Study Guide

Grimms' Fairy Tales Tales 81-90

By Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm

Tales 81-90

Tale 81: Brother Lustig

  • A discharged soldier named Brother Lustig has little money and food, but he kindly shares it with a beggar, who turns out to be Saint Peter, who, we guess, has a habit of roaming the German countryside.
  • The saint keeps an eye on him and helps him out, healing a sick farmer and then a sick king's daughter so that Brother Lustig can enjoy the reward. When they part ways, Saint Peter warns Brother Lustig to be responsible, which of course he isn't.
  • He tries to pull the same healing stunts but fails, and Saint Peter bails him out, finally giving him a knapsack that will do anything he wishes. 
  • For a while, Brother Lustig enjoys filling it with tasty foods. Then he comes to a haunted castle, and fills the sack with the renegade demons and beats them senseless.
  • Finally, he decides to try to get into heaven. 
  • He accidentally takes the path that leads to hell, but they don't let him in because the demons don't want him to torment them any more. 
  • Heaven doesn't want to let him in either, but he gets them to admit his sack in and wishes himself inside it.

Tale 82: Gambling Hans

  • This guy named Hans has such a gambling problem that they call him Gambling Hans. 
  • One day the Lord and Saint Peter show up, and even though he gambles away the money they give him to buy food with, they decide to reward Hans for his hospitality with three wishes. 
  • He wishes for a deck of cards, dice that always win, and a tree that would keep whoever climbed up it captive until Hans said they could leave.
  • Hans starts to win everything in sight, which concerns the Lord, so he sends Death to get Hans. Hans tricks Death into climbing the tree and keeps him there for seven years, during which no one dies. 
  • That's one big wrench thrown into things, so God orders Hans to release Death, who kills Hans on the spot.
  • They refuse Hans access to heaven, and in hell, he starts gambling and wins enough devils that he decides to fight his way to heaven. 
  • They let him in, but his gambling causes such a ruckus that they kick him out again—with sufficient force to splinter his soul. 
  • Fragments of his soul flew into people who we characterize as having a gambling problem, so parts of him are still alive today.
  • Oh so that explains Uncle Marv.

Tale 83: Lucky Hans

  • Hans must've had a really good job, because he gets a gold nugget for his labor. 
  • It's heavy, so he trades it for a horse. He doesn't like riding the horse, so he trades it for a cow, then the cow for a pig, and then the pig for a goose. 
  • A scissors-grinder talks him into trading the goose for some sharpening stones, which are so heavy that Hans feels lucky when they slip into a brook and he can't retrieve them. 
  • This guy simply oozes luck.

Tale 84: Hans Gets Married

  • A matchmaker tries to find a rich man's daughter for farmer Hans to marry. 
  • The matchmaker brags that Hans has as many patches (of land) as he has patches on his pants. The marriage is celebrated and when the new bride asks for a tour of the land, she gets a tour of his overalls, which he can definitively say that he does own.

Tale 85: The Golden Children

  • A fisherman catches a golden fish that promises him a castle filled with an endless cupboard in return for throwing him back in the water. The catch is that he can't tell anyone where his newfound wealth comes from. 
  • His wife nags him until he cracks and spills the beans. The castle disappears and they're back to living in a crummy little hut.
  • He catches the same fish, makes the same promise, and breaks it again. The third time he catches the fish, it doesn't try to bargain, but tells the fisherman to take it home, cut it into six pieces, and give two to his wife, two to the horse, and bury two in the ground. 
  • The fisherman does this, and his wife gives birth to two boys, the horse has two foals, and the garden yields two lilies. Everything is golden, like, literally: the horses, boys, and lilies are gold-colored.
  • The boys part ways, telling their father that the lilies will predict their health. 
  • One boy dons a bearskin in order to pass through a forest safely, and then marries a maiden (whose father, upon learning that he's not really that hairy but is actually golden, approves of the match all the more).
  • The boy goes hunting, but is turned to stone by a witch. The other brother sees the lily droop, and goes to rescue his brother. 
  • The one brother returns to his wife, and the other brother returns home to their father, who was watching the lilies carefully to see that they both were healthy.

Tale 86: The Fox and the Geese

  • A fox comes upon a meadow full of geese and gloats about how he will eat them up. 
  • One goose pleads to be allowed to pray first, so she starts making that honking goose-noise. 
  • The rest of the geese start, too, and we'll finish the tale when they've finished praying. 
  • Yep, that's it.

Tale 87: The Poor Man and the Rich Man

  • The Lord, traveling in disguise, asks for somewhere to stay. A haughty rich man turns him out, but his kind, poor brother across the way welcomes him in. 
  • The Lord gives him three wishes, and he asks for salvation, for good health and daily bread, and for a nicer house (hey, that's more than three). 
  • The rich man hears about this and finds the Lord and badgers him to stay at his place in exchange for three wishes. 
  • The Lord warns the rich man that his wishes won't turn out well, and he wastes them as foretold.

Tale 88: The Singing, Springing Lark

  • About to head out on a journey, a man asks his daughters what they want him to bring them. 
  • The first two want pretty shiny things, but the third wants a singing, springing lark. 
  • The man tries to obtain the bird but it belongs to a lion, who threatens to kill the man unless he brings the first thing he meets when he gets home. Hopeful that it'll turn out to be the dog and not his youngest daughter, the man agrees.
  • The daughter somehow doesn't mind being bartered off, and when she reaches the lion, it turns out that he's a prince who can assume human form by night. 
  • Well that's convenient. So they celebrate their wedding and it's all good. 
  • She wants to go back to her father's place for a celebration, and begs the lion to come with her, but it's a bit dangerous, because if the light of a candle hits him, he'll become a dove for seven years. 
  • They try to protect him, but eventually a candle shines on him, and he's re-enchanted.
  • She follows the trail of white feathers and the occasional drop of blood that he leaves. She wanders far enough to meet the sun, the moon, and the Winds, which each give her advice and gifts. 
  • After crossing the sea by griffin (now that's a pimpin' ride), she comes to the kingdom where her prince is supposed to marry another woman.
  • The gifts of the sun and moon contain beautiful objects that she barters for a night in her husband's bedroom. 
  • Unfortunately, his new bride has drugged him, so he doesn't hear her pleas for recognition. 
  • On the final night, he doesn't take the sleeping potion and hears her, so they run away together and live happily with their family.

Tale 89: The Goose Girl

  • A princess is betrothed to a faraway prince. Her mother, before sending her off to marry him, lets three drops of blood fall on a white handkerchief and tells the daughter it will take care of her. She also has a horse named Falada who can speak, which just might come in handy…or not.
  • The princess's maid is kind of mean, because she makes the princess fetch her own water and stuff (heaven forbid). The drops of blood protest, but then the handkerchief is swept away by a river, so it can't protect her anymore. 
  • Then the maid goes one step too far, forcing the princess to change clothes with her, making her swear to never tell anyone under pain of death.
  • When they reach the castle, the maid also has Falada killed, so the horse won't give away the secret. The princess arranges for its head to be mounted on the gate she passes through while tending geese, and they have a rhyming exchange every day.
  • The other goose herd tells the king that something strange is going on with this chick, who has pure golden hair and talks to dead horse heads.
  • The king speaks kindly to the princess, but she's not allowed to tell him what happened to her. So the king suggests that she tell her troubles to the iron stove (while he listens, hidden). The false bride is punished with death and the princess is married to her intended.

Tale 90: The Young Giant

  • A tiny boy is snatched away by a giant who suckles him at his breast until the boy grows huge and strong. 
  • He's so big that when he returns home, his parents don't recognize him. He eats up all the food and they kick him out. 
  • So he finds work at various tasks, disenchanting a haunted mill by withstanding blows while he's at it. He doesn't collect wages but instead wants to give blows to his employers, which they usually can't withstand. 
  • And then he wanders on with his giant iron staff and does more giant-y things.
  • Fin.

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