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The Drummer

" He looked at her, and saw that she was wondrously beautiful. "Ah," said he, "I cannot finish the first piece of work, how will it be with the others? I came forth to seek a king's daughter who is said to dwell here, but I have not found her, and I will go farther." "Stay here," said the maiden, "I will help thee out of thy difficulty. Thou art tired, lay thy head in my lap, and sleep. When thou awakest again, thy work will be done." The drummer did not need to be told that twice. As soon as his eyes were shut, she turned a wishing-ring and said, "Rise, water. Fishes, come out." Instantly the water rose on high like a white mist, and moved away with the other clouds, and the fishes sprang on the shore and laid themselves side by side each according to his size and kind. When the drummer awoke, he saw with amazement that all was done. But the maiden said, "One of the fish is not lying with those of its own kind, but quite alone; when the old woman comes to-night and sees that all she demanded has been done, she will ask thee, 'What is this fish lying alone for?' Then throw the fish in her face, and say, 'This one shall be for thee, old witch.'" In the evening the witch came, and when she had put this question, he threw the fish in her face. She behaved as if she did not remark it, and said nothing, but looked at him with malicious eyes. Next morning she said, "Yesterday it was too easy for thee, I must give thee harder work. To-day thou must hew down the whole of the forest, split the wood into logs, and pile them up, and everything must be finished by the evening." She gave him an axe, a mallet, and two wedges. But the axe was made of lead, and the mallet and wedges were of tin. When he began to cut, the edge of the axe turned back, and the mallet and wedges were beaten out of shape. He did not know how to manage, but at mid-day the maiden came once more with his dinner and comforted him. "Lay thy head on my lap," said she, "and sleep; when thou awakest, thy work will be done.

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