Grimm’s Grimmest – The Crows
Now he had two comrades who were rogues and scoundrels, desperately wanting to rob him of his money.
However, they behaved kindly and friendly toward him to his face. One day, they convinced the soldier to leave the town to return home and live prosperously.
When they had gone a little way, the two rogues directed him to take a “shortcut.” But the soldier knew that it was not the quickest way to the border. They picked a quarrel with the soldier, falling upon him and taking his money.
But they did not stop there, putting out his eyes and dragging him to the gallows that stood by. The two rogues left and went back into the town with the money.
The poor blind soldier did not know where he was; he felt all around him and believed that they had left him under a cross. So he raised himself up and prayed.
Night approached, something fluttered over his head, turning out to be three crows. By and by, the three crows began to talk together, discussing the best news of the day.
The crows discussed the ill princess and how the king vowed to marry her to anyone who will cure her. She won’t be well until the toad of the pond is burnt to ashes and the ashes swallowed by the princess.
The crows commented that if men only knew what they knew, “Tonight will fall from heaven a dew of such wonder and healing power that the blind man who washes his eyes with it will see again.”
The crows mentioned where the town could find the finest water, springing from beneath the large square stone out of the marketplace. When the crows stopped talking, the soldier heard them fluttering round again, and at last they flew away.
He broke loose from his bonds, finding himself free. He plucked some of the grass and washed his eyes with the dew that had fallen. At once his eyesight came back to him again, finding out the truth about where he was.
He gathered together as much of the dew in a bottle and then he went to the pond. He fetched the toad and burnt it to ashes, setting out to the king’s court with the ashes.
He cured the princess, but the king saw that the soldier was shabby and he would not keep his word. He sent the soldier away to find water for the town. But the soldier went out and told the people about the square stone in the marketplace.
So the king could not get out of giving him his daughter, and they were married and lived happily together.
Some time after, the soldier was walking one day and came upon his two former comrades. They did not know him or recognize him until he told them exactly who he was.
When they heard his story, they fell to his feet and begged for pardon. He had a good heart, he forgave them and took them to his palace. He told them all that had happened to him, and how he had reached these honors.
After they heard the whole story, the two rogues went to the gallows to hear something that would bring good luck. They sat underneath the gallows, and the three crows came and perched upon it.
The crows commented that someone had overheard them, “Let us look about; perhaps we may find someone near. If we do, he shall rue the day.”
They fluttered around and found the two men, flying in a rage. They beat and pecked them in the face with their wings and beaks till the men were quite blind and lay dead upon the ground under the gallows.
Days passed, and they did not return to the palace. Their old comrade began to wonder where they had been, finding nothing but their bones. He took them from the gallows and buried them in the ground.
The Crows is another tale that ends with the villains or wrongdoers of the story paying for their misdeeds. However, the soldier with his good heart gives them proper burial after everything that they did to him.