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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.

Jacob (1785–1863) and Wilhelm (1786–1859) Grimm

The Mouse, the Bird, and the Sausage

From “Household Tales”

THERE were once a little mouse, a little bird, and a sausage, who formed a partnership.

They had set up housekeeping, and had lived for a long time in great harmony together. The duty of the little bird was to fly every day into the forest and bring home wood; the mouse had to draw water, to light the fire, and lay the table-cloth; and the sausage was cook.

How often, when we are comfortable, we begin to long for something new! So it happened one day that the little bird had met on his road another bird, to which he had boasted of their happiness and friendship at home.

The other bird replied scornfully, “What a poor little simpleton you are, to work in the way you do, while the other two are enjoying themselves at home! When the mouse has lighted the fire and drawn the water, she can go and rest in her little room till she is called to lay the cloth. The sausage can sit by the stove while he watches to see that the dinner is well cooked, and when dinner-time arrives he devours four times as much broth or vegetables as the others, till he quite shines with salt and fat.”

The bird, after listening to this, came home quite discontented, and, laying down his load, seated himself at the table, and ate so much, and filled his crop so full, that he slept till the next morning without waking, and thought this was a happy life.

The next day the little bird objected to go and fetch wood, saying that he had been their servant long enough, and that he had been a fool to work for them in this way. He intended at once to make a change, and to seek his living in another way.

After this, although the mouse and the sausage were both in a rage, the bird was master, and would have his own way. So he proposed that they should draw lots; and the lots fell so that the sausage was to fetch the wood, the mouse to be cook, and the bird to draw the water. Now, what was the consequence of all this? The sausage went out to get wood, the bird lighted the fire, and the mouse put on the saucepan, and sat down to watch it till the sausage returned home with the wood for the next day. But he stayed away so long that the bird, who wanted a breath of fresh air, went out to look for him. On his way he met a dog, who told him that, having met with the sausage, and considering him as his lawful prey, he had devoured him.

The bird complained greatly against the dog for his conduct, and called him a cruel robber, but it did no good.

“For,” said the dog, “the sausage had false papers with him, and therefore his life was forfeited to society.”

The little bird, full of sorrow, flew home, carrying the wood with him, and related to the mouse what he had seen and heard. They were both very grieved, but quickly agreed that the best thing for them to do was to remain together.

From that time the bird undertook to prepare the table, and the mouse to roast something for supper, and to put the vegetables into the saucepan, as she had seen the sausage do; but before she had half finished her task the fire burned her so terribly that she fell down and died.

When the little bird came home, expecting to find something to eat, there was no cook to be seen, and the fire was nearly out. The bird, in alarm, threw the wood here and there, cried out, and searched everywhere, but no cook could be found.

Meanwhile, a spark from the fire fell on the wood and set it in a blaze, so that there was danger of the house being burned. The bird ran in haste to the well for water. Unfortunately, he let the pail fall into the well, and being dragged after it, he sank into the water and was drowned.

And all this happened because one little bird listened to another who was jealous of the happy little family at home, and from being discontented and changing their arrangements they all met with death.