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The Two Wanderers

It is certain that hills and valleys always meet, and it often happens on the earth that her children, both the good and the wicked, cross each other’s paths continually. So it once occurred that a Shoemaker and a Tailor fell together during their travels. Now, the Tailor was a merry little fellow, always making the best of everything; and, as he saw the Shoemaker approaching from the opposite road, and remarked by his knapsack what trade he was, he began a little mocking rhyme, singing:

♪ “Stitch, stitch away with your needle, Pull away hard with your thread, Rub it with wax to the right and the left, and knock the old peg on the head!”

The Shoemaker, however, could not take a joke, and drew a long face as if he had been drinking vinegar, while he seemed inclined to lay hold of the Tailor by the collar. But the latter began to laugh, and handed his bottle to the other, saying, “It is not ill meant; just drink, and wash down the gall.” The Shoemaker thereupon took a long pull, and immediately the gathering storm vanished; and, as he gave the Tailor back his bottle, he said, “I should have spoken to you roughly, but one talks better after a great drinking than after long thirst. Shall we travel together now?” “Right willingly,” answered the Tailor, “if you have but a mind to go into some large town where work is not wanting to those who seek it” “That is just the place I should like,” rejoined the Shoemaker; “in a little nest there is nothing to be earned, and the people in the country would rather go barefoot than buy shoes.” So they wandered away, setting always one foot before the other, like a weasel in the snow.

Time enough had both our heroes, but little either to bite or break. When they came to the first town, they went round requesting work, and because the Tailor looked so fresh and merry, and had such red cheeks, every one gave him what he could spare to do, and moreover he was so lucky that the master’s daughters, behind the shop, would give him a kiss as he passed. So it happened that, when he met again with his companion, his bundle was the better filled of the two. The fretful Shoemaker drew a sour face, and thought, “The greater the rogue the better the luck;” but the other began to laugh and sing, and shared all that he received with his comrade. For, if only a couple of groschen jingled in his pocket, he would out with them, throw them on the table with such force that the glasses danced, and cry out, “Lightly earned, lightly spent!”

After they had wandered about for some time they came to a large forest, through which the road passed to the royal city; but there were two ways, one of which was seven days long, and the other only two, but neither of the travelers knew which was the shorter. They, therefore, sat down under an oak-tree, to consult how they should manage, and for how many days they could take bread with them. The Shoemaker said, “One must provide for further than one goes, so I will take with me bread for seven days.”

“What!” cried the Tailor, “carry bread for seven days on your back like a beast of burden, so that you can’t look round! I shall commit myself to God, and care for nothing. The money which I have in my pocket is as good in summer as in winter, but the bread will get dry, and musty beside, in this hot weather. Why should we not find the right way? Bread for two days, and luck with it!” Thereupon each one bought his own bread, and then they started in the forest to try their fortune.

It was as quiet and still as a church. Not a breath of wind was stirring not a brook bubbling, a bird singing, nor even a sunbeam shining through the thick leaves. The Shoemaker spoke never a word, for the heavy bread pressed upon his back so sorely that the sweat ran down over his morose and dark countenance. The Tailor, on the other hand, was as merry as a lark, jumping about, whittling through straws, or singing songs. Thus two days passed; but on the third, when no end was to be found to the forest, the Tailor’s, heart fell a bit, for he had eaten all his bread; still he did not lose courage, but put his trust in God and his own luck. The third evening he laid down under a tree hungry, and awoke the next morning not less so. The fourth day was just the same, and when the Shoemaker sat down on an uprooted tree, and devoured his mid-day meal, nothing remained to the Tailor but to look on. He begged once a bit of bread, but the other laughed in his face, and said, “You are always so merry, and now you can try for once in your life how a man feels when he is sad; birds which sing too early in the morning are caught by the hawk in the evening.” In short, he was without pity for his companion. The fifth morning, however, the poor Tailor could not stand upright, and could scarcely speak from faintness; his cheeks, besides, were quite white and his eyes red. Then the Shoemaker said to him, “I will give you to-day a piece of bread, but I must put out your right eye for it.”

The unhappy Tailor, who still wished to preserve his life, could not help himself; he wept once with both eyes, and then the Shoemaker, who had a heart of stone, put out his right eye with a needle. Then the poor fellow recollected what his mother had once said to him when he had been eating in the store-room, “One may eat too much, but one must also suffer for it.” As soon as he had swallowed his dearly-purchased bread he got upon his legs again, forgot his misfortune, and comforted himself by reflecting that he had still one eye left to see with. But on the sixth day hunger again tormented him and his heart began to fail him. When evening came he sank down under a tree, and on the seventh morning he could not raise himself from faintness, for death sat on his neck.” The Shoemaker said, “I will yet show you mercy and give you a piece of bread, but as a recompense I must put out your left eye.” The Tailor, remembering his past sinfulness, begged pardon of God and then said to his companion, “Do what you will, I will bear what I must; but remember that our God watches every action; and that another hour will come when the wicked deed shall be punished which you have practised upon me, and which I have never deserved. In prosperous days I shared with you what I had. My business is one which requires stitch for stitch. If I have no longer sight, I can sew no more, and must go begging. Let me not, when I am blind, lie here all alone, or I shall perish.”

The Shoemaker, however, had driven all thoughts about God out of his heart, and he took the knife and put out the left eye of his comrade. Then he gave him a piece of bread to eat, reached him a stick, and led him behind him.

As the sun was setting they got out of the forest, and before them in a field stood a gallows. The Shoemaker led the blind Tailor to it, left him lying there, and went his way. From weariness, pain and hunger, the poor fellow slept the whole night long, and when he awoke at daybreak he knew not where he was. Upon the gallows hung two poor sinners, and upon each of their heads sat a crow, one of which said to the other, “Brother. are you awake?” “Yes, I am,” replied the second. “Then I will tell you something,” said the first Crow. “The dew which has fallen over us this night from the gallows will give sight to him who needs it if he but wash himself with it. If the blind knew this, how many are there who would once more be able to see who now think it impossible!”

When the Tailor heard this he took his handkerchief, spread it on the grass, and as soon as it was soaked with dew, he washed his eyeballs therewith. Immediately the words of the Crow were fulfilled, and he saw as clearly as ever. In a short while afterwards the Tailor saw the sun rise over the mountains, and before him in the distance lay the King’s city, with its magnificent gates and hundred towers, over which the spires and pinnacles began to glisten in the sunbeams. He discerned every leaf upon the trees, every bird which flew by, and the gnats which danced in the air. He took a needle out of his pocket, and, when he found he could pass the thread through the eye as easily as ever, his heart leaped for joy. He threw himself upon his knees and thanked God for the mercy shown to him, and while he said his morning devotions, he did not forget to pray for the two poor sinners who swung to and fro in the wind like the pendulum of a clock. Afterwards he took his bundle upon his back, and, forgetting his past sorrows and troubles, he jogged along singing and whistling.

The first thing he met was a brown Filly, which was running about in the fields at liberty. The Tailor caught it by its mane, and would have swung himself on its back to ride into the city, but the Filly begged for its liberty, saying, “I am still too young; even a light Tailor like you would break my back; let me run about till I am stronger; a time, perhaps, will come when I can reward you.”

“Run away, then,” replied the Tailor; “I see you are still a romp!” and with these words he gave it a cut with a switch which made it lift its hind legs for joy, and spring away over a hedge and ditch into a field.

But the Tailor had eaten nothing since the previous day, and he thought to himself, “The sun certainly fills my eyes, but the bread does not fill my mouth. The first thing which meets me now must suffer, if it be at all eatable.” Just then, a Stork came walking very seriously over the meadow. “Stop, stop! cried the Tailor, catching it by the leg, “I don’t know if you are fit to eat, but my hunger will not admit of choice; so I must chop off your head and roast you.” “Do it not,” answered the Stork; “I am a sacred bird, to whom nobody offers an injury, and I bring great profit to man. Leave me alone, and then I can recompense you at some future time.” “Be off, Cousin Long-legs,” said the Tailor; and the Stork, raising itself from the ground, flew gracefully away, with its long legs hanging downwards. “What will come of this?” said the Tailor to himself, “my hunger grows ever stronger, and my stomach yet more empty; what next crosses my path is lost.” As he spoke, he saw a pair of young Ducks swimming upon a pond. “You have come just when you were called,” cried he, and, seizing one by the neck, he was about to twist it round, when an old bird which was hid among the reeds began to quack loudly, and swam with open bill up to the Tailor, begging him pitifully to spare her dear child. “Think what your poor mother would say if one fetched you away and put an end to your life!” “Be quiet!” replied the good-natured Tailor, “you shall have your child again;” and he put the prisoner back into the water. As soon as he turned round again he perceived an old hollow tree, and the wild bees flying in and out. “Here at last I shall find the reward of my good deed,” said the Tailor; “the honey will refresh me.” But scarcely had he spoken when the Queen Bee flew out and thus addressed him, “If you touch my people, and disturb my nest, our stings shall pierce your skin like ten thousand red-hot needles. Leave us in peace, and go your own way, and perhaps at a future time you shall receive a reward for it.”

The Tailor perceived at once that nothing was to be had there. “Three empty dishes and nothing in the fourth is a bad meal,” thought he to himself; and, trudging on, he soon got into the city, where, as it was about noon, he found a dinner ready cooked in the inn, and gladly sat down to table. When he was satisfied, he determined to go and seek work, and, as he walked around the city, he soon found a master, who gave him a good welcome. Since, however, he knew his business thoroughly, it very soon happened that he became quite famed, and everybody would have his new coat made by the little Tailor. Every day added to his consequence, and he said to himself, “I can get no higher in my art, and yet every day trade gets brisker.” At length he was appointed court tailor.

But how things do turn out! The same day his former comrade was made court shoemaker; and when he saw the Tailor, and remarked that his eyes were as bright and good as ever, his conscience pricked him. But he thought to himself, “Before he revenges himself, on me I must lay a snare for him.” Now, he who digs a pit for another often falls into it himself. In the evening, when the Shoemaker had left off work, and it was become quite dark, he slipped up to the King and whispered, “May it please your Majesty, this Tailor is a high-minded fellow, and has boasted that he can procure again the crown which has been lost so long.”

“That would please me much?” replied the King; “but let the Tailor come here tomorrow.” When he came, the King ordered him to find the crown again, or to leave the city forever. “Oho! Oho!” thought the Tailor; “a rogue gives more than he has. If the crusty old King desires from me what no man can produce, I will not wait till morning, but this very day make my escape out of the town.” So thinking, he tied together his bundle, and marched out of the gate; but it grieved him sorely to give up his business, and to turn his back upon the city wherein he had been so fortunate. Soon he came to the pond where he had made acquaintance with the ducks, and there sat the old one whose children he had spared by the shore, pluming herself with her bill. She recognized him, and asked why he hung his head so. “You will not wonder,” he replied, “when you hear what has happened;” and he told her his story. “If that be all,” said the Duck, “we can assist you. The crown has fallen into the water, and lies at the bottom, whence we will soon fetch it. Meanwhile spread your handkerchief out on the shore.” With these words, the Duck dived down with her twelve young ones, and in five minutes they were up again carrying the crown, which, resting on the old bird’s wings, was borne up by the bills of the twelve ducklings who swam around. They came to shore and laid the crown on the handkerchief.

You could not believe how beautiful it was; for when the sun shone on it, it glittered like a hundred carbuncles. The Tailor tied it up in his handkerchief and carried it to the King, who was so much pleased that he gave its finder a chain of gold to hang round his neck.

When the Shoemaker found his first plan had failed he contrived a second, and stepping before the King, said, “May it please your Majesty, the Tailor has grown so high-minded again, he boasts he can model in wax the whole castle and all that is in it, fixed and unfixed, indoors and outdoors.” The King thereupon caused the Tailor to be summoned, and ordered him to model in wax the whole castle, and everything inside and outside; and if he did not complete it, or even omitted one nail upon the wall, he should be kept prisoner underground all his lifetime. The Tailor thought to himself, “It comes harder and harder upon me; no man can do that;” and, throwing his bundle over his shoulder, he walked out at the gate. When he came to the hollow tree he sat down, and hung his head in despair. The Bees came flying out, and the Queen asked if he had a stiff neck, because he kept his head in such a position. “Oh, no!” he replied; “something else oppresses me!” and he related what the King had demanded of him. The Bees thereupon began to hum and buzz together, and the Queen said to the Tailor, “Go home now, but return in the morning, and bring a great napkin with you, and about this hour all will be ready.” So he returned home, and the Bees flew to the royal palace, right in at the open window, crept into every corner, and observed all the things in the most minute manner. Then they flew back and formed a castle in wax with great speed, so that it was ready by the evening. The next morning the Tailor came, and there stood the whole beautiful building, with not a nail upon the wall or a tile upon the roof omitted, but all was delicately white, and moreover, as sweet as sugar. The Tailor wrapped it carefully in his cloth, and took it to the King, who could not sufficiently admire it, and gave him a house made of stone as a reward.

The Shoemaker, however, was not satisfied, and went again to the King; and said, “May it please your Majesty, it has come to the ears of the Tailor that no water springs in the castle-yard; and he has therefore boasted that it shall gush up in the middle, clear as crystal.” The King ordered the Tailor to be summoned, and told him that if a stream of water was not running the following morning, as he had said, the executioner should make him a head shorter in that very court. The poor Tailor did not think very long, but rushed out of the gate, and, as he remembered his life was in danger, tears rolled down his cheeks. Whilst he sat thus, full of grief, the Filly came jumping towards him to which he had once given liberty, and which had become a fine brown horse. “Now is the hour come,” it said to the Tailor, “when I can reward your kindness. I know already what you need, and will soon assist you; but now sit upon my back, which could carry two like you.” The Tailor’s heart came again, and he vaulted into the saddle, and the horse carried him full speed into the town, and straight to the castle-yard. There it coursed thrice round as quick as lightning, and at the third time fell down. At the same moment a fearful noise was heard, and a piece out of the ground of the court sprang up into the air like a ball, and bounded away far over the castle; and at the same time a stream of water, as high as the man and his horse, and as clear as crystal, played up and down like a fountain, and the sunbeams danced on it. As soon as the King saw this he was astounded, and went up and embraced the Tailor before all his court.

But this fortune did not last long. The King had daughters enough, and each one prettier than the other, but no son at all.

Now, the wicked Shoemaker went for the fourth time to the King, and said, “May it please your Majesty, the Tailor is as high-minded as ever. Now he has boasted that, if he might, he could bring the King a son down from the air.” Thereupon the King ordered the Tailor to be summoned, and said, “If you bring me a son within nine days you shall have my eldest daughter as a wife” “The reward is immense,” thought the Tailor; “and one may as well have it as another; but now the cherries hang too high for me, and if I climb after them the branches will break beneath me, and I shall fall down.” So thinking, he went home, set himself with his legs crossed under him upon his work-table, and considered what he should do. “It is of no use,” he cried at length; “I must be off, I cannot rest in peace here I” So he tied up his bundle and hurried out of the door; but just as he arrived upon the meadow he perceived his old friend the Stork, who, like a world-wise man, walked up and down, awhile stood still and considered a frog nearer, and at length snapped it up. The Stork came up and greeted him. “I see,” said it, “you have your bundle upon your back; why have you left the city?” The Tailor told the Stork what the King had commanded of him, and how, as he could not do it, he was grieving at his ill luck. “Do not let your gray hairs grow on that account!” replied the Stork, “I will assist you out of your trouble! Sometimes already I have brought infants into the city; and I can also fetch a little prince out of the spring. Go home and keep quiet. In nine days return to the royal palace, and I will come thither also.”

The Tailor went home, and on the right day went to the palace. In a short time the Stork came flying through the air, and knocked at the window. The Tailor opened it, and cousin Longlegs marched gravely in, and with stately steps passed over the marble floors, carrying in his beak a child, as beautiful to look at as an angel, and already stretching out its hands towards the Queen. The Stork laid it upon her lap, and she embraced and kissed it, almost beside herself with joy. Before he flew away he took a knapsack off his shoulder, and handed it to the Queen; and therein were dates and colored bonbons, which were divided among the Princesses. But the eldest received none, because she took instead the merry young Tailor as husband. “It seems to me,” said the Tailor, “as if I had won a great game. My mother rightly said, ‘He who trusts in God and his own fortune will never go amiss.’”

The Shoemaker had to make the shoes in which the Tailor danced at the wedding, and as soon as he had done them he was ordered to leave the city. The road from thence to the forest led him past the gallows; and, from rage, disappointment, and weariness with the heat of the day, he threw himself on the ground beneath it. As soon as he had closed his eyes and prepared to go to sleep, the two Crows flew down from the heads of the two criminals, and with loud cries pecked out the Shoemaker’s eyes. Insane with rage and pain he ran into the forest, and there he must have perished; for nobody has seen or heard anything of the wicked Shoemaker ever since.

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