: The Best Popular Stories Selected And Rendered Anew

There was once a miller who was very poor, but he had a beautiful

daughter. Now, it happened that he came to speak to the king, and, to

give himself importance, he said to him, I have a daughter who can

spin straw into gold.

The king said to the miller, That is a talent that pleases me well;

if she be as skilful as you say, bring her to-morrow to the palace,

and I will put her to the proof.

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When the maiden was brought to him, he led her to a room full of

straw, gave her a wheel and spindle, and said, Now set to work, and

if by the morrow this straw be not spun into gold, you shall die. He

locked the door, and left the maiden alone.

The poor girl sat down disconsolate, and could not for her life think

what she was to do; for she knew not--how could she?--the way to spin

straw into gold; and her distress increased so much that at last she

began to weep. All at once the door opened, and a little man entered,

and said, Good evening, my pretty miller's daughter why are you

weeping so bitterly?

Ah! answered the maiden, I must spin straw into gold, and know not

how to do it.

The little man said, What will you give me if I do it for you?

My neckerchief, said the maiden.

He took the kerchief, sat down before the wheel, and grind, grind,

grind--three times did he grind--and the spindle was full: then he put

another thread on, and grind, grind, grind, the second was full; so he

spun on till morning; when all the straw was spun, and all the

spindles were full of gold.

The king came at sunrise, and was greatly astonished and overjoyed at

the sight; but it only made his heart the more greedy of gold. He put

the miller's daughter into another much larger room, full of straw,

and ordered her to spin it all in one night, if life were dear to her.

The poor helpless maiden began to weep, when once more the door flew

open, the little man appeared, and said, What will you give me if I

spin this straw into gold?

My ring from my finger, answered the maiden.

The little man took the ring, began to turn the wheel, and, by the

morning, all the straw was spun into shining gold.

The king was highly delighted when he saw it, but was not yet

satisfied with the quantity of gold; so he put the damsel into a still

larger room, full of straw, and said, Spin this during the night; and

if you do it, you shall be my wife. For, he thought, if she's only

a miller's daughter I shall never find a richer wife in the whole


As soon as the damsel was alone, the little man came the third time,

and said, What will you give me if I again spin all this straw for


I have nothing more to give you, answered the girl.

Then promise, if you become queen, to give me your first child.

Who knows how that may be, or how things may turn out between now and

then? thought the girl, but in her perplexity she could not help

herself: so she promised the little man what he desired, and he spun

all the straw into gold.

When the king came in the morning, and saw that his orders had been

obeyed, he married the maiden, and the beautiful miller's daughter

became a queen. After a year had passed she brought a lovely baby into

the world, but quite forgot the little man, till he walked suddenly

into her chamber, and said, Give me what you promised me. The queen

was frightened, and offered the dwarf all the riches of the kingdom if

he would only leave her her child; but he answered, No; something

living is dearer to me than all the treasures of the world.

Then the queen began to grieve and to weep so bitterly, that the

little man took pity upon her and said, I will give you three days;

if in that time you can find out my name, you shall keep the child.

All night long the queen thought over every name she had ever heard,

and sent a messenger through the kingdom, to inquire what names were

usually given to people in that country. When, next day, the little

man came again, she began with Caspar, Melchoir, Balthazar, and

repeated, each after each, all the names she knew or had heard of; but

at each one the little man said, That is not my name.

The second day she again sent round about in all directions, to ask

how the people were called, and repeated to the little man the

strangest names she could hear of or imagine: to each he answered

always, That is not my name.

The third day the messenger returned and said, I have not been able

to find a single new name; but as I came over a high mountain by a

wood, where the fox and the hare bid each other good-night, I saw a

little house, and before the house was burning a little fire, and

round the fire danced a very funny little man, who hopped upon one

leg, and cried out:--

To-day I brew, to-morrow I bake,

Next day the queen's child I shall take;

How glad I am that nobody knows

My name is Rumpelstilzchen!

You may guess how joyful the queen was at hearing this; and when, soon

after, the little man entered and said, Queen, what is my name? she

asked him mischievously, Is your name Kunz?


Is your name Carl?


Are you not sometimes called Rumpelstilzchen?

A witch has told you that--a witch has told you! shrieked the poor

little man, and stamped so furiously with his right foot that it sunk

into the earth up to the hip; then he seized his left foot with both

hands with such violence, that he tore himself right in two.