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A soldier is discharged but not properly paid for his services, so he vows to seek vengeance on the king.
He wanders around gathering dudes with extraordinary skills: a strong man, a huntsman with amazing vision, a man who can turn windmills with his breath, a runner so fast he usually unbuckles one leg, and a man with a hat that, when straightened, will cause a frost.
They go to the king's city, where it's been declared that whoever can win a race against the king's daughter can marry her. But since there's always a catch, any losers will be decapitated. The runner is about to easily win when he stops for a nap, but the huntsman spots him and fires a shot to wake him up, so the runner wins the race.
The king decides to try to dispatch the group, so he sends them to a room that will burn them up, but hat-guy causes a frost so they all survive.
The king realizes that they're not so easily killed, so he offers them as much gold as they can carry in exchange to renouncing the claim on his daughter. This would've worked to the king's advantage, except the strong man carries away all the kingdom's gold in a sack the size of a house.
The king sends his army after them to retrieve the gold, but the breath-man blows away the soldiers. At this point, the king just has to let them go.
The six men divide the gold among themselves and live happily. It's the Grimms' take on Ocean's rrEleven.
Tale 72: The Wolf and the Man
A wolf and fox are talking, and the fox cautions the wolf about how unbeatable humans are since they're so strong and clever.
The wolf brags that he'd go after a man if he saw one, so the fox shows him a hunter, who shoots at him with a gun and stabs him with a knife.
The wolf survives but is in so much pain that the fox mocks him for being arrogant.
Tale 73: The Wolf and the Fox
A wolf threatens a fox into stealing food for him, but each time the wolf goes back for seconds, he's caught, and is punished.
Finally, the wolf takes the fox with him to make sure nothing goes wrong. The wolf eats so much that he can't sneak out of the cellar where they've been eating up salted meat, so he's caught and beaten to death, while the clever fox sneaks away.
Tale 74: The Fox and His Cousin
A wolf and fox are on such good terms that they call each other cousin.
The fox proposes that they sneak into a barn to steal food, but the wolf is caught and hardly escapes with her life, while the fox, who hasn't lifted a paw, pretends to also be in pain.
The fox tricks the wolf into carrying him back into the forest, then mocks her and runs off.
Cousins, our foot.
Tale 75: The Fox and the Cat
A cat tries to talk to the fox in a friendly manner, but the fox is so arrogant, he brags about having a bag full of tricks and skills, while the cat only has one skill: being able to climb trees and hide.
Right then, a hunter surprises them. The cat hides and survives, while the fox is caught and killed.
Tale 76: The Pink Flower
This king and queen really want a kid, and an angel lets the queen know that she's finally about to get pregnant, plus her son will have the ability to wish for anything and get it.
The royal cook knows that the child has magic powers, so he steals the boy from the queen's lap, smears her with blood, and accuses her of letting wild animals eat the child à la A Cry in the Dark. The queen is sent to a tower, where angels bring her food so that she doesn't starve to death.
The cook raises the child in a secret place, but starts to fear his powers.
He encourages the boy to wish himself a companion, so he wishes for a beautiful maiden to keep him company. They fall in love and are happy until the cook begins to feel fearful again.
He tries to blackmail the maiden into killing the youth, but she refuses, and the youth turns the cook into a black poodle that has to eat live coals until it spits flames (that's a creative punishment for you).
The boy returns home, and turns the maiden into a pink flower to keep with him.
He checks on his mother in the tower, then enlists in the king's service as a huntsman.
Plus, he wishes for plenty of deer so that everyone can feast on venison. Ain't that nice of 'im?
Finally he reveals himself to his father, has his mother redeemed, and marries the maiden.
The mother dies (we can only assume of malnourishment, because come on, angel food?) and the father soon after, and the cook is executed, too.
So the survivors, at least, live happily ever after.
Tale 77: Clever Gretel
Gretel is a cook who is very clever and very pleased with herself.
Her master asks her to roast two chickens, one for him and one for his guest. While he's out fetching the guest, Gretel takes one nibble and then another, and winds up eating both chickens.
She runs out to meet the guest under the pretense of warning him that her master actually wants to cut off his ears. Then she tells the master that the guest ran off with both chickens to save face.
The master chases the guest, crying, "Just one, just one!" by which he means he wants just one chicken back, but the guest thinks he wants one ear, so he keeps running.
We're glad that Gretel doesn't work for us.
Tale 78: The Old Man and His Grandson
An old man's hands tremble so much that he is often messy at the dinner table, the poor guy.
His son and daughter-in-law, totally disgusted by this, make him sit by the stove and eat out of a wooden bowl all alone.
One day they see their son piecing together a wooden trough, and when they ask him what he's doing, he says it's for them when they grow up.
An awkward moment ensues when they realize they're setting themselves up for a fate worse than the old folks' home.
They invite grandpa back to the dinner table and treat him more kindly.
Tale 79: The Water Nixie
A brother and sister playing by the well are snatched by a water nixie (think of it as a not-very-nice spirit).
The nixie makes the girl carry water in a bucket with no bottom, and makes the boy chop wood with a blunt ax.
The children escape one Sunday while the nixie's in church. When the nixie pursues them, they throw behind them a brush that becomes a mountain of bristles, a comb that becomes a mountain of teeth, and a mirror that becomes a glass mountain.
The nixie can't keep up, so the kids are able to escape to their home.
Tale 80: The Death of the Hen
A hen greedily swallows such a large nut that it starts choking her to death, so she sends the rooster for water from the well.
The well demands for red silk from the bride.
The bride demands that the rooster first fetch her wreath.
The wreath is stuck in the willow, which gives it up, but by the time the rooster makes it back with the water, the hen is dead.
On the way to the funeral, everyone wants to hitch a ride with the rooster, but they fail to cross the brook so everyone drowns.
So really, this tale should've been titled "Everyone Died, But the Hen Got A Head Start."