HANS IN LUCK
HANS had served his master seven long years; so he said to him: "Master,
my time is out, and my wish is to return home to my mother: give me, if you please, my
The master answered: "Thou hast truly and faithfully served me; as the
service was, so shall the reward be." And he gave Hans a piece of gold as big as his
Hans pulled out his handkerchief, wrapped up the lump of gold in it, and,
throwing it over his shoulder, made his way home. As he went on his way, always putting
one foot before the other, he met a man galloping briskly along on a fine horse.
"Ah!" said Hans, quite aloud, "what a capital thing it is to
ride ! There you sit as comfortably as in a chair, kicking against no stones, saving your
shoe-leather, and getting to your journey's end almost without knowing it!"
The horseman, who heard this, pulled up and cried, "Hullo, Hans why do you
trudge on foot ?"
"Because I must," answered he; "for I have this big lump to
carry home. It is real gold, you know; but, all the same, I can scarcely hold up my head,
it weighs so terribly on my shoulders."
"I'll tell you what," said the horseman: "we'll just exchange.
I'll give you my horse and you give me your lumpof gold."
"With all my heart!" said Hans. "But I warn you, you'll have a
job to carry it."
The horseman dismounted, took the gold, and helped Hans up; and, giving the
bridle into his hand, said:
"If you want him to go at full speed, you must cluck with your tongue and
cry ' C'ck! c'ck!"'
Hans was heartily delighted, as he sat on his horse and rode gaily along.
After a while he fancied he would like to go faster, so he began. to cluck with
his tongue and cry "C'ck! c'ck!" The horse broke into a smart trot, and before
Hans was aware he was thrown off--splash!--into a ditch which divided the highway from the
fields, and there he lay. The horse, too, would have run away had it not been stopped by a
peasant, as he came along the road, driving his cow before him. Hans pulled himself
together and got upon his legs again.
"It's a poor joke, that riding, especially when one lights upon such a
brute as this, which kicks and throws one off so that one comes near to breaking one's
neck. You don't catch me on his back again. Now, there's more sense in a cow like yours,
behind which you can walk in peace and quietness, besides having your butter, milk, and
cheese every morning for certain. What would I not give for such a cow!"
"Well," said the peasant, "if it would give you so much
pleasure, I will exchange my cow for your horse."
Hans gladly consented, and the peasant flung himself on the horse and rode
Hans drove the cow peacefully along, thinking: "What a lucky fellow I am!
I have just to get a bit of bread (and that isn't a difficult matter) and then, as often
as I like, I can eat my butter and cheese with it. If I am thirsty, I just milk my cow and
drink. What more could I desire?"
When he came to an inn, he made a stop, and in his great joy ate all the food
he had with him right up, both dinner and supper.With his two last farthings, he bought
himself half a glass of beer. Then he drove his cow towards his mother's village.
As the morning went on, the more oppressive the heat became, and Hans found
himself in a field some three miles long. Then he felt so hot that his tongue was parched
with thirst. "This is soon cured," thought Hans. "I have only to milk my
cow, drink, and refresh myself."
He tied the cow to a withered tree, and as he had no pitcher he placed his
leathern cap underneath her; but in spite of all his trouble not a drop of milk could be
got. And he went to work so clumsily that the impatient brute gave him such a kick with
her hind leg that he was knocked over and quite dazed, and for a long time did not know
where he was. Luckily a butcher came by just then, wheeling a young pig in a barrow.
"What kind of joke is this?" cried he, helping our friend Hans to
Hans told him what had happened.
The butcher passed him his bottle and said: "There, drink and revive
yourself. That cow will never give any milk; she is an old animal and, at the best, is
only fit for the plow or the butcher."
"Oho!" said Hans, running his fingers through his hair. "Who
would have thought it? It is all right indeed when you can slaughter such a beast in your
own house. But I don't think much of cow's flesh; it is not tender enough. Now, if one had
a young pig ! That would taste far different, to say nothing of the sausages!"
"Listen, Hans," said the butcher. "For your sake, I will
exchange, and let you have my pig for your cow."
"May Heaven reward your friendship!" said Hans, and at once gave him
The man untied the pig from the wheelbarrow, and gave the rope with which it
Just then, up came a youth, carrying a fine white goose under his arm. They
were friends, and Hans began to talk about his luck and how he always came off best in his
exchanges. The youth told him he was taking the goose to a christening feast.
"Just hold it," he continued, seizing it by the wings, "and feel
how heavy it is: yet it was only fattened for eight weeks. It will be a rich morsel when
"Yes," said Hans, weighing it with his hand, "it is certainly
heavy, but my pig is by no means to be despised."
Meanwhile the lad was looking thoughtfully around, shaking his head.
"Listen," he said, "I don't think it's all right about your pig. In the
village I have just come through, one has lately been stolen from the magistrate's own
sty. I fear it is the one you have. They have sent people out, and it would be a bad
business if they found you with the pig. The least they would do would be to throw you
Our friend Hans was downcast. "Alas," he cried, "help me in my
need ! You know your way here better than I. Take my pig then, and give me your
"I shall be running great risks," said the youth, "but at least
I will prevent your getting into trouble."
He took the rope in his hand and drove the pig quickly away down a by-path, and
Hans went on relieved of his sorrow, towards home, with the goose under his arm.
"What a lucky fellow I am!" he said to himself. "First, I shall
have a good roast; then there is the quantity of dripping that will fall out, which will
keep me in bread-and-dripping for a quarter of a year; and lastly, the splendid white
feathers, with which I will have my pillow stuffed; then I shall fall asleep without
rocking. How glad my mother will be!"
When he was at length come to the village, there stood in the street a
scissors-grinder with his truck. His wheel hummed, and he sang the while:
"My wheel I turn, and the scissors I grind, And my cloak hangs flowing
free in the wind."
Hans remained standing, and watched him; at length he spoke to him, and said'
"You must be doing well since you are so merry over your grinding. ' '
"Yes," said the scissors-grinder; "the work has gold at the
bottom of it. A proper scissors-grinder is the sort of man who, whenever he puts his hand
in his pocket, finds money there.. But where have you bought that fine goose ?"
"I did not buy it, but exchanged it for my pig."
"Why, that was my reward for seven years of service." "You have certainly done well for yourself each time," said the scissors-grinder. "If you could only hear money rattling in your pocket every time you got up, your fortune would be made."
"How shall I set about it?" said Hans.
"You must become a grinder, like me. All you want is a grindstone: the
rest comes of itself. I have one which is a little damaged indeed, but for which I would
ask nothing more than your goose; would that suit you?"
"How can you ask me?" answered Hans. "I shall be the luckiest
fellow on earth. If I have money as often as I feel in my pocket, what else shall I have
to care about ?" And he handed over the goose, and took the grindstone in receipt.
"Now," said the grinder, lifting up an ordinary heavy fieldstone,
which lay beside him. "There you have a capital stone, which will be just the thing
to hammer your old nails straight upon. Take it and lift it up carefully."
Hans raised the stone and marched on with a joyful heart, his eyes shining with
Meanwhile, having been on his legs since daybreak, he began to feel tired;
besides which, he was tormented by hunger, for he had eaten up all his provision in his
joy over the exchange of the cow. At length he could only proceed with great trouble and
must needs stop every
Like a snail he crept up to a well, wishing to rest himself and enjoy a
refreshing drink.In order not to spoil the stones in setting them down, he laid them
carefully on the ground one beside the other, and bent himself down to drink, but by an
accident he gave them a little push, and both stones went splashing down. Hans, when he
saw them sinking in the depths of the well, jumped up with joy, kneeled down and thanked
God, with tears in his eyes, that He had shown him this grace and, without troubling him
to think what to do with them, had relieved him of the heavy stones which would have been
such a hindrance to him.
"There is no man under the sun," he cried out, "so lucky as
With a bright heart and free from all care, he sprang upon
his way, until he was home at his mother's.
FROM THE BOOK:
<THE YOUNG FOLKS TREASURY>
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