The Golden Goose

: The Red Fairy Book

THERE was once a man who had three sons. The youngest of

them was called Dullhead, and was sneered and jeered at and

snubbed on every possible opportunity.

One day it happened that the eldest son wished to go into the

forest to cut wood, and before he started his mother gave him a fine

rich cake and a bottle of wine, so that he might be sure not to suffer

from hunger or thirst.

hen he reached the forest he met a little old grey man who

wished him `Good-morning,' and said: `Do give me a piece of that

cake you have got in your pocket, and let me have a draught of

your wine--I am so hungry and thirsty.'

But this clever son replied: `If I give you my cake and wine I

shall have none left for myself; you just go your own way;' and

he left the little man standing there and went further on into the

forest. There he began to cut down a tree, but before long he made

a false stroke with his axe, and cut his own arm so badly that he

was obliged to go home and have it bound up.

Then the second son went to the forest, and his mother gave

him a good cake and a bottle of wine as she had to his elder brother.

He too met the little old grey man, who begged him for a morsel of

cake and a draught of wine.

But the second son spoke most sensibly too, and said:

`Whatever I give to you I deprive myself of. Just go your own way, will

you?' Not long after his punishment overtook him, for no sooner

had he struck a couple of blows on a tree with his axe, than he cut

his leg so badly that he had to be carried home.

So then Dullhead said: `Father, let me go out and cut wood.'

But his father answered: `Both your brothers have injured

themselves. You had better leave it alone; you know nothing

about it.'

But Dullhead begged so hard to be allowed to go that at last

his father said: `Very well, then--go. Perhaps when you have hurt

yourself, you may learn to know better.' His mother only gave

him a very plain cake made with water and baked in the cinders,

and a bottle of sour beer.

When he got to the forest, he too met the little grey old man,

who greeted him and said: `Give me a piece of your cake and a

draught from your bottle; I am so hungry and thirsty.'

And Dullhead replied: `I've only got a cinder-cake and some

sour beer, but if you care to have that, let us sit down and eat.'

So they sat down, and when Dullhead brought out his cake he

found it had turned into a fine rich cake, and the sour beer into

excellent wine. Then they ate and drank, and when they had

finished the little man said: `Now I will bring you luck, because

you have a kind heart and are willing to share what you have with

others. There stands an old tree; cut it down, and amongst its

roots you'll find something.' With that the little man took leave.

Then Dullhead fell to at once to hew down the tree, and when

it fell he found amongst its roots a goose, whose feathers were all

of pure gold. He lifted it out, carried it off, and took it with him

to an inn where he meant to spend the night.

Now the landlord of the inn had three daughters, and when

they saw the goose they were filled with curiosity as to what this

wonderful bird could be, and each longed to have one of its golden


The eldest thought to herself: `No doubt I shall soon find a good

opportunity to pluck out one of its feathers,' and the first time

Dullhead happened to leave the room she caught hold of the goose

by its wing. But, lo and behold! her fingers seemed to stick fast

to the goose, and she could not take her hand away.

Soon after the second daughter came in, and thought to pluck a

golden feather for herself too; but hardly had she touched her

sister than she stuck fast as well. At last the third sister came

with the same intentions, but the other two cried out: `Keep off!

for Heaven's sake, keep off!'

The younger sister could not imagine why she was to keep off,

and thought to herself: `If they are both there, why should not I be

there too?'

So she sprang to them; but no sooner had she touched one of

them than she stuck fast to her. So they all three had to spend the

night with the goose.

Next morning Dullhead tucked the goose under his arm and

went off, without in the least troubling himself about the three girls

who were hanging on to it. They just had to run after him right

or left as best they could. In the middle of a field they met the

parson, and when he saw this procession he cried: `For shame,

you bold girls! What do you mean by running after a young fellow

through the fields like that? Do you call that proper behaviour?'

And with that he caught the youngest girl by the hand to try and

draw her away. But directly he touched her he hung on himself,

and had to run along with the rest of them.

Not long after the clerk came that way, and was much surprised

to see the parson following the footsteps of three girls. `Why, where

is your reverence going so fast?' cried he; `don't forget there is

to be a christening to-day;' and he ran after him, caught him by

the sleeve, and hung on to it himself: As the five of them trotted

along in this fashion one after the other, two peasants were coming

from their work with their hoes. On seeing them the parson called

out and begged them to come and rescue him and the clerk. But

no sooner did they touch the clerk than they stuck on too, and so

there were seven of them running after Dullhead and his goose.

After a time they all came to a town where a King reigned whose

daughter was so serious and solemn that no one could ever manage

to make her laugh. So the King had decreed that whoever should

succeed in making her laugh should marry her.

When Dullhead heard this he marched before the Princess with

his goose and its appendages, and as soon as she saw these seven

people continually running after each other she burst out laughing,

and could not stop herself. Then Dullhead claimed her as his

bride, but the King, who did not much fancy him as a son-in-law,

made all sorts of objections, and told him he must first find a man

who could drink up a whole cellarful of wine.

Dullhead bethought him of the little grey man, who could, he

felt sure, help him; so he went off to the forest, and on the very

spot where he had cut down the tree he saw a man sitting with a

most dismal expression of face.

Dullhead asked him what he was taking so much to heart, and

the man answered: `I don't know how I am ever to quench this

terrible thirst I am suffering from. Cold water doesn't suit me at

all. To be sure I've emptied a whole barrel of wine, but what is one

drop on a hot stone?'

`I think I can help you,' said Dullhead. `Come with me, and

you shall drink to your heart's content.' So he took him to the

King's cellar, and the man sat down before the huge casks and

drank and drank till he drank up the whole contents of the cellar

before the day closed.

Then Dullhead asked once more for his bride, but the King felt

vexed at the idea of a stupid fellow whom people called `Dullhead'

carrying off his daughter, and he began to make fresh conditions.

He required Dullhead to find a man who could eat a mountain of

bread. Dullhead did not wait to consider long but went straight off

to the forest, and there on the same spot sat a man who was drawing

in a strap as tight as he could round his body, and making a most

woeful face the while. Said he: `I've eaten up a whole oven full of

loaves, but what's the good of that to anyone who is as hungry as

I am? I declare my stomach feels quite empty, and I must draw

my belt tight if I'm not to die of starvation.'

Dullhead was delighted, and said: `Get up and come with me,

and you shall have plenty to eat,' and he brought him to the King's


Now the King had given orders to have all the flour in his

kingdom brought together, and to have a huge mountain baked of

it. But the man from the wood just took up his stand before the

mountain and began to eat, and in one day it had all vanished.

For the third time Dullhead asked for his bride, but again the

King tried to make some evasion, and demanded a ship `which could

sail on land or water! When you come sailing in such a ship,' said

he, `you shall have my daughter without further delay.'

Again Dullhead started off to the forest, and there he found the

little old grey man with whom he had shared his cake, and who

said: `I have eaten and I have drunk for you, and now I will give

you the ship. I have done all this for you because you were kind

and merciful to me.'

Then he gave Dullhead a ship which could sail on land or water,

and when the King saw it he felt he could no longer refuse him

his daughter.

So they celebrated the wedding with great rejoicings; and after

the King's death Dullhead succeeded to the kingdom, and lived

happily with his wife for many years after.[30]

[30] Grimm.