Grimms' Fairy Tales - 15

feather for herself, but she had scarcely touched her sister than she
was held fast.
At last the third also came with the like intent, and the others
screamed out: ‘Keep away; for goodness’ sake keep away!’ But she did
not understand why she was to keep away. ‘The others are there,’ she
thought, ‘I may as well be there too,’ and ran to them; but as soon as
she had touched her sister, she remained sticking fast to her. So they
had to spend the night with the goose.
The next morning Dummling took the goose under his arm and set out,
without troubling himself about the three girls who were hanging on to
it. They were obliged to run after him continually, now left, now right,
wherever his legs took him.
In the middle of the fields the parson met them, and when he saw the
procession he said: ‘For shame, you good-for-nothing girls, why are you
running across the fields after this young man? Is that seemly?’ At the
same time he seized the youngest by the hand in order to pull her away,
but as soon as he touched her he likewise stuck fast, and was himself
obliged to run behind.
Before long the sexton came by and saw his master, the parson, running
behind three girls. He was astonished at this and called out: ‘Hi!
your reverence, whither away so quickly? Do not forget that we have a
christening today!’ and running after him he took him by the sleeve, but
was also held fast to it.
Whilst the five were trotting thus one behind the other, two labourers
came with their hoes from the fields; the parson called out to them
and begged that they would set him and the sexton free. But they had
scarcely touched the sexton when they were held fast, and now there were
seven of them running behind Dummling and the goose.
Soon afterwards he came to a city, where a king ruled who had a daughter
who was so serious that no one could make her laugh. So he had put forth
a decree that whosoever should be able to make her laugh should marry
her. When Dummling heard this, he went with his goose and all her train
before the king’s daughter, and as soon as she saw the seven people
running on and on, one behind the other, she began to laugh quite
loudly, and as if she would never stop. Thereupon Dummling asked to have
her for his wife; but the king did not like the son-in-law, and made all
manner of excuses and said he must first produce a man who could drink
a cellarful of wine. Dummling thought of the little grey man, who could
certainly help him; so he went into the forest, and in the same place
where he had felled the tree, he saw a man sitting, who had a very
sorrowful face. Dummling asked him what he was taking to heart so
sorely, and he answered: ‘I have such a great thirst and cannot quench
it; cold water I cannot stand, a barrel of wine I have just emptied, but
that to me is like a drop on a hot stone!’
‘There, I can help you,’ said Dummling, ‘just come with me and you shall
be satisfied.’
He led him into the king’s cellar, and the man bent over the huge
barrels, and drank and drank till his loins hurt, and before the day was
out he had emptied all the barrels. Then Dummling asked once more
for his bride, but the king was vexed that such an ugly fellow, whom
everyone called Dummling, should take away his daughter, and he made a
new condition; he must first find a man who could eat a whole mountain
of bread. Dummling did not think long, but went straight into the
forest, where in the same place there sat a man who was tying up his
body with a strap, and making an awful face, and saying: ‘I have eaten a
whole ovenful of rolls, but what good is that when one has such a hunger
as I? My stomach remains empty, and I must tie myself up if I am not to
die of hunger.’
At this Dummling was glad, and said: ‘Get up and come with me; you shall
eat yourself full.’ He led him to the king’s palace where all the
flour in the whole Kingdom was collected, and from it he caused a huge
mountain of bread to be baked. The man from the forest stood before it,
began to eat, and by the end of one day the whole mountain had vanished.
Then Dummling for the third time asked for his bride; but the king again
sought a way out, and ordered a ship which could sail on land and on
water. ‘As soon as you come sailing back in it,’ said he, ‘you shall
have my daughter for wife.’
Dummling went straight into the forest, and there sat the little grey
man to whom he had given his cake. When he heard what Dummling wanted,
he said: ‘Since you have given me to eat and to drink, I will give you
the ship; and I do all this because you once were kind to me.’ Then he
gave him the ship which could sail on land and water, and when the king
saw that, he could no longer prevent him from having his daughter. The
wedding was celebrated, and after the king’s death, Dummling inherited
his kingdom and lived for a long time contentedly with his wife.


Long before you or I were born, there reigned, in a country a great way
off, a king who had three sons. This king once fell very ill--so ill
that nobody thought he could live. His sons were very much grieved
at their father’s sickness; and as they were walking together very
mournfully in the garden of the palace, a little old man met them and
asked what was the matter. They told him that their father was very ill,
and that they were afraid nothing could save him. ‘I know what would,’
said the little old man; ‘it is the Water of Life. If he could have a
draught of it he would be well again; but it is very hard to get.’ Then
the eldest son said, ‘I will soon find it’: and he went to the sick
king, and begged that he might go in search of the Water of Life, as
it was the only thing that could save him. ‘No,’ said the king. ‘I had
rather die than place you in such great danger as you must meet with in
your journey.’ But he begged so hard that the king let him go; and the
prince thought to himself, ‘If I bring my father this water, he will
make me sole heir to his kingdom.’
Then he set out: and when he had gone on his way some time he came to a
deep valley, overhung with rocks and woods; and as he looked around, he
saw standing above him on one of the rocks a little ugly dwarf, with a
sugarloaf cap and a scarlet cloak; and the dwarf called to him and said,
‘Prince, whither so fast?’ ‘What is that to thee, you ugly imp?’ said
the prince haughtily, and rode on.
But the dwarf was enraged at his behaviour, and laid a fairy spell
of ill-luck upon him; so that as he rode on the mountain pass became
narrower and narrower, and at last the way was so straitened that he
could not go to step forward: and when he thought to have turned his
horse round and go back the way he came, he heard a loud laugh ringing
round him, and found that the path was closed behind him, so that he was
shut in all round. He next tried to get off his horse and make his way
on foot, but again the laugh rang in his ears, and he found himself
unable to move a step, and thus he was forced to abide spellbound.
Meantime the old king was lingering on in daily hope of his son’s
return, till at last the second son said, ‘Father, I will go in search
of the Water of Life.’ For he thought to himself, ‘My brother is surely
dead, and the kingdom will fall to me if I find the water.’ The king was
at first very unwilling to let him go, but at last yielded to his wish.
So he set out and followed the same road which his brother had done,
and met with the same elf, who stopped him at the same spot in the
mountains, saying, as before, ‘Prince, prince, whither so fast?’ ‘Mind
your own affairs, busybody!’ said the prince scornfully, and rode on.
But the dwarf put the same spell upon him as he put on his elder
brother, and he, too, was at last obliged to take up his abode in the
heart of the mountains. Thus it is with proud silly people, who think
themselves above everyone else, and are too proud to ask or take advice.
When the second prince had thus been gone a long time, the youngest son
said he would go and search for the Water of Life, and trusted he should
soon be able to make his father well again. So he set out, and the dwarf
met him too at the same spot in the valley, among the mountains, and
said, ‘Prince, whither so fast?’ And the prince said, ‘I am going in
search of the Water of Life, because my father is ill, and like to die:
can you help me? Pray be kind, and aid me if you can!’ ‘Do you know
where it is to be found?’ asked the dwarf. ‘No,’ said the prince, ‘I do
not. Pray tell me if you know.’ ‘Then as you have spoken to me kindly,
and are wise enough to seek for advice, I will tell you how and where to
go. The water you seek springs from a well in an enchanted castle; and,
that you may be able to reach it in safety, I will give you an iron wand
and two little loaves of bread; strike the iron door of the castle three
times with the wand, and it will open: two hungry lions will be lying
down inside gaping for their prey, but if you throw them the bread they
will let you pass; then hasten on to the well, and take some of the
Water of Life before the clock strikes twelve; for if you tarry longer
the door will shut upon you for ever.’
Then the prince thanked his little friend with the scarlet cloak for his
friendly aid, and took the wand and the bread, and went travelling on
and on, over sea and over land, till he came to his journey’s end, and
found everything to be as the dwarf had told him. The door flew open at
the third stroke of the wand, and when the lions were quieted he went on
through the castle and came at length to a beautiful hall. Around it he
saw several knights sitting in a trance; then he pulled off their rings
and put them on his own fingers. In another room he saw on a table a
sword and a loaf of bread, which he also took. Further on he came to a
room where a beautiful young lady sat upon a couch; and she welcomed him
joyfully, and said, if he would set her free from the spell that bound
her, the kingdom should be his, if he would come back in a year and
marry her. Then she told him that the well that held the Water of Life
was in the palace gardens; and bade him make haste, and draw what he
wanted before the clock struck twelve.
He walked on; and as he walked through beautiful gardens he came to a
delightful shady spot in which stood a couch; and he thought to himself,
as he felt tired, that he would rest himself for a while, and gaze on
the lovely scenes around him. So he laid himself down, and sleep
fell upon him unawares, so that he did not wake up till the clock was
striking a quarter to twelve. Then he sprang from the couch dreadfully
frightened, ran to the well, filled a cup that was standing by him full
of water, and hastened to get away in time. Just as he was going out of
the iron door it struck twelve, and the door fell so quickly upon him
that it snapped off a piece of his heel.
When he found himself safe, he was overjoyed to think that he had got
the Water of Life; and as he was going on his way homewards, he passed
by the little dwarf, who, when he saw the sword and the loaf, said, ‘You
have made a noble prize; with the sword you can at a blow slay whole
armies, and the bread will never fail you.’ Then the prince thought
to himself, ‘I cannot go home to my father without my brothers’; so he
said, ‘My dear friend, cannot you tell me where my two brothers are, who
set out in search of the Water of Life before me, and never came back?’
‘I have shut them up by a charm between two mountains,’ said the dwarf,
‘because they were proud and ill-behaved, and scorned to ask advice.’
The prince begged so hard for his brothers, that the dwarf at last set
them free, though unwillingly, saying, ‘Beware of them, for they have
bad hearts.’ Their brother, however, was greatly rejoiced to see them,
and told them all that had happened to him; how he had found the Water
of Life, and had taken a cup full of it; and how he had set a beautiful
princess free from a spell that bound her; and how she had engaged to
wait a whole year, and then to marry him, and to give him the kingdom.
Then they all three rode on together, and on their way home came to a
country that was laid waste by war and a dreadful famine, so that it was
feared all must die for want. But the prince gave the king of the land
the bread, and all his kingdom ate of it. And he lent the king the
wonderful sword, and he slew the enemy’s army with it; and thus the
kingdom was once more in peace and plenty. In the same manner he
befriended two other countries through which they passed on their way.
When they came to the sea, they got into a ship and during their voyage
the two eldest said to themselves, ‘Our brother has got the water which
we could not find, therefore our father will forsake us and give him the
kingdom, which is our right’; so they were full of envy and revenge, and
agreed together how they could ruin him. Then they waited till he was
fast asleep, and poured the Water of Life out of the cup, and took it
for themselves, giving him bitter sea-water instead.
When they came to their journey’s end, the youngest son brought his cup
to the sick king, that he might drink and be healed. Scarcely, however,
had he tasted the bitter sea-water when he became worse even than he was
before; and then both the elder sons came in, and blamed the youngest
for what they had done; and said that he wanted to poison their father,
but that they had found the Water of Life, and had brought it with them.
He no sooner began to drink of what they brought him, than he felt his
sickness leave him, and was as strong and well as in his younger days.
Then they went to their brother, and laughed at him, and said, ‘Well,
brother, you found the Water of Life, did you? You have had the trouble
and we shall have the reward. Pray, with all your cleverness, why did
not you manage to keep your eyes open? Next year one of us will take
away your beautiful princess, if you do not take care. You had better
say nothing about this to our father, for he does not believe a word you
say; and if you tell tales, you shall lose your life into the bargain:
but be quiet, and we will let you off.’
The old king was still very angry with his youngest son, and thought
that he really meant to have taken away his life; so he called his court
together, and asked what should be done, and all agreed that he ought to
be put to death. The prince knew nothing of what was going on, till one
day, when the king’s chief huntsmen went a-hunting with him, and they
were alone in the wood together, the huntsman looked so sorrowful that
the prince said, ‘My friend, what is the matter with you?’ ‘I cannot and
dare not tell you,’ said he. But the prince begged very hard, and said,
‘Only tell me what it is, and do not think I shall be angry, for I will
forgive you.’ ‘Alas!’ said the huntsman; ‘the king has ordered me to
shoot you.’ The prince started at this, and said, ‘Let me live, and I
will change dresses with you; you shall take my royal coat to show to my
father, and do you give me your shabby one.’ ‘With all my heart,’ said
the huntsman; ‘I am sure I shall be glad to save you, for I could not
have shot you.’ Then he took the prince’s coat, and gave him the shabby
one, and went away through the wood.
Some time after, three grand embassies came to the old king’s court,
with rich gifts of gold and precious stones for his youngest son; now
all these were sent from the three kings to whom he had lent his sword
and loaf of bread, in order to rid them of their enemy and feed their
people. This touched the old king’s heart, and he thought his son might
still be guiltless, and said to his court, ‘O that my son were still
alive! how it grieves me that I had him killed!’ ‘He is still alive,’
said the huntsman; ‘and I am glad that I had pity on him, but let him
go in peace, and brought home his royal coat.’ At this the king was
overwhelmed with joy, and made it known throughout all his kingdom, that
if his son would come back to his court he would forgive him.
Meanwhile the princess was eagerly waiting till her deliverer should
come back; and had a road made leading up to her palace all of shining
gold; and told her courtiers that whoever came on horseback, and rode
straight up to the gate upon it, was her true lover; and that they must
let him in: but whoever rode on one side of it, they must be sure was
not the right one; and that they must send him away at once.
The time soon came, when the eldest brother thought that he would make
haste to go to the princess, and say that he was the one who had set
her free, and that he should have her for his wife, and the kingdom with
her. As he came before the palace and saw the golden road, he stopped to
look at it, and he thought to himself, ‘It is a pity to ride upon this
beautiful road’; so he turned aside and rode on the right-hand side of
it. But when he came to the gate, the guards, who had seen the road
he took, said to him, he could not be what he said he was, and must go
about his business.
The second prince set out soon afterwards on the same errand; and when
he came to the golden road, and his horse had set one foot upon it,
he stopped to look at it, and thought it very beautiful, and said to
himself, ‘What a pity it is that anything should tread here!’ Then he
too turned aside and rode on the left side of it. But when he came to
the gate the guards said he was not the true prince, and that he too
must go away about his business; and away he went.
Now when the full year was come round, the third brother left the forest
in which he had lain hid for fear of his father’s anger, and set out in
search of his betrothed bride. So he journeyed on, thinking of her all
the way, and rode so quickly that he did not even see what the road was
made of, but went with his horse straight over it; and as he came to the
gate it flew open, and the princess welcomed him with joy, and said
he was her deliverer, and should now be her husband and lord of the
kingdom. When the first joy at their meeting was over, the princess told
him she had heard of his father having forgiven him, and of his wish to
have him home again: so, before his wedding with the princess, he went
to visit his father, taking her with him. Then he told him everything;
how his brothers had cheated and robbed him, and yet that he had borne
all those wrongs for the love of his father. And the old king was very
angry, and wanted to punish his wicked sons; but they made their escape,
and got into a ship and sailed away over the wide sea, and where they
went to nobody knew and nobody cared.
And now the old king gathered together his court, and asked all his
kingdom to come and celebrate the wedding of his son and the princess.
And young and old, noble and squire, gentle and simple, came at once
on the summons; and among the rest came the friendly dwarf, with the
sugarloaf hat, and a new scarlet cloak.
And the wedding was held, and the merry bells run.
And all the good people they danced and they sung,
And feasted and frolick’d I can’t tell how long.


There was once a king’s son who had a bride whom he loved very much. And
when he was sitting beside her and very happy, news came that his father
lay sick unto death, and desired to see him once again before his end.
Then he said to his beloved: ‘I must now go and leave you, I give you
a ring as a remembrance of me. When I am king, I will return and fetch
you.’ So he rode away, and when he reached his father, the latter was
dangerously ill, and near his death. He said to him: ‘Dear son, I wished
to see you once again before my end, promise me to marry as I wish,’ and
he named a certain king’s daughter who was to be his wife. The son was
in such trouble that he did not think what he was doing, and said: ‘Yes,
dear father, your will shall be done,’ and thereupon the king shut his
eyes, and died.
When therefore the son had been proclaimed king, and the time of
mourning was over, he was forced to keep the promise which he had given
his father, and caused the king’s daughter to be asked in marriage, and
she was promised to him. His first betrothed heard of this, and fretted
so much about his faithfulness that she nearly died. Then her father
said to her: ‘Dearest child, why are you so sad? You shall have
whatsoever you will.’ She thought for a moment and said: ‘Dear father,
I wish for eleven girls exactly like myself in face, figure, and size.’
The father said: ‘If it be possible, your desire shall be fulfilled,’
and he caused a search to be made in his whole kingdom, until eleven
young maidens were found who exactly resembled his daughter in face,
figure, and size.
When they came to the king’s daughter, she had twelve suits of
huntsmen’s clothes made, all alike, and the eleven maidens had to put
on the huntsmen’s clothes, and she herself put on the twelfth suit.
Thereupon she took her leave of her father, and rode away with them,
and rode to the court of her former betrothed, whom she loved so dearly.
Then she asked if he required any huntsmen, and if he would take all of
them into his service. The king looked at her and did not know her, but
as they were such handsome fellows, he said: ‘Yes,’ and that he would
willingly take them, and now they were the king’s twelve huntsmen.
The king, however, had a lion which was a wondrous animal, for he knew
all concealed and secret things. It came to pass that one evening he
said to the king: ‘You think you have twelve huntsmen?’ ‘Yes,’ said the
king, ‘they are twelve huntsmen.’ The lion continued: ‘You are mistaken,
they are twelve girls.’ The king said: ‘That cannot be true! How
will you prove that to me?’ ‘Oh, just let some peas be strewn in the
ante-chamber,’ answered the lion, ‘and then you will soon see. Men have
a firm step, and when they walk over peas none of them stir, but girls
trip and skip, and drag their feet, and the peas roll about.’ The king
was well pleased with the counsel, and caused the peas to be strewn.
There was, however, a servant of the king’s who favoured the huntsmen,
and when he heard that they were going to be put to this test he went to
them and repeated everything, and said: ‘The lion wants to make the king
believe that you are girls.’ Then the king’s daughter thanked him, and
said to her maidens: ‘Show some strength, and step firmly on the peas.’
So next morning when the king had the twelve huntsmen called before
him, and they came into the ante-chamber where the peas were lying, they
stepped so firmly on them, and had such a strong, sure walk, that not
one of the peas either rolled or stirred. Then they went away again,
and the king said to the lion: ‘You have lied to me, they walk just like
men.’ The lion said: ‘They have been informed that they were going to
be put to the test, and have assumed some strength. Just let twelve
spinning-wheels be brought into the ante-chamber, and they will go to
them and be pleased with them, and that is what no man would do.’
The king liked the advice, and had the spinning-wheels placed in the
But the servant, who was well disposed to the huntsmen, went to them,
and disclosed the project. So when they were alone the king’s daughter
said to her eleven girls: ‘Show some constraint, and do not look round
at the spinning-wheels.’ And next morning when the king had his twelve
huntsmen summoned, they went through the ante-chamber, and never once
looked at the spinning-wheels. Then the king again said to the lion:
‘You have deceived me, they are men, for they have not looked at the
spinning-wheels.’ The lion replied: ‘They have restrained themselves.’
The king, however, would no longer believe the lion.
The twelve huntsmen always followed the king to the chase, and his
liking for them continually increased. Now it came to pass that
once when they were out hunting, news came that the king’s bride was
approaching. When the true bride heard that, it hurt her so much that
her heart was almost broken, and she fell fainting to the ground. The
king thought something had happened to his dear huntsman, ran up to him,
wanted to help him, and drew his glove off. Then he saw the ring which
he had given to his first bride, and when he looked in her face he
recognized her. Then his heart was so touched that he kissed her, and
when she opened her eyes he said: ‘You are mine, and I am yours, and
no one in the world can alter that.’ He sent a messenger to the other
bride, and entreated her to return to her own kingdom, for he had a wife
already, and someone who had just found an old key did not require a new
one. Thereupon the wedding was celebrated, and the lion was again taken
into favour, because, after all, he had told the truth.


There was once a merchant who had only one child, a son, that was very
young, and barely able to run alone. He had two richly laden ships then
making a voyage upon the seas, in which he had embarked all his wealth,
in the hope of making great gains, when the news came that both were
lost. Thus from being a rich man he became all at once so very poor that
nothing was left to him but one small plot of land; and there he often
went in an evening to take his walk, and ease his mind of a little of
his trouble.
One day, as he was roaming along in a brown study, thinking with no
great comfort on what he had been and what he now was, and was like
to be, all on a sudden there stood before him a little, rough-looking,
black dwarf. ‘Prithee, friend, why so sorrowful?’ said he to the
merchant; ‘what is it you take so deeply to heart?’ ‘If you would do me
any good I would willingly tell you,’ said the merchant. ‘Who knows but
I may?’ said the little man: ‘tell me what ails you, and perhaps you
will find I may be of some use.’ Then the merchant told him how all his
wealth was gone to the bottom of the sea, and how he had nothing left
but that little plot of land. ‘Oh, trouble not yourself about that,’
said the dwarf; ‘only undertake to bring me here, twelve years hence,
whatever meets you first on your going home, and I will give you as much
as you please.’ The merchant thought this was no great thing to ask;
that it would most likely be his dog or his cat, or something of that
sort, but forgot his little boy Heinel; so he agreed to the bargain, and
signed and sealed the bond to do what was asked of him.
But as he drew near home, his little boy was so glad to see him that he
crept behind him, and laid fast hold of his legs, and looked up in
his face and laughed. Then the father started, trembling with fear and
horror, and saw what it was that he had bound himself to do; but as no
gold was come, he made himself easy by thinking that it was only a joke
that the dwarf was playing him, and that, at any rate, when the money
came, he should see the bearer, and would not take it in.
About a month afterwards he went upstairs into a lumber-room to look
for some old iron, that he might sell it and raise a little money; and
there, instead of his iron, he saw a large pile of gold lying on the
floor. At the sight of this he was overjoyed, and forgetting all about
his son, went into trade again, and became a richer merchant than
Meantime little Heinel grew up, and as the end of the twelve years drew
near the merchant began to call to mind his bond, and became very sad
and thoughtful; so that care and sorrow were written upon his face. The
boy one day asked what was the matter, but his father would not tell for
some time; at last, however, he said that he had, without knowing it,
sold him for gold to a little, ugly-looking, black dwarf, and that the
twelve years were coming round when he must keep his word. Then Heinel
said, ‘Father, give yourself very little trouble about that; I shall be
too much for the little man.’
When the time came, the father and son went out together to the place
agreed upon: and the son drew a circle on the ground, and set himself
and his father in the middle of it. The little black dwarf soon came,