Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics
THE SIX COMRADES
HERE was once a man who had served bravely in the wars, and
when they were ended he received his discharge and
three florins, which was all he had to face the world
"This is mean treatment!" said he. "But wait a bit; if
only I can get hold of the right people, the king shall
be made to give me the treasures of the whole kingdom."
So, full of wrath, he went into the forest, where he
came across a man who had jkust uprooted six trees as
if they had been corn-stalks.
"Wilt thou be my servant and travel with me?" said our
"Yes," replied the man; "but first I must take home
these few fagots to my mother," and lifting the bundle
on his shoulder, he carried it away.
Then he returned to his master, who said: "We two
shall be a match for all the world."
Now, when they had journeyed for a little space they
met a huntsman, who was on his knees taking aim with
And the master said: "tell me, huntsman, what is it you
are going to shoot."
And the man answered: "Two miles off there is a fly
sitting on the branch of an oak tree, whose left eye I
intend to shoot out."
"Come with me!" said the master; "we three shall be a
match for all the world."
The huntsman was quite willing, and he came with him,
and they soon arrived at seven windmills whose sails
were whirling round at a tremendous speed, although
there was not a breath of wind to stir a leaf on the
Then said the master: "I cannot think what it is that
drives the windmills, for there is not the slightest
breeze." But going on farther with his servants for
about two miles, they saw a man sitting on a tree,
puffing out his cheeks and blowing. So the master
"My good fellow, what are you doing up there?"
"Oh," replied the man, "there are seven windmills two
miles from here; just look how I am sending them
"Come with me!" cried the master; "we four shall be a
match for all the world."
So the blower climbed down and accompanied him, and
presently they came upon a man who was standing on one
leg, for he had unbuckled the other and it was lying on
the ground by his side. Then the master said:
"I suppose you want to make yourself more comfortable
"No," said the man; "I am a runner, and in order not to
race over the ground too quickly, I have unbuckled my
leg, for, if I were to run with both, I should go
faster than any bird flies"
"Come with me!" said the master; "we five shall be a
match for the whole world."
The five comrades started off together, and soon they
met a man who had on a hat, which he wore tilted on one
side of his head.
Then said the master: "Manners, my friend, manners.
Don't wear your hat like that, but put it on properly;
you look like a simpleton."
"I dare not do it," returned the man, "for if I did,
 would come such a fearful frost that every bird in the
sky would freeze and fall dead upon the ground."
"Come with me!" said the master; "we six shall be a
match for all the world."
Then the six companions came to a city where the king
had proclaimed that whoever should run in a race with
his daughter and be victorious might become her
husband, but if he lost the race he would also lose his
This was told to our hero, who said: "I will make my
servant run for me."
Then the king answered, "Then thou must also forfeit
thine own life as well as thy servant's, for both heads
must be sacrificed if the race be lost."
When the conditions were agreed upon, and everything
was arranged, the master buckled on the runner's other
leg, saying: "Now, be as nimble as you can, and don't
fail to win."
Now, the wager was the first to bring water from a
distant spring should be the winner.
The runner received the pitcher, as did also the king's
daughter, and they both began to run at the same
moment; but when the Princess had run a little way the
runner was quite out of sight, and it seemed that there
had been only a rushing of the wind. In a very short
time he reached the well, so he drew up the water to
fill his pitcher and turned back.
But when he was halfway home, he was overcome with
fatigue, so he put the pitcher down, stretched himself
on the ground, and fell asleep. He made a pillow of a
horses' skull, which was lying close by, thinking that,
as it was so hard, he would very soon wake up again.
In the meantime, the king's daughter, who was a
splendid runner and ran better than many a man, reached
the spring and hurried back with her pitcher of water.
Suddenly, she saw the runner lying asleep on the
wayside; she was overjoyed at this,
 and exclaimed: "The enemy is given into my hands!"
Then, emptying his pitcher, she ran on as fast as she
Now, all would have been lost if by great good fortune
the huntsman had not been standing on one side of the
castle towers and had seen everything with his sharp
Said he: "The king's daughter shall be no match for us
if I can help it." So, loading his gun, he aimed so
true that he shot away the horse's skull from under the
runner's head without harming him in the least.
This awakened the runner, who, springing up, saw in a
flash that his pitcher had been emptied, and that the
king's daughter was already far ahead of him.
However, he did not lose courage, but ran back swiftly
to the well, drew up fresh water, filled his pitcher,
and was back again full ten minutes before the kings'
"See what I can do," cried he, "when I really use my
legs; what I did before could scarcely be called
The king was displeased, and so was his daughter, that
a common discharged soldier should have run the race;
so they consulted with each other how they could rid
themselves of him, together with his five comrades.
Then the king said to his daughter, "Do not be afraid,
my child, for I have found a way to prevent their
So he said to the six companions, "You must now eat,
drink, and be merry." Saying which, he led them to a
room that had an iron floor and iron doors, and even
the windows were secured with iron bars.
In this apartment there was a table covered with the
most delicious appetizing dishes; and the king said:
"Now come in and sit down and enjoy yourselves."
Directly they were all inside he had the doors locked
and bolted. This done, the king sent for the cook, and
 him to light a fire underneath the room, until the iron
should become red-hot.
The heat soon became so great that the six comrades
guessed that the king wished to suffocate them.
But the man with the hat set it straight on his head,
and immediately a frost fell on everything, and all the
heat vanished, while the meats on the dishes began to
When the kin believed they had all perished in the heat
he ordered the doors opened, and there stood all the
six men safe and sound.
They said they would very much like to come out and
warm themselves, for the cold had been so intense that
the meat had frozen on their plates.
Then the king commanded why the cook had not obeyed his
But the cook pointed to the tremendous fire that was
still burning, and the king saw that he could not harm
the six companions in this way.
In despair the king began to cast about in his mind for
some other way to rid himself of his unwelcome guests;
so he commanded the master to be sent before him.
"If you will give up all claim to my daughter," said
he, "you shall have as much gold as you can wish for."
"Indeed, your Majesty, if you will only give me as much
as my servant can carry, I will not more demand your
This pleased the king very much, and the master said
that he would return in fourteen days to take away the
Thereupon the master ordered all the tailors in the
kingdom to sew him a sack of such a size that it would
take fourteen days to make it. When it was finished he
sent the strong man, who uprooted the trees, with the
sack on his shoulder to the king.
So the king ordered a ton of gold to be fetched, which
required sixteen men to carry; but the strong man took
it up in one
 hand and said, "Why don't you bring more at a time?
This scarcely covers the bottom of the sack."
So the king sent again and again for all his treasures
to be brought, and the strong man threw it all into the
sack, which was not yet half full.
"Bring me more!" he cried, "these few crumbs won't fill
Therefore they were obliged to bring seven thousand
wagons laden with gold to the palace; these the strong
man pushed into his sack, together with the oxen which
were yoked to the wagons.
At last when everything that could possibly be found
had been put in, he said: "Well, I must finish this;
even if the sack isn't quite full, it's all the easier
to tie it up."
Saying which, he lifted it on his back and went off
with his companions.
When the king saw how this one man was carrying off all
the wealth of his kingdom, he flew into a great passion
and ordered all his cavalry to pursue the six comrades,
commanding them to take away the sack from the strong
The two regiments soon overtook the six men and shouted
to them: "Halt! You are our prisoners. Put down that
sack of gold, or we will cut you to pieces."
"What is this you are saying?" asked the blower coolly.
"We are your prisoners? Aha! First you must have a
little dance together up in the air."
Then he puffed his cheeks and blew the two regiments up
into the air.
Some were blown away on the one side of the mountains,
and some disappeared in the blue distance on the other.
A sergeant cried for mercy; he had nine wounds, and was
a brave fellow and did not deserve such disgrace. So
the blower blew gently after him, which brought him
back to the ground without hurting him.
"Now go home," said the blower, "and tell the king that
 he may send any number of horsemen after us, but I will
blow them all into the air."
When the king received this message he said: "Let the
fellows go! They will meet with their deserts."
So the six comrades brought home the wealth of the
kingdom which they divided, and lived happily to the
end of their days.