A fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm.


Hans wished to put his son to learn a trade, so he went into the church and prayed to our Lord God to know which would be the most suitable for him. Then the clerk got behind the altar, and said, "Thieving, thieving." On this Hans went back to his son, and told him he was to learn thieving, and that the Lord God had said so. So he went with his son to seek a man who was acquainted with thieving. They walked for a long time and come into a great forest, where stood a little house with an old woman in it. Hans said, "Do you know of a man who is acquainted with thieving?"
"You can learn that here quite well," said the woman, "my son is a master of it." So he spoke with the son, and asks if he knows thieving really well.
The master-thief says, "I shall teach him well. Come back when a year is over, and then if you recognise your son, I shall take no payment at all for teaching him, but if you don't know him, you must give me two hundred talers."

The father went home again, and the son learnt witchcraft and thieving thoroughly. When the year was out, the father was full of anxiety to know how he should recognise his son. As Hans was thus going about in his trouble, he met a little dwarf, who said, "Man, what ails you, that you are always in such trouble?"
"Oh," said Hans, "a year ago I placed my son with a master-thief who told me I was to come back when the year was out, and that if I then did not know my son when I saw him, I was to pay two hundred talers, but if I did know him I was to pay nothing, and now I am afraid of not knowing him and can't tell where I am to get the money." Then the dwarf told him to take a crust of bread with him, and to stand beneath the chimney. "There on the cross-beam is a basket, out of which a little bird is peeping, and that is your son."

Hans went thither, and threw a crust of black bread in front of the basket with the bird in it, and the little bird came out, and looked up. "Hello, my son, are you here?" said the father, and the son was delighted to see his father, but the master-thief said, "The devil must have prompted you, or how could you have known your son?"
"Father, let us go," said the youth. Then the father and son set out homeward. On the way a carriage came driving by. Hereupon the son said to his father, "I shall change myself into a large greyhound, and then you can earn a great deal of money by me."
Then the gentleman called from the carriage, "My man, will you sell your dog?"
"Yes," said the father.
"How much do you want for it?"
"Thirty talers."
"Well, man, that is a great deal, but as it is such a very fine dog I shall have it." The gentleman took it into his carriage, but when they had driven a little farther the dog sprang out of the carriage through the window, and went back to his father, and was no longer a greyhound. They went home together.

Next day there was a fair in the neighbouring town, so the youth said to his father, "I shall now change myself into a beautiful horse, and you can sell me, but when you have sold me, you must take off my bridle, or I cannot become a man again." Then the father went with the horse to the fair, and the master-thief comes and bought the horse for a hundred talers, but the father forgot, and did not take off the bridle. So the man went home with the horse, and put it in the stable.

When the maid crossed the threshold, the horse said, "Take off my bridle, take off my bridle."
Then the maid stood still, and said, "What, you can speak?" So she went and took the bridle off, and the horse becomes a sparrow, and flew out at the door, and the master-thief became a sparrow also, and flew after him.

Then they came together and cast lots again, and the master lost. So the master changed himself into a cock, and the youth became a fox, and bit the master's head off, and he died and has remained dead to this day.

Log in or registerto write something here or to contact authors.