Jul 112011
 

Fairy tale by The Brothers Grimm

There was once upon a time an old goat who had seven little kids, and loved them with all the love of a mother for her children. One day she wanted to go into the forest and fetch some food. So she called all seven to her and said, “Dear children, I have to go into the forest; be on your guard against the wolf; if he comes in, he will devour you all skin, hair, and all. The wretch often disguises himself, but you will know him at once by his rough voice and his black feet.”

The kids said, “Dear mother, we will take good care of ourselves; you may go away without any anxiety.” Then the old one bleated, and went on her way with an easy mind.

It was not long before someone knocked at the house-door and cried, “Open the door, dear children; your mother is here, and has brought something back with her for each of you.”

But the little kids knew that it was the wolf, by the rough voice.

“We will not open the door,” cried they, “thou art not our mother. She has a soft, pleasant voice, but thy voice is rough; thou art the wolf!”

Then the wolf went away to a shopkeeper and bought himself a great lump of chalk, ate this and made his voice soft with it. Then he came back, knocked at the door of the house, and cried, “Open the door, dear children, your mother is here and has brought something back with her for each of you.”

But the wolf had laid his black paws against the window, and the children saw them and cried, “We will not open the door, our mother has not black feet like thee: thou art the wolf.”

Then the wolf ran to a baker and said, “I have hurt my feet, rub some dough over them for me.”

And when the baker had rubbed his feet over, he ran to the miller and said, “Strew some white meal over my feet for me.”

The miller thought to himself, “The wolf wants to deceive someone,” and refused; but the wolf said, “If thou wilt not do it, I will devour thee.”

Then the miller was afraid, and made his paws white for him. Truly men are like that.

So now the wretch went for the third time to the house-door, knocked at it and said, “Open the door for me, children, your dear little mother has come home, and has brought every one of you something back from the forest with her.”

The little kids cried, “First show us thy paws that we may know if thou art our dear little mother.”

Then he put his paws in through the window, and when the kids saw that they were white, they believed that all he said was true, and opened the door. But who should come in but the wolf!

They were terrified and wanted to hide themselves. One sprang under the table, the second into the bed, the third into the stove, the fourth into the kitchen, the fifth into the cupboard, the sixth under the washing-bowl, and the seventh into the clock-case. But the wolf found them all, and used no great ceremony; one after the other he swallowed them down his throat. The youngest in the clock-case was the only one he did not find.

When the wolf had satisfied his appetite he took himself off, laid himself down under a tree in the green meadow outside, and began to sleep. Soon afterwards the old goat came home again from the forest.

Ah! what a sight she saw there! The house-door stood wide open. The table, chairs, and benches were thrown down, the washing-bowl lay broken to pieces, and the quilts and pillows were pulled off the bed. She sought her children, but they were nowhere to be found. She called them one after another by name, but no one answered.

At last, when she came to the youngest, a soft voice cried, “Dear mother, I am in the clock-case.” She took the kid out, and it told her that the wolf had come and had eaten all the others. Then you may imagine how she wept over her poor children.

At length in her grief she went out, and the youngest kid ran with her. When they came to the meadow, there lay the wolf by the tree and snored so loud that the branches shook. She looked at him on every side and saw that something was moving and struggling in his gorged body.

“Ah, heavens,” said she, “is it possible that my poor children whom he has swallowed down for his supper, can be still alive?”

Then the kid had to run home and fetch scissors, and a needle and thread, and the goat cut open the monster’s stomach, and hardly had she made one cut, than one little kid thrust its head out, and when she cut farther, all six sprang out one after another, and were all still alive, and had suffered no injury whatever, for in his greediness the monster had swallowed them down whole.

What rejoicing there was! Then they embraced their dear mother, and jumped like a tailor at his wedding. The mother, however, said, “Now go and look for some big stones, and we will fill the wicked beast’s stomach with them while he is still asleep.”

Then the seven kids dragged the stones thither with all speed, and put as many of them into his stomach as they could get in; and the mother sewed him up again in the greatest haste, so that he was not aware of anything and never once stirred.

When the wolf at length had had his sleep out, he got on his legs, and as the stones in his stomach made him very thirsty, he wanted to go to a well to drink. But when he began to walk and to move about, the stones in his stomach knocked against each other and rattled. Then cried he,

“What rumbles and tumbles
Against my poor bones?
I thought t was six kids,
But it’s naught but big stones.”

And when he got to the well and stooped over the water and was just about to drink, the heavy stones made him fall in and there was no help, but he had to drown miserably. When the seven kids saw that, they came running to the spot and cried aloud, “The wolf is dead! The wolf is dead!” and danced for joy round about the well with their mother.

From Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, Household Tales, trans. Margaret Hunt (London: George Bell, 1884)

Jul 112011
 

Fairy tale by The Brothers Grimm

A certain father had two sons, the elder of whom was sharp and sensible, and could do everything, but the younger was stupid and could neither learn nor understand anything, and when people saw him they said, “There’s a fellow who will give his father some trouble!”

When anything had to be done, it was always the elder who was forced to do it; but if his father bade him fetch anything when it was late, or in the night-time, and the way led through the churchyard, or any other dismal place, he answered, “Oh, no, father, I’ll not go there, it makes me shudder!” for he was afraid. Or when stories were told by the fire at night which made the flesh creep, the listeners often said, “Oh, it makes us shudder!”

The younger sat in a corner and listened with the rest of them, and could not imagine what they could mean. “They are always saying, it makes me shudder, it makes me shudder!’ It does not make me shudder,” thought he. “That, too, must be an art of which I understand nothing!”

Now it came to pass that his father said to him one day, “Hearken to me, thou fellow in the corner there, thou art growing tall and strong, and thou too must learn something by which thou canst earn thy living. Look how thy brother works, but thou dost not even earn thy salt.”

“Well, father,” he replied, “I am quite willing to learn something indeed, if it could but be managed; I should like to learn how to shudder. I don’t understand that at all yet.”

The elder brother smiled when he heard that, and thought to himself, “Good God, what a blockhead that brother of mine is! He will never be good for anything as long as he lives! He who wants to be a sickle must bend himself betimes.”

The father sighed, and answered him, “Thou shalt soon learn what it is to shudder, but thou wilt not earn thy living by that.”

Soon after this the sexton came to the house on a visit, and the father bewailed his trouble, and told him how his younger son was so backward in every respect that he knew nothing and learnt nothing. “Just think,” said he, “when I asked him how he was going to earn his bread, he actually wanted to learn to shudder.”

“If that be all,” replied the sexton, “he can learn that with me. Send him to me, and I will soon polish him.”

The father was glad to do it, for he thought, “It will train the boy a little.”

The sexton therefore took him into his house, and he had to ring the bell. After a day or two, the sexton awoke him at midnight, and bade him arise and go up into the church tower and ring the bell. “Thou shalt soon learn what shuddering is,” thought he, and secretly went there before him; and when the boy was at the top of the tower and turned round, and was just going to take hold of the bell rope, he saw a white figure standing on the stairs opposite the sounding hole.

“Who is there?” cried he, but the figure made no reply, and did not move or stir. “Give an answer,” cried the boy, “or take thyself off, thou hast no business here at night.”

The sexton, however, remained standing motionless that the boy might think he was a ghost. The boy cried a second time, “What dost thou want here? Speak if thou art an honest fellow, or I will throw thee down the steps!”

The sexton thought, “he can’t intend to be as bad as his words,” uttered no sound and stood as if he were made of stone. Then the boy called to him for the third time, and as that was also to no purpose, he ran against him and pushed the ghost down the stairs, so that it fell down ten steps and remained lying there in a corner. Thereupon he rang the bell, went home, and without saying a word went to bed, and fell asleep.

The sexton’s wife waited a long time for her husband, but he did not come back. At length she became uneasy, and wakened the boy, and asked, “Dost thou not know where my husband is? He climbed up the tower before thou didst.”

“No, I don’t know,” replied the boy, “but someone was standing by the sounding hole on the other side of the steps, and as he would neither give an answer nor go away, I took him for a scoundrel, and threw him downstairs, just go there and you will see if it was he, I should be sorry if it were.”

The woman ran away and found her husband, who was lying moaning in the corner, and had broken his leg.

She carried him down, and then with loud screams she hastened to the boy’s father. “Your boy,” cried she, “has been the cause of a great misfortune! He has thrown my husband down the steps and made him break his leg. Take the good-for-nothing fellow away from our house.”

The father was terrified, and ran thither and scolded the boy. “What wicked tricks are these?” said he, “the devil must have put this into thy head.”

“Father,” he replied, “do listen to me. I am quite innocent. He was standing there by night like one who is intending to do some evil. I did not know who it was, and I entreated him three times either to speak or to go away.”

“Ah,” said the father, “I have nothing but unhappiness with thee. Go out of my sight. I will see thee no more.”

“Yes, father, right willingly, wait only until it is day. Then will I go forth and learn how to shudder, and then I shall, at any rate, understand one art which will support me.”

“Learn what thou wilt,” spake the father, “it is all the same to me. Here are fifty thalers for thee. Take these and go into the wide world, and tell no one from whence thou comest, and who is thy father, for I have reason to be ashamed of thee.”

“Yes, father, it shall be as you will. If you desire nothing more than that, I can easily keep it in mind.”

When day dawned, therefore, the boy put his fifty thalers into his pocket, and went forth on the great highway, and continually said to himself, “If I could but shudder! If I could but shudder!”

Then a man approached who heard this conversation which the youth was holding with himself, and when they had walked a little farther to where they could see the gallows, the man said to him, “Look, there is the tree where seven men have married the ropemaker’s daughter, and are now learning how to fly. Sit down below it, and wait till night comes, and thou wilt soon learn how to shudder.”

“If that is all that is wanted,” answered the youth, “it is easily done; but if I learn how to shudder as quickly as that, thou shalt have my fifty thalers. Just come back to me early in the morning.”

Then the youth went to the gallows, sat down below it, and waited till evening came. And as he was cold, he lighted himself a fire, but at midnight the wind blew so sharply that in spite of his fire, he could not get warm. And as the wind knocked the hanged men against each other, and they moved backwards and forwards, he thought to himself, “Thou shiverest below by the fire, but how those up above must freeze and suffer!”

And as he felt pity for them, he raised the ladder, and climbed up, unbound one of them after the other, and brought down all seven. Then he stirred the fire, blew it, and set them all round it to warm themselves. But they sat there and did not stir, and the fire caught their clothes. So he said, “Take care, or I will hang you up again.”

The dead men, however, did not hear, but were quite silent, and let their rags go on burning. On this he grew angry, and said, “If you will not take care, I cannot help you, I will not be burnt with you,” and he hung them up again each in his turn.

Then he sat down by his fire and fell asleep, and next morning the man came to him and wanted to have the fifty thalers, and said, “Well, dost thou know how to shudder?”

“No,” answered he, “how was I to get to know? Those fellows up there did not open their mouths, and were so stupid that they let the few old rags which they had on their bodies get burnt.”

Then the man saw that he would not carry away the fifty thalers that day, and went away saying, “One of this kind has never come in my way before.”

The youth likewise went his way, and once more began to mutter to himself, “Ah, if I could but shudder! Ah, if I could but shudder!”

A waggoner who was striding behind him heard that and asked, “Who art thou?”

“I don’t know,” answered the youth.

Then the waggoner asked, “From whence comest thou?”

“I know not.”

“Who is thy father?”

“That I may not tell thee.”

“What is it that thou art always muttering between thy teeth?”

“Ah,” replied the youth, “I do so wish I could shudder, but no one can teach me how to do it.”

“Give up thy foolish chatter,” said the waggoner. “Come, go with me, I will see about a place for thee.”

The youth went with the waggoner, and in the evening they arrived at an inn where they wished to pass the night. Then at the entrance of the room the youth again said quite loudly, “If I could but shudder! If I could but shudder!”

The host who heard that, laughed and said, “If that is your desire, there ought to be a good opportunity for you here.”

“Ah, be silent,” said the hostess, “so many inquisitive persons have already lost their lives, it would be a pity and a shame if such beautiful eyes as these should never see the daylight again.”

But the youth said, “However difficult it may be, I will learn it, and for this purpose indeed have I journeyed forth.” He let the host have no rest, until the latter told him, that not far from thence stood a haunted castle where anyone could very easily learn what shuddering was, if he would but watch in it for three nights. The King had promised that he who would venture should have his daughter to wife, and she was the most beautiful maiden the sun shone on. Great treasures likewise lay in the castle, which were guarded by evil spirits, and these treasures would then be freed, and would make a poor man rich enough.

Already many men had gone into the castle, but as yet none had come out again. Then the youth went next morning to the King, and said that if he were allowed he would watch three nights in the enchanted castle. The King looked at him, and as the youth pleased him, he said, “Thou mayest ask for three things to take into the castle with thee, but they must be things without life.”

Then he answered, “Then I ask for a fire, a turning lathe, and a cutting-board with the knife.”

The King had these things carried into the castle for him during the day. When night was drawing near, the youth went up and made himself a bright fire in one of the rooms, placed the cutting-board and knife beside it, and seated himself by the turning-lathe.

“Ah, if I could but shudder!” said he, “but I shall not learn it here either.” Towards midnight he was about to poke his fire, and as he was blowing it, something cried suddenly from one corner,

“Au, meow! How cold we are!”

“You simpletons!” cried he, “what are you crying about? If you are cold, come and take a seat by the fire and warm yourselves.”

And when he had said that, two great black cats came with one tremendous leap and sat down on each side of him, and looked savagely at him with their fiery eyes. After a short time, when they had warmed themselves, they said, “Comrade, shall we have a game at cards?”

“Why not?” he replied, “but just show me your paws.” Then they stretched out their claws. “Oh,” said he, “what long nails you have! Wait, I must first cut them a little for you.”

Thereupon he seized them by the throats, put them on the cutting-board and screwed their feet fast. “I have looked at your fingers,” said he, “and my fancy for card-playing has gone,” and he struck them dead and threw them out into the water.

But when he had made away with these two, and was about to sit down again by his fire, out from every hole and corner came black cats and black dogs with red-hot chains, and more and more of them came until he could no longer stir, and they yelled horribly, and got on his fire, pulled it to pieces, and wanted to put it out.

He watched them for a while quietly, but at last when they were going too far, he seized his cutting-knife, and cried, “Away with ye, vermin,” and began to cut them down.

Part of them ran away, the others he killed, and threw out into the fish-pond. When he came back he blew up the embers of his fire again and warmed himself. And as he thus sat, his eyes would keep open no longer, and he felt a desire to sleep.

Then he looked round and saw a great bed in the corner. “That is the very thing for me,” said he, and got into it. When he was just going to shut his eyes, however, the bed began to move of its own accord, and went over the whole of the castle.

“That’s right,” said he, “but go faster.”

Then the bed rolled on as if six horses were harnessed to it, up and down, over thresholds and steps, but suddenly hop, hop, it turned over upside down, and lay on him like a mountain. But he threw quilts and pillows up in the air, got out and said, “Now anyone who likes, may drive,” and lay down by his fire, and slept till it was day.

In the morning the King came, and when he saw him lying there on the ground, he thought the spirits had killed him and he was dead. Then said he, “After all it is a pity, he is a handsome man.”

The youth heard it, got up, and said, “It has not come to that yet.” Then the King was astonished, but very glad, and asked how he had fared.

“Very well indeed,” answered he; “one night is over, the two others will get over likewise.”

Then he went to the innkeeper, who opened his eyes very wide, and said, “I never expected to see thee alive again! Hast thou learnt how to shudder yet?” “No,” said he, “it is all in vain. If someone would but tell me!”

The second night he again went up into the old castle, sat down by the fire, and once more began his old song, “If I could but shudder!”

When midnight came, an uproar and noise of tumbling about was heard; at first it was low, but it grew louder and louder. Then it was quiet for awhile, and at length with a loud scream, half a man came down the chimney and fell before him.

“Hello!” cried he, “another half belongs to this. This is too little!” Then the uproar began again, there was a roaring and howling, and the other half fell down likewise.

“Wait,” said he, “I will just blow up the fire a little for thee.” When he had done that and looked round again, the two pieces were joined together, and a frightful man was sitting in his place.

“That is no part of our bargain,” said the youth, “the bench is mine.”

The man wanted to push him away; the youth, however, would not allow that, but thrust him off with all his strength, and seated himself again in his own place. Then still more men fell down, one after the other; they brought nine dead men’s legs and two skulls, and set them up and played at nine-pins with them.

The youth also wanted to play and said, “Hark you, can I join you?”

“Yes, if thou hast any money.”

“Money enough,” replied he, “but your balls are not quite round.”

Then he took the skulls and put them in the lathe and turned them till they were round. “There, now, they will roll better!” said he.

“Hurrah! now it goes merrily!” He played with them and lost some of his money, but when it struck twelve, everything vanished from his sight. He lay down and quietly fell asleep.

Next morning the King came to enquire after him. “How has it fared with thee this time?” asked he.

“I have been playing at nine-pins,” he answered, “and have lost a couple of farthings.”

“Hast thou not shuddered then?”

“Eh, what?” said he, “I have made merry. If I did but know what it was to shudder!”

The third night he sat down again on his bench and said quite sadly, “If I could but shudder.”

When it grew late, six tall men came in and brought a coffin. Then said he, “Ha, ha, that is certainly my little cousin, who only died a few days ago,” and he beckoned with his finger, and cried, “Come, little cousin, come.”

They placed the coffin on the ground, but he went to it and took the lid off, and a dead man lay therein. He felt his face, but it was cold as ice.

“Stop,” said he, “I will warm thee a little,” and went to the fire and warmed his hand and laid it on the dead man’s face, but he remained cold. Then he took him out, and sat down by the fire and laid him on his breast and rubbed his arms that the blood might circulate again.

As this also did no good, he thought to himself, “When two people lie in bed together, they warm each other,” and carried him to the bed, covered him over and lay down by him. After a short time the dead man became warm too, and began to move. Then said the youth, “See, little cousin, have I not warmed thee?”

The dead man, however, got up and cried, “Now will I strangle thee.”

“What!” said he, “is that the way thou thankest me? Thou shalt at once go into thy coffin again,” and he took him up, threw him into it, and shut the lid. Then came the six men and carried him away again.

“I cannot manage to shudder,” said he. “I shall never learn it here as long as I live.”

Then a man entered who was taller than all others, and looked terrible. He was old, however, and had a long white beard.

“Thou wretch,” cried he, “thou shalt soon learn what it is to shudder, for thou shalt die.”

“Not so fast,” replied the youth. “If I am to die, I shall have to have a say in it.”

“I will soon seize thee,” said the fiend.

“Softly, softly, do not talk so big. I am as strong as thou art, and perhaps even stronger.”

“We shall see,” said the old man. “If thou art stronger, I will let thee go—come, we will try.”

Then he led him by dark passages to a smith’s forge, took an axe, and with one blow struck an anvil into the ground.

“I can do that better still,” said the youth, and went to the other anvil.

The old man placed himself near and wanted to look on, and his white beard hung down. Then the youth seized the axe, split the anvil with one blow, and struck the old man’s beard in with it.

“Now I have thee,” said the youth. “Now it is thou who wilt have to die.”

Then he seized an iron bar and beat the old man till he moaned and entreated him to stop, and he would give him great riches. The youth drew out the axe and let him go.

The old man led him back into the castle, and in a cellar showed him three chests full of gold. “Of these,” said he, “one part is for the poor, the other for the king, the third is thine.”

In the meantime it struck twelve, and the spirit disappeared; the youth, therefore, was left in darkness.

“I shall still be able to find my way out,” said he, and felt about, found the way into the room, and slept there by his fire.

Next morning the King came and said, “Now thou must have learnt what shuddering is?”

“No,” he answered; “what can it be? My dead cousin was here, and a bearded man came and showed me a great deal of money down below, but no one told me what it was to shudder.”

“Then,” said the King, “thou hast delivered the castle, and shalt marry my daughter.” “That is all very well,” said he, “but still I do not know what it is to shudder!”

Then the gold was brought up and the wedding celebrated; but howsoever much the young King loved his wife, and however happy he was, he still said always, “If I could but shudder—if I could but shudder.”

And at last she was angry at this. Her waiting-maid said, “I will find a cure for him; he shall soon learn what it is to shudder.”

She went out to the stream which flowed through the garden, and had a whole bucketful of gudgeons brought to her. At night when the young King was sleeping, his wife was to draw the clothes off him and empty the bucketful of cold water with the gudgeons in it over him, so that the little fishes would sprawl about him.

When this was done, he woke up and cried, “Oh, what makes me shudder so?—what makes me shudder so, dear wife? Ah! now I know what it is to shudder!”

From Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, Household Tales, trans. Margaret Hunt (London: George Bell, 1884)

Jul 112011
 

Fairy tale by The Brothers Grimm

Hard by a great forest dwelt a wood-cutter with his wife, who had an only child, a little girl three years old. They were, however, so poor that they no longer had daily bread, and did not know how to get food for her.

One morning the wood-cutter went out sorrowfully to his work in the forest, and while he was cutting wood, suddenly there stood before him a tall and beautiful woman with a crown of shining stars on her head, who said to him, “I am the Virgin Mary, mother of the child Jesus. Thou art poor and needy, bring thy child to me, I will take her with me and be her mother, and care for her.”

The wood-cutter obeyed, brought his child, and gave her to the Virgin Mary, who took her up to heaven with her. There the child fared well, ate sugar-cakes, and drank sweet milk, and her clothes were of gold, and the little angels played with her. And when she was fourteen years of age, the Virgin Mary called her one day and said, “Dear child, I am about to make a long journey, so take into thy keeping the keys of the thirteen doors of heaven. Twelve of these thou mayest open, and behold the glory which is within them, but the thirteenth, to which this little key belongs, is forbidden thee. Beware of opening it, or thou wilt bring misery on thyself.”

The girl promised to be obedient, and when the Virgin Mary was gone, she began to examine the dwellings of the kingdom of heaven. Each day she opened one of them, until she had made the round of the twelve. In each of them sat one of the Apostles in the midst of a great light, and she rejoiced in all the magnificence and splendor, and the little angels who always accompanied her rejoiced with her. Then the forbidden door alone remained, and she felt a great desire to know what could be hidden behind it, and said to the angels, “I will not quite open it, and I will not go inside it, but I will unlock it so that we can just see a little through the opening.”

“Oh, no,” said the little angels, “that would be a sin. The Virgin Mary has forbidden it, and it might easily cause thy unhappiness.”

Then she was silent, but the desire in her heart was not stilled, but gnawed there and tormented her, and let her have no rest. And once when the angels had all gone out, she thought, “Now I am quite alone, and I could peep in. If I do it, no one will ever know.”

She sought out the key, and when she had got it in her hand, she put it in the lock, and when she had put it in, she turned it round as well. Then the door sprang open, and she saw there the Trinity sitting in fire and splendor. She stayed there awhile, and looked at everything in amazement; then she touched the light a little with her finger, and her finger became quite golden. Immediately a great fear fell on her. She shut the door violently, and ran away. Her terror too would not quit her, let her do what she might, and her heart beat continually and would not be still; the gold too stayed on her finger, and would not go away, let her rub it and wash it ever so much.

 

It was not long before the Virgin Mary came back from her journey. She called the girl before her, and asked to have the keys of heaven back. When the maiden gave her the bunch, the Virgin looked into her eyes and said, “Hast thou not opened the thirteenth door also?”

“No,” she replied. Then she laid her hand on the girl’s heart, and felt how it beat and beat, and saw right well that she had disobeyed her order and had opened the door.

Then she said once again, “Art thou certain that thou hast not done it?”

“Yes,” said the girl, for the second time.

Then the Virgin Mary perceived the finger which had become golden from touching the fire of heaven, and saw well that the child had sinned, and said for the third time, “Hast thou not done it?”

“No,” said the girl for the third time.

Then said the Virgin Mary, “Thou hast not obeyed me, and besides that thou hast lied, thou art no longer worthy to be in heaven.”

Then the girl fell into a deep sleep, and when she awoke she lay on the earth below, and in the midst of a wilderness. She wanted to cry out, but she could bring forth no sound. She sprang up and wanted to run away, but whithersoever she turned herself, she was continually held back by thick hedges of thorns through which she could not break.

In the desert, in which she was imprisoned, there stood an old hollow tree, and this had to be her dwelling-place. Into this she crept when night came, and here she slept. Here, too, she found a shelter from storm and rain, but it was a miserable life, and bitterly did she weep when she remembered how happy she had been in heaven, and how the angels had played with her.

Roots and wild berries were her only food, and for these she sought as far as she could go. In the autumn she picked up the fallen nuts and leaves, and carried them into the hole. The nuts were her food in winter, and when snow and ice came, she crept amongst the leaves like a poor little animal that she might not freeze.

Before long her clothes were all torn, and one bit of them after another fell off her. As soon, however, as the sun shone warm again, she went out and sat in front of the tree, and her long hair covered her on all sides like a mantle. Thus she sat year after year, and felt the pain and misery of the world.

One day, when the trees were once more clothed in fresh green, the King of the country was hunting in the forest, and followed a doe, and as it had fled into the thicket which shut in this bit of the forest, he got off his horse, tore the bushes asunder, and cut himself a path with his sword. When he had at last forced his way through, he saw a wonderfully beautiful maiden sitting under the tree; and she sat there and was entirely covered with her golden hair down to her very feet.

He stood still and looked at her full of surprise, then he spoke to her and said, “Who art thou? Why art thou sitting here in the wilderness?”

But she gave no answer, for she could not open her mouth.

The King continued, “Wilt thou go with me to my castle?”

Then she just nodded her head a little. The King took her in his arms, carried her to his horse, and rode home with her, and when he reached the royal castle he caused her to be dressed in beautiful garments, and gave her all things in abundance. Although she could not speak, she was still so beautiful and charming that he began to love her with all his heart, and it was not long before he married her.

After a year or so had passed, the Queen brought a son into the world. Thereupon the Virgin Mary appeared to her in the night when she lay in her bed alone, and said, “If thou wilt tell the truth and confess that thou didst unlock the forbidden door, I will open thy mouth and give thee back thy speech, but if thou perseverest in thy sin, and deniest obstinately, I will take thy new-born child away with me.”

Then the Queen was permitted to answer, but she remained hard, and said, “No, I did not open the forbidden door;” and the Virgin Mary took the new-born child from her arms, and vanished with it.

Next morning, when the child was not to be found, it was whispered among the people that the Queen was a man-eater, and had killed her own child. She heard all this and could say nothing to the contrary, but the King would not believe it, for he loved her so much.

When a year had gone by the Queen again bore a son, and in the night the Virgin Mary again came to her, and said, “If thou wilt confess that thou openedst the forbidden door, I will give thee thy child back and untie thy tongue; but if thou continuest in sin and deniest it, I will take away with me this new child also.”

Then the Queen again said, “No, I did not open the forbidden door;” and the Virgin took the child out of her arms, and away with her to heaven.

Next morning, when this child also had disappeared, the people declared quite loudly that the Queen had devoured it, and the King’s councilors demanded that she should be brought to justice. The King, however, loved her so dearly that he would not believe it, and commanded the councilors under pain of death not to say any more about it.

The following year the Queen gave birth to a beautiful little daughter, and for the third time the Virgin Mary appeared to her in the night and said, “Follow me.”

She took the Queen by the hand and led her to heaven, and showed her there her two eldest children, who smiled at her, and were playing with the ball of the world. When the Queen rejoiced thereat, the Virgin Mary said, “Is thy heart not yet softened? If thou wilt own that thou openedst the forbidden door, I will give thee back thy two little sons.”

But for the third time the Queen answered, “No, I did not open the forbidden door.” Then the Virgin let her sink down to earth once more, and took from her likewise her third child.

Next morning, when the loss was reported abroad, all the people cried loudly, “The Queen is a man-eater! She must be judged,” and the King was no longer able to restrain his councilors.

Thereupon a trial was held, and as she could not answer, and defend herself, she was condemned to be burnt alive. The wood was got together, and when she was fast bound to the stake, and the fire began to burn round about her, the hard ice of pride melted, her heart was moved by repentance, and she thought, “If I could but confess before my death that I opened the door.”

Then her voice came back to her, and she cried out loudly, “Yes, Mary, I did it;” and straightway rain fell from the sky and extinguished the flames of fire, and a light broke forth above her, and the Virgin Mary descended with the two little sons by her side, and the new-born daughter in her arms.

She spoke kindly to her, and said, “He who repents his sin and acknowledges it, is forgiven.” Then she gave her the three children, untied her tongue, and granted her happiness for her whole life.

From Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, Household Tales, trans. Margaret Hunt (London: George Bell, 1884)

Jul 112011
 

Fairy tale by The Brothers Grimm

A certain cat had made the acquaintance of a mouse, and had said so much to her about the great love and friendship she felt for her, that at length the mouse agreed that they should live and keep house together.

“But we must make a provision for winter, or else we shall suffer from hunger,” said the cat, “and you, little mouse, cannot venture everywhere, or you will be caught in a trap some day.”

The good advice was followed, and a pot of fat was bought, but they did not know where to put it. At length, after much consideration, the cat said, “I know no place where it will be better stored up than in the church, for no one dares take anything away from there. We will set it beneath the altar, and not touch it until we are really in need of it.”

So the pot was placed in safety, but it was not long before the cat had a great longing for it, and said to the mouse, “I want to tell you something, little mouse; my cousin has brought a little son into the world, and has asked me to be godmother; he is white with brown spots, and I am to hold him at the christening. Let me go out to-day, and you look after the house by yourself.”

“Yes, yes,” answered the mouse, “by all means go, and if you get anything very good, think of me, I should like a drop of sweet red christening wine too.”

All this, however, was untrue; the cat had no cousin, and had not been asked to be godmother. She went straight to the church, stole to the pot of fat, began to lick at it, and licked the top of the fat off. Then she took a walk upon the roofs of the town, looked out for opportunities, and then stretched herself in the sun, and licked her lips whenever she thought of the pot of fat, and not until it was evening did she return home.

“Well, here you are again,” said the mouse, “no doubt you have had a merry day.”

“All went off well,” answered the cat. “What name did they give the child?”

“Top off!” said the cat quite coolly.

“Top off!” cried the mouse, “that is a very odd and uncommon name, is it a usual one in your family?”

“What does it signify,” said the cat; “it is not worse than Crumb-stealer, as your god-children are called.”

Before long the cat was seized by another fit of longing. She said to the mouse, “You must do me a favor, and once more manage the house for a day alone. I am again asked to be godmother, and, as the child has a white ring round its neck, I cannot refuse.”

The good mouse consented, but the cat crept behind the town walls to the church, and devoured half the pot of fat.

“Nothing ever seems so good as what one keeps to oneself,” said she, and was quite satisfied with her day’s work.

When she went home the mouse inquired, “And what was this child christened?” “Half-done,” answered the cat.

“Half-done! What are you saying? I never heard the name in my life, I’ll wager anything it is not in the calendar!”

The cat’s mouth soon began to water for some more licking.

“All good things go in threes,” said she. “I am asked to stand godmother again. The child is quite black, only it has white paws, but with that exception, it has not a single white hair on its whole body; this only happens once every few years, you will let me go, won’t you?”

“Top-off! Half-done!” answered the mouse, “they are such odd names, they make me very thoughtful.”

“You sit at home,” said the cat, “in your dark-grey fur coat and long tail, and are filled with fancies, that’s because you do not go out in the daytime.”

During the cat’s absence the mouse cleaned the house, and put it in order, but the greedy cat entirely emptied the pot of fat.

“When everything is eaten up one has some peace,” said she to herself, and well filled and fat she did not return home till night. The mouse at once asked what name had been given to the third child.

“It will not please you more than the others,” said the cat. “He is called All-gone.”

“All-gone,” cried the mouse, “that is the most suspicious name of all! I have never seen it in print. All-gone; what can that mean?” and she shook her head, curled herself up, and lay down to sleep.

From this time forth no one invited the cat to be godmother, but when the winter had come and there was no longer anything to be found outside, the mouse thought of their provision, and said, “Come, cat, we will go to our pot of fat which we have stored up for ourselves we shall enjoy that.”

“Yes,” answered the cat, “you will enjoy it as much as you would enjoy sticking that dainty tongue of yours out of the window.”

They set out on their way, but when they arrived, the pot of fat certainly was still in its place, but it was empty.

“Alas!” said the mouse, “now I see what has happened, now it comes to light! You a true friend! You have devoured all when you were standing godmother. First top off, then half done, then–”

“Will you hold your tongue,” cried the cat, “one word more, and I will eat you too.”

“All gone” was already on the poor mouse’s lips; scarcely had she spoken it before the cat sprang on her, seized her, and swallowed her down. Verily, that is the way of the world.

From Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, Household Tales, trans. Margaret Hunt (London: George Bell, 1884)

Jul 112011
 

Fairy tale by The Brothers Grimm


In old times when wishing still helped one, there lived a king whose daughters were all beautiful, but the youngest was so beautiful that the sun itself, which has seen so much, was astonished whenever it shone in her face. Close by the King’s castle lay a great dark forest, and under an old lime-tree in the forest was a well, and when the day was very warm, the King’s child went out into the forest and sat down by the side of the cool fountain, and when she was dull she took a golden ball, and threw it up on high and caught it, and this ball was her favorite plaything.

Now it so happened that on one occasion the princess’s golden ball did not fall into the little hand which she was holding up for it, but on to the ground beyond, and rolled straight into the water. The King’s daughter followed it with her eyes, but it vanished, and the well was deep, so deep that the bottom could not be seen. On this she began to cry, and cried louder and louder, and could not be comforted.

And as she thus lamented, someone said to her, “What ails thee, King’s daughter? Thou weepest so that even a stone would show pity.”

She looked round to the side from whence the voice came, and saw a frog stretching forth its thick, ugly head from the water.

“Ah! old water-splasher, is it thou?” said she; “I am weeping for my golden ball, which has fallen into the well.”

“Be quiet, and do not weep,” answered the frog, “I can help thee, but what wilt thou give me if I bring thy plaything up again?”

“Whatever thou wilt have, dear frog,” said she “my clothes, my pearls and jewels, and even the golden crown which I am wearing.”

The frog answered, “I do not care for thy clothes, thy pearls and jewels, or thy golden crown, but if thou wilt love me and let me be thy companion and play-fellow, and sit by thee at thy little table, and eat off thy little golden plate, and drink out of thy little cup, and sleep in thy little bed if thou wilt promise me this I will go down below, and bring thee thy golden ball up again.”

“Oh, yes,” said she, “I promise thee all thou wishest, if thou wilt but bring me my ball back again.” She, however, thought, “How the silly frog does talk! He lives in the water with the other frogs and croaks, and can be no companion to any human being!”

 

But the frog when he had received this promise, put his head into the water and sank down, and in a short time came swimming up again with the ball in his mouth, and threw it on the grass. The King’s daughter was delighted to see her pretty plaything once more, and picked it up, and ran away with it.

“Wait, wait,” said the frog, “Take me with thee. I can’t run as thou canst.” But what did it avail him to scream his croak, croak, after her, as loudly as he could? She did not listen to it, but ran home and soon forgot the poor frog, who was forced to go back into his well again.

The next day when she had seated herself at table with the King and all the courtiers, and was eating from her little golden plate, something came creeping splish splash, splish splash, up the marble staircase, and when it had got to the top, it knocked at the door and cried, “Princess, youngest princess, open the door for me.”

She ran to see who was outside, but when she opened the door, there sat the frog in front of it. Then she slammed the door to, in great haste, sat down to dinner again, and was quite frightened. The King saw plainly that her heart was beating violently, and said, “My child, what art thou so afraid of? Is there perchance a giant outside who wants to carry thee away?”

“Ah, no,” replied she, “it is no giant, but a disgusting frog.”

“What does the frog want with thee?”

“Ah, dear father, yesterday when I was in the forest sitting by the well, playing, my golden ball fell into the water. And because I cried so the frog brought it out again for me, and because he insisted so on it, I promised him he should be my companion, but I never thought he would be able to come out of his water! And now he is outside there, and wants to come in to me.”

In the meantime it knocked a second time, and cried, “Princess! youngest princess! Open the door for me! Dost thou not know what thou saidst to me yesterday by the cool waters of the fountain? Princess, youngest princess! Open the door for me!”

Then said the King, “That which thou hast promised must thou perform. Go and let him in.”

She went and opened the door, and the frog hopped in and followed her, step by step, to her chair. There he sat still and cried, “Lift me up beside thee.”

She delayed, until at last the King commanded her to do it. When the frog was once on the chair he wanted to be on the table, and when he was on the table he said, “Now, push thy little golden plate nearer to me that we may eat together.”

She did this, but it was easy to see that she did not do it willingly. The frog enjoyed what he ate, but almost every mouthful she took choked her. At length he said, “I have eaten and am satisfied; now I am tired, carry me into thy little room and make thy little silken bed ready, and we will both lie down and go to sleep.”

The King’s daughter began to cry, for she was afraid of the cold frog which she did not like to touch, and which was now to sleep in her pretty, clean little bed. But the King grew angry and said, “He who helped thee when thou wert in trouble ought not afterwards to be despised by thee.”

So she took hold of the frog with two fingers, carried him upstairs, and put him in a corner. But when she was in bed he crept to her and said, “I am tired, I want to sleep as well as thou, lift me up or I will tell thy father.”

Then she was terribly angry, and took him up and threw him with all her might against the wall.

“Now, thou wilt be quiet, odious frog,” said she. But when he fell down he was no frog but a king’s son with beautiful kind eyes. He by her father’s will was now her dear companion and husband. Then he told her how he had been bewitched by a wicked witch, and how no one could have delivered him from the well but herself, and that tomorrow they would go together into his kingdom. Then they went to sleep, and next morning when the sun awoke them, a carriage came driving up with eight white horses, which had white ostrich feathers on their heads, and were harnessed with golden chains, and behind stood the young King’s servant Faithful Henry.

Faithful Henry had been so unhappy when his master was changed into a frog that he had caused three iron bands to be laid round his heart, lest it should burst with grief and sadness. The carriage was to conduct the young King into his kingdom.

Faithful Henry helped them both in, and placed himself behind again, and was full of joy because of this deliverance. And when they had driven a part of the way, the King’s son heard a cracking behind him as if something had broken. So he turned round and cried, “Henry, the carriage is breaking.”

“No, master, it is not the carriage. It is a band from my heart, which was put there in my great pain when you were a frog and imprisoned in the well.” Again and once again while they were on their way something cracked, and each time the King’s son thought the carriage was breaking; but it was only the bands which were springing from the heart of faithful Henry because his master was set free and was happy.

From Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, Household Tales, trans. Margaret Hunt (London: George Bell, 1884)