Multilingual Folk Tale Database

Märchen von einem, der auszog, das Fürchten zu lernen (Jacob & Wilhelm Grimm)

The Story of the Youth who Went Forth to Learn What Fear Was Eventyret om en, der drog ud, for at lære frygt at kende
Margaret Hunt unknown author
English Danish

A certain father had two sons, the elder of whom was sharp and sensible, and could do everything, but the younger was stupid and could neither learn nor understand anything, and when people saw him they said, "There's a fellow who will give his father some trouble!" When anything had to be done, it was always the elder who was forced to do it; but if his father bade him fetch anything when it was late, or in the night-time, and the way led through the churchyard, or any other dismal place, he answered, "Oh, no, father, I'll not go there, it makes me shudder!" for he was afraid. Or when stories were told by the fire at night which made the flesh creep, the listeners often said, "Oh, it makes us shudder!" The younger sat in a corner and listened with the rest of them, and could not imagine what they could mean. "They are always saying, it makes me shudder, it makes me shudder!' It does not make me shudder," thought he. "That, too, must be an art of which I understand nothing!"

Now it came to pass that his father said to him one day, "Hearken to me, thou fellow in the corner there, thou art growing tall and strong, and thou too must learn something by which thou canst earn thy living. Look how thy brother works, but thou dost not even earn thy salt." "Well, father," he replied, "I am quite willing to learn something indeed, if it could but be managed, I should like to learn how to shudder. I don't understand that at all yet." The elder brother smiled when he heard that, and thought to himself, "Good God, what a blockhead that brother of mine is! He will never be good for anything as long as he lives! He who wants to be a sickle must bend himself betimes."

The father sighed, and answered him, "Thou shalt soon learn what it is to shudder, but thou wilt not earn thy living by that."

Soon after this the sexton came to the house on a visit, and the father bewailed his trouble, and told him how his younger son was so backward in every respect that he knew nothing and learnt nothing. "Just think," said he, "when I asked him how he was going to earn his bread, he actually wanted to learn to shudder." "If that be all," replied the sexton, "he can learn that with me. Send him to me, and I will soon polish him." The father was glad to do it, for he thought, "It will train the boy a little." The sexton therefore took him into his house, and he had to ring the bell. After a day or two, the sexton awoke him at midnight, and bade him arise and go up into the church tower and ring the bell. "Thou shalt soon learn what shuddering is," thought he, and secretly went there before him; and when the boy was at the top of the tower and turned round, and was just going to take hold of the bell rope, he saw a white figure standing on the stairs opposite the sounding hole. "Who is there?" cried he, but the figure made no reply, and did not move or stir. "Give an answer," cried the boy, "or take thyself off, thou hast no business here at night."

The sexton, however, remained standing motionless that the boy might think he was a ghost. The boy cried a second time, "What dost thou want here? speak if thou art an honest fellow, or I will throw thee down the steps!" The sexton thought, "he can't intend to be as bad as his words," uttered no sound and stood as if he were made of stone. Then the boy called to him for the third time, and as that was also to no purpose, he ran against him and pushed the ghost down the stairs, so that it fell down ten steps and remained lying there in a corner. Thereupon he rang the bell, went home, and without saying a word went to bed, and fell asleep. The sexton's wife waited a long time for her husband, but he did not come back. At length she became uneasy, and wakened the boy, and asked, "Dost thou not know where my husband is? He climbed up the tower before thou didst." "No, I don't know," replied the boy, "but some one was standing by the sounding hole on the other side of the steps, and as he would neither give an answer nor go away, I took him for a scoundrel, and threw him downstairs, just go there and you will see if it was he, I should be sorry if it were." The woman ran away and found her husband, who was lying moaning in the corner, and had broken his leg.

She carried him down, and then with loud screams she hastened to the boy's father. "Your boy," cried she, "has been the cause of a great misfortune! He has thrown my husband down the steps and made him break his leg. Take the good-for-nothing fellow away from our house." The father was terrified, and ran thither and scolded the boy. "What wicked tricks are these?" said he, "the devil must have put this into thy head." "Father," he replied, "do listen to me. I am quite innocent. He was standing there by night like one who is intending to do some evil. I did not know who it was, and I entreated him three times either to speak or to go away." "Ah," said the father, "I have nothing but unhappiness with thee. Go out of my sight. I will see thee no more."

"Yes, father, right willingly, wait only until it is day. Then will I go forth and learn how to shudder, and then I shall, at any rate, understand one art which will support me." "Learn what thou wilt," spake the father, "it is all the same to me. Here are fifty thalers for thee. Take these and go into the wide world, and tell no one from whence thou comest, and who is thy father, for I have reason to be ashamed of thee." "Yes, father, it shall be as you will. If you desire nothing more than that, I can easily keep it in mind."

When day dawned, therefore, the boy put his fifty thalers into his pocket, and went forth on the great highway, and continually said to himself, "If I could but shudder! If I could but shudder!" Then a man approached who heard this conversation which the youth was holding with himself, and when they had walked a little farther to where they could see the gallows, the man said to him, "Look, there is the tree where seven men have married the ropemaker's daughter, and are now learning how to fly. Sit down below it, and wait till night comes, and thou wilt soon learn how to shudder." "If that is all that is wanted," answered the youth, "it is easily done; but if I learn how to shudder as quickly as that, thou shalt have my fifty thalers. Just come back to me early in the morning." Then the youth went to the gallows, sat down below it, and waited till evening came. And as he was cold, he lighted himself a fire, but at midnight the wind blew so sharply that in spite of his fire, he could not get warm. And as the wind knocked the hanged men against each other, and they moved backwards and forwards, he thought to himself, "Thou shiverest below by the fire, but how those up above must freeze and suffer!" And as he felt pity for them, he raised the ladder, and climbed up, unbound one of them after the other, and brought down all seven. Then he stirred the fire, blew it, and set them all round it to warm themselves. But they sat there and did not stir, and the fire caught their clothes. So he said, "Take care, or I will hang you up again." The dead men, however, did not hear, but were quite silent, and let their rags go on burning. On this he grew angry, and said, "If you will not take care, I cannot help you, I will not be burnt with you," and he hung them up again each in his turn. Then he sat down by his fire and fell asleep, and next morning the man came to him and wanted to have the fifty thalers, and said, "Well, dost thou know how to shudder?" "No," answered he, "how was I to get to know? Those fellows up there did not open their mouths, and were so stupid that they let the few old rags which they had on their bodies get burnt." Then the man saw that he would not carry away the fifty thalers that day, and went away saying, "One of this kind has never come in my way before."

The youth likewise went his way, and once more began to mutter to himself, "Ah, if I could but shudder! Ah, if I could but shudder!" A waggoner who was striding behind him heard that and asked, "Who art thou?" "I don't know," answered the youth. Then the waggoner asked, "From whence comest thou?" "I know not." "Who is thy father?" "That I may not tell thee." "What is it that thou art always muttering between thy teeth?" "Ah," replied the youth, "I do so wish I could shudder, but no one can teach me how to do it." "Give up thy foolish chatter," said the waggoner. "Come, go with me, I will see about a place for thee." The youth went with the waggoner, and in the evening they arrived at an inn where they wished to pass the night. Then at the entrance of the room the youth again said quite loudly, "If I could but shudder! If I could but shudder!" The host who heard that, laughed and said, "If that is your desire, there ought to be a good opportunity for you here." "Ah, be silent," said the hostess, "so many inquisitive persons have already lost their lives, it would be a pity and a shame if such beautiful eyes as these should never see the daylight again."

But the youth said, "However difficult it may be, I will learn it, and for this purpose indeed have I journeyed forth." He let the host have no rest, until the latter told him, that not far from thence stood a haunted castle where any one could very easily learn what shuddering was, if he would but watch in it for three nights. The King had promised that he who would venture should have his daughter to wife, and she was the most beautiful maiden the sun shone on. Great treasures likewise lay in the castle, which were guarded by evil spirits, and these treasures would then be freed, and would make a poor man rich enough. Already many men had gone into the castle, but as yet none had come out again. Then the youth went next morning to the King, and said that if he were allowed he would watch three nights in the enchanted castle. The King looked at him, and as the youth pleased him, he said, "Thou mayest ask for three things to take into the castle with thee, but they must be things without life." Then he answered, "Then I ask for a fire, a turning lathe, and a cutting-board with the knife." The King had these things carried into the castle for him during the day. When night was drawing near, the youth went up and made himself a bright fire in one of the rooms, placed the cutting-board and knife beside it, and seated himself by the turning-lathe. "Ah, if I could but shudder!" said he, "but I shall not learn it here either." Towards midnight he was about to poke his fire, and as he was blowing it, something cried suddenly from one corner, "Au, miau! how cold we are!" "You simpletons!" cried he, "what are you crying about? If you are cold, come and take a seat by the fire and warm yourselves." And when he had said that, two great black cats came with one tremendous leap and sat down on each side of him, and looked savagely at him with their fiery eyes. After a short time, when they had warmed themselves, they said, "Comrade, shall we have a game at cards?" "Why not?" he replied, "but just show me your paws." Then they stretched out their claws. "Oh," said he, "what long nails you have! Wait, I must first cut them a little for you." Thereupon he seized them by the throats, put them on the cutting-board and screwed their feet fast. "I have looked at your fingers," said he, "and my fancy for card-playing has gone," and he struck them dead and threw them out into the water. But when he had made away with these two, and was about to sit down again by his fire, out from every hole and corner came black cats and black dogs with red-hot chains, and more and more of them came until he could no longer stir, and they yelled horribly, and got on his fire, pulled it to pieces, and wanted to put it out. He watched them for a while quietly, but at last when they were going too far, he seized his cutting-knife, and cried, “Away with ye, vermin," and began to cut them down. Part of them ran away, the others he killed, and threw out into the fish-pond. When he came back he blew up the embers of his fire again and warmed himself. And as he thus sat, his eyes would keep open no longer, and he felt a desire to sleep. Then he looked round and saw a great bed in the corner. “That is the very thing for me,” said he, and got into it. When he was just going to shut his eyes, however, the bed began to move of its own accord, and went over the whole of the castle. “That"s right," said he, “but go faster.” Then the bed rolled on as if six horses were harnessed to it, up and down, over thresholds and steps, but suddenly hop, hop, it turned over upside down, and lay on him like a mountain. But he threw quilts and pillows up in the air, got out and said, “Now any one who likes, may drive,” and lay down by his fire, and slept till it was day. In the morning the King came, and when he saw him lying there on the ground, he thought the spirits had killed him and he was dead. Then said he, “After all it is a pity, he is a handsome man.” The youth heard it, got up, and said, "It has not come to that yet.” Then the King was astonished, but very glad, and asked how he had fared. “Very well indeed," answered he; “one night is over, the two others will get over likewise.” Then he went to the innkeeper, who opened his eyes very wide, and said, "I never expected to see thee alive again! Hast thou learnt how to shudder yet?” “No," said he, “it is all in vain. If some one would but tell me!"

The second night he again went up into the old castle, sat down by the fire, and once more began his old song, “If I could but shudder!” When midnight came, an uproar and noise of tumbling about was heard; at first it was low, but it grew louder and louder. Then it was quiet for awhile, and at length with a loud scream, half a man came down the chimney and fell before him. “Hollo!" cried he, “another half belongs to this. This is too little!” Then the uproar began again, there was a roaring and howling, and the other half fell down likewise. “Wait," said he, “I will just blow up the fire a little for thee.” When he had done that and looked round again, the two pieces were joined together, and a frightful man was sitting in his place. “That is no part of our bargain,” said the youth, “the bench is mine.” The man wanted to push him away; the youth, however, would not allow that, but thrust him off with all his strength, and seated himself again in his own place. Then still more men fell down, one after the other; they brought nine dead men's legs and two skulls, and set them up and played at nine-pins with them. The youth also wanted to play and said, “Hark you, can I join you?” “Yes, if thou hast any money.” “Money enough," replied he, “but your balls are not quite round.” Then he took the skulls and put them in the lathe and turned them till they were round. “There, now, they will roll better!" said he. “Hurrah! now it goes merrily!” He played with them and lost some of his money, but when it struck twelve, everything vanished from his sight. He lay down and quietly fell asleep. Next morning the King came to enquire after him. “How has it fared with thee this time?" asked he. “I have been playing at nine-pins,” he answered, “and have lost a couple of farthings.” “Hast thou not shuddered then?” “Eh, what?" said he, “I have made merry. If I did but know what it was to shudder!"

The third night he sat down again on his bench and said quite sadly, "If I could but shudder.” When it grew late, six tall men came in and brought a coffin. Then said he, “Ha, ha, that is certainly my little cousin, who only died a few days ago," and he beckoned with his finger, and cried, “Come, little cousin, come.” They placed the coffin on the ground, but he went to it and took the lid off, and a dead man lay therein. He felt his face, but it was cold as ice. “Stop," said he, “I will warm thee a little," and went to the fire and warmed his hand and laid it on the dead man's face, but he remained cold. Then he took him out, and sat down by the fire and laid him on his breast and rubbed his arms that the blood might circulate again. As this also did no good, he thought to himself, “When two people lie in bed together, they warm each other," and carried him to the bed, covered him over and lay down by him. After a short time the dead man became warm too, and began to move. Then said the youth, “See, little cousin, have I not warmed thee?” The dead man, however, got up and cried, "Now will I strangle thee."

“What!" said he, “is that the way thou thankest me? Thou shalt at once go into thy coffin again,” and he took him up, threw him into it, and shut the lid. Then came the six men and carried him away again. “I cannot manage to shudder," said he. “I shall never learn it here as long as I live."

Then a man entered who was taller than all others, and looked terrible. He was old, however, and had a long white beard. “Thou wretch,” cried he, “thou shalt soon learn what it is to shudder, for thou shalt die.” “Not so fast," replied the youth. “If I am to die, I shall have to have a say in it." "I will soon seize thee," said the fiend. “Softly, softly, do not talk so big. I am as strong as thou art, and perhaps even stronger.” “We shall see," said the old man. “If thou art stronger, I will let thee go—come, we will try.” Then he led him by dark passages to a smith's forge, took an axe, and with one blow struck an anvil into the ground. “I can do that better still," said the youth, and went to the other anvil. The old man placed himself near and wanted to look on, and his white beard hung down. Then the youth seized the axe, split the anvil with one blow, and struck the old man's beard in with it. “Now I have thee," said the youth. “Now it is thou who wilt have to die.” Then he seized an iron bar and beat the old man till he moaned and entreated him to stop, and he would give him great riches. The youth drew out the axe and let him go. The old man led him back into the castle, and in a cellar showed him three chests full of gold. “Of these," said he, “one part is for the poor, the other for the king, the third is thine.” In the meantime it struck twelve, and the spirit disappeared; the youth, therefore, was left in darkness. “I shall still be able to find my way out," said he, and felt about, found the way into the room, and slept there by his fire. Next morning the King came and said, “Now thou must have learnt what shuddering is?” “No," he answered; "what can it be? My dead cousin was here, and a bearded man came and showed me a great deal of money down below, but no one told me what it was to shudder.” “Then," said the King, “thou hast delivered the castle, and shalt marry my daughter.” “That is all very well," said he, “but still I do not know what it is to shudder!"

Then the gold was brought up and the wedding celebrated; but howsoever much the young King loved his wife, and however happy he was, he still said always, “If I could but shudder—if I could but shudder.” And at last she was angry at this. Her waiting-maid said, "I will find a cure for him; he shall soon learn what it is to shudder.” She went out to the stream which flowed through the garden, and had a whole bucketful of gudgeons brought to her. At night when the young King was sleeping, his wife was to draw the clothes off him and empty the bucketful of cold water with the gudgeons in it over him, so that the little fishes would sprawl about him. When this was done, he woke up and cried, “Oh, what makes me shudder so?—what makes me shudder so, dear wife? Ah! now I know what it is to shudder!"

En far havde to sønner. Den ældste var klog og flink, men den yngste var så dum, at der slet ikke var noget at stille op med ham. "Han vil rigtignok falde sin far ordentlig til byrde," sagde folk om ham. Når der var et eller andet, der skulle gøres, var det altid den ældste, der måtte gøre det, men når hans fader sent om aftenen eller om natten bad ham hente noget, og vejen gik forbi kirkegården, sagde han: "Åh, far, må jeg ikke være fri," for han var ikke så lidt af en kujon. Om aftenen, når de sad om ilden og hørte på historier, var der tit en eller anden, der sagde: "Uh ha, jeg bliver helt bange." Den yngste dreng sad i en krog og hørte efter, og kunne ikke begribe, hvad det skulle betyde. "Altid siger de, at de er bange," tænkte han, "jeg er aldrig bange, men det er vel også en af de ting, jeg ikke forstår."

En dag sagde faderen til ham: "Hør engang, min dreng. Du er nu stor og stærk, og det er på tiden, at du lærer noget, hvorved du kan fortjene dit brød. Se, hvor din broder er flittig, men al den ulejlighed, man gør sig med dig, nytter ikke en smule. "Jeg vil også gerne lære noget," svarede drengen, "og der er særlig en ting, jeg kunne have lyst til. Jeg ville gerne lære, hvad det er at være bange, for det kan jeg slet ikke tænke mig." Den ældste broder lo, da han hørte det, og tænkte: "Du gode Gud, hvor er min broder dum, han bliver da aldrig i livet til noget." Faderen sukkede og svarede: "Det vil du såmænd nok snart lære, men det kan du ikke leve af."

Kort efter kom degnen på besøg. Faderen klagede sin nød for ham og sagde, at han slet ikke vidste, hvad han skulle stille op med sin yngste søn; han var så dum, så det ikke var til at beskrive. "Tænk engang," sagde han, "da jeg talte med ham om, at han måtte lære noget for at kunne tjene sit brød, sagde han, at han helst ville lære, hvad det var at være bange." - "Når der ikke er andet i vejen," sagde degnen, "så send ham bare hen til mig. Jeg skal nok sætte skik på ham." Det var faderen velfornøjet med og tænkte: "En lille smule kan det dog måske hjælpe på ham." Drengen kom altså i huset hos degnen og skulle ringe med klokken. Efter et par dages forløb vækkede degnen ham ved midnat og sagde, at han skulle gå op i kirketårnet og ringe. "Så skal du nok lære, hvad det er at være bange," tænkte han, og listede i forvejen hen til klokketårnet. Da drengen kom derop og ville tage fat i rebet, så han, at der stod en hvid skikkelse på trappen lige overfor lydhullet. "Hvem der," råbte han, men skikkelsen gav intet svar og rørte sig ikke af pletten. "Vil du svare," råbte drengen, "eller se til, du kommer af sted. Du har ikke noget at gøre her midt om natten." Men degnen blev stående ubevægelig, for at drengen skulle tro, han var et spøgelse. Da råbte drengen igen: "Hvad vil du her? Hvis du er en ærlig karl, så sig det, eller jeg smider dig ned ad trappen." - "Åh, han mener det vel ikke så slemt," tænkte degnen og gav ikke en lyd fra sig, og stod så stille, som om han var af sten. For tredie gang spurgte drengen, hvad han ville, og da det ikke nyttede, gav han spøgelset et spark, så det faldt ti trin ned ad trappen og blev liggende i en krog. Derpå ringede han med klokken og gik hjem og krøb i seng. Degnens kone ventede længe på sin mand, men han kom ikke. Til sidst blev hun bange, vækkede drengen og spurgte: "Ved du ikke, hvor min mand bliver af. Han gik op i tårnet lige før du." - "Nej, det ved jeg ikke," svarede drengen, "men der stod en på trappen, der hverken ville svare mig eller gå sin vej, og så troede jeg, det var en gavtyv og smed ham ned ad trappen. I kan jo gå hen og se, om det er ham, det ville gøre mig ondt." Konen løb af sted og fandt sin mand liggende jamrende i en krog. Han havde brækket det ene ben.

Hun bar ham hjem og løb grædende hen til drengens far. "Jeres søn har gjort en stor ulykke," råbte hun, "han har smidt min mand ned ad trappen, så han har brækket benet. Jeg vil ikke have ham en time længere i mit hus." Faderen blev meget forskrækket og skændte dygtigt på drengen. "Hvad er det for slemme ting, jeg hører om dig," sagde han vredt, "det må jo være djævelen selv, der er faret i dig." - "Hør nu, far," sagde drengen, "jeg er ganske uskyldig. Han stod der midt om natten og så ud, som om han havde ondt i sinde. Jeg vidste ikke, hvem det var, og tre gange bad jeg ham tale eller gå sin vej." - "Gud ved, hvad for ulykker du skaffer mig på halsen," sagde faderen. "Gå din vej, jeg vil ikke se dig for mine øjne." - "Det skal være mig en fornøjelse, far," svarede drengen, "så snart det bliver lyst, drager jeg af sted for at lære, hvad det er at være bange. Så ved jeg dog en ting." - "Lær, hvad du vil," sagde faderen, "det er mig ganske ligegyldigt. Der har du halvtredsindstyve daler. Gå så ud i den vide verden, men sig ikke til noget menneske, hvem du er og hvem der er din far, for jeg skammer mig over dig." - "Det skal jeg nok huske," svarede drengen, "når det er det hele, I forlanger skal jeg nok lyde jer."

Da det gryede ad dag stak drengen sine halvtredsindstyve daler i lommen og begyndte at gå ud ad landevejen, mens han stadig mumlede: "Bare jeg vidste, hvad det er at være bange, bare jeg vidste, hvad det er at være bange." En mand, der kom forbi, hørte, hvad drengen sagde til sig selv, og da de var kommet så langt, at de kunne se galgen, sagde han til ham: "Se, der i det træ er syv mænd hængt op. Sæt dig under det og vent, til det bliver nat, så vil du noklære, hvad det er at være bange." - "Skal jeg ikke gøre andet," sagde drengen, "det var nemt sluppet. Hvis jeg så hurtig kan lære det, skal du få mine halvtredsindstyve daler. Kom herhen igen i morgen tidlig." Drengen gik hen til galgen og satte sig der og ventede, til det blev aften. Han kom til at fryse og tændte et lille bål, men ved midnatstid blev det så koldt, at han alligevel ikke kunne blive varm. Vinden tog fat i de hængte, så de dinglede frem og tilbage, og han tænkte: "Hvor det må være koldt for dem deroppe, når jeg ikke engang kan holde varmen." Han fik medlidenhed med dem og krøb op og tog dem ned, den ene efter den anden. Derpå rodede han op i ilden, fik den til at brænde klart, og anbragte dem alle syv rundt om den, for at de skulle varme sig. Ilden greb fat i deres klæder, men de rørte sig ikke af pletten. "Tag jer i agt," sagde han, "ellers hænger jeg jer op igen." Men de døde hørte ingenting og sad ganske rolig og lod deres klæder brænde. Da blev han vred og sagde: "Hvis I ikke vil passe på, vil jeg ikke hjælpe jer. Jeg vil ikke brændes for jeres skyld," og så hængte han dem op igen. Derpå satte han sig ved ilden og faldt i søvn. Næste morgen kom manden og ville have de halvtredsindstyve daler. "Nu ved du vel, hvad det er at være bange," spurgte han. "Hvor skulle jeg vide det fra," svarede drengen, "de deroppe har ikke engang gidet lukke munden op, men har været dumme nok til at lade den smule pjalter, de endnu havde på kroppen, brænde op." Manden kunne nok indse, at det ikke nyttede at forlange pengene, og gik sin vej, mens han tænkte: "Han er ikke til at komme nogen vegne med."

Drengen begav sig videre ud i verden og begyndte igen at snakke med sig selv: "Bare jeg dog kunne få at vide, hvad det er at være bange." En kusk, der gik bagefter ham, hørte ham snakke og spurgte: "Hvad er du for en?" - "Det ved jeg ikke," svarede drengen. "Hvor kommer du da fra?" spurgte kusken. "Det ved jeg ikke." - "Hvem er din far da?" - "Det må jeg ikke sige." - "Hvad er det, du går og mumler i skægget?" - "Åh, jeg ville ønske, der var nogen, der kunne lære mig hvad det er at være bange," svarede drengen, "men der er ingen, der kan." - "Sikke noget dumt snak," sagde kusken, "kom du kun med mig, så skal jeg se, hvad jeg kan gøre." Drengen gik nu med kusken, og om aftenen kom de til en kro, hvor de ville overnatte. Da de gik ind i stuen, sagde drengen igen højt: "Bare der dog var nogen, der kunne lære mig, hvad det er at være bange." Værten hørte det og sagde leende: "Her skal du nok få din lyst styret." - "Ti dog stille," sagde hans kone, "der er allerede så mange, der har sat livet til her. Det ville være synd, hvis de kønne øjne ikke skulle se lyset mere." Men drengen sagde: "Hvor svært det end er, vil jeg lære det. Det er jo det, jeg er draget ud i verden for." Han lod ikke værten have fred, før han fortalte, at der dér i nærheden lå et forhekset slot, hvor man nok kunne få at vide, hvad det var at være bange. Kongen havde lovet den, der ville våge tre nætter derinde, sin datter til ægte, og hun var den dejligste jomfru, man kunne se for sine øjne. I slottet var der også gemt store skatter, som blev bevogtede af onde ånder. De ville så også blive fri, og der var så mange, at en fattig mand jo nok ville blive rig ved at få dem. Mange mennesker var allerede gået derind, men ingen var kommet ud igen. Den næste dag gik drengen op til kongen og sagde: "Jeg ville gerne have lov til at være tre nætter i det forheksede slot." Kongen syntes godt om ham og sagde: "Du må have lov til at tage tre ting med ind i slottet." Drengen bad om et fyrtøj, en drejerbænk og en høvlebænk med en kniv.

Kongen lod det altsammen bringe ind i slottet. Om aftenen gik drengen derind, tændte sig et klart bål, stillede høvlebænken med kniven ved siden af og satte sig på drejerbænken. "Bare jeg nu kunne blive bange," tænkte han, "men det lærer jeg såmænd heller ikke her." Henimod midnat gav han sig til at rode op i ilden, og han hørte da henne fra en krog stemmer, der råbte: "Mjav, mjav, vi fryser sådan." - "I tossehoveder," sagde drengen, "hvis I fryser, så kom hen til ilden og varm jer." Næppe havde havde han sagt det, før to vældige sorte katte kom springende, satte sig ved siden af ham og så på ham med vilde øjne. Da de havde varmet sig sagde de: "Skal vi spille kort, kammerat?" - "Ja, hvorfor ikke," svarede han, "lad mig først se jeres poter." De strakte da kløerne frem. "Sikke lange negle, I har," sagde han, "dem må vi først klippe af." Derpå tog han dem i nakken, løftede dem op på høvlebænken og skruede poterne fast. "Man taber lysten til at spille kort, når man ser på de fingre," sagde han, slog dem ihjel og kastede dem ud i vandet. Da han igen ville sætte sætte sig hen til ilden, vrimlede der sorte katte og hunde frem fra alle sider, flere og flere, så han til sidst knap kunne være der. De skreg grueligt, og ville rive ilden fra hinanden og slukke den. En tidlang så han rolig til, men da det blev ham for broget, greb han sin kniv og råbte: "Vil I se at komme bort i en fart," og huggede løs på dem. Nogle løb deres vej, resten slog han ihjel og kastede ud i dammen. Så gav han sig til at blæse på ilden og lægge den til rette, men da han så sad og varmede sig, blev han så søvnig, at han ikke kunne holde øjnene åbne. Han så sig om og opdagede, at der henne i krogen stod en stor seng. "Det er jo udmærket," tænkte han og lagde sig i den. Men da han havde lukket øjnene, begyndte sengen at løbe rundt og for rundt i hele slottet. "Det var ret," sagde han, "bliv bare ved." Sengen for videre, som om den var forspændt med seks heste, op og ned ad trapper, og så på en gang, bums, væltede den helt om, og han lå der med hele sengen over sig.

Han slyngede imidlertid tæpper og puder væk, kravlede ud og sagde: "Værsgod kør nu, hvem der har lyst." Så lagde han sig ved ilden og sov til den lyse morgen. Da nu kongen kom, og så ham ligge der på jorden, troede han, at spøgelserne havde slået ham ihjel. "Det er dog skade for det smukke, unge menneske," sagde han. Drengen hørte det og rejste sig op. "Så galt er det dog heller ikke," sagde han. Kongen blev meget forundret og glad og spurgte, hvordan det var gået ham. "Rigtig godt," svarede han, "nu er den ene nat forbi. De to andre går også nok." Han gik så ud til værten, der gjorde store øjne. "Jeg troede rigtignok aldrig, jeg skulle se dig igen," sagde han, "har du nu lært, hvad det er at være bange?" - "Nej," svarede drengen, "det hjælper slet ikke. Bare der dog var en, der ville lære mig det."

Den næste nat gik han igen ind i det gamle slot, satte sig hen til ilden og begyndte sin gamle vise: "Bare jeg nu kunne blive bange." Ved midnatstid hørte man larm og buldren, først sagte, så stærkere og stærkere. Så blev det helt stille, men på en gang lød der et højt skrig, og der faldt et halvt menneske ned på skorstenen. "Hej," råbte han, "det er for lidt. Der mangler det halve." Larmen begyndte nu igen, man hørte støjen og hylen Og nu faldt den anden halvdel ned. "Vent lidt," sagde han, "jeg vil først blæse lidt på ilden." Da han havde gjort det, og vendte sig om igen, så han at de to stykker var sat sammen, og der sad en gyselig mand på hans plads. "Det var ikke meningen," sagde drengen, "det er min bænk." Manden ville puffe ham væk, men det fandt drengen sig ikke i, han skød ham bort og satte sig igen på sin plads. Der faldt endnu flere mænd ned, den ene efter den anden. De hentede dødningeben og to dødningehoveder og gav sig til at spille kegler. Drengen fik lyst til at være med og spurgte: "Må jeg spille med?" - "Ja, hvis du har penge," svarede de. "Jeg har penge nok," sagde han, "men kom her med jeres kugler. De er ikke rigtig runde." Derpå tog han dødningehovederne og satte dem på drejerbænken. "Nu vil de trille bedre," sagde han, "hej, nu skal det gå i en fart." Han gav sig så til at spille med dem og tabte nogle af sine penge. Da klokken slog tolv forsvandt det altsammen, og han lagde sig roligt til at sove. Den næste morgen kom kongen for at høre, hvordan det var gået. "Nå, hvordan har du haft det," spurgte han. "Jeg har spillet kegler," svarede drengen, "og tabt et par skilling." - "Har du ikke været bange?" - "Bange!" råbte han, "nej, jeg har været rigtig lystig. Bare jeg dog vidste, hvad det var at være bange."

Den tredie nat satte han sig igen pfå bænken og sagde ærgerlig: "Bare jeg dog nu kunne blive bange." Henad midnat kom seks høje mænd ind med en båre. "Det er nok min fætter," tænkte han, "han er jo død for et par dage siden." Han gav sig til at vinke og råbte: "Kom kun, lille fætter." De stillede ligkisten på jorden, men drengen gik hen og løftede låget op så, at der lå en død mand. Han følte på hans ansigt, der var koldt som is. "Vent lidt, så skal jeg varme dig," sagde han, gik hen og varmede sin hånd ved ilden og lagde den på den dødes ansigt, men det blev ved at være lige koldt. Han tog ham da op af kisten og satte sig ved ilden med ham og gned hans lemmer, for at blodet kunne komme i bevægelse. Da det heller ikke hjalp, faldt det ham ind, at når to ligger i seng sammen, varmer de hinanden så godt. Han lagde derfor den døde op i sengen, dækkede ham til og lagde sig ved siden af ham. Efter en lille tids forløb begyndte den døde da også at røre sig. "Der kan du se, lille fætter," sagde drengen, "nu har jeg dog varmet dig." Men den den døde rejste sig op og råbte: "Nu kvæler jeg dig." - "Hvad for noget," sagde han, "det var en rar tak. Duskalligepå hovedet igen i din kasse." Derpå løftede han ham op, lagde ham ned i kisten og skruede låget til, og de seks mænd kom og bar den bort igen. "Jeg var slet ikke bange," sukkede drengen, "her lærer jeg det aldrig i evighed."

I det samme trådte en mand ind, der var større og frygteligere end nogen af de andre. Han var meget gammel og havde et langt, hvidt skæg. "Din usling," råbte han, "nu skal du lære, hvad det er at være bange, for nu skal du dø." - "Tag det med ro," svarede drengen, "jeg har vel også nok lidt at skulle have sagt." - "Dig skal jeg nok få bugt med," sagde manden. "Nå, nå, vær nu ikke så vigtig," sagde drengen, "jeg er vel nok mindst lige så stærk som du." - "Nu skal vi se," sagde den gamle, "hvis du er stærkere end jeg, vil jeg lade dig slippe. Kom så skal vi prøve." Han førte ham så gennem snævre, mørke gange til en smedie, tog en økse og huggede ambolten igennem med et slag, "Det kan jeg meget bedre, " sagde drengen, og gik hen til en anden ambolt. Den gamle stillede sig ved siden af og ville se på det, og hans hvide skæg hang ned lige ved ambolten. Da greb drengen øksen, og med et hug slog han en spalte i ambolten og klemte den gamles skæg fast deri. "Nu har jeg dig," sagde han, "nu er det nok din tur til at dø." Han greb nu en jernstang og slog løs på manden, til han jamrende bad ham holde op og lovede at give ham store skatte. Drengen trak så øksen ud og lod ham komme løs. Den gamle mand førte ham da tilbage til slottet og viste ham tre kister med guld, der stod i en kælder. "Den ene er til de fattige," sagde han, "den anden skal kongen have, og den tredie er din." I det samme slog uret tolv, ånden forsvandt, og drengen stod alene tilbage i mørket. "Jeg finder vel nok ud," sagde han og famlede sig frem og fandt også vejen tilbage til værelset, hvor han lagde sig ved ilden og sov. Den næste morgen kom kongen og sagde: "Nå, har du lært, hvad det er at være bange?" - "Nej," svarede drengen. "Hvordan kan det dog være? Jeg har haft besøg af min døde fætter og en mand med et langt skæg, der har vist mig en hel masse penge, men ingen af dem har lært mig, hvad det er at være bange." Men kongen sagde: "Du har udfriet slottet og nu giver jeg dig min datter til ægte." - "Ja, det er altsammen meget godt," svarede han, "men jeg ved endnu ikke, hvad det er at være bange."

Guldet blev nu bragt op og brylluppet fejret, men hvor glad den unge konge end var, og hvor højt han end elskede sin dronning så sagde han dog stadig: "Kunne jeg dog bare blive bange." Det ærgrede dronningen, og hendes kammerpige sagde så til hende: "Jeg skal nok lære kongen, hvad det er at være bange." Hun gik derpå ned til den bæk, der løb igennem haven, og tog en hel spand fuld af karudser. Om natten, da den unge konge sov, trak dronningen tæppet af ham og hældte det kolde vand med karudserne ud over ham, så de små fisk lå og sprællede rundt om ham. Da vågnede han og råbte: "Åh, lille kone, jeg er så bange, så bange. Ja, nu ved jeg rigtignok, hvad det er at være bange."

Change: Change: