There was a man who had three sons, the
youngest of whom was called Dummling, and was despised, mocked, and
sneered at on every occasion.
It happened that the eldest wanted to go into
the forest to hew wood, and before he went his mother gave him a
beautiful sweet cake and a bottle of wine in order that he might not
suffer from hunger or thirst.
When he entered the forest he met a little
grey-haired old man who bade him good-day, and said, do give me a
piece of cake out of your pocket, and let me have a draught of your
wine, I am so hungry and thirsty. But the clever son answered, if I
give you my cake and wine, I shall have none for myself, be off with
you, and he left the little man standing and went on.
But when he began to hew down a tree, it was
not long before he made a false stroke, and the axe cut him in the
arm, so that he had to go home and have it bound up. And this was
the little grey man's doing.
After this the second son went into the
forest, and his mother gave him, like the eldest, a cake and a
bottle of wine. The little old grey man met him likewise, and asked
him for a piece of cake and a drink of wine. But the second son,
too, said sensibly enough, what I give you will be taken away from
myself, be off, and he left the little man standing and went on. His
punishment, however, was not delayed, when he had made a few blows
at the tree he struck himself in the leg, so that he had to be
Then Dummling said, father, do let me go and
cut wood. The father answered, your brothers have hurt themselves
with it, leave it alone, you do not understand anything about it.
But Dummling begged so long that at last he said, just go then, you
will get wiser by hurting yourself. His mother gave him a cake made
with water and baked in the cinders, and with it a bottle of sour
When he came to the forest the little old grey
man met him likewise, and greeting him, said, give me a piece of
your cake and a drink out of your bottle, I am so hungry and