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Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
This story was actually made up, young ones, but it really is true, for my grandfather, who told it to me, always said whenever he told it, "it must be true, my son, otherwise it couldn't be told." Anyway, this is how the story goes:
It was on a Sunday morning at harvest time, just when the buckwheat was in bloom. The sun was shining bright in the heaven, the morning wind was blowing warmly across the stubble, the larks were singing in the air, the bees were buzzing in the buckwheat, and the people in their Sunday best were on their way to church, and all the creatures were happy, including the hedgehog.
the hedgehog was standing before his door with his arms crossed, humming a little song to himself, neither better nor worse than hedgehogs usually sing on a nice Sunday morning. Singing there to himself, half silently, it suddenly occurred to him that while his wife was washing and drying the children, he could take a little walk into the field and see how his turnips were doing. The turnips were close by his house, and he and his family were accustomed to eating them, so he considered them his own.
No sooner said than done. the hedgehog closed the house door behind him and started down the path to the field. He hadn't gone very far away from his house at all, only as far as the blackthorn bush which stands at the front of the field, near the turnip patch, when he met up with the hare, who had gone out for a similar purpose, namely to examine his cabbage.
When the hedgehog saw the hare, he wished him a friendly good morning. The hare, however, who was in his own way a distinguished gentleman, and terribly arrogant about it, did not answer the hedgehog's GREeting, but instead said to the hedgehog, in a terribly sarcastic manner, "How is it that you are running around in the field so early in the morning?"
"I'm taking a walk," said the hedgehog.
"Taking a walk?" laughed the hare. "I should think that you could better use your legs for other purposes."
This answer made the hedgehog terribly angry, for he could stand anything except remarks about his legs, for by nature they were crooked.
"Do you imagine," said the hedgehog to the hare, "that you can accomplish more with your legs?"
"I should think so," said the hare.
"That would depend on the situation," said the hedgehog. "I bet, if we were to run a race, I'd pass you up."
"That is a laugh! You with your crooked legs!" said the hare. "But for all I care, let it be, if you are so eager. What will we wager?"
"A gold louis d'or and a bottle of brandy," said the hedgehog.
"Accepted," said the hare. "Shake hands, and we can take right off."
"No, I'm not in such a hurry," said the hedgehog. "I'm very hungry. First I want to go home and eat a little breakfast. I'll be back here at this spot in a half hour."
the hare was aGREeable with this, and the hedgehog left.
On his way home the hedgehog thought to himself, "The hare is relying on his long legs, but I'll still beat him. He may well be a distinguished gentleman, but he's still a fool, and he'll be the one to pay."
Arriving home, he said to his wife, "Wife, get dressed quickly. You've got to go out to the field with me."
"What's the matter?" said his wife.
"I bet a gold louis d'or and a bottle of brandy with the hare that I could beat him in a race, and you should be there too."
"My God, man," the hedgehog's wife began to cry, "are you mad? Have you entirely lost your mind? How can you aGREe to run a race with the hare?"
"Hold your mouth, woman," said the hedgehog. "This is my affair. Don't get mixed up in men's business. Hurry up now, get dressed, and come with me."
What was the hedgehog's wife to do? She had to obey, whether she wanted to or not.
As they walked toward the field together, the hedgehog said to his wife, "Now pay attention to what I tell you. You see, we are going to run the race down the long field. The hare will run in one furrow and I in another one. We'll begin running from up there. All you have to do is to stand here in the furrow, and when the hare approaches from the other side, just call out to him, 'I'm already here.'"
With that they arrived at the field, the hedgehog showed his wife her place, then he went to the top of the field. When he arrived the hare was already there.
"Can we start?" said the hare.
"Yes, indeed," said the hedgehog. "On your mark!" And each one took his place in his furrow.
the hare counted "One, two, three," and he tore down the field like a windstorm. But the hedgehog ran only about three steps and then ducked down in the furrow and remained there sitting quietly.
When the hare, in full run, arrived at the bottom of the field, the hedgehog's wife called out to him, "I'm already here!"
the hare, startled and bewildered, thought it was the hedgehog himself, for as everyone knows, a hedgehog's wife looks just like her husband.
the hare thought, "Something's not right here." He called out, "Let's run back again!" And he took off again like a windstorm, with his ears flying from his head. But the hedgehog's wife remained quietly in place.
When the hare arrived at the top, the hedgehog called out to him, "I'm already here!"
the hare, beside himself with excitement, shouted, "Let's run back again!"
"It's all right with me," answered the hedgehog. "For all I care, as often as you want."
So the hare ran seventy-three more times, and the hedgehog always kept up with him. Each time the hare arrived at the top or the bottom of the field, the hedgehog or his wife said, "I am already here!"
But the hare did not complete the seventy-fourth time. In the middle of the field, with blood flowing from his neck, he fell dead to the ground.
the hedgehog took the gold louis d'or and the bottle of brandy he had won, called his wife from her furrow, and happily they went back home.
And if they have not died, then they are still alive.
Thus it happened that the hedgehog ran the hare to death on the Buxtehude Heath, and since that time no hare has aGREed to enter a race with a hedgehog.
the moral of this story is, first, that no one, however distinguished he thinks himself, should make fun of a lesser man, even if this man is a hedgehog. And second, when a man marries, it is recommended that he take a wife from his own class, one who looks just like him. In other words, a hedgehog should always take care that his wife is also a hedgehog, and so forth.
Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
A merchant had done well at the fair. He had sold all his wares, and filled his moneybagwith gold and silver. He now wanted to make his way toward home, and to be in his own housebefore nightfall. So he loaded his duffel bag with the money onto his horse, and rode away.
At noon made a rest stop in a town. When he was about to continue on his way, a servantbrought him his horse and said, "Sir, a nail is missing from the shoe on his left hind hoof."
"Let it be," answered the merchant. "The shoe will certainly stay on for the six hours that Istill have to ride. I am in a hurry."
That afternoon, when he dismounted once again and had his horse fed, a servant came intothe inn and said, "Sir, a shoe is missing from your horse's left hind hoof. Shall I take him to theblacksmith?"
"Let it be," answered the man. "The horse can manage for the few hours that I still have toride. I am in a hurry."
He rode on, but before long the horse began to limp. It did not limp long before it beganto stumble, and it did not stumble long before it fell down and broke a leg. The merchant hadto leave the horse where it was, and unbuckle the duffel bag, load it onto his shoulder, andwalk home on foot, not arriving there until very late that night.
"All this bad luck," he said to himself, "was caused by that cursed nail."
Haste makes waste.
the Gifts of the Little People
Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
A tailor and a goldsmith were journeying together when one evening, just as the sun hadsunk behind the mountains, they heard the sound of distant music. It GREw more and moredistinct. It had a strange sound, but was so pleasing that they forgot their fatigue andwalked speedily ahead. The moon had already risen when they arrived at a hill, upon which theyviewed a large number of small men and women who were holding hands and dancing aroundand cheerfully singing with the greatest pleasure and happiness. That was the music that thewanderers had heard.
An old man, somewhat larger than the others, sat in their midst. He wore a brightly coloredjacket, and his ice-gray beard hung down over his chest. Filled with amazement, the twowanderers stopped and watched the dance. The old man motioned to them that they tooshould join in, and the little people voluntarily opened their circle.
the goldsmith, who had a hump on his back, and —— like all hunchbacks —— was forwardenough, stepped right up. The tailor was at first a little shy and held back, but as soon as hesaw what fun it was, he too took heart and joined in.
they closed the circle again, and the little people sang and danced wildly forth. However,the old man took a broad knife, that had been hanging from his belt, sharpened it, and as soonas it was sufficiently sharpened, looked at the strangers. They were frightened, but they didnot have to worry for long. The old man grabbed the goldsmith and with the GREatest speedsmoothly shaved off his beard and the hair from his head. Then the same thing happened tothe tailor.
their fear disappeared when the old man patted them friendly on their shoulders as if hewanted to say that they had done well by letting it all happen without resisting. With his fingerhe pointed toward a pile of coal that lay nearby, and indicated to them through gestures thatthey should fill their pockets with it. They both obeyed, although they did not know of what usethe coal would be to them. Then they went on their way to seek out a place to spend the night.
they had just arrived in the valley when the bell from a neighboring monastery strucktwelve. The singing ceased instantly. Everyone disappeared, and the hill lay in lonely moonlight.
the two wanderers found shelter. Lying on beds of straw, they covered themselves withtheir jackets. They were so tired that they forgot to take the coal out of their pockets first.
they were awakened earlier than normal by a heavy weight pressing down on their limbs.They reached into their pockets, and could hardly believe their eyes when they saw that theywere not filled with coal, but with pure gold. Further, their hair and their beards had also beenfully restored.
Now they were rich. However, the goldsmith had twice as much as the tailor, because ——true to his GREedy nature —— he had filled his pockets better. However much a greedy personhas, he always wants more, so the goldsmith proposed to the tailor that they stay thereanother day in order to be able to gain even more wealth from the old man on the mountainthat evening.
the tailor did not want to do this, and said: "I have enough and am satisfied. I am going tobecome a master, marry my pleasant object (as he called his sweetheart), and be a happyman."
However, to please the goldsmith, he aGREed to stay one more day. That evening thegoldsmith hung several pockets over his shoulders in order to be able to carry everything, andset off for the hill.
As had happened the night before, he found the little people dancing and singing. The oldman shaved him smooth once again, and indicated that he should take some coal. Withouthesitating he packed away as much as his pockets would hold, and then happily returned home.Covering himself with his jacket he said: "I can bear it, if the gold presses down on me." Withthe sweet premonition that he would awaken tomorrow as a very rich man, he fell asleep.
When he opened his eyes, he got up quickly in order to examine his pockets. Howastounded he was, that he pulled out nothing but black coal, however often he reached inside. "Anyway, I still have the gold from the night before," he thought, and reached for it. Horrified,he saw that it too had turned back into coal. He struck himself on the forehead with his grimyhand, and felt that his entire head was as bald and smooth as his beardless chin.
Nor was that the end of his misfortune. Only now did he notice that in addition the humpon his back, a second one, of the same size, had grown onto his chest. Now he recognized thepunishment for his GREed and began to cry aloud.
the good tailor, who had been awakened by all this, consoled the unhappy man as best hecould, saying: "You were my traveling companion, and you can stay with me now and live frommy treasure."
He kept his word, but the poor goldsmith had to bear two humps and cover his bald headwith a cap as long as he lived.