Grimms' Fairy Tales
by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
Grimms' Fairy Tales Cunning and Cleverness Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Tale.Page)
She put her two sisters into a basket and covered them completely with gold until nothing could be seen of them at all. Then she called the sorcerer to her and said, "Now take the basket away. But don't you dare stop and rest along the way! I'll be keeping an eye on you from my window." The sorcerer lifted the basket onto his back and went on his way. The basket, however, was so heavy that sweat ran down his face. At one point he sat down and wanted to rest for a while, but one of the sisters called from the basket, "I can see through my window that you're resting. Get a move on at once!" (Fitcher's Bird.157)
Devising a way to smuggle your sisters out of a murderous sorcerer's house? That requires cunning times two, at least. This tale condones constructive cleverness (using it to save your own life) over destructive cleverness (how the sorcerer deceives girls when he gives them an egg to guard, basically setting them up to fail).
"It's yours," the devil answered, "if you give me half of what your field produces during the next two years. […]" The peasant agreed to the bargain. "Just so that we do not quarrel about how to divide everything," he said, "you shall have everything that grows above the earth and I shall get everything beneath it." The devil was quite satisfied with the proposal, but the cunning little pleasant had planted turnips. (The Peasant and the Devil.548)
Yep, in some fairy tales you can even trick the devil himself.
Once upon a time there was an old fox with nine tails who believed that his wife was unfaithful to him and wanted to put her to the test. So he stretched himself out under the bench, kept perfectly still, and pretended to be dead as a doornail. (The Wedding of Mrs. Fox.136)
When it doubt, play dead. It works every time.