Strong Hans


Den stærke Hans

There were once a man and a woman who had an only child, and lived quite alone in a solitary valley. It came to pass that the mother once went into the wood to gather branches of fir, and took with her little Hans, who was just two years old. As it was spring-time, and the child took pleasure in the many-coloured flowers, she went still further onwards with him into the forest. Suddenly two robbers sprang out of the thicket, seized the mother and child, and carried them far away into the black forest, where no one ever came from one year's end to another. The poor woman urgently begged the robbers to set her and her child free, but their hearts were made of stone, they would not listen to her prayers and entreaties, and drove her on farther by force. After they had worked their way through bushes and briars for about two miles, they came to a rock where there was a door, at which the robbers knocked and it opened at once. They had to go through a long dark passage, and at last came into a great cavern, which was lighted by a fire which burnt on the hearth. On the wall hung swords, sabres, and other deadly weapons which gleamed in the light, and in the midst stood a black table at which four other robbers were sitting gambling, and the captain sat at the head of it. As soon as he saw the woman he came and spoke to her, and told her to be at ease and have no fear, they would do nothing to hurt her, but she must look after the house-keeping, and if she kept everything in order, she should not fare ill with them. Thereupon they gave her something to eat, and showed her a bed where she might sleep with her child.
The woman stayed many years with the robbers, and Hans grew tall and strong. His mother told him stories, and taught him to read an old book of tales about knights which she found in the cave. When Hans was nine years old, he made himself a strong club out of a branch of fir, hid it behind the bed, and then went to his mother and said, "Dear mother, pray tell me who is my father; I must and will know." His mother was silent and would not tell him, that he might not become home-sick; moreover she knew that the godless robbers would not let him go away, but it almost broke her heart that Hans should not go to his father. In the night, when the robbers came home from their robbing expedition, Hans brought out his club, stood before the captain, and said, "I now wish to know who is my father, and if thou dost not at once tell me I will strike thee down." Then the captain laughed, and gave Hans such a box on the ear that he rolled under the table. Hans got up again, held his tongue, and thought, "I will wait another year and then try again, perhaps I shall do better then." When the year was over, he brought out his club again, rubbed the dust off it, looked at it well, and said, "It is a stout strong club." At night the robbers came home, drank one jug of wine after another, and their heads began to be heavy. Then Hans brought out his club, placed himself before the captain, and asked him who was his father? But the captain again gave him such a vigorous box on the ear that Hans rolled under the table, but it was not long before he was up again, and beat the captain and the robbers so with his club, that they could no longer move either their arms or their legs. His mother stood in a corner full of admiration of his bravery and strength. When Hans had done his work, he went to his mother, and said, "Now I have shown myself to be in earnest, but now I must also know who is my father." - "Dear Hans," answered the mother, "come, we will go and seek him until we find him." She took from the captain the key to the entrance-door, and Hans fetched a great meal-sack and packed into it gold and silver, and whatsoever else he could find that was beautiful, until it was full, and then he took it on his back. They left the cave, but how Hans did open his eyes when he came out of the darkness into daylight, and saw the green forest, and the flowers, and the birds, and the morning sun in the sky. He stood there and wondered at everything just as if he had not been very wise. His mother looked for the way home, and when they had walked for a couple of hours, they got safely into their lonely valley and to their little house. The father was sitting in the doorway. He wept for joy when he recognized his wife and heard that Hans was his son, for he had long regarded them both as dead. But Hans, although he was not twelve years old, was a head taller than his father. They went into the little room together, but Hans had scarcely put his sack on the bench by the stove, than the whole house began to crack the bench broke down and then the floor, and the heavy sack fell through into the cellar. "God save us!" cried the father, "what's that? Now thou hast broken our little house to pieces!" - "Don't grow any grey hairs about that, dear father," answered Hans; "there, in that sack, is more than is wanting for a new house." The father and Hans at once began to build a new house; to buy cattle and land, and to keep a farm. Hans ploughed the fields, and when he followed the plough and pushed it into the ground, the bullocks had scarcely any need to draw. The next spring, Hans said, "Keep all the money and get a walking-stick that weighs a hundred-weight made for me that I may go a-travelling." When the wished-for stick was ready, he left his father's house, went forth, and came to a deep, dark forest. There he heard something crunching and cracking, looked round, and saw a fir-tree which was wound round like a rope from the bottom to the top, and when he looked upwards he saw a great fellow who had laid hold of the tree and was twisting it like a willow-wand. "Hollo!" cried Hans, "what art thou doing up there?" the fellow replied, "I got some faggots together yesterday and am twisting a rope for them." - "That is what I like," thought Hans, "he has some strength," and he called to him, "Leave that alone, and come with me." The fellow came down, and he was taller by a whole head than Hans, and Hans was not little. "Thy name is now Fir-twister," said Hans to him. Thereupon they went further and heard something knocking and hammering with such force that the ground shook at every stroke. Shortly afterwards they came to a mighty rock, before which a giant was standing and striking great pieces of it away with his fist. When Hans asked what he was about, he answered, "At night, when I want to sleep, bears, wolves, and other vermin of that kind come, which sniff and snuffle about me and won't let me rest; so I want to build myself a house and lay myself inside it, so that I may have some peace." - "Oh, indeed," thought Hans, "I can make use of this one also;" and said to him, "Leave thy house-building alone, and go with me; thou shalt be called Rock-splitter." The man consented, and they all three roamed through the forest, and wherever they went the wild beasts were terrified, and ran away from them. In the evening they came to an old deserted castle, went up into it, and laid themselves down in the hall to sleep. The next morning Hans went into the garden. It had run quite wild, and was full of thorns and bushes. And as he was thus walking round about, a wild boar rushed at him; he, however, gave it such a blow with his club that it fell directly. He took it on his shoulders and carried it in, and they put it on a spit, roasted it, and enjoyed themselves. Then they arranged that each day, in turn, two should go out hunting, and one should stay at home, and cook nine pounds of meat for each of them. Fir-twister stayed at home the first, and Hans and Rock-splitter went out hunting. When Fir-twister was busy cooking, a little shrivelled-up old mannikin came to him in the castle, and asked for some meat. "Be off, sly hypocrite," he answered, "thou needest no meat." But how astonished Fir-twister was when the little insignificant dwarf sprang up at him, and belaboured him so with his fists that he could not defend himself, but fell on the ground and gasped for breath! The dwarf did not go away until he had thoroughly vented his anger on him. When the two others came home from hunting, Fir-twister said nothing to them of the old mannikin and of the blows which he himself had received, and thought, "When they stay at home, they may just try their chance with the little scrubbing-brush;" and the mere thought of that gave him pleasure already.

The next day Rock-splitter stayed at home, and he fared just as Fir-twister had done, he was very ill-treated by the dwarf because he was not willing to give him any meat. When the others came home in the evening, Fir-twister easily saw what he had suffered, but both kept silence, and thought, "Hans also must taste some of that soup."

Hans, who had to stay at home the next day, did his work in the kitchen as it had to be done, and as he was standing skimming the pan, the dwarf came and without more ado demanded a bit of meat. Then Hans thought, "He is a poor wretch, I will give him some of my share, that the others may not run short," and handed him a bit. When the dwarf had devoured it, he again asked for some meat, and good-natured Hans gave it to him, and told him it was a handsome piece, and that he was to be content with it. But the dwarf begged again for the third time. "Thou art shameless!" said Hans, and gave him none. Then the malicious dwarf wanted to spring on him and treat him as he had treated Fir-twister and Rock-splitter, but he had got to the wrong man. Hans, without exerting himself much, gave him a couple of blows which made him jump down the castle steps. Hans was about to run after him, but fell right over him, for he was so tall. When he rose up again, the dwarf had got the start of him. Hans hurried after him as far as the forest, and saw him slip into a hole in the rock. Hans now went home, but he had marked the spot. When the two others came back, they were surprised that Hans was so well. He told them what had happened, and then they no longer concealed how it had fared with them. Hans laughed and said, "It served you quite right; why were you so greedy with your meat? It is a disgrace that you who are so big should have let yourselves be beaten by the dwarf." Thereupon they took a basket and a rope, and all three went to the hole in the rock into which the dwarf had slipped, and let Hans and his club down in the basket. When Hans had reached the bottom, he found a door, and when he opened it a maiden was sitting there who was lovely as any picture, nay, so beautiful that no words can express it, and by her side sat the dwarf and grinned at Hans like a sea-cat! She, however, was bound with chains, and looked so mournfully at him that Hans felt great pity for her, and thought to himself, "Thou must deliver her out of the power of the wicked dwarf," and gave him such a blow with his club that he fell down dead. Immediately the chains fell from the maiden, and Hans was enraptured with her beauty. She told him she was a King's daughter whom a savage count had stolen away from her home, and imprisoned there among the rocks, because she would have nothing to say to him. The count had, however, set the dwarf as a watchman, and he had made her bear misery and vexation enough. And now Hans placed the maiden in the basket and had her drawn up; the basket came down again, but Hans did not trust his two companions, and thought, "They have already shown themselves to be false, and told me nothing about the dwarf; who knows what design they may have against me?" So he put his club in the basket, and it was lucky he did; for when the basket was half-way up, they let it fall again, and if Hans had really been sitting in it he would have been killed. But now he did not know how he was to work his way out of the depths, and when he turned it over and over in his mind he found no counsel. "It is indeed sad," said he to himself, "that I have to waste away down here," and as he was thus walking backwards and forwards, he once more came to the little chamber where the maiden had been sitting, and saw that the dwarf had a ring on his finger which shone and sparkled. Then he drew it off and put it on, and when he turned it round on his finger, he suddenly heard something rustle over his head. He looked up and saw spirits of the air hovering above, who told him he was their master, and asked what his desire might be? Hans was at first struck dumb, but afterwards he said that they were to carry him above again. They obeyed instantly, and it was just as if he had flown up himself. When, however, he was above again, he found no one in sight. Fir-twister and Rock-splitter had hurried away, and had taken the beautiful maiden with them. But Hans turned the ring, and the spirits of the air came and told him that the two were on the sea. Hans ran and ran without stopping, until he came to the sea-shore, and there far, far out on the water, he perceived a little boat in which his faithless comrades were sitting; and in fierce anger he leapt, without thinking what he was doing, club in hand into the water, and began to swim, but the club, which weighed a hundredweight, dragged him deep down until he was all but drowned. Then in the very nick of time he turned his ring, and immediately the spirits of the air came and bore him as swift as lightning into the boat. He swung his club and gave his wicked comrades the reward they merited and threw them into the water, and then he sailed with the beautiful maiden, who had been in the greatest alarm, and whom he delivered for the second time, home to her father and mother, and married her, and all rejoiced exceedingly.
Der var engang en mand og en kone, som havde en eneste søn. De boede ganske alene ude i en dal, og en dag da konen gik ud for at samle grankviste, tog hun lille Hans med. Han var dengang to år gammel. Det var forår, og skoven var fuld af smukke blomster, som Hans var meget glad over. De gik derfor længere og længere ind i skoven. Pludselig sprang der to røvere frem, greb moderen og barnet og førte dem dybt ind i den store mørke skov, hvor næsten aldrig noget menneske satte sin fod. Den stakkels kone tiggede og bad røverne om at give dem fri, men deres hårde hjerter rørtes ikke, og med magt tvang de hende til at gå videre. Efter at de i et par timers tid havde arbejdet sig frem gennem buske og tjørnekrat, kom de til en klippe. Røverne bankede på en dør, der straks åbnede sig, og de kom nu ind i en lang, mørk gang. Ved enden af den lå der en stor hule, som blev klart oplyst af ilden på skorstenen. På væggen hang sværd og økser, som blinkede i lyset, og midt på jorden stod et sort bord, hvor fire røvere, deriblandt anføreren, sad og spillede kort. Da han fik øje på konen, kom han hen til hende og sagde, hun skulle ikke være bange, de ville ikke gøre hende noget, hvis hun ville blive hos dem og sørge for husvæsenet. Derpå gav de hende noget at spise og viste hende en seng, hvor hun kunne sove med sit barn.

Konen blev mange år hos røverne, og drengen voksede sig stor og stærk. Moderen fortalte ham historier og lærte ham at læse efter en gammel krønike, som hun fandt i hulen. Da han var ni år gammel, lavede han en tyk knippel af grantræ og gemte den bag sengen. Derpå gik han hen til sin mor og sagde: "Nu skal du sige mig, hvem der er min far, jeg vil vide det." Moderen ville ikke sige det, for at han ikke skulle komme til at længes bort, da hun godt vidste, at røverne aldrig ville give slip på ham. Men hun var inderlig bedrøvet, fordi Hans aldrig skulle få sin far at se. Da røverne om natten kom hjem fra deres røvertog, tog Hans kniplen i hånden, stillede sig foran anføreren og sagde: " Hvis du ikke siger mig, hvem der er min far, slår jeg dig ihjel." Røveren lo og gav drengen en på øret så han trillede om på gulvet. Hans rejste sig op, sagde ikke et ord og tænkte: "Det er bedst, jeg venter et år. Måske går det så bedre." Da året var gået tog han sin knippel frem, så på den og tænkte, at det var en rigtig god, solid fyr. Om natten kom røverne hjem og satte sig til at drikke det ene glas vin efter det andet, og begyndte til sidst at nikke med hovedet. Hans gik nu med kniplen i hånden hen til anføreren og spurgte, om han ville sige ham, hvem der var hans far. Røveren gav ham igen en knaldende ørefigen, så han faldt om, men det varede ikke længe, før han kom på benene igen, og så slog han løs på røverne, til de ikke kunne røre hverken arme eller ben. Moderen stod henne i en krog og så med glad forundring, hvor stærk og tapper hendes søn var. Da røverne havde fået, hvad de havde godt af, gik han hen til hende og sagde: "Lille mor, nu må du sige mig, hvem der er min far." - "Kom, Hans," sagde hun, "lad os gå bort og lede efter din far, til vi finder ham." Hun tog nøglen til døren fra anføreren, og Hans fyldte imens en stor sæk med sølv og guld og andre kostbarheder og tog den på ryggen. De gik nu ud af hulen og det kan nok være, at Hans spærrede øjnene op, da han fra mørket kom ud i det klare lys og så solen på himlen og blomsterne og fuglene - han stod et øjeblik, som om han rent havde tabt forstanden. Moderen søgte nu at finde vejen hjem, og da de havde gået et par timer kom de virkelig til deres hus i den ensomme dal. Faderen stod udenfor døren og græd af glæde, da han så sin kone og fik at vide, at Hans var hans søn. Han havde for længe siden opgivet ethvert håb om nogensinde at se dem igen. Skønt Hans ikke var mere end tolv år gammel, var han dog et helt hovede højere end sin far. De gik nu ind i stuen, men næppe havde Hans sat sin sæk med alle kostbarhederne på bænken, førend hele huset begyndte at brage. Bænken og gulvet gik itu og sækken faldt ned i kæderen. "Gud fri og bevare os," råbte faderen forskrækket, "du river jo hele huset ned." - "Lad det bare ikke sætte dig grå hår i hovedet, lille far," sagde Hans roligt, "der er mere i den sæk end et helt nyt hus er værd." Faderen og Hans gav sig nu straks i færd med at bygge et nyt hus. Derpå købte de sig noget kvæg og noget mere jord og gav sig til at dyrke den. Når Hans gik ude på marken bagved ploven, behøvede okserne næsten ikke at trække, så stærk var han. Næste forår sagde Hans: "Nu har jeg lyst til at drage ud og se mig lidt om i verden. Du må gerne beholde alle pengene. Jeg vil blot først have lavet mig en stok, der vejer hundrede pund."

Da den var færdig, begav han sig på vej, og kom ind i en stor, mørk skov. Pludselig hørte han noget, der knagede, og da han så sig om, fik han øje på en gran, der fra øverst til nederst var snoet som et tov, og han opdagede nu, at der oppe i den sad en vældig stor fyr, som drejede træet lige så let som en pilekvist. "Hvad er det dog, du bestiller?" råbte Hans. "Jeg samlede nogle knipper ris i går og nu vil jeg binde dem sammen," svarede manden. "Det er en rigtig kærnekarl," tænkte Hans og råbte: "Hold nu hellere op med det og kom og følg med mig." Manden klatrede ned ad træet, og han var et helt hovede højere end Hans, som dog ikke var så lille. "Du skal hedde Grandrejeren," sagde Hans, og de gik nu videre sammen. Lidt efter hørte de nogle vældige slag, og jorden rystede helt under fødderne på dem. Det var en kæmpe, som stod henne ved en klippe og huggede store sten af med hånden. Hans spurgte, hvad det skulle betyde, og han svarede: "Å, jeg kan ikke sove i fred for bjørne og ulve og andet utøj. De snuser omkring mig og forstyrrer mig, og derfor vil jeg nu bygge et hus, hvor jeg kan ligge i ro." - "Ham kan jeg også bruge," tænke Hans og sagde: "Hold du meget hellere op med det og kom med mig. Du skal hedde Klippeknuseren." Manden var villig til det, og de fulgtes nu alle tre gennem skoven, og hvor de kom hen, blev de vilde dyr bange og løb deres vej. Om aftenen kom de til et gammelt, forfaldent slot, og der gik de ind og lagde sig til at sove. Næste morgen gik Hans ned i haven, der var helt overgroet med tjørnekrat og buske. Pludselig kom et vildsvin farende løs på ham, men han gav det et slag med sin knippel, og det faldt om så død som en sild. Derpå tog han det på skulderen og bar det op på slottet, hvor de stegte det og gjorde sig rigtig til gode dermed. De aftalte nu, at to af dem efter tur skulle gå på jagt og en skulle blive hjemme og lave mad, de skulle have ni pund kød hver. Den første dag blev Grandrejeren hjemme, og Hans og Klippeknuseren gik på jagt. Mens han var i færd med at lave maden, kom der en lille indskrumpet mand ind til ham og bad om noget kød. "Væk med dig, din lille muldvarp," sagde han, "du får ikke noget." Men inden Grandrejeren fik set sig om, sprang den lille mand løs på ham og bankede ham sådan igennem, at han ganske åndeløs faldt om på gulvet. Da de to andre kom hjem, fortalte han dem ikke noget om den lille mand. "De kan såmænd også have godt af en lille omgang," tænkte han og alene tanken derom gjorde ham helt fornøjet. Den næste dag blev Klippeknuseren hjemme, og det gik ham akkurat ligesådan. Han måtte også tage sin prygl, fordi han ikke ville give den gamle noget af kødet. Da de andre kom hjem om aftenen, kunne Grandrejeren nok se, hvad der var hændt, men ingen af dem sagde noget til Hans. Han kunne også have godt af at smage lidt af den kost, tænkte de.

Hans tog næste dag fat på sit arbejde ude i køkkenet, og mens han stod og skummede suppen, kom den lille mand og forlangte uden videre et stykke kød. "Den sølle fyr er vel sulten," tænkte Hans og gav ham et stykke af det kød, han selv skulle have, for at de andre ikke skulle komme til at mangle noget. Da dværgen havde spist det, ville han have mere, og den godmodige Hans gav ham et rigtig godt stykke og sagde, at nu skulle han lade sig nøje med det, men dværgen forlangte endnu et tredie stykke. "Nu bliver du nok grov," sagde Hans og gav ham ikke noget. Den lille ondskabsfulde dværg sprang da løs på ham og ville give ham ligesådan en overhaling som de to andre, men her havde han forregnet sig. Uden mindste anstrengelse gav Hans ham sådan et par dask, at han skyndte sig af sted, det bedste, han havde lært. Hans ville løbe efter ham, men faldt så lang han var, og da han kom på benene igen, havde dværgen et langt forspring. Hans løb nu hen til skoven og kom lige tidsnok til at se ham smutte ind i en klippehule. Han lagde nøje mærke til, hvor det var, og gik så tilbage til slottet igen. Da de andre kom hjem blev de meget forundrede ved at se ham så veltilpas. Han fortalte dem, hvad der var sket, og de fortav nu heller ikke længere, hvordan det var gået dem. "Det har I rigtig godt af," sagde Hans og lo, "hvorfor er I så gerrige? Men det er jo rigtignok en skam for sådanne store fyre at lade sig gennemprygle af en dværg." De tog nu en kurv og et reb og gik alle tre ud til den klippehule, hvor dværgen var smuttet ind. De hejsede Hans ned på bunden af hulen og der fandt han en dør. Da han lukkede den op, så han den dejligste jomfru under solen, og ved siden af hende sad dværgen med et fælt grin på sit lille visne ansigt. Hun var lænket fast og så så bedrøvet på Hans, at han fik den største medlidenhed med hende og tænkte: "Jeg må befri hende, hvad det så skal koste." Derpå greb han sin stok og gav dværgen et slag, så han faldt stendød om, og straks faldt lænkerne af hende. Hans var aldeles betaget af hendes skønhed, og hun fortalte ham nu, at hun var en kongedatter. En greve havde bortført hende, og da hun ikke ville gifte sig med ham, havde han spærret hende inde i klippen og sat den ondskabsfulde dværg til at passe på hende. Hans lod hende nu sætte sig i kurven og bød de andre hale den op. Kurven blev igen hej set ned, men han turde ikke rigtig stole på sine to kammerater. "De har jo før været noget uærlige imod mig," tænkte han. "det er ikke godt at vide, hvad de fører i deres skjold." Han lagde nu sin stav i kurven, og det var en lykke, for da den var kommet halvvejs op, lod de den falde, og hvis Hans havde været deri, havde døden været ham vis. Men nu vidste han rigtignok ikke, hvordan han skulle komme op. "Det var dog en sørgelig død at sulte ihjel her," tænkte han. Han gik frem og tilbage dernede og gik også ind i det lille kammer, hvor han havde fundet den dejlige jomfru. Dværgen lå der endnu, og han fik da øje på en ring som skinnede på hans finger. Han tog den på, men mens han stod og drejede på den, hørte han pludselig en underlig susen over sit hovede. Han så op og fik øje på nogle luftånder, der spurgte, hvad han ønskede. Først var han ganske stum af forbavselse, men så sagde han, at de skulle bære ham op på jorden. De adlød øjeblikkelig og han havde en fornemmelse, som om han fløj. Men deroppe var ikke et menneske at se, og da han kom hjem til slottet, var der heller ingen. Grandrejeren og Klippeknuseren var løbet deres vej og havde taget den dejlige jomfru med sig. Hans drejede nu på ringen, og straks kom luftånderne og fortalte ham, at de var sejlet af sted udover havet. Hans løb så stærkt han kunne ned til stranden, og der så han i det fjerne skibet, som bortførte den dejlige kongedatter. Uden at tænke sig om sprang han rasende lige ud i vandet og gav sig til at svømme, men den tunge stok, som han havde med sig, trak ham så dybt ned, at han var lige ved at drukne. Men lige i sidste øjeblik huskede han på ringen og drejede på den, og hurtig som lynet kom luftånderne og bar ham ud på skibet. Nu fik de troløse kammerater deres velfortjente straf og blev kastet i vandet. Derpå sejlede han tilbage med den smukke kongedatter, der havde været meget bange, og som han nu for anden gang havde befriet. Hendes far og mor blev meget glade ved at se hende, og Hans blev gift med hende og levede længe i fryd og herlighed.

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