The Miser In The Bush

: Grimms' Fairy Tales

A farmer had a faithful and diligent servant, who had worked hard for

him three years, without having been paid any wages. At last it came

into the man's head that he would not go on thus without pay any longer;

so he went to his master, and said, 'I have worked hard for you a long

time, I will trust to you to give me what I deserve to have for my

trouble.' The farmer was a sad miser, and knew that his man was very

le-hearted; so he took out threepence, and gave him for every year's

service a penny. The poor fellow thought it was a great deal of money to

have, and said to himself, 'Why should I work hard, and live here on bad

fare any longer? I can now travel into the wide world, and make myself

merry.' With that he put his money into his purse, and set out, roaming

over hill and valley.

As he jogged along over the fields, singing and dancing, a little dwarf

met him, and asked him what made him so merry. 'Why, what should make

me down-hearted?' said he; 'I am sound in health and rich in purse, what

should I care for? I have saved up my three years' earnings and have it

all safe in my pocket.' 'How much may it come to?' said the little man.

'Full threepence,' replied the countryman. 'I wish you would give them

to me,' said the other; 'I am very poor.' Then the man pitied him, and

gave him all he had; and the little dwarf said in return, 'As you have

such a kind honest heart, I will grant you three wishes--one for every

penny; so choose whatever you like.' Then the countryman rejoiced at

his good luck, and said, 'I like many things better than money: first, I

will have a bow that will bring down everything I shoot at; secondly,

a fiddle that will set everyone dancing that hears me play upon it; and

thirdly, I should like that everyone should grant what I ask.' The dwarf

said he should have his three wishes; so he gave him the bow and fiddle,

and went his way.

Our honest friend journeyed on his way too; and if he was merry before,

he was now ten times more so. He had not gone far before he met an old

miser: close by them stood a tree, and on the topmost twig sat a thrush

singing away most joyfully. 'Oh, what a pretty bird!' said the miser; 'I

would give a great deal of money to have such a one.' 'If that's all,'

said the countryman, 'I will soon bring it down.' Then he took up his

bow, and down fell the thrush into the bushes at the foot of the tree.

The miser crept into the bush to find it; but directly he had got into

the middle, his companion took up his fiddle and played away, and the

miser began to dance and spring about, capering higher and higher in

the air. The thorns soon began to tear his clothes till they all hung

in rags about him, and he himself was all scratched and wounded, so that

the blood ran down. 'Oh, for heaven's sake!' cried the miser, 'Master!

master! pray let the fiddle alone. What have I done to deserve this?'

'Thou hast shaved many a poor soul close enough,' said the other; 'thou

art only meeting thy reward': so he played up another tune. Then the

miser began to beg and promise, and offered money for his liberty; but

he did not come up to the musician's price for some time, and he danced

him along brisker and brisker, and the miser bid higher and higher, till

at last he offered a round hundred of florins that he had in his purse,

and had just gained by cheating some poor fellow. When the countryman

saw so much money, he said, 'I will agree to your proposal.' So he took

the purse, put up his fiddle, and travelled on very pleased with his


Meanwhile the miser crept out of the bush half-naked and in a piteous

plight, and began to ponder how he should take his revenge, and serve

his late companion some trick. At last he went to the judge, and

complained that a rascal had robbed him of his money, and beaten him

into the bargain; and that the fellow who did it carried a bow at his

back and a fiddle hung round his neck. Then the judge sent out his

officers to bring up the accused wherever they should find him; and he

was soon caught and brought up to be tried.

The miser began to tell his tale, and said he had been robbed of

his money. 'No, you gave it me for playing a tune to you.' said the

countryman; but the judge told him that was not likely, and cut the

matter short by ordering him off to the gallows.

So away he was taken; but as he stood on the steps he said, 'My Lord

Judge, grant me one last request.' 'Anything but thy life,' replied the

other. 'No,' said he, 'I do not ask my life; only to let me play upon

my fiddle for the last time.' The miser cried out, 'Oh, no! no! for

heaven's sake don't listen to him! don't listen to him!' But the judge

said, 'It is only this once, he will soon have done.' The fact was, he

could not refuse the request, on account of the dwarf's third gift.

Then the miser said, 'Bind me fast, bind me fast, for pity's sake.' But

the countryman seized his fiddle, and struck up a tune, and at the first

note judge, clerks, and jailer were in motion; all began capering, and

no one could hold the miser. At the second note the hangman let his

prisoner go, and danced also, and by the time he had played the first

bar of the tune, all were dancing together--judge, court, and miser, and

all the people who had followed to look on. At first the thing was merry

and pleasant enough; but when it had gone on a while, and there seemed

to be no end of playing or dancing, they began to cry out, and beg him

to leave off; but he stopped not a whit the more for their entreaties,

till the judge not only gave him his life, but promised to return him

the hundred florins.

Then he called to the miser, and said, 'Tell us now, you vagabond, where

you got that gold, or I shall play on for your amusement only,' 'I stole

it,' said the miser in the presence of all the people; 'I acknowledge

that I stole it, and that you earned it fairly.' Then the countryman

stopped his fiddle, and left the miser to take his place at the gallows.