Clever Elsie

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 Clever Elsie
      There was once a man who had a daughter who was called Clever Elsie. And
 when she had grown up her father said, "We will get her married." "Yes," said
 the mother, "if only any one would come who would have her." At length a man
 came from a distance and wooed her, who was called Hans; but he stipulated
 that Clever Elsie should be really wise. "Oh," said the father, "she's sharp
 enough;" and the mother said, "Oh, she can see the wind coming up the street,
 and hear the flies coughing." "Well," said Hans, "if she is not really wise, I
 won't have her." When they were sitting at dinner and had eaten, the mother
 said, "Elsie, go into the cellar and fetch some beer." Then Clever Elsie took
 the pitcher from the wall, went into the cellar, and tapped the lid briskly as
 she went that the time might not appear long. When she was below she fetched
 herself a chair, and set it before the barrel so that she had no need to
 stoop, and did not hurt her back or do herself any unexpected injury. Then she
 placed the can before her, and turned the tap, and while the beer was running
 she would not let her eyes be idle, but looked up at the wall, and after much
 peering here and there, saw a pick-axe exactly above her, which the masons
 had accidentally left there.
      Then Clever Elsie began to weep and said, "If I get Hans, and we have a
 child, and he grows big, and we send him into the cellar here to draw beer,
 then the pick-axe will fall on his head and kill him." Then she sat and wept
 and screamed with all the strength of her body, over the misfortune which lay
 before her. Those upstairs waited for the drink, but Clever Elsie still did
 not come. Then the woman said to the servant, "Just go down into the cellar
 and see where Elsie is." The maid went and found her sitting in front of the
 barrel, screaming loudly. "Elsie, why weepest thou?" asked the maid. "Ah," she
 answered, "have I not reason to weep? If I get Hans, and we have a child, and
 he grows big, and has to draw beer here, the pick-axe will perhaps fall on
 his head, and kill him." Then said the maid, "What a clever Elsie we have!"
 and sat down beside her and began loudly to weep over the misfortune. After a
 while, as the maid did not come back, and those upstairs were thirsty for the
 beer, the man said to the boy, "Just go down into the cellar and see where
 Elsie and the girl are." The boy went down, and there sat Clever Elsie and the
 girl both weeping together. Then he asked, "Why are ye weeping?" "Ah," said
 Elsie, "have I not reason to weep? If I get Hans, and we have a child, and he
 grows big, and has to draw beer here, the pick-axe will fall on his head and
 kill him." Then said the boy, "What a clever Elsie we have!" and sat down by
 her, and likewise began to howl loudly. Upstairs they waited for the boy, but
 as he still did not return, the man said to the woman, "Just go down into the
 cellar and see where Elsie is!" The woman went down, and found all three in
 the midst of their lamentations, and inquired what was the cause; then Elsie
 told her also that her future child was to be killed by the pick-axe, when
 it grew big and had to draw beer, and the pick-axe fell down. Then said the
 mother likewise, "What a clever Elsie we have!" and sat down and wept with
 them. The man upstairs waited a short time, but as his wife did not come back
 and his thirst grew ever greater, he said, "I must go into the cellar myself
 and see where Elsie is." But when he got into the cellar, and they were all
 sitting together crying, and he heard the reason, and that Elsie's child was
 the cause, and that Elsie might perhaps bring one into the world some day, and
 that it might be killed by the pick-axe, if it should happen to be sitting
 beneath it, drawing beer just as the very time when it fell down, he cried,
 "Oh, what a clever Elsie!" and sat down, and likewise wept with them. The
 bridegroom stayed upstairs alone for a long time; then as no one would come
 back he thought, "They must be waiting for me below; I too must go there and
 see what they are about." When he got down, five of them were sitting
 screaming and lamenting quite piteously, each out-doing the other. "What
 misfortune has happened then?" asked he. "Ah, dear Hans," said Elsie, "if we
 marry each other and have a child, and he is big, and we perhaps send him here
 to draw something to drink, then the pick-axe which has been left up there
 might dash his brains out if it were to fall down, so have we not reason to
 weep?" "Come," said Hans, "more understanding than this is not needed for my
 household, as thou art such a clever Elsie, I will have thee," and he seized
 her hand, took her upstairs with him, and married her.
      After Hans had had her some time, he said, "Wife, I am going out to work
 and earn some money for us; go into the field and cut the corn that we may
 have some bread." "Yes, dear Hans, I will do that." After Hans had gone away,
 she cooked herself some good broth and took it into the field with her. When
 she came to the field she said to herself, "What shall I do; shall I shear
 first, or shall I eat first? Oh, I will eat first." The she emptied her basin
 of broth, and when she was fully satisfied, she once more said, "What shall I
 do? Shall I shear first, or shall I sleep first? I will sleep first." Then she
 lay down among the corn and fell asleep. Hans had been at home for a long
 time, but Elsie did not come; then said he, "What a clever Elsie I have; she
 is so industrious that she does not even come home to eat." As, however, she
 still stayed away, and it was evening, Hans went out to see what she had cut,
 but nothing was cut, and she was lying among the corn asleep. Then Hans
 hastened home and brought a fowler's net with little bells and hung it round
 about her, and she still went on sleeping. Then he ran home, shut the house -
 door, and sat down in his chair and worked. At length, when it was quite dark,
 Clever Elsie awoke and when she got up there was a jingling all round about
 her, and the bells rang at each step which she took. Then she was alarmed, and
 became uncertain whether she really was Clever Elsie or not, and said, "Is it
 I, or is it not I?" But she knew not what answer to make to this, and stood
 for a time in doubt; at length she thought, "I will go home and ask if it be
 I, or if it be not I, they will be sure to know." She ran to the door of her
 own house, but it was shut; then she knocked at the window and cried, "Hans,
 is Elsie within?" "Yes," answered Hans, "she is within." Hereupon she was
 terrified, and said, "Ah, heavens! Then it is not I," and went to another
 door; but when the people heard the jingling of the bells they would not open
 it, and she could get in nowhere. Then she ran out of the village, and no one
 has seen her since.