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The Golden Goose

There was a man who had three sons, the youngest of whom was called Dummling, and was despised, mocked, and sneered at o...

The Golden Goose

There was a man who had three sons, the youngest of whom was called Dummling, and was despised, mocked, and sneered at on every occasion.

It happened that the eldest wanted to go into the forest to hew wood,and before he went his mother gave him a beautiful sweet cake and abottle of wine in order that he might not suffer from hunger or thirst.

When he entered the forest he met a little grey-haired old man whobade him good day, and said: «Do give me a piece of cake out of yourpocket, and let me have a draught of your wine; I am so hungry andthirsty.» But the clever son answered: «If I give you my cake andwine, I shall have none for myself; be off with you,» and he left thelittle man standing and went on.

But when he began to hew down a tree, it was not long before he madea false stroke, and the axe cut him in the arm, so that he had to gohome and have it bound up. And this was the little grey man’s doing.

After this the second son went into the forest, and his mother gavehim, like the eldest, a cake and a bottle of wine. The little old greyman met him likewise, and asked him for a piece of cake and a drink ofwine. But the second son, too, said sensibly enough: «What I give youwill be taken away from myself; be off!» and he left the little manstanding and went on. His punishment, however, was not delayed; when hehad made a few blows at the tree he struck himself in the leg, so thathe had to be carried home.

Then Dummling said: «Father, do let me go and cut wood.» Thefather answered: «Your brothers have hurt themselves with it, leave italone, you do not understand anything about it.» But Dummling begged solong that at last he said: «Just go then, you will get wiser by hurtingyourself.» His mother gave him a cake made with water and baked in thecinders, and with it a bottle of sour beer.

When he came to the forest the little old grey man met him likewise,and greeting him, said: «Give me a piece of your cake and a drink out ofyour bottle; I am so hungry and thirsty.» Dummling answered: «Ihave only cinder-cake and sour beer; if that pleases you, we will sitdown and eat.» So they sat down, and when Dummling pulled out hiscinder-cake, it was a fine sweet cake, and the sour beer had becomegood wine. So they ate and drank, and after that the little man said:«Since you have a good heart, and are willing to divide what you have,I will give you good luck. There stands an old tree, cut it down,and you will find something at the roots.» Then the little man tookleave of him.

Dummling went and cut down the tree, and when it fell there was agoose sitting in the roots with feathers of pure gold. He lifted herup, and taking her with him, went to an inn where he thought hewould stay the night. Now the host had three daughters, who sawthe goose and were curious to know what such a wonderful bird mightbe, and would have liked to have one of its golden feathers.

The eldest thought: «I shall soon find an opportunity of pulling outa feather,» and as soon as Dummling had gone out she seized the goose bythe wing, but her finger and hand remained sticking fast to it.

The second came soon afterwards, thinking only of how she might geta feather for herself, but she had scarcely touched her sister than shewas held fast.

At last the third also came with the like intent, and the othersscreamed out: «Keep away; for goodness» sake keep away!» But she did notunderstand why she was to keep away. «The others are there,» shethought, «I may as well be there too,» and ran to them; but as soonas she had touched her sister, she remained sticking fast to her. Sothey had to spend the night with the goose.

The next morning Dummling took the goose under his arm and setout, without troubling himself about the three girls who were hanging onto 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 sawthe procession he said: «For shame, you good-for-nothing girls, whyare you running across the fields after this young man? Is thatseemly?» At the same time he seized the youngest by the hand in orderto pull her away, but as soon as he touched her he likewise stuckfast, 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 thatwe have a christening today!» and running after him he took him bythe sleeve, but was also held fast to it.

Whilst the five were trotting thus one behind the other, twolabourers came with their hoes from the fields; the parson called outto them and begged that they would set him and the sexton free. Butthey had scarcely touched the sexton when they were held fast, and nowthere were seven of them running behind Dummling and the goose.

Soon afterwards he came to a city, where a king ruled who had adaughter who was so serious that no one could make her laugh. So he hadput forth a decree that whosoever should be able to make her laughshould marry her. When Dummling heard this, he went with his goose andall her train before the king’s daughter, and as soon as she saw theseven people running on and on, one behind the other, she began tolaugh quite loudly, and as if she would never stop. Thereupon Dummlingasked to have her for his wife; but the king did not like theson-in-law, and made all manner of excuses and said he must firstproduce a man who could drink a cellarful of wine. Dummling thought ofthe little grey man, who could certainly help him; so he went into theforest, and in the same place where he had felled the tree, he saw aman sitting, who had a very sorrowful face. Dummling asked him what hewas taking to heart so sorely, and he answered: «I have such a greatthirst and cannot quench it; cold water I cannot stand, a barrel ofwine 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 youshall be satisfied.»

He led him into the king’s cellar, and the man bent over the hugebarrels, and drank and drank till his loins hurt, and before the day wasout he had emptied all the barrels. Then Dummling asked once more forhis bride, but the king was vexed that such an ugly fellow, whomeveryone called Dummling, should take away his daughter, and he made anew condition; he must first find a man who could eat a wholemountain of bread. Dummling did not think long, but went straight intothe forest, where in the same place there sat a man who was tying uphis body with a strap, and making an awful face, and saying: «I haveeaten a whole ovenful of rolls, but what good is that when one hassuch a hunger as I? My stomach remains empty, and I must tie myselfup if I am not to die of hunger.»

At this Dummling was glad, and said: «Get up and come with me; youshall eat yourself full.» He led him to the king’s palace where all theflour in the whole Kingdom was collected, and from it he caused a hugemountain 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 hadvanished. Then Dummling for the third time asked for his bride; butthe king again sought a way out, and ordered a ship which could sailon land and on water. «As soon as you come sailing back in it,» saidhe, «you shall have my daughter for wife.»

Dummling went straight into the forest, and there sat the little greyman to whom he had given his cake. When he heard what Dummlingwanted, he said: «Since you have given me to eat and to drink, I willgive you the ship; and I do all this because you once were kind tome.» 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 havinghis daughter. The wedding was celebrated, and after the king’s death,Dummling inherited his kingdom and lived for a long time contentedlywith his wife.

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