The Death of the Little Hen

Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm

One time the little hen and the little rooster went to Nut Mountain, and they agreed that whoever would find a nut would share it with the other one. Now the little hen found a large, large nut, but -- wanting to eat the kernal by herself -- she said nothing about it. However, the kernal was so thick that she could not swallow it down. It got stuck in her throat, and fearing that she would choke to death, she cried out, "Little Rooster, I beg you to run as fast as you can to the well and get me some water, or else I'll choke to death."

The little rooster ran to the well as fast as he could, and said, "Well, give me some water, for the little hen is lying on Nut Mountain. She swallowed a large nut kernal and is about to choke to death on it."

The well answered, "First run to the bride, and get some red silk from her."

The little rooster ran to the bride: "Bride, give me some red silk, and I'll give the red silk to the well, and the well will give me some water, and I'll take the water to the little hen who is lying on Nut Mountain. She swallowed a large nut kernal and is about to choke to death on it."

The bride answered, "First run and get my wreath. It got caught on a willow branch."

So the little rooster ran to the willow and pulled the wreath from its branch and took it to the bride, and the bride gave him some red silk, which he took to the well, which gave him some water, and the little rooster took the water to the little hen, but when he arrived, she had already choked to death, and she lay there dead, and did not move at all.

The little rooster was so sad that he cried aloud, and all the animals came to mourn for the little hen. Six mice built a small carriage which was to carry the little hen to her grave. When the carriage was finished, they hitched themselves to it, and the little rooster drove. On the way they met the fox.

"Where are you going, little rooster?"

"I'm going to bury my little hen."

"May I ride along?"

"Yes, but you must sit at the rear, because my little horses don't like you too close to the front."

So he sat at the rear, and then the wolf, the bear, the elk, the lion, and all the animals in the forest. They rode on until they came to a brook. "How can we get across?" said the little rooster.

A straw was lying there next to the brook, and he said, "I'll lay myself across, and you can drive over me." But just as the six mice got onto the straw, it slipped into the water, and the six mice all fell in and drowned.

They did not know what to do, until a coal came and said, "I am large enough. I will lay myself across and you can drive over me." So the coal laid itself across the water, but unfortunately it touched the water, hissed, and went out; and it was dead.

A stone saw this happen, and wanting to help the little rooster, it laid itself across the water. The little rooster pulled the carriage himself. He nearly reached the other side with the dead little hen, but there were too many others seated on the back of the carriage, and the carriage rolled back, and they all fell into the water and drowned.

Now the little rooster was all alone with the dead little hen. He dug a grave for her and laid her inside. Then he made a mound on top, and sat on it, and grieved there so long that he too died. And then everyone was dead.

Related links

Revised June 29, 2006.