A fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm
Seven swabians were once together. The first was Master
Schulz, the second Jackli, the third Marli, the fourth
Jergli, the fifth Michal, the sixth Hans, the seventh
Veitli. All seven had made up their minds to travel
about the world to seek adventures and perform great
deeds. But in order that they might go in safety and with
arms in their hands, they thought it would be advisable
that they should have one solitary, but very strong,
and very long spear made for them. This spear all seven of
them took in their hands at once. In front walked the
boldest and bravest,
and that was Master Schulz. All the others followed in a
row, and Veitli was the last.
Then it came to pass one
day in the hay month, when they had walked a long distance,
and still had a long way to go before they reached the
village where they were to pass the night, that as they
were in a meadow in the twilight a great beetle or hornet
flew by them from behind a bush, and hummed in a menacing
manner. Master Schulz was so terrified that he all but dropped
the spear, and a cold sweat broke out over his whole body.
"Hark, hark," cried he to his comrades, "good heavens. I hear a
drum." Jackli, who was behind him holding the spear, and into
whose nose some smell had risen, said, "Something is most
certainly going on, for I smell the powder and the match." At
these words Master Schulz began to take to flight, and in a
over a hedge, but as he just happened to jump on to the teeth of
a rake which had been left lying there after the hay-making, the
handle of it struck against his face and gave him a tremendous
blow. "O dear. O dear," screamed Master Schulz. "Take me
prisoner, I surrender, I surrender." The other six all leapt
over, one on the top of the other, crying, "If you surrender, I
surrender too. If you surrender, I surrender too." At length,
as no enemy was there to bind and take them away, they saw that
they had been mistaken, and in order that the story might not
be known, and they be treated as fools and ridiculed, they
all swore to each other to hold their peace about it until one
of them should speak of it by mistake.
Then they journeyed onwards. The second danger which they
survived cannot be compared with the first. Some days afterwards,
their path led them through a fallow-field where a hare was sitting
sleeping in the sun. Her ears were standing straight up, and her
great glassy eyes were wide open. All of them were alarmed at
the sight of the horrible wild beast, and they consulted together
as to what it would be the least dangerous to do. For if they
were to run away, they knew that the monster would pursue and
swallow them whole. So they said, "We must go through a great
and dangerous struggle. Boldly ventured is half won," and all
seven grasped the spear, Master Schulz in front, and Veitli
behind. Master Schulz was always trying to keep the spear
back, but Veitli had become quite brave while behind, and wanted
to dash forward, and cried,
"Strike home, in every swabian's name,
or else I wish you may be lame."
But Hans knew how to meet this, and said,
"But for dragon-hunting you are always late."
"Nothing is missing, not even a hair,
be sure the devil himself is there."
Then it was Jergli's turn, and he said,
"If it be not he, it's at least his mother,
or else the devil's own step-brother."
And now Marli had a bright thought, and said to Veitli,
"Advance, Veitli, advance, advance,
and I behind shall hold the lance."
Veitli, however, did not obey, and Jackli said,
"'Tis Schulz's place the first to be,
no one deserves that honour but he."
Then Master Schulz plucked up his courage, and said gravely,
"Then let us boldly advance to the fight,
thus we shall show our valour and might."
Hereupon they all together set on the dragon
Schulz crossed himself and prayed for God's assistance, but
as all this was of no avail, and he was getting nearer and nearer
to the enemy, he screamed, "Oho, oho, ho, ho, ho," in the greatest
anguish. This awakened the hare, which in great alarm darted
swiftly away. When Master Schulz saw her thus flying from the
field of battle, he cried in his joy,
"Quick, Veitli, quick, look there, look there,
the monster's nothing but a hare."
But the swabian allies went in search of further adventures, and
came to the Moselle
, a mossy, quiet, deep river, over which there are
few bridges, and which in many places people have to cross in
boats. As the seven swabians did not know this, they called
to a man who was working on the opposite side of the river, to
know how people contrived to get across. The distance and their
way of speaking made the man unable to understand what they
wanted, and he said, "What, what," in the way people speak in
the neighbourhood of treves
. Master Schulz thought he was saying,
"Wade, wade through the water," and as he was the first, began
to set out and
went into the Moselle.
It was not long before he sank in the
mud and the deep waves which drove against him, but his hat was
blown on the opposite shore by the wind, and a frog sat down
beside it, and croaked, "wat, wat, wat." The other six on the
opposite side heard that, and said, "Oho, comrades, Master
Schulz is calling us. If he can wade across, why cannot we?"
So they all jumped into the water together in a great hurry, and
were drowned, and thus one frog took the lives of all six of
them, and not one of the swabian allies ever reached home again.