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HERE was once a man who had a daughter who was called Clever
Elsie. And when she had grown up her father said, "We
will get her married."
"Yes," said the mother, "if only any one would come who
would have her."
At length a man came from a distance, and wooed her,
who was called Hans. But he made one condition, that
Clever Elsie should be really wise.
"Oh," said the father, "she's sharp enough."
And the mother said, "Oh, she can see the wind coming
up the street, and hear the flies coughing."
"Well," said Hans, "if she is not really wise, I won't
When they were sitting at dinner, and had eaten, the
mother said, "Elsie, go into the cellar and fetch some
Then Clever Elsie took the pitcher from the wall, went
into the cellar, and tapped the lid briskly as she went
that the time might not appear long. When she was
below she fetched herself a chair, and set it before
the barrel, so that she had no need
 to stoop, and did not hurt her back or do herself any
Then she placed the can before her, and turned the tap,
and while the beer was running, she would not let her
eyes be idle, but looked up at the wall. And after
much peering here and there, saw a pickaxe exactly
above her, which the masons had left there by mistake.
Then Clever Elsie began to weep and said, "If I get
Hans, and we have a child, and he grows big, and we
send him into the cellar here to draw beer, then the
pickaxe will fall on his head and kill him." Then she
sat and wept and screamed with all the strength of her
body, over the misfortune which lay before her.
Those upstairs waited for the drink, but Clever Elsie
still did not come. Then the woman said to the
servant, "Just go down into the cellar and see where
The maid went and found her sitting in front of the
barrel, screaming loudly.
"Elsie, why do you weep?" asked the maid.
"Ah," she answered, "have I not reason to weep? If I
get Hans, and we have a child, and he grows big, and
has to draw beer here, the pickaxe may fall on his
head, and kill him."
Then said the maid, "What a clever Elsie we have!" and
sat down beside her and began loudly to weep over the
After a while, as the maid did not come back, and those
upstairs were thirsty for beer, the man said to the
boy, "Just go down into the cellar and see where Elsie
and the girl are."
The boy went down, and there sat Clever Elsie and the
 both weeping together. Then he asked, "Why are you
"Ah," said Elsie, "have I not reason to weep? If I get
Hans, and we have a child, and he grows big, and has to
draw beer here, the pickaxe will fall on his head and
Then said the boy, "What a clever Elsie we have!" and
sat down by her, and likewise began to howl loudly.
Upstairs they waited for the boy, but as he did not
return, the man said to the woman, "Just go down into
the cellar and see where Elsie is!"
The woman went down, and found all three in the midst
of their lamentations, and inquired what was the cause.
Then Elsie told her also, that her future child was to
be killed by the pickaxe, when it grew big and had to
draw beer, and the pickaxe fell down.
Then said the mother likewise, "What a clever Elsie we
have!" and sat down and wept with them.
The man upstairs waited a short time, but as his wife
did not come back and his thirst grew ever greater, he
said, "I must go into the cellar myself and see where
But when he got into the cellar, and they were all
sitting together crying, and he heard the reason, and
that Elsie's child was the cause, and that Elsie might
perhaps bring one into the world some day, and that it
might be killed by the pickaxe, if it should happen to
be sitting beneath it, drawing beer just at the very
time when it fell, he cried, "Oh, what a clever Elsie!"
and sat down, and likewise wept with them.
The Bridegroom stayed up-stairs alone for a long time;
then as no one came back he thought, "They must be
 me below. I, too, must go there and see what they are
When he got down, all five of them were sitting
screaming and lamenting quite piteously, each outdoing
"What misfortune has happened then?" asked he.
"Ah, dear Hans," said Elsie, "if we marry each other
and have a child, and he is big, and we perhaps send
him here to draw something to drink, then the pickaxe
which has been left up there might dash his brains out,
if it were to fall down, so have we not reason to
"Come," said Hans, "more understanding than that is not
needed for my household, as you are such a clever
Elsie, I will have you," and he seized her hand, took
her upstairs with him, and married her.
After Hans had had her some time, he said, "Wife, I am
going out to work and earn money for us. Go into the
field and cut the corn, that we may have some bread."
"Yes, dear Hans, I will do that."
After Hans had gone away, she cooked herself some good
broth, and took it into the field with her. When she
came to the field she said to herself, "What shall I
do? Shall I shear first, or shall I eat first? Oh, I
will eat first."
Then she emptied her basin of broth, and when she was
fully satisfied, she once more said, "What shall I do?
Shall I shear first, or shall I sleep first? I will
sleep first." Then she lay down among the corn and
Hans had been at home for a long time, but Elsie did
not come. Then said he, "What a clever Elsie I have.
She is so industrious, that she does not even come home
 As, however, she still stayed away, and it was evening,
Hans went out to see what she had cut. But nothing was
cut, and she was lying among the corn, asleep. Then
Hans hastened home and brought a fowler's net with
little bells and hung it round about her, and she still
went on sleeping. Then he ran home, shut the
house-door, and sat down in his chair and worked.
At length, when it was quite dark, Clever Elsie awoke
and when she got up there was a jingling all round
about her, and the bells rang at each step which she
took. Then she was frightened, and became uncertain
whether she really was Clever Elsie or not, and said,
"Is it I, or is it not I?"
But she knew not what answer to make to this, and stood
for a time in doubt. At length she thought, "I will go
home and ask if it be I, or if it be not I. They will
be sure to know."
She ran to the door of her own house, but it was shut.
Then she knocked at the window and cried, "Hans, is
"Yes," answered Hans, "she is within."
Hereupon she was terrified, and said, "Ah, heavens!
Then it is not I," and went to another door.
But when the people heard the jingling of the bells,
they would not open it, and she could get in nowhere.
Then she ran out of the village, and no one has seen