THE STRAW, THE COAL, AND THE BEAN
N a village dwelt a poor old woman, who had gathered
together a dish of beans and wanted to cook them. So
she made a fire on her hearth, and that it might burn
the quicker, she lighted it with a handful of straw.
When she was emptying the beans into the pan, one
dropped without her observing it, and lay on the ground
beside a straw, and soon afterward a burning coal from
the fire leaped down to the two.
Then the straw began and said, "Dear friends, from
whence do you come here?"
The coal replied, "I fortunately sprang out of the
fire, and if I had not escaped by main force, my death
would have been certain—I should have been burned
The bean said, "I too have escaped with a whole skin,
but if the old woman had got me into the pan I should
have been made into broth without any mercy, like my
"And would a better fate have fallen to my lot?" said
the straw. "The old woman has destroyed all my brethren
in fire and smoke; she seized sixty of them at once,
and took their lives. I luckily slipped through her
"But what are we to do now?" said the coal.
"I think," answered the bean, "that as we have so
fortunately escaped death, we should keep together like
good companions, and lest a new mischance should
overtake us here, we should go away together, and
repair to a foreign country."
The proposition pleased the two others, and they set
 on their way in company. Soon, however, they came to a
little brook, and as there was no bridge or foot-plank
they did not know how they were to get over it.
The straw hit on a good idea, and said, "I will lay
myself straight across, and they you can walk over me
as on a bridge."
The straw thereupon stretched itself from one bank to
the other, and the coal, who was very impetuous,
tripped quite boldly on to the newly built bridge. But
when she had reached the middle, and heard the water
rushing beneath her, she was afraid, and stood still
and ventured no further. The straw, however, began to
burn, broke in two pieces, and fell into the stream.
The coal slipped after her, hissed when she got into
the water, and breathed her last.
The bean, who had prudently stayed behind on the shore,
could not help laughing at the event, and laughed so
heartily that she burst. It would have been all over
for her, likewise, had not a tailor, who was traveling
in search of work, sat down by the brook to rest. As
he had a compassionate heart he pulled out his needle
and thread, and sewed her together. The bean thanked
him most prettily, but as the tailor used black thread,
all beans since then have had a black seam.