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Main > German folktales > Fairy tale "The Jew in the Bush"

The Jew in the Bush

He had not gone far before he met an old Jew. Close by them stood a tree, and on the topmost twig sat a thrush, singing away most joyfully.

"Oh what a pretty bird!" said the Jew. "I would give a great deal of my money to have such a one."

"If that's all," said the countryman, "I will soon bring it down."

He took up his bow, off went his arrow, and down fell the thrush into a bush that grew at the foot of the tree. The Jew, when he saw that he could have the bird, thought he would cheat the man, so he put his money into his pocket again, and crept into the bush to find the prize. As soon as he had got into the middle, his companion took up his fiddle and played away, and the Jew began to dance and spring about, capering higher and higher in the air. The thorns soon began to tear his clothes, till they all hung in rags about him, and he himself was all scratched and wounded, so that the blood ran down.

"Oh, for heaven's sake!" cried the Jew. "Mercy, mercy, master! Pray stop the fiddle! What have I done to be treated in this way?"

"What hast thou done? Why, thou hast shaved many a poor soul close enough," said the other. "Thou art only meeting thy reward;" and he played up another tune yet merrier than the first.

Then the Jew began to beg and pray, and at last he said he would give plenty of his money to be set free. He did not, however, come up to the musician's price for some time, so he danced him along brisker and brisker. The higher the Jew danced, the higher he bid, till at last he offered a round hundred crowns that he had in his purse, and had just gained by cheating some poor fellow. When the countryman saw so much money, he said—

"I agree to the bargain," and, taking the purse and putting up his fiddle, he travelled on well pleased.

Meanwhile the Jew crept out of the bush, half naked, and in a piteous plight, and began to ponder how he should take his revenge and serve his late companion some trick. At length he went to a judge, and said that a rascal had robbed him of his money, and beaten him soundly into the bargain, and that this fellow carried a bow at his back, and had a fiddle hanging round his neck.

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