There was once a man who had three sons. The youngest was called Dummerly, and was on all occasions badly treated by the whole family. It happened that the eldest took it into his head one day to go into the forest to cut wood; and his mother gave him a delicious meat pie and a bottle of wine to take with him, that he might give himself energy for his work. As he went into the forest, a little old man bid him good day, and said, “Give me a little bit of meat from your plate, and a little wine out of your flask; I am very hungry and thirsty.” But this clever young man said, “Give you my meat and wine! No, I thank you; there would not be enough left for me;” and he went on his way.
He soon began to chop down a tree; but he had not worked long before he missed his stroke, and cut himself, and had to go home and have the wound bandaged.
Next the second son went out to work; and his mother gave him, too, a meat pie and a bottle of wine. And the same little old man met him also, and asked him for something to eat and drink. But he, too, thought himself extremely clever, and said, “Whatever you get, I shall be without; so go your way!” The little man made sure that he should have his reward; and the second stroke that he struck at a tree, hit him on the leg, so that he too had to go home.
Then Dummerly said, “Father, I should like to go and cut fuel too.” But his father replied, “Your brothers have both hurt themselves; you had better stay at home, for you know nothing of the job.”
But Dummerly was very urgent; and at last his father said, “Go your way; you will be wiser when you have suffered for your foolishness.” And his mother gave him only some dry bread, and a bottle of sour beer; but when he went into the forest, he met the little old man, who said, “Give me some meat and drink, for I am very hungry and thirsty.”
Dummerly said, “I have nothing but dry bread and sour beer; if that will do for you, we will sit down and eat it together.” So they sat down, and when the lad took out his bread, behold it was turned into a splendid meat pie, and his sour beer became delicious wine. They ate and drank heartily, and when they had finished, the little man said, “As you have a kind heart, and have been willing to share everything with me I will bring good to you. There stands an old tree; chop it down, and you will find something at the root.” Then he took his leave and went his way.
Dummerly set to work, and cut down the tree; and when it fell, he discovered in a hollow under the roots a goose with feathers of pure gold. He took it up, and went on to an inn, where he proposed sleep for the night. The landlord had three daughters, and when they saw the goose, they were very curious to find out what this wonderful bird could be, and wished very much to pluck one of the feathers out of its tail. At last the eldest said, “I must and will have a feather.” So she waited till his back was turned, and then caught hold of the goose by the wing; but to her great surprise, there she stuck, for neither hand nor finger could she pull away again.
In time the second sister came in, and wanted to have a feather too; but the instant she touched her sister, there she too stuck fast. At last came the third, and wanted a feather; but the other two cried out, “Keep away! for heaven’s sake, keep away!” However, she did not understand what they meant. “If they are there,” she thought , “I may as well be there too,” so she went up to them. But the moment she touched her sisters she stuck fast, and hung to the goose as they did. And so they slept with the goose all night.
The next morning Dummerly carried off the goose under his arm, and took no heed of the three girls, but went out with them sticking fast behind; and wherever he journeyed, the three had to follow, whether they wanted or not, as fast as their legs could carry them.
In the middle of a field the parson met them; and when he saw the procession, he said, “Are you not ashamed of yourselves, you bold girls, to run after the young man like that over the fields? Is that proper behavior?”
Then he took the youngest by the hand to lead her away; but the moment he touched her he, too, hung fast, and followed in the procession.
Presently up came the clerk; and when he saw his master, the parson, running after the three girls, he was greatly surprised, and said, “Hello! hello! your reverence! Where are you going so fast? You have a christening to-day.”
Then he ran up, and caught him by the gown, and instantly he was stuck too.
As the five were thus trudging along, one after another, they met two laborers with their tools coming from work; and the parson called out to them to set him free. But hardly had they touched him, when they, too, joined the ranks, and so made seven, all running after Dummerly and his goose.
At last they came to a city, where reigned a King who had an only daughter. The princess was of so thoughtful and serious a turn of mind that no one could make her laugh; and the King had announced to all the world that whoever could make her laugh should have her for his wife. When the young man heard this, he went to her with the goose and all its followers; and as soon as she saw the seven all hanging together, and running about, treading on each other’s heels, she could not help bursting into a long and loud laugh.
Then Dummerly claimed her for his bride; the wedding took place, and he was heir to the kingdom, and lived long and happily with his wife.