Once upon a time . . . a woodcutter lived happily with his wife in a
little log cabin in the middle of a thick forest. Each morning he set off
singing to work, and when he came home in the evening, a plate of hot steaming
soup was always waiting for him.
One day, however, he had a strange surprise. He came upon a big fir tree
with strange open holes on the trunk. It looked somehow different from the
other trees, and just as he was about to chop it down, the alarmed face
elf popped out of a hole.
"What's all this banging?" asked the elf. "You're not thinking
down this tree, are you? It's my home. I live here!" The woodcutter
his axe in astonlshment.
"Well, I . . ." he stammered.
"With all the other trees there are in this forest, you have to pick
one. Lucky I was in, or I would have found myself homeless."
Taken aback at these words, the woodcutter qulckly recovered, for after
the elf was quite tiny, while he himself was a big hefty chap, and he boldly
replied: "I'll cut down any tree I like, so . . ."
"All right! All right!" broke in the elf. "Shall we put it
this way: if you
don't cut down this tree, I grant you three wishes. Agreed?" The woodcutter
scratched his head.
"Three wishes, you say? Yes, I agree." And he began to hack at
tree. As he worked and sweated at his task, the woodcutter kept thinking
the magic wishes.
"I'll see what my wife thinks..."
The woodcutter's wife was busily cleaning a pot outside the house when her
husband arrived. Grabbing her round the waist, he twirled her in delight.
"Hooray! Hooray! Our luck is in!"
The woman could not understand why her husband was so pleased with himself
and she shrugged herself free. Later, however, over a glass of fine wine
the table, the woodcutter told his wife of his meeting with the elf, and
too began to picture the wonderful things that the elf's three wishes might
give them. The woodcutter's wife took a first sip of wine from her husband's
"Nice," she said, smacking her lips. "I wish I had a string
of sausages to
go with it, though..."
Instantly she bit her tongue, but too late. Out of the air appeared the
sausages while the woodcutter stuttered with rage.
". . . what have you done! Sausages . . . What a stupid waste of a
You foollsh woman. I wish they would stick up your nose!" No sooner
done. For the sausages leapt up and stuck fast to the end of the woman's
This time, the woodcutter's wife flew into a rage.
"You idiot, what have you done? With all the things we could have wished
for . . ." The mortified woodcutter, who had just repeated his wife's
"I'd chop . . ." Luckily he stopped himself in time, realizing
that he'd been on the point of having his tongue chopped off. As his wife
complained and blamed him, the poor man burst out laughing.
"If only you knew how funny you look with those sausages on the end
nose!" Now that really upset the woodcutter's wife. She hadn't thought
looks. She tried to tug away the sausages but they would not budge. She
again and again, but in vain. The sausages were firmly attached to her nose.
Terrified, she exclaimed: "They'll be there for the rest of my life!"
Feeling sorry for his wife and wondering how he could ever put up with a
woman with such an awkward nose, the woodcutter said: "I'll try."
string of sausages, he tugged with all his might. But he simply pulled his
wife over on top of him. The pair sat on the floor, gazing sadly at each
"What shall we do now?" they said, each thinking the same thought.
"There's only one thing we can do . . ." ventured the woodcutter's
"Yes, I'm afraid so . . ." her husband sighed, remembering their
riches, and he bravely wished the third and last wish "I wish the sausages
would leave my wife's nose."
And they did. Instantly, husband and wife hugged each other tearfully,
saying "Maybe we'll be poor, but we'll be happy again!"
That evening, the only reminder of the woodcutter's meeting with the elf
was the string of sausages. So the couple fried them, gloomily thinking
what that meal had cost them.