Grimm's Fairy Tales

by Grimm Brothers

Hans In Luck

Additional Information
  • Year Published: 1905
  • Language: English
  • Country of Origin: Germany
  • Source: Edwardes, M., Taylor, E., trans. (1905). Grimm's Fairy Tales. New York: Maynard, Merrill, & Co.
  • Readability:
    • Flesch–Kincaid Level: 6.3
  • Word Count: 2,395


Some men are born to good luck: all they do or try to do comes right—all that falls to them is so much gain—all their geese are swans—alltheir cards are trumps—toss them which way you will, they willalways, like poor puss, alight upon their legs, and only move on somuch the faster. The world may very likely not always think of them asthey think of themselves, but what care they for the world? what canit know about the matter?

One of these lucky beings was neighbour Hans. Seven long years he hadworked hard for his master. At last he said, ‘Master, my time is up; Imust go home and see my poor mother once more: so pray pay me my wagesand let me go.’ And the master said, ‘You have been a faithful andgood servant, Hans, so your pay shall be handsome.’ Then he gave him alump of silver as big as his head.

Hans took out his pocket-handkerchief, put the piece of silver intoit, threw it over his shoulder, and jogged off on his road homewards.As he went lazily on, dragging one foot after another, a man came insight, trotting gaily along on a capital horse. ‘Ah!’ said Hans aloud,‘what a fine thing it is to ride on horseback! There he sits as easyand happy as if he was at home, in the chair by his fireside; he tripsagainst no stones, saves shoe-leather, and gets on he hardly knowshow.’ Hans did not speak so softly but the horseman heard it all, andsaid, ‘Well, friend, why do you go on foot then?’ ‘Ah!’ said he, ‘Ihave this load to carry: to be sure it is silver, but it is so heavythat I can’t hold up my head, and you must know it hurts my shouldersadly.’ ‘What do you say of making an exchange?’ said the horseman. ‘Iwill give you my horse, and you shall give me the silver; which willsave you a great deal of trouble in carrying such a heavy load aboutwith you.’ ‘With all my heart,’ said Hans: ‘but as you are so kind tome, I must tell you one thing—you will have a weary task to draw thatsilver about with you.’ However, the horseman got off, took thesilver, helped Hans up, gave him the bridle into one hand and the whipinto the other, and said, ‘When you want to go very fast, smack yourlips loudly together, and cry “Jip!”’

Hans was delighted as he sat on the horse, drew himself up, squaredhis elbows, turned out his toes, cracked his whip, and rode merrilyoff, one minute whistling a merry tune, and another singing,

'No care and no sorrow, A fig for the morrow! We'll laugh and be merry, Sing neigh down derry!'
After a time he thought he should like to go a little faster, so hesmacked his lips and cried ‘Jip!’ Away went the horse full gallop; andbefore Hans knew what he was about, he was thrown off, and lay on hisback by the road-side. His horse would have ran off, if a shepherd whowas coming by, driving a cow, had not stopped it. Hans soon came tohimself, and got upon his legs again, sadly vexed, and said to theshepherd, ‘This riding is no joke, when a man has the luck to get upona beast like this that stumbles and flings him off as if it wouldbreak his neck. However, I’m off now once for all: I like your cow nowa great deal better than this smart beast that played me this trick,and has spoiled my best coat, you see, in this puddle; which, by theby, smells not very like a nosegay. One can walk along at one’sleisure behind that cow—keep good company, and have milk, butter, andcheese, every day, into the bargain. What would I give to have such aprize!’ ‘Well,’ said the shepherd, ‘if you are so fond of her, I willchange my cow for your horse; I like to do good to my neighbours, eventhough I lose by it myself.’ ‘Done!’ said Hans, merrily. ‘What a nobleheart that good man has!’ thought he. Then the shepherd jumped uponthe horse, wished Hans and the cow good morning, and away he rode.

Hans brushed his coat, wiped his face and hands, rested a while, andthen drove off his cow quietly, and thought his bargain a very luckyone. ‘If I have only a piece of bread (and I certainly shall always beable to get that), I can, whenever I like, eat my butter and cheesewith it; and when I am thirsty I can milk my cow and drink the milk:and what can I wish for more?’ When he came to an inn, he halted, ateup all his bread, and gave away his last penny for a glass of beer.When he had rested himself he set off again, driving his cow towardshis mother’s village. But the heat grew greater as soon as noon cameon, till at last, as he found himself on a wide heath that would takehim more than an hour to cross, he began to be so hot and parched thathis tongue clave to the roof of his mouth. ‘I can find a cure forthis,’ thought he; ‘now I will milk my cow and quench my thirst’: sohe tied her to the stump of a tree, and held his leathern cap to milkinto; but not a drop was to be had. Who would have thought that thiscow, which was to bring him milk and butter and cheese, was all thattime utterly dry? Hans had not thought of looking to that.

While he was trying his luck in milking, and managing the matter veryclumsily, the uneasy beast began to think him very troublesome; and atlast gave him such a kick on the head as knocked him down; and therehe lay a long while senseless. Luckily a butcher soon came by, drivinga pig in a wheelbarrow. ‘What is the matter with you, my man?’ saidthe butcher, as he helped him up. Hans told him what had happened, howhe was dry, and wanted to milk his cow, but found the cow was dry too.Then the butcher gave him a flask of ale, saying, ‘There, drink andrefresh yourself; your cow will give you no milk: don’t you see she isan old beast, good for nothing but the slaughter-house?’ ‘Alas, alas!’said Hans, ‘who would have thought it? What a shame to take my horse,and give me only a dry cow! If I kill her, what will she be good for?I hate cow-beef; it is not tender enough for me. If it were a pig now—like that fat gentleman you are driving along at his ease—one coulddo something with it; it would at any rate make sausages.’ ‘Well,’said the butcher, ‘I don’t like to say no, when one is asked to do akind, neighbourly thing. To please you I will change, and give you myfine fat pig for the cow.’ ‘Heaven reward you for your kindness andself-denial!’ said Hans, as he gave the butcher the cow; and takingthe pig off the wheel-barrow, drove it away, holding it by the stringthat was tied to its leg.

So on he jogged, and all seemed now to go right with him: he had metwith some misfortunes, to be sure; but he was now well repaid for all.How could it be otherwise with such a travelling companion as he hadat last got?

The next man he met was a countryman carrying a fine white goose. Thecountryman stopped to ask what was o’clock; this led to further chat;and Hans told him all his luck, how he had so many good bargains, andhow all the world went gay and smiling with him. The countryman thanbegan to tell his tale, and said he was going to take the goose to achristening. ‘Feel,’ said he, ‘how heavy it is, and yet it is onlyeight weeks old. Whoever roasts and eats it will find plenty of fatupon it, it has lived so well!’ ‘You’re right,’ said Hans, as heweighed it in his hand; ‘but if you talk of fat, my pig is no trifle.’Meantime the countryman began to look grave, and shook his head. ‘Harkye!’ said he, ‘my worthy friend, you seem a good sort of fellow, so Ican’t help doing you a kind turn. Your pig may get you into a scrape.In the village I just came from, the squire has had a pig stolen outof his sty. I was dreadfully afraid when I saw you that you had gotthe squire’s pig. If you have, and they catch you, it will be a badjob for you. The least they will do will be to throw you into thehorse-pond. Can you swim?’

Poor Hans was sadly frightened. ‘Good man,’ cried he, ‘pray get me outof this scrape. I know nothing of where the pig was either bred orborn; but he may have been the squire’s for aught I can tell: you knowthis country better than I do, take my pig and give me the goose.’ ‘Iought to have something into the bargain,’ said the countryman; ‘givea fat goose for a pig, indeed! ‘Tis not everyone would do so much foryou as that. However, I will not be hard upon you, as you are introuble.’ Then he took the string in his hand, and drove off the pigby a side path; while Hans went on the way homewards free from care.‘After all,’ thought he, ‘that chap is pretty well taken in. I don’tcare whose pig it is, but wherever it came from it has been a verygood friend to me. I have much the best of the bargain. First therewill be a capital roast; then the fat will find me in goose-grease forsix months; and then there are all the beautiful white feathers. Iwill put them into my pillow, and then I am sure I shall sleep soundlywithout rocking. How happy my mother will be! Talk of a pig, indeed!Give me a fine fat goose.’

As he came to the next village, he saw a scissor-grinder with hiswheel, working and singing,

'O'er hill and o'er dale So happy I roam, Work light and live well, All the world is my home; Then who so blythe, so merry as I?'
Hans stood looking on for a while, and at last said, ‘You must be welloff, master grinder! you seem so happy at your work.’ ‘Yes,’ said theother, ‘mine is a golden trade; a good grinder never puts his handinto his pocket without finding money in it—but where did you getthat beautiful goose?’ ‘I did not buy it, I gave a pig for it.’ ‘Andwhere did you get the pig?’ ‘I gave a cow for it.’ ‘And the cow?’ ‘Igave a horse for it.’ ‘And the horse?’ ‘I gave a lump of silver as bigas my head for it.’ ‘And the silver?’ ‘Oh! I worked hard for thatseven long years.’ ‘You have thriven well in the world hitherto,’ saidthe grinder, ‘now if you could find money in your pocket whenever youput your hand in it, your fortune would be made.’ ‘Very true: but howis that to be managed?’ ‘How? Why, you must turn grinder like myself,’said the other; ‘you only want a grindstone; the rest will come ofitself. Here is one that is but little the worse for wear: I would notask more than the value of your goose for it—will you buy?’ ‘How canyou ask?’ said Hans; ‘I should be the happiest man in the world, if Icould have money whenever I put my hand in my pocket: what could Iwant more? there’s the goose.’ ‘Now,’ said the grinder, as he gave hima common rough stone that lay by his side, ‘this is a most capitalstone; do but work it well enough, and you can make an old nail cutwith it.’

Hans took the stone, and went his way with a light heart: his eyessparkled for joy, and he said to himself, ‘Surely I must have beenborn in a lucky hour; everything I could want or wish for comes ofitself. People are so kind; they seem really to think I do them afavour in letting them make me rich, and giving me good bargains.’

Meantime he began to be tired, and hungry too, for he had given awayhis last penny in his joy at getting the cow.

At last he could go no farther, for the stone tired him sadly: and hedragged himself to the side of a river, that he might take a drink ofwater, and rest a while. So he laid the stone carefully by his side onthe bank: but, as he stooped down to drink, he forgot it, pushed it alittle, and down it rolled, plump into the stream.

For a while he watched it sinking in the deep clear water; then sprangup and danced for joy, and again fell upon his knees and thankedHeaven, with tears in his eyes, for its kindness in taking away hisonly plague, the ugly heavy stone.

‘How happy am I!’ cried he; ‘nobody was ever so lucky as I.’ Then uphe got with a light heart, free from all his troubles, and walked ontill he reached his mother’s house, and told her how very easy theroad to good luck was.