ‘if I had not taken her away from the dragon;
therefore she ought to be mine.’ ‘No, she is mine,’ said the huntsman;
‘for if I had not killed the dragon, he would, after all, have torn you
and the princess into pieces.’ ‘And if I had not sewn the boat together
again,’ said the tailor, ‘you would all have been drowned, therefore she
is mine.’ Then the king put in a word, and said, ‘Each of you is right;
and as all cannot have the young lady, the best way is for neither of
you to have her: for the truth is, there is somebody she likes a great
deal better. But to make up for your loss, I will give each of you, as a
reward for his skill, half a kingdom.’ So the brothers agreed that this
plan would be much better than either quarrelling or marrying a lady who
had no mind to have them. And the king then gave to each half a kingdom,
as he had said; and they lived very happily the rest of their days, and
took good care of their father; and somebody took better care of the
young lady, than to let either the dragon or one of the craftsmen have
her again.


A merchant, who had three daughters, was once setting out upon a
journey; but before he went he asked each daughter what gift he should
bring back for her. The eldest wished for pearls; the second for jewels;
but the third, who was called Lily, said, ‘Dear father, bring me a
rose.’ Now it was no easy task to find a rose, for it was the middle
of winter; yet as she was his prettiest daughter, and was very fond of
flowers, her father said he would try what he could do. So he kissed all
three, and bid them goodbye.
And when the time came for him to go home, he had bought pearls and
jewels for the two eldest, but he had sought everywhere in vain for the
rose; and when he went into any garden and asked for such a thing, the
people laughed at him, and asked him whether he thought roses grew in
snow. This grieved him very much, for Lily was his dearest child; and as
he was journeying home, thinking what he should bring her, he came to a
fine castle; and around the castle was a garden, in one half of which it
seemed to be summer-time and in the other half winter. On one side the
finest flowers were in full bloom, and on the other everything looked
dreary and buried in the snow. ‘A lucky hit!’ said he, as he called to
his servant, and told him to go to a beautiful bed of roses that was
there, and bring him away one of the finest flowers.
This done, they were riding away well pleased, when up sprang a fierce
lion, and roared out, ‘Whoever has stolen my roses shall be eaten up
alive!’ Then the man said, ‘I knew not that the garden belonged to you;
can nothing save my life?’ ‘No!’ said the lion, ‘nothing, unless you
undertake to give me whatever meets you on your return home; if you
agree to this, I will give you your life, and the rose too for your
daughter.’ But the man was unwilling to do so and said, ‘It may be my
youngest daughter, who loves me most, and always runs to meet me when
I go home.’ Then the servant was greatly frightened, and said, ‘It may
perhaps be only a cat or a dog.’ And at last the man yielded with a
heavy heart, and took the rose; and said he would give the lion whatever
should meet him first on his return.
And as he came near home, it was Lily, his youngest and dearest
daughter, that met him; she came running, and kissed him, and welcomed
him home; and when she saw that he had brought her the rose, she was
still more glad. But her father began to be very sorrowful, and to weep,
saying, ‘Alas, my dearest child! I have bought this flower at a high
price, for I have said I would give you to a wild lion; and when he has
you, he will tear you in pieces, and eat you.’ Then he told her all that
had happened, and said she should not go, let what would happen.
But she comforted him, and said, ‘Dear father, the word you have given
must be kept; I will go to the lion, and soothe him: perhaps he will let
me come safe home again.’
The next morning she asked the way she was to go, and took leave of her
father, and went forth with a bold heart into the wood. But the lion was
an enchanted prince. By day he and all his court were lions, but in the
evening they took their right forms again. And when Lily came to the
castle, he welcomed her so courteously that she agreed to marry him. The
wedding-feast was held, and they lived happily together a long time. The
prince was only to be seen as soon as evening came, and then he held his
court; but every morning he left his bride, and went away by himself,
she knew not whither, till the night came again.
After some time he said to her, ‘Tomorrow there will be a great feast in
your father’s house, for your eldest sister is to be married; and if
you wish to go and visit her my lions shall lead you thither.’ Then she
rejoiced much at the thoughts of seeing her father once more, and set
out with the lions; and everyone was overjoyed to see her, for they had
thought her dead long since. But she told them how happy she was, and
stayed till the feast was over, and then went back to the wood.
Her second sister was soon after married, and when Lily was asked to
go to the wedding, she said to the prince, ‘I will not go alone this
time--you must go with me.’ But he would not, and said that it would be
a very hazardous thing; for if the least ray of the torch-light should
fall upon him his enchantment would become still worse, for he should be
changed into a dove, and be forced to wander about the world for seven
long years. However, she gave him no rest, and said she would take care
no light should fall upon him. So at last they set out together, and
took with them their little child; and she chose a large hall with thick
walls for him to sit in while the wedding-torches were lighted; but,
unluckily, no one saw that there was a crack in the door. Then the
wedding was held with great pomp, but as the train came from the church,
and passed with the torches before the hall, a very small ray of light
fell upon the prince. In a moment he disappeared, and when his wife came
in and looked for him, she found only a white dove; and it said to her,
‘Seven years must I fly up and down over the face of the earth, but
every now and then I will let fall a white feather, that will show you
the way I am going; follow it, and at last you may overtake and set me
This said, he flew out at the door, and poor Lily followed; and every
now and then a white feather fell, and showed her the way she was to
journey. Thus she went roving on through the wide world, and looked
neither to the right hand nor to the left, nor took any rest, for seven
years. Then she began to be glad, and thought to herself that the time
was fast coming when all her troubles should end; yet repose was still
far off, for one day as she was travelling on she missed the white
feather, and when she lifted up her eyes she could nowhere see the dove.
‘Now,’ thought she to herself, ‘no aid of man can be of use to me.’ So
she went to the sun and said, ‘Thou shinest everywhere, on the hill’s
top and the valley’s depth--hast thou anywhere seen my white dove?’
‘No,’ said the sun, ‘I have not seen it; but I will give thee a
casket--open it when thy hour of need comes.’
So she thanked the sun, and went on her way till eventide; and when
the moon arose, she cried unto it, and said, ‘Thou shinest through the
night, over field and grove--hast thou nowhere seen my white dove?’
‘No,’ said the moon, ‘I cannot help thee but I will give thee an
egg--break it when need comes.’
Then she thanked the moon, and went on till the night-wind blew; and she
raised up her voice to it, and said, ‘Thou blowest through every tree
and under every leaf--hast thou not seen my white dove?’ ‘No,’ said the
night-wind, ‘but I will ask three other winds; perhaps they have seen
it.’ Then the east wind and the west wind came, and said they too had
not seen it, but the south wind said, ‘I have seen the white dove--he
has fled to the Red Sea, and is changed once more into a lion, for the
seven years are passed away, and there he is fighting with a dragon;
and the dragon is an enchanted princess, who seeks to separate him from
you.’ Then the night-wind said, ‘I will give thee counsel. Go to the
Red Sea; on the right shore stand many rods--count them, and when thou
comest to the eleventh, break it off, and smite the dragon with it; and
so the lion will have the victory, and both of them will appear to you
in their own forms. Then look round and thou wilt see a griffin, winged
like bird, sitting by the Red Sea; jump on to his back with thy beloved
one as quickly as possible, and he will carry you over the waters to
your home. I will also give thee this nut,’ continued the night-wind.
‘When you are half-way over, throw it down, and out of the waters will
immediately spring up a high nut-tree on which the griffin will be able
to rest, otherwise he would not have the strength to bear you the whole
way; if, therefore, thou dost forget to throw down the nut, he will let
you both fall into the sea.’
So our poor wanderer went forth, and found all as the night-wind had
said; and she plucked the eleventh rod, and smote the dragon, and the
lion forthwith became a prince, and the dragon a princess again. But
no sooner was the princess released from the spell, than she seized
the prince by the arm and sprang on to the griffin’s back, and went off
carrying the prince away with her.
Thus the unhappy traveller was again forsaken and forlorn; but she
took heart and said, ‘As far as the wind blows, and so long as the cock
crows, I will journey on, till I find him once again.’ She went on for
a long, long way, till at length she came to the castle whither the
princess had carried the prince; and there was a feast got ready, and
she heard that the wedding was about to be held. ‘Heaven aid me now!’
said she; and she took the casket that the sun had given her, and found
that within it lay a dress as dazzling as the sun itself. So she put it
on, and went into the palace, and all the people gazed upon her; and
the dress pleased the bride so much that she asked whether it was to be
sold. ‘Not for gold and silver.’ said she, ‘but for flesh and blood.’
The princess asked what she meant, and she said, ‘Let me speak with the
bridegroom this night in his chamber, and I will give thee the dress.’
At last the princess agreed, but she told her chamberlain to give the
prince a sleeping draught, that he might not hear or see her. When
evening came, and the prince had fallen asleep, she was led into
his chamber, and she sat herself down at his feet, and said: ‘I have
followed thee seven years. I have been to the sun, the moon, and the
night-wind, to seek thee, and at last I have helped thee to overcome
the dragon. Wilt thou then forget me quite?’ But the prince all the time
slept so soundly, that her voice only passed over him, and seemed like
the whistling of the wind among the fir-trees.
Then poor Lily was led away, and forced to give up the golden dress; and
when she saw that there was no help for her, she went out into a meadow,
and sat herself down and wept. But as she sat she bethought herself of
the egg that the moon had given her; and when she broke it, there ran
out a hen and twelve chickens of pure gold, that played about, and then
nestled under the old one’s wings, so as to form the most beautiful
sight in the world. And she rose up and drove them before her, till the
bride saw them from her window, and was so pleased that she came forth
and asked her if she would sell the brood. ‘Not for gold or silver, but
for flesh and blood: let me again this evening speak with the bridegroom
in his chamber, and I will give thee the whole brood.’
Then the princess thought to betray her as before, and agreed to
what she asked: but when the prince went to his chamber he asked
the chamberlain why the wind had whistled so in the night. And the
chamberlain told him all--how he had given him a sleeping draught, and
how a poor maiden had come and spoken to him in his chamber, and was
to come again that night. Then the prince took care to throw away the