The two travellers


De to vandringsmænd

Hill and vale do not come together, but the children of men do, good and bad. In this way a shoemaker and a tailor once met with each other in their travels. The tailor was a handsome little fellow who was always merry and full of enjoyment. He saw the shoemaker coming towards him from the other side, and as he observed by his bag what kind of a trade he plied, he sang a little mocking song to him,

"Sew me the seam,
Draw me the thread,
Spread it over with pitch,
Knock the nail on the head."
The shoemaker, however, could not endure a joke; he pulled a face as if he had drunk vinegar, and made a gesture as if he were about to seize the tailor by the throat. But the little fellow began to laugh, reached him his bottle, and said, "No harm was meant, take a drink, and swallow your anger down." The shoemaker took a very hearty drink, and the storm on his face began to clear away. He gave the bottle back to the tailor, and said, "I spoke civilly to you; one speaks well after much drinking, but not after much thirst. Shall we travel together?" - "All right," answered the tailor, "if only it suits you to go into a big town where there is no lack of work." - "That is just where I want to go," answered the shoemaker. "In a small nest there is nothing to earn, and in the country, people like to go barefoot." They travelled therefore onwards together, and always set one foot before the other like a weasel in the snow.
Both of them had time enough, but little to bite and to break. When they reached a town they went about and paid their respects to the tradesmen, and because the tailor looked so lively and merry, and had such pretty red cheeks, every one gave him work willingly, and when luck was good the master's daughters gave him a kiss beneath the porch, as well. When he again fell in with the shoemaker, the tailor had always the most in his bundle. The ill-tempered shoemaker made a wry face, and thought, "The greater the rascal the more the luck," but the tailor began to laugh and to sing, and shared all he got with his comrade. If a couple of pence jingled in his pockets, he ordered good cheer, and thumped the table in his joy till the glasses danced, and it was lightly come, lightly go, with him.

When they had travelled for some time, they came to a great forest through which passed the road to the capital. Two foot-paths, however, led through it, one of which was a seven days' journey, and the other only two, but neither of the travellers knew which way was the short one. They seated themselves beneath an oak-tree, and took counsel together how they should forecast, and for how many days they should provide themselves with bread. The shoemaker said, "One must look before one leaps, I will take with me bread for a week." - "What!" said the tailor, "drag bread for seven days on one's back like a beast of burden, and not be able to look about. I shall trust in God, and not trouble myself about anything! The money I have in my pocket is as good in summer as in winter, but in hot weather bread gets dry, and mouldy into the bargain; even my coat does not go as far as it might. Besides, why should we not find the right way? Bread for two days, and that's enough." Each, therefore, bought his own bread, and then they tried their luck in the forest.

It was as quiet there as in a church. No wind stirred, no brook murmured, no bird sang, and through the thickly-leaved branches no sunbeam forced its way. The shoemaker spoke never a word, the heavy bread weighed down his back until the perspiration streamed down his cross and gloomy face. The tailor, however, was quite merry, he jumped about, whistled on a leaf, or sang a song, and thought to himself, "God in heaven must be pleased to see me so happy."

This lasted two days, but on the third the forest would not come to an end, and the tailor had eaten up all his bread, so after all his heart sank down a yard deeper. In the meantime he did not lose courage, but relied on God and on his luck. On the third day he lay down in the evening hungry under a tree, and rose again next morning hungry still; so also passed the fourth day, and when the shoemaker seated himself on a fallen tree and devoured his dinner, the tailor was only a looker-on. If he begged for a little piece of bread the other laughed mockingly, and said, "Thou hast always been so merry, now thou canst try for once what it is to be sad: the birds which sing too early in the morning are struck by the hawk in the evening," In short he was pitiless. But on the fifth morning the poor tailor could no longer stand up, and was hardly able to utter one word for weakness; his cheeks were white, and his eyes red. Then the shoemaker said to him, "I will give thee a bit of bread to-day, but in return for it, I will put out thy right eye." The unhappy tailor who still wished to save his life, could not do it in any other way; he wept once more with both eyes, and then held them out, and the shoemaker, who had a heart of stone, put out his right eye with a sharp knife. The tailor called to remembrance what his mother had formerly said to him when he had been eating secretly in the pantry. "Eat what one can, and suffer what one must." When he had consumed his dearly-bought bread, he got on his legs again, forgot his misery and comforted himself with the thought that he could always see enough with one eye. But on the sixth day, hunger made itself felt again, and gnawed him almost to the heart. In the evening he fell down by a tree, and on the seventh morning he could not raise himself up for faintness, and death was close at hand. Then said the shoemaker, "I will show mercy and give thee bread once more, but thou shalt not have it for nothing, I shall put out thy other eye for it." And now the tailor felt how thoughtless his life had been, prayed to God for forgiveness, and said, "Do what thou wilt, I will bear what I must, but remember that our Lord God does not always look on passively, and that an hour will come when the evil deed which thou hast done to me, and which I have not deserved of thee, will be requited. When times were good with me, I shared what I had with thee. My trade is of that kind that each stitch must always be exactly like the other. If I no longer have my eyes and can sew no more I must go a-begging. At any rate do not leave me here alone when I am blind, or I shall die of hunger." The shoemaker, however, who had driven God out of his heart, took the knife and put out his left eye. Then he gave him a bit of bread to eat, held out a stick to him, and drew him on behind him.

When the sun went down, they got out of the forest, and before them in the open country stood the gallows. Thither the shoemaker guided the blind tailor, and then left him alone and went his way. Weariness, pain, and hunger made the wretched man fall asleep, and he slept the whole night. When day dawned he awoke, but knew not where he lay. Two poor sinners were hanging on the gallows, and a crow sat on the head of each of them. Then one of the men who had been hanged began to speak, and said, "Brother, art thou awake?" - "Yes, I am awake," answered the second. "Then I will tell thee something," said the first; "the dew which this night has fallen down over us from the gallows, gives every one who washes himself with it his eyes again. If blind people did but know this, how many would regain their sight who do not believe that to be possible."

When the tailor heard that, he took his pocket-handkerchief, pressed it on the grass, and when it was moist with dew, washed the sockets of his eyes with it. Immediately was fulfilled what the man on the gallows had said, and a couple of healthy new eyes filled the sockets. It was not long before the tailor saw the sun rise behind the mountains; in the plain before him lay the great royal city with its magnificent gates and hundred towers, and the golden balls and crosses which were on the spires began to shine. He could distinguish every leaf on the trees, saw the birds which flew past, and the midges which danced in the air. He took a needle out of his pocket, and as he could thread it as well as ever he had done, his heart danced with delight. He threw himself on his knees, thanked God for the mercy he had shown him, and said his morning prayer. He did not forget also to pray for the poor sinners who were hanging there swinging against each other in the wind like the pendulums of clocks. Then he took his bundle on his back and soon forgot the pain of heart he had endured, and went on his way singing and whistling.

The first thing he met was a brown foal running about the fields at large. He caught it by the mane, and wanted to spring on it and ride into the town. The foal, however, begged to be set free. "I am still too young," it said, "even a light tailor such as thou art would break my back in two let me go till I have grown strong. A time may perhaps come when I may reward thee for it." - "Run off," said the tailor, "I see thou art still a giddy thing." He gave it a touch with a switch over its back, whereupon it kicked up its hind legs for joy, leapt over hedges and ditches, and galloped away into the open country.

But the little tailor had eaten nothing since the day before. "The sun to be sure fills my eyes," said he, "but the bread does not fill my mouth. The first thing that comes across me and is even half edible will have to suffer for it." In the meantime a stork stepped solemnly over the meadow towards him. "Halt, halt!" cried the tailor, and seized him by the leg. "I don't know if thou art good to eat or not, but my hunger leaves me no great choice. I must cut thy head off, and roast thee." - "Don't do that," replied the stork; "I am a sacred bird which brings mankind great profit, and no one does me an injury. Leave me my life, and I may do thee good in some other way." - "Well, be off, Cousin Longlegs," said the tailor. The stork rose up, let its long legs hang down, and flew gently away.

"What's to be the end of this?" said the tailor to himself at last, "my hunger grows greater and greater, and my stomach more and more empty. Whatsoever comes in my way now is lost." At this moment he saw a couple of young ducks which were on a pond come swimming towards him. "You come just at the right moment," said he, and laid hold of one of them and was about to wring its neck. On this an old duck which was hidden among the reeds, began to scream loudly, and swam to him with open beak, and begged him urgently to spare her dear children. "Canst thou not imagine," said she, "how thy mother would mourn if any one wanted to carry thee off, and give thee thy finishing stroke?" - "Only be quiet," said the good-tempered tailor, "thou shalt keep thy children," and put the prisoner back into the water.

When he turned round, he was standing in front of an old tree which was partly hollow, and saw some wild bees flying in and out of it. "There I shall at once find the reward of my good deed," said the tailor, "the honey will refresh me." But the Queen-bee came out, threatened him and said, "If thou touchest my people, and destroyest my nest, our stings shall pierce thy skin like ten thousand red-hot needles. But if thou wilt leave us in peace and go thy way, we will do thee a service for it another time."

The little tailor saw that here also nothing was to be done. "Three dishes empty and nothing on the fourth is a bad dinner!" He dragged himself therefore with his starved-out stomach into the town, and as it was just striking twelve, all was ready-cooked for him in the inn, and he was able to sit down at once to dinner. When he was satisfied he said, "Now I will get to work." He went round the town, sought a master, and soon found a good situation. As, however, he had thoroughly learnt his trade, it was not long before he became famous, and every one wanted to have his new coat made by the little tailor, whose importance increased daily. "I can go no further in skill," said he, "and yet things improve every day." At last the King appointed him court-tailor.

But how things do happen in the world! On the very same day his former comrade the shoemaker also became court-shoemaker. When the latter caught sight of the tailor, and saw that he had once more two healthy eyes, his conscience troubled him. "Before he takes revenge on me," thought he to himself, "I must dig a pit for him." He, however, who digs a pit for another, falls into it himself. In the evening when work was over and it had grown dusk, he stole to the King and said, "Lord King, the tailor is an arrogant fellow and has boasted that he will get the gold crown back again which was lost in ancient times." - "That would please me very much," said the King, and he caused the tailor to be brought before him next morning, and ordered him to get the crown back again, or to leave the town for ever. "Oho!" thought the tailor, "a rogue gives more than he has got. If the surly King wants me to do what can be done by no one, I will not wait till morning, but will go out of the town at once, to-day." He packed up his bundle, therefore, but when he was without the gate he could not help being sorry to give up his good fortune, and turn his back on the town in which all had gone so well with him. He came to the pond where he had made the acquaintance of the ducks; at that very moment the old one whose young ones he had spared, was sitting there by the shore, pluming herself with her beak. She knew him again instantly, and asked why he was hanging his head so? "Thou wilt not be surprised when thou hearest what has befallen me," replied the tailor, and told her his fate. "If that be all," said the duck, "we can help thee. The crown fell into the water, and lies down below at the bottom; we will soon bring it up again for thee. In the meantime just spread out thy handkerchief on the bank." She dived down with her twelve young ones, and in five minutes she was up again and sat with the crown resting on her wings, and the twelve young ones were swimming round about and had put their beaks under it, and were helping to carry it. They swam to the shore and put the crown on the handkerchief. No one can imagine how magnificent the crown was; when the sun shone on it, it gleamed like a hundred thousand carbuncles. The tailor tied his handkerchief together by the four corners, and carried it to the King, who was full of joy, and put a gold chain round the tailor's neck.

When the shoemaker saw that one stroke had failed, he contrived a second, and went to the King and said, "Lord King, the tailor has become insolent again; he boasts that he will copy in wax the whole of the royal palace, with everything that pertains to it, loose or fast, inside and out." The King sent for the tailor and ordered him to copy in wax the whole of the royal palace, with everything that pertained to it, movable or immovable, within and without, and if he did not succeed in doing this, or if so much as one nail on the wall were wanting, he should be imprisoned for his whole life under ground.

The tailor thought, "It gets worse and worse! No one can endure that?" and threw his bundle on his back, and went forth. When he came to the hollow tree, he sat down and hung his head. The bees came flying out, and the Queen-bee asked him if he had a stiff neck, since he held his head so awry? "Alas, no," answered the tailor, "something quite different weighs me down," and he told her what the King had demanded of him. The bees began to buzz and hum amongst themselves, and the Queen-bee said, "Just go home again, but come back to-morrow at this time, and bring a large sheet with you, and then all will be well." So he turned back again, but the bees flew to the royal palace and straight into it through the open windows, crept round about into every corner, and inspected everything most carefully. Then they hurried back and modelled the palace in wax with such rapidity that any one looking on would have thought it was growing before his eyes. By the evening all was ready, and when the tailor came next morning, the whole of the splendid building was there, and not one nail in the wall or tile of the roof was wanting, and it was delicate withal, and white as snow, and smelt sweet as honey. The tailor wrapped it carefully in his cloth and took it to the King, who could not admire it enough, placed it in his largest hall, and in return for it presented the tailor with a large stone house.

The shoemaker, however, did not give up, but went for the third time to the King and said, "Lord King, it has come to the tailor's ears that no water will spring up in the court-yard of the castle, and he has boasted that it shall rise up in the midst of the court-yard to a man's height and be clear as crystal." Then the King ordered the tailor to be brought before him and said, "If a stream of water does not rise in my court-yard by to-morrow as thou hast promised, the executioner shall in that very place make thee shorter by the head." The poor tailor did not take long to think about it, but hurried out to the gate, and because this time it was a matter of life and death to him, tears rolled down his face. Whilst he was thus going forth full of sorrow, the foal to which he had formerly given its liberty, and which had now become a beautiful chestnut horse, came leaping towards him. "The time has come," it said to the tailor, "when I can repay thee for thy good deed. I know already what is needful to thee, but thou shalt soon have help; get on me, my back can carry two such as thou." The tailor's courage came back to him; he jumped up in one bound, and the horse went full speed into the town, and right up to the court-yard of the castle. It galloped as quick as lightning thrice round it, and at the third time it fell violently down. At the same instant, however, there was a terrific clap of thunder, a fragment of earth in the middle of the court-yard sprang like a cannon-ball into the air, and over the castle, and directly after it a jet of water rose as high as a man on horseback, and the water was as pure as crystal, and the sunbeams began to dance on it. When the King saw that he arose in amazement, and went and embraced the tailor in the sight of all men.

But good fortune did not last long. The King had daughters in plenty, one still prettier than the other, but he had no son. So the malicious shoemaker betook himself for the fourth time to the King, and said, "Lord King, the tailor has not given up his arrogance. He has now boasted that if he liked, he could cause a son to be brought to the Lord king through the air." The King commanded the tailor to be summoned, and said, "If thou causest a son to be brought to me within nine days, thou shalt have my eldest daughter to wife." - "The reward is indeed great," thought the little tailor; "one would willingly do something for it, but the cherries grow too high for me, if I climb for them, the bough will break beneath me, and I shall fall."

He went home, seated himself cross-legged on his work-table, and thought over what was to be done. "It can't be managed," cried he at last, "I will go away; after all I can't live in peace here." He tied up his bundle and hurried away to the gate. When he got to the meadow, he perceived his old friend the stork, who was walking backwards and forwards like a philosopher. Sometimes he stood still, took a frog into close consideration, and at length swallowed it down. The stork came to him and greeted him. "I see," he began, "that thou hast thy pack on thy back. Why art thou leaving the town?" The tailor told him what the King had required of him, and how he could not perform it, and lamented his misfortune. "Don't let thy hair grow grey about that," said the stork, "I will help thee out of thy difficulty. For a long time now, I have carried the children in swaddling-clothes into the town, so for once in a way I can fetch a little prince out of the well. Go home and be easy. In nine days from this time repair to the royal palace, and there will I come." The little tailor went home, and at the appointed time was at the castle. It was not long before the stork came flying thither and tapped at the window. The tailor opened it, and cousin Longlegs came carefully in, and walked with solemn steps over the smooth marble pavement. He had, moreover, a baby in his beak that was as lovely as an angel, and stretched out its little hands to the Queen. The stork laid it in her lap, and she caressed it and kissed it, and was beside herself with delight. Before the stork flew away, he took his travelling bag off his back and handed it over to the Queen. In it there were little paper parcels with colored sweetmeats, and they were divided amongst the little princesses. The eldest, however, had none of them, but got the merry tailor for a husband. "It seems to me," said he, "just as if I had won the highest prize. My mother was if right after all, she always said that whoever trusts in God and only has good luck, can never fail."

The shoemaker had to make the shoes in which the little tailor danced at the wedding festival, after which he was commanded to quit the town for ever. The road to the forest led him to the gallows. Worn out with anger, rage, and the heat of the day, he threw himself down. When he had closed his eyes and was about to sleep, the two crows flew down from the heads of the men who were hanging there, and pecked his eyes out. In his madness he ran into the forest and must have died there of hunger, for no one has ever either seen him again or heard of him.
Bjerg og dal mødes aldrig, men det gør menneskene, de gode og de onde. Således kom også engang en skrædder og en skomager på vandring sammen. Skrædderen var en lille køn fyr, glad og i godt humør. Da så skomageren kom gående og han på hans ransel kunne se, hvad hans håndværk var, gav han sig til at synge en smædevise:

"Stik ind, træk ud,
smør beg derpå,
og glem ej pløkken
ned at slå."

Skomageren kunne ikke tåle spøg. Han satte et ansigt op så surt som en eddikebrygger og gjorde mine til at gå løs på skrædderen. Men den lille fyrgav sig til at le, rakte ham sin flaske og sagde: "Det var ikke så slemt ment. Skyl hellere galden ned." Skomageren tog en ordentlig slurk, og hans ansigt begyndte at klare op. Han gav skrædderen flasken tilbage og sagde: "Ja, jeg har jo ordentlig smagt på varerne. Man snakker så meget om alt det drikkeri, men ikke om den store tørst. Skal vi følges?" - "Lad os bare det," sagde skrædderen, "hvis du vil med ind i den store by, hvor vi kan få ordentligt arbejde." - "Ja, det er netop det, jeg vil," sagde skomageren, "i en lille by er der ikke noget at fortjene, og på landet holder folkene mest af at gå barfodede." De gik så videre sammen og satte hele tiden det ene ben foran det andet, ligesom væselen i sneen.

Tid havde de begge to fuldt op af, men ret meget at putte i munden havde de jo ikke. Da de kom ind i byen gik de rundt og hilste på deres kammerater, og da skrædderen så glad og fornøjet ud med sine friske, røde kinder, gav de ham allesammen gerne noget. Når lykken var ham rigtig god, gav mesterens datter ham et kys med på vejen. Når han traf sammen med skomageren igen, havde han altid noget med i sin ransel. Skomageren var misundelig og satte et surt ansigt op. "Jo større skælm, jo større lykke," sagde han. Men skrædderen lo og sang og delte alt, hvad han fik, med sin kammerat. Når han blot havde et par øre i lommen krævede han rask væk ind og slog af glæde i bordet, så glassene dansede, og hans valgsprog var: "Hvad der kommer let, går let."

Da de havde vandret i nogen tid, kom de til en stor skov, gennem hvilken vejen til hovedstaden gik. Der gik to stier, den ene blev man færdig med på to dage, den anden tog en hel uge, men ingen af dem vidste, hvilken der var den korteste. De satte sig så under et egetræ og talte om, hvad de skulle gøre, og hvor meget brød de skulle tage med. "Man må tænke en lille smule ud over øjeblikket," sagde skomageren, "jeg tager brød med til syv dage." - "Sikken en ide," sagde skrædderen, "vi kommer jo til at slæbe som bæster og kan ikke røre os. Jeg stoler på Gud og bryder mig ikke om resten. Pengene i min lomme er ligeså gode om sommeren som om vinteren, men når det er varmt, bliver brødet både tørt og skimlet, og så skulle man ovenikøbet slide sin gode frakke i stykker. Hvorfor skulle vi ikke kunne finde den rigtige vej? Tag brød til to dage og lad det så være godt." De købte sig så hver noget brød og gik på lykke og fromme ind i skoven.

Der var så stille som i en kirke. Ikke en vind rørte sig, man hørte ikke bækkens brusen eller fuglenes sang, og ikke en solstråle trængte gennem det tætte løv. Skomageren sagde ikke et ord. Brødet, som han bar på ryggen, tyngede ham sådan, at sveden løb ned over hans mørke, gnavne ansigt. Skrædderen var i godt humør, sprang af sted, peb i et blad eller sang og tænkte: "Gud må glæde sig i sin himmel over at jeg er så glad." De drog af sted i to dage, men da skoven slet ikke så ud til at tage nogen ende, og skrædderen havde spist sit brød, sank hans humør dog lidt. Dog tabte han ikke modet, men stolede på Gud og sin lykke. Om aftenen lagde han sig sulten til at sove under et træ, og næste morgen stod han sulten op. Således gik den fjerde dag, og når skomageren satte sig på et fældet træ og spiste, måtte skrædderen nøjes med at se til. Når han bad om et lille stykke brød lo den anden hånligt og sagde: "Du har altid været i så godt humør. Nu kan du engang prøve, hvordan det er at være ked af det. Den, der synger om morgenen, kommer til at græde inden aften." Han havde slet ingen medlidenhed, og den femte dag kunne skrædderen ikke stå på benene og var så mat, at han næsten ikke kunne sige et ord. Hans kinder var helt hvide og hans øjne røde. "I dag skal du få et stykke brød," sagde skomageren, "men kun på den betingelse, at jeg får lov til at stikke dit højre øje ud." Den stakkels skrædder, der gerne ville beholde livet, vidste ikke, hvad han skulle gøre. Han græd endnu engang med begge øjne, og den onde skomager stak så det højre ud med en skarp kniv. Skrædderen kom i tanker om, hvad hans mor havde sagt, når han slikkede i spisekammeret: "Spis, hvad du vil, og lid, hvad du skal." Da han havde spist sit dyrekøbte brød, glemte han sin sorg og trøstede sig med, at han jo kunne se nok med det andet øje. Men den sjette dag sled sulten igen i hans tarme. Om aftenen faldt han om ved et træ, og den syvende morgen var han så mat, at han ikke kunne stå op, og døden lå allerede og lurede på sit bytte. "Jeg vil være barmhjertig imod dig," sagde skomageren så, "du skal igen få noget brød, det vil sige, du skal give noget for det, jeg vil have lov til også at stikke dit venstre øje ud." Da indså skrædderen, hvor letsindig han havde båret sig ad, bad Gud om tilgivelse og sagde: "Gør det så kun, jeg vil finde mig deri, men husk på, at Gud ikke dømmer i samme øjeblik, men at der kommer en stund, hvor din onde gerning bliver straffet. Jeg har ikke fortjent det af dig. I de gode dage har jeg delt med dig, hvad jeg havde. Mit håndværk er sådan, at jeg må sy sting på sting. Når jeg ingen øjne har, kan jeg ikke mere sy, og så må jeg gå ud og tigge. Lad mig kun ikke ligge ene og blind her, så dør jeg af sult." Men den onde skomager tog kniven og stak hans venstre øje ud. Så gav han ham et stykke brød og en stok og førte ham med sig.

Da solen sank, kom de ud af skoven, og udenfor på marken stod en galge. Derhen førte skomageren den blinde skrædder, lod ham ligge og gik sin vej. Af træthed, sult og smerte faldt den stakkels mand i søvn og sov hele natten. Ved morgengry vågnede han, men vidste ikke, hvor han var. I galgen hang der to slyngler og på deres hoveder sad to krager. Den ene sagde: "Er du vågen bror?" - "Ja," svarede den anden. "Så skal jeg fortælle dig noget," sagde den første. "Den dug, der er faldet i nat her fra galgen, har en mærkelig egenskab. Hvis en blind vasker sig med den, får han sit syn tilbage. De skulle bare vide det, alle de folk, der har opgivet at komme til at se igen." Da skrædderen hørte det tog han sit lommetørklæde, gjorde det vådt af duggen på græsset og vaskede sine øjenhuler dermed. Straks fik han et par gode, klare øjne. Kort tid efter steg solen op bag bjergene, og skrædderen så nu, at lige foran på sletten lå den store hovedstad med prægtige porte og hundrede tårne. De gyldne kupler og kors begyndte at gløde i solen. Han kunne se alle bladene på træerne, fuglene, der fløj forbi, og myggene, som dansede i luften. Han tog nu en synål op af lommen, og da det gik ligeså let som før med at træde den, hoppede hjertet i livet på ham af glæde. Han kastede sig på knæ, takkede Gud for hans godhed og bad sin morgenbøn. Han glemte heller ikke at bede for de stakkels syndere, som hang derhenne og blev svungne frem og tilbage af vinden som kneblen i en klokke. Så tog han sin ransel på nakken, glemte snart al sin sorg og gik fløjtende og syngende videre.

Det første, levende væsen, han mødte, var et brunt føl, som sprang omkring på marken. Han greb det i manken og ville svinge sig op på det, men føllet bad, om det måtte beholde sin frihed. "Jeg er ung endnu," sagde det, "og også en lettere skrædder end du knækker min ryg. Lad mig løbe, til jeg er blevet stærk. Jeg kan måske gengælde dig det engang." - "Stik bare af," sagde skrædderen, "du er jo heller ikke andet end en springfyr." Han gav den et rap med pisken over ryggen, så den af glæde slog ud med benene og sprang af sted over hække og grøfter.

Skrædderen havde imidlertid ikke fået noget at spise siden dagen før. "Solen er nok god for øjnene," sagde han, "men den putter jo ikke noget i munden. Det første jeg møder, som blot er nogenlunde spiseligt, tager jeg." Lidt efter kom en stork langsomt spankulerende hen over engen. "Stop lidt," råbte skrædderen og greb den i benet, "jeg ved ikke, om du er til at spise men jeg er så sulten, at jeg må tage til takke med, hvad jeg kan få. Jeg bliver nødt til at hugge hovedet af dig og stege dig." - "Det skulle du ikke gøre," sagde storken, "jeg er en hellig fugl, som ingen gør fortræd, og jeg er til stor nytte. Hvis du lader mig beholde livet, kan jeg måske gøre noget for dig en anden gang." - "Gå så kun, stork langeben," sagde skrædderen. Storken hævede sig op, lod de lange ben hænge ned og fløj ganske sindigt af sted.

"Hvad skal det dog blive til," tænkte skrædderen, "jeg bliver mere ogmere sulten, og min mave er skrækkelig tom. Det første jeg nu kan få fat i, skal ikke slippe." Han så nu, at der i en dam svømmede et par ællinger. "I kommer jo, som I var kaldet," sagde han, "greb den ene og ville dreje halsen om på den. Den gamle and, der lå inde mellem sivene, begyndte at skrige højt, kom svømmende, og bad ham skåne hendes søde børn. "Du tænker slet ikke på, hvor din mor ville græde, hvis der kom en og tog dig og ville slå dig ihjel." - "Ti nu bare stille," sagde den godmodige skrædder, "du skal få lov til at beholde dine børn." Derpå satte han igen ællingen ud i vandet.

Da han vendte sig om så han et gammelt hult træ. Vilde bier fløj ud og ind. "Nu får jeg straks løn for min gode gerning," tænkte han, "honningen skal rigtig smage mig." Men bidronningen kom flyvende og sagde truende: "Hvis du rører nogen af mit folk eller ødelægger min rede, så skal du rammes af vore brodde, som af titusinde glødende nålestik. Men hvis du lader os i fred og går din vej, skal vi en anden gang gøre dig en tjeneste."

Skrædderen så nok, at der heller ikke var noget at stille op her. "Først tre tomme fade og nu nok et," tænkte han, "det er rigtignok et slemt måltid." Han traskede så til byen med samt sin slunkne mave, og klokken ringede netop tolv, da han kom til kroen, så bordet var dækket. Han satte sig derind og spiste og drak. "Nu vil jeg se at få noget at bestille," sagde han, da han var mæt. Han gik ud i byen for at finde en mester, og det lykkedes ham at komme i tjeneste hos en rigtig flink en. Da han havde lært sit håndværk lige fra grunden, varede det ikke længe, før han blev berømt, og alle mennesker ville have deres tøj syet af den lille skrædder. For hver dag, der gik, blev han mere anset. "Jeg kan ikke drive det videre i min kunst," sagde han, "og alligevel går det bedre for hver dag." Til sidst blev han endogså udnævnt til hof skrædder.

Men underligt går det til her i verden. Samme dag var også hans kammerat, skomageren, blevet udnævnt til hofskomager. Da denne så skrædderen igen med to raske øjne, gjorde hans onde samvittighed ham bange. "Det er bedst, han går til grunde, før han hævner sig på mig," tænkte han. Men den, der graver en grav for andre, falder selv deri. Da det var blevet fyraften, listede han sig i mørket op til kongen og sagde: "Herre konge, skrædderen er en meget hovmodig fyr. Han har påstået, at han kunne skaffe den guldkrone, som er blevet borte for lang, lang tid siden." - "Det ville jeg være meget glad for," sagde kongen, kaldte næste morgen skrædderen op til sig og befalede ham enten at skaffe kronen eller også for bestandig forlade byen. "En skælm giver mere end han har," tænkte skrædderen, "når den gnavne konge forlanger, at jeg skal gøre, hvad intet menneske kan, har jeg ikke lyst til at vente til i morgen. Jeg går straks." Han pakkede så sin ransel. Men da han var kommet udenfor porten, syntes han alligevel, det var kedeligt, at han skulle forlade den by, hvor han sådan havde haft lykken med sig. Han kom forbi den dam, hvor han havde fundet ællingerne, og deres mor sad netop på bredden og pudsede sig med næbbet. Hun kendte ham straks og spurgte, hvorfor han hang sådan med hovedet. "Det vil såmænd ikke undre dig, når du hører, hvordan det er gået mig," svarede han, og fortalte det hele til anden. "Er der ikke andet i vejen," sagde den, "jeg kan hjælpe dig. Kronen er faldet i vandet og ligger nede på bunden. Den skal jeg snart få fat i. Imens kan du brede dit lommetørklæde ud på bredden." Den dukkede under med sine unger, og fem minutter efter kom den igen. Kronen havde den om halsen, den hvilede på fjerene, og de tolv unger svømmede rundt om og støttede den med næbbene. De svømmede så hen til bredden og lagde kronen på tørklædet. Den var det dejligste, man kunne tænke sig, når solen skinnede på den, strålede den som tusinde ædelstene. Skrædderen bandt de fire hjørner af tørklædet sammen og bragte kronen til kongen, som blev meget glad og gav skrædderen en gylden halskæde.

Da skomageren så, at han ikke havde haft held med sig denne gang, fandt han på noget nyt, gik hen til kongen og sagde: "Den vigtige skrædder påstår nu, at han kan lave et voksslot, nøjagtig mage til dette her, med alt, hvad her er." Kongen kaldte på skrædderen og sagde, at han skulle lave et sådant slot, og hvis der manglede blot et søm i muren, skulle han, så længe han levede, få lov til at sidde i et mørkt fængsel under jorden. "Det bliver værre og værre," tænkte skrædderen, "det kan jo intet menneske gøre." Så tog han sin ransel på nakken og gik. Da han kom til det hule træ, satte han sig der, og var jo lidt ked af det. Bierne kom så flyvende, og dronningen spurgte, om der var noget galt med hans hals, siden han hang sådan med hovedet. "Nej, det er såmænd andre sorger, der plager mig," sagde skrædderen og fortalte, hvad kongen havde forlangt af ham. Bierne begyndte at summe og brumme, og til sidst sagde dronningen: "Gå kun hjem nu, men kom igen i morgen på denne tid, og tag et stort tørklæde med, så skal vi nok klare de ærter." Skrædderen vendte så tilbage til byen. Bierne fløj gennem de åbne vinduer ind i slottet, undersøgte alt på det nøjagtigste, og krøb ind i de mindste kroge. Så vendte de tilbage til skoven og lavede et voksslot i en sådan fart, at det så ud, som om det pludselig voksede op for ens øjne. Om aftenen var det færdigt, og da skrædderen kom næste morgen, stod hele det prægtige slot der, og der manglede ikke et søm i væggen og ikke en sten på taget. Det var helt hvidt og duftede sødt som honning. Skrædderen pakkede det forsigtigt ind i sit tørklæde og bragte det til kongen. Han blev meget forbavset, stillede det op i sin største sal og forærede skrædderen et stort stenhus.

Men skomageren opgav ikke sin plan og gik tredie gang op til kongen og sagde: "Skrædderen har fået at vide, at vandet i slotsgården ikke vil springe, og han har sagt, at han kan få en stråle frem, så klar som krystal og så høj som en mand." Kongen sendte nu bud efter skrædderen og sagde: " Hvis vandet i morgen ikke springer med sådan en stråle, som du har sagt, så skal bøddelen straks gøre dig et hovede kortere." Den stakkels skrædder betænkte sig ikke længe, men skyndte sig ud af porten. Tårerne trillede ham ned ad kinderne, for nu gjaldt det jo hans liv. Mens han nu bedrøvet gik hen ad vejen, kom der en hest løbende. Det var det føl, som han engang havde skænket friheden, det var nu blevet til en smuk hest. "Nu kan jeg gengælde din godhed," sagde det. "Jeg ved godt, hvad der er i vejen, men jeg skal nok hjælpe dig. Sæt dig op på min ryg, nu kan jeg bære dig og mere til." Skrædderen fattede mod igen, sprang op på hesten, og den rendte i galop til byen, lige ind i slotsgården. Hurtig som lynet for den tre gange rundt, og tredie gang faldt den om. I samme øjeblik gav det et frygteligt brag. Midt ude i gården rev et stykke jord sig løs og fløj som en kugle op i luften, henover slottet. Straks efter steg der en stråle op, så høj som en mand til hest, klar som krystal, og solstrålerne brødes i den. Da kongen så det, blev han så forbavset, at han gik ned og omfavnede skrædderen i alle menneskers påsyn.

Men den lykke varede ikke længe. Kongen havde mange døtre, den ene smukkere end den anden, men ingen søn. Den onde skomager gik så for fjerde gang til kongen og sagde: "Skrædderen bliver ved at være lige hovmodig. Nu har han sagt, at hvis han ville, kunne han skaffe kongen en søn, der kom flyvende hertil gennem luften." Kongen lod igen skrædderen kalde og sagde: "Hvis du inden ni dage kan bringe mig en søn, skal du få min ældste datter til kone." - "Det er rigtignok en god løn," tænkte skrædderen, "det var vel nok værd at vove noget for, men de kirsebær hænger dog for højt. Hvis jeg ville kravle op efter dem, ville grenen vist knække, og jeg faldt ned." Så gik han hjem og satte sig på bordet og trak benene ind under sig og tænkte over, hvad han skulle gøre. "Det går ikke," råbte han til sidst, "jeg må af sted, her kan jeg dog aldrig få fred." Han pakkede sin ransel og gik ud af byen. Da han kom ud på engen, så han sin gamle ven, storken, gå op og ned med en uhyre fornuftig mine. Engang imellem standsede den, betragtede nøje en frø og slugte den så. Da den fik øje på ham, kom den hen og sagde goddag. "Du har nok i sinde at forlade byen, siden du har din ransel på ryggen," sagde den, "hvor kan det være?" Skrædderen fortalte, hvad kongen havde forlangt af ham. Det kunne han jo umuligt opfylde, og han beklagede sig meget over sit uheld. "Lad det bare ikke sætte dig grå hår i hovedet," sagde storken, "jeg skal nok hjælpe dig. Jeg har nu i så mange år bragt små børn til byen, så kan jeg vel også få fat i en lille prins. Gå du ganske roligt hjem. Og gå så om ni dage op på slottet, så skal jeg komme." Skrædderen gik hjem, og den niende dag gik han op på slottet. Lidt efter kom storken flyvende og bankede på vinduet. Skrædderen lukkede op. Stork langeben kom forsigtigt ind og gik med afmålte skridt hen over det glatte marmorgulv. I næbbet havde den et barn, så dejligt som en lille engel, og det strakte sine små hænder ud imod dronningen. Den lagde det i hendes skød, og hun trykkede og kyssede det, og var ude af sig selv af glæde. Før storken fløj af sted, tog den forsigtigt sin rejsetaske af skulderen og gav den til dronningen. Den var fuld af tutter med kulørte sukkerkugler, og dem fik de små prinsesser. Den ældste fik ikke noget af det, men hun fik den glade skrædder til mand. "Jeg er til mode, som om jeg havde vundet det store lod i lotteriet," sagde han, "mor havde dog ret. Hun sagde altid: Den der tror på Gud og har lykken med sig, vil aldrig komme til at mangle noget."

Skomageren måtte lave de sko, som skrædderen ville danse med på sin bryllupsdag, og fik så befaling til at forlade byen. Vejen til skoven gik forbi galgen, og da han var træt af vrede og heden, kastede han sig ned der. Da han lukkede øjnene for at sove, kom de to krager farende ned fra de hængtes hoveder og hakkede skrigende øjnene ud på ham. Som en vanvittig rendte han ind i skoven, og der er han vel død af sult, for ingen har set eller hørt noget til ham siden.

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