About a Hermit and Three Rascals
Once upon a time, there lived a hermit and he went and bought himself a she-goat to keep her in his hut and enjoy her milk. Three thieves witnessed this from afar and discussed with each other how they could bilk him off the she-goat without succumbing to violence. Soon they spread out so that one after the other would meet the hermit.
The first who came to him, offered him the time and said sneeringly: “Forest-brother! Certainly you worry that thieves will steal your treasures since you bought yourself a dog. What do you want to do with this dog?”
“It’s not a dog, it’s a she-goat,” the hermit said calmly. But his opponent strongly claimed it was a dog. Then the second rascal joined them, greeted them and also asked what the pious forest-brother wanted with the dog. “A holy man,” he said, “need not be concerned with such tainted animals. A dog’s bark disturbs prayer and meditation and it is nowhere written that the holy apostles had dogs with them!”
Now the third rascal joined them while the other three were still arguing about the alleged dog. He said: “Ah! You have a dog trade here! What do you want for the mutt? I’m just searching for such a beast.”
Now the hermit truly believed that his she-goat was a dog and the one who had sold it to him, had tricked him. And so in his anger he threw down the she-goat and hurried off. But the three rascals picked up the she-goat, carried her home, butchered and roasted her and then enjoyed the roast very much while they were still laughing over the hermit’s oafishness.
Copyright for translation: TaleTellerin
Copyright for image: portrait of Ludwig Bechstein by Carl Mayer, 1852
I have to say I kind of get why is not widely read anymore – not such awesome literary talents, though I’m sure my translation probably doesn’t help. He just doesn’t know how to make a story flow, it seems to me. Worth a look, though.
Because what I find really interesting about this folktale is that it is actually embedded in a larger animal tale. The ravens’ king is being told this fable by his advisor to caution him against the eagles. This way of embedding different genres of folklore into each other – it’s only really familiar to me from the Indian tradition. I shall have a closer look to find where else one can find such a thing. 🙂