Illustration from: Brooke, Leslie, illustrator. The Golden Goose Book. London: Frederick Warne, 1905.

This is not the story I think of when I think of the Golden Goose, but it’s an amusing little tale by the Grimm brothers. It starts off with a pretty standard family, a husband and wife with three sons, the youngest of whom is always teased and put down. He even has the nickname of Dummling. As usual, the youngest one is the hero of our story, but we’re not there yet.

The oldest son goes out to the forest to cut wood and his mother sends with him a sweet cake and a bottle of wine. When he enters the woods, he meets a little gray-haired man who asks to share his cake and wine. The boy refuses and keeps going, but when he’s cutting the tree, he cuts himself with the axe and has to go home to have it bandaged. The story leaves no doubt that the “accident” was due to the little man. The middle brother then goes out to the forest to cut down a tree, but he also refuses to share with the little man, and ends up hitting himself in the leg with the axe.

When the youngest heads out, his mother gives him “a cake made with water and baked in the cinders an with it a bottle of sour beer,” but he shares what he has with the gray-haired man and it transforms into a sweet cake and good wine. The little man then tells him which tree to cut down. The little man is obviously not an average human, but it’s not clear what kind of creature he is, a dwarf maybe. I’m not sure.

Dummling cuts down the tree the little man indicated, and finds in the stump a golden goose. Instead of heading home, he goes to spend the night at a local inn, taking the goose with him. The innkeeper has three daughters. When Dummling “goes out” I’m not sure where to, the oldest daughter takes the opportunity to try to pluck one of the goose’s golden feather, but instead her hand ends up stuck to the goose. The other two sisters do the same thing.

The next morning Dummling took the goose under his arm and set out, without troubling himself about the three girls who were hanging on to it. They were obliged to run after him continually, now left, now right, just as he was inclined to go.

He picks up some others along the way, each sticking to the person they touch. By the time he reaches the city, he has a train of people with him, the three girls, a parson, a sexton and two laborers.  The city is ruled by a king is too serious and never laughs, so he has put out a decree that whoever can make the princess laugh will marry her. Of course, Dummling hears of it, brings his goose and all those attached.

As soon as she saw the seven people running on and on, one behind the other, she began to laugh quite loudly and as if she would never leave off. Thereupon Dummling asked to have her for his wife, and the wedding was celebrated. After the King’s death, Dummling inherited the kingdom and lived a long time contentedly with his wife.

As often show up in fairy tales, we have the three siblings again, both the brothers and the innkeeper’s daughters, although the girls actually are all rather stupid. After the first two got stuck, wouldn’t you figure the youngest one would be more wary?

I have to admire Dummling for not going back to his family or including them in his happy ending. They were downright mean to him, they don’t deserve it.

I do wonder what eventually happened to all the people who were stuck together with the goose. Did they just have to live that way forever? You can read the story for yourself here.

Friday’s Tales is a weekly event here at Carol’s Notebook. I would love it if you joined me. Fairy tales, folktales, tall tales, even re-tellings, share with us. If you have a link, please include it in your comment.


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