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from Grimms' Fairy Tales





An aged count once lived in Switzerland, who had an only son, but he
was stupid, and could learn nothing. Then said the father: 'Hark you,
my son, try as I will I can get nothing into your head. You must go from
hence, I will give you into the care of a celebrated master, who shall
see what he can do with you.' The youth was sent into a strange town,
and remained a whole year with the master. At the end of this time,
he came home again, and his father asked: 'Now, my son, what have you
learnt?' 'Father, I have learnt what the dogs say when they bark.' 'Lord
have mercy on us!' cried the father; 'is that all you have learnt? I
will send you into another town, to another master.' The youth was taken
thither, and stayed a year with this master likewise. When he came back
the father again asked: 'My son, what have you learnt?' He answered:
'Father, I have learnt what the birds say.' Then the father fell into a
rage and said: 'Oh, you lost man, you have spent the precious time and
learnt nothing; are you not ashamed to appear before my eyes? I will
send you to a third master, but if you learn nothing this time also, I
will no longer be your father.' The youth remained a whole year with the
third master also, and when he came home again, and his father inquired:
'My son, what have you learnt?' he answered: 'Dear father, I have this
year learnt what the frogs croak.' Then the father fell into the most
furious anger, sprang up, called his people thither, and said: 'This man
is no longer my son, I drive him forth, and command you to take him
out into the forest, and kill him.' They took him forth, but when they
should have killed him, they could not do it for pity, and let him go,
and they cut the eyes and tongue out of a deer that they might carry
them to the old man as a token.

The youth wandered on, and after some time came to a fortress where he
begged for a night's lodging. 'Yes,' said the lord of the castle, 'if
you will pass the night down there in the old tower, go thither; but I
warn you, it is at the peril of your life, for it is full of wild dogs,
which bark and howl without stopping, and at certain hours a man has to
be given to them, whom they at once devour.' The whole district was in
sorrow and dismay because of them, and yet no one could do anything to
stop this. The youth, however, was without fear, and said: 'Just let me
go down to the barking dogs, and give me something that I can throw to
them; they will do nothing to harm me.' As he himself would have it so,
they gave him some food for the wild animals, and led him down to the
tower. When he went inside, the dogs did not bark at him, but wagged
their tails quite amicably around him, ate what he set before them, and
did not hurt one hair of his head. Next morning, to the astonishment of
everyone, he came out again safe and unharmed, and said to the lord of
the castle: 'The dogs have revealed to me, in their own language, why
they dwell there, and bring evil on the land. They are bewitched, and
are obliged to watch over a great treasure which is below in the tower,
and they can have no rest until it is taken away, and I have likewise
learnt, from their discourse, how that is to be done.' Then all who
heard this rejoiced, and the lord of the castle said he would adopt him
as a son if he accomplished it successfully. He went down again, and
as he knew what he had to do, he did it thoroughly, and brought a chest
full of gold out with him. The howling of the wild dogs was henceforth
heard no more; they had disappeared, and the country was freed from the
trouble.

After some time he took it in his head that he would travel to Rome. On
the way he passed by a marsh, in which a number of frogs were sitting
croaking. He listened to them, and when he became aware of what they
were saying, he grew very thoughtful and sad. At last he arrived in
Rome, where the Pope had just died, and there was great doubt among
the cardinals as to whom they should appoint as his successor. They at
length agreed that the person should be chosen as pope who should be
distinguished by some divine and miraculous token. And just as that was
decided on, the young count entered into the church, and suddenly two
snow-white doves flew on his shoulders and remained sitting there. The
ecclesiastics recognized therein the token from above, and asked him on
the spot if he would be pope. He was undecided, and knew not if he were
worthy of this, but the doves counselled him to do it, and at length he
said yes. Then was he anointed and consecrated, and thus was fulfilled
what he had heard from the frogs on his way, which had so affected him,
that he was to be his Holiness the Pope. Then he had to sing a mass, and
did not know one word of it, but the two doves sat continually on his
shoulders, and said it all in his ear.





Next: The Fox And The Cat

Previous: Clever Hans



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