A fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm
Once upon a time there was a man who did nothing but gamble, and
for that reason people never called him anything but gambling
Hansel, and as he never ceased to gamble, he played away his house
and all that he had. Now the very day before his creditors were
to take his house from him, came the Lord and St. Peter, and
asked him to give them shelter for the night. Then gambling Hansel
said, "For my part, you may stay the night, but I cannot give you
a bed or anything to eat." So the Lord said he was just to take
them in, and they themselves would buy something to eat, to which
gambling Hansel made no objection. Thereupon St. Peter gave him
three groschen, and said he was to go to the baker's and fetch
some bread. So gambling Hansel went, but when he reached the house
where the other gambling vagabonds were gathered together, they,
although they had won all that he had, greeted him clamorously,
and said, "Hansel, do come in."
"Oh," said he, "do you want to win
three groschen too?" On this they would not let him go. So he
went in, and played away the three groschen also. Meanwhile
St. Peter and the Lord were waiting, and as he was so long in
coming, they set out to meet him. When gambling Hansel came,
however, he pretended that the money had fallen into the gutter,
and kept raking about in it all the while to find it, but
our Lord already
knew that he had lost it in play.
St. Peter again gave him
three groschen, and now he did not allow himself to be led away
once more, but fetched them the loaf. Our Lord then inquired if
he had no wine, and he said, "Alack, sir, the casks are all empty."
But the Lord said he was to go down into the cellar, for the best
wine was still there. For a long time he would not believe
this, but at length he said, well, I shall go down, but I know
that there is none there. When he turned the tap, however, lo
and behold, the best of wine ran out. So he took it to them, and
the two passed the night there. Early next day our Lord told
gambling Hansel that he might beg three favours. The Lord
expected that he would ask to go to heaven, but gambling Hansel
asked for a pack of cards with which he could win everything,
for dice with which he would win everything, and for a tree
whereon every kind of fruit would grow, and from which no one who
had climbed up, could descend until he bade him do so. The Lord
gave him all that he had asked, and departed with St. Peter.
And now gambling Hansel at once set about gambling in real
earnest, and before long he had gained half the world.
St. Peter said to the Lord, "Lord, this thing must not go on, at
last he will win the whole world. We must send death to him."
And they sent death to him. When death appeared, gambling Hansel
had just seated himself at the gaming-table, and death said,
"Hansel, come out a while." But gambling Hansel said, "Just wait
a little until the game is done, and in the meantime get up into
that tree out there, and gather a little fruit that we may have
something to munch on our way." Thereupon death climbed up, but
when he wanted to come down again, he could not, and gambling
Hansel left him up there for seven years, during which time no one
So St. Peter said to the Lord, "Lord, this thing must not go on.
People no longer die, we must go ourselves." And they went
themselves, and the Lord commanded Hansel to let death come down.
So Hansel went at once to death and said to him, come down, and
death took him directly and put an end to him. They went away
together and came to the next world, and then gambling
Hansel made straight for the door of heaven, and knocked at it.
"Who is there?"
"Ah, we will have nothing to do
with him. Begone." So he went to the door of purgatory, and
knocked once more. "Who is there?"
"Ah, there is
quite enough weeping and wailing here without him. We do not
want to gamble, just go away again." Then he went to the door of
hell, and there they let him in. There was, however, no one at
home but old Lucifer and the crooked devils - the straight ones
were just busy in the world. And no sooner was Hansel there than
he sat down to gamble again. Lucifer, however, had nothing to
lose, but his misshapen devils, and gambling Hansel won them
from him, as with his cards he could not fail to do. And now he
was off again with his crooked devils, and they went to Hohenfurt
and pulled up a hop-pole, and with it went to heaven and began to
thrust the pole against it, and heaven began to crack. So again
St. Peter said, "Lord, this thing cannot go on, we must let him
in, or he will overthrow the whole heaven." And they let him in.
But gambling Hansel instantly began to play again, and there was
such a noise and confusion that there was no hearing what they
themselves were saying. Therefore St. Peter once more said,
"Lord, this cannot go on, we must throw him down, or he will make
all heaven rebellious." So they went to him at once, and threw
him down, and his soul broke into fragments, and went into the
gambling vagabonds who are living this very day.