Grimm's Fairy Tales

by Grimm Brothers

The Dog and the Sparrow

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: 1,371


A shepherd’s dog had a master who took no care of him, but often lethim suffer the greatest hunger. At last he could bear it no longer; sohe took to his heels, and off he ran in a very sad and sorrowful mood.On the road he met a sparrow that said to him, ‘Why are you so sad, myfriend?’ ‘Because,’ said the dog, ‘I am very very hungry, and havenothing to eat.’ ‘If that be all,’ answered the sparrow, ‘come with meinto the next town, and I will soon find you plenty of food.’ So onthey went together into the town: and as they passed by a butcher’sshop, the sparrow said to the dog, ‘Stand there a little while till Ipeck you down a piece of meat.’ So the sparrow perched upon the shelf:and having first looked carefully about her to see if anyone waswatching her, she pecked and scratched at a steak that lay upon theedge of the shelf, till at last down it fell. Then the dog snapped itup, and scrambled away with it into a corner, where he soon ate it allup. ‘Well,’ said the sparrow, ‘you shall have some more if you will;so come with me to the next shop, and I will peck you down anothersteak.’ When the dog had eaten this too, the sparrow said to him,‘Well, my good friend, have you had enough now?’ ‘I have had plenty ofmeat,’ answered he, ‘but I should like to have a piece of bread to eatafter it.’ ‘Come with me then,’ said the sparrow, ‘and you shall soonhave that too.’ So she took him to a baker’s shop, and pecked at tworolls that lay in the window, till they fell down: and as the dogstill wished for more, she took him to another shop and pecked downsome more for him. When that was eaten, the sparrow asked him whetherhe had had enough now. ‘Yes,’ said he; ‘and now let us take a walk alittle way out of the town.’ So they both went out upon the high road;but as the weather was warm, they had not gone far before the dogsaid, ‘I am very much tired—I should like to take a nap.’ ‘Verywell,’ answered the sparrow, ‘do so, and in the meantime I will perchupon that bush.’ So the dog stretched himself out on the road, andfell fast asleep. Whilst he slept, there came by a carter with a cartdrawn by three horses, and loaded with two casks of wine. The sparrow,seeing that the carter did not turn out of the way, but would go on inthe track in which the dog lay, so as to drive over him, called out,‘Stop! stop! Mr Carter, or it shall be the worse for you.’ But thecarter, grumbling to himself, ‘You make it the worse for me, indeed!what can you do?’ cracked his whip, and drove his cart over the poordog, so that the wheels crushed him to death. ‘There,’ cried thesparrow, ‘thou cruel villain, thou hast killed my friend the dog. Nowmind what I say. This deed of thine shall cost thee all thou artworth.’ ‘Do your worst, and welcome,’ said the brute, ‘what harm canyou do me?’ and passed on. But the sparrow crept under the tilt of thecart, and pecked at the bung of one of the casks till she loosened it;and than all the wine ran out, without the carter seeing it. At lasthe looked round, and saw that the cart was dripping, and the caskquite empty. ‘What an unlucky wretch I am!’ cried he. ‘Not wretchenough yet!’ said the sparrow, as she alighted upon the head of one ofthe horses, and pecked at him till he reared up and kicked. When thecarter saw this, he drew out his hatchet and aimed a blow at thesparrow, meaning to kill her; but she flew away, and the blow fellupon the poor horse’s head with such force, that he fell down dead.‘Unlucky wretch that I am!’ cried he. ‘Not wretch enough yet!’ saidthe sparrow. And as the carter went on with the other two horses, sheagain crept under the tilt of the cart, and pecked out the bung of thesecond cask, so that all the wine ran out. When the carter saw this,he again cried out, ‘Miserable wretch that I am!’ But the sparrowanswered, ‘Not wretch enough yet!’ and perched on the head of thesecond horse, and pecked at him too. The carter ran up and struck ather again with his hatchet; but away she flew, and the blow fell uponthe second horse and killed him on the spot. ‘Unlucky wretch that Iam!’ said he. ‘Not wretch enough yet!’ said the sparrow; and perchingupon the third horse, she began to peck him too. The carter was madwith fury; and without looking about him, or caring what he was about,struck again at the sparrow; but killed his third horse as he done theother two. ‘Alas! miserable wretch that I am!’ cried he. ‘Not wretchenough yet!’ answered the sparrow as she flew away; ‘now will I plagueand punish thee at thy own house.’ The carter was forced at last toleave his cart behind him, and to go home overflowing with rage andvexation. ‘Alas!’ said he to his wife, ‘what ill luck has befallen me!—my wine is all spilt, and my horses all three dead.’ ‘Alas!husband,’ replied she, ‘and a wicked bird has come into the house, andhas brought with her all the birds in the world, I am sure, and theyhave fallen upon our corn in the loft, and are eating it up at such arate!’ Away ran the husband upstairs, and saw thousands of birdssitting upon the floor eating up his corn, with the sparrow in themidst of them. ‘Unlucky wretch that I am!’ cried the carter; for hesaw that the corn was almost all gone. ‘Not wretch enough yet!’ saidthe sparrow; ‘thy cruelty shall cost thee they life yet!’ and away sheflew.

The carter seeing that he had thus lost all that he had, went downinto his kitchen; and was still not sorry for what he had done, butsat himself angrily and sulkily in the chimney corner. But the sparrowsat on the outside of the window, and cried ‘Carter! thy cruelty shallcost thee thy life!’ With that he jumped up in a rage, seized hishatchet, and threw it at the sparrow; but it missed her, and onlybroke the window. The sparrow now hopped in, perched upon the window-seat, and cried, ‘Carter! it shall cost thee thy life!’ Then he becamemad and blind with rage, and struck the window-seat with such forcethat he cleft it in two: and as the sparrow flew from place to place,the carter and his wife were so furious, that they broke all theirfurniture, glasses, chairs, benches, the table, and at last the walls,without touching the bird at all. In the end, however, they caughther: and the wife said, ‘Shall I kill her at once?’ ‘No,’ cried he,‘that is letting her off too easily: she shall die a much more crueldeath; I will eat her.’ But the sparrow began to flutter about, andstretch out her neck and cried, ‘Carter! it shall cost thee thy lifeyet!’ With that he could wait no longer: so he gave his wife thehatchet, and cried, ‘Wife, strike at the bird and kill her in myhand.’ And the wife struck; but she missed her aim, and hit herhusband on the head so that he fell down dead, and the sparrow flewquietly home to her nest.