When People told themselves their past with stories,
explained their present with stories,
foretold the future with stories,
the best place by the fire was kept for ...


Once there lived a farmer, who was blessed with
plenty of money and property. But as rich as he was,
there was one thing missing from his fortune:
he and his wife had no children. Often when he went
into the city with the other farmers, they mocked him
and asked why he didn’t have any children. Finally he
became so angry that one day when he returned home
he said “I want a child, even if it’s a hedgehog.”

And so it was, his wife soon bore a son.
But the top of the child’s body was a hedgehog
and only the lower part was a boy.
When the farmer’s wife saw the child, she recoiled
and said “See what you have brought down upon us!”

The man replied “It's no use complaining now!
The boy must be baptized and I doubt very much
we will be able to find a godfather.”
His wife answered “That doesn’t matter because the
only name we can use to baptize him is Hans-My-Hedgehog.”

When the child was baptized the pastor said
“Because of the barbs on his back, he won’t be able
to sleep in a real bed.” So, a little straw was placed
behind the stove and Hans-My-Hedgehog was
placed there. He couldn’t drink his mother’s milk
because he would have pricked her with his barbs.
So he lay behind the stove for eight years.
His father became tired of him and thought if only
he would die. He didn’t die, but remained lying there.

Now it happened that there was a market in the city
and the farmer wanted to go. He asked his wife what
he should bring her. “A bit of meat and a few rolls,
those things we need for our household,” she answered.
Then he asked the maid. She wanted slippers and
a few socks. Finally he asked “Hans-My-Hedgehog,
what do you want?” “Dear father,” he said
“Bring me a bagpipe.”

When the farmer returned home, he gave his wife
what he had purchased, meat and bread.
Then he gave the maid the slippers and stockings.
Finally he went behind the stove and gave Hans-My-Hedgehog
the bagpipe. And when Hans-My-Hedgehog had the
bagpipe, he said “Dear father, go to the smithy and
have him shoe my rooster, because I want to ride
away and never more return.” The father was
pleased that he would be rid of him and had the
rooster shod. When it was finished, Hans-My-Hedgehog
mounted the bird and rode away. He took with him
several pigs and donkeys, which he wanted to graze
in the forest. Once in the forest, the rooster flew
with him up into a high tree. There he sat and
guarded the donkeys and pigs and sat many years
until, finally, the herd was very large.
But his father didn’t know anything about him.
As he passed his time sitting in the tree, he blew into
his bagpipe and made music and it was very beautiful.

Once a king came riding by. He became lost and heard
the music. In amazement, he sent his servant and
said he should look around and see where the music
was coming from. But the servant found nothing else
than a small animal sitting up in a tree.
It looked like a rooster on which a hedgehog sat
playing music. The king told his servant he should ask
why he was sitting there and whether he knew the way
back to his kingdom. Hans-My-Hedgehog climbed down
from the tree and said he would show the way if the king
would promise to write down and promise to him the
first thing he encountered at the royal court when
he returned home. The king thought “That will be easy.

Hans-My-Hedgehog can’t read and I can write down
whatever I want.” The king took a quill and some ink
and wrote something down and when it was done,
Hans-My-Hedgehog showed him the way and he
arrived happily at home. But it was his daughter who
saw him from afar and was so happy that she ran to
meet him and kissed him. The king thought about
Hans-My-Hedgehog and told her what had happened and
that the strange creature told him to write down
the first thing he encountered. And the little animal
sat on a rooster like a horse and played pretty music.
He intended to write down something but
Hans-My-Hedgehog couldn’t read it anyway.
The princess was happy with this solution and said,
she never wanted to leave the king’s castle.

But Hans-My-Hedgehog continued to tend the donkeys
and pigs and was content. He sat in the tree and
blew his bagpipe. Now it happened that another King
was passing through the forest. He soon got lost with
his servants and runners and entourage.
In utter dismay, he wandered about the woods because
they were so immense. All at once he heard beautiful
music in the distance and commanded his runner and
to go and ask what it was. The runner went and
in the tree he found Hans-My-Hedgehog sitting
on the rooster. The runner asked him what he was
doing. “I am guarding my donkeys and pigs;
but what are you doing?” The runner said, that the
King and his companions were lost and could not find
the way back to their kingdom.
Couldn’t Hans-My-Hedgehog show them the way?

Hans-My-Hedgehog climbed down from the tree and
said to the old King, he would show him the way
if he would give him the first thing he encountered
once he was home and standing before his royal castle.
The king said “yes” and promised Hans-My-Hedgehog
that he should have it. After this had happened,
the King arrived happily again at his kingdom.
When he entered the court, the people were jubilant.
Now his only daughter, who was very beautiful,
ran to meet him, embraced him and rejoiced that
her father had returned. She also asked him where
he had been so long and he told her. He had become
lost and almost wouldn’t have returned if he hadn’t
met a creature, half hedgehog, half man, sitting on
a rooster up in a high tree, playing beautiful music.

This creature helped him and showed the way home.
In return he promised to give him the first thing he
encountered once he had returned to his royal castle.
That thing was his daughter. But she promised him,
she would gladly go, because she loved her father so dearly.
But Hans-My-Hedgehog tended his pigs and the pigs
in turn had more pigs and their numbers grew until
the entire forest was filled with them.
Hans-My-Hedgehog no longer wanted to live in the
forest and sent word to his father, they should clear
the stable in the village. He was returning with such
a large herd, that each person could slaughter
whatever he wanted. His father was saddened, when
he heard this news, because he thought Hans-my-Hedgehog
had died a long time ago. But Hans-My-Hedgehog sat on his rooster, drove the pigs back to the village and had them slaughtered: Hu! That was a feast day and it took several hours for the work to be done. Afterward Hans-My-Hedgehog said “Dear father, let me have my rooster shoed once more by the smithy, because I want to ride away and will never return as long as I live.” His father had the rooster shoed and was happy that
Hans-My-Hedgehog wouldn’t return again.

Hans-My-Hedgehog rode away to the first king’s castle.
The old King there had commanded that if a creature
came riding on a rooster and if he had a bagpipe,
then everyone should shoot at him, hew and stab so that
he could not enter the castle. When Hans-My-Hedgehog
came riding, they thrust their bayonets toward him,
but he gave the rooster the spur and flew up over the
gate before the King’s window. There he landed
and called to him, that the King should now deliver
what he had promised. Otherwise, he would take the
lives of the King and his daughter both.

The King spoke soothing words to his daughter.
She should go out to him to save both their lives.
She put on a white dress and her father gave her a wagon
with six horses, wonderful servants, money and property.
She mounted the carriage and next to her were
Hans-My-Hedgehog, his rooster and bagpipe.
They then said goodbye and departed.
But the King thought gleefully to himself, he was now
rid of them and would never see them again.
But things happened a bit differently from what he thought.
When they were a short distance from the city,
Hans-My-Hedgehog bristled his barbs and poked her all
over with his hedgehog skin. Soon her clothes were
ripped to shreds and she was covered in blood.
“That is the reward for your falseness. Now go back,
I don’t want you,” he said. And he chased her home
and she was held in contempt her entire life long.

Hans-My-Hedgehog rode on with his rooster and
bagpipe to the second Kingdom, where the old King
lived, to whom he had also shown the way.
But this King commanded that when Hans-My-Hedgehog
arrived, they should display royal arms and escort him in.
Call out Vive! And bring him into the castle in pomp
and ceremony. When the King’s daughter saw him,
she became terrified because of the oddity of the creature’s shape. But a promise is a promise and it could not be changed. She welcomed Hans-My-Hedgehog and they were married.
He sat at the royal table and she sat by his side.
They ate and drank together side-by-side.

When night fell, they wanted to go to sleep.
She feared his barbs but he said, she should not be fearful
and she would not be harmed. He told the old King,
four men should stand guard outside their chamber door
and make a huge fire. When he entered the chamber
and wanted to go to bed, he would take off his hedgehog
skin and place it next to the bed. The men should then
come quickly and throw the skin into the fire and wait
until it was entirely consumed by the flames.

When the clock struck eleven, Hans-My-Hedgehog
went into the bedchamber, took off his hedgehog skin
and placed it beside the bed. The men came and quickly
threw it into the fire. When the fire had consumed it,
he was redeemed. He lay in bed entirely in the shape of a man. However, his skin had been burned as black as charcoal.
The King sent him his doctor, who washed him and
rubbed him with salve and oil until his complexion was
clear and fresh like a beautiful young man.
When the King’s daughter saw him, she rejoiced.
The next morning they rose in happiness, ate, and drank
and only then was the wedding feast celebrated.
Hans-My-Hedgehog received the kingdom from the old King.

After many years passed, Hans-My-Hedgehog led his wife
back to his father and told him that he was his son.
But the father said, he didn’t have a son.
He only had one a long time ago. But he was a hedgehog,
born with barbs all over his body. He had left him
a long time ago and went out into the world.
The son then revealed himself to his father and
the father rejoiced and returned with him to his Kingdom.

~by Grimm

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