A fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm
There was once a peasant who had driven his cow to the fair, and sold
her for seven talers. On the way home he had to pass a pond, and
already from afar he heard the frogs crying, "aik, aik, aik, aik".
"Well," said he to himself, "they are talking without rhyme or reason,
it is seven that I have received, not eight." When he got to the
water, he cried to them, "Stupid animals that you are, don't you know
better than that? It is seven talers and not eight." The frogs,
however, stuck to their "aik aik, aik, aik".
"Come, then, if you won't
believe it, I can count it out to you." And he took his money out of
his pocket and counted out the seven talers, always reckoning four
and twenty groschen to a taler. The frogs, however, paid no
attention to his reckoning, but still cried "aik, aik, aik, aik".
"What!" cried the peasant, quite angry, "if you know better than I,
count it yourselves," and threw all the money at them into the water.
He stood still and wanted to wait until they were through and had
returned to him what was his, but the frogs maintained their opinion
and cried continually "aik, aik, aik, aik". And besides that, did not
throw the money out again.
He still waited a long while until
evening came on and he was forced to go home. Then he abused the
frogs and cried, "You water-splashers, you thick-heads, you
goggle-eyes, you have great mouths and can screech till you hurt
one's ears, but you cannot count seven talers. Do you think I'm
going to stand here till you get through?" And with that he went
away, but the frogs still cried "aik, aik, aik, aik," after him till
he went home sorely vexed. After a while he bought another cow, which
he slaughtered, and he made the calculation that if he sold the meat
well he might gain as much as the two cows were worth, and have the
hide into the bargain. When therefore he got to the town with the
meat, a great pack of dogs were gathered together in front of the
gate, with a large greyhound at the head of them, which jumped at the
meat, sniffed at it, and barked "wow, wow, wow". As there was no
stopping him, the peasant said to him, "Yes, yes, I know quite well
that you are saying wow, wow, wow, because you want some of the meat,
but I should be in a fine state if I were to give it to you." The
dog, however, answered nothing but "wow, wow".
"Will you promise not to
devour it all then, and will you go bail for your companions?"
wow, wow," said the dog.
"Well, if you insist on it, I shall leave it
for you, I know you well, and know whom you serve, but this I tell
you, I must have my money in three days or else it will go ill with
you, you can just bring it out to me." Thereupon he unloaded the meat
and turned back again. The dogs fell upon it and loudly barked, "wow,
wow". The countryman, who heard them from afar, said to himself, "Hark,
now they all want some, but the big one is responsible to me for it."
When three days had passed, the countryman thought, "To-night my money
will be in my pocket," and was quite delighted. But no one would come
and pay it. "There is no trusting any one now," said he. At last he
lost patience, and went into the town to the butcher and demanded his
money. The butcher thought it was a joke, but the peasant said,
"Jesting apart, I shall have my money. Did not the big dog bring you
the whole of the slaughtered cow three days ago?" Then the butcher
grew angry, snatched a broomstick and drove him out.
"Wait, said the
peasant, "there is still some justice in the world," and went to the
royal palace and begged for an audience. He was led before the king,
who sat there with his daughter, and asked him what injury he had
suffered. "Alas," said he, "the frogs and the dogs have taken from me
what is mine, and the butcher has paid me for it with the stick." And
he related at full length what had happened. Thereupon the king's
daughter began to laugh heartily, and the king said to him, "I cannot
give you justice in this, but you will have my daughter to wife for
it - in her whole life she has never yet laughed as she has just done
at you, and I have promised her to him who could make her laugh. You
may thank God for your good fortune."
"Oh," answered the peasant, "I do
not want her at all. I have a wife already, and she is one too many
for me, when I go home, it is just as if I had a wife standing in
Then the king grew angry, and said, "You are a boor."
"Ah, lord king," replied the peasant, "what can you expect from an ox,
"Stop," answered the king, "you will have another reward.
Be off now, but come back in three days, and then you will have five
hundred counted out in full."
When the peasant went out by the gate,
the sentry said, "You have made the king's daughter laugh, so you will
certainly receive something good."
"Yes, that is what I think,"
answered the peasant, "five hundred are to be counted out to me."
"Listen," said the soldier, "give me some of it. What can you do with
all that money?"
"As it is you," said the peasant, "you will have two
hundred. Present yourself in three days, time before the king, and
let it be paid to you."
A Jew, who was standing by and had heard the
conversation, ran after the peasant, held him by the coat, and said,
"Oh, wonder of God, what a child of fortune you are. I shall change it
for you, I shall change it for you into small coins, what do you want
with the great talers?"
"Jew," said the countryman, "three hundred can
you still have. Give it to me at once in coin. In three days from
this, you will be paid for it by the king." The Jew was delighted
with the small profit, and brought the sum in bad groschen, three of
which were worth two good ones.
After three days had passed,
according to the king's command, the peasant went before the king.
"Pull his coat off," said the latter, "and he will have his five
"Ah," said the peasant, "they no longer belong to me, I
presented two hundred of them to the sentry, and three hundred the
Jew has changed for me, so by right nothing at all belongs to me." In
the meantime the soldier and the Jew entered and claimed what they
had gained from the peasant, and they received the blows strictly
counted out. The soldier bore it patiently and knew already how it
tasted, but the Jew said sorrowfully, "Alas, alas, are these the heavy
talers?" The king could not help laughing at the peasant, and when
all his anger was spent, he said, "As you have already lost your
reward before it fell to your lot, I shall give you compensation. Go
into my treasure chamber and get some money for yourself, as much as
The peasant did not need to be told twice, and stuffed
into his big pockets whatsoever would go in. Afterwards he went to
an inn and counted out his money. The Jew had crept after him and
heard how he muttered to himself, "That rogue of a king has cheated me
after all, why could he not have given me the money himself, and then
I should have known what I had. How can I tell now if what I have
had the luck to put in my pockets is right or not?"
said the Jew to himself, "that man is speaking disrespectfully of our
lord the king, I shall run and inform, and then I shall get a reward,
and he will be punished as well." When the king heard of the peasant's
words he fell into a passion, and commanded the Jew to go and bring
the offender to him. The Jew ran to the peasant. "You are to go at
once to the lord king in the very clothes you have on."
"I know what's
right better than that," answered the peasant, "I shall have a new coat
made first. Do you think that a man with so much money in his pocket
should go there in his ragged old coat?"
The Jew, as he saw that the
peasant would not stir without another coat, and as he feared that if
the king's anger cooled, he himself would lose his reward, and the
peasant his punishment, said, "I shall out of pure friendship lend you
a coat for the short time. What people will not do for love." The
peasant was contented with this, put the Jew's coat on, and went off
The king reproached the countryman because of the evil
speaking of which the Jew had informed him. "Ah," said the peasant,
"what a Jew says is always false - no true word ever comes out of his
mouth. That rascal there is capable of maintaining that I have his
"What is that," shrieked the Jew, "is the coat not mine? Have
I not lent it to you out of pure friendship, in order that you might
appear before the lord king?"
When the king heard that, he said, "The
Jew has assuredly deceived one or the other of us, either myself or
the peasant." And again he ordered something to be counted out to him
in hard talers. The peasant, however, went home in the good coat,
with the good money in his pocket, and said to himself, "This time I
have made it."