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Grimm's Fairy Tales.

The Pack of Ragamuffins

The cock once said to the hen, it is now the time when the nuts
are ripe, so let us go to the hill together and for once
eat our fill before the squirrel takes them all away. Yes,
replied the hen, come, we will have some fun together. Then
they went away to the hill, and as it was a bright day they
stayed till evening. Now I do not know whether it was that they
had eaten till they were too fat, or whether they had become
too proud, but they would not go home on foot, and the cock had
to build a little carriage of nut-shells. When it was ready,
the little hen seated herself in it and said to the cock, you can
just harness yourself to it. I like that. Said the cock. I
would rather go home on foot than let myself be harnessed to it.
No, that is not our bargain. I do not mind being coachman
and sitting on the box, but drag it myself I will not.
As they were thus disputing, a duck quacked at them, you thieving
folks, who bade you go to my nut-hill. Wait, you shall suffer
for it, and ran with open beak at the cock. But the cock also was
not idle, and fell boldly on the duck, and at last wounded her
so with his spurs that she begged for mercy, and willingly let
herself be harnessed to the carriage as a punishment. The
little cock now seated himself on the box and was coachman, and
thereupon they went off at a gallop, with the cock crying, duck,
go as fast as you can. When they had driven a part of the way
they met two foot-passengers, a pin and a needle. They cried,
stop. Stop. And said that it would soon be as dark as pitch,
and then they could not go a step further, and that it was so
dirty on the road, and asked if they could not get into the
carriage for a while. They had been at the tailor's public-house
by the gate, and had stayed too long over the beer. As they were
thin people, who did not take up much room,
the cock let them both get in, but they had to promise him and his
little hen not to step on their feet. Late in the evening they
came to an inn, and as they did not like to go further by night,
and as the duck also was not strong on her feet, and fell from
one side to the other, they went in. The host at first made many
objections, his house was already full, besides he thought they
could not be very distinguished persons. But at last, as they
made pleasant speeches, and told him that he should have the
egg which the little hen had laid on the way, and should likewise
keep the duck, which laid one every day, he at length said that
they might stay the night. And now they had themselves well
served, and feasted and had a high good time. Early in the
morning, when day was breaking and every one was asleep, the
cock awoke the hen, brought the egg, pecked it open, and they
ate it together, but they threw the shell on the hearth. Then
they went to the needle which was still asleep, took it by
the head and stuck it into the cushion of the landlord's chair,
and put the pin in his towel, and at last without more ado they
fled away over the heath. The duck who liked to sleep in
the open air and had stayed in the yard, heard them going away,
made herself merry and found a stream, down which she swam, which
was a much quicker way of traveling than being harnessed to a
carriage. The host did not get out of bed until a couple of
hours later. He washed himself and was about to dry himself, when
the pin went over his face and made a red scratch from one ear
to the other. After this he went into the kitchen and wanted
to light a pipe, but when he came to the hearth the egg-shell
darted into his eyes. This morning everything attacks my head,
said he, and angrily sat down on his grandfather's chair, but
he quickly started up again and cried, ow, for the needle had
pricked him still worse than the pin, and not in the head. Now
he was thoroughly angry, and suspected the guests who had come
so late the night before. And when he went in search of them,
they were gone. Then he made a vow to take no more ragamuffins
into his house, for they consume much, pay for nothing, and play
mischievous tricks into the bargain by way of gratitude.


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