A study and Critique of the greatest Fairy Tales and Folklore in the world.

Complete Grimm's Fairy Tales
Fairy Tales Home


Hans the Hedgehog
Grimms Fairy Tales and German Folklore

	Hans the Hedgehog

There was once a country man who had money and land in plenty, but
however rich he was, his happiness was still lacking in one respect -
he had no children. Often when he went into the town with the other
peasants they mocked him and asked why he had no children. At last
he became angry, and when he got home he said, "I will have a child,
even if it be a hedgehog." Then his wife had a child that was a
hedgehog in the upper part of his body and a boy in the lower, and
when she saw the child, she was terrified, and said, "See, there you
have brought ill-luck on us." Then said the man, "What can be done
now? The boy must be christened, but we shall not be able to get a
godfather for him." The woman said, "And we cannot call him anything
else but Hans the hedgehog."

When he was christened, the parson said, "He cannot go into any
ordinary bed because of his spikes." So a little straw was put behind
the stove, and Hans the hedgehog was laid on it. His mother could
not suckle him, for he would have pricked her with his quills. So he
lay there behind the stove for eight years, and his father was tired
of him and thought, if he would but die. He did not die, however,
but remained lying there.

Now it happened that there was a fair in the town, and the peasant
was about to go to it, and asked his wife what he should bring back
with him for her. "A little meat and a couple of white rolls which
are wanted for the house," said she. Then he asked the servant, and
she wanted a pair of slippers and some stockings with clocks. At last
he said also, "And what will you have, Hans my hedgehog?" "Dear
father," he said, "do bring me bagpipes." When, therefore, the father
came home again, he gave his wife what he had bought for her, meat
and white rolls, and then he gave the maid the slippers, and the
stockings with clocks, and, lastly, he went behind the stove, and
gave Hans the hedgehog the bagpipes.

And when Hans the hedgehog had the bagpipes, he said, "Dear father,
do go to the forge and get the cock shod, and then I will ride away,
and never come back again." At this, the father was delighted to
think that he was going to get rid of him, and had the cock shod for
him, and when it was done, Hans the hedgehog got on it, and rode
away, but took swine and asses with him which he intended to keep in
the forest. When they got there he made the cock fly on to a high
tree with him, and there he sat for many a long year, and watched his
asses and swine until the herd was quite large, and his father knew
nothing about him. And while he was sitting in the tree, he played
his bagpipes, and made music which was very beautiful.

Once a king came traveling by who had lost his way and heard the
music. He was astonished at it, and sent his servant forth to look
all round and see from whence this music came. He spied about, but
saw nothing but a little animal sitting up aloft on the tree, which
looked like a cock with a hedgehog on it which made this music. Then
the king told the servant he was to ask why he sat there, and if he
knew the road which led to his kingdom. So Hans the hedgehog
descended from the tree, and said he would show the way if the king
would write a bond and promise him whatever he first met in the royal
courtyard as soon as he arrived at home. Then the king thought, I
can easily do that, Hans the hedgehog understands nothing, and I can
write what I like. So the king took pen and ink and wrote something,
and when he had done it, Hans the hedgehog showed him the way, and he
got safely home. But his daughter, when she saw him from afar, was
so overjoyed that she ran to meet him, and kissed him. Then he
remembered Hans the hedgehog, and told her what had happened, and
that he had been forced to promise whatsoever first met him when he
got home, to a very strange animal which sat on a cock as if it were
a horse, and made beautiful music, but that instead of writing that
he should have what he wanted, he had written that he should not have
it. Thereupon the princess was glad, and said he had done well, for
she never would have gone away with the hedgehog.

Hans the hedgehog, however, looked after his asses and pigs, and was
always merry and sat on the tree and played his bagpipes. Now it came
to pass that another king came journeying by with his attendants and
runner, and he also had lost his way, and did not know how to get
home again because the forest was so large. He likewise heard the
beautiful music from a distance, and asked his runner what that could
be, and told him to go and see. Then the runner went under the tree,
and saw the cock sitting at the top of it, and Hans the hedgehog on
the cock. The runner asked him what he was doing up there. I am
keeping my asses and my pigs, but what is your desire. The messenger
said that they had lost their way, and could not get back into their
own kingdom, and asked if he would not show them the way. Then Hans
the hedgehog descended the tree with the cock, and told the aged king
that he would show him the way, if he would give him for his own
whatsoever first met him in front of his royal palace. The king
said, "Yes," and wrote a promise to Hans the hedgehog that he should
have this. That done, Hans rode on before him on the cock, and
pointed out the way, and the king reached his kingdom again in
safety. When he got to the courtyard, there were great rejoicings.
Now he had an only daughter who was very beautiful, she ran to meet
him, threw her arms round his neck, and was delighted to have her old
father back again. She asked him where in the world he had been so
long. So he told her how he had lost his way, and had very nearly
not come back at all, but that as he was traveling through a great
forest, a creature, half hedgehog, half man, who was sitting astride
a cock in a high tree, and making music, had shown him the way and
helped him to get out, but that in return he had promised him
whatsoever first met him in the royal court-yard, and how that was
she herself, which made him unhappy now. But on this she promised
that, for love of her father, she would willingly go with this Hans
if he came.

Hans the hedgehog, however, took care of his pigs, and the pigs
became more pigs until there were so many in number that the whole
forest was filled with them. Then Hans the hedgehog resolved not to
live in the forest any longer, and sent word to his father to have
every stye in the village emptied, for he was coming with such a
great herd that all might kill who wished to do so. When his father
heard that, he was troubled, for he thought Hans the hedgehog had
died long ago. Hans the hedgehog, however, seated himself on the
cock, and drove the pigs before him into the village, and ordered the
slaughter to begin.

Ha. - Then there was a butchery and a chopping that might have been
heard two miles off. After this Hans the hedgehog said, "Father, let
me have the cock shod once more at the forge, and then I will ride
away and never come back as long as I live." Then the father had the
cock shod once more, and was pleased that Hans the hedgehog would
never return again.

Hans the hedgehog rode away to the first kingdom. There the king had
commanded that whosoever came mounted on a cock and had bagpipes with
him should be shot at, cut down, or stabbed by everyone, so that he
might not enter the palace. When, therefore, Hans the hedgehog came
riding thither, they all pressed forward against him with their
pikes, but he spurred the cock and it flew up over the gate in front
of the king's window and lighted there, and Hans cried that the king
must give him what he had promised, or he would take both his life
and his daughter's. Then the king began to speak to his daughter,
and to beg her to go away with Hans in order to save her own life and
her father's. So she dressed herself in white, and her father gave
her a carriage with six horses and magnificent attendants together
with gold and possessions. She seated herself in the carriage, and
placed Hans the hedgehog beside her with the cock and the bagpipes,
and then they took leave and drove away, and the king thought he
should never see her again. But he was deceived in his expectation
for when they were at a short distance from the town, Hans the
hedgehog took her pretty clothes off, and pierced her with his
hedgehog's spikes until she bled all over. "That is the reward of
your falseness," said he. "Go your way, I will not have you," and on
that he chased her home again, and she was disgraced for the rest of
her life.

Hans the hedgehog, however, rode on further on the cock, with his
bagpipes, to the dominions of the second king to whom he had shown
the way. But this one had arranged that if any one resembling Hans
the hedgehog should come, they were to present arms, give him safe
conduct, cry long life to him, and lead him to the royal palace.

But when the king's daughter saw him she was terrified, for he really
looked too strange. Then she remembered that she could not change
her mind, for she had given her promise to her father. So Hans the
hedgehog was welcomed by her, and married to her, and had to go with
her to the royal table, and she seated herself by his side, and they
ate and drank. When the evening came and they wanted to go to sleep,
she was afraid of his quills, but he told her she was not to fear,
for no harm would befall her, and he told the old king that he was to
appoint four men to watch by the door of the chamber, and light a
great fire, and when he entered the room and was about to get into
bed, he would creep out of his hedgehog's skin and leave it lying
there by the bedside, and that the men were to run nimbly to it,
throw it in the fire, and stay by it until it was consumed.

When the clock struck eleven, he went into the chamber, stripped off
the hedgehog's skin, and left it lying by the bed. Then came the men
and fetched it swiftly, and threw it in the fire, and when the fire
had consumed it, he was saved, and lay there in bed in human form,
but he was coal-black as if he had been burnt. The king sent for his
physician who washed him with precious salves, and anointed him, and
he became white, and was a handsome young man. When the king's
daughter saw that she was glad, and the next morning they arose
joyfully, ate and drank, and then the marriage was properly
solemnized, and Hans the hedgehog received the kingdom from the aged

When several years had passed he went with his wife to his father,
and said that he was his son. The father, however, declared he had
no son - he had never had but one, and he had been born like a
hedgehog with spikes, and had gone forth into the world. Then Hans
made himself known, and the old father rejoiced and went with him to
his kingdom.
My tale is done,
and away it has run
to little augusta's house.