The Brothers Grimm – Brother Lustig
There was one upon a time a great war, and when it came to an end,
many soldiers were discharged. Then brother lustig also received his
dismissal, and with it nothing but a small loaf of ammunition-bread,
and four kreuzers in money, with which he departed.
St. Peter, however, had placed himself in his way in the form of a
poor beggar, and when brother lustig came up, he begged alms of him.
Brother lustig replied, dear beggar-man, what am I to give you. I
have been a soldier, and have received my dismissal, and have nothing
but this little loaf of ammunition-bread, and four kreuzers of money.
When that is gone, I shall have to beg as well as you. Still I will
give you something.
Thereupon he divided the loaf into four parts, and gave the apostle
one of them, and a kreuzer likewise. St. Peter thanked him, went
onwards, and threw himself again in the soldier's way as a beggar,
but in another shape, and when he came up begged a gift of him as
Brother lustig spoke as he had done before, and again gave him a
quarter of the loaf and one kreuzer. St. Peter thanked him, and went
onwards, but for the third time placed himself in another shape as a
beggar in the road, and spoke to brother lustig. Brother lustig gave
him also the third quarter of bread and the third kreuzer. St. Peter
thanked him, and brother lustig went onwards, and had but a quarter
of the loaf, and one kreuzer.
With that he went into an inn, ate the bread, and ordered one
kreuzer's worth of beer. When he had had it, he journeyed onwards,
and then St. Peter, who had assumed the appearance of a discharged
soldier, met and spoke to him thus. Good day, comrade, can you not
give me a bit of bread, and a kreuzer to get a drink. Where am I to
procure it, answered brother lustig. I have been discharged, and I
got nothing but a loaf of ammunition-bread and four kreuzers in
money. I met three beggars on the road, and I gave each of them a
quarter of my bread, and one kreuzer. The last quarter I ate in the
inn, and had a drink with the last kreuzer. Now my pockets are
empty, and if you also have nothing we can go a-begging together.
No, answered St. Peter, we need not quite do that. I know a little
about medicine, and I will soon earn as much as I require by that.
Indeed, said brother lustig, I know nothing of that, so I must go and
beg alone. Just come with me, said St. Peter, and if I earn
anything, you shall have half of it.
All right, said brother lustig, and they went away together. Then
they came to a peasant's house inside which they heard loud
lamentations and cries. So they went in, and there the husband was
lying sick unto death, and very near his end, and his wife was crying
and weeping quite loudly. Stop that howling and crying, said St.
Peter, I will make the man well again, and he took a salve out of his
pocket, and healed the sick man in a moment, so that he could get up,
and was in perfect health.
In great delight the man and his wife said, how can we reward you.
What shall we give you. But St. Peter would take nothing, and the
more the peasant folks offered him, the more he refused. Brother
lustig, however, nudged St. Peter, and said, take something. Sure
enough we are in need of it.
At length the woman brought a lamb and said to St. Peter that he
really must take that, but he would not. Then brother lustig gave him
a poke in the side, and said, do take it, you stupid fool. We are in
great want of it. Then St. Peter said at last, well, I will take the
lamb, but I won't carry it. If you insist on having it, you must
carry it. That is nothing, said brother lustig. I will easily carry
it, and took it on his shoulder.
Then they departed and came to a wood, but brother lustig had begun
to feel the lamb heavy, and he was hungry, so he said to St. Peter,
look, that's a good place, we might cook the lamb there, and eat it.
As you like, answered St. Peter, but I can't have anything to do with
the cooking. If you will cook, there is a kettle for you, and in the
meantime I will walk about a little until it is ready. But you must
not begin to eat until I have come back. I will come at the right
time. Well, go, then, said brother lustig. I understand cookery, I
will manage it.
Then St. Peter went away, and brother lustig killed the lamb, lighted
a fire, threw the meat into the kettle, and boiled it. When the
lamb, however, was quite ready, and the apostle peter had not come
back, brother lustig took it out of the kettle, cut it up, and found
the heart. That is said to be the best part, said he, and tasted it,
but at last he ate it all up. At length St. Peter returned and said,
you may eat the whole of the lamb yourself, I will only have the
heart, give me that.
Then brother lustig took a knife and fork, and pretended to look
anxiously about amongst the lamb's flesh, but not to be able to find
the heart, and at last he said abruptly, there is none here. But
where can it be, said the apostle. I don't know, replied brother
lustig, but look, what fools we both are, to seek for the lamb's
heart, and neither of us to remember that a lamb has no heart. Oh,
said St. Peter, that is something quite new. Every animal has a
heart, why is a lamb to have none. No, be assured, my brother, said
brother lustig, that a lamb has no heart. Just consider it
seriously, and then you will see that it really has none. Well, it
is all right, said St. Peter. If there is no heart, then I want none
of the lamb. You may eat it alone.
What I can't eat now, I will carry away in my knapsack, said brother
lustig, and he ate half the lamb, and put the rest in his knapsack.
They went farther, and then St. Peter caused a great stream of water
to flow right across their path, and they were obliged to pass
through it. Said St. Peter, do you go first. No, answered brother
lustig, you must go first, and he thought, if the water is too deep I
will stay behind. Then St. Peter strode through it, and the water
just reached to his knee. So brother lustig began to go through also,
but the water grew deeper and reached to his throat. Then he cried,
brother, help me.
St. Peter said, then will you confess that you have eaten the lamb's
heart. No, said he, I have not eaten it. Then the water grew deeper
still and rose to his mouth. Help me, brother, cried the soldier.
St. Peter said, then will you confess that you have eaten the lamb's
heart. No, he replied, I have not eaten it. St. Peter, however,
would not let him be drowned, but made the water sink and helped him
Then they journeyed onwards, and came to a kingdom where they heard
that the king's daughter lay sick unto death. Hi, there, brother,
said the soldier to St. Peter, this is a chance for us. If we can
heal her we shall be provided for, for life.
But St. Peter was not half quick enough for him. Come, lift your
legs, my dear brother, said he, that we may get there in time. But
St. Peter walked slower and slower, though brother lustig did all he
could to drive and push him on, and at last they heard that the
princess was dead. Now we are done for, said brother lustig. That
comes of your sleepy way of walking.
Just be quiet, answered St. Peter, I can do more than cure sick
people. I can bring dead ones to life again. Well, if you can do
that, said brother lustig, it's all right, but you should earn at
least half the kingdom for us by that. Then they went to the royal
palace, where everyone was in great grief, but St. Peter told the
king that he would restore his daughter to life. He was taken to
her, and said, bring me a kettle and some water, and when that was
brought, he bade everyone go out, and allowed no one to remain with
him but brother lustig. Then he cut off all the dead girl's limbs,
and threw them in the water, lighted a fire beneath the kettle, and
boiled them. And when the flesh had fallen away from the bones, he
took out the beautiful white bones, and laid them on a table, and
arranged them together in their natural order. When he had done
that, he stepped forward and said three times, in the name of the
holy trinity, dead woman, arise. And at the third time, the princess
arose, living, healthy and beautiful.
Then the king was in the greatest joy, and said to St. Peter, ask for
your reward. Even if it were half my kingdom, I would give it. But
St. Peter said, I want nothing for it. Oh, you tomfool, thought
brother lustig to himself, and nudged his comrade's side, and said,
don't be so stupid. If you have no need of anything, I have. St.
Peter, however, would have nothing, but as the king saw that the
other would very much like to have something, he ordered his
treasurer to fill brother lustig's knapsack with gold.
Then they went on their way, and when they came to a forest, St.
Peter said to brother lustig, now, we will divide the gold. Yes, he
replied, we will. So St. Peter divided the gold, and divided it into
three heaps. Brother lustig thought to himself, what crazy idea has
he got in his head now. He is making three shares, and there are
only two of us. But St. Peter said, I have divided it exactly.
There is one share for me, one for you and one for him who ate the
Oh, I ate that, replied brother lustig, and hastily swept up the
gold. You may trust what I say. But how can that be true, said St.
Peter, when a lamb has no heart. Eh, what, brother, what can you be
thinking of. Lambs have hearts like other animals, why should only
they have none. Well, so be it, said St. Peter, keep the gold to
yourself, but I will stay with you no longer. I will go my way
alone. As you like, dear brother, answered brother lustig.
Then St. Peter went a different road, but brother lustig thought, it
is a good thing that he has taken himself off, he is certainly a
strange saint. Then he had money enough, but did not know how to
manage it, squandered it, gave it away, and and when some time had
gone by, once more had nothing. Then he arrived in a certain country
where he heard that a king's daughter was dead.
Oh, ho, thought he, that may be a good thing for me. I will bring
her to life again, and see that I am paid as I ought to be. So he
went to the king, and offered to raise the dead girl to life again.
Now the king had heard that a discharged soldier was traveling about
and bringing dead persons to life again, and thought that brother
lustig was the man. But as he had no confidence in him, he consulted
his councillors first, who said that he might give it a trial as his
daughter was dead.
Then brother lustig ordered water to be brought to him in a kettle,
bade every one go out, cut the limbs off, threw them in the water and
lighted a fire beneath, just as he had seen St. Peter do. The water
began to boil, the flesh fell off, and then he took the bones out and
laid them on the table, but he did not know the order in which to lay
them, and placed them all wrong and in confusion. Then he stood
before them and said, in the name of the most holy trinity, dead
maiden, I bid you arise, and he said this thrice, but the bones did
not stir. So he said it thrice more, but also in vain. Confounded
girl that you are, get up, cried he, get up, or it shall be the worse
When he had said that, St. Peter suddenly appeared in his former
shape as a discharged soldier. He entered by the window and said,
godless man, what are you doing. How can the dead maiden arise, when
you have thrown about her bones in such confusion. Dear brother, I
have done everything to the best of my ability, he answered. This
once, I will help you out of your difficulty, but one thing I tell
you, and that is that if ever you undertake anything of the kind
again, it will be the worse for you, and also that you must neither
demand nor accept the smallest thing from the king for this.
Thereupon St. Peter laid the bones in their right order, said to the
maiden three times, in the name of the most holy trinity, dead
maiden, arise, and the king's daughter arose, healthy and beautiful
as before. Then St. Peter went away again by the window, and brother
lustig was rejoiced to find that all had passed off so well, but was
very much vexed to think that after all he was not to take anything
for it. I should just like to know, thought he, what fancy that
fellow has got in his head, for what he gives with one hand he takes
away with the other - there is no sense whatever in it.
Then the king offered brother lustig whatsoever he wished to have,
but he did not dare to take anything. However, by hints and cunning,
he contrived to make the king order his knapsack to be filled with
gold for him, and with that he departed. When he got out, St. Peter
was standing by the door, and said, just look what a man you are.
Did I not forbid you to take anything, and there you have your
knapsack full of gold. How can I help that, answered brother lustig,
if people will put it in for me. Well, I tell you this, that if ever
you set about anything of this kind again you shall suffer for it.
All right, brother, have no fear, now I have money, why should I
trouble myself with washing bones. Faith, said St. Peter, a long
time that gold will last. In order that after this you may never
tread in forbidden paths, I will bestow on your knapsack this
property, namely, that whatsoever you wish to have inside it, shall
be there. Farewell, you will now never see me more. Good-bye, said
brother lustig, and thought to himself, I am very glad that you have
taken yourself off, you strange fellow. I shall certainly not follow
you. But of the magical power which had been bestowed on his
knapsack, he thought no more.
Brother lustig traveled about with his money, and squandered and
wasted what he had as before. When at last he had no more than four
kreuzers, he passed by an inn and thought, the money must go, and
ordered three kreuzers, worth of wine and one kreuzer's worth of
bread for himself. As he was sitting there drinking, the smell of
roast goose made its way to his nose.
Brother lustig looked about and peeped, and saw that the host had two
geese roasting in the oven. Then he remembered that his comrade had
said that whatsoever he wished to have in his knapsack should be
there, so he said, oh, ho. I must try that with the geese. So he
went out, and when he was outside the door, he said, I wish those two
roasted geese out of the oven and in my knapsack, and when he had
said that, he unbuckled it and looked in, and there they were inside
it. Ah, that's right, said he, now I am a made man, and went away to
a meadow and took out the roast meat.
When he was in the midst of his meal, two journeymen came up and
looked at the second goose, which was not yet touched, with hungry
eyes. Brother lustig thought to himself, one is enough for me, and
called the two men up and said, take the goose, and eat it to my
health. They thanked him, and went with it to the inn, ordered
themselves a half bottle of wine and a loaf, took out the goose which
had been given them, and began to eat.
The hostess saw them and said to her husband, those two are eating a
goose. Just look and see if it is not one of ours, out of the oven.
The landlord ran thither, and behold the oven was empty. What, cried
he, you thievish crew, you want to eat goose as cheap as that. Pay
for it this moment, or I will wash you well with green hazel-sap.
The two said, we are no thieves, a discharged soldier gave us the
goose, outside there in the meadow. You shall not throw dust in my
eyes that way. The soldier was here, but he went out by the door,
like an honest fellow. I looked after him myself. You are the
thieves and shall pay. But as they could not pay, he took a stick,
and cudgeled them out of the house.
Brother lustig went his way and came to a place where there was a
magnificent castle, and not far from it a wretched inn. He went to
the inn and asked for a night's lodging, but the landlord turned him
away, and said, there is no more room here, the house is full of
noble guests. It surprises me that they should come to you and not
go to that splendid castle, said brother lustig. Ah, indeed, replied
the host, but it is no slight matter to sleep there for a night. No
one who has tried it so far, has ever come out of it alive.
If others have tried it, said brother lustig, I will try it too.
Leave it alone, said the host, it will cost you your neck. It won't
kill me at once, said brother lustig, just give me the key, and some
good food and wine. So the host gave him the key, and food and wine,
and with this brother lustig went into the castle, enjoyed his
supper, and at length, as he was sleepy, he lay down on the ground,
for there was no bed. He soon fell asleep, but during the night was
disturbed by a great noise, and when he awoke, he saw nine ugly
devils in the room, who had made a circle, and were dancing around
Brother lustig said, well, dance as long as you like, but none of you
must come too close. But the devils pressed continually nearer to
him, and almost stepped on his face with their hideous feet. Stop,
you devils, ghosts, said he, but they behaved still worse. Then
brother lustig grew angry, and cried, stop. You'll soon see how I
can make you quiet, and got the leg of a chair and struck out into
the midst of them with it. But nine devils against one soldier were
still too many, and when he struck those in front of him, the others
seized him behind by the hair, and tore it unmercifully.
Devils, crew, cried he, this is too much, but just wait. Into my
knapsack, all nine of you. In an instant they were in it, and then
he buckled it up and threw it into a corner. After this all was
suddenly quiet, and brother lustig lay down again, and slept till it
was bright day.
Then came the inn-keeper, and the nobleman to whom the castle
belonged, to see how he had fared. But when they perceived that he
was merry and well they were astonished, and asked, have the spirits
done you no harm, then. The reason why they have not, answered
brother lustig, is because I have got the whole nine of them in my
You may once more inhabit your castle quite tranquilly, none of them
will ever haunt it again. The nobleman thanked him, made him rich
presents, and begged him to remain in his service, and he would
provide for him as long as he lived. No, replied brother lustig, I
am used to wandering about, I will travel farther.
Then he went away, and entered into a smithy, laid the knapsack,
which contained the nine devils on the anvil, and asked the smith and
his apprentices to strike it. So they smote with their great hammers
with all their strength, and the devils uttered howls which were
quite pitiable. When he opened the knapsack after this, eight of
them were dead, but one which had been lying in a fold of it, was
still alive, slipped out, and went back again to hell.
Thereupon brother lustig traveled a long time about the world, and
those who know, can tell many a story about him. But at last he grew
old, and thought of his end, so he went to a hermit who was known to
be a pious man, and said to him, I am tired of wandering about, and
want now to behave in such a manner that I shall enter into the
kingdom of heaven. The hermit replied, there are two roads, one is
broad and pleasant, and leads to hell, the other is narrow and rough,
and leads to heaven. I should be a fool, thought brother lustig, if
I were to take the narrow, rough road.
So he set out and took the broad and pleasant road, and at length
came to a great black door, which was the door of hell. Brother
lustig knocked, and the door-keeper peeped out to see who was there.
But when he saw brother lustig, he was terrified, for he was the very
same ninth devil who had been shut up in the knapsack, and had
escaped from it with a black eye.
So he pushed the bolt in again as quickly as he could, ran to the
highest devil, and said, there is a fellow outside with a knapsack,
who wants to come in, but as you value your lives don't allow him to
enter, or he will wish the whole of hell into his knapsack. He once
gave me a frightful hammering when I was inside it.
So they called out to brother lustig that he was to go away again,
for he should not get in there. If they won't have me here, thought
he, I will see if I can find a place for myself in heaven, for I must
So he turned about and went onwards until he came to the door of
heaven, where he knocked. St. Peter was sitting hard by as
door-keeper. Brother lustig recognized him at once, and thought,
here I find an old friend, I shall get on better. But St. Peter
said, I can hardly believe that you want to come into heaven. Let me
in, brother. I must get in somewhere. If they would have taken me
into hell, I should not have come here. No, said St. Peter, you
shall not enter. Then if you will not let me in, take your knapsack
back, for I will have nothing at all from you. Give it here, then,
said St. Peter. Then brother lustig gave him the knapsack into
heaven through the bars, and St. Peter took it, and hung it beside
his seat. Then said brother lustig, and now I wish myself inside my
knapsack, and in a second he was in it, and in heaven, and St. Peter
was forced to let him stay there.
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