Fairy Tales and Other Stories (Andersen, Craigie)/Great Claus and Little Claus
GREAT CLAUS AND LITTLE CLAUS
There lived two men in one village, and they had the same name—each was called Claus; but one had four horses, and the other only a single horse. To distinguish them from each other, folks called him who had four horses Great Claus, and the one who had only a single horse Little Claus. Now we shall hear what happened to each of them, for this is a true story.
The whole week through, Little Claus was obliged to plough for Great Claus, and to lend him his one horse; then Great Claus helped him out with all his four, but only once a week, and that was on Sunday. Hurrah! how Little Claus smacked his whip over all five horses, for they were as good as his own on that one day. The sun shone gaily, and all the bells in the steeples were ringing; the people were all dressed in their best, and were going to church, with their hymn-books under their arms, to hear the clergyman preach, and they saw Little Claus ploughing with five horses; but he was so merry that he smacked his whip again and again, and cried, 'Gee up, all my five!'
'You must not talk so,' said Great Claus, 'for only one horse is yours.'
But when any one passed Little Claus forgot that he was not to say this, and he cried, 'Gee up, all my horses!'
'Now, I must beg of you to stop that,' cried Great Claus, 'for if you say it again, I shall hit your horse on the head, so that it will fall down dead, and then it will be all over with him.'
'I will certainly not say it any more,' said Little Claus.
But when people came by soon afterwards, and nodded 'good day' to him, he became very glad, and thought it looked very well, after all, that he had five horses to plough his field; and so he smacked his whip again, and cried, 'Gee up, all my horses!'
'I'll "gee up" your horses!' said Great Claus. And he took a mallet and hit the only horse of Little Claus on the head, so that it fell down, and was dead immediately.
'Oh, now I haven't any horse at all!' said Little Claus, and began to cry.
Then he flayed the horse, and let the hide dry in the wind, and put it in a sack and hung it over his shoulder, and went to the town to sell his horse's skin.
He had a very long way to go, and was obliged to pass through a great dark wood, and the weather became dreadfully bad. He went quite astray, and before he got into the right way again it was evening, and it was too far to get home again or even to the town before nightfall.
Close by the road stood a large farm-house. The shutters were closed outside the windows, but the light could still be seen shining out over them.
'I may be able to get leave to stop here through the night,' thought Little Claus; and he went and knocked.
The farmer's wife opened the door; but when she heard what he wanted she told him to go away, declaring that her husband was not at home, and she would not receive strangers.
'Then I shall have to lie outside,' said Little Claus. And the farmer's wife shut the door in his face.
Close by stood a great haystack, and between this and the farm-house was a little outhouse thatched with straw.
'Up there I can lie,' said Little Claus, when he looked up at the roof; 'that is a capital bed. I suppose the stork won't fly down and bite me in the legs.' For a living stork was standing on the roof, where he had his nest.
Now Little Claus climbed up to the roof of the shed, where he lay, and turned round to settle himself comfortably. The wooden shutters did not cover the windows at the top, and he could look straight into the room. There was a great table, with the cloth laid, and wine and roast meat and a glorious fish upon it. The farmer's wife and the parish-clerk were seated at table, and nobody besides. She was filling his glass, and he was digging his fork into the fish, for that was his favourite dish.
'If one could only get some too!' thought Little Claus, as he stretched out his head towards the window. Heavens! what a glorious cake he saw standing there! Yes, certainly, that was a feast.
Now he heard some one riding along the high road. It was the woman's husband, who was coming home. He was a good man enough, but he had the strange peculiarity that he could never bear to see a clerk. If a clerk appeared before his eyes he became quite wild. And that was the reason why the clerk had gone to the wife to wish her good day, because he knew that her husband was not at home; and the good woman therefore put the best fare she had before him. But when they heard the man coming they were frightened, and the woman begged the clerk to creep into a great empty chest which stood in the corner; and he did so, for he knew the husband could not bear the sight of a clerk. The woman quickly hid all the excellent meat and wine in her baking-oven; for if the man had seen that, he would have been certain to ask what it meant.
'Oh, dear!' sighed Little Claus, up in his shed, when he saw all the good fare put away.
'Is there any one up there?' asked the farmer; and he looked up at Little Claus. 'Why are you lying there? Better come with me into the room.'
And Little Claus told him how he had lost his way, and asked leave to stay there for the night.
'Yes, certainly,' said the peasant, 'but first we must have something to live on.'
The woman received them both in a very friendly way, spread the cloth on a long table, and gave them a great dish of porridge. The farmer was hungry, and ate with a good appetite; but Little Claus could not help thinking of the capital roast meat, fish, and cake, which he knew were in the oven. Under the table, at his feet, he had laid the sack with the horse's hide in it; for we know that he had come out to sell it in the town. He could not relish the porridge, so he trod upon the sack, and the dry skin inside crackled quite loudly.
'Hush,' said Little Claus to his sack; but at the same time he trod on it again, so that it crackled much louder than before.
'Why, what have you in your sack?' asked the farmer.
'Oh, that's a magician,' answered Little Claus. 'He says we are not to eat porridge, for he has conjured the oven full of roast meat, fish, and cake.'
'Wonderful!' cried the farmer; and he opened the oven in a hurry, and found all the dainty provisions which his wife had hidden there, but which, as he thought, the wizard had conjured forth. The woman dared not say anything, but put the things at once on the table; and so they both ate of the meat, the fish, and the cake. Now Little Claus again trod on his sack, and made the hide creak.
'What does he say now?' said the farmer.
'He says,' replied Claus, 'that he has conjured three bottles of wine for us, too, and that they are also standing there in the oven.'
Now the woman was obliged to bring out the wine which she had hidden, and the farmer drank it and became very merry. He would have been very glad to own such a conjuror as Little Claus had there in the sack,
'Can he conjure the demon forth?' asked the farmer. 'I should like to see him, for now I am merry.'
'Oh, yes,' said Little Claus, 'my conjuror can do anything that I ask of him.—Can you not?' he added, and trod on the hide, so that it crackled. 'He says "Yes." But the demon is very ugly to look at: we had better not see him.'
'Oh, I'm not at all afraid. Pray, what will he look like?'
'Why, he'll look the very image of a parish-clerk.'
'Ha!' said the farmer, 'that is ugly! You must know, I can't bear the sight of a clerk. But it doesn't matter now, for I know that he's a demon, so I shall easily stand it. Now I have courage, but he must not come too near me.'
'Now I will ask my conjuror,' said Little Claus; and he trod on the sack and held his ear down.
'What does he say?'
'He says you may go and open the chest that stands in the corner, and you will see the demon crouching in it; but you must hold the lid so that he doesn't slip out,'
'Will you help me to hold him?' asked the farmer. And he went to the chest where the wife had hidden the real clerk, who sat in there and was very much afraid. The farmer opened the lid a little way and peeped in underneath it.
'Ugh!' he cried, and sprang backward. 'Yes, now I've seen him, and he looked exactly like our clerk. Oh, that was dreadful!'
Upon this they must drink. So they sat and drank until late into the night.
'You must sell me that conjuror,' said the farmer.
'Ask as much as you like for him: I'll give you a whole bushel of money directly.'
'No, that I can't do,' said Little Claus: 'only think how much use I can make of this conjuror.'
'Oh, I should so much like to have him!' cried the farmer; and he went on begging.
'Well,' said Little Claus, at last, 'as you have been so kind as to give me shelter for the night, I will let it be so. You shall have the conjuror for a bushel of money; but I must have the bushel heaped up.'
'That you shall have,' replied the farmer. 'But you must take the chest yonder away with you. I will not keep it in my house an hour. One cannot know—perhaps he may be there still.'
Little Claus gave the farmer his sack with the dry hide in it, and got in exchange a whole bushel of money, and that heaped up. The farmer also gave him a big truck, on which to carry off his money and chest.
'Farewell!' said Little Claus; and he went off with his money and the big chest, in which the clerk was still sitting.
On the other side of the wood was a great deep river. The water rushed along so rapidly that one could scarcely swim against the stream. A fine new bridge had been built over it. Little Claus stopped on the centre of the bridge, and said quite loud, so that the clerk could hear it,
'Ho, what shall I do with this stupid chest? It's as heavy as if stones were in it. I shall only get tired if I drag it any farther, so I'll throw it into the river: if it swims home to me, well and good; and if it does not, it will be no great matter.'
And he took the chest with one hand, and lifted it up a little, as if he intended to throw it into the river.
'No! let be!' cried the clerk from within the chest; 'let me out first!'
'Ugh!' exclaimed Little Claus, pretending to be frightened, 'he's in there still! I must make haste and throw him into the river, that he may be drowned.'
'Oh, no, no!' screamed the clerk. 'I'll give you a whole bushel-full of money if you'll let me go.'
'Why, that's another thing!' said Little Claus; and he opened the chest.
The clerk crept quickly out, pushed the empty chest into the water, and went to his house, where Little Claus received a whole bushel-full of money. He had already received one from the farmer, and so now he had his truck loaded with money.
'See, I've been well paid for the horse,' he said to himself when he had got home to his own room, and was emptying all the money into a heap in the middle of the floor. 'That will vex Great Claus when he hears how rich I have grown through my one horse; but I won't tell him about it outright.'
So he sent a boy to Great Claus to ask for a bushel measure.
'What can he want with it?' thought Great Claus. And he smeared some tar underneath the measure, so that some part of whatever was measured should stick to it. And thus it happened; for when he received the measure back, there were three new threepenny pieces adhering thereto.
'What's this?' cried Great Claus; and he ran off at once to Little Claus. 'Where did you get all that money from?'
'Oh, that's for my horse's skin. I sold it yesterday evening.'
'That's really being well paid,' said Great Claus. And he ran home in a hurry, took an axe, and killed all his four horses; then he flayed them, and carried off their skins to the town.
'Hides! hides! who'll buy any hides?' he cried through the streets.
All the shoemakers and tanners came running, and asked how much he wanted for them.
'A bushel of money for each!' said Great Claus.
'Are you mad?' said they. 'Do you think we have money by the bushel?'
'Hides! hides!' he cried again; and to all who asked him what the hides would cost he replied, 'A bushel of money.'
'He wants to make fools of us,' they all exclaimed. And the shoemakers took their straps, and the tanners their aprons, and they began to beat Great Claus.
'Hides! hides!' they called after him, jeeringly. 'Yes, we'll tan your hide for you till the red broth runs down. Out of the town with him!' And Great Claus made the best haste he could, for he had never yet been thrashed as he was thrashed now.
'Well,' said he when he got home, 'Little Claus shall pay for this. I'll kill him for it.'
Now, at Little Claus's the old grandmother had died. She had been very harsh and unkind to him, but yet he was very sorry, and took the dead woman and laid her in his warm bed, to see if she would not come to life again. There he intended she should remain all through the night, and he himself would sit in the corner and sleep on a chair, as he had often done before. As he sat there, in the night the door opened, and Great Claus came in with his axe. He knew where Little Claus's bed stood; and, going straight up to it, he hit the old grandmother on the head, thinking she was Little Claus.
'D'ye see,' said he, 'you shall not make a fool of me again.' And then he went home.
'That's a bad fellow, that man,' said Little Claus. 'He wanted to kill me. It was a good thing for my old grandmother that she was dead already. He would have taken her life.'
And he dressed his grandmother in her Sunday clothes, borrowed a horse of his neighbour, harnessed it to a car, and put the old lady on the back seat, so that she could not fall out when he drove. And so they trundled through the wood. When the sun rose they were in front of an inn; there Little Claus pulled up, and went in to have some refreshment.
The host had very, very much money; he was also a very good man, but exceedingly hot-tempered, as if he had pepper and tobacco in him.
'Good morning,' said he to Little Claus. 'You've put on your Sunday clothes early to-day.'
'Yes,' answered Little Claus; 'I'm going to town with my old grandmother: she's sitting there on the car without. I can't bring her into the room—will you give her a glass of mead? But you must speak very loud, for she can't hear well.'
'Yes, that I will,' said the host. And he poured out a great glass of mead, and went out with it to the dead grandmother, who had been placed upright in the carriage.
'Here's a glass of mead from your son,' quoth mine host. But the dead woman replied not a word, but sat quite still. 'Don't you hear?' cried the host, as loud as he could, 'here is a glass of mead from your son!'
Once more he called out the same thing, but as she still made not a movement, he became angry at last, and threw the glass in her face, so that the mead ran down over her nose, and she tumbled backwards into the car, for she had only been put upright, and not bound fast.
'Hallo!' cried Little Claus, running out at the door, and seizing the host by the breast; 'you've killed my grandmother now! See, there's a big hole in her forehead.'
'Oh, here's a misfortune!' cried the host, wringing his hands. 'That all comes of my hot temper. Dear Little Claus, I'll give you a bushel of money, and have your grandmother buried as if she were my own; only keep quiet, or I shall have my head cut off, and that would be so very disagreeable!'
So Little Claus again received a whole bushel of money, and the host buried the old grandmother as if she had been his own. And when Little Claus came home with all his money, he at once sent his boy to Great Claus to ask to borrow a bushel measure.
'What's that?' said Great Claus. 'Have I not killed him? I must go myself and see to this.' And so he went over himself with the bushel to Little Claus.
'Now, where did you get all that money from?' he asked; and he opened his eyes wide when he saw all that had been brought together.
'You killed my grandmother, and not me,' replied Little Claus; 'and I've been and sold her, and got a whole bushel of money for her,'
'That's really being well paid,' said Great Claus; and he hastened home, took an axe, and killed his own grandmother directly. Then he put her on a carriage, and drove off to the town with her, to where the apothecary lived, and asked him if he would buy a dead person.
'Who is it, and where did you get him from?' asked the apothecary.
'It's my grandmother,' answered Great Claus. 'I've killed her to get a bushel of money for her.'
'Heaven save us!' cried the apothecary, 'you're raving! Don't say such things, or you may lose your head.' And he told him earnestly what a bad deed this was that he had done, and what a bad man he was, and that he must be punished. And Great Claus was so frightened that he jumped out of the surgery straight into his carriage, and whipped the horses, and drove home. But the apothecary and all the people thought him mad, and so they let him drive whither he would.
'You shall pay for this!' said Great Claus, when he was out upon the high road: 'yes, you shall pay me for this. Little Claus!' And directly he got home he took the biggest sack he could find, and went over to Little Claus and said, 'Now, you've tricked me again! First I killed my horses, and then my old grandmother! That's all your fault; but you shall never trick me any more.' And he seized Little Claus round the body, and thrust him into the sack, and took him upon his back, and called out to him, 'Now I shall go off with you and drown you.'
It was a long way that he had to travel before he came to the river, and Little Claus was not too light to carry. The road led him close to a church: the organ was playing, and the people were singing so beautifully! Then Great Claus put down his sack, with Little Claus in it, close to the church door, and thought it would be a very good thing to go in and hear a psalm before he went farther; for Little Claus could not get out, and all the people were in church; and so he went in.
'Oh, dear! Oh, dear!' sighed Little Claus in the sack. And he turned and twisted, but he found it impossible to loosen the cord. Then there came by an old drover with snow-white hair, and a great staff in his hand: he was driving a whole herd of cows and oxen before him, and they stumbled against the sack in which Little Claus was confined, so that it was overthrown.
'Oh, dear!' sighed Little Claus, 'I'm so young yet, and am to go to heaven directly!'
'And I, poor fellow,' said the drover, 'am so old already. and can't get there yet!'
'Open the sack,' cried Little Claus; 'creep into it instead of me, and you will get to heaven directly.'
'With all my heart,' replied the drover; and he untied the sack, out of which Little Claus crept forth immediately.
'But will you look after the cattle?' said the old man; and he crept into the sack at once, whereupon Little Claus tied it up, and went his way with all the cows and oxen.
Soon afterwards Great Claus came out of the church. He took the sack on his shoulders again, although it seemed to him as if the sack had become lighter; for the old drover was only half as heavy as Little Claus.
'How light he is to carry now! Yes, that is because I have heard a psalm.'
So he went to the river, which was deep and broad, threw the sack with the old drover in it into the water, and called after him, thinking that it was little Claus, 'You lie there! Now you shan't trick me any more!'
Then he went home; but when he came to a place where there was a cross-road, he met Little Claus driving all his beasts.
'What's this?' cried Great Claus. 'Have I not drowned you?'
'Yes,' replied Little Claus, 'you threw me into the river less than half an hour ago.'
'But wherever did you get all those fine beasts from?' asked Great Claus.
'These beasts are sea-cattle,' replied Little Claus. 'I'll tell you the whole story,—and thank you for drowning me, for now I'm at the top of the tree. I am really rich! How frightened I was when I lay huddled in the sack, and the wind whistled about my ears when you threw me down from the bridge into the cold water! I sank to the bottom immediately; but I did not knock myself, for the most splendid soft grass grows down there. Upon that I fell; and immediately the sack was opened, and the loveliest maiden, with snow-white garments and a green wreath upon her wet hair, took me by the hand, and said, "Are you come. Little Claus? Here you have some cattle to begin with. A mile farther along the road there is a whole herd more, which I will give to you." And now I saw that the river formed a great highway for the people of the sea. Down in its bed they walked and drove directly from the sea, and straight into the land, to where the river ends. There it was so beautifully full of flowers and of the freshest grass; the fishes, which swam in the water, shot past my ears, just as here the birds in the air. What pretty people there were there, and what fine cattle pasturing on mounds and in ditches!'
'But why did you come up again to us directly?' asked Great Claus. 'I should not have done that, if it is so beautiful down there.'
'Why,' replied Little Claus, 'just in that I acted with good policy. You heard me tell you that the sea-maiden said, "A mile farther along the road"—and by the road she meant the river, for she can't go anywhere else—"there
is a whole herd of cattle for you." But I know what bends the stream makes—sometimes this way, sometimes that; there's a long way to go round: no, the thing can be managed in a shorter way by coming here to the land, and driving across the fields towards the river again. In this manner I save myself almost half a mile, and get all the quicker to my sea-cattle!'
'Oh, you are a fortunate man!' said Great Claus. 'Do you think I should get some sea-cattle too if I went down to the bottom of the river?'
'Yes, I think so,' replied Little Claus. 'But I cannot carry you in the sack as far as the river; you are too heavy for me! But if you will go there, and creep into the sack yourself, I will throw you in with a great deal of pleasure.'
'Thanks!' said Great Claus; 'but if I don't get any sea-cattle when I am down there, I shall beat you, you may be sure!'
'Oh, no; don't be so fierce!'
And so they went together to the river. When the beasts, which were thirsty, saw the stream, they ran as fast as they could to get at the water.
'See how they hurry!' cried Little Claus. 'They are longing to get back to the bottom.'
'Yes, but help me first!' said Great Claus, 'or else you shall be beaten.'
And so he crept into the great sack, which had been laid across the back of one of the oxen.
'Put a stone in, for I'm afraid I shan't sink else,' said Great Claus.
'That will be all right,' replied Little Claus; and he put a big stone into the sack, tied the rope tightly, and pushed against it. Plump! There lay Great Claus in the river, and sank at once to the bottom.
'I'm afraid he won't find the cattle!' said Little Claus; and then he drove homeward with what he had.