The Tablecloth, the Knapsack, the Cannon Hat, and the Horn ~fairytales by grimm brothers Once there were three brothers from the region of the Black Mountains. Originally, they were very poor and traveled to Spain, where they came to a mountain completely surrounded by silver. The oldest brother took advantage of the situation by gathering as much silver as he could carry and went back home with his booty. The other two continued traveling and came to a mountain where nothing could be seen but gold. One brother said to the other, “What should we do?” The second took as much gold as he could carry, as his older brother had done, and went home. However, the third wanted to see if he could have even better luck and continued on his way. He walked for three days and then entered an enormous forest. After wandering about for some time, he became tired, hungry, and thirsty and couldn’t find his way out of the forest. So he climbed a tall tree to see if he could catch a glimpse of the end of the forest. However, he saw nothing but the tops of trees. His only wish now was to fill his body once more, and he began climbing down the tree. When he got to the bottom, he noticed a table covered with many different dishes underneath the tree. He was delighted by this and ate until he was full. After he had finished eating, he took the tablecloth with him and moved on. Whenever he got hungry or thirsty again, he opened the tablecloth, and whatever he wished for would appear on it. After a day’s journey he encountered a charcoal burner, who was burning coals and cooking potatoes. The charcoal burner invited him to be his guest, but he replied, “No thanks, but I want you to be my guest.” “How’s that possible?” the charcoal burner asked. “You don’t seem to be carrying anything with you.” “That doesn’t matter,” he said. “Just sit down over here.” Then he opened his tablecloth, and soon there was everything and anything one could possibly wish for. The charcoal burner enjoyed the meal and wanted to have the tablecloth. After they had eaten everything, he said, “How’d you like to trade with me? I’ll give you an old soldier’s knapsack for the tablecloth. If you tap it with your hand, a corporal and six men armed from top to bottom will come out each time you tap. They’re of no help to me in the forest, but I’d certainly like the tablecloth.” They made the trade: the charcoal burner kept the tablecloth, while the man from the Black Mountains took the knapsack. However, no sooner had the man gone some distance than he tapped the knapsack. and out popped the war heroes. “What does my master want?” “I want you to march back and fetch my tablecloth that I left behind with the charcoal burner.” So they returned to the charcoal burner and then brought back the tablecloth. In the evening he came to another charcoal burner, who invited him to supper. He had the same potatoes without grease, but the man from the Black Mountains opened his tablecloth instead and invited him to be his guest. Nobody could have wished for a better meal! When it was over, this charcoal burner also wanted to make a trade. He gave the man a hat for the tablecloth. If the man turned the hat on his head, cannons would fire as if an entire battalion of soldiers and battery were right on the spot. When the man from the Black Mountains had gone some distance, he tapped the old knapsack again, and the corporal and his six men were ordered to fetch the tablecloth again. Now the man continued his journey in the same forest, and in the evening he came upon a third charcoal burner, who invited him to eat potatoes without grease like the others. Then they negotiated, and the charcoal burner gave the man a little horn for the tablecloth. If the man blew on it, all the cities and villages as well as the fortresses would collapse into heaps of rubble. The charcoal burner didn’t get to keep the tablecloth any longer than the other two, for the corporal and his six men soon came and fetched it. Now, when the man from the Black Mountains had everything together, he returned home and intended to visit his brothers, who had become rich from their gold and silver. When he went to them wearing an old tattered coat they refused to recognize him as their brother. So he immediately tapped his knapsack and had one hundred and fifty men march out and give his brothers a good thrashing on their backs. The entire village came to their aid, but they could do very little in this affair. News of this soon reached the king, who sent a military squad to take the soldiers prisoner, but the man from the Black Mountains kept tapping his knapsack and had an infantry and cavalry march out. They defeated the military squad and forced it to retreat. The following day the king had even more soldiers sent to bring an end to the old guy. However, he kept tapping his knapsack until he had an entire army. In addition, he turned his hat a few times. The cannons fired, and the enemy was defeated and took flight. Finally, peace was made, and he was appointed viceroy and awarded the princess for his bride. However, the princess was constantly bothered by the fact that she had to take such an old guy for her husband. Her greatest wish was to get rid of him. Every day she tried to discover the source of the power that he used to his advantage. Finally, since he was so devoted to her, he revealed everything to her. She managed to talk him into giving her his knapsack, whereupon she forced him out. Afterward, when soldiers came marching against him, his men were defeated. However, he still had his little hat. So he turned it and had the cannons fired. Once again he defeated the enemy, and peace was made. After this he was deceived again when the princess talked him into giving her his little hat. Now, when the enemy attacked him, he had nothing left but his little horn. So he blew it, and the villages, cities, and all the fortresses collapsed instantly into heaps of rubble. Then he alone was king and blew his horn until he died.
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