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THE GOLDEN GOOSE
There was a man who had three sons, the youngest of whom was called
Dummling,[*] and was despised, mocked, and sneered at on every occasion.
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 he met 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 clever son 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
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 sensibly enough: '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 blows
at the tree he struck himself in the leg, so that he had to be carried
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 little 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 feathers.
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 finger 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
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 on to it.
They were obliged to run after him continually, now left, now right,
wherever his legs took him.
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 behind.
Before long the sexton came by and saw his master, the parson, running
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 today!' 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 stop. Thereupon Dummling asked to have her for his wife;
but the king did not like the son-in-law, and made all manner of excuses
and said he must first produce a man who could drink a cellarful of wine.
Dummling thought of the little grey man, who could certainly help him; so
he went into the forest, and in the same place where he had felled the
tree, he saw a man sitting, who had a very sorrowful face. Dummling asked
him what he was taking to heart so sorely, and he answered: 'I have such a
great thirst and cannot quench it; cold water I cannot stand, a barrel of
wine I have just emptied, but that to me is like a drop on a hot stone!'
'There, I can help you,' said Dummling, 'just come with me and you shall
He led him into the king's cellar, and the man bent over the huge barrels,
and drank and drank till his loins hurt, and before the day was out he had
emptied all the barrels. Then Dummling asked once more for his bride, but
the king was vexed that such an ugly fellow, whom everyone called
Dummling, should take away his daughter, and he made a new condition; he
must first find a man who could eat a whole mountain of bread. Dummling
did not think long, but went straight into the forest, where in the same
place there sat a man who was tying up his body with a strap, and making
an awful face, and saying: 'I have eaten a whole ovenful of rolls, but
what good is that when one has such a hunger as I? My stomach remains
empty, and I must tie myself up if I am not to die of hunger.'
At this Dummling was glad, and said: 'Get up and come with me; you shall
eat yourself full.' He led him to the king's palace where all the flour in
the whole Kingdom was collected, and from it he caused a huge mountain of
bread to be baked. The man from the forest stood before it, began to eat,
and by the end of one day the whole mountain had vanished. Then Dummling
for the third time asked for his bride; but the king again sought a way
out, and ordered a ship which could sail on land and on water. 'As soon as
you come sailing back in it,' said he, 'you shall have my daughter for
Dummling went straight into the forest, and there sat the little grey man
to whom he had given his cake. When he heard what Dummling wanted, he
said: 'Since you have given me to eat and to drink, I will give you the
ship; and I do all this because you once were kind to me.' Then he gave
him the ship which could sail on land and water, and when the king saw
that, he could no longer prevent him from having his daughter. The wedding
was celebrated, and after the king's death, Dummling inherited his kingdom
and lived for a long time contentedly with his wife.