The Mouse, the Bird, and the Sausage

By Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm

Illustrated by Walter Crane

The Mouse, the Bird, and the Sausage, illustration by Walter Crane

Once upon a time, a Mouse, a Bird, and a Sausage went into partnership; they kept house together long and amicably, and thus had increased their possessions. It was the Bird’s work to fly to the forest every day and bring back wood. The Mouse had to carry water, make up the fire, and set the table, while the Sausage did the cooking.

Whoever is too well off is always eager for something new.

One day the Bird met a friend, to whom it sang the praises of its comfortable circumstances. But the other bird scolded it, and called it a poor creature who did all the hard work, while the other two had an easy time at home. For when the Mouse had made up the fire, and carried the water, she betook herself to her little room to rest till she was called to lay the table. The Sausage only had to stay by the hearth and take care that the food was nicely cooked; when it was nearly dinner-time, she passed herself once or twice through the broth and the vegetables, and they were then buttered, salted, and flavoured, ready to eat. Then the Bird came home, laid his burden aside, and they all sat down to table; and after their meal they slept their fill till morning. It was indeed a delightful life.

Another day the Bird, owing to the instigations of his friend, declined to go and fetch any more wood, saying that he had been drudge long enough, and had only been their dupe; they must now make a change and try some other arrangement.

In spite of the fervent entreaties of the Mouse and the Sausage, the Bird got his way. They decided to draw lots, and the lot fell on the Sausage, who was to carry the wood; the Mouse became cook, and the Bird was to fetch water.

What was the result ?

The Sausage went out into the forest, the Bird made up the fire, while the Mouse put on the pot and waited alone for the Sausage to come home, bringing wood for the next day. But the Sausage stayed away so long that the other two suspected something wrong, and the Bird flew out to take the air in the hope of meeting her. Not far off he fell in with a Dog which had met the poor Sausage and fallen upon her as lawful prey, seized her, and quickly swallowed her.

The Bird complained bitterly to the Dog of his barefaced robbery, but it was no good; for the Dog said he had found forged letters on the Sausage, whereby her life was forfeit to him.

The Bird took the wood and flew sadly home with it, and related what he had seen and heard. They were much upset, but they determined to do the best they could and stay together. So the Bird laid the table, and the Mouse prepared their meal. She tried to cook it, and, like the Sausage, to dip herself in the vegetables so as to flavour them. But before she got well into the midst of them she came to a stand-still, and in the attempt lost her hair, skin, and life itself.

When the Bird came back and wanted to serve up the meal, there was no cook to be seen. The Bird in his agitation threw the wood about, called and searched everywhere, but could not find his cook. Then, owing to his carelessness, the wood caught fire and there was a blaze. The Bird hastened to fetch water, but the bucket fell into the well and the Bird with it; he could not recover himself, and so he was drowned.

The Mouse, the Bird, and the Sausage, illustration by Walter Crane

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