The Golden Goose (Золотой гусь)
THERE was a man who had three sons.
The youngest was called Dummling, and was on all occasions despised and ill-treated by the whole family.
It happened that the eldest took it into his head one day to go into the wood to cut fuel;
and his mother gave him a delicious pasty and a bottle of wine to take with him, that he might refresh himself at his work.
As he went into the wood, a little old man bid him good day, and said, ‘Give me a little piece of meat from your plate, and a little wine out of your bottle;
I am very hungry and thirsty.’
But this clever young man said,.
‘Give you my meat and wine!
No, I thank you;
I should not have enough left for myself:’ and away he went.
He soon began to cut down a tree;
but he had not worked long before he missed, his stroke, and cut himself and was obliged to go home to have the wound dressed.
Now it was the little old man that caused him this mischief.
Next went out the second son to work;
and his mother gave him too a pasty and a bottle of wine.
And the same little old man met him also, and asked him for something to eat and drink.
But he too thought himself vastly clever, and said, ‘Whatever you get, I shall lose;
so go your way!’
The little man took care that be should have his reward;
and the second stroke that he aimed against a tree, hit him on the leg;
so that he too was forced to.
Then Dummling said, ‘Father, I should like to go and cut wood too.’
But his father answered, ‘Your brothers have both lamed themselves;
you bad better stay at home, for you know nothing of the business.’
But Dummling was very pressing;
and at last his father said, ‘Go your way;
you will be wiser when you have suffered for your folly.’
And his mother gave him only some dry bread, and a bottle of sour beer;
but when he went into the wood, he met the little old man, who said, ‘Give me some meat and drink, for I am very hungry and thirsty.’
Dummling said, ‘I have only dry bread and sour beer;
if that will suit you, we will sit down and eat it together.’
So they sat down;
and when the lad pulled out his bread, behold it was turned into a capital pasty, and his sour beer became delightful wine.
They ate and drank heartily;
and when they had done, the little man laid, ‘As you have a kind heart, and have been willing to share every thing with me, I will send a blessing upon you.
There stands an old free;
cut it down, and you will find something at the root.’
Then he took his leave, and went his way.
Dummling set to work, and cut down the tree;
and when it fell, he found a hollow under the roots a goose with feathers of pure gold.
He took it up, and went on to an inn, where he proposed to sleep for the night.
The landlord had three daughters;
and when they saw the goose, they were very curious to examine what this wonderful bird could be, and wished very much to pluck one of the feathers out of its tail.
At last the eldest said, ‘I must and will have a feather’ So she waited till his back was turned, and then seized the goose by the wing;
but to her great surprise there she stuck, for neither hand nor finger could she get away again.
Presently in came the second sister, and thought to have a feather too;
but the moment she touched her sister, there she too hung fast.
At last came the third, and wanted a feather;
but the other two cried out, ‘Keep away!
for heaven’s sakes keep away!’
However, she did not understand what they meant ‘If they are there,’ thought she, ‘I may as well be there too.’
So she went up to them;
but the moment she touched her sisters she stuck fast, and hung to the goose as they did.
And so they kept company with the goose all night.
The next morning Dummling carried off the goose under his arm;
and took no notice of the three girls, but went out with them sticking fast behind;
and wherever he travelled, they too were obliged to follow, whether they would or no, as fast as their legs could carry them.
In the middle of a field the parson met them;
and when he saw the train, he said, ‘Are you not ashamed of yourselves, you bold girls, to run after the young man in that way over the fields?
Is that proper behaviour?’
Then he took the youngest by the band to lead her away;
but the moment he touched her he too hung fast, and followed in the train.
Presently up came the clerk;
and when he saw his master the parson running after the three girls, he wondered greatly, and said, ‘Hollo!
whither so fast?
there is a christening to-day.’
Then be ran up, and took him by the gown, and in a moment he was fast too.
As the five were thus trudging along, one behind another, they met two labourers with their mattocks coming from work;
and the parson cried out to them to set him free.
But scarcely had they touched him, when they too fell into the ranks, and so made seven, all running after Dummling and his goose.
At last they arrived at a city, where reigned a king who had an only daughter.
The princess was of so thoughtful and serious a turn of mind that no one could make her laugh;
and the king had proclaimed to all the world, that whoever could make her laugh should have her for his wife.
When the young man beard this, he went to her with his goose and all its train;
and as soon as she saw the seven all hanging together, and running about, treading on each other’s heels, she could not help bursting into a long and loud laugh.
Then Dummling claimed her for his wife;
the wedding was celebrated, and he was heir to the kingdom, and lived long and happily with his wife.