THE SKILLFUL HUNTSMAN
Once upon a time there was a lad named Jacob Boehm, who was a practical
One day Jacob said to his mother, 'Mother, I would like to marry
Gretchen the nice, pretty little daughter of the Herr Mayor.'
Jacob's mother thought that he was crazy. 'Marry the daughter of the
Herr Mayor, indeed! You want to marry the daughter of the Herr Mayor?
Listen; many a man wants and wants, and nothing comes of it!'
That was what Jacob Boehm's mother said to him.
But Jacob was deaf in that ear; nothing would do but his mother must go
to the Herr Mayor, and ask for leave for him to marry Gretchen. And
Jacob begged and begged so prettily that at last his mother promised to
go and do as he wished. So off she went, though doubt was heavy in her
shoes, for she did not know how the Herr Mayor would take it.
'So Jacob wants to marry Gretchen, does he?' said the Herr Mayor.
Yes; that was what Jacob wanted.
'And is he a practical huntsman?' said the Herr Mayor.
Oh yes, he was that.
'So good,' said the Herr Mayor. 'Then tell Jacob that when he is such a
clever huntsman as to be able to shoot the whiskers off from a running
hare without touching the skin, then he can have Gretchen.'
Illustration: JACOB'S MOTHER & THE HERR MAYOR
Then Jacob's mother went back home again. 'Now,' said she, 'Jacob will,
at least, be satisfied.'
'Yes,' said Jacob, when she had told him all that the Herr Mayor had
said to her, 'that is a hard thing to do; but what one man has done,
another man can.' So he shouldered his gun, and started away into the
world to learn to be as clever a huntsman as the Herr Mayor had said.
He plodded on and on until at last he fell in with a tall stranger
dressed all in red.
'Where are you going, Jacob?' said the tall stranger, calling him by his
name, just as if he had eaten pottage out of the same dish with him.