A rooster and a hen go to the hill to eat nuts. After such a strange start, the fairy tale gets nuttier and nuttier…
The Pack of Ragamuffins is a Brothers Grimm fairy tale about Rooster and Hen. They go to eat nuts. Duck is captured and harnessed before their cart. They pick up Pin and Needle and arrive at an inn. The innkeeper lets them stay but the next morning he finds that Rooster and Hen have played some naughty tricks on him.
Rooster and hen go to eat nuts
Once upon a time the rooster said to the hen, “It is now the time when our nuts are ripe. Let us go to the hill together and for once eat our fill before the squirrel takes them all away.”
“Yes,” replied the hen, “come, we will have some pleasure together.”
They went away to the hill, and because it was a sunny day they stayed till the evening.
Now I do not know whether it was that they had eaten till they were too fat, or whether they had become proud, but they would not go home on foot. The rooster had to build a little carriage of nutshells.
When it was ready, the little hen seated herself in it and said to the rooster, “You can just get into the harness.”
“No way!” said the rooster, “I would rather go home on foot than let myself be harnessed to it. No, that is not our bargain. I do not mind being coachman and sitting on the box, but I will not drag it myself.”
A duck attacks the couple
While they were quarreling, a duck quacked to them, “Hey thieves, what are you doing on my nut-hill? You shall suffer for that!”
The duck ran with open beak at the rooster. But the rooster responded in time and boldly attacked the duck. He succeeded in wounding her so with his spurs that she begged for mercy and willingly let herself be harnessed to the carriage as a punishment.
The little rooster now seated himself on the box as a coachman. Soon they went off in a gallop.
“Duck, go as fast as you can.”
Meeting pin and needle
When they had driven part of the way they met walkers, a pin and a needle.
They cried, “Stop! stop! Soon it will be dark as pitch. Then we won’t be able to go further. And it’s so dirty on the road! Please, can we get into the carriage for a while?”
They had been at the tailor’s shop by the gate, and had stayed too long drinking a beer.
As they were thin people, who did not take up much room, the cock let them both get in. However, they had to promise him and his little hen not to step on their feet.
The ragamuffins at the inn
Late in the evening they came to an inn. They did not like to go further by night. Also the duck was not strong on her feet, and fell from one side to the other, so they went in.
At first the innkeeper made many objections. His house was already full. He thought they could not be very distinguished persons.
They said beautiful things and told him that he could have the egg which the little hen has laid on the way. That he could keep the duck, which laid an egg every day.
At last the innkeeper allowed them to stay the night. They had themselves well served, feasted and made a ruckus.
Early in the morning when day was breaking and everyone was still asleep, the cock awoke the hen. They took the egg, pecked it open and ate it together. The shell they threw on the hearth.
Then they went to the needle which was still asleep. They took him by the head and stuck him into the cushion of the landlord’s chair. The pin they put in his towel. That was it and they flew away.
The duck who liked to sleep in the open air and had stayed in the yard, heard them going away. She got up and found a stream. She swam down the stream, travelling much quicker than being harnessed to a carriage.
The innkeeper decides to have no more ragamuffins in his inn
The innkeeper only got out of bed two hours later. He washed himself. He tried to dry himself, but the pin in the towel went over his face and made a red streak from one ear to the other.
After this he went into the kitchen and wanted to light a pipe. When he came to the hearth, the eggshell darted into his eyes.
“This morning everything attacks my head,” he said. Angrily he sat down on his grandfather’s chair, but he quickly rose up again and shouted, “What a bad day!” for the needle had pricked him still worse than the pin. This time not in the head though.
Now he was very angry. He suspected the guests who had come so late the night before. When he went and looked for them, they were gone.
Right then and there he made a vow to take no more ragamuffins into his inn. They consume a lot, they pay for nothing, and they play mischievous tricks into the bargain. What kind of gratitude is that!
Tips for Telling
- This is one funny silly tale. Quite absurd, it works well to tell it with a deadpan face.
- This fairy tale, like all fairy tales, becomes better as you tell it more often. You will find how the humour works and will soon add your own asides into the telling. Play with it! These kind of stories are a good way to develop your skills in telling funny stories.
- When telling, remember: don’t walk on the laughter. Wait until your listeners are finished laughing to continue with telling your fairy tale.
All Questions Answered
The story The Pack of Ragamuffins was originally written down by the Brothers Grimm. It was told to them by a man called August von Haxthausen.
The Brothers Grimm collected this story and wrote it down in 1812 in their book ‘Grimm’s Fairy Tales’. This story was told before it was written down.
Don’t allow ragamuffins to stay in your house, the next morning you will regret it.
This fairy tale is also known under the following titles: The Adventures of Chanticleer and Partlet: How They Went to the Mountains to Eat Nuts, The Vulgar Crew, Riffraff, The Pack of Scoundrels.