German Legends, no. 43

The Osenberg Dwarfs

Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm

In the year 1653 Winkelmann traveled from our land of Hessen to Oldenburg. While crossing over Mount Osenberg he was overtaken by nightfall in the village of Bümmerstedt. There a 100-year-old innkeeper told him that although his house had prospered at the time of his grandfather, they were now faring poorly.

He said that whenever his grandfather brewed beer the earth people from Mount Osenberg would come and get some -- still warm -- from the keg. They would pay for it with money that was unfamiliar, but made of good silver.

One time a little old man came on a hot summer day to get some beer. He was so thirsty that he drank some immediately, indeed, so much that it caused him to fall asleep. When he woke up and saw how late it was, the little old man began to cry bitterly, "Now my grandfather will beat me for staying away so long."

Frightened, he jumped up and ran away, forgetting to take his beer pitcher with him. He never again returned.

The innkeeper's father had received the pitcher, as had he himself, for his daughter's dowry. As long as the pitcher remained in the house the family prospered. However, a short time earlier it had been broken; and with it their fortune broke as well. From that time onward everything had gone awry.

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Revised May 14, 2009.