The Golden Goose

The Golden Goose - The Golden Goose

There was once a man who had three sons, the youngest of whom was called the Simpleton, and was despised, laughed at, and neglected, on every occasion, by his brothers.

It happened one day that the eldest son wished to go into the forest to cut wood, and before he went his mother gave him a delicious cake and a flask of wine. When he came into the forest a little old grey man met him, who wished him good day, and said,
“Give me a bit of your cake, and let me have a drink of your wine; I am so hungry and thirsty.”
But the youth answered,
“Give you my cake and my wine? I haven’t got any; be off with you.”
And leaving the little man standing there, he went off. Then he began to fell a tree, but he had not been at it long before he made a wrong stroke, and the hatchet hit him in the arm, so that he was obliged to go home and get it bound up. That was what came of the little grey man.

Afterwards the second son went into the wood, and the mother gave to him, as to the eldest, a cake and a flask of wine. The little old grey man met him also, and begged for a little bit of cake and a drink of wine. But the second son spoke out plainly, saying,
“What I give you I lose myself, so be off with you.”
And leaving the little man standing there, he went off. The punishment followed; as he was chopping away at the tree, he hit himself in the leg so severely that he had to be carried home.

Then said the Simpleton,
“Father, let me go for once into the forest to cut wood;” and the father answered, “Your brothers have hurt themselves by so doing; give it up, you understand nothing about it.”
But the Simpleton went on begging so long, that the father said at last,
“Well, be off with you; you will only learn by experience.”
The mother gave him a cake and with it a flask of sour beer. When he came into the forest the little old grey man met him, and greeted him, saying,
“Give me a bit of your cake, and a drink from your flask; I am so hungry and thirsty.”
And the Simpleton answered, “I have only a flour and water cake and sour beer; but if that is good enough for you, let us sit down together and eat.” Then they sat down, and as the Simpleton took out his flour and water cake it became a rich cake, and his sour beer became good wine; then they ate and drank, and afterwards the little man said,
“As you have such a kind heart, and share what you have so willingly, I will bestow good luck upon you. Yonder stands an old tree; cut it down, and at its roots you will find something,” and thereupon the little man took his departure.

The Simpleton went there, and hewed away at the tree, and when it fell he saw, sitting among the roots, a goose with feathers of pure gold. He was very happy to see that and he lifted it out and took it with him to an inn where he intended to stay the night.

The landlord had three daughters who, when they saw the goose, were curious to know what wonderful kind of bird it was, and ended by longing for one of its golden feathers. The eldest thought, “I will wait for a good opportunity, and then I will pull out one of its feathers for myself;” and so, when the Simpleton was gone out, she seized the goose by its wing—but there her finger and hand had to stay, held fast. Soon after came the second sister with the same idea of plucking out one of the golden feathers for herself; but scarcely had she touched her sister, than she also was obliged to stay, held fast. Lastly came the third with the same intentions; but the others screamed out,
“Stay away! for heaven’s sake stay away!”
But she did not see why she should stay away, and thought, “If they do so, why should not I?” and went towards them. But when she reached her sisters there she stopped, hanging on with them. And so they had to stay, all night.

The next morning the Simpleton took the goose under his arm and went away, unmindful of the three girls that hung on to it. The three had always to run after him, left and right, wherever his legs carried him. In the midst of the fields they met the parson, who, when he saw the procession, said,
“Shame on you, girls, running after a young fellow through the fields like this,” and forthwith he seized hold of the youngest by the hand to drag her away, but hardly had he touched her when he too was obliged to run after them himself.

Not long after the Bishop came that way, and seeing the respected parson following at the heels of the three girls, he called out,
“Ho, your reverence, whither away so quickly? You forget that we have another christening to-day;” and he seized hold of him by his hand; but no sooner had he touched him than he was obliged to follow on too. As the five tramped on, one after another, two peasants came up from the fields, and the parson cried out to them, and begged them to come and set him and the Bishop free, but no sooner had they touched the Bishop than they had to follow on too; and now there were seven following the Simpleton and the goose.
By and by they came to a town where a king reigned, who had an only daughter who was so serious that no one could make her laugh; therefore the king had given out that whoever should make her laugh should have her in marriage.

The Simpleton, when he heard this, went with his goose and his hangers-on into the presence of the king’s daughter, and as soon as she saw the seven people following always one after the other, she found that so funny that she burst out laughing, and seemed as if she could never stop.

And so the Simpleton earned a right to her as his bride. The marriage took place immediately, and at the death of the king the Simpleton possessed the kingdom, and lived long and happily with his wife.