Donkey cabbages



There was once a young huntsman who went into the forest to lie in wait. He had a fresh and joyous heart, and as he was going thither, whistling upon a leaf, an ugly old crone came up, who spoke to him and said, "Good-day, dear huntsman, truly you are merry and contented, but I am suffering from hunger and thirst, do give me an alms." The huntsman had compassion on the poor old creature, felt in his pocket, and gave her what he could afford. He was then about to go further, but the old woman stopped him and said, "Listen, dear huntsman, to what I tell you; I will make you a present in return for your kindness. Go on your way now, but in a little while you will come to a tree, whereon nine birds are sitting which have a cloak in their claws, and are plucking at it; take your gun and shoot into the midst of them, they will let the cloak fall down to you, but one of the birds will be hurt, and will drop down dead. Carry away the cloak, it is a wishing-cloak; when you throw it over your shoulders, you only have to wish to be in a certain place, and you will be there in the twinkling of an eye. Take out the heart of the dead bird and swallow it whole, and every morning early, when you get up, you will find a gold piece under your pillow." The huntsman thanked the wise woman, and thought to himself, "Those are fine things that she has promised me, if all does but come true." And verily when he had walked about a hundred paces, he heard in the branches above him such a screaming and twittering that he looked up and saw there a crowd of birds who were tearing a piece of cloth about with their beaks and claws, and tugging and fighting as if each wanted to have it all to himself. "Well," said the huntsman, "this is wonderful, it has really come to pass just as the old wife foretold!" and he took the gun from his shoulder, aimed and fired right into the midst of them, so that the feathers flew about. The birds instantly took to flight with loud outcries, but one dropped down dead, and the cloak fell at the same time. Then the huntsman did as the old woman had directed him, cut open the bird, sought the heart, swallowed it down, and took the cloak home with him.
Next morning, when he awoke, the promise occurred to him, and he wished to see if it also had been fulfilled. When he lifted up the pillow, the gold piece shone in his eyes, and next day he found another, and so it went on, every time he got up. He gathered together a heap of gold, but at last he thought, "Of what use is all my gold to me if I stay at home? I will go forth and see the world."

He then took leave of his parents, buckled on his huntsman's pouch and gun, and went out into the world. It came to pass, that one day he travelled through a dense forest, and when he came to the end of it, in the plain before him stood a fine castle. An old woman was standing with a wonderfully beautiful maiden, looking out of one of the windows. The old woman, however, was a witch and said to the maiden, "There comes one out of the forest, who has a wonderful treasure in his body, we must filch it from him, my dear daughter, it is more suitable for us than for him. He has a bird's heart about him, by means of which a gold piece lies every morning under his pillow." She told her what she was to do to get it, and what part she had to play, and finally threatened her, and said with angry eyes, "And if you do not attend to what I say, it will be the worse for you." Now when the huntsman came nearer he descried the maiden, and said to himself, "I have travelled about for such a long time, I will take a rest for once, and enter that beautiful castle. I have certainly money enough." Nevertheless, the real reason was that he had caught sight of the pretty girl.

He entered the house, and was well received and courteously entertained. Before long he was so much in love with the young witch that he no longer thought of anything else, and only saw things as she saw them, and did what she desired. The old woman then said, "Now we must have the bird's heart, he will never miss it." She prepared a drink, and when it was ready, poured it into a cup and gave it to the maiden, who was to present it to the huntsman. She did so, saying, "Now, my dearest, drink to me." So he took the cup, and when he had swallowed the draught, he brought up the heart of the bird. The girl had to take it away secretly and swallow it herself, for the old woman would have it so. Thenceforward he found no more gold under his pillow, but it lay instead under that of the maiden, from whence the old woman fetched it away every morning; but he was so much in love and so befooled, that he thought of nothing else but of passing his time with the girl.

Then the old witch said, "We have the bird's heart, but we must also take the wishing-cloak away from him." The girl answered, "We will leave him that, he has lost his wealth." The old woman was angry and said, "Such a mantle is a wonderful thing, and is seldom to be found in this world. I must and will have it!" She gave the girl several blows, and said that if she did not obey, it should fare ill with her. So she did the old woman's bidding, placed herself at the window and looked on the distant country, as if she were very sorrowful. The huntsman asked, "Why dost thou stand there so sorrowfully?" - "Ah, my beloved," was her answer, "over yonder lies the Garnet Mountain, where the precious stones grow. I long for them so much that when I think of them, I feel quite sad, but who can get them? Only the birds; they fly and can reach them, but a man never." - "Hast thou nothing else to complain of?" said the huntsman. "I will soon remove that burden from thy heart." With that he drew her under his mantle, wished himself on the Garnet Mountain, and in the twinkling of an eye they were sitting on it together. Precious stones were glistening on every side so that it was a joy to see them, and together they gathered the finest and costliest of them. Now, the old woman had, through her sorceries, contrived that the eyes of the huntsman should become heavy. He said to the maiden, "We will sit down and rest awhile, I am so tired that I can no longer stand on my feet." Then they sat down, and he laid his head in her lap, and fell asleep. When he was asleep, she unfastened the mantle from his shoulders, and wrapped herself in it, picked up the garnets and stones, and wished herself back at home with them.

But when the huntsman had had his sleep out and awoke, and perceived that his sweetheart had betrayed him, and left him alone on the wild mountain, he said, "Oh, what treachery there is in the world!" and sat down there in care and sorrow, not knowing what to do. But the mountain belonged to some wild and monstrous giants who dwelt thereon and lived their lives there, and he had not sat long before he saw three of them coming towards him, so he lay down as if he were sunk in a deep sleep. Then the giants came up, and the first kicked him with his foot and said, "What sort of an earth-worm is lying curled up here? The second said, "Step upon him and kill him." But the third said, "That would indeed be worth your while; just let him live, he cannot remain here; and when he climbs higher, toward the summit of of the mountain, the clouds will lay hold of him and bear him away." So saying they passed by. But the huntsman had paid heed to their words, and as soon as they were gone, he rose and climbed up to the summit of the mountain, and when he had sat there a while, a cloud floated towards him, caught him up, carried him away, and travelled about for a long time in the heavens. Then it sank lower, and let itself down on a great cabbage-garden, girt round by walls, so that he came softly to the ground on cabbages and vegetables.

Then the huntsman looked about him and said, "If I had but something to eat! I am so hungry, and my hunger will increase in course of time; but I see here neither apples nor pears, nor any other sort of fruit, everywhere nothing but cabbages," but at length he thought, "At a pinch I can eat some of the leaves, they do not taste particularly good, but they will refresh me." With that he picked himself out a fine head of cabbage, and ate it, but scarcely had he swallowed a couple of mouthfuls than he felt very strange and quite different.

Four legs grew on him, a large head and two thick ears, and he saw with horror that he was changed into an ass. Still as his hunger increased every minute, and as the juicy leaves were suitable to his present nature, he went on eating with great zest. At last he arrived at a different kind of cabbage, but as soon as he had swallowed it, he again felt a change, and reassumed his former human shape.

Then the huntsman lay down and slept off his fatigue. When he awoke next morning, he broke off one head of the bad cabbages and another of the good ones, and thought to himself, "This shall help me to get my own again and punish treachery." Then he took the cabbages with him, climbed over the wall, and went forth to seek for the castle of his sweetheart. After wandering about for a couple of days he was lucky enough to find it again. He dyed his face brown, so that his own mother would not have known him; and begged for shelter: "I am so tired," said he, "that I can go no further." The witch asked, "Who are you, countryman, and what is your business?" - "I am a King's messenger, and was sent out to seek the most delicious salad which grows beneath the sun. I have even been so fortunate as to find it, and am carrying it about with me; but the heat of the sun is so intense that the delicate cabbage threatens to wither, and I do not know if I can carry it any further."

When the old woman heard of the exquisite salad, she was greedy, and said, "Dear countryman, let me just taste this wonderful salad." - "Why not?" answered he, "I have brought two heads with me, and will give you one of them," and he opened his pouch and handed her the bad cabbage. The witch suspected nothing amiss, and her mouth watered so for this new dish that she herself went into the kitchen and dressed it. When it was prepared she could not wait until it was set on the table, but took a couple of leaves at once, and put them in her mouth, but hardly had she swallowed them than she was deprived of her human shape, and she ran out into the courtyard in the form of an ass. Presently the maid-servant entered the kitchen, saw the salad standing there ready prepared, and was about to carry it up; but on the way, according to habit, she was seized by the desire to taste, and she ate a couple of leaves. Instantly the magic power showed itself, and she likewise became an ass and ran out to the old woman, and the dish of salad fell to the ground. Meantime the messenger sat beside the beautiful girl, and as no one came with the salad and she also was longing for it, she said, "I don't know what has become of the salad." The huntsman thought, "The salad must have already taken effect," and said, "I will go to the kitchen and inquire about it." As he went down he saw the two asses running about in the courtyard; the salad, however, was lying on the ground. "All right," said he, "the two have taken their portion," and he picked up the other leaves, laid them on the dish, and carried them to the maiden. "I bring you the delicate food myself," said he, "in order that you may not have to wait longer." Then she ate of it, and was, like the others, immediately deprived of her human form, and ran out into the courtyard in the shape of an ass.

After the huntsman had washed his face, so that the transformed ones could recognize him, he went down into the courtyard, and said, "Now you shall receive the wages of your treachery," and bound them together, all three with one rope, and drove them along until he came to a mill. He knocked at the window, the miller put out his head, and asked what he wanted. "I have three unmanageable beasts," answered he, "which I don't want to keep any longer. Will you take them in, and give them food and stable room, and manage them as I tell you, and then I will pay you what you ask." The miller said, "Why not? But how am I to manage them?" The huntsman then said that he was to give three beatings and one meal daily to the old donkey, and that was the witch; one beating and three meals to the younger one, which was the servant-girl; and to the youngest, which was the maiden, no beatings and three meals, for he could not bring himself to have the maiden beaten. After that he went back into the castle, and found therein everything he needed.

After a couple of days, the miller came and said he must inform him that the old ass which had received three beatings and only one meal daily was dead; "the two others," he continued, "are certainly not dead, and are fed three times daily, but they are so sad that they cannot last much longer." The huntsman was moved to pity, put away his anger, and told the miller to drive them back again to him. And when they came, he gave them some of the good salad, so that they became human again. The beautiful girl fell on her knees before him, and said, "Ah, my beloved, forgive me for the evil I have done you; my mother drove me to it; it was done against my will, for I love you dearly. Your wishing-cloak hangs in a cupboard, and as for the bird's-heart I will take a vomiting potion." But he thought otherwise, and said, "Keep it; it is all the same, for I will take thee for my true wife." So the wedding was celebrated, and they lived happily together until their death.
Der var engang en ung jæger, som gik ud i skoven for at skyde noget vildt. Han var glad og fornøjet, og sang og peb i et blad, men pludselig fik han øje på en hæslig, gammel kone. "Goddag, kære jæger," sagde hun, "du kan sagtens være glad. Jeg stakkel går her og er så sulten og tørstig, giv mig en skilling. "Jægeren fik ondt af hende, stak hånden i lommen og gav hende nogle penge. Derpå ville han gå videre, men den gamle kone holdt ham tilbage og sagde: "Jeg vil give dig noget, fordi du har sådan et godt hjerte. Gå lige frem ad vejen, så kommer du om lidt til et træ, hvor der sidder ni fugle og slås om en kappe. Så skal du lægge bøssen til kinden og skyde midt ind iblandt dem. Du rammer da en af fuglene og den og kappen falder ned på jorden. Kappen skal du tage med dig, for det er en ønskekappe. Når du tager den på, er du i samme øjeblik det sted, du ønsker at være. Du skal huske at skære hjertet ud af fuglen og spise det, så ligger der hver morgen et guldstykke under din hovedpude."

Jægeren takkede den kloge kone og tænkte ved sig selv: "Det er gode løfter, hun har givet. Bare de nu slår til." Da han havde gået omtrent hundrede skridt, hørte han en skrigen og en hvinen, og da han så op, fik han øje på en flok fugle, der med næb og klør rev og sled i en kappe. "Det er dog underligt," sagde jægeren, "det går aldeles som den gamle har sagt." Derpå tog han sin bøsse og skød midt ind iblandt fuglene, så løse fjer røg rundt i luften. Med høje skrig flygtede de, men en af dem var ramt og faldt til jorden tilligemed kappen. Jægeren gjorde da, som den gamle havde sagt, skar fuglen op, slugte hjertet og tog kappen med hjem.

Da han vågnede næste morgen, tænkte han på, hvad konen havde lovet ham, og ville se, om det var gået i opfyldelse. Han løftede hovedpuden op og så da, at der virkelig lå et skinnende guldstykke, og sådan blev det ved hver morgen. Han fik samlet sig en ordentlig bunke guld sammen, men så tænkte han: "Jeg har jo ikke den mindste glæde af alle mine penge, når jeg bliver herhjemme. Jeg vil drage ud og se mig om i verden."

Derpå tog han afsked med sine forældre, tog ranslen på nakken og geværet på armen og drog af sted. En gang kom han gennem en meget stor skov, og da han kom ud af den, så han, at der lå et prægtigt slot på en slette. I et vindue stod der en gammel kone og en dejlig jomfru og så ud. Den gamle var imidlertid en heks og sagde: "Kan du se ham, der kommer ud af skoven? Han har en mærkelig skat, som vi må se at få fra ham, mit hjertebarn. Det er rimeligere at vi har den end han. Han har et fuglehjerte inden i sig, og derfor ligger der hver morgen et guldstykke under hans hovedpude." Hun fortalte derpå pigen, hvordan de skulle bære sig ad for at få fat i det, og til sidst truede hun ad hende og sagde med onde øjne: "Hvis du ikke adlyder mig, er det ude med dig." Da jægeren kom nærmere, fik han øje på pigen og tænkte: "Nu har jeg draget så længe omkring, nu vil jeg engang hvile mig og tage ind i det smukke slot. Penge har jeg jo mere end nok af." Men det, der havde bragt ham på den tanke, var nok den smukke pige.

Han gik så ind i slottet og blev venligt og gæstfrit modtaget. Det varede ikke længe, før han var så forelsket i pigen, at han kun tænkte på hende, så hende i øjnene og gjorde alt, hvad hun ønskede. "Nu må vi have fuglehjertet," sagde den gamle, "han vil ikke mærke, at det er væk." Hun lavede en drik, hældte den i et bæger, og pigen bragte jægeren det. "Drik, min elskede," sagde hun. Han tog nu bægeret, og da han havde tømt det, kastede han fuglehjertet op. Pigen måtte efter den gamles befaling i al hemmelighed tage det med sig og spise det. Fra nu af fandt jægeren ikke mere guld. Den gamle tog hver morgen det guldstykke, der lå under pigens hovedpude, men han var så forelsket, at han ikke havde tanke for andet end pigen.

"Nu har vi tryllehjertet," sagde den gamle, "nu må vi også se at få fat i kappen." - "Lad ham dog beholde den," sagde pigen, "han har jo dog mistet hele sin rigdom." Men så blev den gamle vred. "Jeg vil have den kappe," sagde hun, "det er kun meget sjældent, man får fat i sådan en mærkværdighed." Hun fortalte pigen, hvordan hun skulle bære sig ad, og truede hende med de hårdeste straffe, hvis hun ikke adlød. Pigen gjorde så, som den gamle havde sagt, stillede sig hen ved vinduet og så med en sørgmodig mine ud over egnen. "Hvorfor er du dog så bedrøvet?" spurgte jægeren. "Åh, min ven," svarede hun, "kan du se granatbjerget, som ligger ligeoverfor. Der vokser de dejligste ædelsten, og jeg ville så gerne have nogle af dem. Jeg bliver helt bedrøvet, når jeg tænker derpå. Men hvordan skal jeg få fat i dem? Kun fuglene kan nå derop på deres vinger, intet menneske." - "Er det det hele," sagde jægeren, "den sorg skal jeg nok slukke." Derpå slog han kappen om dem begge, ønskede sig over på granatbjerget, og i samme øjeblik var de der. De pragtfulde stene strålede og funklede, så det var en fryd at se på, og de tog de smukkeste, de kunne finde. Heksen havde imidlertid ved trolddomskunster indrettet det sådan, at jægeren blev meget træt og søvnig. "Lad os hvile os lidt," sagde han til pigen, "jeg er så træt, at jeg ikke kan stå på benene." Han lagde nu hovedet i hendes skød og faldt i søvn. Da han sov fast, samlede hun de kostbare ædelstene sammen, tog kappen af ham, svøbte sig ind i den og ønskede sig hjem igen.

Da jægeren vågnede, så han, at hans elskede havde bedraget ham, og ladet ham blive alene tilbage på det øde bjerg. "Hvor der er megen falskhed i verden," sagde han bedrøvet, og vidste ikke, hvad han skulle gøre. Bjerget tilhørte imidlertid nogle vilde, mægtige kæmper, som huserede der, og det varede ikke længe, før han så tre af dem komme gående. Han lagde sig da ned og lod, som han sov. Kæmperne kom nu hen til ham, og den ene sparkede til ham og sagde: "Hvad er det for en ussel menneskeorm, som ligger der, med hovedet nede i maven?" - "Slå ham ihjel," sagde den anden, men den tredie sagde foragteligt: "Det er såmænd ikke umagen værd. Lad ham bare beholde livet, her kan han alligevel ikke blive, og hvis han kravler op på toppen, bærer skyerne ham af sted." Imidlertid gik de videre, men jægeren havde hørt, hvad de sagde, og så snart de var borte, kravlede han op på toppen. Da han havde siddet lidt deroppe, kom der en sky svævende, tog ham og bar ham hen over himlen. Efter nogen tids forløb sænkede den sig over en stor urtehave, omgivet af høje mure, og han faldt ganske lempeligt ned mellem kål og grøntsager.

"Bare jeg nu havde noget at spise," sagde han og så sig om, "jeg er så sulten, og det bliver nok ikke så nemt at komme videre. Men her er hverken æbler eller pærer eller anden frugt, ikke andet end urter. Jeg kan måske til nød spise lidt af den salat. Den smager jo ikke af ret meget, men den forfrisker dog." Han søgte sig et rigtigt pænt hovede ud og begyndte at gnave af det, men da han havde sunket et par bidder, blev han så løjerlig til mode. Han blev helt forvandlet. Fire ben, et tykt hovede og to lange ører voksede frem, og han så til sin rædsel, at han var blevet et æsel. Men da han stadig var sulten, og salat jo nu netop var noget for ham, åd han videre med stor grådighed. Han tog også fat på en anden slags, men da han havde spist lidt af den, blev han igen forvandlet til et menneske.

Så lagde han sig ned og sov sin træthed bort. Da han vågnede næste morgen, tog han et hovede af hver slags salat, og tænkte: "Det skal nok hjælpe mig til at få mine ejendele igen og straffe bedragerne." Han klatrede så over muren og drog af sted for at finde sin kærestes slot. Heldigvis fandt han det et par dage efter. Han smurte nu sit ansigt ind, så hans egen mor ikke kunne have kendt ham igen, gik ind i slottet og bad, om han måtte blive der. "Jeg er så træt, at jeg ikke kan gå et skridt længere," sagde han. "Hvad tager du dig ellers for?" spurgte heksen. "Jeg er et sendebud fra kongen," svarede han, "jeg har været ude for at lede efter den dejligste salat i verden. Heldigvis har jeg fundet den. Jeg har den her hos mig, men jeg er bange for, at de fine blade skal visne. Jeg ved såmænd ikke, om jeg kan komme længere med den."

Da den gamle hørte om den dejlige salat, blev hun lækkersulten. "Lad mig smage lidt af den," sagde hun indsmigrende. "Ja, værsgod," svarede jægeren, "jeg har taget to hoveder med, der har du det ene." Derpå rakte han hende det, han havde taget af den første slags. Heksen anede ikke uråd, og hendes tænder løb sådan i vand, at hun selv gik ud i køkkenet for at lave det til. Da hun var færdig, kunne hun ikke vente, til de havde sat sig til bords, men puttede straks et par bidder i munden. I samme øjeblik blev hun forvandlet til et æsel og løb ud i gården. Kokkepigen kom nu for at sætte salaten på bordet, men efter gammel vane fik hun lyst til at smage på den, og tog et par bidder. Øjeblikkelig virkede tryllekraften, og hun blev også forvandlet til et æsel og løb ud i gården til den gamle. Skålen med salaten faldt på gulvet. Jægeren sad imidlertid inde hos den smukke pige. Hun havde også nok lyst til at smage salaten, og da der ingen kom med den, sagde hun: "Jeg kan ikke begribe, hvor den salat bliver af." - "Den har nok allerede gjort sin virkning," tænkte jægeren, og sagde: "Nu skal jeg gå ud i køkkenet og se, hvordan det går." Da han kom derud, så han de to æsler løbe rundt i gården, og salaten lå på gulvet. "Nu har de nok fået deres part," sagde han, samlede resten op, lagde det på et fad og bragte det ind til pigen. "Her bringer jeg jer selv den vidunderlige salat, for at I ikke skal vente på den," sagde han. Hun spiste nu også deraf, blev forvandlet til et æsel og løb ud i gården.

Da jægeren havde vasket sit ansigt, så at han var til at kende igen, gik han ud i gården og sagde: "Nu skal I få straffen for eders falskhed." Derpå bandt han dem alle tre i et tov og trak dem hen til en mølle. Han bankede på ruden, og mølleren stak hovedet ud og spurgte, hvad han ville. "Jeg har tre slemme dyr, som jeg ikke vil have længere," svarede han, "vil dog alligevel, at det var synd at slå hende. Derpå gik han tilbage til slottet, og der var alt, hvad han behøvede.

Efter nogle dages forløb kom mølleren og meldte, at det gamle æsel, som havde fået tre gange prygl og en gang mad, var død. "De to andre lever ganske vist endnu," sagde han, "de får tre gange mad, men de hænger sådan med hovedet, at de holder det vist ikke gående ret længe." Da blev jægeren formildet, fik ondt af dem og sagde til mølleren, at han skulle bringe dem op på. slottet. Derpå gav han dem noget af den anden salat, så de blev til mennesker igen. Den smukke pige kastede sig på knæ for ham. "Tilgiv mig det onde, jeg har gjort dig, min elskede," sagde hun, "min mor tvang mig dertil. Jeg gjorde det mod min vilje, for jeg holder af dig. Din ønskekappe hænger i skabet, og jeg vil tage et brækmiddel, så du får fuglehjertet tilbage." Da kom jægeren på andre tanker. "Behold det kun," sagde han, "det er dog lige meget, hvem der har det, for nu skal du være min hustru." Brylluppet blev så fej ret, og de levede lykkeligt sammen til deres død.

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