There was once a poor woodcutter who lived with his wife. Just when they expected a child, they were so needy that they did not know what to do. Then one day when he went to the forest and was full of grief and worries, he met a green-clad hunter who asked him why he was so sad.
Once the woodcutter had told his plight, the hunter said: "If I can get in nine years from now what you have at home, I will give you a small bag of gold pieces."
Thoughtlessly the man accepted. He took the purse and ran home to tell his wife that all their poverty was over. But his joy soon changed into worry, for at home their little son had been born, and now he knew who the green man had meant.
The boy grew fresh and healthy, and prosperity had entered their home, but they were never really happy. When the nine years were over, the green hunter called on the man again and fetched Ferdinand, as the child was named.
The hunter took the boy to a distant country where there was a castle in the middle of a beautiful garden. He showed the boy the many flowers, shrubs and trees, and led him through the beautiful castle. "You can go everywhere," he said to the boy, "except to the pond that is surrounded by shrubs." And Ferdinand promised him never to go there.
After a few days the hunters had to travel somewhere. The boys liked it quite well alone, and always found something to watch. As he walked through the castle and garden in this way, he found himself near the forbidden pond. "What there may be to see there, since I am not allowed to? I will take a quick look; that will not be too bad," he said to himself and slipped through the bushes.
When he came to the brink of the pond, he saw in the many beautiful goldfish swimming happily back and forth. He stretched his hand out to catch one, but scarcely had he touched the water than his finger turned golden. Frightened, he tried to scratch off the gold, but did not succeed. He anxiously ran back to the castle and wrapped the finger in a cloth. But suddenly the hunter stood before him, tore off the cloth so that the golden finger was visible, and flogged the boys severely. Then he fetched a little hammer, knocked on the finger with it, and the gold got off at once.
After some time the hunter wanted to travel again. Before he left he shouted to the boy and forbade him most sternly to enter the last room of the castle. At first Ferdinand restrained himself. He went into other beautiful chambers and looked at everything, but he did not go in through the last door. But soon his curiosity troubled him again: "What could possibly be in there since I can go anywhere but that room?" he asked himself, and went nearer and nearer to the room as time went by. At last he could not stand it any longer, he grasped the latch and opened the door.
When he went in, he saw a man looked who just like his grandfather. He greeted him, and the old man said: "Here you have a comb, a brush and a glass pitcher. Take them all with you, for they will help you in your need. Now go to the stable to the spotless, dapple-grey horse and say, "Dapple-grey horse, we are done for!" What happens next, you will see."
Ferdinand took the things and went to the snow-white horse. "Dapple-grey horse, we are done for," he said.
The animal answered: "Sit up!"
No sooner had he climbed the dapple-grey horse, than it jumped across the garden wall as quick as an arrow and ran and ran as fast as it could.
For hours the horse ran over hill and dale. Then it said: "Look around to see whether the green hunter is close already!"
Ferdinand looked back and cried: "The green hunter is coming closer and will reach us soon!"
"Throw the brush away," cried the horse.
The boy did as he was told, and soon there grew up a forest behind the dapple-grey horse, a forest that was so overgrown that it stayed the green hunter for a long time.
The horse carried Ferdinand further, running on and on as fast as it could. But after some hours it said: "Look around and see whether he is already quite close!"
Now the boy saw the hunter coming close behind them. "Throw away the comb," said the horse and the boy did it fast. At once a large lake rose behind them, and the green hunter had to find a boat to be able to chase them further.
After a while the the horse told the boy to look around again, and the green hunter was close behind them again. Ferdinand threw away the jug, and now rose a glass mountain into the air, and their persecutor could not get over it, so now they were rescued.*
* Come to think of it: If he had thrown the jug first, they could have saved themselves some trouble and kept the two other utensils instead of wasting them on the way.
Toward evening the horse halted when they came to a village near the royal palace. As Ferdinand climbed down from the dapple-grey horse, it said: "You have been riding for one day, and by that you have got/laid back ten years of your life."
The boy went to the inn and brought his horse to the stable there. The dapple-grey horse gave him money and a dress with embroidered stars and said: "Get a job with the gardener of the castle, but see to that you only have to work at night. In daytime come to me for advice!"
Ferdinand went to the royal court and was hired by the gardener as an apprentice. When it was dark, he always put on his star garb and worked without any trouble. At day he came to the tavern to the faithful horse to see and to speak with him. But when evening came he used to go back to the castle to work, singing. In his care the flowers and trees grew as they had never before done, and the king praised him often. The princess liked to listen to his songs, and the beautiful young man felt for her.
One day a great misfortune came to the castle. The king fell very ill, and nobody could help him. At last came an old man of the road and said that only the milk of a she-wolf, a bear and a deer could heal the ill king. Next day the old man was gone.
The king at once sent his hunters for such healing milk, but none was able to bring it, and he got worse and worse. At last he promised to his daughter to whoever could make him well again. When Ferdinand was told of all this, he said he would try to bring the milk. There were also two more gardener apprentices who wanted to milk wild animals.
Next morning the young man went to his horse to get advice. "Follow me," said Dapple-Grey, "and I will help you to succeed." Ferdinand climbed his horse, and it took him into the forest. After a time they came across a she-wolf. She was very peaceful and allowed him to milk her. On the way home he met his two fellow gardeners. They had been out in the woods in vain and were downcast upon returning. When he told them he carried with him wolf's milk, they asked him for some of it. Ferdinand did not quite want to, but his dapple-grey horse nodded, so he gave each a part of the milk.
Next morning the young man rode off again, and his horse led him to a she-bear. She willingly gave them milk. On the way home he met again the two other gardener apprentices. This time too they asked for a share. The boy noticed that the dapple-grey horse nodded again, and shared the bear's milk with them.
On the third day too Ferdinand rode into the forest, and this time he found a hind who calmly let him milk her. But when he did as Dapple-Grey counselled and shared the milk with the other two gardener apprentices this third time, they did not thank him at all, for now they began to quarrel who of them should bring the milk to the king.
"We are going to lose because of your counsels," said Ferdinand to his horse, for the three apprentices finally drew lots, and he was left with the smallest part, and thus was to let the other two go to the king before him.
It made him angry that he had to let the other two go to the king first, since had done nothing. But the dapple-grey horse comforted him and said: "They will not be able to heal the king."
The first apprentice appeared before the king and promised to heal him with the milk of the three forest animals. But when the king drank, he felt no relief of his suffering, and the second could not heal him either. Then the king had them put in prison.
Now came Ferdinand and brought the milk of the she-wolf, the bear and deer. Scarcely had the king drunk of them, when the disease vanished. Very soon he was completely cured.
But now it grieved him to give his daughter for a wife to a gardener apprentice, and so he tried to buy off the suitor. But the princess had long since won the heart of the youth, so the king had to keep his promise. Now there was a happy marriage, and it lasted for four days and four nights. Then the new king remembered his dapple-grey horse and went to the inn. The horse asked him to cut his head off.
"That would not show my great gratitude for the loyal service you have rendered me," said Ferdinand.
But the dapple-grey horse stood by his request, and at long last the young king drew his sword and cut his head off. At once a white dove rose into the air and disappeared in a a few moments.
In his joy Ferdinand came to think of his parents who lived in sorrows. He brought them to his castle and took care of them since, and how happy they were! When the old king died, Ferdinand took over the kingdom and reigned for a long time in peace and prosperity.
Once there lived a count that was very rich. One day he rode with his wife to the fields to view the crops. All were, to his great satisfaction, in good order, and the pair rode back home. On the way a great storm arose and drove so much dust into the count's eyes so that he could see nothing. He sent for the doctor to cure his eyes, but the doctor said he could not help him, for the dust had got too deeply into his eyes.
One day he learned that in the neighbouring land there was a spring which healed any sufferer who bathed in its waters.
The count had three sons, who were already tall fellows. When the eldest son heard of this he begged his father to let him seek the spring. The father gave him at once a fine horse, filled his pockets with money, and sent him off with his blessing.
In the evening the son came into a great forest where there was an inn, where black men were playing at cards. They invited him to join. He agreed, but lost all his money, and got into debt besides. The black men locked him up, and he had to serve them.
After a half-year the second brother set out, and he fared no better than the first.
A year had already elapsed, and the father waited in vain for his sons to return. He was troubled at this, and when the youngest noticed that, he begged for permission to go forth also. Much better provided than the other two, he set out with his father's blessing, came into the forest, and the inn where his two brothers remained. The black men invited him to play too, but he would not. There he passed the night, and set out early in the morning.
As he came out, he saw a number of men at work making a ditch round the inn. He was for riding on, when he saw a man among the labourers who looked very like his eldest brother. He spoke to him, and found that it was so. Then at the entreaty of his brother he paid their debts, and all were at liberty to go.
Three days and nights they rode without stopping, and ate their food on horseback. Then they came to a hut where no one lived, and they resolved to stop there a few days.
The third day the youngest went alone into the forest to hunt. There he saw a stag, and as he was about to fire his piece, the stag stood still and said, "Don't shoot me. Perhaps one day I may help you!"
The stag tore out one of his hairs and gave it to the youth, and said, "If you find yourself in deadly danger, burn this hair and I will come to help you."
He now went further, and saw a great eagle sitting on a tree. As he was about to shoot it, the bird cried out and prayed him to spare its life, and some day he would be helpful to him.
The count's son was quite astonished, for such a thing had never happened to him before. The eagle flew down from the tree, bringing in his beak a feather, and said, "If you should find yourself in deadly danger at any time, burn this feather, and I will come to help you."
He let the eagle fly away and went on, but had hardly made ten steps when he noticed a wild boar in the bushes. In alarm he cocked his gun, but the beast began to beg him to spare his life. The boar gave him as sign a bristle, and said, "If you are in danger, you need only to burn the bristle, and I will come to help you."
He now went back to his brothers, but told them nothing of what had happened to him. They did not question him, because they troubled themselves very little about him, and both only thought of taking his life.
Next morning they rode on, and came in the course of the day to a great castle with a garden, and in it they saw a spring.
The eldest wanted to go into the castle. Coming to the door, he found a billet fixed to it with the inscription, "The spring in this garden heals all sicknesses." Opening the door, he would have gone in, but was frightened and turned back. His brothers asked him what was the cause of his alarm, but he could give them no answer.
Then the second brother went to the door and opened it, but scarce had he taken a step forward when he was so frightened that he fell down.
Now the third went to the door, opened it, and went bravely in. Coming into the first room he found a number of soldiers, all asleep. He glided into the second room, and found the king sitting on the throne, the queen lying on the sofa, both asleep.
He dared not go nearer to the king, and glided into the third room. Here he saw a beautiful princess sleeping on a chair. Before her stood a table loaded with diamonds, and on it was a small basket containing needles and thread. On her lap lay a cushion, not yet quite finished, and by her on another chair there was wool. Further off stood another table, where paper and pencil lay. On the other side was a diamond inkstand.
The third brother plucked up heart, set himself at the table, took a pen and began to write. He wrote in brief his whole story, whose son he was, and how and why he had come. He was then about to depart, but observed on the wall a very small picture. He took it down and saw that it was of the princess. He went up and kissed her, and then hastily departed.
Going back to his brothers, he told them the castle was defunct.
They now wanted to take water out of the spring and carry it home. The eldest was going to fill his flask, but the water vanished, and as he took away the flask the water appeared again. Again he tried to dip, but the water vanished at the very moment that he was going to plunge the flask in. He now left the flask lying in the hollow, and thought if the water again appeared the flask would be filled, and then he could quickly take it out. But hardly had he let go the flask than the bubbling spring tossed it high in the air, and it was dashed to pieces.
The second brother now tried to dip his flask, but fared like the first.
Finally, the youngest went to the spring, dipped his flask in the water, and filled it quite full. The other brothers made a wry face, and their ill-will to their deliverer was increased. They held secret counsel, and when they came into the forest where they had served as slaves, they fell on their brother and murdered him. That no trace of the murder might be found they made a fire and cast him in. They then took all his belongings and hastened home.
But as the fire burned on, the hair, the feather, and the bristle were seized by the flames, and at once the stag, the eagle, and the boar appeared. They drew him out of the fire, brought all kinds of salves and herbs, and at the end of half an hour he again stood up, sound and well.
They brought him a garment too. He thanked the beasts and went on, not to his father, but to a village to take service with a farmer.
After a year the father got a letter from the princess, who, with all her family, had been set free by the youngest son when he kissed her. After a few hours she had come to and so had all the others in the castle. Her letter contained the request that the one who had been in her room should come to her. At the same time she had strewed a patch of the road near the castle with diamonds, thinking that by this test she should recognise the right youth, for he would certainly not mind the diamonds, but ride right over them to her.
First came the eldest brother, and she asked him what he had seen when he was in the room. He could not say, and so was sent away.
The same thing happened to the second.
The father now wrote that he had no more sons, for the third was dead. Then she demanded his body, but he could not send it.
Rumours of the whole affair were spread, and our young peasant heard of it. At once he begged his master for leave of absence for a few days, and got it. Then he rode in his peasant dress to the castle. He did not spare the diamonds, but rode over all the jewels. When he presented himself to the princess, he could tell her what he had seen in the room too, and she greeted him as her deliverer and consort.
Soon the wedding was celebrated, and the father and brothers were invited. The son told the father about the treacherous brothers, and the father had them executed without mercy.
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.
❋ Through upbringing most children may learn to be guarded and fight over coveted assets.