Little Claus and big Claus


Lille Claus og store Claus

In a village there once lived two men who had the same name. They were both called Claus. One of them had four horses, but the other had only one; so to distinguish them, people called the owner of the four horses, "Great Claus," and he who had only one, "Little Claus." Now we shall hear what happened to them, for this is a true story.

Through the whole week, Little Claus was obliged to plough for Great Claus, and lend him his one horse; and once a week, on a Sunday, Great Claus lent him all his four horses. Then how Little Claus would smack his whip over all five horses, they were as good as his own on that one day. The sun shone brightly, and the church bells were ringing merrily as the people passed by, dressed in their best clothes, with their prayer-books under their arms. They were going to hear the clergyman preach. They looked at Little Claus ploughing with his five horses, and he was so proud that he smacked his whip, and said, "Gee-up, my five horses."

"You must not say that," said Big Claus; "for only one of them belongs to you."

But Little Claus soon forgot what he ought to say, and when any one passed he would call out, "Gee-up, my five horses!"

"Now I must beg you not to say that again," said Big Claus; "for if you do, I shall hit your horse on the head, so that he will drop dead on the spot, and there will be an end of him."

"I promise you I will not say it any more," said the other; but as soon as people came by, nodding to him, and wishing him "Good day," he became so pleased, and thought how grand it looked to have five horses ploughing in his field, that he cried out again, "Gee-up, all my horses!"

"I'll gee-up your horses for you," said Big Claus; and seizing a hammer, he struck the one horse of Little Claus on the head, and he fell dead instantly.

"Oh, now I have no horse at all," said Little Claus, weeping. But after a while he took off the dead horse's skin, and hung the hide to dry in the wind. Then he put the dry skin into a bag, and, placing it over his shoulder, went out into the next town to sell the horse's skin.

He had a very long way to go, and had to pass through a dark, gloomy forest. Presently a storm arose, and he lost his way, and before he discovered the right path, evening came on, and it was still a long way to the town, and too far to return home before night.

Near the road stood a large farmhouse. The shutters outside the windows were closed, but lights shone through the crevices at the top. "I might get permission to stay here for the night," thought Little Claus; so he went up to the door and knocked.

The farmer's wife opened the door; but when she heard what he wanted, she told him to go away, as her husband would not allow her to admit strangers.

"Then I shall be obliged to lie out here," said Little Claus to himself, as the farmer's wife shut the door in his face.

Near to the farmhouse stood a large haystack, and between it and the house was a small shed, with a thatched roof.

"I can lie up there," said Little Claus, as he saw the roof; "it will make a famous bed, but I hope the stork will not fly down and bite my legs;" for on it stood a living stork, whose nest was in the roof.

So Little Claus climbed to the roof of the shed, and while he turned himself to get comfortable, he discovered that the wooden shutters, which were closed, did not reach to the tops of the windows of the farmhouse, so that he could see into a room, in which a large table was laid out with wine, roast meat, and a splendid fish. The farmer's wife and the sexton were sitting at the table together; and she filled his glass, and helped him plenteously to fish, which appeared to be his favorite dish.

"If I could only get some, too," thought Little Claus; and then, as he stretched his neck towards the window he spied a large, beautiful pie,– indeed they had a glorious feast before them.

At this moment he heard some one riding down the road, towards the farmhouse. It was the farmer returning home.

He was a good man, but still he had a very strange prejudice,– he could not bear the sight of a sexton. If one appeared before him, he would put himself in a terrible rage. In consequence of this dislike, the sexton had gone to visit the farmer's wife during her husband's absence from home, and the good woman had placed before him the best she had in the house to eat. When she heard the farmer coming she was frightened, and begged the sexton to hide himself in a large empty chest that stood in the room. He did so, for he knew her husband could not endure the sight of a sexton. The woman then quickly put away the wine, and hid all the rest of the nice things in the oven; for if her husband had seen them he would have asked what they were brought out for.

"Oh, dear," sighed Little Claus from the top of the shed, as he saw all the good things disappear.

"Is any one up there?" asked the farmer, looking up and discovering Little Claus. "Why are you lying up there? Come down, and come into the house with me."

So Little Claus came down and told the farmer how he had lost his way and begged for a night's lodging.

"All right," said the farmer; "but we must have something to eat first."

The woman received them both very kindly, laid the cloth on a large table, and placed before them a dish of porridge. The farmer was very hungry, and ate his porridge with a good appetite, but Little Claus could not help thinking of the nice roast meat, fish and pies, which he knew were in the oven.

Under the table, at his feet, lay the sack containing the horse's skin, which he intended to sell at the next town. Now Little Claus did not relish the porridge at all, so he trod with his foot on the sack under the table, and the dry skin squeaked quite loud.

"Hush!" said Little Claus to his sack, at the same time treading upon it again, till it squeaked louder than before.

"Hallo! what have you got in your sack!" asked the farmer.

"Oh, it is a conjuror," said Little Claus; "and he says we need not eat porridge, for he has conjured the oven full of roast meat, fish, and pie."

"Wonderful!" cried the farmer, starting up and opening the oven door; and there lay all the nice things hidden by the farmer's wife, but which he supposed had been conjured there by the wizard under the table. The woman dared not say anything; so she placed the things before them, and they both ate of the fish, the meat, and the pastry. Then Little Claus trod again upon his sack, and it squeaked as before.

"What does he say now?" asked the farmer.

"He says," replied Little Claus, "that there are three bottles of wine for us, standing in the corner, by the oven." So the woman was obliged to bring out the wine also, which she had hidden, and the farmer drank it till he became quite merry. He would have liked such a conjuror as Little Claus carried in his sack.

"Could he conjure up the evil one?" asked the farmer. "I should like to see him now, while I am so merry."

"Oh, yes!" replied Little Claus, "my conjuror can do anything I ask him,– can you not?" he asked, treading at the same time on the sack till it squeaked. "Do you hear? he answers 'Yes,' but he fears that we shall not like to look at him."

"Oh, I am not afraid. What will he be like?"

"Well, he is very much like a sexton."

"Ha!" said the farmer, "then he must be ugly. Do you know I cannot endure the sight of a sexton. However, that doesn't matter, I shall know who it is; so I shall not mind. Now then, I have got up my courage, but don't let him come too near me."

"Stop, I must ask the conjuror," said Little Claus; so he trod on the bag, and stooped his ear down to listen.

"What does he say?"

"He says that you must go and open that large chest which stands in the corner, and you will see the evil one crouching down inside; but you must hold the lid firmly, that he may not slip out."

"Will you come and help me hold it?" said the farmer, going towards the chest in which his wife had hidden the sexton, who now lay inside, very much frightened.

The farmer opened the lid a very little way, and peeped in. "Oh," cried he, springing backwards, "I saw him, and he is exactly like our sexton. How dreadful it is!"

So after that he was obliged to drink again, and they sat and drank till far into the night.

"You must sell your conjuror to me," said the farmer; "ask as much as you like, I will pay it; indeed I would give you directly a whole bushel of gold."

"No, indeed, I cannot," said Little Claus; "only think how much profit I could make out of this conjuror."

"But I should like to have him," said the fanner, still continuing his entreaties.

"Well," said Little Claus at length, "you have been so good as to give me a night's lodging, I will not refuse you; you shall have the conjuror for a bushel of money, but I will have quite full measure."

"So you shall," said the farmer; "but you must take away the chest as well. I would not have it in the house another hour; there is no knowing if he may not be still there."

So Little Claus gave the farmer the sack containing the dried horse's skin, and received in exchange a bushel of money– full measure. The farmer also gave him a wheelbarrow on which to carry away the chest and the gold.

"Farewell," said Little Claus, as he went off with his money and the great chest, in which the sexton lay still concealed.

On one side of the forest was a broad, deep river, the water flowed so rapidly that very few were able to swim against the stream. A new bridge had lately been built across it, and in the middle of this bridge Little Claus stopped, and said, loud enough to be heard by the sexton, "Now what shall I do with this stupid chest; it is as heavy as if it were full of stones: I shall be tired if I roll it any farther, so I may as well throw it in the river; if it swims after me to my house, well and good, and if not, it will not much matter."

So he seized the chest in his hand and lifted it up a little, as if he were going to throw it into the water.

"No, leave it alone," cried the sexton from within the chest; "let me out first."

"Oh," exclaimed Little Claus, pretending to be frightened, "he is in there still, is he? I must throw him into the river, that he may be drowned."

"Oh, no; oh, no," cried the sexton; "I will give you a whole bushel full of money if you will let me go."

"Why, that is another matter," said Little Claus, opening the chest. The sexton crept out, pushed the empty chest into the water, and went to his house, then he measured out a whole bushel full of gold for Little Claus, who had already received one from the farmer, so that now he had a barrow full.

"I have been well paid for my horse," said he to himself when he reached home, entered his own room, and emptied all his money into a heap on the floor. "How vexed Great Claus will be when he finds out how rich I have become all through my one horse; but I shall not tell him exactly how it all happened."

Then he sent a boy to Great Claus to borrow a bushel measure.

"What can he want it for?" thought Great Claus; so he smeared the bottom of the measure with tar, that some of whatever was put into it might stick there and remain. And so it happened; for when the measure returned, three new silver florins were sticking to it.

"What does this mean?" said Great Claus; so he ran off directly to Little Claus, and asked, "Where did you get so much money?"

"Oh, for my horse's skin, I sold it yesterday."

"It was certainly well paid for then," said Great Claus; and he ran home to his house, seized a hatchet, and knocked all his four horses on the head, flayed off their skins, and took them to the town to sell.

"Skins, skins, who'll buy skins?" he cried, as he went through the streets.

All the shoemakers and tanners came running, and asked how much he wanted for them.

"A bushel of money, for each," replied Great Claus.

"Are you mad?" they all cried; "do you think we have money to spend by the bushel?"

"Skins, skins," he cried again, "who'll buy skins?" but to all who inquired the price, his answer was, "a bushel of money."

"He is making fools of us," said they all; then the shoemakers took their straps, and the tanners their leather aprons, and began to beat Great Claus.

"Skins, skins!" they cried, mocking him; "yes, we'll mark your skin for you, till it is black and blue." - "Out of the town with him," said they. And Great Claus was obliged to run as fast as he could, he had never before been so thoroughly beaten.

"Ah," said he, as he came to his house; "Little Claus shall pay me for this; I will beat him to death."

Meanwhile the old grandmother of Little Claus died. She had been cross, unkind, and really spiteful to him; but he was very sorry, and took the dead woman and laid her in his warm bed to see if he could bring her to life again. There he determined that she should lie the whole night, while he seated himself in a chair in a corner of the room as he had often done before.

During the night, as he sat there, the door opened, and in came Great Claus with a hatchet. He knew well where Little Claus's bed stood; so he went right up to it, and struck the old grandmother on the head. thinking it must be Little Claus.

"There," cried he, "now you cannot make a fool of me again;" and then he went home.

"That is a very wicked man," thought Little Claus; "he meant to kill me. It is a good thing for my old grandmother that she was already dead, or he would have taken her life."

Then he dressed his old grandmother in her best clothes, borrowed a horse of his neighbor, and harnessed it to a cart. Then he placed the old woman on the back seat, so that she might not fall out as he drove, and rode away through the wood. By sunrise they reached a large inn, where Little Claus stopped and went to get something to eat.

The landlord was a rich man, and a good man too; but as passionate as if he had been made of pepper and snuff.

"Good morning," said he to Little Claus; "you are come betimes to-day."

"Yes," said Little Claus; "I am going to the town with my old grandmother; she is sitting at the back of the wagon, but I cannot bring her into the room. Will you take her a glass of mead? but you must speak very loud, for she cannot hear well."

"Yes, certainly I will," replied the landlord; and, pouring out a glass of mead, he carried it out to the dead grandmother, who sat upright in the cart.

"Here is a glass of mead from your grandson," said the landlord. The dead woman did not answer a word, but sat quite still.

"Do you not hear?" cried the landlord as loud as he could; "here is a glass of mead from your grandson."

Again and again he bawled it out, but as she did not stir he flew into a passion, and threw the glass of mead in her face; it struck her on the nose, and she fell backwards out of the cart, for she was only seated there, not tied in.

"Hallo!" cried Little Claus, rushing out of the door, and seizing hold of the landlord by the throat; "you have killed my grandmother; see, here is a great hole in her forehead."

"Oh, how unfortunate," said the landlord, wringing his hands. "This all comes of my fiery temper. Dear Little Claus, I will give you a bushel of money; I will bury your grandmother as if she were my own; only keep silent, or else they will cut off my head, and that would be disagreeable."

So it happened that Little Claus received another bushel of money, and the landlord buried his old grandmother as if she had been his own.

When Little Claus reached home again, he immediately sent a boy to Great Claus, requesting him to lend him a bushel measure.

"How is this?" thought Great Claus; "did I not kill him? I must go and see for myself." So he went to Little Claus, and took the bushel measure with him.

"How did you get all this money?" asked Great Claus, staring with wide open eyes at his neighbor's treasures.

"You killed my grandmother instead of me," said Little Claus; "so I have sold her for a bushel of money."

"That is a good price at all events," said Great Claus. So he went home, took a hatchet, and killed his old grandmother with one blow. Then he placed her on a cart, and drove into the town to the apothecary, and asked him if he would buy a dead body.

"Whose is it, and where did you get it?" asked the apothecary.

"It is my grandmother," he replied; "I killed her with a blow, that I might get a bushel of money for her."

"Heaven preserve us!" cried the apothecary, "you are out of your mind. Don't say such things, or you will lose your head." And then he talked to him seriously about the wicked deed he had done, and told him that such a wicked man would surely be punished. Great Claus got so frightened that he rushed out of the surgery, jumped into the cart, whipped up his horses, and drove home quickly. The apothecary and all the people thought him mad, and let him drive where he liked.

"You shall pay for this," said Great Claus, as soon as he got into the highroad, "that you shall, Little Claus." So as soon as he reached home he took the largest sack he could find and went over to Little Claus. "You have played me another trick," said he. "First, I killed all my horses, and then my old grandmother, and it is all your fault; but you shall not make a fool of me any more." So he laid hold of Little Claus round the body, and pushed him into the sack, which he took on his shoulders, saying, "Now I'm going to drown you in the river."

He had a long way to go before he reached the river, and Little Claus was not a very light weight to carry. The road led by the church, and as they passed he could hear the organ playing and the people singing beautifully. Great Claus put down the sack close to the church-door, and thought he might as well go in and hear a psalm before he went any farther. Little Claus could not possibly get out of the sack, and all the people were in church; so in he went.

"Oh dear, oh dear," sighed Little Claus in the sack, as he turned and twisted about; but he found he could not loosen the string with which it was tied. Presently an old cattle driver, with snowy hair, passed by, carrying a large staff in his hand, with which he drove a large herd of cows and oxen before him. They stumbled against the sack in which lay Little Claus, and turned it over.

"Oh dear," sighed Little Claus, "I am very young, yet I am soon going to heaven."

"And I, poor fellow," said the drover, "I who am so old already, cannot get there."

"Open the sack," cried Little Claus; "creep into it instead of me, and you will soon be there."

"With all my heart," replied the drover, opening the sack, from which sprung Little Claus as quickly as possible.

"Will you take care of my cattle?" said the old man, as he crept into the bag. "Yes," said Little Claus, and he tied up the sack, and then walked off with all the cows and oxen.

When Great Claus came out of church, he took up the sack, and placed it on his shoulders. It appeared to have become lighter, for the old drover was not half so heavy as Little Claus. "How light he seems now," said he. "Ah, it is because I have been to a church." So he walked on to the river, which was deep and broad, and threw the sack containing the old drover into the water, believing it to be Little Claus. "There you may lie!" he exclaimed; "you will play me no more tricks now."

Then he turned to go home, but when he came to a place where two roads crossed, there was Little Claus driving the cattle.

"How is this?" said Great Claus. "Did I not drown you just now?"

"Yes," said Little Claus; "you threw me into the river about half an hour ago."

"But wherever did you get all these fine beasts?" asked Great Claus.

"These beasts are sea-cattle," replied Little Claus. "I'll tell you the whole story, and thank you for drowning me; I am above you now, I am really very rich. I was frightened, to be sure, while I lay tied up in the sack, and the wind whistled in my ears when you threw me into the river from the bridge, and I sank to the bottom immediately; but I did not hurt myself, for I fell upon beautifully soft grass which grows down there; and in a moment, the sack opened, and the sweetest little maiden came towards me. She had snow-white robes, and a wreath of green leaves on her wet hair. She took me by the hand, and said, 'So you are come, Little Claus, and here are some cattle for you to begin with. About a mile farther on the road, there is another herd for you.' Then I saw that the river formed a great highway for the people who live in the sea. They were walking and driving here and there from the sea to the land at the, spot where the river terminates. The bed of the river was covered with the loveliest flowers and sweet fresh grass. The fish swam past me as rapidly as the birds do here in the air. How handsome all the people were, and what fine cattle were grazing on the hills and in the valleys!"

"But why did you come up again," said Great Claus, "if it was all so beautiful down there? I should not have done so?"

"Well," said Little Claus, "it was good policy on my part; you heard me say just now that I was told by the sea-maiden to go a mile farther on the road, and I should find a whole herd of cattle. By the road she meant the river, for she could not travel any other way; but I knew the winding of the river, and how it bends, sometimes to the right and sometimes to the left, and it seemed a long way, so I chose a shorter one; and, by coming up to the land, and then driving across the fields back again to the river, I shall save half a mile, and get all my cattle more quickly."

"What a lucky fellow you are!" exclaimed Great Claus. "Do you think I should get any sea-cattle if I went down to the bottom of the river?"

"Yes, I think so," said Little Claus; "but I cannot carry you there in a sack, you are too heavy. However if you will go there first, and then creep into a sack, I will throw you in with the greatest pleasure."

"Thank you," said Great Claus; "but remember, if I do not get any sea-cattle down there I shall come up again and give you a good thrashing."

"No, now, don't be too fierce about it!" said Little Claus, as they walked on towards the river. When they approached it, the cattle, who were very thirsty, saw the stream, and ran down to drink.

"See what a hurry they are in," said Little Claus, "they are longing to get down again,"

"Come, help me, make haste," said Great Claus; "or you'll get beaten." So he crept into a large sack, which had been lying across the back of one of the oxen. "Put in a stone," said Great Claus, "or I may not sink."

"Oh, there's not much fear of that," he replied; still he put a large stone into the bag, and then tied it tightly, and gave it a push. "Plump!" In went Great Claus, and immediately sank to the bottom of the river.

"I'm afraid he will not find any cattle," said Little Claus, and then he drove his own beasts homewards.
Der var i en by to mænd, som begge havde selvsamme navn, begge to hed de Claus, men den ene ejede fire heste og den anden kun en eneste hest; for nu at kunne skille dem fra hinanden, kaldte man ham, som havde fire heste, den store Claus, og ham, som kun havde den ene hest, lille Claus. Nu skal vi høre, hvorledes de to havde det, for det er en virkelig historie!

Hele ugen igennem måtte lille Claus pløje for store Claus, og låne ham sin eneste hest; så hjalp store Claus ham igen med alle sine fire, men kun én gang om ugen, og det var om søndagen. Hussa! hvor smældede lille Claus med sin pisk over alle fem heste, de var jo nu så godt som hans, den ene dag. Solen skinnede så dejligt, og alle klokker i kirketårnet ringede til kirke, folk var så pyntede, og gik med salmebog under armen hen at høre præsten prædike og de så på lille Claus, der pløjede med fem heste, og han var så fornøjet, at han smældede igen med pisken og råbte: "hyp, alle mine heste!"

"Det må du ikke sige," sagde store Claus, "det er jo kun den ene hest, der er din!"

Men da der igen gik nogen forbi til kirke, glemte lille Claus, at han ikke måtte sige det, og råbte da: "hyp, alle mine heste!"

"Ja, nu vil jeg bede dig at lade være!" sagde store Claus, "for siger du det endnu en gang, så slår jeg din hest for panden, så den skal ligge død på stedet, da er det forbi med den!"

"Jeg skal såmænd ikke sige det mere!" sagde lille Claus, men da der kom folk forbi, og de nikkede god dag, blev han så fornøjet, og syntes det så dog så rask ud, at han havde fem heste til at pløje sin mark, og så smældede han med pisken, og råbte: "hyp, alle mine heste!"

"Jeg skal hyppe dine heste!" sagde store Claus, og tog tøjrkøllen og slog lille Claus' eneste hest for panden, så at den faldt om, og var ganske død.

"Ak nu har jeg slet ingen heste mere!" sagde lille Claus og gav sig til at græde. Siden flåede han hesten, tog huden og lod den godt tørre i vinden, puttede den så i en pose, som han tog på nakken, og gik ad byen til for at sælge sin hestehud.

Han havde sådan en lang vej at gå, skulle igennem en stor mørk skov, og nu blev det et frygteligt ondt vejr; han gik ganske vild, og før han kom på den rette vej, var det aften, og alt for langt til at komme til byen eller hjem igen, før det blev nat.

Tæt ved vejen lå der en stor bondegård, skodderne udenfor var skudt for vinduerne, men lyset kunne dog ovenfor skinne ud. Der kan jeg vel få lov at blive natten over, tænkte lille Claus, og gik hen at banke på.

Bondekonen lukkede op, men da hun hørte, hvad han ville, sagde hun, at han skulle gå sin vej, hendes mand var ikke hjemme, og hun tog ikke imod nogen fremmede.

"Nå, så må jeg da ligge udenfor," sagde lille Claus, og bondekonen lukkede døren for ham.

Tæt ved stod en stor høstak, og mellem den og huset var bygget et lille skur med et fladt stråtag.

"Der kan jeg ligge oppe!" sagde lille Claus, da han så taget, "det er jo en dejlig seng, storken flyver vel ikke ned og bider mig i benene." For der stod en levende stork oppe på taget, hvor den havde sin rede.

Nu krøb lille Claus op på skuret, hvor han lå og vendte sig, for at ligge rigtig godt. Træskodderne for vinduerne sluttede ikke oventil, og så kunne han se lige ind i stuen.

Der var dækket et stort bord med vin og steg og sådan en dejlig fisk, bondekonen og degnen sad til bords og ellers slet ingen andre, og hun skænkede for ham og han stak på fisken, for det var noget han holdt af.

"Hvem der dog kunne få noget med!" sagde lille Claus, og rakte hovedet lige hen mod vinduet. Gud, hvilken dejlig kage han kunne se stå derinde! Jo, det var gilde!

Nu hørte han én komme ridende på landevejen hen imod huset, det var bondekonens mand, som kom hjem.

Det var sådan en god mand, men han havde den forunderlige sygdom, at han aldrig kunne tåle at se degne; kom der en degn for hans øjne, blev han ganske rasende. Derfor var det også, at degnen var gået ind for at sige god dag til konen, da han vidste manden ikke var hjemme, og den gode kone satte derfor al den dejligste mad, hun havde, for ham; da de nu hørte manden kom, blev de så forskrækkede, og konen bad degnen krybe ned i en stor tom kiste, der stod henne i krogen; det gjorde han, for han vidste jo, at den stakkels mand ikke kunne tåle at se degne. Konen gemte gesvindt al den dejlige mad og vin inde i sin bageovn, for havde manden fået den at se, så havde han nok spurgt, hvad den skulle betyde.

"Ak ja!" sukkede lille Claus oppe på skuret, da han så al maden blive borte.

"Er der nogen der oppe?" spurgte bondemanden og kiggede op på lille Claus. "Hvorfor ligger du der? kom hellere med ind i stuen!"

Så fortalte lille Claus, hvorledes han havde forvildet sig, og bad om han måtte blive natten over.

"Ja vist!" sagde bondemanden, "men nu skal vi først have lidt at leve af!"

Konen tog meget venlig imod dem begge to, dækkede et langt bord og gav dem et stort fad grød. Bondemanden var sulten og spiste med rigtig appetit, men lille Claus kunne ikke lade være at tænke på den dejlige steg, fisk og kage, han vidste stod inde i ovnen.

Under bordet ved sine fødder havde han lagt sin sæk med hestehuden i, for vi ved jo, at det var den han var gået hjemme fra med, for at få den solgt i byen. Grøden ville slet ikke smage ham, og så trådte han på sin pose, og den tørre hud i sækken knirkede ganske højt.

"Hys!" sagde lille Claus til sin sæk, men trådte i det samme på den igen, så knirkede det meget højere end før.

"Nej! hvad har du i din pose?" spurgte bonden igen.

"Oh, det er en troldmand!" sagde lille Claus, "han siger, at vi skal ikke spise grød, han har hekset hele ovnen fuld af steg og fisk og kage."

"Hvad for noget!" sagde bonden, og lukkede gesvindt ovnen op, hvor han så al den dejlige mad, konen havde gemt, men som han nu troede, at troldmanden i posen havde hekset til dem. Konen turde ikke sige noget, men satte straks maden på bordet, og så spiste de både af fisken og stegen og kagen. Nu trådte lille Claus på sin pose igen, så huden knirkede.

"Hvad siger han nu?" spurgte bonden.

"Han siger," sagde lille Claus, "at han også har hekset tre flasker vin til os, de står henne i krogen ved ovnen!" Nu måtte konen tage vinen frem, hun havde gemt, og bondemanden drak og blev så lystig, sådan en troldmand, som lille Claus havde i posen, ville han da grumme gerne eje.

"Kan han også hekse fanden frem?" spurgte bonden, "ham gad jeg nok se, for nu er jeg lystig!"

"Ja," sagde lille Claus, "min troldmand kan alt, hvad jeg vil forlange. Ikke sandt du?" spurgte han og trådte på posen, så det knirkede. "Kan du høre, han siger jo? Men fanden ser så fæl ud, det er ikke værd at se ham!"

"Oh, jeg er slet ikke bange, hvorledes kan han vel se ud?"

"Ja, han vil vise sig ganske livagtig som en degn!"

"Hu!" sagde bonden, "det var fælt! I må vide, at jeg kan ikke tåle at se degne! men det er nu det samme, jeg ved jo, det er fanden, så finder jeg mig vel bedre i det! Nu har jeg courage! men han må ikke komme mig for nær."

"Nu skal jeg spørge min troldmand," sagde lille Claus, trådte på posen og holdt sit øre til.

"Hvad siger han?"

"Han siger, at I kan gå hen og lukke kisten op, der står i krogen, så vil I se fanden, hvor han kukkelurer, men I må holde på låget at han ikke slipper ud."

"Vil I hjælpe mig med at holde på det!" sagde bonden og gik hen til kisten, hvor konen havde gemt den virkelige degn, der sad og var så bange.

Bonden løftede låget lidt og kiggede ind under det: "hu!" skreg han, og sprang tilbage. "Jo, nu så jeg ham, han så ganske ud, som vores degn! nej, det var forskrækkeligt!"

Det måtte der drikkes på, og så drak de endnu til langt ud på natten.

"Den troldmand må du sælge mig," sagde bonden, "forlang for den alt, hvad du vil! ja, jeg giver dig straks en hel skæppe penge!"

"Nej, det kan jeg ikke!" sagde lille Claus, "tænk dog, hvor meget gavn jeg kan have af denne troldmand!"

"Ak, jeg ville så grumme gerne have den," sagde bonden, og blev ved at bede.

"Ja," sagde da lille Claus til sidst, "da du har været så god at give mig husly i nat, så kan det være det samme, du skal få troldmanden for en skæppe penge, men jeg vil have skæppen topfuld."

"Det skal du få," sagde bonden, "men kisten derhenne må du tage med dig, jeg vil ikke have den en time i huset, man kan ikke vide, om han sidder deri endnu."

Lille Claus gav bonden sin sæk med den tørre hud i, og fik en hel skæppe penge, og det topmålt, for den. Bondemanden forærede ham endogså en stor trillebør til at køre pengene og kisten på.

"Farvel!" sagde lille Claus, og så kørte han med sine penge og den store kiste, hvori endnu degnen sad.

På den anden side af skoven var en stor dyb å, vandet løb så stærkt af sted, at man knap kunne svømme imod strømmen; man havde gjort en stor ny bro derover, lille Claus holdt midt på den, og sagde ganske højt, for at degnen inde i kisten kunne høre det:

"Nej, hvad skal jeg dog med den tossede kiste? den er så tung, som der var sten i! jeg bliver ganske træt af at køre den længere, jeg vil derfor kaste den ud i åen, sejler den så hjem til mig, er det godt, og gør den det ikke, så kan det også være det samme."

Nu tog han i kisten med den ene hånd, og løftede lidt på den, ligesom om han ville styrte den ned i vandet.

"Nej lad være!" råbte degnen inde i kisten, "lad mig bare komme ud!"

"Hu!" sagde lille Claus, og lod som han blev bange. "Han sidder endnu derinde! så må jeg gesvindt have den ud i åen, at han kan drukne!"

"Oh nej, oh nej!" råbte degnen, "jeg vil give dig en hel skæppe penge, vil du lade være!"

"Ja det er en anden sag!" sagde lille Claus, og lukkede kisten op. Degnen krøb straks ud og stødte den tomme kiste ud i vandet, og gik til sit hjem, hvor lille Claus fik en hel skæppe penge, én havde han jo fået forud af bondemanden, nu havde han da hele sin trillebør fuld af penge!

"Se, den hest fik jeg ganske godt betalt!" sagde han til sig selv da han kom hjem i sin egen stue, og væltede alle pengene af i en stor hob midt på gulvet. "Det vil ærgre store Claus, når han får at vide, hvor rig jeg er blevet ved min ene hest, men jeg vil dog ikke lige rent ud sige ham det!"

Nu sendte han en dreng hen til store Claus, for at låne et skæppemål.

"Hvad mon han vil med det!" tænkte store Claus, og smurte tjære under bunden for at der kunne hænge lidt ved af det, som måltes, og det gjorde der da også, thi da han fik skæppen tilbage, hang der tre nye sølv-otte-skillinger ved.

"Hvad for noget?" sagde den store Claus, og løb straks hen til den lille: "Hvor har du fået alle de mange penge fra?"

"Oh det er for min hestehud, jeg solgte den i aftes!"

"Det var såmænd godt betalt!" sagde store Claus løb gesvindt hjem, tog en økse, og slog alle sine fire heste for panden, trak huden af dem, og kørte med disse ind til byen.

"Huder! huder! hvem vil købe huder!" råbte han igennem gaderne.

Alle skomagere og garvere kom løbende, og spurgte, hvad han ville have for dem.

"En skæppe penge for hver," sagde store Claus

"Er du gal?" sagde de alle sammen, "tror du, vi have penge i skæppevis?"

"Huder, huder! hvem vil købe huder," råbte han igen, men alle dem, som spurgte, hvad huderne kostede, svarede han: "en skæppe penge."

"Han vil gøre nar af os," sagde de alle sammen, og så tog skomagerne deres spanderemme og garverne deres skødskind, og begyndte at prygle på store Claus.

"Huder, huder!" vrængede de af ham, "ja vi skal give dig en hud, der skal spytte røde grise! ud af byen med ham!" råbte de, og store Claus måtte skynde sig alt hvad han kunne, så pryglet havde han aldrig været.

"Nå!" sagde han, da han kom hjem, "det skal lille Claus få betalt, jeg vil slå ham ihjel for det!"

Men hjemme hos den lille Claus var den gamle bedstemoder død; hun havde rigtignok været så arrig og slem imod ham, men han var dog ganske bedrøvet, og tog den døde kone og lagde hende i sin varme seng, om hun ikke kunne komme til live igen; der skulle hun ligge hele natten, selv ville han sidde henne i krogen og sove på en stol, det havde han gjort før.

Som han nu sad der om natten, gik døren op og store Claus kom ind med sin økse; han vidste nok, hvor lille Claus' seng var, gik lige hen til den og slog nu den døde bedstemoder for panden, idet han troede, det var lille Claus.

"Se så!" sagde han, "nu skal du ikke narre mig mere!" og så gik han hjem igen.

"Det er dog en slem ond mand!" sagde lille Claus, "der ville han slå mig ihjel, det var dog godt for den gamle mutter, hun allerede var død, ellers havde han taget livet af hende!"

Nu gav han den gamle bedstemoder søndagsklæderne på, lånte en hest af sin nabo, spændte den for vognen og satte den gamle bedstemoder op i det bageste sæde, således at hun ikke kunne falde ud, når han kørte til, og så rullede de af sted igennem skoven; da solen stod op, var de uden for en stor kro, der holdt lille Claus stille, og gik ind for at få noget at leve af.

Kromanden havde så mange, mange penge, han var også en meget god mand, men hidsig, som der var peber og tobak i ham.

"God morgen!" sagde han til lille Claus, "Du er tidlig kommet i stadsklæderne i dag!"

"Ja," sagde lille Claus, "jeg skal til byen med min gamle bedstemoder, hun sidder der ude på vognen, jeg kan ikke få hende ind i stuen. Vil I ikke bringe hende et glas mjød, men I må tale lovlig højt, for hun kan ikke godt høre."

"Jo, det skal jeg!" sagde kromanden, og skænkede et stort glas mjød, som han gik ud med til den døde bedstemoder, der var stillet op i vognen.

"Her er et glas mjød fra hendes søn!" sagde kromanden, men den døde kone sagde da ikke et ord, men sad ganske stille!

"Hører I ikke!" råbte kromanden lige så højt, han kunne, "her er et glas mjød fra hendes søn!"

Endnu engang råbte han det samme og så nok engang, men da hun slet ikke rørte sig ud af stedet, blev han vred og kastede hende glasset lige ind i ansigtet, så mjøden løb hende lige ned over næsen, og hun faldt baglænds om i vognen, for hun var kun stillet op og ikke bundet fast.

"Nåda!" råbte lille Claus, sprang ud af døren og tog kromanden i brystet! "der har du slået min bedstemoder ihjel! Vil du bare se, der er et stort hul i hendes pande!"

"Oh det var en ulykke!" råbte kromanden og slog hænderne sammen! "det kommer altsammen af min hidsighed! Søde lille Claus, jeg vil give dig en hel skæppe penge og lade din bedstemoder begrave, som om det var min egen, men ti bare stille, for ellers hugger de hovedet af mig, og det er så ækelt!"

Så fik lille Claus en hel skæppe penge, og kromanden begravede den gamle bedstemoder, som det kunne være hans egen.

Da nu lille Claus kom hjem igen med de mange penge, sendte han straks sin dreng over til store Claus, for at bede, om han ikke måtte låne et skæppemål.

"Hvad for noget?" sagde store Claus, "har jeg ikke slået ham ihjel! Da må jeg dog selv se efter," og så gik han selv over med skæppen til lille Claus.

"Nej hvor har du dog fået alle de penge fra?" spurgte han, og spilede rigtigt øjnene op ved at se alle dem, der var kommet til.

"Det var min bedstemoder og ikke mig, du slog ihjel!" sagde lille Claus, "hende har jeg nu solgt og fået en skæppe penge for!"

"Det var såmænd godt betalt!" sagde store Claus og skyndte sig hjem, tog en økse og slog straks sin gamle bedstemoder ihjel, lagde hende op i vognen, kørte ind til byen, hvor apotekeren boede, og spurgte, om han ville købe et dødt menneske.

"Hvem er det, og hvor har i fået det fra?" spurgte apotekeren.

"Det er min bedstemoder!" sagde store Claus, "jeg har slået hende ihjel, for en skæppe penge!"

"Gud bevare os!" sagde apotekeren. "I snakker over eder! sig dog ikke sådan noget, for så kan I miste hovedet!" Og nu sagde han ham rigtigt, hvad det var for noget forskrækkeligt ondt, han havde gjort, og hvilket slet menneske han var, og at han burde straffes; store Claus blev da så forskrækket, at han sprang lige fra apoteket ud i vognen, piskede på hestene og fór hjem, men apotekeren og alle folk troede han var gal, og lod ham derfor køre, hvorhen han ville.

"Det skal du få betalt!" sagde store Claus, da han var ude på landevejen! "ja det skal du få betalt, lille Claus!" og nu tog han, så snart han kom hjem, den største sæk, han kunne finde, gik over til lille Claus og sagde, "nu har du narret mig igen! først slog jeg mine heste ihjel, så min gamle bedstemoder! Det er altsammen din skyld, men aldrig skal du narre mig mere," og så tog han lille Claus om livet og puttede ham i sin sæk, tog ham så på nakken og råbte til ham: "Nu går jeg ud og drukner dig!"

Det var et langt stykke at gå, før han kom til åen, og lille Claus var ikke så let at bære. Vejen gik lige tæt forbi kirken, orgelet spillede og folk sang så smukt derinde; så satte store Claus sin sæk med lille Claus i tæt ved kirkedøren, og tænkte, det kunne være ganske godt, at gå ind og høre en salme først, før han gik videre: Lille Claus kunne jo ikke slippe ud og alle folk var i kirken; så gik han derind.

"Ak ja! ak ja!" sukkede lille Claus inde i sækken; han vendte sig og vendte sig, men det var ham ikke muligt at få løst båndet op; i det samme kom der en gammel, gammel kvægdriver, med kridhvidt hår og en stor støttekæp i hånden; han drev en hel drift af køer og tyre foran sig, de løb på sækken, som lille Claus sad i, så den væltede.

"Ak ja!" sukkede lille Claus, "jeg er så ung og skal allerede til himmerig!"

"Og jeg stakkel!" sagde kvægdriveren, "er så gammel og kan ikke komme der endnu!"

"Luk op for sækken!" råbte lille Claus, "kryb i mit sted derind, så kommer du straks til himmerige!"

"Ja det vil jeg grumme gerne," sagde kvægdriveren og løste op for lille Claus, der straks sprang ud.

"Vil du så passe kvæget," sagde den gamle mand, og krøb nu ind i posen, som lille Claus bandt for, og gik så sin vej med alle køerne og tyrene.

Lidt efter kom store Claus ud af kirken, han tog sin sæk igen på nakken, syntes rigtignok at den var bleven så let, for den gamle kvægdriver var ikke mere end halv så tung, som lille Claus! "hvor han er blevet let at bære! ja det er nok fordi jeg har hørt en salme!" så gik han hen til åen, der var dyb og stor, kastede sækken med den gamle kvægdriver ud i vandet og råbte efter ham, for han troede jo, at det var lille Claus: "Se så! nu skal du ikke narre mig mere!"

Så gik han hjemad, men da han kom hen, hvor vejene krydsede, mødte han lille Claus, som drev af sted med alt sit kvæg.

"Hvad for noget!" sagde store Claus, "har jeg ikke druknet dig?"

"Jo!" sagde lille Claus, "Du kastede mig jo ned i åen for en lille halv time siden!"

"Men hvor har du fået alt det dejlige kvæg fra?" spurgte store Claus.

"Det er søkvæg!" sagde lille Claus, "jeg skal fortælle dig den hele historie, og tak skal du også have, fordi du druknede mig, nu er jeg ovenpå, er rigtig rig, kan du tro! Jeg var så bange, da jeg lå inde i sækken, og vinden peb mig om ørene, da du kastede mig ned fra broen i det kolde vand. Jeg sank ligestraks til bunds, men jeg stødte mig ikke, for dernede vokser det dejligste bløde græs. Det faldt jeg på, og straks blev posen lukket op, og den dejligste jomfru, i kridhvide klæder og med en grøn krans om det våde hår, tog mig i hånden, og sagde: 'Er du der lille Claus? der har du for det første noget kvæg! en mil oppe på vejen står endnu en hel drift, som jeg vil forære dig!' Nu så jeg, at åen var en stor landevej for havfolkene. Nede på bunden gik og kørte de lige ud fra søen og helt ind i landet, til hvor åen ender. Der var så dejligt med blomster, og det friskeste græs, og fiskene, som svømmede i vandet, de smuttede mig om ørene, ligesom her fuglene i luften. Hvor der var pæne folk og hvor der var kvæg, det gik på grøfter og gærder!"

"Men hvorfor er du straks gået herop til os igen," spurgte store Claus. "Det havde jeg ikke gjort, når der var så nydeligt dernede!"

"Jo," sagde lille Claus, "det er just polisk gjort af mig! Du hører jo nok, at jeg siger dig: Havpigen sagde, at en mil oppe på vejen, og ved vejen mener hun jo åen, for andet sted kan hun ikke komme, står endnu en hel drift kvæg til mig. Men jeg ved hvor åen går i bugter, snart her, snart der, det er jo en hel omvej, nej så gør man det kortere af, når man kan det, at komme her op på land og drive tværs over til åen igen, derved sparer jeg jo næsten en halv mil og kommer gesvindtere til mit havkvæg!"

"Oh du er en lykkelig mand!" sagde store Claus, "tror du, jeg også får havkvæg, når jeg kommer ned på bunden af åen!"

"Jo, det skulle jeg tænke," sagde lille Claus, "men jeg kan ikke bære dig i sækken hen til åen, du er mig for tung, vil du selv gå der hen og så krybe i posen, så skal jeg med største fornøjelse kaste dig ud."

"Tak skal du have!" sagde store Claus, "men får jeg ikke havkvæg, når jeg kommer ned, så skal jeg prygle dig, kan du tro!"

"Oh nej! vær ikke så slem!" og så gik de hen til åen. Da kvæget, som var tørstig, så vandet, løb det alt hvad det kunne, for at komme ned at drikke.

"Se, hvor det skynder sig!" sagde lille Claus; "det længes efter at komme ned på bunden igen!"

"Ja hjælp nu først mig!" sagde store Claus, "for ellers får du prygl!" og så krøb han i den store sæk, som havde ligget tværs over ryggen på en af tyrene. "Læg en sten i, for ellers er jeg bange jeg ikke synker," sagde store Claus.

"Det går nok!" sagde lille Claus, men lagde dog en stor sten i sækken, bandt båndet fast til, og stødte så til den: Plump! der lå store Claus ude i åen og sank straks ned til bunds.

"Jeg er bange, han ikke finder kvæget!" sagde lille Claus, og drev så hjem med hvad han havde.

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