The Wolf And The Seven Young Goslings





There was once an old goose who had seven young goslings, and loved

them as only a mother can love her children. One day she was going

into the wood to seek for provender, and before setting off she called

all seven to her and said, Dear children, I am obliged to go into the

wood, so be on your guard against the wolf; for if he gets in here he

will eat you up, feathers, skin, and all. The villain often disguises

himself, but you can easily recognise him by his rough voice and black

paws.



The children answered, Dear mother, we will take great care; you may

go without any anxiety. So the old lady was comforted, and set off

cheerfully for the wood.



Before long, some one knocked at the door, and cried, Open, open, my

dear children; your mother is here, and has brought something for each

of you.



But the goslings soon perceived, by the rough voice, that it was the

wolf. We will not open, said they; you are not our mother, for she

has a sweet and lovely voice; but your voice is rough--you are the

wolf.



Thereupon the wolf set off to a merchant and bought a large lump of

chalk; he ate it, and it made his voice sweet. Back he came, knocked

at the door, and cried, Open, open, my dear children; your mother is

here, and has brought something for each of you.



But the wolf had laid his black paw on the window-sill, and when the

children saw it, they cried, We will not open; our mother has not

black feet like you--you are the wolf.



So the wolf ran off to the baker, and said, I have hurt my foot, put

some dough on it. And when the baker had plastered it with dough, the

wolf went to the miller and cried, Strew some meal on my paws. But

the miller thought to himself, The wolf wants to deceive some one,

and he hesitated to do it; till the wolf said, If you don't do it at

once, I will eat you up. So the miller was afraid and made his paws

white. Such is the way of the world!



Now came the rogue back for the third time, knocked and said, Open

the door, dear children; your mother has come home, and has brought

something for each of you out of the wood.



The little goslings cried, Show us your paws first, that we may see

whether you are indeed our mother. So he laid his paws on the

window-sill, and when the goslings saw that they were white, they

believed it was all right, and opened the door; and who should come in

but the wolf!



They screamed out and tried to hide themselves; one jumped under the

table, another into the bed, the third into the oven; the fourth ran

into the kitchen, the fifth hopped into a chest, the sixth under the

wash-tub, and the seventh got into the clock-case. But the wolf seized

them, and stood on no ceremony with them; one after another he gobbled

them all up, except the youngest, who being in the clock-case he

couldn't find. When the wolf had eaten his fill, he strolled forth,

laid himself down in the green meadow under a tree, and went fast

asleep.



Not long after, back came the old goose home from the wood; but what,

alas! did she see? The house-door stood wide open; table, chairs,

benches, were all overthrown; the wash-tub lay in the ashes; blankets

and pillows were torn off the bed. She looked for her children, but

nowhere could she find them; she called them each by name, but nobody

answered. At last, when she came to the youngest, a little squeaking

voice answered, Dear mother, I am in the clock-case. She pulled him

out, and he told her how the wolf had come and had eaten up all the

others. You may think how she wept for her dear children.



At last, in her grief, she went out, and the youngest gosling ran

beside her. And when she came to the meadow there lay the wolf under

the tree, snoring till the boughs shook. She walked round and examined

him on all sides, till she perceived that something was moving and

kicking about inside him.



Can it be, thought she, that my poor children whom he has swallowed

for his supper are yet alive? So she sent the little gosling back to

the house for scissors, needle, and thread, and began to slit up the

monster's stomach. Scarcely had she given one snip, when out came the

head of a gosling, and when she had cut a little further, the six

jumped out one after another, not having taken the least hurt, because

the greedy monster had swallowed them down whole. That was a joy! They

embraced their mother tenderly, and skipped about as lively as a

tailor at his wedding.



But the old goose said, Now go and find me six large stones, which we

will put inside the greedy beast while he is still asleep. So the

goslings got the stones in all haste, and they put them inside the

wolf; and the old goose sewed him up again in a great hurry, while he

never once moved nor took any notice.



Now when the wolf at last woke up and got upon his legs, he found he

was very thirsty, and wished to go to the spring to drink. But as soon

as he began to move the stones began to shake and rattle inside him,

till he cried,--



What's this rumbling and tumbling,

What's this rattling like bones?

I thought I had eaten six little geese,

But they've turned out only stones.



And when he came to the spring and bent down his head to drink, the

heavy stones overbalanced him, and in he went head over heels. Now

when the seven goslings saw this, they came running up, crying

loudly, The wolf is dead, the wolf is dead! and danced for joy all

round the spring, and their mother with them.





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