Sweetheart Roland

: Grimms' Fairy Tales

There was once upon a time a woman who was a real witch and had two

daughters, one ugly and wicked, and this one she loved because she was

her own daughter, and one beautiful and good, and this one she hated,

because she was her stepdaughter. The stepdaughter once had a pretty

apron, which the other fancied so much that she became envious, and

told her mother that she must and would have that apron. 'Be quiet, my

' said the old woman, 'and you shall have it. Your stepsister has

long deserved death; tonight when she is asleep I will come and cut her

head off. Only be careful that you are at the far side of the bed, and

push her well to the front.' It would have been all over with the poor

girl if she had not just then been standing in a corner, and heard

everything. All day long she dared not go out of doors, and when bedtime

had come, the witch's daughter got into bed first, so as to lie at the

far side, but when she was asleep, the other pushed her gently to the

front, and took for herself the place at the back, close by the wall. In

the night, the old woman came creeping in, she held an axe in her right

hand, and felt with her left to see if anyone were lying at the outside,

and then she grasped the axe with both hands, and cut her own child's

head off.

When she had gone away, the girl got up and went to her sweetheart, who

was called Roland, and knocked at his door. When he came out, she said

to him: 'Listen, dearest Roland, we must fly in all haste; my stepmother

wanted to kill me, but has struck her own child. When daylight comes,

and she sees what she has done, we shall be lost.' 'But,' said Roland,

'I counsel you first to take away her magic wand, or we cannot escape

if she pursues us.' The maiden fetched the magic wand, and she took the

dead girl's head and dropped three drops of blood on the ground, one in

front of the bed, one in the kitchen, and one on the stairs. Then she

hurried away with her lover.

When the old witch got up next morning, she called her daughter, and

wanted to give her the apron, but she did not come. Then the witch

cried: 'Where are you?' 'Here, on the stairs, I am sweeping,' answered

the first drop of blood. The old woman went out, but saw no one on the

stairs, and cried again: 'Where are you?' 'Here in the kitchen, I am

warming myself,' cried the second drop of blood. She went into the

kitchen, but found no one. Then she cried again: 'Where are you?' 'Ah,

here in the bed, I am sleeping,' cried the third drop of blood. She went

into the room to the bed. What did she see there? Her own child,

whose head she had cut off, bathed in her blood. The witch fell into

a passion, sprang to the window, and as she could look forth quite far

into the world, she perceived her stepdaughter hurrying away with her

sweetheart Roland. 'That shall not help you,' cried she, 'even if you

have got a long way off, you shall still not escape me.' She put on her

many-league boots, in which she covered an hour's walk at every step,

and it was not long before she overtook them. The girl, however, when

she saw the old woman striding towards her, changed, with her magic

wand, her sweetheart Roland into a lake, and herself into a duck

swimming in the middle of it. The witch placed herself on the shore,

threw breadcrumbs in, and went to endless trouble to entice the duck;

but the duck did not let herself be enticed, and the old woman had to

go home at night as she had come. At this the girl and her sweetheart

Roland resumed their natural shapes again, and they walked on the whole

night until daybreak. Then the maiden changed herself into a beautiful

flower which stood in the midst of a briar hedge, and her sweetheart

Roland into a fiddler. It was not long before the witch came striding up

towards them, and said to the musician: 'Dear musician, may I pluck that

beautiful flower for myself?' 'Oh, yes,' he replied, 'I will play to

you while you do it.' As she was hastily creeping into the hedge and was

just going to pluck the flower, knowing perfectly well who the flower

was, he began to play, and whether she would or not, she was forced

to dance, for it was a magical dance. The faster he played, the more

violent springs was she forced to make, and the thorns tore her clothes

from her body, and pricked her and wounded her till she bled, and as he

did not stop, she had to dance till she lay dead on the ground.

As they were now set free, Roland said: 'Now I will go to my father and

arrange for the wedding.' 'Then in the meantime I will stay here and

wait for you,' said the girl, 'and that no one may recognize me, I will

change myself into a red stone landmark.' Then Roland went away, and the

girl stood like a red landmark in the field and waited for her beloved.

But when Roland got home, he fell into the snares of another, who so

fascinated him that he forgot the maiden. The poor girl remained there a

long time, but at length, as he did not return at all, she was sad, and

changed herself into a flower, and thought: 'Someone will surely come

this way, and trample me down.'

It befell, however, that a shepherd kept his sheep in the field and saw

the flower, and as it was so pretty, plucked it, took it with him, and

laid it away in his chest. From that time forth, strange things happened

in the shepherd's house. When he arose in the morning, all the work was

already done, the room was swept, the table and benches cleaned, the

fire in the hearth was lighted, and the water was fetched, and at noon,

when he came home, the table was laid, and a good dinner served. He

could not conceive how this came to pass, for he never saw a human being

in his house, and no one could have concealed himself in it. He was

certainly pleased with this good attendance, but still at last he was so

afraid that he went to a wise woman and asked for her advice. The wise

woman said: 'There is some enchantment behind it, listen very early some

morning if anything is moving in the room, and if you see anything, no

matter what it is, throw a white cloth over it, and then the magic will

be stopped.'

The shepherd did as she bade him, and next morning just as day dawned,

he saw the chest open, and the flower come out. Swiftly he

sprang towards it, and threw a white cloth over it. Instantly the

transformation came to an end, and a beautiful girl stood before him,

who admitted to him that she had been the flower, and that up to this

time she had attended to his house-keeping. She told him her story,

and as she pleased him he asked her if she would marry him, but she

answered: 'No,' for she wanted to remain faithful to her sweetheart

Roland, although he had deserted her. Nevertheless, she promised not to

go away, but to continue keeping house for the shepherd.

And now the time drew near when Roland's wedding was to be celebrated,

and then, according to an old custom in the country, it was announced

that all the girls were to be present at it, and sing in honour of the

bridal pair. When the faithful maiden heard of this, she grew so sad

that she thought her heart would break, and she would not go thither,

but the other girls came and took her. When it came to her turn to sing,

she stepped back, until at last she was the only one left, and then she

could not refuse. But when she began her song, and it reached Roland's

ears, he sprang up and cried: 'I know the voice, that is the true

bride, I will have no other!' Everything he had forgotten, and which had

vanished from his mind, had suddenly come home again to his heart. Then

the faithful maiden held her wedding with her sweetheart Roland, and

grief came to an end and joy began.