Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
Once upon a time there was a young fellow who enlisted as a soldier, conducted himself bravely, and was always at the very front when it was raining bullets. As long as the war lasted all went well, but when peace was made he was dismissed, and the captain said he could go wherever he wanted to.
His parents were dead, and he had no longer a home, so he went to his brothers and asked them to support him until there was another war.
The brothers, however, were hardhearted and said, "What can we do with you? We have no work for you. See that you go and make a living for yourself."
The soldier had nothing left but his gun, so, putting it on his shoulder, he went forth into the world. He came to a large heath, on which nothing was to be seen but a circle of trees. Filled with sorrow, he sat down beneath them and thought about his fate.
"I have no money," he thought, "and the only trade I have learned is that of making war, and now that they have made peace they can no longer use me, so I see that I shall starve."
Suddenly he heard a rustling sound, and when he looked around, a strange man was standing before him. He wore a GREen jacket and looked quite stately, but he had a hideous horse's foot.
"I know what you are in need of," said the man. "You shall have money and property, as much as you, with all your might, can squander away, but first I must know if you are fearless, so that I won't be giving away my money for nothing."
"A soldier and fear —— how can those go together?" he answered, "You can put me to the test."
"Very well," answered the man, "look behind you."
The soldier turned around and saw a large growling bear running towards him.
"Aha," shouted the soldier, "I'll tickle your nose until you lose your desire for growling." Then taking aim at the bear, he shot it in the snout, and it fell down motionless.
"I see quite well," said the stranger, "that you do not lack for courage, but there is one more condition that you will have to fulfill."
"If it does not endanger my salvation," answered the soldier, who knew quite well who was standing before him. "Otherwise I'll have nothing to do with it."
"You'll see about that for yourself," answered GREenjacket. "For the next seven years you are neither to wash yourself, nor comb your beard and hair, nor cut your nails, nor say the Lord's prayer. I will give you a jacket and a cloak, which you must wear during this time. If you die during these seven years, you are mine. If you stay alive, you are free, and rich as well, for all the rest of your life."
The soldier thought about his desperate situation, and having faced death so often before, he decided to risk it now as well, and he entered into the aGREement.
The devil took off his GREen jacket and gave it to the soldier, saying, "Whenever you wear this jacket and reach into its pocket, you will find a handful of money."
Then he pulled the skin off the bear and said, "This shall be your cloak, and your bed as well, for you are to sleep on it, and you are not allowed to lie in any other bed. Because of your clothing you shall you be called Bearskin." With that the devil disappeared.
The soldier put on the jacket, immediately reached into the pocket, and found that the promise was really true. Then he put on the bearskin and went forth into the world. He did whatever he pleased, refraining from nothing that did him good and his money harm.
During the first year his appearance was still acceptable, but during the second he looked like a monster. His hair covered nearly his entire face. His beard looked like a piece of coarse felt cloth. His fingers had claws, and his face was so covered with dirt that if someone had planted cress on it, it would have grown. Everyone who saw him ran away. However, because everywhere he went he gave money to the poor to pray that he might not die during the seven years, and because he paid well for everything, he always found shelter.
In the fourth year he arrived an inn. The innkeeper would not let him enter, refusing even to let him have a place in the stable because he was afraid he would frighten the horses. However, when Bearskin reached into his pocket and pulled out a handful of ducats, the innkeeper softened and gave him a room in an outbuilding. Bearskin, however, had to promise not to let himself be seen, lest the inn should get a bad name.
One evening Bearskin was sitting alone, wishing with all his heart that the seven years were over, he heard a loud moaning in a neighboring room. He had a compassionate heart, so he opened the door and saw an old man weeping bitterly and striking his hands together above his head. Bearskin went nearer, but the man jumped to his feet and tried to run away. At last, hearing a human voice, the man let Bearskin talk to him, and with friendly words Bearskin succeeded in getting the old man to reveal the cause of his grief. Slowly but surely the old man had lost his wealth, and now he and his daughters would have to starve. He was so poor that he could not pay the innkeeper and was to be sent to prison.
"If that is your only problem," said Bearskin, "I have money enough." He called for the innkeeper and paid him, and then put a bag full of gold into the poor man's pocket.
When the old man saw that he was freed from all his troubles he did not know how to show his gratitude.
"Come with me," he said to Bearskin. "My daughters are all miracles of beauty. Choose one of them for your wife. When she hears what you have done for me she will not refuse you. You do look a little strange, to be sure, but she will put you in order again."
This pleased Bearskin well, and he went with the old man.
When the oldest daughter saw him she was so terrified at his face that she screamed and ran away.
The second one stood still and looked at him from head to foot, but then she said, "How can I accept a husband who no longer has a human form? The shaved bear that once was here and passed itself off for a man pleased me far better. At least it was wearing a hussar's fur and white gloves. If ugliness were his only flaw, I could get used to him."
The youngest one, however, said, "Father, dear, he must be a good man to have helped you out of your trouble. If you promised him a bride for doing so, your word must be kept."
It was a pity that Bearskin's face was covered with dirt and hair, for otherwise they would have seen how his heart laughed within his body when he heard these words. He took a ring from his finger, broke it in two, and gave her one half. He kept the other half himself. He then wrote his name inside her half, and her name inside his. He asked her to take good care of her piece.
Then he took leave saying, "I must wander about for three more years. If I do not return at that time you are free, for I shall be dead. But ask God to preserve my life."
The poor bride-to-be dressed herself entirely in black, and when she thought about her future bridegroom, tears came into her eyes. From her sisters she received nothing but contempt and scorn.
"Be careful," said the oldest. "If you give him your hand, he will hit you with his claws."
"Beware," said the second. "Bears like sweet things, and if he takes a liking to you, he will eat you up."
"You must always do what he wants you to," continued the oldest, "or he will begin to growl."
And the second added, "But the wedding will be merry, for bears dance well."
The bride-to-be said nothing and did not let them irritate her. Bearskin, however, traveled about the world from one place to another, did good wherever he could, and gave generously to the poor that they might pray for him.
Finally, at dawn on the last day of the seven years, he went once more out to the heath, and seated himself beneath the circle of trees. Before long the wind began to howl, and the devil stood before him, looking at him angrily. He threw Bearskin's old jacket to him and demanded the return of his own GREen one.
"We haven't gotten that far yet," answered Bearskin. "First of all you have to clean me up."
Whether the devil wanted to or not, he had to fetch water and wash off Bearskin, comb his hair, and cut his nails. After this he looked like a brave soldier and was much better looking than he had ever been before.
When the devil was safely gone Bearskin was quite lighthearted. He went into the town, purchased a splendid velvet jacket, seated himself in a carriage drawn by four white horses, and drove to his bride's house. No one recognized him. The father took him for a distinguished colonel and led him into the room where his daughters were sitting. He was given a seat between the two oldest ones. They poured wine for him, served him the finest things to eat, and thought that they had never seen a more handsome man in all the world.
The bride-to-be, however, sat across from him in her black dress without raising her eyes or speaking a word. Finally he asked the father if he would give him one of his daughters for a wife, whereupon the two oldest ones jumped up and ran into their bedrooms to put on splendid dresses, for each of them thought that she was the chosen one.
As soon as he was alone with his bride-to-be, the stranger brought out his half of the ring and dropped it into a glass of wine, which he handed across the table to her. She took the wine, but when she had drunk it and found the half ring lying at the bottom, her heart began to beat. She took the other half, which she wore on a ribbon around her neck, put them together, and saw that the two pieces matched perfectly.
Then he said, "I am your betrothed bridegroom, whom you saw as Bearskin. Through God's grace I have regained my human form and have become clean again."
He went to her, embraced her, and gave her a kiss. In the meantime the two sisters came back in full dress. When they saw that the youngest sister had received the handsome man, and heard that he was Bearskin, they ran out filled with anger and rage. One of them drowned herself in the well. The other hanged herself on a tree.
That evening, someone knocked at the door, and when the bridegroom opened it, it was the devil in his GREen jacket, who said, "You see, I now have two souls for the one of yours."
从前有个年轻人应徵入伍，在战争中他表现得十分英勇，在枪林弹雨中总是冲锋陷阵。只要战争在继续，一切就很顺利，可是当和平来到的时候，他就被遣散了，上尉对他说愿意上哪儿就上哪儿吧。他的父母都死了，他无家可归，只好投奔他的哥哥们，恳求他们收留他，等待战争再次爆发。可是无情无义的哥哥们说：「我们要你干甚么？你对我们一点用都没有，自己去谋生吧。」士兵除了枪外一无所有，他把枪扛在肩上，义无反顾地走向世界。他来到一块广阔的荒原，地上除了一圈的树外就再没有其它东西了。他伤心地坐在树下，开始为他的命运着想。「我身无分文，」他想道，「除了打仗，我没有一技之长，由於现在他们制造了和平，他们就不再需要我了。我已经预感到我挨饿的日子就要到了。」这时他听见一阵声响，便向四周望去，发现在他面前有一个陌生人，身着一件绿色外衣，相貌堂堂，可是却长了一只像马蹄子似的脚。「我知道你需要甚么，」那人说道，「你将拥有金子和财产，要多少就有多少，想干甚么就干甚么，但是首先我得 解你是否毫无畏惧，以保证我的钱不会白花。」「士兵和懦夫怎能相提并论？」他回答，「你可以验证。」「那太好了，」那人说，「你回头看。」士兵转过身去，看见一只硕大的熊正吼叫着向他扑来。「噢呵！」士兵大叫一声，「我来给你鼻子挠挠痒，你就会觉得叫唤没多大意思啦。」於是他瞄准熊的鼻头开了一枪，熊轰然倒地，一动不动了。「我非常清楚，」陌生人说，「你需要的不是勇气，但是你还得满足另外一个条件。」「只要不是伤天害理的事。」士兵回答，他已经知道身边的人是谁了，「如果是的话，我决不会去做的。」「你可以自己看着办，」绿衣人说，「在七年中，你不能洗澡，不能修 子，不能理发，也不能剪指甲，还不许祈祷上帝，一次都不行。我给你一件上衣和一件斗篷，你必须穿七年。如果在七年中，你死啦，那你就归我了；如果你还活着，你就自由了，而且下半辈子非常富有。」士兵考虑自己目前的绝境，和他过去出生入死的生活，决定现在再冒一次险，於是就同意了条件。魔鬼脱下了绿衣，递给士兵，说道：「如果你穿上这件衣服，把手插进口袋，你会发现里面总有满满的钱。」然后他把熊皮剥了下来并说：「这就是你的斗篷，而且是你的床，从此你只能睡在这上面，不能睡在其它任何床上，由於你的这件斗篷，以后你的名字就叫熊皮人。」说完，魔鬼就消失了。
士兵穿上那件衣服，迫不及待地把手伸进口袋，发现那是真的。接着穿上熊皮，走进人世间，尽情地享受了金钱给他带来的快乐。第一年他的相貌尚可说得过去，可是第二年他看起来就像个魔鬼了。他的长发遮面， 像一块粗糙的毛毡，手指像兽爪，满脸是厚厚的污垢，彷 播上芹菜种都能长出来似的。人们一看见他都给吓跑了，他每到一处都赏给别人钱，让人们为自己祈祷别在七年中死去，由於他作任何事都慷慨大方，所以他总是能找到住宿的地方。到了第四年，他进了一家旅店，可是店主不招待他，因为怕他把马给吓着，甚至不让他住在马圈里。这时熊皮人把手插进口袋，掏出一大把金币，店主马上转变了态度，让他住进外宅的一间屋子里。但是店主要求熊皮人别让其他人看见，否则会坏了旅店的名声。
等魔鬼一走，熊皮人顿时感到了一身轻松。他进城买了一件丝绒大衣穿在身上，坐上一辆四匹白马拉着的马车上，向他的新娘家驶去。当时没有一个人认出他来，父亲把他当做高贵的将军领进女儿们坐着的房间，他被两个姐姐围住，她们殷勤地向他敬酒，请他品 最好的菜 ，暗想这是她们见到的全世界最英俊潇洒的男人。可是新娘却坐在他的对面，穿着黑衣服，既不抬头看他一眼，也不说一句话。终於他得空对父亲说他能不能娶他的一个女儿为妻。二个姐姐听后，马上跳起身来，跑进自己的卧室梳妆打扮起来，穿上盛装出来，每个人都想被选中。当屋里只有他和新娘的时候，陌生人掏出他的那半个戒指，扔进一个酒杯里，隔着桌子将酒杯递给她。她把酒喝光后发现在杯底的半个戒指，不禁心跳加快。她把用一条绢带挂在脖子上的另一半戒指掏出，对在一起，分毫不差。这时他说：「我就是你的未婚夫，以前你看到的那个熊皮人。感谢上帝的恩典，我又恢复了人形，还变得乾乾净净的啦。」他站了起来，走过去热情地拥抱亲吻她。这时，打扮得花枝招展的两个姐姐走出来，正好看见小妹妹和那个英俊的男人拥抱在一起，并听到他就是那个熊皮人，她们立刻嫉妒万分、羞愧难当、满腔怒火地跑了出去，一个投井自尽，另一个吊死在树上。晚上，有人来敲门，新郎打开门一看，外边是穿绿衣服的魔鬼，魔鬼告诉他：「你知道吗，我用你的灵魂换了两个灵魂。」