smith, tailor, artisan, devil
Story, Tale, Legend, Folktale, Myth,
Fable, Learning, Teaching
The devil asked him whether they knew the answer.
"Of course," answered the tailor.
shoemaker, the smith, and the tailor
Three traveling artisans went
together into the world. They decided to work in the same town,
and if this would not be possible, to move to another place. As
they were going along, they met a man who asked them what they
were up to. They told him that they were looking for work. He
proposed that they go with him and work for him for a whole
year. He promised them plenty to eat and to drink.
He led them to a room where there
was a table with a red linen tablecloth and a coffeepot and a
coffeecup on it. Then he told them that they would be free if
they could guess what this was. If they did not find out, they
would have to stay with him forever, for he was the devil. After
this he left and was seen no more.
The three artisans led a happy
life. They ate and drank to their heart's content and did not
worry about anything. Soon the time they had been given to
answer the question, one year and six weeks, was almost over.
The shoemaker and the smith were soon asleep, and only the
tailor was still awake. He thought, you had better leave. He set
out and came to a fir tree in a forest. Lying underneath the fir
tree, he suddenly heard a noise overhead. Well, thought the
tailor, tomorrow the time will be over; this certainly is the
devil who comes to fetch me!
However, on this fir tree all the
devils happened to meet, and Lucifer asked the others about
their achievements. At last it was the turn of the tailor's
devil. He was a crooked fellow. He came forth and said, "I am
sure to have three: a shoemaker, a smith, and a tailor." Then
Lucifer asked the crooked devil what task he had given the
three. He told him and said that they would certainly not be
able to find out. Lucifer wanted to know all about it. The
crooked devil explained everything, "The red linen tablecloth is
the skin of a horse; the coffeepot is the horse's head; and the
coffeecup is the horse's hips." When the tailor under the tree
heard this, he rose immediately and went back to the others.
When he reached them, the two had lost their senses. There was
nothing to be done.
Then the devil came and asked
them if they knew the answer. He saw that two of them were lying
in the corner and did not move any more. He asked the tailor
what was the matter with them. The tailor told him, "They are
drunk. Leave them alone." The devil asked him whether they knew
the answer. "Of course," answered the tailor, "they know it as
well as I do. Just leave them where they are." Then the tailor
went to the table, he sniffed and pulled at the red linen
tablecloth, and there was a horse's skin lying in the room. Then
he sniffed at the coffeecup and threw it down, and there were
the horse's hips; then he sniffed at the coffeepot and threw it
down, and there was the horse's head. When they saw this, the
two jumped up.
So the devil had caught none of
them. He proposed to the three fellows to stay for another year
with him; they would have nothing to do but to travel through
the world and to say, "Fill the glass for the money; that's all
Then the three fellows came to a
large town and went to a big hotel. The first one said, "Fill
the glass for the money; that's all right!" There was a rich
merchant staying in this place. Now the innkeeper said to his
wife, "This merchant has quite a lot of money with him, and the
three fellows say nothing but 'Fill your glass for the money;
that's all right'; we are going to kill the merchant, and it
will be pinned on the three artisans."
In the morning everybody knew
that the merchant had been killed. Everybody said that only the
artisans could have done it. They were brought before the judge
where they were to make a deposition. Now the first one stepped
forth and said, "Fill the glass for the money; that's all
The judge said, "All right, that
will do." He decided that the three artisans should be hanged,
and they were brought to the gallows.
As the first one was placed on
the scaffold, someone whizzed through the air, waving a white
doth and shouting, "Pardon! Pardon!" When he came near, he said
that the three were innocent and that the merchant had been
killed by the innkeeper and his wife. When the innkeeper heard
this, he jumped with his wife into the watering trough.
Meanwhile, the year ended, and
the three were free. The devil asked them to stay for another
year. The tailor was quite willing, but the others did not want
to stay any longer. So the devil paid them off, and the tailor
entered his service once more. The devil told him that for a
whole year he was to wear a sack, and that he would not be
allowed to wash himself or to blow his nose. The tailor agreed
and set out.
He came to a large town, and
there was a king who had three daughters. It was known that any
rich man who would come and pay the king's debts would get one
of the daughters. The tailor said that he would be just the man;
he would pay the whole debt if he was given one of the
daughters. So the tailor went to the king, presented himself,
and said that he wanted to have one of the daughters and that he
was willing to pay the debts.
Now the tailor was presented to
the first daughter, but she did not want him. When she saw the
tailor in his sack, with his black face and dirty nose, she was
disgusted. Then the second one came. When she saw him, she said,
"Fie! I don't want him!"
Finally, the third one came along
and said, "All right, if it has to be and if he is willing to
pay the debts, I shall not mind." Meanwhile, the tailor's time
was almost over. The tailor married the princess. And after a
short while, the sack fell off and he could wash himself.
Then the tailor was cleaned and
washed thoroughly. After he had been cleaned up, they saw what a
handsome fellow he was. The two sisters were so jealous for not
having got him that they jumped into the water and drowned
1. What was in the devil's
2. How did the tailor know
3. Who were the three men
to do during the second year?
4. Who killed the
5. What did the devil tell
the tailor to do in the third year?
6. Why did the princess'
two sisters drown themselves?