There was once a young country chap called Hans, whose Uncle wanted very much to marry him to a rich wife, so he set him beside the oven and let a good fire be lighted. Then he fetched a jug of milk and a large piece of white bread, and gave Hans a shining newly-coined penny, saying, “Hans, keep this penny safely, and break your white bread into this milk; and mind you stop here, and do not stir from your stool till I return.” “Yes,” said Hans, “I will faithfully do all you require.”
Then the Uncle went and drew on a pair of old spotted breeches, and, walking to the next village, called on a rich farmer’s daughter, and asked her whether she would marry his nephew Hans, assuring her that he was a prudent and clever young man, who could not fail to please her. The girl’s covetous father, however, asked, “How is he situated with regard to property? Has he the wherewithal to live?”
“My dear friend,” said the Uncle, “my nephew is a warm youth, and has not only a nice penny in hand, but plenty to eat and drink. He can count too, quite as many specks” (meaning money) “as I”; and as he spoke, he slapped his hand upon his spotted breeches. “Will you,” he continued, “take the trouble to go with me, and in an hour’s time you shall see everything as I have said?”
The offer appeared so advantageous to the covetous farmer that he would not let it slip, and therefore said, “If it is so, I have nothing more to say against the wedding.”
So the ceremony was performed on an appointed day, and afterwards the young wife wished to go into the fields and view the property of her husband. Hans drew his spotted smock first over his Sunday clothes, saying to his bride, “I do not wish to spoil my best things!” This done, they went together into the fields, and wherever a vine-stock was planted on the road, or the meadows and fields divided, Hans pointed with his finger there, and then laid it on one great spot or another on his smock, and said, “This spot is mine and thine too, my dear! Do just look at it.” Hans meant by this, not that his wife should gaze at the broad fields, but that she should look at his smock, which was really his own!
“Did you then go to the wedding?” “Yes! I was there in full toggery. My head-piece was of snow, and there came the sun and melted it; my clothes were of worsted, and I walked through thorns, so that they were torn off; my shoes were of glass, and I stepped upon a stone, and they cracked and fell to pieces.”