The Clever Servant

Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm

How fortunate is the master and how well it goes within his household when he has a clever servant who, to be sure, hears his orders, but does not obey them, preferring instead to follow his own wisdom.

A clever Hans of this kind was once sent out by his master to look for a lost cow. He stayed away a long time, and the master thought, "My faithful Hans is not sparing any pains with his work."

But when he did not return at all, the master was afraid that something had happened to him, and he himself went out to look for him.

He had to look for a long time, but at last he caught sight of his servant running up and down a large field.

"Now, dear Hans," said the master after catching up with him, "did you find the cow that I sent you after?"

"No, master," he answered, "I did not find the cow, but then I have not been looking for it either."

"Then what have you been looking for, Hans?"

"Something better. And fortunately I have found it."

"What is it?"

"Three blackbirds," answered the servant.

"And where are they?" asked the master.

"I see one of them, I hear the other, and I am chasing after the third," answered the clever servant.

Take an example from this. Do not trouble yourselves about your masters or their orders. Instead, just do what comes to you and makes you happy, and then you will act just as wisely as did clever Hans.

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Revised September 16, 2001.