The Youth Who Went Forth to Learn What Fear Was
Young man learns what it means to be creeped out when he gets married and a bucket of cold water with small fish is poured over him
A certain father had two sons, the elder of whom was smart 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 thy self 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 fast 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 the 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 get the fifty thalers that day, and went away saying, "One of this kind has never come 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 this, 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 evil 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 died only 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 is 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!"
Soon after, the sexton came to visit the house, and the father complained to him of his misery and told him how his youngest son was so poorly equipped in all things, that he knew nothing and learned nothing. "Just think, when I asked him what he wanted to do for a living, he even asked me to teach him how to scare." "If it's nothing else," answered the sexton, "he can learn it from me; just bring him to me, and I'll teach him." The father was pleased, because he thought "the boy will be trimmed a little." So the sexton took him into the house, and he had to ring the bell. After a few days he woke him up at midnight, told him to get up, climb into the church tower and ring the bell. "You shall learn what scary is," he thought, and went ahead secretly, and when the boy was at the top, and turned around to grasp the bell rope, he saw a white figure standing on the stairs, opposite the sound hole. "Who goes there?" he called, but the figure made no answer, did not move or stir. "Give answer," cried the boy, "or make you go away, you have no business here at night." The sexton, however, remained motionless so that the boy would think it was a ghost. The boy shouted for the second time, "What do you want here? Speak, if you are an honest fellow, or I will throw you down the stairs." The sexton thought "this is not meant so badly", made no sound and stood as if he were made of stone. Then the boy called to him a third time, and when that was also in vain, he took a running start and pushed the ghost down the stairs so that it fell down ten steps and remained lying in a corner. Then he rang the bell, went home, lay down in bed without saying a word, and slept away. The sexton's wife waited a long time for her husband, but he would not come back. Then at last she became afraid, she woke the boy, and asked "don't you know where my husband has gone? He went up the tower before you." "No," answered the boy, "but there was one standing on the stairs opposite the sound-hole, and because he would give no answer and would not go away, I took him for a rascal and pushed him down. Go on, you will see if it was him, I should be sorry." The woman jumped away, and found her husband lying in a corner, wailing, and with a broken leg.
She carried him downstairs and then hurried to the boy's father with a loud shout. "Your boy," she cried, "has caused a great misfortune, he has thrown my husband down the stairs so that he has broken a leg: get the good-for-nothing out of our house." The father was frightened, came running and scolded the boy. "What ungodly pranks these are; the evil one must have given them to you." "Father," he answered, "just listen, I am quite innocent: he stood there in the night like one who has evil in mind. I knew not who it was, and three times exhorted him to speak or to go away." "Alas," said the father, "with you I experience only misfortune, get out of my sight, I don't want to look at you anymore." "Yes, father, with pleasure, wait until daylight, then I will go out and learn to scare, so I understand an art that can feed me." "Learn what you like," said the father, "I don't care about anything. There you have fifty thalers, with that go into the wide world and tell no man where you are from and who your father is, for I must be ashamed of you." "Yes, father, as you will have it, if you ask no more, I can easily keep that in mind. When the day dawned, the boy put his fifty thalers in his pocket, went out into the great country road, and kept saying to himself, "If only I were afraid! if only I were afraid!" Then a man approached, who heard the conversation the boy was having with himself, and when they were a little further on, so that the gallows could be seen, the man said to him, "You see, there is the tree where seven have been married to the rope-maker's daughter and are now learning to fly: sit down under it and wait until night comes, and you will learn to be spooked." "If there is nothing more to it," answered the boy, "that is easily done; but if I learn to scare so quickly, you shall have my fifty thalers: only come to me again in the morning." So the boy went to the gallows, sat down under it, and waited until evening came. And because he was cold, he made himself a fire: but at midnight the wind was so cold that he would not get warm in spite of the fire. And when the wind pushed the hanged men against each other, so that they moved to and fro, he thought "you are freezing below by the fire, what may those up there first freeze and wriggle." And because he was compassionate, he put on the ladder, climbed up, untied them one by one, and brought them all down to the ground. Then he stoked the fire, blew on it, and sat them all around to warm themselves. But they sat there and did not move, and the fire seized their clothes. Then he said, "Take heed, or I will hang you up again." But the dead did not listen, kept silent and let their rags burn away. Then he became angry and said, "If you don't take care, I can't help you, I don't want to burn with you," and hung them up again in order. Now he sat down by his fire and fell asleep, and the next morning the man came to him, wanting the fifty thalers, and said, "well, do you know what scaring is?" "No," he answered, "how should I know? those up there didn't open their mouths and were so stupid that they let the few old rags they have on their bodies burn." Then the man saw that he would not get away with the fifty thalers today, and went away, saying, "I have never seen such a one.
The boy also went his way and began to talk to himself again, "Oh, if only I were scared! Oh, if only I were scared!" A carter who was walking behind him heard this and asked, "Who are you?" "I don't know" replied the boy. The carter asked further "where are you from?" "I don't know." "Who is your father?" "I'm not allowed to say." "What are you constantly muttering into your beard?" "Ei," answered the boy, "I wanted it to scare me, but no one can teach me." "Stop your silly talk," said the carter, "come, go with me, I will see that I put you up." The boy went with the carter, and in the evening they arrived at an inn where they were going to spend the night. When he entered the room, he said again loudly, "If only I were afraid! If only I were afraid!" The innkeeper, hearing this, laughed and said, "If you feel like it, there should be an opportunity here. "Silence," said the innkeeper's wife, "many a rascal has already lost his life, it would be a pity and a shame for the beautiful eyes if they should not see daylight again." But the boy said, "No matter how hard it is, I want to learn, that's why I left home. He did not leave the innkeeper alone until he told him that not far away there was a cursed castle where one could learn what it was to be creepy if only he wanted to stay awake for three nights. The king had promised his daughter to the one who wanted to dare to marry her, and she would be the most beautiful virgin that the sun shone upon: in the castle there were also great treasures, guarded by evil spirits, which would then be set free and could make a poor man rich enough. Many had already entered, but none had yet come out. So the boy went before the king the next morning and said, "If it were permitted, I would keep watch for three nights in the accursed castle. The king looked at him, and because he liked him, he said, "You may ask for three more things, but they must be inanimate things, and you may take them with you into the castle." Then he answered "so I ask for a fire, a lathe and a carving bench with a knife."
The king had him carry all this into the castle during the day. When night came, the boy went up, lit a fire in one of the chambers, put the carving bench with the knife next to it and sat down on the lathe. "Oh, if only it gave me the creeps!" he said, "but I won't learn it here either." About midnight he wanted to stoke up his fire once: as he was blowing into it, there was a sudden cry from a corner, "ow, meow! what we are freezing!" "You fools," he cried, "what are you shouting about? if you are cold, come and sit by the fire and warm yourselves." And as he had said this, two great black cats came in a mighty leap, and sat down on either side of him, and looked at him fiercely with their fiery eyes. About a while, when they had warmed themselves, they said "comrade, shall we play one in the card?" "why not?" he answered, "but show your paws once." Then they stretched out their claws. "Well," he said, "you have long nails! Wait, I'll have to cut them off first." With that he grabbed them by the collar, lifted them onto the carving bench, and screwed their paws tight. "I've seen your fingers," he said, "so I don't feel like playing cards," and he beat them to death and threw them out into the water. But when he had put the two to rest and was about to sit down again by his fire, black cats and black dogs on glowing chains came from every corner, more and more and more, so that he could no longer contain himself: they screamed atrociously, stepped on his fire, dragged it apart and wanted to put it out. He watched this calmly for a while, but when it became too much for him, he grabbed his carving knife and shouted, "Away with you, you rabble," and struck out at them. Some of them jumped away, others he beat to death and threw them out into the pond. When he had come back, he blew his fire freshly from the sparks and warmed himself. And as he sat there, his eyes would not stay open any longer and he felt like sleeping. Then he looked around him and saw a large bed in the corner, "that's just fine with me," he said and lay down in it. But as he was about to close his eyes, the bed began to move of its own accord, and went around the whole castle. "That's right," he said, "just close it better." Then the bed rolled away, as if six horses were harnessed, up and down over thresholds and stairs: all at once chop chop! it toppled over, the lowest to colonel, that it lay on him like a mountain. But he flung blankets and pillows into the air, got out and said "now may ride whoever wants to", lay down by his fire and slept until it was day. In the morning the king came, and when he saw him lying there on the ground, he thought the ghosts had killed him and he was dead. Then he said, "It is a pity about the beautiful man." When the boy heard this, he straightened up and said, "It's not that far yet!" The king was astonished, but rejoiced and asked how he had fared. "Quite well," he answered, "one night would be over, the two others will also go over." When he came to the innkeeper, he was very surprised. "I did not think," he said, "that I would see you alive again; have you now learned what scaring is?" "No," he said, "it is all in vain: if only someone could tell me!"
The second night he went up to the old castle again, sat down by the fire and began his old song again, "if only it gave me the creeps! As midnight approached, a noise and rumbling could be heard, at first gently, then more and more strongly, then it was a little quiet, at last half a man came down the chimney with a loud shout and fell down in front of him. "Heda!" he cried, "another half belongs to it, that is too little." Then the noise of fresh on, it raged and howled, and fell down the other half also. "Wait," he said, "I will blow the fire a little for you first." As he had done so, and looked around again, the two pieces had gone together, and there sat a grizzled man in his place. "That's not the way we bet," spoke the boy, "the bench is mine." The man wanted to push him away, but the boy would not put up with it, pushed him away by force, and sat down again in his place. Then more men fell down, one after the other, they fetched nine dead men's legs and two skulls, sat on them and played skittles. The boy also got a taste for it and asked "do you hear, can I be with you?" "Yes, if you have money." "Money enough," he answered, "but your skittles are not quite round." So he took the skulls, put them in the lathe, and turned them round. "There, now they'll be better bobbing," he said, "heida! now it's fun!" He played along and lost some of his money, but when twelve o'clock struck it was all gone before his eyes. He lay down and fell asleep quietly. The next morning the king came to inquire. "How did you do this time?" he asked. "I was bowling," he answered, "and lost a few pennies." "Didn't it give you the creeps?" "Well," he said, "I had a good time. If I only knew what scary was?"
On the third night he sat down again on his bench and said quite morosely "if only it gave me the creeps!" When it was late, six big men came and brought in a dead body. Then he said "ha ha, this is certainly my cousin who died only a few days ago," waving his finger and calling "come, cousin, come!" They put the coffin on the ground, but he went to it and took off the lid: there lay a dead man in it. He felt his face, but it was cold as ice. "Wait", he said, "I want to warm you a little", went to the fire, warmed his hand and put it on his face, but the dead man remained cold. Now he took him out, sat down by the fire and laid him on his lap, and rubbed his arms so that the blood should start moving again. When that didn't help either, he remembered "when two lie together in bed, they warm each other", took him to bed, covered him up and lay down next to him. After a while the dead man warmed up and started to move. Then the boy said, "You see, cousin, if I had not warmed you!" But the dead man started to shout, "Now I want to strangle you." "What," said he, "is this my thanks? in a moment you shall be back in your coffin," and he lifted it up, threw it in, and shut the lid; then the six men came and carried him away again. "I don't want to be frightened," he said, "I won't learn here for the rest of my life."
Then a man came in who was taller than all the others and looked terrible; but he was old and had a long white beard. "O wretch," he cried, "now you shall soon learn what scaring is, for you shall die." "Not so fast," answered the boy, "if I am to die, I must be there too." "I will seize thee already," said the fiend. "Gently, gently, do not spread yourself so wide; I am as strong as you, and probably stronger still." "Let us see," said the old man, "if you are stronger than I am, I will let you go; come, let us try." Then he led him through dark passages to a forge fire, took an axe, and smote one anvil into the earth with one blow. "I can do better than that," said the boy, and went to the other anvil: the old man stood beside it to watch, and his white beard drooped. Then the boy took hold of the axe, split the anvil in one stroke, and jammed the old man's beard into it. "Now I have you," said the boy, "now the dying is upon you." Then he grabbed an iron rod and pounded away at the old man until he whimpered and begged him to stop, he was going to give him great riches. The boy pulled out the axe, and let him go. The old man led him back into the castle and showed him three chests full of gold in a cellar. "Of this," he said, "one part is for the poor, another for the king, and the third is yours." At that it struck twelve, and the spirit disappeared, so that the boy stood in darkness. "I will be able to help myself out," he said, groped around, found his way into the chamber and fell asleep there by his fire. The next morning the king came and said "now you will have learned what scary is?" "No," he answered, "what is it? my dead cousin was there, and a bearded man came, he showed me a lot of money down there, but what is creepy no one told me." Then the king said "you have redeemed the castle and shall marry my daughter." "That's all very well," he replied, "but I still don't know what creepy is."
Then the gold was brought up and the wedding was celebrated, but the young king, as fond as he was of his wife and as happy as he was, kept saying, "If only I were afraid, if only I were afraid. At last she was annoyed. Her chambermaid said, "I will create help, he shall learn to be afraid. She went out to the brook, which flowed through the garden, and had a whole bucket full of gudgeons fetched. At night, when the young king was asleep, his wife had to pull the blanket off him and pour the bucket full of cold water with the gudgeons over him so that the little fish wriggled around him. Then he woke up and cried: "oh what creeps me, what creeps me, dear wife! Yes, now I know what creeps are."