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Grimm's Fairy Tales.

The Little Folks' Presents

A tailor and a goldsmith were traveling together, and one evening
when the sun had sunk behind the mountains, they heard the sound
of distant music, which became more and more distinct. It sounded
strange, but so pleasant that they forgot all their weariness
and stepped quickly onwards. The moon had already arisen
when they reached a hill on which they saw a crowd of little men
and women, who had taken each other's hands, and were whirling
round in the dance with the greatest pleasure and delight.
They sang to it most charmingly, and that was the music which the
travelers had heard. In the midst of them sat an old man who was
rather taller than the rest. He wore a parti-colored coat, and his
hoary beard hung down over his breast. The two remained standing
full of astonishment, and watched the dance. The old man made
a sign that they should enter, and the little folks willingly opened
their circle. The goldsmith, who had a hump, and like all
hunch-backs was daring enough, stepped in. The tailor felt a little
afraid at first, and held back, but when he saw how merrily all
was going, he plucked up his courage, and followed. The circle
closed again directly, and the little folks went on singing and
dancing with the wildest leaps. The old man, however, took a
large knife which hung to his girdle, whetted it, and when it was
sufficiently sharpened, he looked round at the strangers. They
were terrified, but they had not much time for reflection, for the
old man seized the goldsmith and with the greatest speed, shaved
the hair of his head clean off, and then the same thing happened to
the tailor. But their fear left them when, after he had finished
his work, the old man clapped them both on the shoulder in a
friendly manner, as much as to say, they had behaved well to let
all that be done to them willingly, and without any struggle. He
pointed with his finger to a heap of coals which lay at one side,
and signified to the travelers by his gestures that they were to
fill their pockets with them. Both of them obeyed, although they
did not know of what use the coals would be to them, and
then they went on their way to seek a shelter for the night.
When they had got into the valley, the clock of the neighboring
monastery struck twelve, and the song ceased. In a moment all had
vanished, and the hill lay in solitude in the moonlight.
The two travelers found an inn, and covered themselves up on their
straw-beds with their coats, but in their weariness forgot to take
the coals out of them before doing so. A heavy weight on their
limbs awakened them earlier than usual. They felt in the pockets,
and could not believe their eyes when they saw that they were not
filled with coals, but with pure gold. Happily, too, the hair of
their heads and beards was there again as thick as ever.
They had now become rich folks, but the goldsmith, who, in
accordance with his greedy disposition, had filled his pockets
better, was twice as rich as the tailor. A greedy man, even if he
has much,
still wishes to have more, so the goldsmith proposed to the tailor
that they should wait another day, and go out again in the evening
in order to bring back still greater treasures from the old man on
the hill. The tailor refused, and said, I have enough and am
content. Now I shall be a master, and marry my dear object -
for so he called his sweetheart - and I am a happy man. But he
stayed another day to please him. In the evening the goldsmith
hung a couple of bags over his shoulders that he might be able
to stow away a great deal, and took the road to the hill. He
found, as on the night before, the little folks at their singing
and dancing, and the old man again shaved him clean, and made
signs to him to take some coal. He was not slow about stuffing
as much into his bags as would go, went back quite delighted,
and covered himself over with his
coat. Even if the gold does weigh heavily, said he, I will gladly
bear that, and at last he fell asleep with the sweet anticipation
of waking in the morning an enormously rich man.
When he opened his eyes, he got up in haste to examine his
pockets, but how amazed he was when he drew nothing out of them
but black coals, and that howsoever often he put his hands in
them. The gold I got the night before is still there for me,
thought he, and went and brought it out, but how shocked he was when
he saw that it likewise had again turned into coal. He smote his
forehead with his dusty black hand, and then he felt that his
whole head was bald and smooth, as was also the place where his
beard should have been. But his misfortunes were not yet over. He
now remarked for the first time that in addition to the
hump on his back, a second, just as large, had grown in front on
his breast. Then he recognized the punishment of his
greediness, and began to weep aloud. The good tailor, who was
awakened by this, comforted the unhappy fellow as well as he could,
and said, you have been my comrade in my traveling time. You shall
stay with me and share in my wealth. He kept his word, but the
poor goldsmith was obliged to carry the two humps as long as he
lived, and to cover his bald head with a cap.


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