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HANS IN LUCK

from Types Of Children's Literature - Traditional





Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm


Hans had served his master seven years, and at last said to him,
"Master, my time is up; I should like to go home and see my
mother; so give me my wages." And the master said, "You have
been a faithful and good servant, so your pay shall be handsome."
Then he gave him a piece of silver that was as big as his head.

Hans took out his pocket handkerchief, put the piece of silver
into it, threw it over his shoulder, and jogged off homewards. As
he went lazily on, dragging one foot after the other, a man came in
sight, trotting along gayly on a capital horse. "Ah!" cried Hans
aloud, "what a fine thing it is to ride on horseback! he trips
against no stones, spares his shoes, and yet gets on he hardly knows
how." The horseman heard this, and said, "Well, Hans, why do
you go on foot, then?" "Ah!" said he, "I have this load to carry;
to be sure it is silver, but it is so heavy that I can't hold up my
head, and it hurts my shoulders sadly." "What do you say to
changing?" said the horseman; "I will give you my horse, and you
shall give me the silver." "With all my heart," said Hans; "but
I tell you one thing,--you'll have a weary task to drag it along."
The horseman got off, took the silver, helped Hans up, gave him the
bridle into his hand, and said, "When you want to go very fast,
you must smack your lips loud, and cry 'Jip.'"

Hans was delighted as he sat on the horse, and rode merrily on.
After a time he thought he should like to go a little faster, so he
smacked his lips and cried, "Jip." Away went the horse full gallop;
and before Hans knew what he was about, he was thrown off,
and lay in a ditch by the roadside; and his horse would have run
off, if a shepherd who was coming by, driving a cow, had not stopped
it. Hans soon came to himself, and got upon his legs again. He
was sadly vexed, and said to the shepherd, "This riding is no joke
when a man gets on a beast like this, that stumbles and flings him
off as if he would break his neck. However, I am off now once for
all; I like your cow a great deal better; one can walk along at one's
leisure behind her, and have milk, butter, and cheese every day into
the bargain. What would I give to have such a cow!" "Well,"
said the shepherd, "if you are so fond of her, I will change my
cow for your horse." "Done!" said Hans merrily. The shepherd
jumped upon the horse, and away he rode.

Hans drove off his cow quietly, and thought his bargain a very
lucky one. "If I have only a piece of bread, I can, whenever I
like, eat my butter and cheese with it; and when I am thirsty, I can
milk my cow and drink the milk: what can I wish for more?"
When he came to an inn, he halted, ate up all his bread, and gave his
last penny for a glass of beer: then he drove his cow towards his
mother's village; and the heat grew greater as noon came on, till
he began to be so hot and parched that his tongue clave to the roof
of his mouth. "I can find a cure for this," thought he; "now will
I milk my cow and quench my thirst;" so he tied her to the stump
of a tree, and held his leather cap to milk into; but not a drop was
to be had.

While he was trying his luck and managing the matter very clumsily,
the uneasy beast gave him a kick on the head that knocked him
down, and there he lay a long while senseless. Luckily a butcher
soon came by, wheeling a pig in a wheelbarrow. "What is the matter
with you?" said the butcher, as he helped him up. Hans told
him what had happened, and the butcher gave him a flask, saying,
"There, drink and refresh yourself; your cow will give you no
milk, she is an old beast good for nothing but the slaughterhouse."
"Alas, alas!" said Hans, "who would have thought it? If I kill
her, what would she be good for? I hate cow beef, it is not tender
enough for me. If it were a pig now, one could do something
with it; it would, at any rate, make some sausages." "Well," said
the butcher, "to please you I'll change, and give you the pig for
the cow." "Heaven reward you for your kindness!" said Hans. as
he gave the butcher the cow, and took the pig off the wheelbarrow,
and drove it off, holding it by the string that was tied to its leg.

So on he jogged, and all seemed now to go right with him. The
next person he met was a countryman, carrying a fine white goose
under his arm. The countryman stopped to ask what o'clock it was;
and Hans told him all his luck, and how he had made so many
good bargains. The countryman said he was going to take the
goose to a christening. "Feel," said he, "how heavy it is, and yet
it is only eight weeks old. Whoever roasts and eats it, may cut
plenty of fat off it, it has lived so well!" "You're right," said
Hans, as he weighed it in his hand; "but my pig is no trifle." Meantime
the countryman began to look grave, and shook his head.

"Hark ye," said he, "my good friend; your pig may get you into a
scrape; in the village I have just come from, the squire has had a
pig stolen out of his sty. I was dreadfully afraid, when I saw you,
that you had got the squire's pig; it will be a bad job if they
catch you; the least they'll do will be to throw you into the horse
pond."

Poor Hans was sadly frightened. "Good man," cried he, "pray
get me out of this scrape; you know this country better than I; take
my pig and give me the goose." "I ought to have something into
the bargain," said the countryman; "however, I will not bear hard
upon you, as you are in trouble." Then he took the string in his
hand, and drove off the pig by a side path; while Hans went on
the way homewards free from care.

As he came to the last village, he saw a scissors grinder, with
his wheel, working away, and singing. Hans stood looking for a
while, and at last said, "You must be well off, master grinder, you
seem so happy at your work." "Yes," said the other, "mine is a
golden trade; a good grinder never puts his hand in his pocket
without finding money in it:--but where did you get that beautiful
goose?" "I did not buy it, but changed a pig for it." "And
where did you get the pig?" "I gave a cow for it." "And the
cow?" "I gave a horse for it." "And the horse?" "I gave a
piece of silver as big as my head for that." "And the silver?"
"Oh, I worked hard for that seven long years." "You have thriven
well in the world hitherto," said the grinder; "now if you could find
money in your pocket whenever you put your hand into it, your
fortune would be made." "Very true: but how is that to be managed?"
"You must turn grinder like me," said the other: "you only want a
grindstone; the rest will come of itself. Here is one that is a
little the worse for wear: I would not ask more than the value of
your goose for it;--will you buy?" "How can you ask such a question?"
replied Hans; "I should be the happiest man in the world if I could
have money whenever I put my hand in my pocket; what could I want
more? there's the goose!" "Now," said the grinder, as he gave him
a rough stone that lay by his side, "this is a most capital stone;
do but manage it cleverly, and you can make an old nail cut with
it."

Hans took the stone and went off with a light heart; his eyes
sparkled for joy, and he said to himself, "I must have been born in
a lucky hour; everything that I want or wish for comes to me of
itself."

Meantime he began to be tired, for he had been traveling ever
since daybreak; he was hungry, too, for he had given away his
last penny in his joy at getting the cow. At last he could go no
further, and the stone tired him terribly; he dragged himself to the
side of a pond, that he might drink some water and rest awhile; so he
laid the stone carefully by his side on the bank: but as he stooped
down to drink, he forgot it, pushed it a little, and down it went
plump into the pond. For a while he watched it sinking in the deep,
clear water, then sprang up for joy, and again fell upon his knees,
and thanked heaven with tears in his eyes for its kindness in taking
away his only plague, the ugly heavy stone. "How happy am I,"
cried he: "no mortal was ever so lucky as I am." Then up he got
with a light and merry heart, and walked on free from all his
troubles, till he reached his mother's house.





Next: THE VALIANT LITTLE TAILOR

Previous: THE STORY OF THE THREE LITTLE PIGS



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