translated and/or edited by
D. L. Ashliman
Once upon a time there were three billy goats, who were to go up to the hillside to make themselves fat, and the name of all three was "Gruff."
On the way up was a bridge over a cascading stream they had to cross; and under the bridge lived a great ugly troll , with eyes as big as saucers, and a nose as long as a poker.
So first of all came the youngest Billy Goat Gruff to cross the bridge.
"Trip, trap, trip, trap! " went the bridge.
"Who's that tripping over my bridge?" roared the troll .
"Oh, it is only I, the tiniest Billy Goat Gruff , and I'm going up to the hillside to make myself fat," said the billy goat, with such a small voice.
"Now, I'm coming to gobble you up," said the troll.
"Oh, no! pray don't take me. I'm too little, that I am," said the billy goat. "Wait a bit till the second Billy Goat Gruff comes. He's much bigger."
"Well, be off with you," said the troll.
A little while after came the second Billy Goat Gruff to cross the bridge.
Trip, trap, trip, trap, trip, trap, went the bridge.
"Who's that tripping over my bridge?" roared the troll.
"Oh, it's the second Billy Goat Gruff , and I'm going up to the hillside to make myself fat," said the billy goat, who hadn't such a small voice.
"Now I'm coming to gobble you up," said the troll.
"Oh, no! Don't take me. Wait a little till the big Billy Goat Gruff comes. He's much bigger."
"Very well! Be off with you," said the troll.
But just then up came the big Billy Goat Gruff .
Trip, trap, trip, trap, trip, trap! went the bridge, for the billy goat was so heavy that the bridge creaked and groaned under him.
"Who's that tramping over my bridge?" roared the troll.
"It's I! The big Billy Goat Gruff ," said the billy goat, who had an ugly hoarse voice of his own.
"Now I 'm coming to gobble you up," roared the troll.
Well, come along! I've got two spears,
That was what the big billy goat said. And then he flew at the troll, and poked his eyes out with his horns, and crushed him to bits, body and bones, and tossed him out into the cascade, and after that he went up to the hillside. There the billy goats got so fat they were scarcely able to walk home again. And if the fat hasn't fallen off them, why, they're still fat; and so,
Snip, snap, snout.
The one with one little belly was soon full and was the first to go home. But a wolf laid himself across the narrow mountain path and said, "Run! Run, or I'll eat you up!"
The goat said, "Don't eat me up. I am very skinny, but a goat will soon come who has two little bellies. He will fill you up." And the wolf let him go.
Then came the second goat, the one with two little bellies, and who was now full. The wolf said to him as well, "Run! Run, or I'll eat you up!"
He said, "Don't eat me up. I am only half meat, but a goat will soon come who has three little bellies, and who will fill you up completely." And the wolf let him go as well.
Then came the third goat, the one with three little bellies. He had finally gotten full.
The wolf said to him, "Run! Run, or I'll eat you up!"
This goat said nothing in return, but instead, brave and forward as he was, lowered his horns and gave the wolf such a blow that he fell from the cliff into the chasm below and broke his right leg. And there the poor rascal lay. He wanted the biggest and fattest mouthfull, but instead got nothing -- but pain.
In olden, olden times, the land of Hessen was surrounded by great forests which were inhabited by many wolves. Many a family of goats attempted to enter the land, but were torn apart by the bloodthirsty beasts. One day a weak little kid goat was making his way toward Hessen. He had hardly entered the forest before a wolf confronted him and wanted to tear him to pieces.
Filled with fear, the little kid said, "My mother is coming too."
The wolf thought, "Don't spoil your appetite. The mother will be a better meal for my hungry stomach." And he let the little animal pass in peace.
Sure enough, soon afterward the mother goat appeared. The wolf was about to pounce on her, when she -- filled with fear -- said, "My husband is coming too."
"Stop!" thought the wolf. "Her husband is larger and will be a better meal for you. Wait to eat until he comes."
Finally the ram goat approached. The wolf's heart laughed inside his body when he saw the stately fellow. He was about to spring on him and grab him by the throat when two things caught his attention: the ram's spikes and his bag.
"Tell me, ram," what are those big spikes on your head, and what is that bag for between your legs?"
"Oh," replied the ram, "the spikes are a pair of pistols, and the bag is where I carry my powder and lead."
In that moment, as such animals often do, the ram rubbed his left horn against his flank. The wolf thought that he was loading his pistol, and he took to flight. Thus the first family of goats arrived happily in the land of Hessen. Their descendents have multiplied so much that Hessen now provides the neighboring lands with its surplus every year.