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4. Story of the Youth Who Went Forth to Learn What Fear Was, The

A CERTAIN father had two sons, the elder of whom was smart and sensible, and could do everything, but the younger was stupid and could neither learn nor understand anything, and when people saw him they said, "There's a fellow who will give his father some trouble!" When anything had to be done, it was always the elder who was forced to do it; but if his father bade him fetch anything when it was late, or in the night-time, and the way led through the churchyard, or any other dismal place, he answered "Oh, no, father, I'll not go there, it makes me shudder!" for he was afraid. Or when stories were told by the fire at night which made the flesh creep, the listeners sometimes said "Oh, it makes us shudder!" The younger sat in a corner and listened with the rest of them, and could not imagine what they could mean. "They are always saying 'it makes me shudder, it makes me shudder!' It does not make me shudder," thought he. "That, too, must  be an art of which I understand nothing."

               Now it came to pass that his father said to him one day "Hearken to me, thou fellow in the corner there, thou art growing tall and strong, and thou too must learn something by which thou canst earn thy living. Look how thy brother works, but thou dost not even earn thy salt." "Well, father," he replied, "I am quite willing to learn something---indeed, if it could but be managed, I should like to learn how to shudder. I don't understand that at all yet." The elder brother smiled when he heard that, and thought to himself, "Good God, what a blockhead that brother of mine is! He will never be good for anything as long as he lives. He who wants to be a sickle must bend himself betimes."

               The father sighed, and answered him "thou shalt soon learn what it is to shudder, but thou wilt not earn thy bread by that."

               Soon after this the sexton came to the house on a visit, and the father bewailed his trouble, and told him how his younger son was so backward in every respect that he knew nothing and learnt nothing. "Just think," said he, "when I asked him how he was going to earn his bread, he actually wanted to learn to shudder." "If that be all," replied the sexton, "he can learn that with me. Send him to me, and I will soon polish him." The father was glad to do it, for he thought, "It will train the boy a little." The sexton therefore took him into his house, and he had to ring the bell. After a day or two, the sexton awoke him at midnight, and bade him arise and go up into the church tower and ring the bell. "Thou shalt soon learn what shuddering is," thought he, and secretly went there before him; and when the boy was at the top of the tower and turned round, and was just going to take hold of the bell rope, he saw a white figure standing on the stairs opposite the sounding hole. "Who is there?" cried he, but the figure made no reply, and did not move or stir. "Give an answer," cried the boy, "or take thy self off, thou hast no business here at night."

               The sexton, however, remained standing motionless that the boy might think he was a ghost. The boy cried a second time, "What do you want here?---speak if thou art an honest fellow, or I will throw thee down the steps!" The sexton thought, "he can't intend to be as bad as his words," uttered no sound and stood as if he were made of stone. Then the boy called to him for the third time, and as that was also to no purpose, he ran against him and pushed the ghost down the stairs, so that it fell down ten steps and remained lying there in a corner. Thereupon he rang the bell, went home, and without saying a word went to bed, and fell asleep. The sexton's wife waited a long time for her husband, but he did not come back. At length she became uneasy, and wakened the boy, and asked, "Dost thou not know where my husband is? He climbed up the tower before thou didst." "No, I don't know," replied the boy, "but some one was standing by the sounding hole on the other side of the steps, and as he would neither give an answer nor go away, I took him for a scoundrel, and threw him downstairs, just go there and you will see if it was he. I should be sorry if it were." The woman ran away and found her husband, who was lying moaning in the corner, and had broken his leg.

               She carried him down, and then with loud screams she hastened to the boy's father. "Your boy," cried she, "has been the cause of a great misfortune! He has thrown my husband down the steps and made him break his leg. Take the good-for-nothing fellow away from our house." The father was terrified, and ran thither and scolded the boy. "What wicked tricks are these?" said he, "the devil must have put this into thy head." "Father," he replied, "do listen to me. I am quite innocent. He was standing there by night like one who is intending to do some evil. I did not know who it was, and I entreated him three times either to speak or to go away." "Ah," said the father, "I have nothing but unhappiness with you. Go out of my sight. I will see thee no more."

               "Yes, father, right willingly, wait only until it is day. Then will I go forth and learn how to shudder, and then I shall, at any rate, understand one art which will support me." "Learn what thou wilt," spake the father, "it is all the same to me. Here are fifty thalers for thee. Take these and go into the wide world, and tell no one from whence thou comest, and who is thy father, for I have reason to be ashamed of thee." "Yes, father, it shall be as you will. If you desire nothing more than that, I can easily keep it in mind."

               When day dawned, therefore, the boy put his fifty thalers into his pocket, and went forth on the great highway, and continually said to himself, "If I could but shudder! If I could but shudder!" Then a man approached who heard this conversation which the youth was holding with himself, and when they had walked a little farther to where they could see the gallows, the man said to him, "Look, there is the tree where seven men have married the ropemaker's daughter, and are now learning how to fly. Sit down below it, and wait till night comes, and you will soon learn how to shudder." "If that is all that is wanted," answered the youth, "it is easily done; but if I learn how to shudder as fast as that, thou shalt have my fifty thalers. Just come back to me early in the morning." Then the youth went to the gallows, sat down below it, and waited till evening came. And as he was cold, he lighted himself a fire, but at midnight the wind blew so sharply that in spite of his fire, he could not get warm. And as the wind knocked the hanged men against each other, and they moved backwards and forwards, he thought to himself "Thou shiverest below by the fire, but how those up above must freeze and suffer!" And as he felt pity for them, he raised the ladder, and climbed up, unbound one of them after the other, and brought down all seven. Then he stirred the fire, blew it, and set them all round it to warm themselves. But they sat there and did not stir, and the fire caught their clothes. So he said, "Take care, or I will hang you up again." The dead men, however, did not hear, but were quite silent, and let their rags go on burning. On this he grew angry, and said, "If you will not take care, I cannot help you, I will not be burnt with you," and he hung them up again each in his turn. Then he sat down by his fire and fell asleep, and the next morning the man came to him and wanted to have the fifty thalers, and said, "Well, dost thou know how to shudder?" "No," answered he, "how was I to get to know? Those fellows up there did not open their mouths, and were so stupid that they let the few old rags which they had on their bodies get burnt." Then the man saw that he would not get the fifty thalers that day, and went away saying, "One of this kind has never come my way before."

               The youth likewise went his way, and once more began to mutter to himself, "Ah, if I could but shudder! Ah, if I could but shudder!" A waggoner who was striding behind him heard that and asked, "Who are you?" "I don't know," answered the youth. Then the waggoner asked, "From whence comest thou?" "I know not." "Who is thy father?" "That I may not tell thee." "What is it that thou art always muttering between thy teeth." "Ah," replied the youth, "I do so wish I could shudder, but no one can teach me how to do it." "Give up thy foolish chatter," said the waggoner. "Come, go with me, I will see about a place for thee." The youth went with the waggoner, and in the evening they arrived at an inn where they wished to pass the night. Then at the entrance of the room the youth again said quite loudly, "If I could but shudder! If I could but shudder!" The host who heard this, laughed and said, "If that is your desire, there ought to be a good opportunity for you here." "Ah, be silent," said the hostess, "so many inquisitive persons have already lost their lives, it would be a pity and a shame if such beautiful eyes as these should never see the daylight again."

               But the youth said, "However difficult it may be, I will learn it and for this purpose indeed have I journeyed forth." He let the host have no rest, until the latter told him, that not far from thence stood a haunted castle where any one could very easily learn what shuddering was, if he would but watch in it for three nights. The King had promised that he who would venture should have his daughter to wife, and she was the most beautiful maiden the sun shone on. Great treasures likewise lay in the castle, which were guarded by evil spirits, and these treasures would then be freed, and would make a poor man rich enough. Already many men had gone into the castle, but as yet none had come out again. Then the youth went next morning to the King and said if he were allowed he would watch three nights in the haunted castle. The King looked at him, and as the youth pleased him, he said, "Thou mayest ask for three things to take into the castle with thee, but they must be things without life." Then he answered, "Then I ask for a fire, a turning lathe, and a cutting-board with the knife." The King had these things carried into the castle for him during the day. When night was drawing near, the youth went up and made himself a bright fire in one of the rooms, placed the cutting-board and knife beside it, and seated himself by the turning-lathe. "Ah, if I could but shudder!" said he, "but I shall not learn it here either." Towards midnight he was about to poke his fire, and as he was blowing it, something cried suddenly from one corner, "Au, miau! how cold we are!" "You simpletons!" cried he, "what are you crying about? If you are cold, come and take a seat by the fire and warm yourselves." And when he had said that, two great black cats came with one tremendous leap and sat down on each side of him, and looked savagely at him with their fiery eyes. After a short time, when they had warmed themselves, they said, "Comrade, shall we have a game at cards?" "Why not?" he replied, "but just show me your paws." Then they stretched out their claws. "Oh," said he, "what long nails you have! Wait, I must first cut them for you." Thereupon he seized them by the throats, put them on the cutting-board and screwed their feet fast. "I have looked at your fingers," said he, "and my fancy for card-playing has gone," and he struck them dead and threw them out into the water. But when he had made away with these two, and was about to sit down again by his fire, out from every hole and corner came black cats and black dogs with red-hot chains, and more and more of them came until he could no longer stir, and they yelled horribly, and got on his fire, pulled it to pieces, and tried to put it out. He watched them for a while quietly, but at last when they were going too far, he seized his cutting-knife, and cried, "Away with ye, vermin," and began to cut them down. Part of them ran away, the others he killed, and threw out into the fish-pond. When he came back he fanned the embers of his fire again and warmed himself. And as he thus sat, his eyes would keep open no longer, and he felt a desire to sleep. Then he looked round and saw a great bed in the corner. "That is the very thing for me," said he, and got into it. When he was just going to shut his eyes, however, the bed began to move of its own accord, and went over the whole of the castle. "That's right," said he, "but go faster." Then the bed rolled on as if six horses were harnessed to it, up and down, over thresholds and steps, but suddenly hop, hop, it turned over upside down, and lay on him like a mountain. But he threw quilts and pillows up in the air, got out and said, "Now any one who likes, may drive," and lay down by his fire, and slept till it was day. In the morning the King came, and when he saw him lying there on the ground, he thought the evil spirits had killed him and he was dead. Then said he, "After all it is a pity,---he is a handsome man." The youth heard it, got up, and said, "It has not come to that yet." Then the King was astonished, but very glad, and asked how he had fared. "Very well indeed," answered he; "one night is past, the two others will get over likewise." Then he went to the innkeeper, who opened his eyes very wide, and said, "I never expected to see thee alive again! Hast thou learnt how to shudder yet?" "No," said he, "it is all in vain. If some one would but tell me."

               The second night he again went up into the old castle, sat down by the fire, and once more began his old song, "If I could but shudder." When midnight came, an uproar and noise of tumbling about was heard; at first it was low, but it grew louder and louder. Then it was quiet for awhile, and at length with a loud scream, half a man came down the chimney and fell before him. "Hollo!" cried he, "another half belongs to this. This is too little!" Then the uproar began again, there was a roaring and howling, and the other half fell down likewise. "Wait," said he, "I will just blow up the fire a little for thee." When he had done that and looked round again, the two pieces were joined together, and a frightful man was sitting in his place. "That is no part of our bargain," said the youth, "the bench is mine." The man wanted to push him away; the youth, however, would not allow that, but thrust him off with all his strength, and seated himself again in his own place. Then still more men fell down, one after the other; they brought nine dead men's legs and two skulls, and set them up and played at nine-pins with them. The youth also wanted to play and said "Hark you, can I join you?" "Yes, if thou hast any money." "Money enough," replied he, "but your balls are not quite round." Then he took the skulls and put them in the lathe and turned them till they were round. "There, now, they will roll better!" said he. "Hurrah! Now it goes merrily!" He played with them and lost some of his money, but when it struck twelve, everything vanished from his sight. He lay down and quietly fell asleep. Next morning the King came to inquire after him. "How has it fared with you this time?" asked he. "I have been playing at nine-pins," he answered, "and have lost a couple of farthings." "Hast thou not shuddered then?" "Eh, what?" said he, "I have made merry. If I did but know what it was to shudder!"

               The third night he sat down again on his bench and said quite sadly, "If I could but shudder." When it grew late, six tall men came in and brought a coffin. Then said he, "Ha, ha, that is certainly my little cousin, who died only a few days ago," and he beckoned with his finger, and cried "Come, little cousin, come." They placed the coffin on the ground, but he went to it and took the lid off, and a dead man lay therein. He felt his face, but it was cold as ice. "Stop," said he, "I will warm thee a little," and went to the fire and warmed his hand and laid it on the dead man's face, but he remained cold. Then he took him out, and sat down by the fire and laid him on his breast and rubbed his arms that the blood might circulate again. As this also did no good, he thought to himself "When two people lie in bed together, they warm each other," and carried him to the bed, covered him over and lay down by him. After a short time the dead man became warm too, and began to move. Then said the youth, "See, little cousin, have I not warmed thee?" The dead man, however, got up and cried, "Now will I strangle thee."

               "What!" said he, "is that the way thou thankest me? Thou shalt at once go into thy coffin again," and he took him up, threw him into it, and shut the lid. Then came the six men and carried him away again. "I cannot manage to shudder," said he. "I shall never learn it here as long as I live."

               Then a man entered who was taller than all others, and looked terrible. He was old, however, and had a long white beard. "Thou wretch," cried he, "thou shalt soon learn what it is to shudder, for thou shalt die." "Not so fast," replied the youth. "If I am to die, I shall have to have a say in it." "I will soon seize thee," said the fiend. "Softly, softly, do not talk so big. I am as strong as thou art, and perhaps even stronger." "We shall see," said the old man. "If thou art stronger, I will let thee go---come, we will try." Then he led him by dark passages to a smith's forge, took an axe, and with one blow struck an anvil into the ground. "I can do better than that," said the youth, and went to the other anvil. The old man placed himself near and wanted to look on, and his white beard hung down. Then the youth seized the axe, split the anvil with one blow, and struck the old man's beard in with it. "Now I have thee," said the youth. "Now it is thou who will have to die." Then he seized an iron bar and beat the old man till he moaned and entreated him to stop, and he would give him great riches. The youth drew out the axe and let him go. The old man led him back into the castle, and in a cellar showed him three chests full of gold. "Of these," said he, "one part is for the poor, the other for the king, the third is thine." In the meantime it struck twelve, and the spirit disappeared; the youth, therefore, was left in darkness. "I shall still be able to find my way out," said he, and felt about, found the way into the room, and slept there by his fire. Next morning the King came and said "Now thou must have learnt what shuddering is?" "No," he answered; "what can it be? My dead cousin was here, and a bearded man came and showed me a great deal of money down below, but no one told me what it was to shudder." "Then," said the King, "thou hast delivered the castle, and shalt marry my daughter." "That is all very well," said he, "but still I do not know what it is to shudder."

               Then the gold was brought up and the wedding celebrated; but howsoever much the young king loved his wife, and however happy he was, he still said always "If I could but shudder---if I could but shudder." And at last she was angry at this. Her waiting-maid said, "I will find a cure for him; he shall soon learn what it is to shudder." She went out to the stream which flowed through the garden, and had a whole bucketful of gudgeons brought to her. At night when the young king was sleeping, his wife was to draw the clothes off him and empty the bucketful of cold water with the gudgeons in it over him, so that the little fishes would sprawl about him. When this was done, he woke up and cried "Oh, what makes me shudder so?---what makes me shudder so, dear wife? Ah! now I know what it is to shudder!"


THIS story is generally told in other places with new, or differently arranged, trials of courage, and is allied to the sagas Brother Lustig and Spielhansl, Nos. 81, 82. Parzival goes in an enchanted bed through the castle, 566, 567, in the same way as the youth who had no fear. The root of this is a Mecklenburgh story. The game of skittles played with dead men’s bones, is inserted from a story from the district of Schwalm, [1] in Hesse. In another from Zwehrn it is related that ghosts come and invite the youth to play a game with nine bones and a dead man’s head, which he fearlessly accepts, but in which he loses all his money. At midnight the spectres disappear of their own accord. From this also is taken the incident of the corpse being brought in, which he warms in bed. It contains, however, no further trials, and it lacks the jesting conclusion, which, on the other hand, appears in a third Hessian story, where the youth is a tailor, and his master’s wife pours a bucket of cold water over him as he is lying in bed, in a fourth tale, this great bravery is ascribed to a youth from the Tyrol. He takes counsel with his father as to what trade will be most profitable for him, and at last resolves to learn how to fear. A new feature in this is, that a spirit comes in by night who is entirely covered with knives, and orders the Tyrolese youth to sit down and have his beard shaved by him, as in the story Stumme Liebe, by Musaus, 4. 65-82; and a similar incident is told by C. Brentano in his notes on Die Grundung Prags. The youth does it without fear, but the ghost when he has shaved him wants to cut his throat as well, but at that very moment the clock strikes twelve, and the ghost disappears. In this part there is a connection with the story of the youth who kills the dragon and cuts out its tongue, by means of which he afterwards makes himself known to be the victor, and wins the King’s daughter, as is fully detailed in the story of The Gold Children (No. 85). A fifth story from Zwehrn deserves to be given here at full length.

A certain man once lived in the world whose father was a smith, who carried the youth to the grave-yard and to every place where it was terrible, but he never knew what fear was. Then his father said, “When once thou goest out into the world thou wilt soon learn it.” He went out, and it chanced that he arrived in a village by night, and as all the houses were shut, he lay clown beneath the gallows. And as he saw a man hanging there, he spoke to him, and said, “Why art thou hanging there?” Then the man who was hanging, answered, “I am innocent. The schoolmaster stole the little bell of the alms-bag, and denounced me as the thief. If thou wilt help me to a decent burial, I will present thee with a staff, with which thou caust drive away all spirits. The schoolmaster has concealed the little bell under a great stone in his cellar.” When the youth heard that, he got up, went into the village to the schoolmaster’s house and knocked. The schoolmaster got up, but would not open his door, because he was afraid, but the other cried, “If thou dost not open the door, I will break it open.” So the schoolmaster opened it, and the youth instantly seized him just as he was, in his shirt, took him on his back, and carried him to the judge’s house.  Then he cried aloud, “Open your door, I am bringing a thief.” When the judge came out, the youth said, “Take down from the gallows the poor sinner outside; he is innocent, and hang up this one in his stead; he stole the little bell from the alms-bag, and it is lying in his cellar, under a great stone.” The judge sent thither and the little bell was found, so the schoolmaster was forced to confess the theft. Then the judge pronounced the sentence, that the innocent man should be taken down from the gallows, and honourahly buried, and that the thief should be hanged in his place.

The next night when the innocent man was already lying in a Christian grave, the young smith went out once more. Then the spirit came, and presented him with the staff which he had promised him. Said the smith, “Now I will go out into the world, and look for the “Scare-me-well.”

It so happened that he arrived in a town where there was a bewitched castle, which no one ever dared to enter. When the King heard that a man had arrived who was afraid of nothing, he caused him to be summoned, and said,” If thou wilt deliver this castle for me, I will make thee so rich that thou shalt know no end to thy possessions.” “Oh, yes,” answered he, “I’ll do it willingly, only some one must show me the way to the castle.” Said the King, “I have no keys to it.” “I don’t want any,” he replied, “I will contrive to get inside.” Then was he taken thither, and when he reached the first gate, he struck it with his staff, and it sprang open instantly, and behind it lay the keys of the whole castle. He opened the first inside door, and as it opened, the spirits came against him. One of them had horns, another spat fire, and all were black as coal. Then he said, “What queer folks are these! They might be the devil himself! They may all go home with me, and mend my father’s fire for him.” And when they rushed forward against him, he took his staff, and smote them all together, six of them at a time, and seized them, and pushed them into a room where they could no longer stir. Then he took the keys in his hand again, and opened the second door. There stood a coffin, and a dead man lay in it, and on the ground beside it, was a great black poodle which had a burning chain round its neck. So he went up to it, and struck the coffin with his staff; and said, “Why art thou lying in there, old charcoal-burner?” The dead body rose up, and wanted to terrify him, but he cried, “Out with thee at once.” And as the dead man did not come immediately, he seized him, and thrust him among the rest. Then he returned and caught hold of the burning chain, and wound it round himself, crying, “Away with thee!” But the black dog defended itself, and spat fire. Then said he, “If thou canst do that, there is all the more reason for taking thee with me. Thou also shalt help my father to light his fire.” But before he was aware, the dog was gone, and he was most likely the devil.

Now he had still one little key for the last door. As he opened that, twelve black spirits which had horns and breathed fire rushed on him, but he struck them with his staff, dragged them out, and threw them into a water-cistern, the cover of which he shut fast.

“I have laid them to rest,” said he, well pleased, “but it has made me warm; I should like a drink after it.” So he went into the cellar, tapped some of the old wine which was there, and enjoyed himself. But the King said, “I should just like to know how he has got on,” and sent his confessor thither, for no one else dared to trust himself in that bewitched castle. When the confessor, who was crooked and hump-backed, came to the castle and knocked the young smith opened the door for him, but when he saw him in all his deformity, and in his black gown, he cried, “After all, there is another of them left. What dost thou want, thou crooked old devil?” and he locked him up too.

So the King waited one day longer, but as the confessor did not return at all, he sent a number of warriors who were to make their way into the castle by force. The smith said, “Here are some men coming, so I wilt gladly let them in.” They asked him why he had shut up the King’s confessor? “Eh! What!” said he. “But how could I know that he was the confessor? And why did he come here in his black gown?” Then the soldiers asked him what they were to say to the King. “That he may come here himself,” he replied, “and that the castle is cleared.”

When the King heard that, he came full of joy, and found great possessions in jewels, silver-work, and old wine, all of which were once more in his power.

Then he ordered a coat to be made for the young smith, which was entirely of gold. “No,” said the smith, “I will not have that; it is the coat of a fool,” and threw it away, and said, “But I will not leave the castle until the King has shown me the Scare-me-well; for that I must really get to know.” Then the King had a white linen blouse made for him, and in order to do him some good in spite of himself he had a number of pieces of gold sewn inside it. But the young smith said, “That is too heavy for me!” and threw it away, put on his old blouse, and said, “But before I go home to my father I must just see the Scare-me-well.” Then he took his staff, and went to the King, who led him up to a cannon. The young smith looked at it well and went round about it, and asked what kind of a thing that was? Said the King, “Stand a little aside,” and ordered the cannon to be charged and fired off. When the young smith heard the violent report, he cried, “That was the Scare-me-well, now I have seen it!” and went home quite content.

A sixth story is from the neighbourhood of Paderborn. Hans continually tells his father that he is afraid of nothing in the world. The father wishes to break him of this, and orders his two daughters to hide themselves at night in the charnel-house, and then he will send out Hans, and they, wrapped in white sheets, are to pelt him with bones, which will soon terrify him. At eleven o’clock the father says, “I have the tooth-ache so badly; Hans, go and fetch me a dead man’s bone; but take care of thyself, the bone-house may be haunted.” When he gets there, the sisters pelt him with dead men’s bones. “Who is throwing things at me?” cries Hans. “If thou dost it again, thou shalt just see!” They pelt him again, and he seizes them, and wrings their necks. Then he takes a bone, and goes home with it. “How hast thou fared, Hans?” says the father. “Well: but there were two white things there, which threw things at me; however, I have wrung their necks.” “Alack,” cries the father, “they were thy two sisters; go away at once, or thou too, wilt have to die.” Hans goes his way into the wide world, and says everywhere, “I am called Hans Fear-naught.” He has to watch three nights in a castle, and thus free it from ghosts. The King gives him a soldier as a companion. Hans begs for two bottles of wine and a horsewhip. At night it becomes so cold that the two can bear it no longer. The soldier goes out and is about to light a fire in the stove, when the ghosts wring his neck. Hans stays in the room and warms himself with wine. Then there is a knock. Hans cries, “Come in, if thou hast a head.” No one comes, but there is another knock, and then Hans cries, “Come in, even if thou hast no head.” Then there is a crackling sound in the beam above, Hans looks up, and sees a mouse-hole; a pot full of tow falls down, and a poodle-dog is formed from this, which grows visibly, and at last hecomes a tall man, whose head, however, is not at the top of his body, but under his arm. Hans says to him, “Put thy head on, and we will have a game at cards.” The monster obeys, and they play together. Hans loses a thousand thalers, which he promises to pay the next night. Then, however, all happens as on the previous night. A soldier who has once more been given to Hans as a companion is cold, and goes out to light a fire. As he is stooping, his head is cut off. Hans again hears the knocking, and cries, “Come in, either with or without thy head.” The ghost comes in with his head under his arm, but has to put it on in order to be able to play again. Hans wins two thousand thalers from the ghost, which he promises to bring the following night. This last night begins in the same way, the soldier who leaves the room in order to light the fire, is thrust into the stove by the spirits, and is suffocated inside it; the powerful spirit goes to Hans, gives him the thousand thalers he owes him, and tells him he is to take himself off at once, or it will cost him his life, for all the spirits are coming to a great meeting. Bnt Hans will not go, and says, “I will soon show you all the door.” The two struggle with each other to see which shall give way, until at last they agree to count three, and that the one who can then first thrust his finger into the key-hole shall stay. Hans counts, and the ghost gets his finger in first, on which Hans fetches a morsel of wood and a hammer, and wedges it tightly in, and then takes his horsewhip and beats him so violently, that the ghost promises never to let either himself or any of his spirits be seen in the castle again, if he may be allowed to remain in the little flower-garden behind the castle. Hans consents to that, and sets him free, on which the ghost and all the spirit-folk run instantly into the garden. The King causes a high wall to be built round it, the castle is delivered, and Hans receives the King’s daughter to wife. This story appears again with characteristic variations in Wolf’s Hausmärchen, p. 328-408; in Zingerle, p. 281-290; in Pröhle’s, Kinder und Volksmärchen, No. 33. In Netherlandish there is The Bold Soldier, in Wolf’s Niederländische Sagen, p. 517. In Swedish, there is Molbech’s Graakappen No. 14. In Danish, Molbech’s De Modige Svend, No. 29.

Besides these, a similar character appears in an Icelandic story. Hreidmar is also apparently a stupid fellow of this kind, who wishes for once to know what rage is, and does get to know it. Goethe has written most thoughtfully about this story; see his Works, 1833, xlvi. 274. Works of the Scandinavian Literature Society, 1816-17, p. 208, and following.


[1] This district took its name from the river Schwalm, which rises in the Vogelsberg, in the N.E. of the Grand Duchy of Hesse, and joins the Edder near Altenberg, after a northward course of 35 miles.—TR.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: 4. Story of the Youth Who Went Forth to Learn What Fear Was, The
Tale Author/Editor: Grimm, Jacob & Grimm, Wilhelm
Book Title: Grimm's Household Tales UNDER CONSTRUCTION
Book Author/Editor: Grimm, Jacob & Grimm, Wilhelm
Publisher: George Bell and Sons
Publication City: London
Year of Publication: 1884
Country of Origin: Germany
Classification: ATU 326: The Youth Who Wanted to Learn What Fear Is

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