Rooster builds a nice beautiful carriage with four wheels. He harnesses four mice to it and invites Hen to join him on a journey to Herr Korbes…
Herr Korbes is a Brothers Grimm fairy tale about a rooster, a hen, a cat, a millstone, an egg, a duck, a pin and a needle who travel together to Herr Korbes (Mr. Korbes). When he is not at home, they rest. He arrives and everything tries to hurt him. He ends up dead.
Complete text Herr Korbes
Travelling to Herr Korbes
There were once a rooster and a hen who wanted to take a journey together. So the rooster built a beautiful carriage with four red wheels. He harnessed four mice to it.
The hen seated herself in it with the rooster and they drove away together.
Not long afterwards they met a cat who said, “Where are you going?” The rooster replied, “We are going to the house of Herr Korbes.”
“Take me with you,” said the cat.
The rooster answered, “It’s our pleasure, get up behind, lest you fall off in front. Take great care not to dirty my little red wheels. Little wheels, roll on! Little mice, whistle! We go forth on our way to the house of Herr Korbes.”
After this came a millstone, then an egg, then a duck, then a pin, and at last a needle, who all seated themselves in the carriage, and drove with them.
When, however, they reached the house of Herr Korbes, he was not there.
The mice drew the carriage into the barn, the hen flew with the rooster upon a perch. The cat sat down by the hearth, the duck on the well-pole. The egg rolled itself into a towel, the pin stuck itself into the chair-cushion, the needle jumped on to the bed in the middle of the pillow and the millstone laid itself over the door.
Herr Korbes comes home
Then Herr Korbes came home. He went to the hearth and was about to light the fire, when the cat threw two handfuls of ashes in his face.
He ran into the kitchen in a great hurry to wash it off, where the duck splashed some water in his face.
He wanted to dry it with the towel, but the egg rolled up against him, broke, and glued up his eyes.
He wanted to rest, sat down in the chair and then the pin pricked him.
He fell in a rage, and threw himself on his bed. However as soon as he laid his head on the pillow, the needle pricked him, so that he screamed aloud.
He was just going to run out into the wide world in his rage, but when he came to the house-door, the millstone leapt down and struck him dead.
He must have been a very wicked man!
Tips for Telling Herr Korbes
- This story reads like a simpler version of The Pack of Ragamuffins. You could combine the two and make your own version for telling.
- The last sentence of this story has been added only in later editions of the Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Leave it out when you don’t agree with this moral opinion. In general it is more powerful if you can let the story speak for itself, instead of adding an opinion or moral at the end.
- When Herr Korbes (Mr. Korbes) comes home, it works well to tell the rest of the story with a lot of movement. There is so much happening that it is difficult to follow the absurd images when you tell it, it almost needs more physicality.
All Questions Answered
The tale was published by the Brothers Grimm in the first edition of their Grimms’ Fairy Tales. They had two sources: Jeanette Hassenpflug and Lisette Wild.
The Brothers Grimm included it in the first edition (1812) of their Grimm’s Fairy Tales.
More useful information
Fairy tales with a cat
- Cat and Mouse in Partnership
- Herr Korbes
- Old Sultan
- The Bremen Town Musicians
- The Fox and the Cat
- The Story of the Youth Who Went Forth to Learn What Fear Was
- The Wedding of Mrs. Fox
Fairy tales with a chicken
Fairy tales with a duck
- Hansel and Gretel
- Herr Korbes
- Sweetheart Roland
- The Pack of Ragamuffins
- The Queen Bee
- The Three Little Men in the Woods
- The White Snake
Fairy tales with a mouse
Photo credits: Storyblocks
The Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales on this website are based on the authentic translation of Margaret Hunt. They were edited and reformatted for pleasant reading and telling by Storyteller Rudolf Roos.
See the complete list of The Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales (link to internationalstoryteller.com).