|THE WILLOW-WREN AND THE BEAR
By The Brothers Grimm
Once in summer-time the bear and the wolf were walking in the forest, and the bear heard a bird singing so beautifully that he said: ‘Brother wolf, what bird is it that sings so well?’ ‘That is the King of birds,’ said the wolf, ‘before whom we must bow down.’ In reality the bird was the willow-wren. ‘IF that’s the case,’ said the bear, ‘I should very much like to see his royal palace; come, take me thither.’ ‘That is not done quite as you seem to think,’ said the wolf; ‘you must wait until the Queen comes,’ Soon afterwards, the Queen arrived with some food in her beak, and the lord King came too, and they began to feed their young ones. The bear would have liked to go at once, but the wolf held him back by the sleeve, and said: ‘No, you must wait until the lord and lady Queen have gone away again.’ So they took stock of the hole where the nest lay, and trotted away. The bear, however, could not rest until he had seen the royal palace, and when a short time had passed, went to it again. The King and Queen had just flown out, so he peeped in and saw five or six young ones lying there. ‘Is that the royal palace?’ cried the bear; ‘it is a wretched palace, and you are not King’s children, you are disreputable children!’ When the young wrens heard that, they were frightfully angry, and screamed: ‘No, that we are not! Our parents are honest people! Bear, you will have to pay for that!’
The bear and the wolf grew uneasy, and turned back and went into their holes. The young willow-wrens, however, continued to cry and scream, and when their parents again brought food they said: ‘We will not so much as touch one fly’s leg, no, not if we were dying of hunger, until you have settled whether we are respectable children or not; the bear has been here and has insulted us!’ Then the old King said: ‘Be easy, he shall be punished,’ and he at once flew with the Queen to the bear’s cave, and called in: ‘Old Growler, why have you insulted my children? You shall suffer for it—we will punish you by a bloody war.’ Thus war was announced to the Bear, and all four-footed animals were summoned to take part in it, oxen, asses, cows, deer, and every other animal the earth contained. And the willow-wren summoned everything which flew in the air, not only birds, large and small, but midges, and hornets, bees and flies had to come.
When the time came for the war to begin, the willow-wren sent out spies to discover who was the enemy’s commander-in-chief. The gnat, who was the most crafty, flew into the forest where the enemy was assembled, and hid herself beneath a leaf of the tree where the password was to be announced. There stood the bear, and he called the fox before him and said: ‘Fox, you are the most cunning of all animals, you shall be general and lead us.’ ‘Good,’ said the fox, ‘but what signal shall we agree upon?’ No one knew that, so the fox said: ‘I have a fine long bushy tail, which almost looks like a plume of red feathers. When I lift my tail up quite high, all is going well, and you must charge; but if I let it hang down, run away as fast as you can.’ When the gnat had heard that, she flew away again, and revealed everything, down to the minutest detail, to the willow-wren. When day broke, and the battle was to begin, all the four-footed animals came running up with such a noise that the earth trembled. The willow-wren, with his army, also came flying through the air with such a humming, and whirring, and swarming that every one was uneasy and afraid, and on both sides they advanced against each other. But the willow-wren sent down the hornet, with orders to settle beneath the fox’s tail, and sting with all his might. When the fox felt the first string, he started so that he lifted one leg, from pain, but he bore it, and still kept his tail high in the air; at the second sting, he was forced to put it down for a moment; at the third, he could hold out no longer, screamed, and put his tail between his legs. When the animals saw that, they thought all was lost, and began to flee, each into his hole, and the birds had won the battle.
Then the King and Queen flew home to their children and cried: ‘Children, rejoice, eat and drink to your heart’s content, we have won the battle!’ But the young wrens said: ‘We will not eat yet, the bear must come to the nest, and beg for pardon and say that we are honourable children, before we will do that.’ Then the willow-wren flew to the bear’s hole and cried: ‘Growler, you are to come to the nest to my children, and beg their pardon, or else every rib of your body shall be broken.’ So the bear crept thither in the greatest fear, and begged their pardon. And now at last the young wrens were satisfied, and sat down together and ate and drank, and made merry till quite late into the night.
|DHV WILOE-REN AND DHV BER
By Dhv Brvdhurz Grim
Wvns in a svmur-tiem dhv ber and dhv wwlf wvr waulking in dhv forust, and dhv ber hvrd a bvrd singing so buetufuly dhat he sed: ‘Brvdhur wwlf, whot bvrd iz it dhat singz so wel?’ ‘Dhat iz dhv King uv bvrdz’ sed dhv wwlf, ‘bifoer hoom we mvst bou doun.’ In realuty dhv bvrd wvz dhv wiloe-ren. ‘IF dhvt’s dhv kaes,’ sed dhv ber, ‘I shwd very mvch liek to see hiz roil palus; kvm, taek me thidhur.’ ‘Dhat iz not dvn kwiet az yoo seem to think,’ sed dhv wwlf; ‘yoo mvst waet until dhv Kween kvmz.’ Soon afturwvrdz, dhv Kween urievd with svm food in hvr beek, and dhv lord King kaem too, and dhae bigan to feed dheir yvng wvnz. Dhv ber wwd hav liekd to go at wvns, bvt dhv wwlf held him bak by dhv sleev, and sed: ‘No, yoo mvst waet until dhv lord and laedy Kween hav gon uwae ugen.’ So dhae twk stok uv dhv hoel wher dhv nest lae, and trotud uwae. Dhv ber, houevur, kwd not rest until he had seen dhv roil palus, and when a short tiem had pasd, went to it ugen. Dhv King and Kween had jvst floen out, so he peepd in and sau fiev or siks yvng wvnz lieing dher. ‘Iz dhat dhv roil palus?’ kried dhv ber; ‘it iz a rechud palus, and yoo ar not King’z childrun, yoo ar disrepyutubul childrun!’ When dhv yvng renz hvrd dhat, dhae wvr frietfuly anggry and skreemd: ‘No, dhat we ar not! Our perunts ar onust peepul! Ber, yoo wil hav to pae for dhat!’
Dhv ber and dhv wwlf groo uneezy, and tvrnd bak and went into dheir hoelz. Dhv yvng wiloe-renz, houevur, kuntinued to krie and skreem, and when dheir perunts ugen braut food dhae sed: ‘We wil not so mvch az tvch wvn flie’z leg, no, not if we wvr dieing uv hvngur, until yoo hav setuld whedhur we ar rispektubul childrun or not; dhv ber haz bin hir and haz insvltud vs!’ Dhen dhe oeld King sed: ‘Be eezy, he shal be pvnishd,’ and he at wvns floo with dhv Kween to dhv ber’z kaev, and kauld in: ‘Oeld Groulur, whie hav yoo insvltud mie childrun? Yoo shal svfur for it—we wil pvnish yoo by a blvdy wor.’ Dhvs wor wvz unounsd to dhv Ber, and aul faur-fwtud anumulz wvr svmund to taek part in it, oksun, assuz, kouz, dir, and evry vdhur anumul dhe vrth kuntaend. And dhv wiloe-ren svmund evrything which floo in dhe er, not oenly bvrdz, larj and smaul, bvt mijuz, and hornuts, beez and fliez had to kvm.
When dhv tiem kaem for dhv wor to bigin, dhv wiloe-ren sent out spiez to diskuvvur hoo wvz dhe enumy’z kumandur-in-cheef. Dhv nat, hoo wvz dhv moest krafty, floo into dhv forust wher dhe enumy wvz usembuld, and hid hvrself bineeth a leef uv dhv tree wher dhv paswurd wvz to be unounsd. Dher stwd dhv ber, and he kauld dhv foks bifoer him and sed: ‘Foks, yoo ar dhv moest kvning uv aul anumulz, yoo shal be jenurul and leed vs.’ ‘Gwd,’ sed dhv foks, ‘bvt whot signul shal we ugree upon?’ No wvn knoo dhat, so dhv foks sed: ‘I hav a fien long bwshy tael, which aulmoest lwks liek a ploom uv red fedhurz. When I lift mie tael vp kwiet hie, aul iz going wel, and yoo mvst charj; bvt if I let it hang doun, rvn uwae az fast az yoo kan.’ When dhv nat had hvrd dhat, she floo uwae ugen, and riveeld evrything, doun to dhv mienootust deetael, to dhv wiloe-ren. When dae broek, and dhv batul wvz to bigin, aul dhv faur-fwtud anumulz kaem rvning vp with svch a noiz dhat dhe vrth trembuld. Dhv wiloe-ren, with hiz army, aulsoe kaem flieing throo dhe er with svch a hvming, and whvring, and sworming dhat evry wvn wvz uneezy and ufraed, and on boeth siedz dhae udvansd ugenst eech vdhur. Bvt dhv wiloe-ren sent doun dhv hornut, with ordurz to setul bineeth dhv foks’z tael, and sting with aul hiz miet. When dhv foks felt dhv fvrst sting, he startud so dhat he liftud wvn leg, frvm paen, bvt he bor it, and stil kept hiz tael hie in dhe er; at dhv sekund sting, he wvz forsd to pwt it doun for a moemunt; at dhv thvrd, he kwd hoeld out no longur, skreemd, and pwt hiz tael bitween hiz legz. When dhe anumulz sau dhat, dhae thaut aul wvz lost, and bigan to flee, eech into hiz hoel, and dhv bvrdz had wvn dhv batul.
Dhen dhv King and Kween floo hoem to dheir childrun and kried: ‘Childrun, rijois, eet and drink to yor hart’s kuntent, we hav wvn dhv batul!’ Bvt dhv yvng renz sed: ‘We wil not eet yet, dhv ber mvst kvm to dhv nest, and beg for pardun and sae dhat we ar onurubul childrun, bifoer we wil do dhat.’ Dhen dhv wiloe-ren floo to dhv ber’z hoel and kried: ‘Groulur, yoo ar to kvm to dhv nest to mie childrun, and beg dheir pardun, or els evry rib uv your body shal be broekun.’ So dhv ber krept thidhur in dhv graetust fir, and begd dheir pardun. And nou at last dhv yvng renz wvr satusfied, and sat doun tugedhur and aet and drank, and maed mery til kwiet laet into dhv niet.