Grimm's Fairy Tales

by Grimm Brothers

Old Sultan

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: 848


A shepherd had a faithful dog, called Sultan, who was grown very old,and had lost all his teeth. And one day when the shepherd and his wifewere standing together before the house the shepherd said, ‘I willshoot old Sultan tomorrow morning, for he is of no use now.’ But hiswife said, ‘Pray let the poor faithful creature live; he has served uswell a great many years, and we ought to give him a livelihood for therest of his days.’ ‘But what can we do with him?’ said the shepherd,‘he has not a tooth in his head, and the thieves don’t care for him atall; to be sure he has served us, but then he did it to earn hislivelihood; tomorrow shall be his last day, depend upon it.’

Poor Sultan, who was lying close by them, heard all that the shepherdand his wife said to one another, and was very much frightened tothink tomorrow would be his last day; so in the evening he went to hisgood friend the wolf, who lived in the wood, and told him all hissorrows, and how his master meant to kill him in the morning. ‘Makeyourself easy,’ said the wolf, ‘I will give you some good advice. Yourmaster, you know, goes out every morning very early with his wife intothe field; and they take their little child with them, and lay it downbehind the hedge in the shade while they are at work. Now do you liedown close by the child, and pretend to be watching it, and I willcome out of the wood and run away with it; you must run after me asfast as you can, and I will let it drop; then you may carry it back,and they will think you have saved their child, and will be sothankful to you that they will take care of you as long as you live.’The dog liked this plan very well; and accordingly so it was managed.The wolf ran with the child a little way; the shepherd and his wifescreamed out; but Sultan soon overtook him, and carried the poorlittle thing back to his master and mistress. Then the shepherd pattedhim on the head, and said, ‘Old Sultan has saved our child from thewolf, and therefore he shall live and be well taken care of, and haveplenty to eat. Wife, go home, and give him a good dinner, and let himhave my old cushion to sleep on as long as he lives.’ So from thistime forward Sultan had all that he could wish for.

Soon afterwards the wolf came and wished him joy, and said, ‘Now, mygood fellow, you must tell no tales, but turn your head the other waywhen I want to taste one of the old shepherd’s fine fat sheep.’ ‘No,’said the Sultan; ‘I will be true to my master.’ However, the wolfthought he was in joke, and came one night to get a dainty morsel. ButSultan had told his master what the wolf meant to do; so he laid waitfor him behind the barn door, and when the wolf was busy looking outfor a good fat sheep, he had a stout cudgel laid about his back, thatcombed his locks for him finely.

Then the wolf was very angry, and called Sultan ‘an old rogue,’ andswore he would have his revenge. So the next morning the wolf sent theboar to challenge Sultan to come into the wood to fight the matter.Now Sultan had nobody he could ask to be his second but the shepherd’sold three-legged cat; so he took her with him, and as the poor thinglimped along with some trouble, she stuck up her tail straight in theair.

The wolf and the wild boar were first on the ground; and when theyespied their enemies coming, and saw the cat’s long tail standingstraight in the air, they thought she was carrying a sword for Sultanto fight with; and every time she limped, they thought she was pickingup a stone to throw at them; so they said they should not like thisway of fighting, and the boar lay down behind a bush, and the wolfjumped up into a tree. Sultan and the cat soon came up, and lookedabout and wondered that no one was there. The boar, however, had notquite hidden himself, for his ears stuck out of the bush; and when heshook one of them a little, the cat, seeing something move, andthinking it was a mouse, sprang upon it, and bit and scratched it, sothat the boar jumped up and grunted, and ran away, roaring out, ‘Lookup in the tree, there sits the one who is to blame.’ So they lookedup, and espied the wolf sitting amongst the branches; and they calledhim a cowardly rascal, and would not suffer him to come down till hewas heartily ashamed of himself, and had promised to be good friendsagain with old Sultan.