The Complete Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales |
This collection of "classics" certainly is a departure from the Disney versions. The tales are mostly very dark and pessimistic, as originally recorded by the Brothers. For the more "colourful" children's stories it is better to buy the specific tales from the bookstore instead of a collective book.
This story is available in the following languages
by the Grimm Bothers
There were once two brothers who both served as soldiers, one
of them was rich, and the other poor. Then the poor one, to
escape from his poverty, doffed his soldier's coat, and turned
farmer. He dug and hoed his bit of land, and sowed it with
turnip-seed. The seed came up, and one turnip grew there which
became large and strong, and visibly grew bigger and bigger,
and seemed as if it would never stop growing, so that it might
have been called the princess of turnips, for never was such an
one seen before, and never will such an one be seen again.
At length it was so enormous that by itself it filled a whole
cart, and two oxen were required to draw it, and the farmer had
not the least idea what he was to do with the turnip, or
whether it would be a fortune to him or a misfortune. At last
he thought, "if you sell it, what will you get for it that is
of any importance, and if you eat it yourself, why, the small
turnips would do you just as much good. It would be better to
take it to the king, and make him a present of it."
So he placed it on a cart, harnessed two oxen, took it to the
palace, and presented it to the king.
"What strange thing is this," said the king. "Many wonderful
things have come before my eyes, but never such a monster as
this. From what seed can this have sprung, or are you a
favorite of good fortune and have met with it by chance."
"Ah, no", said the farmer, "no favorite am I. I am a poor
soldier, who because he could no longer support himself hung
his soldier's coat on a nail and took to farming land. I have
a brother who is rich and well known to you, lord king, but I,
because I have nothing, am forgotten by everyone."
Then the king felt compassion for him, and said, "You shall be
raised from your poverty, and shall have such gifts from me
that you shall be equal to your rich brother."
Then he bestowed on him much gold, and lands, and meadows, and
herds, and made him immensely rich, so that the wealth of the
other brother could not be compared with his.
When the rich brother heard what the poor one had gained for
himself with one single turnip, he envied him, and thought in
every way how he also could come by a similar piece of luck.
He set about it in a much more cunning way, however, and took
gold and horses and carried them to the king, and made certain
the king would give him a much larger present in return. If
his brother had got so much for one turnip, what would he not
carry away with him in return for such beautiful things as
The king accepted his present, and said he had nothing to give
him in return that was more rare and excellent than the great
turnip. So the rich man was obliged to put his brother's
turnip in a cart and have it taken to his home. There, he did
not know on whom to vent his rage and anger, until bad thoughts
came to him, and he resolved to kill his brother.
He hired murderers, who were to lie in ambush, and then he
went to his brother and said, "Dear brother, I know of a hidden
treasure, we will dig it up together, and divide it between
The other agreed to this, and accompanied him without
suspicion. While they were on their way the murderers fell on
him, bound him, and would have hanged him to a tree.
But just as they were doing this, loud singing and the sound
of a horse's feet were heard in the distance. On this their
hearts were filled with terror, and they pushed their prisoner
hastily into the sack, hung it on a branch, and took to flight.
He, however, worked up there until he had made a hole in the
sack through which he could put his head.
The man who was coming by was no other than a traveling
student, a young fellow who rode on his way through the wood
joyously singing his song. When he who was aloft saw that
someone was passing below him, he cried, "Good day. You have
come at a lucky moment."
The student looked round on every side, but did not know
whence the voice came. At last he said, "Who calls me?"
Then an answer came from the top of the tree, "Raise your
eyes, here I sit aloft in the sack of wisdom. In a short time
have I learnt great things, compared with this all schools are
a jest, in a very short time I shall have learnt everything,
and shall descend wiser than all other men. I understand the
stars, and the tracks of the winds, the sand of the sea, the
healing of illness, and the virtues of all herbs, birds and
stones. If you were once within it you would feel what noble
things issue forth from the sack of knowledge."
The student, when he heard all this, was astonished, and said,
"Blessed be the hour in which I have found you. May not I also
enter the sack for a while."
He who was above replied as if unwillingly, "For a short time
I will let you get into it, if you reward me and give me good
words, but you must wait an hour longer, for one thing remains
which I must learn before I do it."
When the student had waited a while he became impatient, and
begged to be allowed to get in at once, his thirst for
knowledge was so very great.
So he who was above pretended at last to yield, and said, "In
order that I may come forth from the house of knowledge you
must let it down by the rope, and then you shall enter it."
So the student let the sack down, untied it, and set him free,
and then cried, now draw me up at once, and was about to get
into the sack.
"Halt," said the other, "that won't do," and took him by the
head and put him upside down into the sack, fastened it, and
drew the disciple of wisdom up the tree by the rope. Then he
swung him in the air and said, "How goes it with you, my dear
fellow. Behold, already you feel wisdom coming, and you are
gaining valuable experience. Keep perfectly quiet until you
Thereupon he mounted the student's horse and rode away, but in
an hour's time sent someone to let the student out again.