The rooster said to the hen, "Now's the time the nuts are ripe. Let's go up the hill and for once eat our fill before the squirrel hauls them away."

"All right," responded the hen. "Let's go and have a good time."

They went up the hill, and since it was such a bright cheery day, they stayed till evening. Now, I do not know whether it was because they had stuffed themselves too much, or whether they had become too high and mighty, but they did not want to return home on foot, so the rooster had to build a small carriage out of nut shells. When it was finished, the hen got in and said to the rooster, "Now you can just harness yourself to it."

"You have some nerve!" said the rooster. "I'd rather go home by foot than let myself be harnessed to this carriage. No, that wasn't part of our bargain. I'd gladly be coachman and sit on the box, but I refuse to pull the carriage!"

As they were quarreling, a duck came by quacking "You thieves! Who said you could come up on my nut hill? Just you wait! You'll pay for this!"

She charged the rooster with a wide-open beak, but the rooster was on his toes and threw himself at the duck nice and hard. Then he dug his spurs into her so violently that the duck begged for mercy and willingly let herself be harnessed to the carriage as punishment. Now the rooster sat down on the box as coachman, and when they set out, he shouted, "Giddyap, duck! Run as fast as you can!"

After they had gone some distance, they encountered two travelers on foot, a needle and a pin.

"Stop! Stop!" the two cried out. It would soon be very dark, they said, and they would not be able to go one step further. Besides, the road was dirty. So they asked if they could have a ride. They had been at the tailor's tavern outside the town gate and had had one beer too many, which made them late as well.

Since they were thin and did not take up much room, the rooster let them both get in, but they to promise not to step on his or the hen's feet. Later that evening they came to an inn, and as they did not want to travel any farther, and as they duck was not walking well but was swaying from side to side, they decided to stop there. At first the innkeeper raised a lot of objections and said his inn was already full. Moreover, he thought they were not a very distinguished looking group. However, they used some sweet talk and offered him the egg that the hen had laid along the way and told him he could also keep the duck, who laid an egg a day. So finally he relented and said they could spend the night.

Now they ordered some good hot food and had a merry time of it. Early the next morning, as the sun was rising and everyone was asleep, the rooster woke the hen, fetched the egg, pecked it open, and together they devoured it. After throwing the shells on the hearth, they went to the needle, who was still asleep, grabbed him by the head, and stuck him into the innkeeper's easy chair. Then they stuck the pin into his towel. Finally, without much ado, they flew away over the heath.

The duck, who liked to sleep in the open air and had spent the night in the yard, heard the flapping of their wings. So she roused herself, found a brook, and swam off. That went much faster then being harnessed to a carriage. A few hours later the innkeeper got out of bed, washed himself, and took the towel to dry himself. However, the pin scratched his face, leaving a red mark from ear to ear. Then he went into the kitchen and wanted to light his pipe. But, as he leaned over the hearth, the eggshells popped into his eyes.

"Everything's after my head this morning," he said, and went to sit down in his easy chair to settle his bad mood, but he jumed up immediately and screamed, "Oww!" The needle stuck him worse than the pin and not in the head. Now he was completely angry and suspected the guests who had arrived so late the night before. But when he went looking for them, they were gone. Then he swore he would never again let riffraff stay at his inn, especially when they eat so much, pay nothing, and play mean tricks on top of it all.

-- from The Complete Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm.

Riff"raff` (?), n. [OE. rif and raf every particle, OF. rif et raf. CF. Raff, and 1st Rifle.]

Sweepings; refuse; the lowest order of society.

Beau & Fl.


© Webster 1913.

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