Gateway to the Classics: Fairy Stories and Fables by James Baldwin
Fairy Stories and Fables by  James Baldwin

The Three Goats Named Bruse

Three goats once lived together on a mountain, and every one of them was named Bruse. It was hard for them to find enough to eat, for there were no trees there, and only a few blades of grass grew among the cracks and crevices of the rocks.

"What a fine pasture that must be on the other mountain beyond the waterfall!" said the great goat Bruse one morning.

"Yes," said his brother, the second goat Bruse, "you can see the green grass plainly. It makes my mouth water only to look at it; and it is all going to waste, for there is not a goat there to eat it."

"I mean to get my dinner there this very day," said the little goat Bruse; and he held his head very high.

"So will we, little brother," said the other two goats. "But since you cannot eat so fast as we, you may go first, and we will follow after."

Now, the only way by which they could reach the other mountain was to cross a high bridge over the waterfall. Under this bridge, among the rocks and the spray, there lived a great ugly fairy called a Troll, with eyes as big as frying pans and a nose as long as a broomstick. But the little goat Bruse knew nothing about the Troll; he only saw the green grass on the side of the mountain, and he never thought of any danger on the way. When he came to the bridge he looked neither to the right nor to the left, but walked bravely along.

"Trip trap, trip trap, trip trap," said the bridge, as he went over.

"Who trips on my bridge?" cried the Troll.

"Oh, it's only the little goat Bruse. I am going over to the other mountain to get my dinner and grow fat," said the goat, in a soft voice.

"No, you won't," said the Troll, "for I am going to eat you up;" and he began to stir from his place by the side of the waterfall.

"Oh! now, please don't hurt me, for I am so little," said the goat; "but if you will wait a while, the second goat Bruse will soon come this way and he is much bigger."

"Very well," said the Troll; "you may pass."

In about an hour the second goat Bruse came down to cross the bridge. He held his head up very high, and looked neither to the right nor to the left.

"Trap trap, trap trap, trap trap," said the bridge.

"Who is it that trap-traps over my bridge?" asked the Troll. "Oh, it is only the second goat Bruse. I am going across to the other mountain to eat grass and grow fat," said the goat, trying to make his harsh voice sound weak and piping.

"No, you are not," said the Troll, "for I am going to eat you up;" and he made a great noise in the water about him.

"Oh! please don't," said the goat, "for I would hardly make you a good mouthful. Wait a little while, and then the great goat Bruse will come this way; he is ever so much bigger than I am."

"Very well," said the Troll; "you may pass."

In a few minutes the great goat Bruse came down, and walked boldly upon the bridge.

"Trap trop, trap trop, trap trop—ah!" said the bridge. For the goat was so heavy that the boards creaked and cracked under him.

"Who goes tramping on my bridge?" cried the Troll.

"It is I, the great goat Bruse," said the goat, in a very coarse tone of voice. "I am going over to the other mountain to eat up all your grass."

"No, you are not," said the Troll, making a great stir in the waterfall; "for it is I that am going to eat you. I am after you now!"

"Well, then, come on," said the goat, "and I'll give you a taste of my two spears."

And as soon as the Troll lifted his head above the sides of the bridge, the great goat Bruse rushed upon him, and thrust out his eyes with his horns, and broke his bones, and tossed him back into the deep, cold water below. Then he went on, over to the other mountain.


The three goats named Bruse found more green grass than they could eat in many a day, and they grew so fat that they never cared to cross the bridge over the waterfall again. And if they have not lost their fat, they are still as fat as ever.

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