How Some Wild Animals Became Tame Ones

: The Brown Fairy Book

Once upon a time there lived a miller who was so rich that, when he was

going to be married, he asked to the feast not only his own friends but

also the wild animals who dwelt in the hills and woods round about. The

chief of the bears, the wolves, the foxes, the horses, the cows, the

goats, the sheep, and the reindeer, all received invitations; and as

they were not accustomed to weddings they were greatly pleased and

attered, and sent back messages in the politest language that they

would certainly be there.

The first to start on the morning of the wedding-day was the bear, who

always liked to be punctual; and, besides, he had a long way to go, and

his hair, being so thick and rough, needed a good brushing before it was

fit to be seen at a party. However, he took care to awaken very early,

and set off down the road with a light heart. Before he had walked very

far he met a boy who came whistling along, hitting at the tops of the

flowers with a stick.

'Where are you going?' said he, looking at the bear in surprise, for he

was an old acquaintance, and not generally so smart.

'Oh, just to the miller's marriage,' answered the bear carelessly. 'Of

course, I would much rather stay at home, but the miller was so anxious

I should be there that I really could not refuse.'

'Don't go, don't go!' cried the boy. 'If you do you will never come

back! You have got the most beautiful skin in the world--just the kind

that everyone is wanting, and they will be sure to kill you and strip

you of it.'

'I had not thought of that,' said the bear, whose face turned white,

only nobody could see it. 'If you are certain that they would be so

wicked--but perhaps you are jealous because nobody has invited you?'

'Oh, nonsense!' replied the boy angrily, 'do as you see. It is your

skin, and not mine; I don't care what becomes of it!' And he walked

quickly on with his head in the air.

The bear waited until he was out of sight, and then followed him slowly,

for he felt in his heart that the boy's advice was good, though he was

too proud to say so.

The boy soon grew tired of walking along the road, and turned off into

the woods, where there were bushes he could jump and streams he could

wade; but he had not gone far before he met the wolf.

'Where are you going?' asked he, for it was not the first time he had

seen him.

'Oh, just to the miller's marriage,' answered the wolf, as the bear had

done before him. 'It is rather tiresome, of course--weddings are always

so stupid; but still one must be good-natured!'

'Don't go!' said the boy again. 'Your skin is so thick and warm, and

winter is not far off now. They will kill you, and strip it from you.'

The wolf's jaw dropped in astonishment and terror. 'Do you really think

that would happen?' he gasped.

'Yes, to be sure, I do,' answered the boy. 'But it is your affair, not

mine. So good-morning,' and on he went. The wolf stood still for a few

minutes, for he was trembling all over, and then crept quietly back to

his cave.

Next the boy met the fox, whose lovely coat of silvery grey was shining

in the sun.

'You look very fine!' said the boy, stopping to admire him, 'are you

going to the miller's wedding too?'

'Yes,' answered the fox; 'it is a long journey to take for such a thing

as that, but you know what the miller's friends are like--so dull and

heavy! It is only kind to go and amuse them a little.'

'You poor fellow,' said the boy pityingly. 'Take my advice and stay

at home. If you once enter the miller's gate his dogs will tear you in


'Ah, well, such things have occurred, I know,' replied the fox gravely.

And without saying any more he trotted off the way he had come.

His tail had scarcely disappeared, when a great noise of crashing

branches was heard, and up bounded the horse, his black skin glistening

like satin.

'Good-morning,' he called to the boy as he galloped past, 'I can't wait

to talk to you now. I have promised the miller to be present at his

wedding-feast, and they won't sit down till I come.'

'Stop! stop!' cried the boy after him, and there was something in his

voice that made the horse pull up. 'What is the matter?' asked he.

'You don't know what you are doing,' said the boy. 'If once you go there

you will never gallop through these woods any more. You are stronger

than many men, but they will catch you and put ropes round you, and you

will have to work and to serve them all the days of your life.'

The horse threw back his head at these words, and laughed scornfully.

'Yes, I am stronger than many men,' answered he, 'and all the ropes in

the world would not hold me. Let them bind me as fast as they will, I

can always break loose, and return to the forest and freedom.'

And with this proud speech he gave a whisk of his long tail, and

galloped away faster than before.

But when he reached the miller's house everything happened as the boy

had said. While he was looking at the guests and thinking how much

handsomer and stronger he was than any of them, a rope was suddenly

flung over his head, and he was thrown down and a bit thrust between his

teeth. Then, in spite of his struggles, he was dragged to a stable, and

shut up for several days without any food, till his spirit was broken

and his coat had lost its gloss. After that he was harnessed to a

plough, and had plenty of time to remember all he had lost through not

listening to the counsel of the boy.

When the horse had turned a deaf ear to his words the boy wandered idly

along, sometimes gathering wild strawberries from a bank, and sometimes

plucking wild cherries from a tree, till he reached a clearing in

the middle of the forest. Crossing this open space was a beautiful

milk-white cow with a wreath of flowers round her neck.

'Good-morning,' she said pleasantly, as she came up to the place where

the boy was standing.

'Good-morning,' he returned. 'Where are you going in such a hurry?'

'To the miller's wedding; I am rather late already, for the wreath took

such a long time to make, so I can't stop.'

'Don't go,' said the boy earnestly;' when once they have tasted your

milk they will never let you leave them, and you will have to serve them

all the days of your life.'

'Oh, nonsense; what do you know about it?' answered the cow, who always

thought she was wiser than other people. 'Why, I can run twice as fast

as any of them! I should like to see anybody try to keep me against my

will.' And, without even a polite bow, she went on her way, feeling very

much offended.

But everything turned out just as the boy had said. The company had

all heard of the fame of the cow's milk, and persuaded her to give them

some, and then her doom was sealed. A crowd gathered round her, and held

her horns so that she could not use them, and, like the horse, she was

shut in the stable, and only let out in the mornings, when a long rope

was tied round her head, and she was fastened to a stake in a grassy


And so it happened to the goat and to the sheep.

Last of all came the reindeer, looking as he always did, as if some

serious business was on hand.

'Where are you going?' asked the boy, who by this time was tired of wild

cherries, and was thinking of his dinner.

'I am invited to the wedding,' answered the reindeer, 'and the miller

has begged me on no account to fail him.'

'O fool!' cried the boy, 'have you no sense at all? Don't you know that

when you get there they will hold you fast, for neither beast nor bird

is as strong or as swift as you?'

'That is exactly why I am quite safe,' replied the reindeer. 'I am so

strong that no one can bind me, and so swift that not even an arrow can

catch me. So, goodbye for the present, you will soon see me back.'

But none of the animals that went to the miller's wedding ever came

back. And because they were self-willed and conceited, and would not

listen to good advice, they and their children have been the servants of

men to this very day.