The Golden Goose

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The Golden Goose

     There was a man who had three sons, the youngest of whom was called
Dummling,[1] and was despised, mocked, and put down on every occasion.

[1: Simpleton.]

     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, there met him a little grey-haired old 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 prudent youth 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 with much reason, "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 strokes 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 old 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

     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 fingers 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

     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 to it. They
were obliged to run after him continually, now left, now right, just as he was
inclined to go.

     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

     Before long the sexton came by and saw his master, the parson, running on
foot 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
to-day!" 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 leave off. Thereupon Dummling asked to have her for his wife, and the
wedding was celebrated. After the King's death Dummling inherited the kingdom,
and lived a long time contentedly with his wife.