Friday, February 24, 2017

Downsizing, Hans Style

My life is intertwined with stories. Whatever I do or think about seems to remind me of a story. Today some friends were discussing downsizing, and the conversation reminded me of this story.

Hans in Luck
from the Brothers Grimm

Hans had served his master faithfully for seven years.

One morning Hans said to his master, "Master, it is time for me to go back home to my mother. Please pay me what you owe me for my work."

"You have been a good worker, Hans. You have earned your pay." He gave Hans a huge piece of gold! Hans tied the gold up in his handkerchief   put it on his shoulder, and started down the road. The gold was quite heavy but Hans kept on, one foot in front of the other.

Soon a man approached on horseback. Hans was sweating by now, and he called out to the rider, "What a fine thing it is to ride! There you sit, saving your shoes, and making your way without even breaking a sweat."
The rider stopped and called out, "Hello, Hans! Why are you going on foot?"
"I've got this big lump of gold that I have to carry home, and no horse to ride. It's fair wearing me out."
"Tell you what," said the rider. "Let's trade. I will give you my horse, and you can give me that heavy lump."
"Thank you!" said Hans.So Hans got the horse and rode off quite happy with his trade. You can imagine how the rider felt! He called out to Hans, "If you want him to go faster, just call jup, jup!"

"I will!" shouted Hans.

After a little while Hans wanted to go faster, so he clicked his tongue and called out, "jup, jup." The horse started a fast trot, so fast that he threw Hans off into a ditch. Fortunately a peasant was passing by and caught the horse. The peasant's cow stood patiently waiting at the end of a rope.

Hans said, "This riding is no good for me, especially with a horse like this one that throws a man off into the ditch! Now I like your cow, she's quiet and you can have milk, butter, and cheese every day. How I would love to have a cow instead of this ornery horse!

"Well," said the peasant, "I'd be happy to trade my cow for your horse."

The deal was made, and Hans walked off happy with his new bargain. The day grew hotter and hotter, and soon Hans saw that he would have to cross a moor, with hot noon sun upon him. "Before I start that part of my journey, I'll milk my cow and refresh myself." he sat down to milk, but this was something he'd never done before. He tried and tried, but got not one drop of milk, and the cow was getting more and more restless and irritable. Finally she upped with her back foot and gave Hans such a kick that he rolled over and over down a small hill, and when he stopped his head was spinning.

When he could finally see straight again, he saw a butcher coming toward him with a wheelbarrow. In the wheelbarrow was a young, fat pig. The butcher helped Hans up and Hans told him of his troubles with his cow.

"Well it's no wonder!" said the butcher. "That is an old beast! She'll not be giving milk again in her lifetime."

"Oh," cried Hans, "I have been fooled! What a fool am I"

"Now then,"said the butcher, "Here's what we can do. I can trade you my pushcart and pig for your old cow. I can get something from her for meat, I think."

The deal was made. Hans took the pig, tying a rope around its neck to lead it, and was well pleased. The butcher took the cow's lead rope and went on his way, happy to have such a fine young milker to add to his barn.

"This is fine," thought Hans. "I shall have bacon and ham and..."

But the pig slipped from its rope and ran over the hill. Hans chased after it, falling into briars and mud and until he was quite scratched and dirty by the time he caught the pig.

A boy carrying a fat white goose watched Hans walk back to the road.

"You'd be better off with this goose," the boy said. "See how fat she is! And how quietly she lays in my arms. She'll be a fine feast, and her feathers will stuff a lovely pillow." He lowered his voice to a whisper. "And I hear that someone stole the mayor's pig out of his sty. I do believe the pig you have there looks very much like it. I can help you out of this mess though. I can trade you my goose, and take that pig where I am going, no one there knows about the mayor's pig. And you will not be in trouble for having it when you go through town."

"Oh please," cried Hans, "please take this pig! I do not want to be thrown into jail!"

The trade was made and the boy led the pig away at a fast pace. Hans, relieved to be rid of it, set off for home with the goose under his arm.

"I do believe I made a good deal there," he said to himself. "I will have a fine meal of it with my mother, and a soft pillow to lay my head on too."

As he was going through the last village, he saw a scissors grinder with his cart. As the grinding wheel spunm the man sang,
I sharpen scissors and quickly grind,
My coat blows out in the wind behind.

Hans stood and watched, and then said, "You seem a very merry man, with your grinding."

"Yes," answered the scissors grinder, "this trade is as good as gold in my pocket. But where did you buy that fine goose?"

"I did not buy it, I traded my pig for it."
"But where did you get the pig?"
" I got it for a cow."
"And how did you come by the cow?"
"I got it for a horse."
"And what about the horse?"
"For that I gave a lump of gold as big as my head."
"How in the world did you get the gold?"
"Well, that was my pay for seven years' work."

"You know how to look after yourself," said the grinder. "Now if you were a grinder like me, you'd have your fortune made, money jingling in your pockets all the time."
"Yes! I would like that! How do I become a grinder?"
"Well, all you need is skill and a good grindstone. People will flock to you, money in their hands! Listen, I have an old stone here, a little worn but but perfectly good. I'd be glad to trade it to you for your goose." the man walked behind a bush and picked up an old fieldstone. "This one, you can get it back in shape in no time at all, a smart boy like you."
"Really?" answered Hans. "I am the luckiest man alive! Money whenever I put my hand in my pocket, and I will never have to want for anything again!" He handed over the goose and took the stone.

Hans went on his way, as happy as he could be. "I must have been born lucky," he cried. "Now I have a real trade!"

It was getting late and Hans was feeling the effects of his long walk and many trades. The stone was heavy too, so his steps were dragging when ahead of him he saw a well. "Ah, a cool drink will refresh me for the rest of my journey." He laid his stone carefully on the edge of the well, and bent over to pull up the bucket. But his elbow hit the stone and knocked it over the edge, and down down down into the deep well.

Hans watched it fall and heard the splash when it hit the water.

"Ah me!" he cried, What a lucky lad I am! Now I have nothing to burden me! I am as free as a bird to walk and go about as I like!" And with a light heart he ran all the rest of the way home, where his dear old mother was delighted to see him.

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.

1 comment:

Quinn said...

A good story to think about on a quiet Sunday :)

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