Once on a time, a mouse and a bird and a sausage lived and kept house together in perfect peace among themselves, and in great prosperity. It was the bird's business to fly to the forest every day and bring back wood. The mouse had to draw the water, make the fire, and set the table; and the sausage had to do the cooking. Nobody is content in this world: much will have more! One day the bird met another bird on the way, and told him of his excellent condition in life. But the other bird called him a poor simpleton to do so much work, while the two others led easy lives at home.
When the mouse had made up her fire and drawn water, she went to rest in her little room until it was time to lay the cloth. The sausage stayed by the saucepans, looked to it that the victuals were well cooked, and just before dinner-time he stirred the broth or the stew three or four times well round himself, so as to enrich and season and flavour it. Then the bird used to come home and lay down his load, and they sat down to table, and after a good meal they would go to bed and sleep their fill till the next morning. It really was a most satisfactory life.
But the bird came to the resolution next day never again to fetch wood: he had, he said, been their slave long enough, now they must change about and make a new arrangement So in spite of all the mouse and the sausage could say, the bird was determined to have his own way. So they drew lots to settle it, and it fell so that the sausage was to fetch wood, the mouse was to cook, and the bird was to draw water.
Now see what happened. The sausage went away after wood, the bird made up the fire, and the mouse put on the pot, and they waited until the sausage should come home, bringing the wood for the next day. But the sausage was absent so long, that they thought something must have happened to him, and the bird went part of the way to see if he could see anything of him. Not far off he met with a dog on the road, who, looking upon the sausage as lawful prey, had picked him up, and made an end of him. The bird then lodged a complaint against the dog as an open and flagrant robber, but it was all no good, as the dog declared that he had found forged letters upon the sausage, so that he deserved to lose his life.
The bird then very sadly took up the wood and carried it home himself, and related to the mouse all he had seen and heard. They were both very troubled, but determined to look on the bright side of things, and still to remain together. And so the bird laid the cloth, and the mouse prepared the food, and finally got into the pot, as the sausage used to do, to stir and flavour the broth, but then she had to part with fur and skin, and lastly with life!
And when the bird came to dish up the dinner, there was no cook to be seen; and he turned over the heap of wood, and looked and looked, but the cook never appeared again. By accident the wood caught fire, and the bird hastened to fetch water to put it out, but he let fall the bucket in the well, and himself after it, and as he could not get out again, he was obliged to be drowned.
Notes: This fairy tale collection contains 52 of the Grimm's fairy tales.
This new Dover edition, first published in 1963, is an unabridged republication of the work first published by Macmillan and Company in 1886.
Author: Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
Translator: Lucy Crane
Published: 1963 (1886)
Publisher: Dover Publications, New York (Macmillan & Co, London)