The Mouse, the Bird, and the Sausage
Illustration by Walter Crane, 1882

Really, how odd can fairy tales be? “The Mouse, the Bird, and the Sausage” by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm is about just what it says, a mouse, a bird, and a sausage, all of whom talk by the way, including the sausage. The three live together happily, each doing their own jobs. The bird fetches firewood, the mouse makes the fire, fetches water and sets the table, while the sausage cooks.

Now one day while out in the woods, the bird meets another bird. After hearing the living arrangements, this other bird tells the first bird that he has the tough part, that while he is out working the other two get to stay home and have the easy time. The mouse gets to rest between her jobs, and the sausage only has to cook the food, rolling itself around in the broth or vegetables when they were nearly done to add to the flavor.

So the bird insists that the next day the jobs be rearranged. So, after some debate, it is decided that the sausage will go get the wood, the mouse will cook and the bird will fetch the water. The sausage goes out to get the wood, but doesn’t come back. When the bird goes to investigate, he finds a dog who ate the sausage. The bird accuses the dog of robbery, but the dog said the sausage was carrying forged papers, so his eating it was legal. I don’t know what kind of forged papers the sausage would have been carrying, but I’m not surprised the dog ate it. It was a sausage, after all.

The bird goes home and sadly tells the mouse what happened. The two agree to remain together and the mouse goes about cooking dinner. When it’s almost done, though, she gets into the pot like the sausage used to do, and is, of course, killed by the heat.  When the bird comes to dinner, he can’t find the mouse and flings wood here and there searching. In his carelessness, he catches the wood on fire, and then the house. The bird goes to fetch water, but falls down into the well and drowns.

They’re all dead- the end. I told you it was a strange little story.

I guess, if I’m pushing to find a moral hear, it could be that everyone has their own strengths, so do what you’re good at.  Or, in a rather typical Grimm fashion, don’t mess with the status quo.

You can find the story a couple of places on line. I read the version at Sur la Lune, from Household Tales by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. Margaret Hunt, translator. London: George Bell, 1884, 1892. 2 volumes.

Thursday’s Tales is a weekly event here at Carol’s Notebook. Fairy tales, folktales, tall tales, even re-tellings, I love them all.


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