When Eulenspiegel Baked Owls and Monkeys

When Eulenspiegel Baked Owls and Monkeys

28 March 2017,   By ,   0 Comments

A tale from Germany

On one of his travels, Till came to the city of Braunschweig and looked for an inn that he’d heard about. Not finding it, he stopped at a bakery and asked the baker how he might locate it and the baker gave him very good and clear directions. However, when done, the baker asked, “By the way, what is it you do?”

“Me?” said Till, “Oh, I am a wandering baker’s apprentice.”

Well, that made the baker very happy because that is exactly what he had been looking for – an apprentice or journeyman to help him in his shop. And so it came to be that Till was hired on the spot for an agreed amount of salary together with room and board.

For the first two days the owner only rarely had occasion to leave his bakery shop and go into the kitchen at the back to see Till at work. So it’s no wonder he didn’t immediately discover that Till knew as much about baking as a cow knows about playing the piano. On the third day, however, the Baker wanted to leave the shop early. Perhaps he was tired and wanted to get a really long good night’s sleep or maybe he wanted to go bowling – we don’t know – in any event, he said to Till, “ Today you have to stay here alone and do all the baking by yourself. I’ll be back here early in the morning.”

“That’s O.K. with me,” was Till’s response, “But what do you want me to bake?”

Well!” was the baker’s angry response. “I never heard anything so dumb. You are a baker’s apprentice and surely shouldn’t have to ask me what you should be baking. Maybe you should bake owls and monkeys!” He could just as easily have said “violets and puppy dogs” but he just couldn’t think of anything else at the moment because he was so angry for having been asked such a stupid question.

As soon as the baker had gone, Till started busily to work. He made a great big batch of bread dough, kneaded it, let it rise, shaped it carefully into rolls and then, from ten at night until three o’clock in the morning, he baked nothing but owls and monkeys.

When the owner stepped into the shop early the next morning he couldn’t believe what he was seeing. At first he thought he had stepped into a zoo. Everywhere he looked there were crispy crusted little animals and not a single bread or regular roll to be found.

What have you baked?” he cried as he slammed his fist down on a table in a rage.

“Well, you can certainly see,” said Till calmly, “Owls and monkeys – exactly like you asked me to. Aren’t they cute? I hope you find them so because I worked very hard to make them.”

His smart-alecky answer made the baker even angrier. He grabbed Till by the collar, lifted him up and shook him as hard as he could and yelled at the top of his voice, “Out of my house! Now! Get out of here you ragamuffin.”

“First you have to let go of me,” cried Till, “Otherwise, how can I leave?” The baker dropped him and Till started heading for the door.

“Wait a minute,” said the baker, “You have to pay me for all the dough you ruined.”

“Only if you let me take my cute little animals with me,” answered Till. “If I have to pay you for the dough then they all belong to me.”

The baker grumpily agreed and, after paying him the amount he wanted, Till packed all of the owl and monkey shaped rolls into a large basket that belonged to the baker and, without a further word, left the shop.

At noon there was a large crowd, as usual, in the city square. Some farmers had set up stands and all the workers and their wives were taking the lunch hour to shop and visit. Till stood in the middle of the square with his large basket next to him and started selling his owls and monkeys as fast as he could and ended up making a very handsome profit. Word of what he was doing began to spread around and finally reached the ear of the baker. He quickly closed his shop and ran to the square. “That crook has to reimburse me for the wood he used in the oven to bake his silly animal rolls,” he shouted as he ran through the cobblestone streets, “And a rental charge for the oven too. I’m going to have him arrested and locked in the city jail.”

But when he came to the square, Till Eulenspiegel was long gone. He had sold every one of his owls and monkeys and even had gotten a dollar for the basket he’d taken from the baker. For the whole remainder of that year, the Braunschweiger dwellers chuckled over what Till had done to the poor baker.


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