TO KNOW HOW TO SHUDDER
A certain father had two sons, the elder of whom was smart and sensible, and could do everything, but the younger was stupid and could neither learn nor understand anything, and when people saw him they said 'there's a fellow who will give his father some trouble.' When anything had to be done, it was always the elder who was forced to do it, but if his father bade him fetch anything when it was late, or in the night-time, and the way led through the churchyard, or any other dismal place, he answered 'oh, no, father, I'll not go there, it makes me shudder.' For he was afraid. Or when stories were told by the fire at night which made the flesh creep, the listeners sometimes said 'oh, it makes us shudder.' The younger sat in a corner and listened with the rest of them, and could not imagine what they could mean. 'They are always saying 'it makes me shudder, it makes me shudder, it does not make me shudder.' Thought he. 'That, too, must be an art of which I understand nothing.'
Now it came to pass that his father said to him one day 'hearken to me, you fellow in the corner there, you are growing tall and strong, and you too must learn something by which you can earn your bread. Look how your brother works, but you do not even earn your salt.' 'Well, father, he replied, 'I am quite willing to learn something indeed, if it could but be managed, I should like to learn how to shudder. I don't understand that at all yet.' The elder brother smiled when he heard that, and thought to himself 'good God, what a blockhead that brother of mine is. He will never be good for anything as long as he lives. He who wants to be a sickle must bend himself betimes.' The father sighed, and answered him 'you shall soon learn what it is to shudder, but you will not earn your bread by that.'
Soon after this the sexton came to the house on a visit,
and the father bewailed his trouble, and told him how his younger son was so backward in
every respect that he knew nothing and learnt nothing. 'Just think, said he, 'when I asked
him how he was going to earn his bread, he actually wanted to learn to shudder.' 'If that
be all, replied the sexton, 'he can learn that with me. Send him to me, and I will soon
polish him.' The father was glad to do it, for he thought 'it will train the boy a
little.' The sexton therefore took him into his house, and he had to ring the church bell.
After a day or two, the sexton awoke him at midnight, and bade him arise and go up into
the church tower and ring the bell. 'You shall soon learn what shuddering is, thought he,
and secretly went there before him, and when the boy was at the top of the tower and
turned round, and was just going to take hold of the bell rope, he saw a white figure
The sexton, however, remained standing motionless that the boy might think he was a ghost. The boy cried a second time 'what do you want here. Speak if you are an honest fellow, or I will throw you down the steps.' The sexton thought 'he can't mean to be as bad as his words, uttered no sound and stood as if he were made of stone. Then the boy called to him for the third time, and as that was also to no purpose, he ran against him and pushed the ghost down the stairs, so that it fell down ten steps and remained lying there in a corner. Thereupon he rang the bell, went home, and without saying a word went to bed, and fell asleep.
The sexton's wife waited a long time for her husband, but
he did not come back. At length she became uneasy, and wakened the boy, and asked 'do you
not know where my husband is. He climbed up the tower before you did.' 'No, I don't know,
She carried him down, and then with loud screams she hastened to the boy's father. 'Your boy, cried she, 'has been the cause of a great misfortune. He has thrown my husband down the steps so that he broke his leg. Take the good-for-nothing fellow out of our house.'
The father was terrified, and ran thither and scolded the boy. 'What wicked tricks are these.' Said he, 'the devil must have put them into your head.' 'Father, he replied, 'do listen to me. I am quite innocent. He was standing there by night like one intent on doing evil. I did not know who it was, and I entreated him three times either to speak or to go away.' 'Ah, said the father, 'I have nothing but unhappiness with you. Go out of my sight. I will see you no more.'
'Yes, father, right willingly, wait only until it is day.
Then will I go forth and learn how to shudder, and then I shall, at any rate, understand
one art which will support me.' 'Learn what you will, spoke the father, 'it is all the
same to me. Here are fifty talers
When day dawned, therefore, the boy put his fifty talers
into his pocket, and went forth on the great highway, and continually said to himself 'if
I could but shudder. If I could but shudder.' Then a man approached who heard this
conversation which the youth was holding with himself, and when they had walked a little
farther to where they
Then the youth went to the gallows, sat down beneath it,
and waited till evening came. And as he was cold, he lighted himself a fire, but at
midnight the wind blew so sharply that in spite of his fire, he could not get warm. And as
the wind knocked the hanged men against each other, and they moved backwards and forwards,
he thought to himself 'if you shiver below by the fire, how those up above must freeze and
suffer.' And as he felt pity for them, he raised the ladder, and climbed up, unbound one
A waggoner who was striding behind him heard this and
asked 'who are you.' 'I don't know, answered the youth. Then the waggoner asked 'from
whence do you come.' 'I know not.' 'Who is your father.' 'That I may not tell you.' 'What
is it that you are always muttering between your teeth.' 'Ah, replied the youth, 'I do so
wish I could shudder, but no one can teach me how.' 'Enough of your foolish chatter, said
the waggoner. 'Come, go with me, I will see about a place for you.' The youth went with
He let the host have no rest, until the latter told him,
that not far from thence stood a haunted castle where any one could very easily learn what
shuddering was, if he
Then the youth went next morning to the king and said 'if
it be allowed, I will willingly watch three nights in the haunted castle.' The king looked
at him, and as the youth pleased him, he said 'you may ask for three things to take into
the castle with you,
When night was drawing near, the youth went up and made
himself a bright fire in one of the rooms, placed the cutting-board and knife beside it,
and seated himself by the turning-lathe. 'Ah, if I could but shudder.' Said he, 'but I
shall not learn it here either.'
Towards midnight he was about to poke his fire, and as he
was blowing it, something cried suddenly from one corner 'au, miau. How cold we are.' 'You
fools.' Cried he, 'what are you crying about. If you are cold, come and take a seat by the
fire and warm yourselves.' And when he had said that, two great black cats came with one
tremendous leap and sat down on each side of him, and looked savagely at him with
He watched them for a while quietly, but at last when they were going too far, he seized his cutting-knife, and cried 'away with you, vermin, and began to cut them down. Some of them ran away, the others he killed, and threw out into the fish-pond. When he came back he fanned the embers of his fire again and warmed himself. And as he thus sat, his eyes would keep open no longer, and he felt a desire to sleep. Then he looked round and saw a great bed in the corner. 'That is the very thing for me, said he, and got into it. When he was just going to shut his eyes, however, the bed began to move of its own accord, and went over the whole of the castle. 'That's right, said he, 'but go faster.' Then the bed rolled on as if six horses were harnessed to it, up and down, over thresholds and stairs, but suddenly hop, hop, it turned over upside down, and lay on him like a mountain. But he threw quilts and pillows up in the air, got out and said 'now any one who likes, may drive, and lay down by his fire, and slept till it was day.
In the morning the king came, and when he saw him lying there on the ground, he thought the evil spirits had killed him and he was dead. Then said he 'after all it is a pity, for so handsome a man.' The youth heard it, got up, and said 'it has not come to that yet.' Then the king was astonished, but very glad, and asked how he had fared. 'Very well indeed, answered he, 'one night is past, the two others will pass likewise.' Then he went to the innkeeper, who opened his eyes very wide, and said 'I never expected to see you alive again. Have you learnt how to shudder yet.' 'No, said he, 'it is all in vain. If some one would but tell me.'
The second night he again went up into the old castle,
sat down by the fire, and once more began his old song 'if I could but shudder.' When
midnight came, an uproar and noise of tumbling about was heard, at first it was low, but
it grew louder and louder. Then it was quiet for a while, and at length with a loud
scream, half a man came down
When he had done that and looked round again, the two
pieces were joined together, and a hideous man was sitting in his place. 'That is no part
of our bargain, said the youth, 'the bench is mine.' The man wanted to push him away, the
youth, however, would not allow that, but thrust him off with all his strength, and seated
himself again in his own place. Then still more men fell down, one after the other, they
brought nine dead men's legs and two skulls, and set them up and played at nine-pins with
them. The youth also wanted to play and said 'listen you, can I join you.' 'Yes, if you
have any money.' Money enough, replied he, 'but your balls are not quite round.' Then he
took the skulls and put them in the lathe and turned them till they were round. 'There,
now they will roll better.' Said he. 'Hurrah. Now we'll have fun.' He played with them
Next morning the king came to inquire after him. 'How has it fared with you this time.' Asked he. 'I have been playing at nine-pins, he answered, 'and have lost a couple of farthings.' 'Have you not shuddered then.' 'What.' Said he, 'I have had a wonderful time. If I did but know what it was to shudder.'
The third night he sat down again on his bench and said
quite sadly 'if I could but shudder.' When it grew late, six tall men came in and brought
a coffin. Then said he 'ha, ha, that is certainly my little cousin, who died only a few
days ago, and he beckoned with his finger, and cried 'come, little cousin, come.' They
placed the coffin on the ground, but he went to it and took the lid off, and a dead man
lay therein. He felt his face, but it was cold as ice. 'Wait, said he, 'I will warm you a
little, and went to the fire and warmed his hand and laid it on the dead man's face, but
he remained cold. Then he took him out, and sat down by the fire and laid him on his
breast and rubbed his arms that the blood might circulate again. As this also did no good,
he thought to himself 'when two people lie in bed together, they warm each other, and
carried him to the bed, covered him over and lay down by him. After a short time the dead
man became warm too, and began to move. Then said the youth, 'see, little cousin, have I
not warmed you.' The dead man, however, got up and cried 'now will I strangle you.'
'What.' Said he, 'is that the way you thank me. You shall at once go into your coffin
again, and he took him up, threw him into it, and shut the lid. Then came the six men and
carried him away again. 'I cannot manage to shudder, said he. 'I shall never learn
Then he led him by dark passages to a smith's forge, took
an axe, and with one blow struck an anvil into the ground. 'I can do better than that,
said the youth, and went to the other anvil. The old man placed himself near and wanted to
look on, and his white
In the meantime it struck twelve, and the spirit
disappeared, so that the youth stood in darkness. 'I shall still be able to find my way
out, said he and felt about, found the way into the room, and slept there by his fire.
Next morning the king came and said 'now you must have learnt what shuddering is.' 'No, he
answered 'what can it be. My dead cousin was here, and a bearded man came and showed me a
great deal of money down below, but no one told me what it was to shudder.' 'Then, said
the king, 'you have saved the castle, and shall marry my daughter.' 'That is all very
well, said he, 'but still I do not know what it is to shudder.' Then the gold was brought
up and the wedding
At night when the young king was sleeping, his wife was
to draw the clothes off him and empty the bucketful of cold water with the gudgeons in it
over him, so that the little fishes would sprawl about him. Then he woke up and cried 'oh,
what makes me shudder so. - What makes me shudder so, dear wife. Ah. Now I know what it is