The Rooster, the Hand-Mill and the Swarm of Hornets
Once upon a time there was a peasant who
wanted to go to sell a pig. After he had gone
a while, he met a man who asked him where he was
going with his pig. "I want to sell it," answered
the peasant, "but I do not know what to do to get
rid of it." "Go to the devil," said the man, "he
will be the first to rid you of it." So the peasant
kept on along the broad highway.
When he came to the devil's place, there stood a
man out by the wood-pile making wood. The
peasant went to him and asked whether he could
tell him if they wanted to buy a pig in the devil's
place. "I'll go in and ask," said the man, "if you
will make wood in my stead while I am gone."
"Yes, I will do that gladly," said the peasant, took
the ax, stood at the wood-pile and began to make
wood. And he worked and worked until evening
came; but the man did not return to tell him whether
they would or would not buy a pig in the devil's
At length another man came that way, and the
peasant asked him whether he would make wood
in his stead, for it was impossible to lay down the
ax unless another took it up and went on working.
So the man took the ax and stood there making
wood, and the peasant went into the devil's place
himself, and asked whether any one wanted to buy
A crowd as large as that at a fair at once gathered,
and all wanted to buy the pig. Then the peasant
thought: "Whoever pays the most, gets it." And
one would overbid another, offering far more than
a whole herd of pigs were worth. But at last a
gentleman came along who whispered something to
the peasant, and told him to come along with him;
and he could have all the money he wanted.
So when they had reached the gentleman's house,
and the peasant had given him the pig, he received
in payment a rooster who would lay silver coins as
often as he was told to do so. Then the peasant
went his way, well content with his bargain. But
on the way home he stayed overnight at a tavern
kept by an old woman. And he was so exceedingly
happy about his splendid rooster, that he had to
boast about him to the old woman, and show her
how he went about laying silver coins. And at
night, when the peasant was fast asleep, the old
woman came and took away his rooster, and put
another in its place. No sooner did the peasant
awake in the morning than he wanted to set his
rooster to work. "Lay quickly, rooster of mine!
Lay big silver coins, my rooster!" But the rooster
could lay no silver coins at all, and only answered
"Kikeriki! Kikeriki! Kikeriki!" Then the peasant
fell into a rage, wandered back to the devil's place,
complained about the rooster, and told how absolutely
worthless he was. He was kindly received,
and the same gentleman gave him a hand-mill.
When he called out "Mill grind!" to it, it would
grind as much meal as he wanted it to, and would
not stop until he said: "Mill, stop grinding!"
And the mill would grind out every kind of meal for
which he asked.
When the peasant set out for home, he reached
the same tavern at which he had already put up
in the evening, so he turned in and decided to stay
over night. He was so pleased with the mill that
it was impossible for him to hold his tongue; so he
told the old woman what a valuable mill he had, and
showed her how it worked. But during the night,
while he was asleep, the old woman came and stole
his mill and put another in its place.
When the peasant awoke in the morning, he was
in a great hurry to test his mill; but he could not
make it obey. "Mill grind!" he cried. But the mill
stood still. Then he said: "Dear mill, grind
wheat meal!" but it had no effect. "Then grind
rye meal!" he shouted; but that did not help, either.
"Well, then, grind peas!" But the mill did not
seem to hear; but stood as still as though it had
never turned a single time in all its life. Then the
peasant took the road back to the devil's place again,
and at once hunted up the gentleman who had purchased
his pig, and told him the mill would grind no
"Do not grieve about that," said the gentleman,
and gave him a large, large hornets' nest, full of
hornets, who flew out in swarms and stung any one
whom they were told to sting, until one said "stop!"
to them. Now when the peasant again came to the
old woman, he told her he had a swarm of hornets
who obeyed his commands. "Heavens above!"
cried the woman, "that's something worth while
seeing!" "You may see it without any trouble,"
replied the peasant, and at once called: "Out, out,
my hornets and sting the old woman!" And at
once the entire swarm fell upon the old woman, who
began to scream pitifully. She begged the peasant
to please call back his hornets, and said she was only
too willing to give back the rooster and the mill she
The peasant did not object to this; but ordered
his hornets to leave the old woman alone, and fly
back into their house. Then he went home with his
rooster, his mill and his hornets, became a rich man
and lived happily until he died. And he was in the
habit of saying: "They have a big fair in the
devil's place, and you find real decent people there,
and above all, a liberal gentleman, with whom it is a
pleasure to do business."
In "The Rooster, the Hand-Mill and the Swarm of Hornets" (Mss. record
by Stephens, from Wermland, communicated by Dr. v. Sydow-Lund)
a poor peasant received three splendid gifts in the devil's
place. The rooster who lays gold coins is a widely known magic
bird, and the magic mill is also met with in the North.