The Star Talers
Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
Once upon a time there was a little girl whose father and mother had died, and she was so poor that she no longer had a room to live in, nor a bed to sleep in, and at last she had nothing else but the clothes she was wearing and a little piece of bread in her hand that some charitable soul had given her. She was good and pious, however. And as she was thus forsaken by all the world, she went forth into the country, trusting in dear God.
Then a poor man met her, who said, "Ah, give me something to eat, I am so hungry."
She handed him her entire piece of bread, saying, "May God bless it for you," and went on her way.
Then came a child who moaned and said, "My head is so cold. Give me something to cover it with." So she took off her cap and gave it to the child. And when she had walked a little farther, she met another child who had no jacket and was freezing. So she gave her jacket to that child, and a little farther on one begged for a dress, and she gave her dress away as well. At length she made her way into a forest and it was already dark. Then there came yet another child, and asked for a shift, and the pious girl thought to herself, "It is a dark night and no one can see you. You can very well give your shift away," and she took it off, and gave it away as well.
And thus she stood there, with nothing left at all, when suddenly some stars fell down from heaven, and they were nothing else but hard shining talers, and although she had just given her shift away, she was now wearing a new one which was of the very finest linen. Then she gathered together the money into it, and was rich all the days of her life.
[Translated by Margaret Hunt (1884). Translation corrected and revised by D. L. Ashliman. © 2000.]