Two Grimm Tales
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There was once on a time a woman who was a real witch and had two daughters, one ugly and wicked, and this one she loved because she was her own daughter, and one beautiful and good, and this one she hated, because she was her step-daughter. The step-daughter once had a pretty apron, which the other fancied so much that she became envious, and told her mother that she must and would have that apron.
"Be quiet, my child," said the old woman, "and you shall have it. Your step-sister has long deserved death, tonight when she is asleep I will come and cut her head off. Only be careful that you are at the far-side of the bed, and push her well to the front."
It would have been all over with the poor girl if she had not just then been standing in a corner, and heard everything. All day long she dared not go out of doors, and when bed-time had come, the witch's daughter got into bed first, so as to lie at the far side, but when she was asleep, the other pushed her gently to the front, and took for herself the place at the back, close by the wall. In the night, the old woman came creeping in, she held an axe in her right hand, and felt with her left to see if anyone was lying at the outside, and then she grasped the axe with both hands, and cut her own child's head off.
When she had gone away, the girl got up and went to her sweetheart, who was called Roland, and knocked at his door. When he came out, she said to him, "Hear me, dearest Roland, we must fly in all haste; my step-mother wanted to kill me, but has struck her own child. When daylight comes, and she sees what she has done, we shall be lost."
"But," said Roland, "I counsel you first to take away her magic wand, or we cannot escape if she pursues us."
The maiden fetched the magic wand, and she took the dead girl's head and dropped three drops of blood on the ground, one in front of the bed, one in the kitchen, and one on the stairs. Then she hurried away with her lover. When the old witch got up next morning, she called her daughter, and wanted to give her the apron, but she did not come. Then the witch cried, "Where are you?"
"Here, on the stairs, I am sweeping," answered the first drop of blood. The old woman went out, but saw no one on the stairs, and cried again, "Where are you?"
"Here in the kitchen, I am warming myself," cried the second drop of blood. She went into the kitchen, but found no one. Then she cried again, "Where are you?"
"Ah, here in the bed, I am sleeping."
cried the third drop of blood. She went into the room to the bed. What did she see there? Her own child, whose head she had cut off, bathed in her blood. The witch fell into a passion, sprang to the window, and as she could look forth quite far into the world, she perceived her step-daughter hurrying away with her sweetheart Roland.
"That shall not serve you," cried she, "even if you have got a long way off, you shall still not escape me."
She put on her many league boots, in which went an hour's walk at every step, and it was not long before she overtook them. The girl, however, when she saw the old woman striding towards her, changed, with her magic wand, her sweetheart Roland into a lake, and herself into a duck swimming in the middle of it. The witch placed herself on the shore, threw bread-crumbs in, and gave herself every possible trouble to entice the duck; but the duck did not let herself be enticed, and the old woman had to go home at night as she had come. On this the girl and her sweetheart Roland resumed their natural shapes again, and they walked on the whole night till daybreak. Then the maiden changed herself into a beautiful flower which stood in the middle of a briar hedge, and her sweetheart Roland into a fiddler. It was not long before the witch came striding up towards them, and said to the musician, "Dear musician, may I pluck that beautiful flower for myself?"
"Oh, yes," he answered, "I will play to you while you do it."
As she was hastily creeping into the hedge and was just going to pluck the flower, for she well knew who the flower was, he began to play, and whether she would or not, she was forced to dance, for it was a magical dance. The quicker he played, the more violent springs was she forced to make, and the thorns tore her clothes from her body, and pricked her and wounded her till she bled, and as he did not stop, she had to dance till she lay dead on the ground.
When they were delivered, Roland said, "Now I will go to my father and arrange for the wedding."
"Then in the meantime I will stay here and wait for you," said the girl, "and that no one may recognize me, I will change myself into a red stone land-mark."
Then Roland went away, and the girl stood like a red land-mark in the field and waited for her beloved. But when Roland got home, he fell into the snares of another, who prevailed on him so far that he forgot the maiden. The poor girl remained there a long time, but at length, as he did not return at all, she was sad, and changed herself into a flower, and thought, "Some one will surely come this way, and trample me down."
It befell, however, that a shepherd kept his sheep in the field, and saw the flower, and as it was so pretty, plucked it, took it with him, and laid it away in his chest. From that time forth, strange things happened in the shepherd's house. When he arose in the morning, all the work was already done, the room was swept, the table and benches cleaned, the fire on the hearth was lighted, and the water was fetched, and at noon, when he came home, the table was laid, and a good dinner served. He could not conceive how this came to pass, for he never saw a human being in his house, and no one could have concealed himself in it. He was certainly pleased with this good attendance, but still at last he was so afraid that he went to a wise woman and asked for her advice. The wise woman said, "There is some enchantment behind it, listen very early some morning if anything is moving in the room, and if you seest anything, let it be what it may, throw a white cloth over it, and then the magic will be stopped."
The shepherd did as she bade him, and next morning just as day dawned, he saw the chest open, and the flower come out. Swiftly he sprang towards it, and threw a white cloth over it. Instantly the transformation came to an end, and a beautiful girl stood before him, who owned to him that she had been the flower, and that up to this time she had attended to his housekeeping. She told him her story, and as she pleased him he asked her if she would marry him, but she answered, "No," for she wanted to remain faithful to her sweetheart Roland, although he had deserted her, but she promised not to go away, but to keep house for the shepherd for the future.
And now the time drew near when Roland's wedding was to be celebrated, and then, according to an old custom in the country, it was announced that all the girls were to be present at it, and sing in honour of the bridal pair. When the faithful maiden heard of this, she grew so sad that she thought her heart would break, and she would not go there, but the other girls came and took her. When it came to her turn to sing, she stepped back, till at last she was the only one left, and then she could not refuse. But when she began her song, and it reached Roland's ears, he sprang up and cried, "I know the voice, that is the true bride, I will have no other!" Everything he had forgotten, and which had vanished from his mind, had suddenly come home again to his heart. Then the faithful maiden held her wedding with her sweetheart Roland, and grief came to an end and joy began.
A sheep-dog had not a good master, but, on the contrary, one who let him suffer hunger. As he could stay no longer with him, he went quite sadly away. On the road he met a sparrow who said, "Brother dog, why are you so sad?" The dog answered, "I am hungry, and have nothing to eat."
Then said the sparrow, "Dear brother, come into the town with me, and I will satisfy your hunger."
So they went into the town together, and when they came in front of a butcher's shop the sparrow said to the dog, "Stay there, and I will pick a bit of meat down for you," and he alighted on the stall, looked about him to see that no one was observing him, and pecked and pulled and tore so long at a piece which lay on the edge, that it slipped down. Then the dog seized it, ran into a corner, and devoured it. The sparrow said, "Now come with me to another shop, and then I will get you one more piece that you may be satisfied."
When the dog had devoured the second piece as well, the sparrow asked, "Brother dog, have you now had enough?"
"Yes, I have had meat enough," he answered, "but I have had no bread yet."
Said the sparrow, "You shall have that also, come with me." Then he took him to a baker's shop, and pecked at a couple of little buns till they rolled down, and as the dog wanted still more, he led him to another stall, and again got bread for him. When that was consumed, the sparrow said, "Brother dog, have you now had enough?"
"Yes," he answered, "now we will walk awhile outside the town."
Then they both went out on to the highway. It was, however, warm weather, and when they had walked a little way the dog said, "I am tired, and would like to sleep."
"Well, do sleep," answered the sparrow, "and in the meantime I will seat myself on a branch."
So the dog lay down on the road, and fell fast asleep. While he lay sleeping there, a wagoner came driving by, who had a cart with three horses, laden with two barrels of wine. The sparrow, however, saw that he was not going to turn aside, but was staying in the wheel track in which the dog was lying, so it cried, "Wagoner, don't do it, or I will make you poor."
The wagoner, however, growled to himself, "You will not make me poor," and cracked his whip and drove the cart over the dog, and the wheels killed him. Then the sparrow cried, "You have run over my brother dog and killed him, it shall cost you your cart and horses."
"Cart and horses indeed!" said the wagoner. "What harm can you do me?" and drove onwards. Then the sparrow crept under the cover of the cart, and pecked so long at the same bung-hole that he got the bung out, and then all the wine ran out without the driver noticing it. But once when he was looking behind him he saw that the cart was dripping, and looked at the barrels and saw that one of them was empty. "Unfortunate fellow that I am," cried he.
"Not unfortunate enough yet," said the sparrow, and flew on to the head of one of the horses and pecked his eyes out. When the driver saw that, he drew out his axe and wanted to hit the sparrow, but the sparrow flew into the air, and he hit his horse on the head, and it fell down dead.
"Oh, what an unfortunate man I am," cried he.
"Not unfortunate enough yet," said the sparrow, and when the driver drove on with the two hoses, the sparrow again crept under the cover, and pecked the bung out of the second cask, so all the wine was spilt. When the driver became aware of it, he again cried, "Oh, what an unfortunate man I am," but the sparrow answered, "Not unfortunate enough yet," and seated himself on the head of the second horse, and pecked his eyes out. The driver ran up to it and raised his axe to strike, but the sparrow flew into the air and the blow struck the horse, which fell.
"Oh, what an unfortunate man I am."
"Not unfortunate enough yet," said the sparrow, and lighted on the third horse's head, and pecked out his eyes. The driver, in his rage, struck at the sparrow without looking round, and did not hit him but killed his third horse likewise.
"Oh, what an unfortunate man I am," cried he.
"Not unfortunate enough yet," answered the sparrow.
"Now will I make you unfortunate in your home," and flew away.
The driver had to leave the wagon standing, and full of anger and vexation went home.
"Ah," said he to his wife, "what misfortunes I have had! My wine has run out, and the horses are all three dead!"
"Alas, husband," she answered, "what a malicious bird has come into the house! It has gathered together every bird there is in the world, and they have fallen on our corn up there, and are devouring it." Then he went upstairs, and thousands and thousands of birds were sitting in the loft and had eaten up all the corn, and the sparrow was sitting in the middle of them. Then the driver cried, "Oh, what an unfortunate man I am?"
"Not unfortunate enough yet!" answered the sparrow; "wagoner, it shall cost you your life as well," and flew out.
Then the wagoner had lost all his property, and he went downstairs into the room, sat down behind the stove and was quite furious and bitter. But the sparrow sat outside in front of the window, and cried, "Wagoner, it shall cost you your life."
Then the wagoner snatched the axe and threw it at the sparrow, but it only broke the window, and did not hit the bird. The sparrow now hopped in, placed itself on the stove and cried, "Wagoner, it shall cost you your life."
The latter, quite mad and blind with rage, smote the stove in twain, and as the sparrow flew from one place to another so it fared with all his household furniture, looking-glass, benches, table, and at last the walls of his house, and yet he could not hit the bird. At length, however, he caught it with his hand. Then his wife said, "Shall I kill it?"
"No," cried he, "that would be too merciful. It shall die much more cruelly," and he took it and swallowed it whole. The sparrow, however, began to flutter about in his body, and fluttered up again into the man's mouth; then it stretched out its head, and cried, "Wagoner, it shall still cost you your life."
The driver gave the axe to his wife, and said, "Wife, kill the bird in my mouth for me."
The woman struck, but missed her blow, and hit the wagoner right on his head, so that he fell dead. But the sparrow flew up and away.
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