从前有一个人，他有个女儿，叫"聪明的爱尔莎"。 她长大了，父亲说："我们该让她嫁人了。"母亲说："是啊，但愿有人来求婚。"后来有个叫汉斯的人从远方来向她求婚，但有个条件，那就是"聪明的爱尔莎"必须是真正的聪明才行。 父亲说："啊，她充满了智慧。"母亲说："她不仅能看到风从街上过，还能听到苍蝇的咳嗽。"汉斯于是说："好啊，如果她不是真正聪明，我是不愿意娶她的。"他们坐在桌边吃饭的时候，母亲说："爱尔莎，到地窖里拿些啤酒来。""聪明的爱尔莎"从墙上取下酒壶往地窖走，一边走一边把酒壶盖敲得"丁丁当当"的，免得无聊。 来到地窖，她拖过一把椅子坐在酒桶跟前，免得弯腰，弄得腰酸背疼的或出意外。 然后她将酒壶放在面前，打开酒桶上的龙头。 啤酒往酒壶里流的时候，她眼睛也不闲着，四下张望。 她看到头顶上挂着一把丁字锄，是泥瓦匠忘在那儿的。 "聪明的爱尔莎"哭了起来，说："假如我和汉斯结婚，生了孩子，孩子大了，我们让他来地窖取啤酒，这锄头会掉下来把他砸死的！。她坐在那儿，想到将来的不幸，放声痛哭。上面的人还等着喝啤酒呢，可老不见"聪明的爱尔莎"回来。母亲对女仆说："你到地窖去看看爱尔莎在不在。 "女仆下去，看到她在酒桶前大哭，就问："你为什么哭啊？ "她回答说："难道我不该哭吗？ 假如我和汉斯结婚，生了孩子，孩子大了，我们让他来地窖取啤酒，这锄头会掉在他头上把他砸死的！ "女仆于是说，"我们的爱尔莎真是聪明！ "说着就坐到她身边，也为这件不幸的事哭起来。过了一会儿，上面的人不见女仆回来，又急着喝啤酒，父亲就对男仆说："你到地窖去看看爱尔莎和女仆在哪儿。 "男仆来到地窖，看到爱尔莎正和女仆哭成一团，就问："你们为什么哭啊？ ""难道我不该哭吗？ 假如我和汉斯结婚，生了孩子，孩子大了，我们让他来地窖取啤酒，这锄头会掉在他头上把他砸死的！ "男仆于是说："我们的爱尔莎真聪明！ "说着也坐到她身边大哭起来。上面的人等男仆老等不来，父亲就对做母亲的说："你到地窖里看看爱尔莎在什么地方。 "母亲走下来，看到三个人都在哭，问其原因，爱尔莎对她说："如果她和汉斯的孩子将来长大了来地窖取啤酒，也许这锄头会掉下来把他砸死的！ "母亲也说："我们的爱尔莎真聪明！ "说完也坐下来跟他们一块儿哭起来。丈夫在上面又等了一阵，还不见妻子回来，他口渴得厉害，就说："只好我自己下去看看爱尔莎在哪儿了。 "他来到地窖，看到大家都在哭。问是什么原因，回答是因为爱尔莎将来的孩子上地窖来取啤酒，这把丁字锄头很可能掉下来把他砸死。于是他大声说："爱尔莎可真聪明！ "他也坐下来跟大家一起哭。只有未婚夫独自在上面等啊等，不见一个人回来，他想："他们准是在下面等我，我也应该下去看看他们在干什么。 "他来到地窖，看到五个人都在伤心地痛哭，而且一个比一个哭得伤心，于是问："究竟发生什么不幸的事情了？ ""啊，亲爱的汉斯，假如我们结了婚，生了孩子，孩子大了，也许我们会叫他来地窖取啤酒。 上面这把锄头可能会掉下来，砸破他的脑袋，那他就会死在这儿。 难道我们不应该哭吗？ "汉斯说："好吧，替我管家务不需要太多智慧。 既然你这样聪明，我同意和你结婚。 "他拉着爱尔莎的手把她带上来，和她结了婚。
爱尔莎跟汉斯结婚不久，汉斯说："太太，我得出门挣点钱，你到地里去割些麦子，我们好做点面包带上。""好的，亲爱的汉斯，我这就去办。"汉斯走后，爱尔莎自己煮了一碗稠稠的粥带到麦地里。 她自言自语地说："我是先吃饭还是先割麦呢？对，还是先吃饭吧。"她喝饱了粥又说："我现在是先睡觉还是先割麦呢？对，还是先睡上一觉吧。"她在麦地里睡着了。 汉斯回到家里，等了半天也不见她回来，就说："我聪明的爱尔莎干起活来可真卖劲儿，连回家吃饭都给忘了。"到了晚上，爱尔莎还是没回来，于是汉斯来到地里看她到底割了多少麦子。 他看到麦子一点没割，爱尔莎却躺在地里睡大觉。 汉斯跑回家，拿了一个系着小铃铛的捕雀网罩到她身上，她还是没醒。 汉斯又跑回家，关上门，坐下来干活。 天完全黑了，聪明的爱尔莎终于醒了。 她站起来，听到周围有丁丁当当的响声，而且每走一步都听到铃铛的响声，她给吓糊涂了，不知道自己还是不是聪明的爱尔莎。 她问自己："我是爱尔莎吗？也许不是吧？"她不知道答案该是什么。 她停了一下，想："我还是先回家吧，问一问他们我到底是不是爱尔莎，他们一定会知道的。"她来到家门口发现门关上了，便敲了敲窗户，叫道："汉斯，爱尔莎在家吗？"汉斯回答说："在家。"她大吃一惊，说："上帝啊，看来我不是爱尔莎了。"于是她走去敲别人家的门，可是人们听到铃铛的响声都不肯开门，因此她无法找到住处。 最后她只好走出了村子，人们从此再没有见到过她。
There was once a man who had a daughter who was called Clever Else, and when she was grown up, her father said she must be married, and her mother said, "Yes, if we could only find some one that would consent to have." At last one came from a distance, and his name was Hans, and when he proposed to her, he made it a condition that Clever Else should be very careful as well. "Oh," said the father, "she does not want for brains." - "No, indeed," said the mother, "she can see the wind coming up the street and hear the flies cough." - "Well," said Hans, "if she does not turn out to be careful too, I will not have her." Now when they were all seated at table, and had well eaten, the mother said, "Else, go into the cellar and draw some beer." Then Clever Else took down the jug from the hook in the wall, and as she was on her way to the cellar she rattled the lid up and down so as to pass away the time. When she got there, she took a stool and stood it in front of the cask, so that she need not stoop and make her back ache with needless trouble. Then she put the jug under the tap and turned it, and while the beer was running, in order that her eyes should not be idle, she glanced hither and thither, and finally caught sight of a pickaxe that the workmen had left sticking in the ceiling just above her head. Then Clever Else began to cry, for she thought, "If I marry Hans, and we have a child, and it grows big, and we send it into the cellar to draw beer, that pickaxe might fall on his head and kill him." So there she sat and cried with all her might, lamenting the anticipated misfortune. All the while they were waiting upstairs for something to drink, and they waited in vain. At last the mistress said to the maid, "Go down to the cellar and see why Else does not come." So the maid went, and found her sitting in front of the cask crying with all her might. "What are you crying for?" said the maid. "Oh dear me," answered she, "how can I help crying? if I marry Hans, and we have a child, and it grows big, and we send it here to draw beer, perhaps the pickaxe may fall on its head and kill it." - "Our Else is clever indeed!" said the maid, and directly sat down to bewail the anticipated misfortune. After a while, when the people upstairs found that the maid did not return, and they were becoming more and more thirsty, the master said to the boy, "You go down into the cellar, and see what Else and the maid are doing." The boy did so, and there he found both Clever Else and the maid sitting crying together. Then he asked what was the matter. "Oh dear me," said Else, "how can we help crying? If I marry Hans, and we have a child, and it grows big, and we send it here to draw beer, the pickaxe might fall on its head and kill it." - "Our Else is clever indeed!" said the boy, and sitting down beside her, he began howling with a good will. Upstairs they were all waiting for him to come back, but as he did not come, the master said to the mistress, "You go down to the cellar and see what Else is doing." So the mistress went down and found all three in great lamentations, and when she asked the cause, then Else told her how the future possible child might be killed as soon as it was big enough to be sent to draw beer, by the pickaxe falling on it. Then the mother at once exclaimed, "Our Else is clever indeed!" and, sitting down, she wept with the rest. Upstairs the husband waited a little while, but as his wife did not return, and as his thirst constantly increased, he said, "I must go down to the cellar myself, and see what has become of Else." And when he came into the cellar, and found them all sitting and weeping together, he was told that it was all owing to the child that Else might possibly have, and the possibility of its being killed by the pickaxe so happening to fall just at the time the child might be sitting underneath it drawing beer; and when he heard all this, he cried, "How clever is our Else!" and sitting down, he joined his tears to theirs. The intended bridegroom stayed upstairs by himself a long time, but as nobody came back to him, he thought he would go himself and see what they were all about And there he found all five lamenting and crying most pitifully, each one louder than the other. "What misfortune has happened?" cried he. "O my dear Hans," said Else, "if we marry and have a child, and it grows big, and we send it down here to draw beer, perhaps that pickaxe which has been left sticking up there might fall down on the child's head and kill it; and how can we help crying at that!" - "Now," said Hans, "I cannot think that greater sense than that could be wanted in my household; so as you are so clever, Else, I will have you for my wife," and taking her by the hand he led her upstairs, and they had the wedding at once.
A little while after they were married, Hans said to his wife, "I am going out to work, in order to get money; you go into the field and cut the corn, so that we may have bread." - "Very well, I will do so, dear Hans," said she. And after Hans was gone she cooked herself some nice stew, and took it with her into the field. And when she got there, she said to herself, "Now, what shall I do? shall I reap first, or eat first? All right, I will eat first." Then she ate her fill of stew, and when she could eat no more, she said to herself, "Now, what shall I do? shall I reap first, or sleep first? All right, I will sleep first." Then she lay down in the corn and went to sleep. And Hans got home, and waited there a long while, and Else did not come, so he said to himself, "My clever Else is so industrious that she never thinks of coming home and eating." But when evening drew near and still she did not come, Hans set out to see how much corn she had cut; but she had cut no corn at all, but there she was lying in it asleep. Then Hans made haste home, and fetched a bird-net with little bells and threw it over her; and still she went on sleeping. And he ran home again and locked himself in, and sat him down on his bench to work. At last, when it was beginning to grow dark, Clever Else woke, and when she got up and shook herself, the bells jingled at each movement that she made. Then she grew frightened, and began to doubt whether she were really Clever Else or not, and said to herself, "Am I, or am I not?" And, not knowing what answer to make, she stood for a long while considering; at last she thought, "I will go home to Hans and ask him if I am I or not; he is sure to know." So she ran up to the door of her house, but it was locked; then she knocked at the window, and cried, "Hans, is Else within?" - "Yes," answered Hans, "she is in." Then she was in a greater fright than ever, and crying, "Oh dear, then I am not I," she went to inquire at another door, but the people hearing the jingling of the bells would not open to her, and she could get in nowhere. So she ran away beyond the village, and since then no one has seen her.