Once there was a king who had a very beautiful daughter. When she came of age, he sent messengers through the land to proclaim that only the man who could answer the questions proposed by her should win her for his wife. Many tried their luck, but none could answer the questions.
There lived in a village a peasant, who had three sons. Two of them were famed far and wide for their wisdom, and both went to the castle with confidence, yet had to return without having succeeded.
The third of the peasant's sons was said to be extremely stupid. He now also desired to go to the castle; and as all dissuasions were in vain, his father at last determined to go along with him.
When they got into the open country, Hans saw a nail lying on the ground. "The nail may be of use," said Hans, and put it in his pocket.
Soon after he found an egg, and this he also took. The father was vexed at the behaviour of his son. Hans, however, took no notice and went on his way. When they got into the castle-yard he picked up a lump of earth,
"Blockhead," said his father, "we shall be chased out of the castle if you play foolish tricks."
"Never mind," said Hans, rolling up the clod in a cloth and putting it in his pocket. Then they went into the hall where the test had to be undergone.
The pair were quite dazzled by the splendour there; but they had not much time to collect themselves.
The princess came in, and said to Hans, "I have a fire within me!"
"And I have an egg in my pocket, so we can seethe it," answered Hans.
She started; Hans had given quite an answer. "There is a hole in our pan!" she went on.
"And I have a nail to close the hole with," was the answer.
The princess got even more astonished, but she said, "Truly, a lump of dirt."
"I have that too in my bag," answered Hans quickly.
The princess hastened to the king, and with tears deplored that she must take such a clown for her husband.
The king called Hans, and said, "Some time ago I was robbed of a ring. I give you three days to find the thief, and if you bring me the ring, my daughter shall be your wife."
The young fellow remained in the castle, and had plenty to eat and to drink. The first day, when the servant brought his supper, Hans said, "Thank God, that's one of them!" He meant he had got through one of the days. The servant hurried away trembling, and told his two fellow thieves that the peasant fellow knew all about it.
The next eventing the huntsman came with the food, and Hans said, "There's the second I've seen through!"
The huntsman went in a fright out of the room and told the footman and the cook what Hans had said. Then they came and brought him the ring and two hundred gulden, and begged him not to give them out. Hans took the money and the ring and promised to say nothing about it.
The court were astonished when they saw the ring, and asked him how he had come by it. He answered that he had got it back by magic.
Then the king bade his daughter prepare to marry Hans. She wept and begged that he might be put to one moree test. The king finally agreed, and had a great banquet prepared. Hans tasted of the dishes and troubled himself little about the approaching decisive trial. After a while a covered dish was placed on the table. Hans was to guess what was on it. Quietly he said. "I have guessed so much already, I will guess this nut too."
The cover was removed, and it was seen that Hans had guessed rightly. Hans had won the game, and the wedding was celebrated to the great grief of the princess.
Once there was a cobbler who was very poor, for he had nothing but a wife and an old she-goat. He could earn nothing more at home, and therefore decided to journey forth. "Listen, dear wife," he said one day to her; "you see that I can earn nothing here, so therefore I go away tomorrow. Kill our goat that I may have something to eat along the way."
Next day the goat was killed, the cobbler took a part of it, and went on his journey. He travelled all day and could reach neither village nor town. Tired out, the poor man lay down under a statue standing at the end of the road in order to rest there a little while. Just as he was about to eat the meat the statue began to speak, and asked the cobbler, "What have you got in your bundle?"
"A piece of goat's flesh," was the astonished answer.
"Do you see the little wooden hut at the end of the road?"
"Yes, I see it," he answered.
"Go there and cast in your meat. The devils have their workshop there. If afterwards they ask you what you demand as payment, answer, "The old rag that lies on the bed."
The cobbler then went to the hut, cast in the flesh, and demanded as payment the rag that the statue had spoken of. Only after long parleying did he get it. He then went back with it, looking at his acquisition; but no matter how he looked at it, the rag was much worse than any rag he had at home.
The cobbler came back to the statue and told he was disappointed with the advice. But the statue said, "Take this little rod out of my hand and tap three times on your rag with it."
The cobbler did so, and at once the best dishes were served on the rag. The cobbler who had not tasted such food for long, could once more enjoy himself. After the meal was finished he thanked the statue, took his rag, and wanted to go home again.
On the way, however, he passed the night in an inn, and showed the magical rag to the guests there. The host and the hostess admired it, and in their hearts longed to have it. In the night the host stole the cobbler's magical rag from him, and placed another instead by his bedside.
Next day the cobbler paid the innkeeper his reckoning and went homeward with the rag he imagined was his own. When he got home, he invited all his friends to a merry feast. Many guests came and expected to be served many dishes, as the custom was for feasts. Then he cobbler joined the company, with his rag in his hand, and told them what had happened to him the last few days. Having done so, the cobbler took out the rod, and struck slowly and steadily three times on the rag. But no dishes appeared. The cobbler struck repeatedly and even more violently, but the rag remained as it was, and the hungry company had to go away unsatisfied. And the poor man very soon came to think that the statue was the cause of the misfortune.
Soon after the cobbler undertook his second journey, and again took a piece of the goat's flesh with him. Again he came to the statue. This time it asked him to give the flesh to the devils and to demand in return the old goat that was hung up at the door. The cobbler did so, and got a she-goat. She was much more wretched than the one he had slaughtered before setting out.
When he came to the statue he complained very sorely to it. But the statue gave him a rod, and bade the man to strike with it on the back of the goat. The cobbler did so, and to his surprise gold pieces fell from the ears of the animal. The cobbler got glad when he saw the money. Quickly he thanked the statue and hastened homeward with the old goat.
On the way, however, he got hungry and thirsty, and therefore turned in to the very inn where he had stopped before. After having eaten and drunk, he was about to pay his reckoning. Then he led the goat into the room and struck three times with the rod on its back. The goat shook money out of its ears, and the cobbler paid his reckoning with it. No sooner did the host observe this than he began to plan how he might get the goat too.
The innkeeper also had a goat which looked like the goat that the cobbler had. So he decided to switch goats during the night. And so it happened. The goats were changed.
When the cobbler woke up next morning, he was in good spirits and had not the slightest suspicion of the trick that had been played on him.
When he came home, his wife had to go and fetch a roast pig and make preparations for a costly meal. He would give her the money for it later. When the meal was eaten, the cobbler led the goat into the room and struck with the rod thrice on the back of the animal. But no money fell from the goat. The cobbler struck more and more violently, but still no money. All attempts were in vain; the beast sadly shook his head, but no gold fell from his ears. Only a weak moan from the poor ill-used animal broke the mysterious silence.
The cobbler now thought he had been tricked a second time, and soon undertook his third journey. Again he took a piece of goat's flesh with him.
Again he went to the statue, and again it advised him to give the flesh to the devils - and to demand in return the old hat standing by the bed. The cobbler did as he was counselled and got the old hat. It was in a very poor condition.
When the cobbler came back to the statue he was given a third rod. He was to knock three times on the hat with it. He did, and to his astonishment an army of tiny soldiers marched out. He gazed with delight on this little army; then struck on the hat again, and all the soldiers went in.
The statue explained to the cobbler that his other magical articles had been stolen by the innkeeper. The cobbler determined to fetch them and after thanking the statue went to the inn. Arrived there he demanded of the host the rag and the goat. But the host would not give them back. Then the cobbler knocked on his hat, and then the whole tap-room overflowed with soldiers who threatened the host with death if he did not give up those articles. Full of terror the host gave them up, and the cobbler returned a richer man to his house.
As he drew near to his home, he sent to invite the king of the land, and promised to show him all manner of things. The king came, saw the goat and the rag, and the dishes on the table. They were quite to his taste. But when he left, he ordered his servants to steal both the rag and the goat. This was done.
In vain the cobbler asked for his property. The king only laughed at him. Then the cobbler, relying on the hat, declared war against the king, and the king accepted it laughingly. The two set the place and time of the battle. When the day arrived the cobbler was the first on the battle-field; soon the king also appeared with ten of his best soldiers.
As soon as the cobbler saw them, he made his army march out of the hat, and commanded them to take the king and the others captive. The king was quite amazed at the army, and was about to run away, for he felt himself too weak; but the hosts of his foes had already surrounded him. He had to yield, and he was led to the cobbler. The latter promised him pardon as soon as he should restore the goat and the rag.
In this way a king was overcome by an ill-used cobbler who had taken advice from a statue.
❋ You too may have to learn to be guarded and fight over your coveted assets.
ONCE there was a father and mother and their two children, John and Mary. The father had been long out of work, and they were poor. One day the parents decided to take the children to the forest and leave them there.
Next day the parents gave each child a piece of bread, and the father took them by the hand and led them into the forest. When they had come deep enough into the forest and the children were tired and weary, the father climbed a tree and fastened to the trunk a pumpkin he had brought with him. When the father had climbed down the tree again, he told the children to sleep for a while. In the meantime he would go and fetch some wood so that their mother had something to keep the home warm with. And in order not to miss the way and to find the children again, he had fastened the pumpkin to the trunk. In the evening wind the pumpkin would strike against the trunk and the sounds would help him find the children.
With these words he left the children. They were very weary and the sun shone so hot, so they lay down in the shadows of the trees and fell asleep.
When they woke up again it was already evening. The wind whispered in the trees and struck the pumpkin again and again against the tree trunk. The children still thought their father would come back, but he did not come, and it got darker. When it got still darker and the father still did not come, they decided to go home without him. But she came deeper into the forest, and soon came to a little house. They knocked at the door and asked the old woman who came out, if they could spend the night there. She willingly said yes to it, but did not take them to a bed for the night, but the dog house. They could not come into the house, for it belonged to robbers who soon would get back. If the robbers should happen to see the children, they would kill them.
Now the children got afraid. But as they were so weary that they could not go further, they curled up in the dog house and fell asleep. Next morning the children were awakened early by the old woman. She came with breakfast and asked the chldren to stay calm and remain in the dog house till she returned. As soon as the robbers had left the house, she would came back.
Now the children quickly had breakfast, each as quiet as a mouse, so that they would not be noticed. And when the robbers had left the house, the women came to the dog house once again, called for the children and praised them for being so quiet. Then she gave each child another piece of bread and showed them where they had to go so as not to meet the robbers.
The children thanked the old woman as if she were their grandmother, and went on their way. After a while the road divided. One road turned right, and the other road turned left. Then John said to Mary:
"I will go to the left, and you to the right. Some place or other the two roads will come together again, and then we will meet again."
Then John went to the left, and Mary to the right.
Toward evening John came to a castle that belong to a count. John asked the count if he could stay the night there. The count said he might stay, but there was no vacant place for him. But an hour's walk further was another castle. It was rather empty. There he could sleep, and when he came back to the count's castle next morning, he would get the count's daughter for his wife.
John accepted that and walked to the next castle. When he came there he lit a fire in the stove and prepared a meal for himself. After he had eaten he lay down in bed and fell asleep. After some time he felt jolly. When he opened his eyes, he saw a woman standing by his bed in the moonlight. She gave him a ball of wool and told him that it would bring him luck: In the middle of the night three headless men would come and ask him to come with them. When they got down to the cellar, he should fasten the thread of wool to the handrail of the stairs and let the thread run as they went down. When he had done all they asked from him, this would help him.
On this the woman disappeared again and John slept on. But at midnight he woke up from some noise at the door, and soon the door was opened and three headless men came in. They asked John to come with them. He got up and got dress, picked up the ball of wool and came along. The three men first showed him the whole castle. But when they came to the cellar below the castle, John fastened the end of the thread to the handrail let the thread run smoothly from the ball as he went along. The ball became smaller and smaller, and still the men went further. When they finally stopped, there was no more thread left. Now the men showed John to pick up some tools and start digging at a certain spot. He did, and found three barrels full of money in the light of day. The men told John that what was in one of the three barrels belonged to him, that the money in the second was for mass for their souls, and what was in the third was to be distributed among the poor. The the three headless men disappeared.
John picked up the thread of wool and followed it till he was out of the cellar once again. Then he went to bed and slept till the sun shone in his face. He rose quickly, got dressed, made breakfast and had it quickly. Then he when back to the other castle. The count was happy to see him and at once John was engaged to the count's daughter, the pretty Isolde. Then the count told John than many had spent the night in the other castle, but none had returned from it. That John came back alive proved to the count that John had done what was to be done there.
Before the wedding John gave a barrel of money to the church, to let the monks and clergy read masses for it. Next John distributed the content of one more barrel among the poor. But what was in the third barrel he kept for himself, and had built a castle that looked brand new, which it was.
When the castle had been built, the wedding took place with pomp and circumstance and lasted for eight days.
For a long time John lived happily with his wife, But in time he came to be depressed and brusque, and unfriendly. Isolde wanted to know why he had changed, so John told of his sister Mary, and that he wanted to have them both with him. The count sent people to look for Mary, and after a long time they found her. When she had taken the right road, she had come to poor people who let her stay in a poorhouse. John now travelled for three days and nights till he came to her. He rewarded the owners of the poorhouses amply and took Mary with him. John was once again lively, glad and satisfied.
When the old count died, John took over his castle and became a great master.
Once on a time there lived a man who had three sons. One of them, named Hans, was not quite master of his five senses. As the father intended that his sons should, like himself, learn something of the world, he proposed to them to leave home and get their living at a distance. They fell in joyfully with the proposal, and set out the next day. They came to a dark forest and camped under the shady boughs of a fir-tree. Here two soon fell asleep from weariness, while Hans lined his leather pouch, which he could use as a bagpipe.
Suddenly he saw on the tree a monkey. Hans smiled in so friendly a way that the ape, who perhaps thought he saw one of his own species, at once slipped down and perched on Hans' shoulder. When the two others awoke they were astonished at their comrade, and proposed to Hans that he should go through the world with the ape, thinking that if he trained the animal to perform various tricks he would earn a good deal of money. Hans agreed, and took leave of his brothers, who were tired of him. He began to practise the monkey a little, and came with him to a city, where the annual fair was going on. He hired a booth and began his performances. Soon a crowd of spectators gathered round his booth. Who was merrier than Hans? But when he went round to collect their money, the crowd dispersed, and Hans went back into his booth with only a couple of small silver coins.
When he repeated the tricks, a still greater crowd of spectators collected before the booth. Again he got so little that in a rage he blew at his bagpipe, the goitre, and blew so strongly that he almost burst it. At the very first tones the money flew in heaps into the booth, and even on to his cheeks. Hans did not trace them, for the pieces glistened like silver and not like buttons. He had collected a pretty sum of money, when the ape suddenly put an end to all his good fortune; for as a slave of the king, who was just entering the city, laden with the finest fruits of the land, passed by Hans' booth, the ape leaped from the booth and snatched some of the fruits.
In a moment Hans was torn away from the booth with his companion, and cast into a gloomy prison. And certainly Hans would not have escaped death had not the princess taken pity on him. He was very sad, and scolded the ape for his greed; while the ape, who seemed to understand the grumbling of his master, had retired into a corner of the prison to be safe from his wrath. About midnight the ape began howling; Hans hastened, in spite of his anger, to his comrade's help, and felt to his horror the coil of a mighty serpent round his body. Hans took his cudgel and beat the serpent so violently that it fell to pieces; and it was a wonder that the ape remained alive. After these violent exertions he fell asleep, and only awoke towards noon next day. When the jailer entered the prison after the noon, he saw the vast fragments of the serpent, on which a price had long been set by the king. Beside himself with joy he took the head and brought it to the king, and gave out that he had slain the magic serpent; for it had been decreed by the king that he who should slay that serpent and bring its head, should receive twenty tons of gold.
The king was greatly astonished, and seemed to see a supernatural being in his jailer; but soon he saw that he was mistaken in him; for when he asked after the crown, the jailer knew not what to answer, and left. Every chink in the wall of the prison he searched, but nowhere was it to be found. The king threatened him with death if he did not bring the crown, or at least say who had conquered the serpent.
But all attempts to recover the crown were unsuccessful; for the monkey had secretly put it on one side. The term of Hans' punishment expired, and he was let out of prison. Even now he did not see the crown in the monkey's possession, because it was still sprinkled with the blood of the slain magician, and was invisible to everybody.
Once the king was taking a walk, when he saw afar off a light which shone like the sun and blinded his eyes. In the splendour he immediately recognised the crown, went nearer, and saw Hans and his comrade who was playing with the crown. It was pure as a metal mirror, and had no more any trace of blood. Hans had paid no attention to the plaything of his comrade, but was now to learn its immense value. For it was a means by which vast treasures could be got.
Hans at first did not understand the honour which had fallen to his lot, when he and his comrade were sent for and taken in the finest court chariot to the king. The king asked how he came into possession of the crown. Hans could only reply that he had slain the serpent with a club; but how the ape had come into possession of the crown, he did not know. The ape, as if he understood this conversation, showed by his gestures that he had taken it from the head of someone. The king's doubts were at an end, and he caused the lying jailer to be slain. Hans gave the crown to the king, and the king was so pleased with it that he promised Hans his daughter. Such good fortune Hans had not dreamed of.
In course of time, however, the court no longer pleased him, and he longed for his simple life again. Besides, he could not move in refined circles with his bagpipe. Had his bride possessed such a feature, he certainly would not have despised her hand. The king tried every means to keep him at the court; but Hans made up his mind, and was not to be talked out of his purpose. And actually one day he had disappeared. He had taken neither money nor a better suit of clothes with him. He had gone into the country with his monkey, and found nothing to do for a living, except begging and praying. Not even a single piece of bread did they offer him. Nov he again took to his bagpipe and started to blow it in the marketplace, and he blew so lustily that some stones he sat on, were moved, and still it was of no avail. He was driven out of the city because he had thus thrown down the stone-wall.
Then he rued his folly; but repentance was too late. Despairing of help, he went into a wood, intending to kill himself. But at the very moment that he was winding the cord round his neck, out of the thicket stepped a fine-looking gentleman who greeted him in a friendly manner. Hans was alarmed at the unexpected appearance, but the lord bade him be in no fear, he was come to his help. Hans, whose looks were fixed on the ground, and who dared not look the stranger in the face, soon perceived whom he had to do with when he saw the horse's hoof. But the purse which the devil held out to him, and which the bright gold pieces sparkled from, soon drove away his terror. The devil now gave him the purse, with the words, "Here is an inexhaustible purse for you; but take heed, I shall return in seven years' time, and if you cannot then tell me the seven truths, your soul will belong to me."
So saying, the devil disappeared.
Hans bought a carriage and two good horses that he might go in quest of his brothers. After separating from Hans, they had gone to a city where the daughter of the king lay sick; and she had been promised to the suitor who should cure her of her sickness. The two brothers had tried it, but they could not restore her health, and were doomed to torture and death. From all lands came physicians to try their fortune, but not one succeeded.
At last Hans drove up and rattled through the city gate. He at once asked for his brothers, but learned with grief that they were dead. It was long before he could be comforted.
But his spirits rose when he heard that the king's daughter had a bagpipe like his own. He determined to use every means to get the princess, and gave all his thought to this dangerous undertaking. But as the noise in the city oppressed him, he left it and went into the country. From early morning till noon he lay in the shade of a forest, but, in spite of all his study, discovered no means whereby he could perform the difficult task. Already the sun was setting, and still nothing occurred to him.
But suddenly he heard a rustling that became louder, and as it came nearer turned into a clatter. Hans stood up and saw a skeleton approaching. The sight made Hans tremble in all his limbs. "Bones" sat down and bade Hans do the like. He did, and then Bones began to murmur: "I know why you have come here. If you can outreach me in cunning, I will get the princess for you; but if not, your head will fall by the axe of the executioner, and your soul into the power of the devil."
At these words Hans felt his stomach turn five times.
"If I stand at the head of the sick girl," said Death further, for him it was, "she is lost beyond hope; but if I stand at her feet, she will recover her health. Now try your fortune."
With these words the skeleton sprang up, and Hans slowly plucked up heart and ventured on the dangerous expedition. He put on a better suit of clothes, and went to the king. He did not fear death, for he had no more interest in life.
Quite alone he entered the chamber of the sick princess; and how he was rejoiced when he saw a bagpipe round the neck of the rich princess! But at the same moment he became pale with fright when he saw the skeleton appear at the head of the invalid. Hans now collected all his senses, that he might get happily out of the nasty trap. But no ways to save himself or the princess occurred to him.
However, the monkey suddenly appeared. It came through the open window into the sickroom, and turned the bed round so that Death came to stand at the feet of the princess. At the same moment the sick one felt better, and in a few minutes she stood up, alive and well. The father was called in, and full of joy he called in his counsellors to thank the rescuer.
Now preparations were made for the wedding, and it was celebrated with great splendour.
Hans had now become a very rich man, for he had the inexhaustible purse besides all the rest. He had become most affectionately attached to his monkey, but one day it was lost and never found afterwards.
Gradually the seventh year was drawing to a close, and as yet he knew none of the seven truths. When there were just a few days left till the devil came to fetch him, he told it to the king, who gave him a talisman to protect himself from the devil.
About midnight he went to the churchyard, and saw by means of a magical preparation the devil playing a game with the skulls, while muttering about having both Hans and his wife in a few days.
"Ha!" thought Hans, "my soul was not enough for you, you would have that of my consort too." In rage he returned to the palace. As the last night came, he went again to the churchyard, where he found the devil in the form of a wild-looking man. But as Hans laid the talisman on his breast, the devil cowered, and changed into a humpback with a horrible goat's beard. Hans laid his spell on him on a rock, which rose above the sea hard by.
Next day he went in company of his court to the rock, and the goat man with the flowing beard was there still, held down by invisible hands from the spell. Hans did not shy away, but caused him to be cast on a wagon and bound and drawn through all bushes and thorny hedges, so that after an hour the devil came out quite mangled. Hans then threw him into a vessel studded with seven spikes, and with the words, "These are the seven truths, strangely enough," he twisted the devil's nose, put him in the vessel, and threw it down the precipice.
After this Hans lived with his consort in peace and content.
Once there was a peasant who had three sons, of whom one was more stupid than the others. The first was called Diddledye, the second Diddledob, and the most stupid of the three Hondiddledo. Now, the peasant had in his garden a fine apple-tree, and one day he noticed that a lot of the apples had been stolen. He resolved to look out for the thief, and bade Diddledye keep a night-watch by the tree. This at first he did; but as sleep pressed more and more on his eyes, he lay down on the grass and began to snore. Suddenly he heard a noise, looked round, and saw a little white man who was just disappearing in the brook hard by. To his surprise he noticed that again a lot of apples was missing. Sadly he went home and told his father.
"You seven-sleeper!" said his father and was angry with him.
Then the next night he bade Diddledob watch the apple-tree; but Diddledob also fell asleep by the tree, and, like his brother, he too saw the little white man. He rubbed his eyes and thought he had not seen rightly; but when he turned to the apple-tree and found it almost stripped, he went sorrowfully to his father and told him.
"Come, now," said the father, "you haven't opened an eye the whole night; if you had been awake you would have caught the thief. You disappoint me."
"Listen, father, I will catch the hunchback," cried Hondiddledo, whose greatest delight was his fiddle; " I will go and wait till the thief comes."
So out went Hondiddledo, took his seat on the apple-tree and began to play softly on the fiddle. All at once he saw a little white man dancing about under the tree. "That's the very daddymon," thought Hondiddledo to himself; " wait, if you're the thief, till I get down."
He left off fiddling and was going to get down out of the tree, when he saw, to his horror, that the little man was getting bigger and bigger. But Hondiddledo soon recovered from his fright, gaily took up his fiddle and began again to play. And as he fiddled the white man became smaller and smaller, and began to dance in the fullness of his joy.
By and by Hondiddledo was tired, he left off playing, and put his fiddle on one side. At once the little man became bigger again, till he nearly overtopped the tree. "Look here," he said to Hondiddledo, "if you like you can earn a heap of money with your fiddle."
"All right," said Hondiddledo, "I'm ready."
"Come, then, with me," said the man.
"I wish I might," said the boy, "but I have to watch for the apple-thief."
"Never mind," replied the other, "you won't lose any of your apples, and you shall get back the stolen ones."
"That will do," thought Hondiddledo, and down he came, took his fiddle, and was going to follow the man. But it was no go, for scarcely had Hondiddledo left the tree than all the apples vanished. He stood quite astounded beside the tree, and was vexed that, in spite of his watchfulness, the apples had been taken away.
Day broke, the cock had already crowed for the first time, and Hondiddledo did not know what to do, for the white man was gone, and he dared not go home, for he knew he should have to suffer for it when his father found that all the apples were stolen.
"I don't know," he says to himself; "my fiddle is worth something; I'll go into the wide world and try my luck, and if I meet the apple-thief there, he shall smart for it."
No sooner said than done. Hondiddledo set out, his fiddle under his arm, and went on for a long time till he came into a big, big forest. It was night-time, and Hondiddledo, who did not know the ins and outs of the forest, was lost. As he went on he remembered that he had his fiddle with him. Quickly he took it out and began to play. Then he noticed a tiny light afar off, which came nearer and nearer, and all at once a golden pony stood before him. "You're just come handy, thought Hondiddledo to himself, and jumping on the pony's back he galloped away.
Before a small hut in the middle of the forest the pony stopped, Hondiddledo got down, and went with his fiddle into the hut. There to his astonishment he found a number of little men who were merrily dancing in a circle, while others were playing and others were eating and drinking and enjoying themselves at a great table. The little men seemed to have waited for him, for scarcely had he entered than they were all quiet. The little men made him sit down and take part in their pleasures. Hondiddledo was very hungry, so he sat down before a full plate and fell to. Meanwhile some of the little men had seized his fiddle, and as they were pleased with it they wanted to make an exchange with Hondiddledo, and promised him another fiddle, all of gold.
Hondiddledo agreed, took the gold fiddle, and began to play. At once the little men began to dance and leap merrily. And this went on for a long time, till Hondiddledo was weary of it, and he said he must go forward and try to catch the apple-thief. But they would not let him go, and they promised him a lot more apples that he might carry home by and by. Hondiddledo agreed, and fiddled on a while longer.
When he had done, the little men gave him a sack full of apples, hams, and pastry to take with him. Before the hut he found the white pony again. Hondiddledo jumped on his back, and the pony never stopped till he got to the apple-tree. Hondiddledo jumped down, the pony vanished, and the boy went quickly into the house with his sack and his fiddle to his brothers. They looked at him quite astonished, for they did not know him again. It was only when Hondiddledo had told them the whole story that they recognised him. He told them he had all the apples in the sack and a golden fiddle into the bargain, and they should see it next morning.
Next day Hondiddledo got up very early and was going to take his fiddle, which he had hung the day before on the wall, but was no little astonished to find instead of it a horse-shoe hanging on the nail.
When the father and the brothers came the sack was opened, and to the horror of all there fell out - not apples, much less hams and tarts, but only toads and lizards came out of the sack.
Hondiddledo now perceived that he had not only been tricked out of his apples, but also out of his fiddle, in a shameful manner. From grief at this loss he soon died, for he did not care to live without his fiddle.
Aus der hs. Sammlung von Oberlehrer Anton Dolleschall, St. Blasen, Murau,
Steiermark. Erzähler: Othmar Steinbrugger, Schüler, 1836/37. Zentralarchiv der deutschen Volkserzählung, Marburg ZA 185383. Aus: Leander Petzoldt, Märchen aus Österreich, München 1991, S. 17 - 21.
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