The Three Wishes

What if you encountered an enchanted elf or some other wish-granting creature or person who offered to make three of your wishes come true? What would you ask for?

Once upon a time a woodcutter lived happily with his wife in a pretty little log cabin in the middle of a dense forest. Each morning he set off merrily to work. When he came home in the evening, a bowl of hot steaming soup or a plate of savory casserole was always waiting for him.

One day, however, he had an odd surprise. He came upon a big fir tree with strange holes on the trunk. It looked a bit different from the other trees. Just as he was about to chop it down, the alarmed face of an elf popped out of a hole.

“Hey, what's all this banging?” asked the elf. “You're not thinking of cutting down this tree, are you? It's my home. I live here!”

The woodcutter dropped his ax in astonishment.

“Well,” the elf exclaimed, “Lucky I was in, or I would have found myself homeless.”

Although he was surprised by the appearance of the elf, the woodcutter quickly recovered, for after all the elf was quite tiny, while he himself was a big, stocky fellow. He boldly replied, “I'll cut down any tree I like!”

“All right! All right!” broke in the elf. “Let me put it this way: If you don't cut down this tree, I'll grant you three wishes. How does that sound?”

The woodcutter scratched his head. “Three wishes, you say? Yes, okay.”

And he began to chop down another tree. As he worked and became sweaty, the woodcutter kept thinking about the magic wishes. “I'll see what my wife thinks.”

The woodcutter's wife was busy working in the garden when her husband arrived. Grabbing her round the waist, he twirled her in delight.

“Hooray! Hooray! This is our lucky day!” The woman could not understand why her husband was so pleased with himself. At dinner, though, the woodcutter told his wife of his meeting with the elf. She too began to picture the wonderful things that the elf's three wishes might give them.

The woodcutter's wife took a sip of her wine and, without thinking, said, “I wish I had a string of sausages to go with it.” Instantly she bit her tongue, but it was too late. Out of the air appeared the sausages, while the woodcutter shouted with rage.

“Look at what you have! Sausages! What a stupid waste of a wish! You foolish woman! I wish they would stick up your nose!”

Oh, no! No sooner said, than done. For the sausages zipped up and stuck fast to the end of the woman's nose. This time, the woodcutter's wife flew into a rage. “You idiot, what have you done? With all the things we could have wished for.”

As his wife complained and blamed him, the poor man burst out laughing. “If only you knew how funny you look with those sausages on the end of your nose!” Now that really upset the woodcutter's wife. She hadn't thought of her looks. She tried to tug away the sausages, but they would not budge. She pulled again and again, but with no luck.

Feeling sorry for his wife and wondering how he could ever put up with a woman with such an odd nose, the woodcutter said, “I'll try.” Grasping the string of sausages, he tugged with all his might. But he simply pulled his wife over on top of him. The pair sat on the floor, gazing sadly at each other. “What shall we do now?” they said, each speaking the same thought.

“There's only one thing we can do,” said the woodcutter's wife.

“Yes, I'm afraid so,” her husband said, remembering the dreams of riches. Finally, he said, “I wish the sausages would leave my wife's nose.” And they did.

Instantly, the couple hugged each other tearfully, saying, “Maybe we'll be poor, but we'll be happy again!”

And, so they were.

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