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Grimm's Fairy Tales.

The Lazy Spinner

In a certain village there once lived a man and his wife, and
the wife was so lazy that she would never work at anything.
Whatever her husband gave her to spin, she did not get done,
and what she did spin she did not wind, but let it all remain
entangled in a heap. If the man scolded her, she was always
ready with her tongue, and said, well, how should I wind it,
when I have no reel. Just you go into the forest and get me
one. If that is all, said the man, then I will go into the
forest, and get some wood for making reels. Then the woman
was afraid that if he had the wood he would make her a reel
of it, and she would have to wind her yarn
off, and then begin to spin again. She bethought herself a
little, and then a lucky idea occurred to her, and she
secretly followed the man into the forest, and when he had
climbed into a tree to choose and cut the wood, she crept
into the thicket below where he could not see her, and cried,
he who cuts wood for reels shall die,
and he who winds, shall perish.
The man listened, laid down his axe for a moment, and began
to consider what that could mean. Well, he said at last,
what can that have been, my ears must have been singing, I
won't alarm myself for nothing. So he once more seized the
axe, and began to hew. Then again there came a cry from
below,
he who cuts wood for reels shall die,
and he who winds, shall perish.
He stopped, and felt afraid and alarmed, and pondered over
the circumstance. But when a few moments had passed, he took
heart again, and a third time he stretched out his hand for
the axe, and began to cut. But someone called out a third
time, and said loudly,
he who cuts wood for reels shall die,
and he who winds, shall perish.
That was enough for him, and all inclination had departed
from him, so he hastily descended the tree, and set out on
his way home. The woman ran as fast as she could by byways
so as to get home
first. So when he entered the parlor, she put on an
innocent look as if nothing had happened, and said, well,
have you brought a nice piece of wood for reels. No, said he,
I see very well that winding won't do, and told her what had
happened to him in the forest, and from that time forth left
her in peace about it. Neverthless after some time, the man
again began to complain of the disorder in the house. Wife,
said he, it is really a shame that the spun yarn should lie
there all entangled. I'll tell you what, said she, as we
still don't come by any reel, go you up into the loft, and I
will stand down below, and will throw the yarn up to you,
and you will throw it down to me, and so we shall get a
skein after all. Yes, that will do, said the man. So they
did that, and when it was done, he said, the yarn is in
skeins, now it must be boiled. The woman was again
distressed, and said, yes, we will boil it to-morrow morning
early. But she was secretly contriving another trick.
Early in the morning she got up, lighted a fire, and put the
kettle on, only instead of the yarn, she put in a lump of tow
and let it boil. After that she went to the man who was
still lying in bed, and said to him, I must just go out, you
must get up and look after the yarn which is in the kettle on
the fire, but you must be at hand at once, mind that, for if
the cock should happen to crow, and you are not attending to
the yarn, it will become tow. The man was willing and took
good care not to loiter. He got up as quickly as he could,
and went into the kitchen. But when he reached the kettle
and peeped in, he saw, to his horror, nothing but a lump of
tow. Then the poor man was as still as a mouse, thinking
he had neglected it, and was to blame, and in future said
no more about yarn and spinning. But you yourself must own
that she was an odious woman.


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