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Grimms Fairy Tales and German Folklore
There were once two brothers, the one rich, the other poor.
The rich one, however, gave nothing to the poor one, and he
gained a scanty living by trading in corn, and often did so
badly that he had no bread for his wife and children. Once
when he was wheeling a barrow through the forest he saw, on
one side of him, a great, bare, naked-looking mountain, and as he
had never seen it before, he stood still and stared at it with
While he was thus standing he saw twelve great, wild men coming
towards him, and as he believed they were robbers he pushed his
barrow into the thicket, climbed up a tree, and waited to see
what would happen. The twelve men, however, went to the
mountain and cried, semsi mountain, semsi mountain, open up, and
immediately the barren mountain opened down the middle, and
the twelve went into it, and as soon as they were within, it
shut. After a short time, it opened again, and the men came
forth carrying heavy sacks on their shoulders, and when they
were all once more in the daylight they said, semsi mountain,
semsi mountain, shut yourself, then the mountain closed
together, and there was no longer any entrance to be seen to it,
and the twelve went away.
When they were quite out of sight the poor man got down from
the tree, and was curious to know what was secretly hidden in
the mountain. So he went up to it and said, semsi mountain,
semsi mountain, open up, and the mountain opened up to him also.
Then he went inside, and the whole mountain was a cavern full of
silver and gold, and behind lay great piles of pearls and
sparkling jewels, heaped up like corn. The poor man hardly knew
what to do, and whether he might take any of these treasures for
himself or not. At last he filled his pockets with gold, but
he left the pearls and precious stones where they were. When he
came out again he also said, semsi mountain, semsi mountain,
shut yourself, and the mountain closed itself, and he went home
with his barrow.
And now he had no more cause for anxiety, but could buy bread
for his wife and children with his gold, and wine into the bargain.
He lived joyously and honorably, gave help to the poor, and did
good to every one. When the money came to an end, however, he
went to his brother, borrowed a measure that held a bushel,
and brought himself some more, but did not touch any of the
most valuable things. When for the third time he wanted to
fetch something, he again borrowed the measure of his brother.
But the rich man had long been envious of his brother's
possessions, and of the handsome household which he kept up,
and could not understand from whence the riches came, and what his
brother wanted with the measure. Then he thought of a cunning
trick, and covered the bottom of the measure with pitch, and when
he got the measure back a piece of gold was sticking to it. He
at once went to his brother and asked him, what have you been
measuring in the bushel measure. Corn and barley, said the other.
Then he showed him the piece of gold and threatened that if he did
the truth he would accuse him before a court of justice. The poor
man then told him everything, just as it had happened. So the
rich man ordered his carriage to be made ready, and drove away,
resolved to use the opportunity better than his brother had
done, and to bring back with him quite different treasures.
When he came to the mountain he cried, semsi mountain, semsi
mountain, open up. The mountain opened, and he went inside it.
There lay the treasures all before him, and for a long time he
did not know which to grab first. At length he loaded himself
with as many precious stones as he could carry. He wished to
carry his burden outside, but as his heart and soul were entirely
full of the treasures, he had forgotten the name of the mountain,
and cried, simeli mountain, simeli mountain, open up. That,
however, was not the right name, and the mountain never stirred,
but remained shut. Then he was alarmed, and the longer he
thought about it the more his thoughts confused themselves, and
all his treasures were of no help to him. In the evening the
mountain opened, and the twelve robbers came in, and when they
saw him they laughed, and cried out, bird, have we caught you
at last. Did you think we had never noticed that you had
been in here twice. We could not catch you then, this third
time you shall not get out again. Then he cried, it was not I,
it was my brother, but let him beg for his life and say what he
would, they cut off his head.