Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Frog's Bridegroom

Once upon a time there was a father who had three sons. He sent two of them out to find brides for themselves, but the third one, stupid Hansl, was to stay home and feed the animals. He was not satisfied with this, so the father finally said, "Just go. You can look for a bride too."

So Hansl left, and he came to a great forest. On the other side of the forest there was a pond. A frog was sitting on the pond's bank, and it asked, "Now there, Hansl, where are you going?"

"Oh, I'm looking for a bride!"

"Marry me!" said the frog, and this was all right with Hansl, because he did not know where he might find a bride. The frog jumped into the pond, and Hansl went back home.

His brothers were already there, and they wanted to know if the fool had found a bride. "Yes," said Hansl, "I have one already!"

The next day the father gave each one a bundle of flax, saying, "I will give the house to the one of you whose bride can spin the most beautiful yarn in three days." Then each one left, including Hansl.

The frog was again sitting on the bank of the pond. "Now there, bridegroom, where are you going?"

"To you. Can you spin?"

"Yes," said the frog. Just tie the flax onto my back."

Hansl did this, and the frog jumped into the pond. One strand of flax was sticking out below and the other one above. "Too bad about the flax. It's gone," thought Hans, and he sadly went back home.

But nonetheless, on the third day he returned to the pond. The frog was again sitting on the bank, and it asked, "Now there, bridegroom, where are you going?"

"Have you spun?"

"Yes," said the frog, hopped into the pond, and returned with a skein of yarn that was more beautifully spun than any other. Hans was happy, and he joyfully ran back home, and he did indeed have the most beautiful yarn.

The brothers complained, and then the father said, "I will give the house to the one of you who brings home the most beautiful bride."

The brothers left once again, but this time Hansl took a water jug with him. The other two wanted to know, "Why are you taking a water jug with you?"

"To put my bride in."

The two laughed, "He must have some beautiful bride!"

The frog was already sitting next to the pond. "Now there, bridegroom, where are you going?"

"Today I am coming for you!"

Then the frog jumped into the pond and came back with three keys. "Go up there," it said. "There is a castle up there. One of these three keys unlocks the living room, one unlocks the stall, and one unlocks the carriage house. In the living room there are three robes: a red one, a green one, and a white one. In the stall there are two white horses, two black ones, and two brown ones. In the carriage house are three coaches: one of gold, one of silver, and one of glass. In each place you can take what you want."

Once in the castle Hansl first tried on the red robe, but he did not like it: "It makes me look like a butcher." He did not like the green one either: "It makes me look like a hunter." The white one suited him well. Then he went to the stall and took the brown horses. In the carriage house he first wanted to take the golden coach, but it was too lordly for him. The silver one was too heavy, so he took the glass one. He hitched up the brown horses and drove to the pond.

A beautiful young woman was standing there. She said, "You have redeemed me. If you had taken the best thing in each place then I would have had to remain a frog. And the great forest is a fruit orchard, and the pond is a rose garden. All this belongs to you. Let your brothers have the house. You can marry anyone you want to."

"No, you must come with me, so that my father and my brothers can see you." So she rode off with him.

The father and the brothers were amazed when they saw Hansl with the beautiful young woman in the coach. But she suddenly disappeared and flew into the air as a white dove. Hansl gave the house to his brothers. He married a woman from his estate and was very happy. And if he hasn't died, then he still must be alive.

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