For my public speaking class this week, I need to give a dramatic telling of a story or historical speech. For that reason, I thought I’d share with you my favorite German fairy tale: The Bird, the Mouse, and the Sausage.
A few years ago, I created an interactive version of this tale for a Digital Storytelling class (along with my compatriots Ethan Miller and Josh Hollander). The resulting travesty was the most beautiful example of hypertextual narrative I’ve ever seen. A few of our branching endings included “the sausage spends the rest of his days fantasizing about eating himself,” “the bird slips on a pad of butter and burns himself to death in a frying pan,” and “the mouse takes hallucinogens and encounters the progressive rock band Styx in the middle of the Black Forrest.”
Borges would have been proud.
The Bird, The Mouse, and The Sausage
by The Brothers Grimm
Once upon a time, there lived a bird, a mouse, and a sausage who were very close friends.
They lived together in a little cottage by the woods in peace and prosperity, splitting the household chores between them. The bird’s task was to fly into the forest every day to fetch wood. The mouse carried water from the well, made the fire, and set the table. The sausage did all the cooking.
One day, when the bird was flying through the woods looking for sticks, he encountered a blue jay who was happily splashing in a puddle. The blue jay criticized him for working so hard while his two roommates got to relax at home, bragging about his own leisurely lifestyle.
The bird had to admit — the bluejay had a point. While the bird spent the entire day flying around the forest collecting sticks, the mouse had all day to relax after fetching the water. The sausage only had to stay in the kitchen, watching the food cook, and occasionally slither around the vegetables to add some grease and flavor.
The next day, the bird refused to go to the forest, saying that he had been their servant long enough. He suggested they split up the chores differently. The mouse and the sausage argued against this, but the bird insisted that they give it a try. Now the sausage was to fetch wood, the mouse became the cook, and the bird was to carry water.
That morning, the sausage flopped its way off into the forest; the bird made the fire; and the mouse started to cook dinner.
It was soon nearing nightfall, and the bird and the mouse were at home with no word from the sausage. They feared that something bad had happened, so the bird flew off to see if he could find her.
A short distance away he came upon a dog. The dog had the sausage in his mouth and was gobbling her up!
So the bird flapped over and complained bitterly to the dog about this brazen abduction, demanding he release the sausage at once. However, the dog claimed that he had discovered forged documents on the sausage’s person, and that she would thus have to die, for that was how justice was served.
Filled with sorrow, the bird carried the wood home himself and told the mouse what he had seen. They were very sad, but were determined to stay together and make the best of it.
The bird set the table while the mouse prepared the food. She jumped into the pot,
as the sausage had always done, in order to slither around the vegetables and grease them up. Before she reached the middle, though, her hair and skin were seared straight off, and thus the mouse burned to death.
When the bird came in for dinner, he couldn’t find any sign of his friend. Beside himself with worry, he carelessly tossed the wood away towards the fireplace, calling for the mouse and searching everywhere. While the bird tore through the cottage in search of his friend, the scattered wood caught on fire. Before he could even recognize what was happening, the entire cottage was in flame.
Panicked, the bird rushed towards the well to gather some water. Due to him not having any fingers, however, he slipped and dropped the bucket in the well. Diving after it, the bird slipped and fell in. He struggled and splashed for hours, but nobody could hear his cries. Eventually he exhausted himself and drowned to death.
And that, my friends, is the tale of the Bird, the Mouse, and the Sausage. Everyone dies. The end.