Clever Elsie

Clever Elsie - How a pickaxe on the wall made everyone cry

A man had a daughter called Clever Elsie. When Elsie was old enough, the father wanted to find a husband for her. At last a suitor came from a long way off and his name was Hans. But first Hans wanted to know whether Elsie was also a sensible girl. While they were eating, the mother sent Elsie down to the cellar to fetch some beer. The Clever Elsie took the jug from the wall and went down to the cellar.

While the beer was running into the jug, Elsie noticed a pickaxe hanging on the wall. Elsie then thought that if she married Hans and had a child that grew up and fetched the beer, the pickaxe could kill it. Then she burst into tears. Because she had stayed away so long, the maid was sent to see what had happened to Elsie. When the maid heard about Elsie's fears she also began to cry. The same thing happened with the servant, the mother and the father. All of them cried when they heard the reason and praised their Clever Elsie. Finally, Hans came down to the cellar. When he heard the story he made his decision. "Well, more sense is not necessary for my household" and he married the Clever Elsie.

One day Hans wanted to go out of the house and told Elsie that she should cut the corn in the meantime. Before going out onto the field Elsie had eaten her porridge and was so tired that she fell asleep there. When Hans returned home, he thought that Elsie was still working. But she was still not back in the evening. He went into the field and found his wife sleeping there. Then he hung bells around her, went back to the house and locked the door behind him.

It was already dark when Elsie awoke. She got up and was confused, because bells rang with every step she made. Elsie did not know if she really was the Clever Elsie. She ran home. As the house door was locked, she knocked on the window and called "Hans, Is Elsie in there?" Hans called out "Yes." She was horrified and said to herself "Oh God! Then I am not her." She ran away from the village and no-one has ever seen her again.