THE DWARF IN SEARCH OF LODGING
ONE night, during a tremendous storm of wind and rain, a Dwarf came travelling through a little village, and went from cottage to cottage, dripping with rain, knocking at the doors for admission. None, however, took pity on him, or would open the door to receive him: on the contrary, the inhabitants even mocked at his distress.
At the very end of the village there dwelt two honest poor people, a man and his wife. Tired and faint, the Dwarf crept on his staff up to their house, and tapped modestly three times at the little window. Immediately the old shepherd opened the door for him, and cheerfully offered him the little that the house afforded. The old woman produced some bread, milk, and cheese: the Dwarf sipped a few drops of the milk, and ate some crums of the bread and cheese. "I am not used," said he, laughing, "to eat such coarse food: but I thank you from my heart, and God reward you for it: now that I am rested, I will proceed on farther." "God forbid!" cried the good woman; "you surely don't think of going out in the night and in the storm! It were better for you to take a bed here, and set out in the daylight." But the Dwarf shook his head, and with a smile replied, "You little know what business I have to do this night on the top of the mountain. I have to provide for you too; and to-morrow you shall see that I am not ungrateful for the kindness you have shown to me." So saying, the Dwarf departed, and the worthy old couple went to rest.
But at break of day they were awaked by storm and tempest; the lightnings flashed along the red sky, and torrents of water poured down the hills and through the valley. A huge rock now tumbled from the top of the mountain, and rolled down toward the village, carrying along with it, in its course, trees, stones, and earth. Men and cattle, every thing in the village that had breath in it, were buried beneath it. The waves had now reached the cottage of the two old people, and in terror and dismay they stood out before their door. They then beheld approaching in the middle of the stream a large piece of rock, and on it, jumping merrily, the Dwarf, as if he was riding and steering it with a great trunk of a pine till he brought it before the house, where it stemmed the water and kept it from the cottage, so that both it and the good owners escaped. The Dwarf then swelled and grew higher and higher till he became a monstrous Giant, and vanished in the air, while the old people were praying to God and thanking him for their deiverance. [a]
[a] This story is told of two places in the Highlands of Berning, of Ralligen, a little village on the lake of Thun, where there once stood a town called Roll; and again, of Schillingsdorf, a place in the valley of Grinderwald, formerly destroyed by a mountain slip.
The reader need scarcely be reminded of the stories of Lot and of Baucis and Philemon: see also Grimm's Kinder und Hausmärchen, iii. 153, for other parallels.