HANS IN LUCK
HANS had served his master seven years, and at last said to him, "Master, my time is up, I
should like to go home and see my mother; so give me my wages." And the master said,
"You have been a faithful and good servant, so your pay shall be handsome." Then he
gave him a piece of silver that was as big as his head.
Hans took out his pocket-handkerchief, put the piece of silver into it, threw it over
his shoulder, and jogged off homewards. As he went lazily on, dragging one foot after
another, a man came in sight, trotting along gaily on a capital horse. "Ah!" said Hans
aloud, "what a fine thing it is to ride on horseback! There he sits as if he was at home
in his chair; he trips against not stones, spares his shoes, and yet gets on he hardly
knows how." The horseman heard this, and said, "Well, Hans, why do you go on foot then?"
"Ah!" said he, "I have this load to carry; to be sure it is silver, but it is so heavy
that I can't hold up my head, and it hurts my shoulder sadly." What do you say to
changing?" said the horseman; "I will give you my horse, and you shall give me the
silver." "With all my heart," said Hans: "but I tell you one thing,—you'll
have a weary task to drag it along." The horseman got off, took the silver, helped
Hans up, put the bridle into his hand, and said, " when you want to go very fast, you
must smack your lips loud, and cry 'Jip.'"
Hans was delighted as he sat on the horse, and rode merrily on. After a time he thought
he should like to go a little faster, so he smacked his lips and cried "Jip." Away went
the horse full gallop; and before Hans knew what he was about he was thrown off, and lay
in a ditch by the roadside; and his horse would have run away, if a shepherd who was
coming by, driving a cow, had not stopped it. Hans soon came to himself, and got upon
his legs again. He was sadly vexed, and said to the shepherd, "This riding is no joke
when a man gets on a beast like this, that stumbles and flings him off as if he would
break his neck. However, I am off now once and for all: I like your cow a great deal
better; one can walk along at one's leisure behind her, and have milk, butter, and
cheese every day into the bargain. What would I give to have such a cow!" "Well,"
said the shepherd, "if you are so fond of her, I will change my cow for your horse."
"Done!" said Hans, merrily. The shepherd jumped upon the horse and away he rode.
Hans drove off his cow quietly, and thought this bargain a very lucky one. "If I have
only a piece of bread (and I certainly shall be able to get that),
 I can, whenever
I like, eat my butter and cheese with it; and when I am thirsty I can milk my cow and
drink the milk: What can I wish for more?" When he came to an inn, he halted, ate all
his bread, and gave away his last penny for a glass of beer; then he drove his cow
towards his mother's village; and the heat grew greater as noon came on, till at last
he found himself on a wide heath that would take him more than an hour to cross, and
he began to be so hot and parched that his tongue clave to the roof of his mouth. "I
can find a cure for this," thought he, "now will I milk my cow and quench my thirst;"
so he tied her to the stump of a tree, and held his leathern cap to milk into, but not
a drop was to be had.
While he was trying his luck and managing the matter very clumsily, the uneasy beast gave
him a kick on the head that knocked him down, and there he lay a long while senseless.
Luckily a butcher soon came by driving a pig in a wheelbarrow. "What is the matter with
you?" said the butcher, as he helped him up. Hans told him what had happened, and the
butcher gave him a flask, saying, "There, drink, and refresh yourself; your cow will
give you no milk; she is an old beast, good for nothing but the slaughter-house." "Alas,
alas!" said Hans, "who would have thought it? If I kill her, what would she be good for?
I hate cow-beef, it is not tender enough for me. If it were a pig now, one could do
something with it; it would at any rate make some sausages." "Well," said the butcher,
"to please you I'll change, and give you the pig for the cow." "Heaven reward you for
your kindness!" said Hans, as he gave the butcher the cow, and took the pig off the
wheelbarrow, and drove it along, holding it by the string that was tied to its leg.
So on he jogged, and all seemed now to go right with him; he had met with some
misfortunes, to be sure, but he was now well repaid for all. The next person he
met was a countryman carrying a fine white goose under his arm. The countryman
stopped to ask what o'clock it was; and Hans told him all his luck, and how he
had made so many good bargains. The countryman said he was going to take the goose
to a christening. "Feel," said he, "how heavy it is, and yet it is only eight weeks
old. Whoever roasts and eats it may cut plenty of fat off it, it has lived so well!"
"You're right," said Hans as he weighed it in his hand; "But my pig is no trifle."
Meantime the countryman began to look grave, and shook his head. "Hark ye," said he,
"my good friend; your pig may get you into a scrape; in the village I just came from
the squire has had a pig stolen out of his stye. I was dreadfully afraid, when I saw
you, that you had got the squire's pig; it will be a bad job if they catch you; the
least they'll do will be to throw you into the horse pond."
Poor Hans was sadly frightened. "Good man," cried he, "pray get me out of this scrape;
you know this country better than I, take my pig and give me the goose." "I ought to
have something into the bargain," said the countryman; "how-ever, I will not bear hard
upon you, as you are in trouble." Then he took the string in his hand, and drove off the
pig by a side path; while Hans went on the way homewards free from care. "After all,"
thought he, "I have the best of the bargain: first there will be a capital roast; then
the fat will find me in goose-greese for six months; and there are all the beautiful
white feathers; I will put them into my pillow, and then I am sure I shall sleep
soundly without rocking. How happy my mother will be!"
As he came to the last village, he saw a scissors-grinder, with his wheel, working
away, and singing:—
"O'er hill and o'er dale so happy I roam,
Work light and live well, all the world is my home;
Who so blythe, so merry as I?"
Hans stood looking for a while, and at last said. "You must be well off, master grinder, you seem
so happy at your work." "Yes," said the other, "mine is a golden trade; a good grinder never
puts his hand in his pocket without finding moneyin it;—but where did you get that beautiful
goose?" "I did not buy it, but changed a pig for it." "And where did you get the pig?" "I
 gave a cow for it." "And the cow?" "I gave a horse for
it." "and the horse?" "I gave a piece of silver as big as my head for that." "And the
silver?" "Oh! I worked hard for that seven long years." "You have thriven well in the
world hitherto," said the grinder; "now if you could find money in your pocket whenever
you put your hand into it, your fortune would be made." "Very true: but how is that to
be managed?" "You must turn grinder like me," said the other, "you only want a
grindstone; the rest will come of itself. Here is one that is a little the worse
for wear; I would not ask more than the value of your goose for it;—will you
buy?" "How can you ask such a question?" replied Hans; "I should be the happiest man
in the world if I could have money whenever I put my hand in my pocket; what could I
want more; there's the goose!" "Now," said the grinder, as he gave him a common rough
stone that lay by his side, "this is a most capital stone; do but manage it cleverly,
and you can make an old nail cut with it."
Hans took the stone and went off with a light heart: his eyes sparkled for joy, and he
said to himself, "I must have been born in a lucky hour; everything that I want or wish
for comes to me of itself."
Meantime he began to be tired, for he had been traveling ever since daybreak; he was
hungry, too, for he had given away his last penny in his joy at getting the cow. At
last he could go no farther, and the stone tired him terribly; he dragged himself to
the side of a pond, that he might drink some water and rest a while; so he laid the
stone carefully by his side on the bank: but as he stooped down to drink, he forgot
it, pushed it a little, and down it went plump into the pond. For a while he watched
it sinking in the deep clear water, then sprang up for joy, and again fell upon his
knees, and thanked heaven with tears in his eyes for its kindness in taking away his
only plague, the ugly heavy stone. "How happy am I!" cried he: "no mortal was eve so
lucky as I am." Then up he got with a light and merry heart, and walked on free from
all his troubles till he reached his mother's house.
Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics