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HANS had served his master for seven long years, when he said to him, “Master, my time is now up, so please to give me my wages, as I wish to return home to my mother.” The master answered, “ You have served me like a trusty, honest sellow, and I will be pleased to reward your services." And thereupon he gave him a piece of gold as large as his head. Hans took a cloth and rolled up the lump of gold, and slung it over his shoulder, and began to trudge home. As he went along he happened to come up with a traveller, who was riding a very lively horse.
“Oh, what a delightful thing it is to ride !" cried Hans aloud.
The man on horseback having heard him, cried out to him, “ Why, then, Hans, do you go on oot?"
“You see I am obliged to carry this lump home,” replied Hans, "and, gold though it be, its weight bothers me sadly."
“I'll tell you what,” said the rider, stopping his horse, “ we can make a bargain. Suppose I were to give you my horse, and you were to let me have your lump in exchange."
“ That I will, and thank you too,” said Hans.
The traveller got down from his horse, and took the lump of gold, and then helped Hans to mount ; and having placed the bridle in his hand, said to him, “When you want to go very fast, you have only to smack your tongue, and cry, 'Hop ! hop!!”
Hans was in great delight, as he sat on the horse. After a while, however, he fancied he should like to go a little quicker, so he began to smack his tongue, and to shout “Hop! hop !” The horse set off at a brisk trot, and before long Hans was pitched into a ditch. The horse would soon have been out of sight had he not been stopped by a peasant, who was driving a cow. Hans crawled out of the ditch as best he might, and got upon his legs again. But he was sorely vexed, and told the peasant that nobody should ever catch him again mounting such a dangerous animal. Then he concluded by saying, “How far preferable a creature is your cow! One can walk
quietly behind her, let alone her furnishing you with milk, butter, and cheese, for certain every day. What would I not give to have such a cow for my own !”
“Well,” said the peasant, “if that's all, I should not mind changing my cow for your horse."
Hans agreed most joyfully to such a proposal, and the peasant leaped into the saddle, and was soon out of sight.
Hans now drove the cow before him at a quiet pace, and kept thinking on the excellent bargain he had made. “If I have only a bit of breadand that is not likely to fail me—I shall be able to add butter and cheese to it as often as I wish. If I feel thirsty, I have only to milk my cow."
Towards noon, the heat grew most oppressive, and Hans felt very thirsty. “Now is the time,” thought he, “to milk my cow, and refresh myself with a good draught of milk.” So he tied his cow to the stump of a tree, and used his leather cap for a pail ; but do what he would, not a drop of milk could he obtain ; and as he set about milking the cow in a very awkward manner, the enraged animal gave him a kick with her hind-leg, that laid him sprawling on the ground.
Fortunately there just came by a butcher trundling a wheel-barrow, in which lay a young pig.
“What on earth is the matter?” asked he, as he helped the worthy Hans to rise.
Hans related what had happened, when the butcher said to him, “The cow has no milk to give, for she is an old animal, only fit for the yoke, or to be killed and eaten."
"Ah, now! who would have thought it?” said Hans. “I'd much rather have a young pig like yours.
The flesh is far more tasty, to say nothing of the sausages."
“ I'll tell you what, Hans,” quoth the butcher, “I'll let you have my pig in exchange for your cow."
“Now, that's very good of you,” replied Hans, as he gave him the cow, while the butcher took the pig out of the wheel-barrow, and put the string that was tied round the animal's leg into his new master's hand.
finds money as often as he puts his hand into his pocket. But where did you buy that fine goose?”
Hans at once told him all about his excellent bargains.
“Well,” said the knife-grinder, "since you have been so clever each time, you have only to get a grindstone, and then you will always hear the money jingle in your pocket.”
“But how can I get a grindstone?" inquired Hans.
As Hans went along he could not help marvelling at his constant run of luck. After a time he was overtaken by a lad who was carrying a fine white goose under his arm. Hans told the boy how lucky he had been, and what good bargains he had made. The lad told him in turn, that he was carrying the goose to a christening dinner. “Only just feel how heavy it is." Meanwhile the lad was looking all round him with an anxious air, and then shook his head as he observed, “I am afraid your pig will get you into trouble. I have just come through a village where the mayor's pig was stolen out of its stye ; and I fancy it's the very pig you are now driving. It would be a bad job for you
if you were caught with it, and the least that could happen to you would be a lodging in the black-liole."
Poor Hans now began to be frightened. “For goodness' sake,” cried he, “ do help me out of this scrape ; pray take my pig in exchange for your goose."
“ I know I shall run some risk,” replied the lad ; yet I haven't the heart to leave you in the lurch either."
And so saying he took hold of the rope, and drove away the pig as fast as he could into a byway, while Honest Hans pursued his road with the goose under his arm.
“I have one here,” said the man, “that is a trifle worn, but I won't ask for anything more than your goose in exchange for it. Shall it be a bargain ?"
“How can you doubt it?" replied Hans ; " I shall be the happiest man upon earth.” And he handed him the goose, and took the grindstone.
“Now," said the knife-grinder, picking up a tolerably heavy stone that lay on the ground by him, “here's a good solid stone into the bargain. You had better lay it on the top of the other."
Hans did so, and went away quite delighted. In the meantime, however, having walked since daybreak, he now began to feel tired and very hungry, and the two stones became heavier every step he took. At length he could not help thinking how much better it would be if he had not to carry them at all. He had now crawled like a snail up to a spring, where he meant to rest, and refresh himself with a cool draught; and for this purpose he placed the stones very carefully on the brink of the well. He then sat down, and was stooping over the well to drink, when he happened to push the stones inadvertently, and plump into the water they fell ! Hans no sooner saw them sink to the bottom of the well, than he skipped and jumped for joy, as he had got rid of his heavy burden without the slightest reproach on his own conscience, for these stones were the only things that stood in his way. 'There is not a luckier fellow than I beneath the sun,” exclaimed Hans; and with a light heart and empty hands he now bounded along till he reached his mother's home.