The Grimm Brothers
There were once a man and a woman who had long
in vain wished for a child. At length the woman hoped that God was about to
grant her desire. These people had a little window at the back of their
house from which a splendid garden could be seen, which was full of the most
beautiful flowers and herbs. It was, however, surrounded by a high wall, and
no one dared to go into it because it belonged to an enchantress, who had
great power and was dreaded by all the world.
One day the woman was standing by this window and
looking down into the garden, when she saw a bed which was planted with the
most beautiful rampion - Rapunzel, and it looked so fresh and green that she
longed for it, and had the greatest desire to eat some. This desire
increased every day, and as she knew that she could not get any of it, she
quite pined away, and began to look pale and miserable.
Then her husband was alarmed, and asked, "What ails
you, dear wife?"
"Ah," she replied, "if I can't eat some of the rampion,
which is in the garden behind our house, I shall die."
The man, who loved her, thought, sooner than let your
wife die, bring her some of the rampion yourself, let it cost what it will.
At twilight, he clambered down over the wall into the garden of the
enchantress, hastily clutched a handful of rampion, and took it to his wife.
She at once made herself a salad of it, and ate it greedily. It tasted so
good to her - so very good, that the next day she longed for it three times
as much as before. If he was to have any rest, her husband must once more
descend into the garden. In the gloom of evening, therefore, he let himself
down again. But when he had clambered down the wall he was terribly afraid,
for he saw the enchantress standing before him.
"How can you dare," said she with angry look, "descend
into my garden and steal my rampion like a thief? You shall suffer for it."
"Ah," answered he, "let mercy take the place of
justice, I only made up my mind to do it out of necessity. My wife saw your
rampion from the window, and felt such a longing for it that she would have
died if she had not got some to eat."
Then the enchantress allowed her anger to be softened,
and said to him, "If the case be as you say, I will allow you to take away
with you as much rampion as you will, only I make one condition, you must
give me the child which your wife will bring into the world. It shall be
well treated, and I will care for it like a mother."
The man in his terror consented to everything, and
when the woman was brought to bed, the enchantress appeared at once, gave
the child the name of Rapunzel, and took it away with her.
Rapunzel grew into the most beautiful child under the
sun. When she was twelve years old, the enchantress shut her into a tower,
which lay in a forest, and had neither stairs nor door, but quite at the top
was a little window. When the enchantress wanted to go in, she placed
herself beneath it and cried,
Let down your hair!"
Rapunzel had magnificent long hair, fine as spun gold,
and when she heard the voice of the enchantress she unfastened her braided
tresses, wound them round one of the hooks of the window above, and then the
hair fell twenty ells down, and the enchantress climbed up by it.
After a year or two, it came to pass that the king's
son rode through the forest and passed by the tower. Then he heard a song,
which was so charming that he stood still and listened. This was Rapunzel,
who in her solitude passed her time in letting her sweet voice resound. The
king's son wanted to climb up to her, and looked for the door of the tower,
but none was to be found. He rode home, but the singing had so deeply
touched his heart, that every day he went out into the forest and listened
to it. Once when he was thus standing behind a tree, he saw that an
enchantress came there, and he heard how she cried,
Let down your hair!"
Then Rapunzel let down the braids of her hair, and the
enchantress climbed up to her. "If that is the ladder by which one mounts, I
too will try my fortune," said he, and the next day when it began to grow
dark, he went to the tower and cried,
Let down your hair!"
Immediately the hair fell down and the king's son
climbed up. At first Rapunzel was terribly frightened when a man, such as
her eyes had never yet beheld, came to her. But the king's son began to talk
to her quite like a friend, and told her that his heart had been so stirred
that it had let him have no rest, and he had been forced to see her. Then
Rapunzel lost her fear, and when he asked her if she would take him for her
husband, and she saw that he was young and handsome, she thought, he will
love me more than old dame gothel does. And she said yes, and laid her hand
She said, "I will willingly go away with you, but I do
not know how to get down. Bring with you a skein of silk every time that you
come, and I will weave a ladder with it, and when that is ready I will
descend, and you will take me on your horse."
They agreed that until that time he should come to her
every evening, for the old woman came by day.
The enchantress remarked nothing of this, until once
Rapunzel said to her, "Tell me, Dame Gothel, how it happens that you are so
much heavier for me to draw up than the young king's son - he is with me in
"Ah! You wicked child," cried the enchantress. "What
do I hear you say. I thought I had separated you from all the world, and yet
you have deceived me."
In her anger she clutched Rapunzel's beautiful
tresses, wrapped them twice round her left hand, seized a pair of scissors
with the right, and snip, snap, they were cut off, and the lovely braids lay
on the ground. And she was so pitiless that she took poor Rapunzel into a
desert where she had to live in great grief and misery.
On the same day that she cast out Rapunzel, however,
the enchantress fastened the braids of hair, which she had cut off, to the
hook of the window, and when the king's son came and cried,
Let down your hair!"
she let the hair down. The king's son ascended, but
instead of finding his dearest Rapunzel, he found the enchantress, who gazed
at him with wicked and venomous looks.
"Aha," she cried mockingly, "you would fetch your
dearest, but the beautiful bird sits no longer singing in the nest. The cat
has got it, and will scratch out your eyes as well. Rapunzel is lost to you.
You will never see her again."
The king's son was beside himself with pain, and in
his despair he leapt down from the tower. He escaped with his life, but the
thorns into which he fell pierced his eyes. Then he wandered quite blind
about the forest, ate nothing but roots and berries, and did naught but
lament and weep over the loss of his dearest wife.
Thus he roamed about in misery for some years, and at
length came to the desert where Rapunzel, with the twins to which she had
given birth, a boy and a girl, lived in wretchedness.
He heard a voice, and it seemed so familiar to him that he went towards it,
and when he approached, Rapunzel knew him and fell on his neck and wept. Two
of her tears wetted his eyes and they grew clear again, and he could see
with them as before. He led her to his kingdom where he was joyfully
received, and they lived for a long time afterwards, happy and contented.