The Iron Wolf
There was once upon a time a parson who had a servant, and when this servant had served him faithfully for twelve years and upward, he came to the parson and said, “Let us now settle our accounts, master, and pay me what thou owest me. I have now served long enough, and would fain have a little place in the wide world all to myself.”––“Good!” said the parson. “I’ll tell thee now what wage I’ll give thee for thy faithful service. I’ll give thee this egg. Take it home, and when thou gettest there, make to thyself a cattle-pen, and make it strong; then break the egg in the middle of thy cattle-pen, and thou shalt see something. But whatever thou doest, don’t break it on thy way home, or all thy luck will leave thee.”
So the servant departed on his homeward way. He went on and on, and at last he thought to himself, “Come now, I’ll see what is inside this egg of mine!” So he broke it, and out of it came all sorts of cattle in such numbers that the open steppe became like a fair. The servant stood there in amazement, and he thought to himself, “However in God’s world shall I be able to drive all these cattle back again?” He had scarcely uttered the words when the Iron Wolf came running up, and said to him, “I’ll collect and drive back all these cattle into the egg again, and I’ll patch the egg up so that it will become quite whole. But in return for that,” continued the Iron Wolf, “whenever thou dost sit down on the bridal bench, I’ll come and eat thee.”––“Well,” thought the servant to himself, “a lot of things may happen before I sit down on the bridal bench and he comes to eat me, and in the meantime I shall get all these cattle. Agreed, then,” said he. So the Iron Wolf immediately collected all the cattle, and drove them back into the egg, and patched up the egg and made it whole just as it was before.
The servant went home to the village where he lived, made him a cattle-pen stronger than strong, went inside it and broke the egg, and immediately that cattle-pen was as full of cattle as it could hold.