Today’s tale is another from The Turnip Princess and Other Newly Discovered Fairy Tales by Franz Xaver Von Schonwerth. “Learning How to Steal” is from the Tall Tales and Anecdotes section of the book. It’s an odd story featuring the clever young man.
Klaus was a farmer’s son, but he was lazy and didn’t want to learn how to do anything. The farmer sent Klaus on the road, hoping he would at least learn how to steal. Doesn’t really seem like something you should hope for your son, but there you have it. Klaus eventually returned home, but his father was still mad at him, so he decided to head back out on the road, but first he needed to have new travel papers issued. When asked by the authorities what he did for a living, he responded that he was a master thief. They all made fun of him and the judge was sure he couldn’t be that great a thief.
The judge challenged him to steal his horse from the stable. The youth did, of course, by pretending to be an old man and drugging the guards. Then the judge gave him a second challenge, to take the judge’s wife’s wedding ring without her noticing it and take the sheet out from under her. He did, by tricking the judge into leaving the room and then impersonating him and asking for the sheet, slipping off the wedding ring while she handed it to him.
The judge gave Klaus a third task, of course, because there needs to be three. The judge’s final task was for Klaus to bring him the schoolteacher wrapped in a sheet. I’m not sure what the judge’s pre-occupation with sheets was. Klaus accomplished this, but in rather an odd way if you ask me. That night, he fastened candles on the backs of crabs and let them loose in the church. He found the schoolteacher and told him some poor lost souls were wandering around the church. The schoolteacher was cautious but curious, and somehow let Klaus talk him into wrapping himself in a sheet. I guess Klaus then led him to the courthouse. The story says “the schoolteacher put the sheet on himself, fastened it at the top, and then made his way to the courthouse and the judge,” but that doesn’t make any sense if he wanted to see what was going on in the church. Klaus must have led him where he wanted him to go, unless the courthouse and church are the same building?
And then he gets his papers. It just seems odd to me that the judge encourages stealing.
It’s a pretty standard tale as far as fairy tales go. We’ve got the clever young man who goes out into the world to find his fortune. We’ve got a set of tasks that need to be accomplished before he can reach his goal and there’s even three of them, a number that shows up all the time in these stories.
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Thursday’s Tales is a weekly event here at Carol’s Notebook. Fairy tales, folktales, tall tales, even re-tellings, I love them all.