THE LITTLE GREY MAN.
He placed his hand on the youngest to pull her back, but the moment he touched her, he also became fixed, and was obliged to follow and run like the rest. In a few minutes the clerk met them, and when he saw the parson running after the girls, he wondered greatly, and cried out, " Halloa, master parson, where are you running in such haste ? Have you forgotten that there is a christening to-day?" And as the procession did not stop, he ran after it, and seized the parson's gown.
In a moment he found that his hand was fixed, and he also had to run like the rest. And now there were five trotting along, one behind the other. Presently two peasants came by with their sickles from the field. The parson called out to them, and begged them to come and release him and the clerk. The men hastened over and made the attempt, but with the same result. They were stuck fast as the others, and the simpleton with his golden goose travelled on quite unconcerned about the seven who were obliged to trot along after him.
After a while they came to a city in which reigned a king who had a daughter of such a melancholy disposition that no one could ever make her laugh. Therefore he issued a decree that whoever would make the princess laugh should have her in marriage.
Now, when the simple youth heard this, he was determined to try what effect the appearance of himself and his train would have on the princess. So he ran before her, and the whole seven trotted after him. The sight was so ridiculous that the moment the princess saw it she burst into a violent fit of laughter, and they thought she would never leave off.
After this, the youth went to the king, and demanded his daughter in marriage, according to the king's decree; but his majesty did not quite like to have the young man for a son-in-law, so he said that before he could consent to the marriage, the youth must bring him a man who could drink all the wine in the king's cellar.
So the simpleton released his prisoners from the golden goose, locked it away carefully, and went into the forest, for he thought, "If any one can help me, it is the little grey man." When he arrived at the spot where he had cut down the tree, there stood a man with a very miserable face.
The youth asked him why he looked so sorrowful.