The Brothers Grimm: “The Rogue and his Master”
THE ROGUE AND HIS MASTER
A certain man, named John, was desirous that his son should learn some trade, and he went into the church to ask the priest’s opinion what would be most desirable. Just then the clerk was standing near the altar, and he cried out, “The rogue, the rogue!”
At these words the man went away, and told his son he must learn to be a rogue, for so the priest had said. So they set out, and asked one man and another whether he was a rogue, till, at the end of the day, they entered a large forest, and there found a little hut with an old woman in it.
John asked the old woman, “Do you know any man who can teach roguery?
“Here,” said the old woman, “here you may learn, for my son is a master of the art.”
Then John asked the son whether he could teach it perfectly?
Said the rogue: “I will teach your son well; return in four years, and if you know your son then I will not ask any recompense; but if you do not, then you must give me two hundred dollars.”
John now went home, and left his son to learn roguery and witchcraft. When the time was up, the father set out to see his son, considering as he went along by what he should know him. On his away he met a little man, who stopped him, and asked, “Why are you grieving and looking so mournful?”
“Oh,” replied John, “four years ago I left my son to learn roguery, and the master said, if I returned in that time and knew my son, I should have nothing to pay; but if I did not know him, I must give him two hundred dollars. Since I have no means of recognizing him, I am troubled where to procure the money.”
Then the little man told him to take a basket of bread with him, and when he came to the rogue’s house to put the basket under a hollow tree which stood there. The little bird which should peep out would be his son.
John went and did as he was told, and out came a little bird to peck at the bread. “Holloa, my son! Are you here?”
The son was very glad to hear his father’s voice. “Father, let us go!”
But first the rogue-master called out, “The Evil One must have told you where to find your son!”
So the father and son returned home, and on their way they met a coach. The son said to his father. “I will change myself into a fine greyhound, and then you can earn some money by me.”
The lord who was riding in the coach called out, “Man, will you sell your dog?”
“Yes,” replied the father.
“How much do you want for him?”
“That is too much, my man,” said the lord, but on account of his very beautiful coat I will buy him of you.”
The bargain concluded, the dog was put inside the coach; but when they had traveled a mile or two, the greyhound jumped right out through the glass, and rejoined his father.
After this adventure they went home together, and the following day they went to the next village to market. On their way the son said, “Father, I will change myself into a horse, and then you can sell me. But first untie my bridle, and then I can change myself into the form of a man.”
The father drove his horse to market, and thither came the rogue-master and bought him for a hundred dollars.
But the father forgot to untie the bridle.
The rogue rode his horse home, and put him in the stable, and when the maid came with the corn, the horse said to her, “Undo my bridle, undo my bridle!”
“Ah, can you speak?” She was terrified, and untied the horse directly.
The horse thereupon became a sparrow, and flew away out at the door, pursued by the rogue, who changed himself also into a bird.
When they came up with each other, the rogue changed himself into water, and the other into a fish. But the rogue could not catch him so, and he changed himself into a cock.
But the other became a fox, and ate him..