WEDDING-FEAST OF THE LITTLE PEOPLE
THE little people of the Eilenburg in Saxony had occasion to celebrate a wedding, and. with that intent passed one night through the key-hole and the window-slits into the castle-hall, and jumped down on the smooth level floor like peas on a barn floor. The noise awoke the old count, who was sleeping in the hall in his high four-post bed, and on opening his eyes, he wondered not a little at the sight of such a number of the little fellows.
One of them appareled as a herald came up to him, and addressing him with the utmost courtesy and in very polite terms invited him to share in their festivity. "We, however," added he, "have one request to make, which is, that you alone should be present, and that none of your people should presume to look on with you, or to cast so much as one glance." The old count answered in a friendly tone, "Since you have disturbed my sleep, I will join your company." A little small woman was now introduced to him; little torch-bearers took their places; and cricket-music struck up. The count found great difficulty to keep from losing the little woman in the dance, she jumped away from him so lightly, and at last whirled him about at such a rave that he could with difficulty recover his breath.
But in the very middle of their spritely dance, suddenly all became still, the music ceased, and the whole company hurried to the slits of the doors, mouse-holes, and everywhere else where there was a corner to slip into. The bride-pair, the heralds, and dancers, looked upwards to a hole that was in the ceiling of the hail, and there discovered the face of the old countess, who overflowing with curiosity, was looking down on the joyous assembly. They then bowed themselves before the count, and the person who had invited him stept forward again and thanked him for the hospitality he had shown them: "But," said he, "since our wedding and our festivity has been thus disturbed by another eye gazing on it, your race shall henceforward never count more than seven Eilenburgs." They then pressed out after one another with great speed, and soon all was silent, and the old count alone in the dark ball. The curse has lasted till the present time, and one of six living knights of Eilenburg has always died before the seventh was born. [a]
[a] This tale was orally related to MM. Grimm in Saxony. They do not mention the narrator's rank in life.