Der var engang en ung fyr, som havde lært smedehåndværket. Han sagde en dag til sin far, at han ville drage ud i verden og prøve sin lykke. "Det er meget fornuftigt," sagde faderen, og gav ham nogle penge med på rejsen. Han drog så af sted for at søge efter arbejde. Men smedehåndværket gik ikke rigtigt for ham, så han tabte lysten til det og ville hellere være jæger. En dag, da han gik henad vejen, mødte han en jæger i grøn frakke, der spurgte hvor han skulle hen. Den unge mand fortalte, at han var smedesvend, men han var forresten ked af det, og ville hellere være jæger. Han ville meget gerne straks gå i lære hos jægeren. Det gik denne ind på, og den unge smed tjente ham i nogle år og lærte ham kunsten af. Så ville han prøve sin lykke på egen hånd. Til løn for sin tjeneste fik han ikke andet end en bøsse, men den havde den egenskab, at den altid ramte. Den unge jæger drog så af sted og kom til en stor skov. Hele dagen gik han uden at kunne komme ud af den, og om aftenen satte han sig op i et højt træ, så de vilde dyr ikke kunne få fat i ham. Henimod midnat syntes han, at han så et lys skinne i nogen afstand. Han lagde nøje mærke til, hvor det var, og for at være sikker på ikke at gå forkert, kastede han sin hat i retning af lyset, Derpå kravlede han ned af træet, gik hen til hatten, satte den på igen og gik så lige ud for næsen. Jo længere han gik, jo større blev lyset, og til sidst så han, at det var et vældigt stort bål. Tre kæmper sad rundt om og drejede en okse på et spid. "Det er bedst, jeg smager om kødet snart er mørt," sagde den ene, rev et stykke af og skulle lige til at putte det i munden, så skød jægeren det ud af hånden på ham. "Nu river vinden det sandelig fra mig," sagde han og tog et andet stykke, men også det skød jægeren bort. Da blev kæmpen vred og gav den, der sad ved siden af ham, enørefigen. "Hvorfor river du det fra mig," råbte han. "Jeg har ikke taget det," svarede den anden, "det er vel en eller anden jæger, som har skudt det ud af hånden på dig." Kæmpen tog nu det tredie stykke kød, men heller ikke det, kunne jægeren lade ham beholde. "Det må være en god jæger, der sådan kan skyde maden ud af hånden på mig," sagde han, "ham kunne vi nok bruge." Han råbte så højt: "Kom kun frem, jæger, og spis med, vi skal ikke gøre dig noget. Men hvis vi må bruge magt, for at få fat i dig, er det ude med dig." Den unge mand gik så hen til kæmperne og sagde, at han var jæger. Han kunne ramme alt, hvad han sigtede på. Kæmperne sagde, at hvis han ville følge med dem, skulle han få det godt. De fortalte ham nu, at der udenfor skoven var et dybt vand. På den anden side lå der et tårn, og derinde sad en dejlig prinsesse, som de meget gerne ville have fingre i. "Det skal jeg nok klare," sagde jægeren. "Det er ikke så lige en sag," sagde en af kæmperne, "for der ligger en lille hund, som straks begynder at gø, når nogen nærmer sig, og så vågner hele hoffet. Derfor kan vi ikke komme ind. Tror du, at du kan dræbe hunden?" - "Det er min mindste kunst," sagde jægeren. Han sejlede nu ud på vandet, og da han ville lægge til ved den anden bred kom hunden farende, men han tog i en fart sin bøsse og dræbte den. Kæmperne blev meget glade og tænkte, at nu havde de allerede prinsessen, men jægeren ville dog først se, hvordan det hele gik, og sagde, at de skulle blive udenfor, til han kaldte på dem. Han gik ind i slottet. Der var dødsstille, alle sov. I det første værelse hang der på væggen en sølvsabel, hvori der var indridset en guldstjerne og kongens navn. På bordet lå et forseglet brev, det åbnede han, og deri stod, at den der ejede denne sabel, kunne overvinde alt. Han tog sablen om livet, gik videre, og kom ind i det værelse, hvor prinsessen lå. Hun var så dejlig, at han stod stille og så på hende, og knapt turde trække vejret. "Jeg tør ikke give denne uskyldige pige i kæmpernes vold," tænkte han, "de har sikkert ondt i sinde." Han så sig om og fik øje på et par tøfler, der stod under sengen. På den højre stod hendes fars navn og en stjerne, og på den venstre hendes eget navn og en stjerne. Der lå også et stort silketørklæde, og på højre side stod med guldbogstaver hendes fars navn, på venstre side hendes eget. Jægeren klippede det stykke af, hvor kongens navn stod, og stak den højre tøffel i lommen. Prinsessen lå stadig og sov. Hendes særk var syet helt fast om hende. Han skar nu også et stykke af den og puttede den i lommen, men gjorde det så forsigtigt, at han slet ikke rørte ved hende. Så gik han sin vej, og lod hende sove i ro. Da han kom hen til porten, stod kæmperne der og ventede på, at han skulle komme med prinsessen. Han råbte til dem, at de skulle bare komme ind. Han havde fået fat på prinsessen, men han kunne ikke få døren op, de måtte krybe igennem hullet her. En af dem kom derhen, jægeren snoede hans hår om sin hånd, trak hans hovede ind, huggede det af med sablen og halede så hele kroppen bagefter. Han kaldte nu på de to andre, og det gik dem på samme måde. Han var meget glad over at have befriet prinsessen fra hendes fjender, skar tungerne ud af munden på kæmperne og stak dem i lommen. "Nu går jeg hjem til min far," tænkte han, "så kan han se, hvad jeg allerede har udrettet. Men så må jeg ud i den vide verden igen. Den lykke, Gud vil give mig vinder jeg nok."
Da kongen i slottet vågnede, så han de tre døde kæmper. Han gik straks ind til sin datter, vækkede hende og spurgte, hvem der havde dræbt kæmperne. "Det ved jeg ikke, lille far," svarede hun, "jeg har sovet." Da hun ville tage sine tøfler på, manglede den højre. Der var også klippet et stykke både af hendes silketørklæde og af hendes særk. Kongen lod hele hoffet kalde sammen og spurgte, hvem der havde befriet hans datter. Da trådte en af hans officerer, der var enøjet og meget grim, frem og sagde, at han havde gjort det. Den gamle konge lovede ham så, at han til belønning skulle få prinsessen til ægte. Men prinsessen sagde: "Hellere end at gifte mig med ham, vil jeg drage ud i den vide verden, så langt mine fødder kan bære mig." Kongen befalede nu, at hun i stedet for sine prægtige klæder, skulle tage en bondepigekjole på og gå sin vej. Hun kunne gå hen til en pottemager og begynde at handle med kar og krukker. Hun gjorde, som han sagde, gik hen til en pottemager, fik nogle krukker og lovede ham, at hun skulle betale ham om aftenen, når hun havde solgt dem. Kongen befalede hende, at sætte sig med krukkerne på et gadehjørne, og han fik så fat i nogle vogne, som skulle køre midt igennem det hele, så de gik itu. Da prinsessen havde stillet sine varer op på gaden, kom vognene kørende, og der lå alle krukkerne i tusind skår.. Hun gav sig til at græde. "Hvordan skal jeg dog kunne betale pottemageren," sagde hun. Det var imidlertid kongens mening på denne måde at tvinge hende til at gifte sig med officererne. Hun gik hen til pottemageren og bad, om hun igen måtte låne nogle krukker, men han sagde nej. Hun fik ingen, før hun havde betalt de andre. Da gik hun grædende op til sin far og sagde, at hun ville gå ud i den vide verden. "Jeg vil bygge et hus ude i skoven, og der kan du bo, så længe du lever, " sagde kongen, "du skal lave mad til alle og enhver, men du må ikke tage imod penge for det." Da huset var færdigt, blev der slået et skilt op, hvorpå der stod: "I dag for intet, i morgen for penge." Hun levede nu i lang tid derinde, og rygtet om, at der sad en jomfru og lavede mad for intet, trængte viden om. Det kom også jægeren for øre, og han tænkte: "Det var noget for mig. Jeg er jo en fattig fyr." Han tog så sin bøsse og ransel, hvori han havde gemt alt det, han havde taget i slottet, gik ud i skoven og fandt også det lille hus, hvor der stod: "I dag for intet, i morgen for penge." Om livet havde han den sabel, hvormed han havde dræbt kæmperne, og han trådte nu ind i huset og bad om noget at spise. Han sad og glædede sig ved synet af den dejlige pige, og hun kom nu hen til ham og spurgte, hvor han kom fra og hvor han skulle hen. "Jeg drager rundt og ser mig om i verden," svarede han. Hun spurgte så, hvordan han havde fået fat i den sabel med hendes fars navn. "Er du en prinsesse?" spurgte han. Hun nikkede. "Med denne sabel har jeg hugget hovedet af tre kæmper," sagde han og tog tungerne, tøflerne og de små stumper af halstørklædet og særken frem. Hun blev meget glad og sagde, at han havde frelst hende. Derpå fulgtes de op til den gamle konge, gik med ham ind i prinsessens værelse og fortalte, at det var jægeren, som havde dræbt kæmperne. Da kongen så tungerne og de andre sager, tvivlede han ikke om, at det var sandt , og til prinsessens store glæde sagde han, at hun skulle giftes med jægeren. Denne blev nu klædt på, som om han var en fornem herre, og kongen foranstaltede et stort gæstebud. Ved bordet sad officeren på venstre, jægeren på højre side af prinsessen, og officeren troede, at det var en fremmed herre, som var kommet på besøg. Da de havde spist og drukket, sagde kongen til officeren, at han ville give ham en gåde. "Der var en mand, som sagde, at han havde dræbt tre kæmper, og da man spurgte ham, hvor tungerne var, så han efter i kæmpernes mund, og så var der ingen. Hvordan kunne det gå til?" - "De har vel ikke haft nogen," sagde officeren. "Alle dyr har en tunge," sagde kongen, "men hvad skal man gøre ved sådan en bedrager?" - "Han skal rives i stykker," sagde officeren. "Du har dømt dig selv," sagde kongen. Officeren blev nu sat i fængsel og revet i fire stykker, og jægeren holdt bryllup med prinsessen. Han hentede så sin far og mor, og de levede glade og lykkelige hos deres søn. Da den gamle konge døde, arvede han riget.
There was once a young fellow who had learnt the trade of locksmith, and told his father he would now go out into the world and seek his fortune. "Very well," said the father, "I am quite content with that," and gave him some money for his journey. So he travelled about and looked for work. After a time he resolved not to follow the trade of locksmith any more, for he no longer liked it, but he took a fancy for hunting. Then there met him in his rambles a huntsman dressed in green, who asked whence he came and whither he was going? The youth said he was a locksmith's apprentice, but that the trade no longer pleased him, and he had a liking for huntsmanship, would he teach it to him? "Oh, yes," said the huntsman, "if thou wilt go with me." Then the young fellow went with him, bound himself to him for some years, and learnt the art of hunting. After this he wished to try his luck elsewhere, and the huntsman gave him nothing in the way of payment but an air-gun, which had, however, this property, that it hit its mark without fail whenever he shot with it. Then he set out and found himself in a very large forest, which he could not get to the end of in one day. When evening came he seated himself in a high tree in order to escape from the wild beasts. Towards midnight, it seemed to him as if a tiny little light glimmered in the distance. Then he looked down through the branches towards it, and kept well in his mind where it was. But in the first place he took off his hat and threw it down in the direction of the light, so that he might go to the hat as a mark when he had descended. Then he got down and went to his hat, put it on again and went straight forwards. The farther he went, the larger the light grew, and when he got close to it he saw that it was an enormous fire, and that three giants were sitting by it, who had an ox on the spit, and were roasting it. Presently one of them said, "I must just taste if the meat will soon be fit to eat," and pulled a piece off, and was about to put it in his mouth when the huntsman shot it out of his hand. "Well, really," said the giant, "if the wind has not blown the bit out of my hand!" and helped himself to another. But when he was just about to bite into it, the huntsman again shot it away from him. On this the giant gave the one who was sitting next him a box on the ear, and cried angrily, Why art thou snatching my piece away from me?" - "I have not snatched it away," said the other, "a sharpshooter must have shot it away from thee." The giant took another piece, but could not, however, keep it in his hand, for the huntsman shot it out. Then the giant said, "That must be a good shot to shoot the bit out of one's very mouth, such an one would be useful to us." And he cried aloud, "Come here, thou sharpshooter, seat thyself at the fire beside us and eat thy fill, we will not hurt thee; but if thou wilt not come, and we have to bring thee by force, thou art a lost man!" On this the youth went up to them and told them he was a skilled huntsman, and that whatever he aimed at with his gun, he was certain to hit. Then they said if he would go with them he should be well treated, and they told him that outside the forest there was a great lake, behind which stood a tower, and in the tower was imprisoned a lovely princess, whom they wished very much to carry off. "Yes," said he, "I will soon get her for you." Then they added, "But there is still something else, there is a tiny little dog, which begins to bark directly any one goes near, and as soon as it barks every one in the royal palace wakens up, and for this reason we cannot get there; canst thou undertake to shoot it dead?" - "Yes," said he, "that will be a little bit of fun for me." After this he got into a boat and rowed over the lake, and as soon as he landed, the little dog came running out, and was about to bark, but the huntsman took his air-gun and shot it dead. When the giants saw that, they rejoiced, and thought they already had the King's daughter safe, but the huntsman wished first to see how matters stood, and told them that they must stay outside until he called them. Then he went into the castle, and all was perfectly quiet within, and every one was asleep. When he opened the door of the first room, a sword was hanging on the wall which was made of pure silver, and there was a golden star on it, and the name of the King, and on a table near it lay a sealed letter which he broke open, and inside it was written that whosoever had the sword could kill everything which opposed him. So he took the sword from the wall, hung it at his side and went onwards: then he entered the room where the King's daughter was lying sleeping, and she was so beautiful that he stood still and, holding his breath, looked at her. He thought to himself, "How can I give an innocent maiden into the power of the wild giants, who have evil in their minds?" He looked about further, and under the bed stood a pair of slippers, on the right one was her father's name with a star, and on the left her own name with a star. She wore also a great neck-kerchief of silk embroidered with gold, and on the right side was her father's name, and on the left her own, all in golden letters. Then the huntsman took a pair of scissors and cut the right corner off, and put it in his knapsack, and then he also took the right slipper with the King's name, and thrust that in. Now the maiden still lay sleeping, and she was quite sewn into her night-dress, and he cut a morsel from this also, and thrust it in with the rest, but he did all without touching her. Then he went forth and left her lying asleep undisturbed, and when he came to the gate again, the giants were still standing outside waiting for him, and expecting that he was bringing the princess. But he cried to them that they were to come in, for the maiden was already in their power, that he could not open the gate to them, but there was a hole through which they must creep. Then the first approached, and the huntsman wound the giant's hair round his hand, pulled the head in, and cut it off at one stroke with his sword, and then drew the rest of him in. He called to the second and cut his head off likewise, and then he killed the third also, and he was well pleased that he had freed the beautiful maiden from her enemies, and he cut out their tongues and put them in his knapsack. Then thought he, "I will go home to my father and let him see what I have already done, and afterwards I will travel about the world; the luck which God is pleased to grant me will easily find me."
But when the King in the castle awoke, he saw the three giants lying there dead. So he went into the sleeping-room of his daughter, awoke her, and asked who could have killed the giants? Then said she, "Dear father, I know not, I have been asleep." But when she arose and would have put on her slippers, the right one was gone, and when she looked at her neck-kerchief it was cut, and the right corner was missing, and when she looked at her night-dress a piece was cut out of it. The King summoned his whole court together, soldiers and every one else who was there, and asked who had set his daughter at liberty, and killed the giants? Now it happened that he had a captain, who was one-eyed and a hideous man, and he said that he had done it. Then the old King said that as he had accomplished this, he should marry his daughter. But the maiden said, "Rather than marry him, dear father, I will go away into the world as far as my legs can carry me." But the King said that if she would not marry him she should take off her royal garments and wear peasant's clothing, and go forth, and that she should go to a potter, and begin a trade in earthen vessels. So she put off her royal apparel, and went to a potter and borrowed crockery enough for a stall, and she promised him also that if she had sold it by the evening, she would pay for it. Then the King said she was to seat herself in a corner with it and sell it, and he arranged with some peasants to drive over it with their carts, so that everything should be broken into a thousand pieces. When therefore the King's daughter had placed her stall in the street, by came the carts, and broke all she had into tiny fragments. She began to weep and said, "Alas, how shall I ever pay for the pots now?" The King had, however, wished by this to force her to marry the captain; but instead of that, she again went to the potter, and asked him if he would lend to her once more. He said, "No," she must first pay for the things she had already had. Then she went to her father and cried and lamented, and said she would go forth into the world. Then said he, "I will have a little hut built for thee in the forest outside, and in it thou shalt stay all thy life long and cook for every one, but thou shalt take no money for it." When the hut was ready, a sign was hung on the door whereon was written, "To-day given, to-morrow sold." There she remained a long time, and it was rumored about the world that a maiden was there who cooked without asking for payment, and that this was set forth on a sign outside her door. The huntsman heard it likewise, and thought to himself, "That would suit thee. Thou art poor, and hast no money." So he took his air-gun and his knapsack, wherein all the things which he had formerly carried away with him from the castle as tokens of his truthfulness were still lying, and went into the forest, and found the hut with the sign, "To-day given, to-morrow sold." He had put on the sword with which he had cut off the heads of the three giants, and thus entered the hut, and ordered something to eat to be given to him. He was charmed with the beautiful maiden, who was indeed as lovely as any picture. She asked him whence he came and whither he was going, and he said, "I am roaming about the world." Then she asked him where he had got the sword, for that truly her father's name was on it. He asked her if she were the King's daughter. "Yes," answered she. "With this sword," said he, "did I cut off the heads of three giants." And he took their tongues out of his knapsack in proof. Then he also showed her the slipper, and the corner of the neck-kerchief, and the bit of the night-dress. Hereupon she was overjoyed, and said that he was the one who had delivered her. On this they went together tothe old King, and fetched him to the hut, and she led him into her room, and told him that the huntsman was the man who had really set her free from the giants. And when the aged King saw all the proofs of this, he could no longer doubt, and said that he was very glad he knew how everything had happened, and that the huntsman should have her to wife, on which the maiden was glad at heart. Then she dressed the huntsman as if he were a foreign lord, and the King ordered a feast to be prepared. When they went to table, the captain sat on the left side of the King's daughter, but the huntsman was on the right, and the captain thought he was a foreign lord who had come on a visit. When they had eaten and drunk, the old King said to the captain that he would set before him something which he must guess. "Supposing any one said that he had killed the three giants and he were asked where the giants' tongues were, and he were forced to go and look, and there were none in their heads, how could that happen?" The captain said, "Then they cannot have had any." - "Not so," said the King. "Every animal has a tongue," and then he likewise asked what any one would deserve who made such an answer? The captain replied, "He ought to be torn in pieces." Then the King said he had pronounced his own sentence, and the captain was put in prison and then torn in four pieces; but the King's daughter was married to the huntsman. After this he brought his father and mother, and they lived with their son in happiness, and after the death of the old King he received the kingdom.