A fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm
There was once on a time a mother who had three daughters,
the eldest of whom was rude and wicked, the second much better,
although she had her faults, but the youngest was a pious, good
child. The mother, however, was so strange, that it was just
the eldest daughter whom she most loved, and she could not bear
the youngest. On this account, she often sent the poor girl
out into the great forest in order to get rid of her, for she
thought she would lose herself and never come back again. But
the guardian-angel which every good child has, did not forsake
her, but always brought her into the right path again.
however, the guardian-angel behaved as if he were not there,
and the child could not find her way out of the forest again.
She walked on constantly until evening came, and then she saw
a tiny light burning in the distance, ran up to it at once,
and came to a little hut. She knocked, the door opened, and
she came to a second door, where she knocked again. An old man,
who had a snow-white beard and looked venerable, opened it
for her. And he was no other than St. Joseph. He said quite
kindly, "Come, dear child, seat yourself on my little chair by
the fire, and warm yourself. I shall fetch you clear water if
you are thirsty. But here in the forest, I have nothing for
you to eat but a couple of little roots, which you must first
scrape and boil."
St. Joseph gave her the roots. The girl scraped them clean, then
she brought a piece of pancake and the bread that her mother
had given her to take with her, mixed all together in a pan, and
cooked herself a thick soup. When it was ready, St. Joseph said,
"I am so hungry, give me some of your food." The child was quite
willing, and gave him more than she kept for herself, but God's
was with her, so that she was satisfied. When they had eaten,
St. Joseph said, "Now we shall go to bed. I have, however, only
one bed, lay your self in it. I shall lie on the ground on the
"No," answered she, "stay in your own bed, the straw is
soft enough for me." But St. Joseph took the child in his arms,
and carried her into the little bed, and there she said her
prayers, and fell asleep.
Next morning when she awoke, she
wanted to say good morning to St. Joseph, but she did not see him.
Then she got up and looked for him, but could not find him
anywhere. At last she perceived, behind the door, a bag with
money so heavy that she could just carry it, and on it was
written that it was for the child who had slept there that night.
On this she took the bag, bounded away with it, and got
safely to her mother, and as she gave her mother all the money,
she could not help being satisfied with her.
The next day, the second child also took a fancy to go into
the forest. Her mother gave her a much larger piece of pancake
and bread. It happened with her just as with the first child.
In the evening she came to St. Joseph's little hut, who gave her
roots for a thick soup. When it was ready, he likewise said
to her, "I am so hungry, give me some of your food." Then the
child said, "You may have your share." Afterwards, when St.
Joseph offered her his bed and wanted to lie on the straw, she
replied, "No, lie down in the bed, there is plenty of room for
both of us." St. Joseph took her in his arms and put her in the
bed, and laid himself on the straw.
In the morning when the child awoke and looked for St. Joseph,
he had vanished, but behind the door she found a little sack
of money that was about as long as a hand, and on it was
written that it was for the child who had slept there last
night. So she took the little bag and ran home with it, and
took it to her mother, but she secretly kept two pieces for
The eldest daughter had by this time grown inquisitive, and the
next morning also insisted on going out into the forest. Her
mother gave her pancakes - as many as she wanted, and bread
and cheese as well. In the evening she found St. Joseph in his
little hut, just as the two others had found him. When the
soup was ready
and St. Joseph said, "I am so hungry, give me some of the food,"
the girl answered, "Wait until I am satisfied, then if there is
anything left you will have it." But she ate nearly the
whole of it, and St. Joseph had to scrape the dish. Afterwards,
the good old man offered her his bed, and wanted to lie on
the straw. She took it without making any opposition, laid
herself down in the little bed, and left the hard straw to the
white-haired man. Next morning when she awoke, St. Joseph was
not to be found, but she did not trouble herself about that. She
looked behind the door for a money-bag. She fancied something
was lying on the ground, but as she could not very well distinguish
what it was, she stooped down, so that she touched it with her
nose, where it remained hanging, and when she got up again,
she saw, to her horror, that it was a second nose, which was
hanging fast to her own. Then she began to scream and howl,
but that did no good. She always had to look at her nose, for
it stretched out so far. Then she ran out and screamed without
stopping till she met St. Joseph, at whose feet she fell and begged
until, out of pity, he took the nose off her again, and even
gave her two farthings.
When she got home, her mother was standing
before the door, and asked, "What have you had given to you?"
lied and said, "A great bag of money, but I have lost it on the way."
"Lost it!" cried the mother. "Oh, but we shall soon find it again,"
and took her by the hand, and wanted to seek it with her. At
first she began to cry, and did not wish to go, but at last she
went. On the way, however, so many lizards and snakes broke
loose on both of them, that they did not know how to save
themselves. At last they stung the wicked child to death, and
they stung the mother in the foot, because she had not brought
her up better.