Obscure Fairy Tale: the one with the bricklebrit donkey
As I said in my last entry, I read a lot of obscure fairy tales while I was researching INTO THE WILD. Many of them are fantastically random, and I think they deserve their day in the sun. So I'm starting a recurring segment here in this blog: the Obscure Fairy Tale. Our first entry is... drum roll, please...
The Wishing-Table, the Gold-Donkey, and the Cudgel-in-the-Sack (from the Brothers Grimm)
A tailor has 3 sons and a goat. He asks his sons to feed the goat. After each son takes his turn guiding the goat to sumptuous grasses, the goat lies to the tailor and says he was fed nothing but rocks and weeds. So the tailor kicks his sons out of his house.
Okay, I have to comment here. The Thing I Love About This Story #1: the random talking goat. There's no explanation for why the goat talks. No one is fazed by it. It has zero bearing on the rest of the tale. It's purely there as the set-up to the sons leaving home so they can find something magical. Um, hello, talking goat, right here.
Each son apprentices himself to a craftsman, and at the end of their apprenticeships, they each receive a magical item.
Thing I Love #2: the magical item as a job performance bonus. The equivalent would be: you spend a summer waiting tables at a seafood restaurant, and at the end of the summer, the owner gives you a magical golden fish that grants three wishes. Sweet.
The eldest son receives a magic table. When you say: "Table, set thyself!", the table produces a lavish feast.
Thing I Love #3: it's a table. Kid has to lug around a table. In some variants, he gets a tablecloth that you spread out. At least that's portable. But a table?
On his way home, he stops at an inn and uses the table to feed all the guests. During the night, the greedy innkeeper secretly swaps the table for an ordinary one. When the boy reaches home, he tells his dad to summon all the relatives for a feast, but the table fails. Much embarrassment ensues.
The middle son gets a magic donkey. When you shout the word: "Bricklebrit!", it spews gold pieces out of...
And I quote:
... its front and back.
Yes, folks. Thing I Love #4: the Bricklebrit Donkey. You shout a word, and gold comes flying out its butt. Fairy tales don't get much better than that.
On his way home, he too stops at the inn. The innkeeper steals the magic donkey, and the second son is similarly embarrassed.
The third son is given a magic stick in a sack. When you shout: "Cudgel, out of the sack!", the stick hops out of the sack and beats up your enemy.
When this son arrives at the inn, he announces to all the guests that he has a treasure in his sack. When the innkeeper attempts to steal it, the son shouts, "Cudgel, out of the sack!" and the stick beats the innkeeper until the innkeeper agrees to return the magic table and donkey.
Thing I Love #5: the plot hole large enough to drive a semi through. How does the third son know that the innkeeper stole the other magic items? He hasn't gone home yet. How does he know to set a trap? How does he even know the other items exist? Were the brothers text-messaging each other?
The third son returns home, they invite over all the relatives, they have a big party, and everyone goes home very rich.
Meanwhile, the tailor discovers that the goat lied to him, so he shaves him bald and kicks him out of the house. Embarrassed at his baldness, the goat hides in a fox hole. The fox mistakes him for a monster, and a bee offers to help drive the monster out. So the bee stings the bald goat. The goat cries "Ma-ma!", runs out of the cave, and is never heard from again.
Thing I Love #6: shaves him bald? Excuse me? And where did the fox and bee come from? Did someone switch the channel to Aesop's fables?
And that, my friends, is the story of the table, the donkey, and the cudgel in a sack. The Disney movie version should be out any day now...