7. The World’s Reward

Once there was a man that had an old dog, so old that the man decided to get rid of him. The dog had served him very faithfully when he was still young, but now the man wanted to dispose of him. The old dog, however, found out the plan of his master, and so at once decided to go away of his own accord.

After he had walked quite a way he met an old bull.

“Don’t you want to go with me?” asked the dog.

“Where?” was the reply.

“To the land of the aged,” said the dog, “where troubles don’t disturb you and thanklessness is unheard of.”

“Good,” said the bull, “I am your companion.”

The two now walked on and found a ram.

The dog laid the plan before him, and all moved off together, until they afterwards came upon a donkey, a cat, a cock, and a goose.

These joined their company, and the seven set out on their journey.

Late one night they came to a house and through the open door they saw a table spread with all kinds of nice food, of which some robbers were having their fill. It would not help to ask for admittance, and seeing that they were hungry, they had to think of something else.

Therefore the donkey climbed up on the bull, the ram on the donkey, the dog on the ram, the cat on the dog, the goose on the cat, and the cock on the goose, and all at once they all let out terrible threatening noises.

The bull began to bellow, the donkey to bray, the dog to bark, the ram to bleat, the cat to mew, the goose to giggle gaggle, and the cock to crow, all without stopping.

The people in the house were petrified. They glanced out through the front door, and there they stared at the strange sight. Some of them left through the back door, some disappeared through the window, and in a few moments the house was empty.

Then the seven old animals climbed down from one another, stepped into the house, and satisfied themselves with the delicious food.

But when they had finished, there still remained a great deal of food, too much to take with them on their remaining journey, and so together they decided to stay until the next day after breakfast.

The dog said, “See here, I am accustomed to watch at the front door of my master’s house,” and so flopped himself down to sleep. The bull said, “I go behind the door,” and there he took his position. The ram said, “I will go up into the loft”. The donkey said, “I will be by the middle door”. The cat said, “I will be by the fireplace”. The goose said, “I will be by the back door”, and the cock said, “I am going to sleep on the bed.”

The captain of the robbers, after a while, sent one of his men back to see if these creatures had yet left the house.

The man came very cautiously near the house, listened and listened, but he heard nothing. He peeped through the window, and saw in the grate just two coals still glimmering, and so started to walk through the front door.

There the old dog seized him by the leg. He jumped into the house, but the bull was ready, swept him up with his horns, and tossed him to the loft. Here the ram received him and pushed him off the loft again. Reaching ground, he made for the middle door, but the donkey set up a terrible braying and at the same time gave him a kick that landed him in the fireplace, where the cat flew at him and scratched him nearly to pieces. He then jumped out through the back door, and here the goose got him by the trousers. When he was some distance away the cock crowed. He ran so that you could hear the stones rattle in the dark.

Flushed red and out of breath, he came back to his companions.

“Frightful, frightful!” was all that they could get from him at first, but after a while he told them.

“When I looked through the window I saw in the fireplace two bright coals shining, and when I wanted to go through the front door to go and look, I stepped into an iron trap. I jumped into the house, and there someone seized me with a fork and pitched me up to the loft, there again someone was ready, and threw me down on all fours. I wanted to fly through the middle door, but there someone blew on a trumpet, and hit me with a sledge hammer so that I did not know where I landed. But coming to very quickly, I found I was in the fireplace, and there another flew at me and scratched the eyes almost out of my head. I fled out of the back door, and lastly I was attacked on the leg by the sixth with a pair of fire tongs, and when I was still running away, someone shouted out of the house, ‘Stop him, stop h—i—m!'”