The Turnip

: Grimms' Fairy Tales

There were two brothers who were both soldiers; the one was rich and

the other poor. The poor man thought he would try to better himself; so,

pulling off his red coat, he became a gardener, and dug his ground well,

and sowed turnips.

When the seed came up, there was one plant bigger than all the rest; and

it kept getting larger and larger, and seemed as if it would never cease

growing; so that it might ha
e been called the prince of turnips for

there never was such a one seen before, and never will again. At last it

was so big that it filled a cart, and two oxen could hardly draw it; and

the gardener knew not what in the world to do with it, nor whether it

would be a blessing or a curse to him. One day he said to himself, 'What

shall I do with it? if I sell it, it will bring no more than another;

and for eating, the little turnips are better than this; the best thing

perhaps is to carry it and give it to the king as a mark of respect.'

Then he yoked his oxen, and drew the turnip to the court, and gave it

to the king. 'What a wonderful thing!' said the king; 'I have seen many

strange things, but such a monster as this I never saw. Where did you

get the seed? or is it only your good luck? If so, you are a true child

of fortune.' 'Ah, no!' answered the gardener, 'I am no child of fortune;

I am a poor soldier, who never could get enough to live upon; so I

laid aside my red coat, and set to work, tilling the ground. I have a

brother, who is rich, and your majesty knows him well, and all the world

knows him; but because I am poor, everybody forgets me.'

The king then took pity on him, and said, 'You shall be poor no

longer. I will give you so much that you shall be even richer than your

brother.' Then he gave him gold and lands and flocks, and made him so

rich that his brother's fortune could not at all be compared with his.

When the brother heard of all this, and how a turnip had made the

gardener so rich, he envied him sorely, and bethought himself how he

could contrive to get the same good fortune for himself. However, he

determined to manage more cleverly than his brother, and got together a

rich present of gold and fine horses for the king; and thought he must

have a much larger gift in return; for if his brother had received so

much for only a turnip, what must his present be wroth?

The king took the gift very graciously, and said he knew not what to

give in return more valuable and wonderful than the great turnip; so

the soldier was forced to put it into a cart, and drag it home with him.

When he reached home, he knew not upon whom to vent his rage and spite;

and at length wicked thoughts came into his head, and he resolved to

kill his brother.

So he hired some villains to murder him; and having shown them where to

lie in ambush, he went to his brother, and said, 'Dear brother, I have

found a hidden treasure; let us go and dig it up, and share it between

us.' The other had no suspicions of his roguery: so they went out

together, and as they were travelling along, the murderers rushed out

upon him, bound him, and were going to hang him on a tree.

But whilst they were getting all ready, they heard the trampling of a

horse at a distance, which so frightened them that they pushed their

prisoner neck and shoulders together into a sack, and swung him up by a

cord to the tree, where they left him dangling, and ran away. Meantime

he worked and worked away, till he made a hole large enough to put out

his head.

When the horseman came up, he proved to be a student, a merry fellow,

who was journeying along on his nag, and singing as he went. As soon as

the man in the sack saw him passing under the tree, he cried out, 'Good

morning! good morning to thee, my friend!' The student looked about

everywhere; and seeing no one, and not knowing where the voice came

from, cried out, 'Who calls me?'

Then the man in the tree answered, 'Lift up thine eyes, for behold here

I sit in the sack of wisdom; here have I, in a short time, learned great

and wondrous things. Compared to this seat, all the learning of the

schools is as empty air. A little longer, and I shall know all that man

can know, and shall come forth wiser than the wisest of mankind. Here

I discern the signs and motions of the heavens and the stars; the laws

that control the winds; the number of the sands on the seashore; the

healing of the sick; the virtues of all simples, of birds, and of

precious stones. Wert thou but once here, my friend, though wouldst feel

and own the power of knowledge.

The student listened to all this and wondered much; at last he said,

'Blessed be the day and hour when I found you; cannot you contrive to

let me into the sack for a little while?' Then the other answered, as if

very unwillingly, 'A little space I may allow thee to sit here, if thou

wilt reward me well and entreat me kindly; but thou must tarry yet an

hour below, till I have learnt some little matters that are yet unknown

to me.'

So the student sat himself down and waited a while; but the time hung

heavy upon him, and he begged earnestly that he might ascend forthwith,

for his thirst for knowledge was great. Then the other pretended to give

way, and said, 'Thou must let the sack of wisdom descend, by untying

yonder cord, and then thou shalt enter.' So the student let him down,

opened the sack, and set him free. 'Now then,' cried he, 'let me ascend

quickly.' As he began to put himself into the sack heels first, 'Wait a

while,' said the gardener, 'that is not the way.' Then he pushed him

in head first, tied up the sack, and soon swung up the searcher after

wisdom dangling in the air. 'How is it with thee, friend?' said he,

'dost thou not feel that wisdom comes unto thee? Rest there in peace,

till thou art a wiser man than thou wert.'

So saying, he trotted off on the student's nag, and left the poor fellow

to gather wisdom till somebody should come and let him down.