In a small country town there were at
one time two men who had the same name
— Claus. One of them had four horses,
but the other had only one : so, to make it
clear which was which, the owner of the
four horses was named Great Claus, and
he who had only one, Little Claus. Now
this is the true story of what took place
All through the week Little Claus had
to do the ploughing for Great Claus and to
let him have his one horse ; and once a
week, on Sunday, Great Claus let him
have all his four horses. Then how Little
Claus would go cracking his whip over
all five horses ! They seemed all to be his
on that one day. The sun was bright, and
the bells were sounding happily while
everybody from the town came by,
dressed in their best clothing, with their
books of religion under their arms. They
were going to church. They took a look at
Little Claus ploughing with his five
horses, and he was so pleased with himself
that he gave his whip a crack and said,
" Go on, my five horses !"
" You are not to say that," said Great
Claus, " because only one of them is yours."
But his Words went completely out of
Little Claus' mind, and when anybody
went by he would give a cry, " Go on, my
five horses !"
" Now will you please not say that
again," said Great Claus ; " because if
you do I will give your horse a blow on
the head, which will put an end to him."
" I give you my word I will not say it
any more," said the other ; but whenever
any of his friends came by, smiling at
him and saying " Good day" to him, he
became so pleased with himself and was
so conscious of how important it made
him seem to have five horses ploughing in
his field, that he again gave the cry,
" Go on, all my horses!"
" I'll make your horses go on for you,"
said Great Claus ; and, taking a hammer,
he gave the one horse of Little Claus a
blow on the head and he went down dead.
" Oh, now I have no horse at all," said
Little Claus, crying. But after a short
time he took off the dead horse's skin and
put it up to get dry in the wind. Then he
put the dry skin into a bag, and with the
bag on his back went to the nearest town
to take the horse's skin to market. It was
a very long way, and he had to go through
a dark wood. Thunder and rain came on,
and he had no idea where he was, and by
the time he got to the right road it was
almost nightfall, and it was still a long way
to the town and so far from his house
that he would not be able to get back
before night. Near the road he saw a
great farmhouse. The shutters outside
the windows were pulled across, but
light came through the cracks and over the
"They might take me in here for the
night," was Little Claus' thought, so he
went up to the door and gave a blow on it.
The woman got it open ; but on hearing
what his business was, she said he would
have to go away, because the farmer did
not let her take in strange persons.
" Then I will have to take my rest out
here," said Little Claus to himself when
the door was shut in his face by the woman.
Near the farmhouse there was a great
mass of dry grass, and between it and the
house was a small building with a grass
roof. " I will go up there," said Little
Claus, when he saw the roof; "it will
make a very good bed, so long as that
bird does not come down and take a bite
out of my leg;" because on it was a great
bird, which was living up there. So
Little Claus got up on the roof of the
out-house, and while he was turning himself
round in an attempt to get in a good
position for the night he made the
discovery that the wood shutters did not
come up to the tops of the windows of
the farmhouse, so that he was able to see
into a room, in which was a table of
great size covered with wine, meat, and
a first-rate fish. The woman of the farm
and the sexton1 were seated at the table
together ; and she was putting wine in
his glass, and giving him a plate full of
?sh, which he seemed to be specially
pleased with. " If only I might have
some," was Little Claus' thought; and
then, stretching his neck, he saw a great,
beautiful plate of fruit covered with paste
— truly, it was a very good meal they had
Suddenly there came to his ears the sound
of somebody coming down the road to the
farm on horseback. It was the farmer
coming back. He was a good man, but he
had a strange feeling against sextons. If
he saw one he would become violently
angry. Because of this feeling of the
farmer the sexton had gone to see the
woman while the farmer was away on
business, and the Woman had put before
him the best food she had in the house.
The sound of the farmer's horse put her
in great fear, and she quickly made a
request to the sexton to get into a great
chest which was in the room and had
nothing in it, so that he might not be seen.
He did so, because the farmer's feeling
against sextons was common knowledge.
The woman then quickly took away the
wine, and put all the other good things
into the oven ; because if the farmer had
seen them he would have made her say
why she had got them out.
Little Claus, on the top of the out—house,
was very unhappy when he saw all the
good things going from view.
" Is anybody up there ?" said the
farmer, looking up at the roof and seeing
Little Claus. " Why are you up there?
Get down, and come into the house with
me." So Little Claus came down and gave
the tanner an account of how he had taken
the wrong road, and made a request to be
given a. bed for the night.
" All right," said the farmer, " but let
us have some food first."
The Woman seemed pleased to see them ;
she put the cloth on a great table and gave
them a plate of cooked grain. The farmer
was very ready for his food and took the
grain with pleasure, but Little Claus was
unable to get out of his mind the good
meat, ?sh, and fruit which were in the
oven. Under the table, at his feet, was the
bag with the horse's skin for which he was
hoping to get a good price at the nearest
town. Now the cooked grain Was not at all
to Little Claus' taste, so he put his foot on
the bag under the table, and the dry skin
made a noise like a machine in need of
oil. " Be quiet !" said Little Claus to his
bag, at the same time putting his foot on it
again, till it made a louder noise than before.
" I say ! What have you got in that
bag?" said the farmer.
" Oh, this is a Bag of Tricks," said
Little Claus, " and it says it is not
necessary for us to be having a meal of
cooked grain because it has put meat,
fish, and fruit into the oven."
" That's great news !" said the farmer,
jumping up and opening the oven door;
and there were all the good things secretly
put there by the Woman, but which in the
farrner's belief had been placed there by
the Bag of Tricks under the table. The
woman, fearing to say a word, put the
things before them, and the two men had
a good meal of the fish, the meat, and the
Then Little Claus again put his foot on
his bag, and it made the same sound as
before. " What does he say now ?" said
" He says," Little Claus made answer,
" that there are three bottles of wine
waiting for us between the oven and the
So the woman had to give them the
wine which she had put out of view, and
the farmer took so much of it that he
got into a very good humour. He had
a great desire for a Bag of Tricks such as
Little Claus had. " Is he able to make
Satan come before us ?" said the farmer.
" It would be a. pleasure to see him now
while I am in such a good humour."
" Oh, yes !" Was Little Claus' answer,
" My Bag of Tricks is able to do
anything it is requested-are you not ?" he
said, at the same time pushing the bag
with his foot till it made a noise. " You
see, he says ' Yes,' but he has a fear that
we will not be pleased when we see him."
" Oh, I have no fear. What will he be
" Well, he is very much like a sexton."
" Hah !" said the farmer, "Then he
will certainly be very disgusting-looking.
I am unable to see a sexton without
feeling ill. However, let us give no attention
to that, because I will be conscious
who it is, and will be able to keep my
feelings under control. Now then, I have
put away all fear, but do not let him
come very near me."
" First it is necessary for me to put a
question to the Bag of Tricks," said
Little Claus; so he put his foot on the
bag, with his head bent to get the answer.
" What does he say ?"
" He says you are to go to that great
chest in the angle of the room, and you
will see Satan inside it ; but you are to
keep a good grip of the top so that he may
not get out."
" Will you come and give me your
help, then ?" said the farmer, going to the
chest in which the woman had secretly
put the sexton, who was now inside it,
and full of fear. The farmer got the
cover open a very little way and took a
" Oh !" said he, jumping back with a
cry, " I saw him, and he is very like our
sexton. What a shock it gave me!" So
after that he had to have another drink ;
and the two of them Went on drinking
till far into the night.
" Will you let me have your Bag of
Tricks ?" said the farmer. "Whatever
your price, I will give it to you ; in fact,
I would give you abushel2 of gold now."
" No, that is impossible," said Little
Claus. " Don't you see how much profit
I might make out of this Bag of Tricks ?"
" But I would be so happy to have it,"
said the farmer, still going on with his
" Well," said Little Claus in the end,
" you have been good enough to give me
a resting-place for the night. I will not
say 'No' to you ; you may have the
Bag of Tricks for a bushel of money, but
let it be full measure."
" It certainly will be," said the farmer,
" but you have got to take away the
chest with you. I would not have it in the
house another hour; it is quite possible
that he is still there."
So Little Claus gave the farmer the bag
with the dry horse's skin in it, and got in
exchange a bushel of money — full measure.
In addition, the farmer gave him a hand-cart
on which to take away the chest and
" Good day," said Little Claus, going
off with his money and the great chest, in
which the sexton still was. On one side of
the wood was a wide, deep river ; the
water went by so quickly that only a very
strong swimmer would be able to get
across against the current. A new bridge
had been made across it, and in the middle
of this bridge Little Claus came to a stop
and said loudly enough for his words to
come to the sexton's ears, "Now what am
I to do with this foolish chest ? Its weight
is as great as if it was full of stones ; I will
be tired if I take it farther, so I will give it
a push into the river ; if the current takes
it down to my house, well and good, and
if not, it will be no great loss."
So he took a grip of the chest, lifting it
a little as if he was about to give it a push
into the water.
The sexton gave a cry from inside the
chest : " No, no, put it down ; let me out
" Oh !" said little Claus, acting as if in
great fear, " he is still there, is he ? I will
send him to his death in the river."
" Oh no ! Oh no !" came the cry again,
" I will give you a bushel full of money
if you will let me go."
" Why, that is another thing," said
Little Claus, opening the chest. The
sexton got out, gave the chest a push into
the water, and went to his house, Where
he gave Little Claus a bushel full of gold.
Claus put this with the one he had got
from the farmer earlier, so that he now
had a full cart.
" I have been given good payment for
my horse," he said to himself when he got
to his house, Went into his room, and put
all his money in a mass on the floor. " How
angry Great Claus will be when he sees
how Well-off I have become through my
one horse ! But I will not give him all the
details of what took place." Then he sent
a boy to' Great Claus with a request for
the use of his bushel measure.
" What's this for ?" was Great Claus'
thought ; so he put some sticky substance
inside the measure, so that some of
whatever was put in it might get fixed
there. And so it came about ; when the
measure came back there were three new
bits of silver money in it.
" How did he get these ?" said Great
Claus ; and he went straight to Little
Claus and said to him : " Where did you
get so much money ?"
"Oh, for my horse's skin I took to market
" You certainly got a good price for it,
then," said Great Claus, and running
back to his house he took a hammer and
gave all his four horses a blow on the head,
took off their skins, and took them to the
town. He went through the streets crying,
" Skins, skins, who will have my skins ?"
All the shoe-makers and leather-workers
came running out to see the price of them.
" A bushel of money for a skin," Great
Claus made answer.
" Are you off your head ?" they all said.
" Is it probable that we have bushels of
money to give away ?"
" Skins, skins," he went on crying,
" who will take my skins ?"
But whenever he was questioned about the
price his answer was, " A bushel of money."
" He is making sport of us," said they
all. Then the shoe-makers took their
leather bands and the leather-workers
their leather skirts and they gave Great
Claus a whipping, crying, " Skins, skins!"
and laughing at him, " Yes, we will make
marks on your skin for you till it is black
" Out of the town with him," said they.
And Great Claus had to go as quickly as
he was able; he had never had such a
whipping before. ‘
" Ah," said he when he came to his
house, " Little Claus will make payment
for this ; I will give him a whipping which
he will not get over."
While all this was going on, the death
had taken place of an old Woman who was
a relation of Little Claus. She had
frequently got angry with him and been
unkind to him, and made trouble for
him; but he was very sad at her death
and took the dead woman and put her
in his warm bed to see if it might be
possible to put breath into her again.
It was his purpose to let her be there
all the night, while he himself took a
seat at one end of the room, as he had
frequently done before. In the night,
while he was seated there, the door was
pushed open and in came Great Claus
with a hammer. He had a clear memory
of where Little Claus' bed was, so he went
straight up to it and gave the old woman
a blow on the head, in the belief that it was
" There," he said, " now you will not be
able to make sport of me ageing" and then
he went back to his house.
" That is a very bad man," was Little
Claus' thought ; " he came here to put me
to death. It is a good thing for the old
woman that she was dead before, because
she would certainly be dead now." Then
he put her in her best dress, got a. person
living near him to let him have a horse, and
put it to the cart. Then, placing the old
woman on the back seat to keep her from
falling out while he was driving, he went
off through the wood. When the sun was
getting up, they came to a small hotel,
where Little Claus made a stop and went
to get some food. The hotel-keeper was
well-off and a good man in addition, but as
ready to get angry as if he had been made
" Good morning," said he to Little
Claus, " you have come early today."
" Yes," said Little Claus, " I am going
to the town with this old relation of mine :
she is seated in the back of the cart, but
I am unable to take her into the room.
Will you give her a glass of beer ? But be
certain to make your voice as loud as
possible, because her hearing is not very
" Yes, certainly I Will," was the
hotel-keeper's answer, and, with a glass of beer
in his hand, he went out to the dead
woman, who was seated upright in the cart.
" Here is a glass of beer from Little Claus,"
said the hotel-keeper. The dead woman
gave no answer and made no move. " Am
I not talking loudly enough ?" said the
hotel-keeper as loudly as possible. " Here
is a glass of beer from Little Claus."
Again and again he said these words in
a loud voice, but still she made no move,
and at last he became very angry and
sent the glass of beer violently in her face ;
it gave her a blow on the nose, causing
her to go back out of the cart head first,
because she was only seated there, not
?xed tightly in.
" What's this ?" said Little Claus,
running out of the door and gripping the
hotel-keeper by the throat, " you have
put the old woman to death ; see, here is a
great hole in her face."
" Oh, how shocking !" said the
hotel-keeper, twisting his hands together. " This
all comes from my getting angry. Dear
Little Claus, I will give you a bushel of
money, I will put the old woman under
the earth with as much respect as if she
was a relation of mine ; only keep quiet
about it, or they might have my head cut
off and that would be a very sad end."
So, in this way, Little Claus got another
bushel of money and the hotel-keeper
put the old woman under the earth as if
she had been a relation of his. When
Little Claus got back to his house again,
he sent a boy off to Great Claus straight
away with a request for a bushel measure.
" How is this ?" said Great Claus to himself, "
did I not put an end to him ? I will
go and see for myself." So he went to Little
Claus, and took the bushel measure with
him. " How did you get all this money ?"
said Great Claus, looking with wide open
eyes at the other's mass of money.
" You put an old woman to death in
place of me," said Little Claus, " so I have
got a bushel of money for her dead body."
"That is certainly a good price," said
Great Claus. So he went back to his
house, took a hammer, and put an old
woman in his family to death with one
blow. Then, placing her on a. cart, he
went into the town to the chemist and
said " How much will you give me for a
dead body ?"
"Whose is it, and where did you get
it ?" said the chemist.
" It is an old female relation of mine,"
was his answer. " I put her to death with
one blow so that I might get a bushel of
money for her."
" God keep us safe!" said the chemist.
" You are off your head. Don't say such
things, or you will be put to death."
And then he gave him a serious talk about
the cruel thing he had done, and said that
such a bad man would certainly get his
punishment. Great Claus was so full of
fear at these words that he went running
out of the chemist's store, gave a jump
into the cart, and, whipping his horses, got
back to his house as quickly as possible.
The chemist and all the townsmen were
of the opinion that he was off his head
and made no attempt at stopping him.
" You will make payment for this,"
said Great Claus when he was on the road
again, " you certainly will, Little Claus."
So when he got to his house he took the
greatest bag he was able to put his hands
on and went over to Little Claus. "This
is another of your tricks," he said. " First
I put to death all my horses, and then an
old woman, and it is all because of you ;
but you will never make sport of me again."
So gripping Little Claus round the body,
he put him into the bag, which he took on
his back, saying, " Now I am going to put
you to death in the river."
He had a long way to go before he got
to the river, and Little Claus was no small
weight. The road went by the church,
and, when they were going past, the sound
of music and voices in song came to his
ears. Great Claus put down the bag near
the church door, with the thought that
he would go in for a short time before he
went any farther. It was not possible for
Little Claus to get out of the bag, and
everybody was in church, so in he went.
" Oh dear, oh dear!" said Little Claus
sadly, turning and twisting about in the
bag, but he was unable to get the cord
loose. After a short time an old cow-driver
with snow-white hair came by. In
his hand he had a great stick with which
he was driving a great number of cows
before him. They came pushing up
against the bag in which Little Claus was,
overturning it. " Oh dear !" said Little
Claus, sadly. " I am very young, but in
a short time I am going to the Happy
" And I, poor man," said the driver, " I,
who am so old, am unable to get there."
" Let me out," said Little Claus. " Get
into this bag in my place, and you will be
there quickly enough."
" With great pleasure," said the driver,
opening the bag, out of which Little Claus
came jumping as quickly as possible.
" Will you take care of my cows ?" said the
old man, getting into the bag.
" Yes," said Little Claus, and making a
knot round the bag, he went off with all
When Great Claus came out of church,
he took up the bag and put it on his back.
The weight of it seemed very much less,
because the old driver was only half the
size of Little Claus.
" What a small weight he seems now !"
said he. " That is because I have been to
church." So he went on to the river, which
was deep and wide, and sent the bag with
the old driver in it far out into the water
in the belief that Little Claus was in it.
" That's the place for you," he said,
"this will be the end of your tricks."
Then he made a start to go back, but
when he got to a. place where his road
went across another, there was Little
Claus driving the cows. " How is this ?"
said Great Claus. " Did I not put you into
the water a short time back ?"
" Yes," said Little Claus. " You put
me into the river about half-an-hour back."
" But wherever did you get all these
beautiful animals ?" said Great Claus.
" These animals are sea-cows," Little
Claus made answer. " I will give you the
complete story. It was very kind of you
to put me in the water ; I am in a better
position than you now; in fact, I am
very well off. It is true that I was not at
all happy while I was shut up in the bag,
and the wind was whistling in my ears
when you sent me down into the river
from the bridge, and I went straight to
the river-bed, but I did no damage to
myself because I came down on beautifully
soft grass; and in a minute or two the
bag was open, and the sweetest little
girl came in my direction. She had a
snow-white dress, and a circle of green
leaves on her wet hair. She took me by
the hand and said, ‘So you have come,
Little Claus, and here are some cows for
you to make a start with. About a mile
farther down the road there are some
more for you.' Then I saw that the river
made a great highway for those living in
the sea. They were walking and driving
up and down from the sea to the land at
the place where the river comes to its end.
The bed of the river was covered with the
most beautiful flowers and sweet new
grass. The fish went swimming by me as
quickly as the birds do here in the air.
How good-looking everybody was in that
place, and what beautiful cows were
pulling at the grass on the highlands and
"But why did you come up again,"
said Great Claus, " if it was all so beautiful
down there ? I would not have done so."
"Well," said Little Claus, "it was
good sense on my part ; the girl said I was
to go some distance down the road and
there would be some more animals waiting
for me. The ‘ road ' for her was the river,
because she was unable to go any other
way ; but I have a good knowledge of the
curves of the river and how it goes sometimes
to the right and sometimes to the
left, and it seemed a long distance, so I
am going a shorter way, and, by coming
up to the land and then driving across the
fields back again to the river, I will only
have to go half a mile and will get all my
cows more quickly."
" What a happy man you are!" said
Great Claus. " Will it be possible for me
to get any sea-cows if I go down to the
bed of the river ?"
" Yes, probably," said Little Claus,
" but I would not be able to take you
there in a bag because of your great weight.
However, if you will go there first and then
get into a bag, I will put you into the
river with the greatest pleasure."
" That is very kind of you," said Great
Claus, " but keep in mind that if I do not
get any sea-cows down there I will come
up again and give you a good whipping."
" No, please don't be so violent about
it," said Little Claus, while they were
walking in the direction of the river.
When they got near it, the cows, who were
in need of a drink, saw the water and went
running down to it.
" See how great their desire is to get
down there again!" said Little Claus.
" Come, give me your help quickly,"
said Great Claus, " or you will get a
whipping." So he got into a great bag,
which had been on the back of one of the
" Put in a stone," said Great Claus,
" or I may not go down to the bed of the
" Oh, there's not much fear of that,"
Little Claus made answer; but he put a
great stone into the bag and then made a
knot round the mouth of it and gave it a
Splash ! In went Great Claus, straight
down to the bed of the river.
" I have a fear that he will not get any
cows," said Little Claus, driving his
animals back to his house.
- 68 -
1 sexton - Church caretaker.
2 bushel -- An old measure equal to 8 gallons.
It was very cold and almost dark at nightfall on the last day of the old year, and the snow was falling quickly.
cold and the dark, a poor little girl with
her head and feet uncovered was going
through the streets. It is true that she
had had on some shoes when she came
away from her house, but they were of no
use to her because of their great size.
They had, in fact, been her mother's, and
the poor little girl had been unable to
keep them on her feet when she was
running to get out of the way of two
carriages which were coming down the
street much more quickly than they had
any business to do. One of her shoes she
never saw again, and a boy took the other
and went off with it, saying that he would
be able to make use of it as a baby's bed
when he himself had a family. So the
little girl went on with her uncovered feet,
which were quite red and blue from the
cold. She had a number of matches in a
bit of an old dress, and one box of them
attempt to keep herself warm. She had
put her little feet under her, but she was
unable to keep off the cold, and fear
kept her from going to her father's house
because she had got nothing in exchange
for her matches and was unable to take
back any money. Her father would
certainly give her a whipping ; and, in
addition, it was almost as cold in the house
as it was here, because they had no cover
but the roof, through which the Wind
came with a great noise, though the
greatest holes had been stopped up with
dry grass and bits of old clothing. Her
little hands Were almost stiff with the
cold. Ah ! Possibly a burning match
might be some good, if she was able to
take it out of the box and get it lighted by
rubbing it against the wall, so that she
might get her fingers warm. She took one
out -- it made a strange noise while it was
burning. It gave a warm bright light, like
a little wax-light, while she put her hand
over it. It was truly a surprising and
beautiful light. It seemed to the little
girl as if she was seated by a great iron
heater with polished brass feet and a brass
ornament. The fire was burning and seemed
so beautifully warm that the little girl put
out her feet as if to get them warm, when
suddenly the flame of the match went out,
the picture went from view, and she had
only the rest of the half-burned match in
She gave another match a rub on the
wall. There was a burst of flame, and in
its light she seemed to be able to see
through the wall and into the room on the
other side of it. The table was covered
with a table-cloth as white as snow, and on
it were a number of plates for food, and a
steaming goose full of apples and dry
fruits. And it was even stranger when the
goose, jumping down from the table,
came across the floor to the little girl
with a knife and fork in its chest. Then
the match went out, and she was unable
to see anything but the thick, wet, cold
wall before her.
She got another match lighted, and then
she seemed to be seated under a beautiful
Christmas—tree. It was higher and had
more beautiful ornaments than the one
she had seen through the glass door at the
house of the well-off tradesman. Thousands
of wax—lights were burning on the green
branches, and coloured pictures, like
those which she had seen in the store-windows,
were looking down on it all. The
little girl put out her hand in their direction,
and the match went out.
The Christmas lights went up higher and
higher till they seemed to her to be like
the stars in the sky. Then she saw at star
coming down with a bright line of fire at
the back of it. "Somebody is on his
death-bed," was the little girl's thought ;
because her mother's old mother, the only
person who had ever had any love for
her and who was now dead, had said to
her that when a star came down, somebody's
soul2 was going up to God.
She gave another match a rub on the
wall, and there was a bright light round
her; in the middle of the light her
mother's mother came into view, clear
and bright, but kind and loving. The
little girl gave a cry : " Oh, please take me
with you ; I am certain that you will go
away when the match is all burned ; you
will suddenly go from view like the warm
fire, the cooked goose, and the great,
beautiful Christmas-tree." And she quickly
went on lighting all the matches, because
she had a strong desire to keep the old
woman there. And the matches gave a
light which was brighter than the middle
of the day, and the old woman had
never seemed to be so great or so beautiful.
She took the little girl in her arms, and
together they went up to the bright sky
far over the earth, where there was no
cold, or need of food, or pain, because they
were with God.
In the early morning the poor little girl
was seen resting against the wall with
white face and smiling mouth ; she had
come to her death through the cold on the
last night of the old year ; and the New
Year's sun came up, its light falling on the
little dead body. The little girl was still
seated, stiff in death, gripping in her hand
the matches, one box of which was used up.
" She was doing her best to get warm,"
said some; but it was not possible for
anyone to get even an idea of the beautiful
things she had seen or the happy existence
she had been taken to on New Year's
1. goose -- A sort of great farm-bird which is made fat for the table.
2. soul -- Inner self, for which, in the Christian belief,
there is no death.