In a city there lived a very wealthy merchant who had a very beautiful daughter, and she said that she would marry only a man who had a green beard.
Great forests surrounded the city, and twenty-four robbers lived together in these woods. The captain of these robbers had heard about the girl who would marry only a man with a green beard, so he asked his people if they did not know of a substance that would color a beard green, and they immediately procured such a dye for him.
Then he dyed his beard green (otherwise he was a handsome man) and rode into the city to the merchant to court his daughter. The girl liked him, so he spent the night there. The next day they made arrangements for the girl to pay him a visit. He said that he possessed a large mansion in the woods. He told the girl to ride along the main road until she came to a bridge. The other side of the bridge she should turn left onto a path, then continue riding until she came to his mansion. Then Greenbeard departed.
The merchant's daughter now made preparations for the journey. She had a good cake baked for her bridegroom, then mounted her horse and rode on her way. Arriving at the bridge she found the side path that Greenbeard had told her about. She rode along this path into the woods. The deeper she went into the woods the narrower the path became, until it was only a narrow footpath. What should she do now? She could not ride any further, so she dismounted, tied up her horse, and continued on foot.
At the end of the pathway she saw a small house with two lions chained near the door. Approaching them she thought, "Should I go any further, or not?"
The lions did nothing, so she went inside. In the first room there were beds and a number of flintlocks hanging on the wall. She went into another room where there was a table. A bird's cage with a little bird hung from a rafter.
The bird said to her, "How did you get here? This is a robbers' house. You cannot get away right now, for if you go outside the lions will rip you apart. I will tell you what to do. Lie down under the bed. When the robbers come home they will get drunk and then fall asleep. Then you can escape. When you go outside throw a piece of cake to each of the lions, then you can run away."
She did just that, and crawled under the bed.
One after the other the robbers came home, saying, "It smells here like human flesh."
The bird made excuses as best it could, and they stopped asking questions.
The robbers had brought a girl with them. After eating their supper they chopped her into pieces, beginning with her little fingers. She had a ring on one of her fingers, and the finger with the ring rolled under the bed where the merchant's daughter was lying. She picked up the finger and put it into her pocket.
When the robbers had finished their work they began to drink again, drinking so much that they knew nothing more of their sins, and they all fell asleep.
When the girl thought that they were all fast asleep, she got up, gave the little bird a bit of sugar, then took a piece of cake in each hand. She threw the cake to the lions as she walked out. While they were devouring the cake she made her escape. However, they had scarcely finished the cake when they began to roar, bellowing so loudly that the forest shook.
The robbers jumped up, and they immediately surmised that the girl had been there. They took after her, but she safely reached her horse. She rode home as fast as she could, arriving there as white as a corpse with fear. She was so sick that she had to lie down immediately.
Greenbeard cut off his beard, then made plans to capture the girl. He ordered large wagons loaded with large barrels in which the robbers could hide. So outfitted he rode to the merchant. He offered him these wares, claiming to be a wholesale merchant from such and such a city.
He had told his people that he would gain entrance into the merchant's house, and then would give them a sign when they should break their way out of the barrels, steal everything the merchant had, and take away the girl as well.
However, one of the merchant's servants was walking about in the courtyard when he heard a voice from one of the barrels: "What is happening? It is taking a long time."
He went inside and reported to his master: "Sir, what is happening? There are people inside the barrels."
Then the merchant called up a number of strong men to capture the robbers. He forced the robber captain to stay seated inside with two strong men beside him.
Then the girl came in and showed him the chopped off finger with the ring and asked him if he remembered it. Now he knew that he had been exposed, and he looked around for an escape route. But the merchant gave the men a sign, and they held him fast, then bound him hand and foot. In one of his boots he had hidden a long knife.
After tying him securely, they went into the courtyard and capured the rest of them, one after the other. Then they took them all to prison. Thus all the robbers were captured and taken care of.
The girl then led the people to the robbers' house. She kept the little bird for herself. Everything else was divided among the poor. They burned the house down. The merchant kept the lions.
The robbers all died in prison. Thus everything was finished. And the girl no longer showed any desire for green beards.
Source: August Schleicher, "Vom Grünbart," Litauische Märchen, Sprichworte, Rätsel und Lieder (Weimar: Hermann Bölau, 1857), pp. 22-25.