The Golden Goose
T HERE was a man who had three sons, the youngest of whom was called Dunderhead, and was despised, mocked, and put down on every occasion.
It happened, that the eldest wanted to go into the forest to hew wood. Before he went his mother gave him a beautiful sweet cake and a bottle of wine, that he might not suffer from hunger or thirst.
When he entered the forest, there met him a little old Gray 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 he had to go home and have it bound up. And this was the little Gray 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 Gray 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 he had to be carried home.
Then Dunderhead said, "Father, do let me go and cut wood."
The father answered, "Your brothers have hurt themselves doing so. Leave it alone. You do not understand anything about it."
But Dunderhead begged so long that at last he said, "God 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 Gray 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."
Dunderhead 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 Dunderhead 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.
Dunderhead 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 each wanted one of its feathers.
The eldest thought, "I shall soon find an opportunity of pulling out a feather," and when Dunderhead was gone out, she sized the Goose by the wing. But her finger and hand remained sticking fast to it.
The second came in soon afterward, thinking only of how she might get a feather for herself, but she had scarcely touched her sister than she was held fast.
At last, the third came with the like intent, and the others screamed out, "Keep away! For goodness' sake keep away!"
But she did not understand why she as 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, Dunderhead took the Goose under his arm and set out, without troubling himself about the three girls who were hanging on to it. They were obliged to run after him, 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 obliged to run behind. 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.
While the five were trotting thus one behind the other, two laborers 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 Dunderhead and the Goose.
Soon afterward, 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 make her laugh should marry her. When Dunderhead heard this, he went with his Goose and all her train before the King's Daughter.
As soon as she saw the seven people running on and on, one behind the other, she began to laugh very loudly as if she would never leave off. Thereupon Dunderhead asked to have her for his wife, and the wedding was celebrated.
After the King's death, Dunderhead inherited the Kingdom, and lived a long time contentedly with his wife.