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Rumpelstiltskin

from Grimms' Fairy Tales





By the side of a wood, in a country a long way off, ran a fine stream
of water; and upon the stream there stood a mill. The miller's house was
close by, and the miller, you must know, had a very beautiful daughter.
She was, moreover, very shrewd and clever; and the miller was so proud
of her, that he one day told the king of the land, who used to come and
hunt in the wood, that his daughter could spin gold out of straw. Now
this king was very fond of money; and when he heard the miller's boast
his greediness was raised, and he sent for the girl to be brought before
him. Then he led her to a chamber in his palace where there was a great
heap of straw, and gave her a spinning-wheel, and said, 'All this must
be spun into gold before morning, as you love your life.' It was in vain
that the poor maiden said that it was only a silly boast of her father,
for that she could do no such thing as spin straw into gold: the chamber
door was locked, and she was left alone.

She sat down in one corner of the room, and began to bewail her hard
fate; when on a sudden the door opened, and a droll-looking little man
hobbled in, and said, 'Good morrow to you, my good lass; what are you
weeping for?' 'Alas!' said she, 'I must spin this straw into gold, and
I know not how.' 'What will you give me,' said the hobgoblin, 'to do it
for you?' 'My necklace,' replied the maiden. He took her at her word,
and sat himself down to the wheel, and whistled and sang:

'Round about, round about,
Lo and behold!
Reel away, reel away,
Straw into gold!'

And round about the wheel went merrily; the work was quickly done, and
the straw was all spun into gold.

When the king came and saw this, he was greatly astonished and pleased;
but his heart grew still more greedy of gain, and he shut up the poor
miller's daughter again with a fresh task. Then she knew not what to do,
and sat down once more to weep; but the dwarf soon opened the door, and
said, 'What will you give me to do your task?' 'The ring on my finger,'
said she. So her little friend took the ring, and began to work at the
wheel again, and whistled and sang:

'Round about, round about,
Lo and behold!
Reel away, reel away,
Straw into gold!'

till, long before morning, all was done again.

The king was greatly delighted to see all this glittering treasure;
but still he had not enough: so he took the miller's daughter to a yet
larger heap, and said, 'All this must be spun tonight; and if it is,
you shall be my queen.' As soon as she was alone that dwarf came in, and
said, 'What will you give me to spin gold for you this third time?'
'I have nothing left,' said she. 'Then say you will give me,' said
the little man, 'the first little child that you may have when you are
queen.' 'That may never be,' thought the miller's daughter: and as she
knew no other way to get her task done, she said she would do what he
asked. Round went the wheel again to the old song, and the manikin once
more spun the heap into gold. The king came in the morning, and, finding
all he wanted, was forced to keep his word; so he married the miller's
daughter, and she really became queen.

At the birth of her first little child she was very glad, and forgot the
dwarf, and what she had said. But one day he came into her room, where
she was sitting playing with her baby, and put her in mind of it. Then
she grieved sorely at her misfortune, and said she would give him all
the wealth of the kingdom if he would let her off, but in vain; till at
last her tears softened him, and he said, 'I will give you three days'
grace, and if during that time you tell me my name, you shall keep your
child.'

Now the queen lay awake all night, thinking of all the odd names that
she had ever heard; and she sent messengers all over the land to find
out new ones. The next day the little man came, and she began with
TIMOTHY, ICHABOD, BENJAMIN, JEREMIAH, and all the names she could
remember; but to all and each of them he said, 'Madam, that is not my
name.'

The second day she began with all the comical names she could hear of,
BANDY-LEGS, HUNCHBACK, CROOK-SHANKS, and so on; but the little gentleman
still said to every one of them, 'Madam, that is not my name.'

The third day one of the messengers came back, and said, 'I have
travelled two days without hearing of any other names; but yesterday, as
I was climbing a high hill, among the trees of the forest where the fox
and the hare bid each other good night, I saw a little hut; and before
the hut burnt a fire; and round about the fire a funny little dwarf was
dancing upon one leg, and singing:

'"Merrily the feast I'll make.
Today I'll brew, tomorrow bake;
Merrily I'll dance and sing,
For next day will a stranger bring.
Little does my lady dream
Rumpelstiltskin is my name!"'

When the queen heard this she jumped for joy, and as soon as her little
friend came she sat down upon her throne, and called all her court round
to enjoy the fun; and the nurse stood by her side with the baby in her
arms, as if it was quite ready to be given up. Then the little man began
to chuckle at the thought of having the poor child, to take home with
him to his hut in the woods; and he cried out, 'Now, lady, what is my
name?' 'Is it JOHN?' asked she. 'No, madam!' 'Is it TOM?' 'No, madam!'
'Is it JEMMY?' 'It is not.' 'Can your name be RUMPELSTILTSKIN?' said the
lady slyly. 'Some witch told you that!--some witch told you that!' cried
the little man, and dashed his right foot in a rage so deep into the
floor, that he was forced to lay hold of it with both hands to pull it
out.

Then he made the best of his way off, while the nurse laughed and the
baby crowed; and all the court jeered at him for having had so much
trouble for nothing, and said, 'We wish you a very good morning, and a
merry feast, Mr RUMPLESTILTSKIN!'





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