The Spirit In The Bottle

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 The Spirit In The Bottle
      There was once a poor woodcutter who toiled from early morning till late
 night. When at last he had laid by some money he said to his boy, "You are my
 only child, I will spend the money which I have earned with the sweat of my
 brow on your education; if you learn some honest trade you can support me in
 my old age, when my limbs have grown stiff and I am obliged to stay at home."
 Then the boy went to a High School and learned diligently so that his masters
 praised him, and he remained there a long time. When he had worked through two
 classes, but was still not yet perfect in everything, the little pittance
 which the father had earned was all spent, and the boy was obliged to return
 home to him. "Ah," said the father, sorrowfully, "I can give you no more, and
 in these hard times I cannot earn a farthing more than will suffice for our
 daily bread." "Dear father," said the son, "don't trouble yourself about it;
 if it is God's will it will turn to my advantage. I shall soon accustom myself
 to it." When the father wanted to go into the forest to earn money by helping
 to pile and stack wood and also to chop it, the son said, "I will go with you
 and help you." "Nay, my son," said the father, "that would be hard for you;
 you are not accustomed to rough work, and will not be able to bear it, besides
 I have only one axe and no money left wherewith to buy another." "Just go to
 the neighbour," answered the son, "he will lend you his axe until I have
 earned one for myself." The father then borrowed an axe of the neighbour, and
 next morning at break of day they went into the forest together. The son
 helped his father and was quite merry and brisk about it. But when the sun was
 right over their heads, the father said, "We will rest, and have our dinner,
 and then we shall work as well again." The son took his bread in his hands,
 and said, "Just you rest, father, I am not tired; I will walk up and down a
 little in the forest, and look for birds' nests." "Oh, you fool," said the
 father, "why should you want to run about there? Afterwards you will be tired,
 and no longer able to raise your arm; stay here, and sit down beside me." The
 son, however, went into the forest, ate his bread, was very merry, peered in
 among the green branches to see if he could discover a bird's nest anywhere.
 So he went up and down to see if he could find a bird's nest, until at last he
 came to a great dangerous-looking oak, which certainly was already many
 hundred years old, and which five men could not have spanned. He stood still
 and looked at it, and thought, "Many a bird must have built its nest in that."
 Then all at once it seemed to him that he heard a voice. He listened and
 became aware that some one was crying in a very smothered voice, "Let me out,
 let me out!" He looked around, but could discover nothing; nevertheless, he
 fancied that the voice came out of the ground. Then he cried, "Where art
 thou?" The voice answered, "I am down here amongst the roots of the oak -
 tree. Let me out! Let me out!" The scholar began to loosen the earth under the
 tree, and search among the roots, until at last he found a glass bottle in a
 little hollow. He lifted it up and held it against the light, and then saw a
 creature shaped like a frog springing up and down in it. "Let me out! Let me
 out!" it cried anew, and the scholar thinking no evil, drew the cork out of
 the bottle. Immediately a spirit ascended from it, and began to grow, and grew
 so fast that in a very few moments he stood before the scholar, a terrible
 fellow as big as half the tree by which he was standing. "Knowest thou," he
 cried in an awful voice, "what thy wages are for having let me out?" "No,"
 replied the scholar fearlessly, "how should I know that?" "Then I will tell
 thee," cried the spirit; "I must strangle thee for it." "Thou shouldst have
 told me that sooner," said the scholar, "for I should then have left thee shut
 up, but my head shall stand fast for all thou canst do; more persons than one
 must be consulted about that." "More persons here, more persons there," said
 the spirit. "Thou shalt have the wages thou hast earned. Dost thou think that
 I was shut up there for such a long time as a favour? No, it was a punishment
 for me. I am the mighty Mercurius. Who so releases me, him must I strangle."
 "Softly," answered the scholar, "not so fast. I must first know that thou wert
 really shut up in that little bottle, and that thou art the right spirit. If
 indeed thou canst get in again, I will believe, and then thou mayst do as thou
 wilt with me. The spirit said haughtily, "That is a very trifling feat," drew
 himself together, and made himself as small and slender as he had been at
 first, so that he crept through the same opening, and right through the neck
 of the bottle in again. Scarcely was he within than the scholar thrust the
 cork he had drawn back into the bottle, and threw it among the roots of the
 oak into its old place, and the spirit was betrayed.
      And now the scholar was about to return to his father, but the spirit
 cried very piteously. "Ah, do let me out! Ah, do let me out!" "No," answered
 the scholar, "not a second time! He who has once tried to take my life shall
 not be set free by me, now that I have caught him again." "If thou wilt set me
 free," said the spirit, "I will give thee so much that thou wilt have plenty
 all the days of thy life." "No," answered the scholar, "thou wouldst cheat me
 as thou didst the first time." "Thou art playing away thy own good luck," said
 the spirit; "I will do thee no harm, but will reward thee richly." The scholar
 thought, "I will venture it, perhaps he will keep his word, and anyhow he
 shall not get the better of me." Then he took out the cork, and the spirit
 rose up from the bottle as he had done before, stretched himself out and
 became as big as a giant. "Now thou shalt have thy reward," said he, and
 handed the scholar a little bag just like a plaster, and said, "If thou
 spreadest one end of this over a wound it will heal, and if thou rubbest steel
 or iron with the other end it will be changed into silver." "I must just try
 that," said the scholar, and went to a tree, tore off the bark with his axe,
 and rubbed it with one end of the plaster. It immediately closed together and
 was healed. "Now, it is all right," he said to the spirit, "and we can part."
 The spirit thanked him for his release, and the scholar thanked the spirit for
 his present, and went back to his father.
      "Where hast thou been racing about?" said the father; "why hast thou
 forgotten thy work? I said at once that thou wouldst never get on with
 anything." "Be easy, father, I will make it up." "Make it up indeed," said the
 father angrily, "there's no art in that." "Take care, father, I will soon hew
 that tree there, so that it will split." Then he took his plaster, rubbed the
 axe with it, and dealt a mighty blow, but as the iron had changed into silver,
 the edge turned: "Hollo, father, just look what a bad axe you've given me, it
 has become quite crooked." The father was shocked and said, "Ah, what hast
 thou done? now I shall have to pay for that, and have not the wherewithal, and
 that is all the good I have got by thy work." "Don't get angry," said the son,
 "I will soon pay for the axe." "Oh, thou blockhead," cried the father,
 "wherewith wilt thou pay for it? Thou hast nothing but what I give thee. These
 are students' tricks that are sticking in thy head, but thou hast no idea of
 wood-cutting." After a while the scholar said, "Father, I can really work no
 more, we had better take a holiday." "Eh, what!" answered he. "Dost thou think
 I will sit with my hands lying in my lap like thee? I must go on working, but
 thou mayst take thyself off home." "Father, I am here in this wood for the
 first time, I don't know my way alone. Do go with me." As his anger had now
 abated, the father at last let himself be persuaded and went home with him.
 Then he said to the son, "Go and sell thy damaged axe, and see what thou canst
 get for it, and I must earn the difference, in order to pay the neighbour."
 The son took the axe, and carried it into town to a goldsmith, who tested it,
 laid it in the scales, and said, "It is worth four hundred thalers, I have not
 so much as that by me." The son said, "Give me what you have, I will lend you
 the rest." The goldsmith gave him three hundred thalers, and remained a
 hundred in his debt. The son thereupon went home and said, "Father, I have got
 the money, go and ask the neighbour what he wants for the axe." "I know that
 already," answered the old man, "one thaler six groschen." "Then give him two
 thalers, twelve groschen, that is double and enough; see, I have money in
 plenty," and he gave the father a hundred thalers, and said, "You shall never
 know want, live as comfortably as you like." "Good heavens!" said the father,
 "how hast thou come by these riches?" The scholar then told how all had come
 to pass, and how he, trusting in his luck, had made such a good hit. But with
 the money that was left, he went back to the High School and went on learning
 more, and as he could heal all wounds with his plaster, he became the most
 famous doctor in the whole world.