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From Snowdrop and Other Tales by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm.
Age Rating 4 to 8.

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There were once two Brothers who both served as soldiers, and one was rich and the other was poor. The poor one, wishing to better himself, discarded his uniform and worked like a Peasant. Then he dug and hoed his little field and sowed Turnips. The seed came up, and one of the Turnips grew to such an enormous size, that it seemed as though it would never have finished; and it might have been called the Queen of Turnips, for its like had never been seen before, nor ever will be again. At last it was so big that it filled a cart, and needed two oxen to draw it; and the Peasant could not imagine what would come of it, whether it would bring good luck or bad. At last he said to himself: 'If I sell it what shall I gain? I might eat it, but the little Turnips would do as well for that. The best thing will be to take it to the King and offer it to him.' So he loaded a cart, harnessed two oxen, and took it to the Court to present it to the King. 'What is that extraordinary object?' said the King. 'I have seen many marvels in my time, but never anything so remarkable as this. What seed did it spring from? Perhaps it belongs to you, especially if you are a child of good luck?'



'Oh no,' said the Peasant, 'lucky I certainly am not, for I am a poor Soldier, who, since he could keep himself no longer, has hung up his uniform on a nail, and tills the earth. Further, I have a Brother who is rich, and well known to you, my Lord King; but I, because I have nothing, am forgotten by all the world.' Then the King pitied him and said: 'Your poverty shall be at an end, and you shall receive such rich presents from me that your wealth will equal that of your Brother.' Thereupon he gave him plenty of gold, lands, fields, and flocks, and enriched him with precious stones, so that the other Brother's wealth could not be compared with his. Now, when the rich Brother heard what his Brother with the single Turnip had acquired, he envied him, and pondered how he might gain a like treasure for himself. But he wanted to show himself much cleverer, so he took gold and horses and presented them to the King, feeling certain that he would give him a far handsomer gift; for if his Brother got so much for a Turnip, what would not he get for his beautiful things. The King took the present, saying that he could give him in return nothing rarer or better than the huge Turnip.



So the rich Brother had to put his Brother's Turnip into a cart, and have it taken home. Then he did not know on whom to expend his wrath and bitterness, till evil thoughts came to him, and he determined to kill his Brother. He hired Murderers, who were to place themselves in ambush, and then he went to his Brother, and said: 'Dear Brother, I know of a secret treasure which we will carry off and divide.' The other agreed, and went without suspicion. But when they got out, the Murderers sprang upon him, bound him, and prepared to hang him on a tree. While they were about it, they heard in the distance the clatter of hoofs and the sound of singing, which frightened them so much that they stuck their Prisoner into a sack, head foremost, slung it up on a branch, and took to flight. But the Man up in the sack worked a hole in it, and stuck his head through. Now the traveller turned out to be nothing more than a Student, a young fellow who was riding through the wood, singing cheerily. When the Man up in the sack saw some one down below, he called out: 'Good-day. You come in the nick of time.' The Student looked all round, but could not make out where the voice came from.



At last he said: 'Who calls?' A voice from above answered: 'Raise your eyes, I am sitting up here in the Sack of Wisdom, and in a short time I have learnt so much that the wisdom of the schools is as air compared to mine. Soon I shall be quite perfect, and shall come down and be the wisest of all mankind. I understand the stars and signs of the heavens, the blowing of the winds, the sand of the sea, the healing of sickness, the power of herbs, birds, and stones. If you were once inside, you would feel what wonders flow from the Sack of Knowledge.' When the Student heard this he was astonished, and said: 'Blessed be the hour when I met you, if only I too might get into the sack for a little.' The other answered, as though unwillingly: 'I will let you in for a little while for payment and kind words, but you must wait an hour, as there is something rather difficult which I must learn first.' But when the Student had waited a little, he grew impatient and entreated permission to get in, so great was his thirst for knowledge. Then the Man in the sack pretended to give in, and said: 'In order that I may get out of the sack you must let it down, then you can get in.'



So the Student let it down, undid the sack and released the Prisoner, and said: 'Now pull me up as fast as possible'; and he tried to get into the sack and stand upright in it. 'Stop,' said the other. 'That won't do.' And he packed him in head first, tied it up, and slung up the Disciple of Wisdom, dangling him in the air, and said: 'How are you, my dear fellow? You will soon feel wisdom coming upon you, and will have a most interesting experience. Sit still till you are wiser.' Thereupon he mounted the Student's horse, and rode off, but sent some one in an hour to let him down again.



The END

       



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