The Golden Goose

: Grimms' Fairy Tales

There was a man who had three sons, the youngest of whom was called

Dummling,[*] and was despised, mocked, and sneered at on every occasion.

It happened that the eldest wanted to go into the forest to hew wood,

and before he went his mother gave him a beautiful sweet cake and a

bottle of wine in order that he might not suffer from hunger or thirst.

When he entered the forest he met a little grey-haired o
d man who bade

him good day, and said: 'Do give me a piece of cake out of your pocket,

and let me have a draught of your wine; I am so hungry and thirsty.' But

the clever son answered: 'If I give you my cake and wine, I shall have

none for myself; be off with you,' and he left the little man standing

and went on.

But when he began to hew down a tree, it was not long before he made a

false stroke, and the axe cut him in the arm, so that he had to go home

and have it bound up. And this was the little grey man's doing.

After this the second son went into the forest, and his mother gave him,

like the eldest, a cake and a bottle of wine. The little old grey man

met him likewise, and asked him for a piece of cake and a drink of wine.

But the second son, too, said sensibly enough: 'What I give you will be

taken away from myself; be off!' and he left the little man standing and

went on. His punishment, however, was not delayed; when he had made a

few blows at the tree he struck himself in the leg, so that he had to be

carried home.

Then Dummling said: 'Father, do let me go and cut wood.' The father

answered: 'Your brothers have hurt themselves with it, leave it alone,

you do not understand anything about it.' But Dummling begged so long

that at last he said: 'Just go then, you will get wiser by hurting

yourself.' His mother gave him a cake made with water and baked in the

cinders, and with it a bottle of sour beer.

When he came to the forest the little old grey man met him likewise,

and greeting him, said: 'Give me a piece of your cake and a drink out

of your bottle; I am so hungry and thirsty.' Dummling answered: 'I have

only cinder-cake and sour beer; if that pleases you, we will sit

down and eat.' So they sat down, and when Dummling pulled out his

cinder-cake, it was a fine sweet cake, and the sour beer had become good

wine. So they ate and drank, and after that the little man said: 'Since

you have a good heart, and are willing to divide what you have, I will

give you good luck. There stands an old tree, cut it down, and you will

find something at the roots.' Then the little man took leave of him.

Dummling went and cut down the tree, and when it fell there was a goose

sitting in the roots with feathers of pure gold. He lifted her up, and

taking her with him, went to an inn where he thought he would stay the

night. Now the host had three daughters, who saw the goose and were

curious to know what such a wonderful bird might be, and would have

liked to have one of its golden feathers.

The eldest thought: 'I shall soon find an opportunity of pulling out a

feather,' and as soon as Dummling had gone out she seized the goose by

the wing, but her finger and hand remained sticking fast to it.

The second came soon afterwards, thinking only of how she might get a

feather for herself, but she had scarcely touched her sister than she

was held fast.

At last the third also came with the like intent, and the others

screamed out: 'Keep away; for goodness' sake keep away!' But she did

not understand why she was to keep away. 'The others are there,' she

thought, 'I may as well be there too,' and ran to them; but as soon as

she had touched her sister, she remained sticking fast to her. So they

had to spend the night with the goose.

The next morning Dummling took the goose under his arm and set out,

without troubling himself about the three girls who were hanging on to

it. They were obliged to run after him continually, now left, now right,

wherever his legs took him.

In the middle of the fields the parson met them, and when he saw the

procession he said: 'For shame, you good-for-nothing girls, why are you

running across the fields after this young man? Is that seemly?' At the

same time he seized the youngest by the hand in order to pull her away,

but as soon as he touched her he likewise stuck fast, and was himself

obliged to run behind.

Before long the sexton came by and saw his master, the parson, running

behind three girls. He was astonished at this and called out: 'Hi!

your reverence, whither away so quickly? Do not forget that we have a

christening today!' and running after him he took him by the sleeve, but

was also held fast to it.

Whilst the five were trotting thus one behind the other, two labourers

came with their hoes from the fields; the parson called out to them

and begged that they would set him and the sexton free. But they had

scarcely touched the sexton when they were held fast, and now there were

seven of them running behind Dummling and the goose.

Soon afterwards he came to a city, where a king ruled who had a daughter

who was so serious that no one could make her laugh. So he had put forth

a decree that whosoever should be able to make her laugh should marry

her. When Dummling heard this, he went with his goose and all her train

before the king's daughter, and as soon as she saw the seven people

running on and on, one behind the other, she began to laugh quite

loudly, and as if she would never stop. Thereupon Dummling asked to have

her for his wife; but the king did not like the son-in-law, and made all

manner of excuses and said he must first produce a man who could drink

a cellarful of wine. Dummling thought of the little grey man, who could

certainly help him; so he went into the forest, and in the same place

where he had felled the tree, he saw a man sitting, who had a very

sorrowful face. Dummling asked him what he was taking to heart so

sorely, and he answered: 'I have such a great thirst and cannot quench

it; cold water I cannot stand, a barrel of wine I have just emptied, but

that to me is like a drop on a hot stone!'

'There, I can help you,' said Dummling, 'just come with me and you shall

be satisfied.'

He led him into the king's cellar, and the man bent over the huge

barrels, and drank and drank till his loins hurt, and before the day was

out he had emptied all the barrels. Then Dummling asked once more

for his bride, but the king was vexed that such an ugly fellow, whom

everyone called Dummling, should take away his daughter, and he made a

new condition; he must first find a man who could eat a whole mountain

of bread. Dummling did not think long, but went straight into the

forest, where in the same place there sat a man who was tying up his

body with a strap, and making an awful face, and saying: 'I have eaten a

whole ovenful of rolls, but what good is that when one has such a hunger

as I? My stomach remains empty, and I must tie myself up if I am not to

die of hunger.'

At this Dummling was glad, and said: 'Get up and come with me; you shall

eat yourself full.' He led him to the king's palace where all the

flour in the whole Kingdom was collected, and from it he caused a huge

mountain of bread to be baked. The man from the forest stood before it,

began to eat, and by the end of one day the whole mountain had vanished.

Then Dummling for the third time asked for his bride; but the king again

sought a way out, and ordered a ship which could sail on land and on

water. 'As soon as you come sailing back in it,' said he, 'you shall

have my daughter for wife.'

Dummling went straight into the forest, and there sat the little grey

man to whom he had given his cake. When he heard what Dummling wanted,

he said: 'Since you have given me to eat and to drink, I will give you

the ship; and I do all this because you once were kind to me.' Then he

gave him the ship which could sail on land and water, and when the king

saw that, he could no longer prevent him from having his daughter. The

wedding was celebrated, and after the king's death, Dummling inherited

his kingdom and lived for a long time contentedly with his wife.

[*] Simpleton