When People told themselves their past with stories,
explained their present with stories,
foretold the future with stories,
the best place by the fire was kept for ...

~The Sphinx Without a Secret~

One afternoon I was sitting outside the Cafe de la Paix, watching
the splendour and shabbiness of Parisian life, and wondering
over my vermouth at the strange panorama of pride and poverty that was passing before me, when I heard some one call my name. I turned round, and saw Lord Murchison. We had not met since
we had been at college together, nearly ten years before, so I was delighted to come across him again, and we shook hands warmly.

At Oxford we had been great friends. I had liked him immensely, he was so handsome, so high-spirited, and so honourable.
We used to say of him that he would be the best of fellows,
if he did not always speak the truth, but I think we really admired him all the more for his frankness. I found him a good deal changed. He looked anxious and puzzled, and seemed to be in doubt about something.

I felt it could not be modern scepticism, for Murchison was the stoutest of Tories, and believed in the Pentateuch as firmly as he believed in the House of Peers; so I concluded that it was a woman, and asked him if he was married yet.

'I don't understand women well enough,' he answered.
'My dear Gerald,' I said, 'women are meant to be loved, not to be
'I cannot love where I cannot trust,' he replied.
'I believe you have a mystery in your life, Gerald,' I exclaimed;
'tell me about it.'
'Let us go for a drive,' he answered, 'it is too crowded here.
No, not a yellow carriage, any other colour--there, that dark green one will do'; and in a few moments we were trotting down the boulevard in the direction of the Madeleine.

'Where shall we go to?' I said.
'Oh, anywhere you like!' he answered--'to the restaurant in the
Bois; we will dine there, and you shall tell me all about yourself.'
'I want to hear about you first,' I said. 'Tell me your mystery.'
He took from his pocket a little silver-clasped morocco case, and
handed it to me. I opened it. Inside there was the photograph of a
woman. She was tall and slight, and strangely picturesque with her large vague eyes and loosened hair. She looked like a clairvoyante, and was wrapped in rich furs.
'What do you think of that face?' he said; 'is it truthful?'
I examined it carefully. It seemed to me the face of some one who
had a secret, but whether that secret was good or evil I could not
say. Its beauty was a beauty moulded out of many mysteries--the
beauty, in fact, which is psychological, not plastic--and the faint
smile that just played across the lips was far too subtle to be
really sweet.
'Well,' he cried impatiently, 'what do you say?'
'She is the Gioconda in sables,' I answered. 'Let me know all about
'Not now,' he said; 'after dinner,' and began to talk of other
When the waiter brought us our coffee and cigarettes I reminded
Gerald of his promise. He rose from his seat, walked two or three
times up and down the room, and, sinking into an armchair, told me the following story:-

'One evening,' he said, 'I was walking down Bond Street about five
o'clock. There was a terrific crush of carriages, and the traffic
was almost stopped. Close to the pavement was standing a little
yellow brougham, which, for some reason or other, attracted my
attention. As I passed by there looked out from it the face I
showed you this afternoon. It fascinated me immediately. All that
night I kept thinking of it, and all the next day. I wandered up
and down that wretched Row, peering into every carriage, and waiting for the yellow brougham; but I could not find ma belle inconnue, and at last I began to think she was merely a dream.

About a week afterwards I was dining with Madame de Rastail. Dinner was for eight o'clock; but at half-past eight we were still waiting in the drawing-room. Finally the servant threw open the door, and announced Lady Alroy.
It was the woman I had been looking for.
She came in very slowly, looking like a moonbeam in grey lace, and, to my intense delight, I was asked to take her in to dinner. After we had sat down, I remarked quite innocently, "I think I caught sight of you in Bond Street some time ago, Lady Alroy." She grew very pale, and said to me in a low voice, "Pray do not talk so loud; you may be overheard." I felt miserable at having made such a bad beginning, and plunged recklessly into the subject of the French plays. She spoke very little, always in the same low musical voice, and seemed as if she was afraid of some one listening. I fell passionately, stupidly in love, and the indefinable atmosphere of mystery that surrounded her excited my most ardent curiosity.

When she was going away, which she did very soon after dinner, I asked her if I might call and see her. She hesitated for a moment,
glanced round to see if any one was near us, and then said, "Yes;
to-morrow at a quarter to five." I begged Madame de Rastail to tell me about her; but all that I could learn was that she was a widow with a beautiful house in Park Lane, and as some scientific bore began a dissertation on widows, as exemplifying the survival of the matrimonially fittest, I left and went home.
'The next day I arrived at Park Lane punctual to the moment, but was told by the butler that Lady Alroy had just gone out. I went down to the club quite unhappy and very much puzzled, and after long consideration wrote her a letter, asking if I might be allowed to try my chance some other afternoon. I had no answer for several days, but at last I got a little note saying she would be at home on Sunday at four and with this extraordinary postscript: "Please do not write to me here again; I will explain when I see you." On Sunday she received me, and was perfectly charming; but when I was going away she begged of me, if I ever had occasion to write to her again, to address my letter to "Mrs. Knox, care of Whittaker's Library, Green Street." "There are reasons," she said, "why I cannot receive letters in my own house."
'All through the season I saw a great deal of her, and the
atmosphere of mystery never left her. Sometimes I thought that she was in the power of some man, but she looked so unapproachable, that

I could not believe it. It was really very difficult for me to come
to any conclusion, for she was like one of those strange crystals
that one sees in museums, which are at one moment clear, and at
another clouded. At last I determined to ask her to be my wife: I
was sick and tired of the incessant secrecy that she imposed on all
my visits, and on the few letters I sent her. I wrote to her at the
library to ask her if she could see me the following Monday at six.
She answered yes, and I was in the seventh heaven of delight. I was infatuated with her: in spite of the mystery, I thought then--in
consequence of it, I see now. No; it was the woman herself I loved. The mystery troubled me, maddened me. Why did chance put me in its track?' 'You discovered it, then?' I cried.
'I fear so,' he answered. 'You can judge for yourself.'
'When Monday came round I went to lunch with my uncle, and about four o'clock found myself in the Marylebone Road. My uncle, you know, lives in Regent's Park. I wanted to get to Piccadilly, and took a short cut through a lot of shabby little streets. Suddenly I saw in front of me Lady Alroy, deeply veiled and walking very fast.

On coming to the last house in the street, she went up the steps,
took out a latch-key, and let herself in. "Here is the mystery,"
I said to myself; and I hurried on and examined the house. It seemed a sort of place for letting lodgings. On the doorstep lay her handkerchief, which she had dropped. I picked it up and put it in my pocket. Then I began to consider what I should do. I came to the conclusion that I had no right to spy on her, and I drove down to the club. At six I called to see her. She was lying on a sofa, in a tea-gown of silver tissue looped up by some strange moonstones that she always wore. She was looking quite lovely. "I am so glad to see you," she said; "I have not been out all day." I stared at her in amazement, and pulling the handkerchief out of my pocket, handed it to her. "You dropped this in Cumnor Street this afternoon, Lady Alroy," I said very calmly. She looked at me in terror but made no attempt to take the handkerchief. "What were you doing there?" I asked. "What right have you to question me?" she answered. "The right of a man who loves you," I replied; "I came here to ask you to be my wife." She hid her face in her hands, and burst into floods of tears. "You must tell me," I continued. She stood up, and, looking me straight in the face, said, "Lord Murchison, there is nothing to tell you."--"You went to meet some one," I cried; "this is your mystery." She grew dreadfully white, and said, "I went to meet no one."--"Can't you tell the truth?" I exclaimed. "I have told it," she replied. I was mad, frantic; I don't know what I said, but I said terrible things to her. Finally I rushed out of the house. She wrote me a letter the next day; I sent it back unopened, and started for Norway with Alan Colville.

After a month I came back, and the first thing I saw in the Morning Post was the death of Lady Alroy. She had caught a chill at the Opera, and had died in five days of congestion of the lungs. I shut myself up and saw no one. I had loved her so much, I had loved her so madly. Good God! how I had loved that woman!'
'You went to the street, to the house in it?' I said.
'Yes,' he answered.
'One day I went to Cumnor Street. I could not help it; I was
tortured with doubt. I knocked at the door, and a respectable-
looking woman opened it to me. I asked her if she had any rooms to let. "Well, sir," she replied, "the drawing-rooms are supposed to
be let; but I have not seen the lady for three months, and as rent
is owing on them, you can have them."--"Is this the lady?" I said,
showing the photograph. "That's her, sure enough," she exclaimed;
"and when is she coming back, sir?"--"The lady is dead," I replied.
"Oh sir, I hope not!" said the woman; "she was my best lodger. She
paid me three guineas a week merely to sit in my drawing-rooms now and then." "She met some one here?" I said; but the woman assured me that it was not so, that she always came alone, and saw no one.
"What on earth did she do here?" I cried. "She simply sat in the
drawing-room, sir, reading books, and sometimes had tea," the woman answered. I did not know what to say, so I gave her a sovereign and went away. Now, what do you think it all meant? You don't believe
the woman was telling the truth?'
'I do.'
'Then why did Lady Alroy go there?'
'My dear Gerald,' I answered, 'Lady Alroy was simply a woman with a mania for mystery. She took these rooms for the pleasure of going there with her veil down, and imagining she was a heroine. She had a passion for secrecy, but she herself was merely a Sphinx without a secret.'
'Do you really think so?'
'I am sure of it,' I replied.
He took out the morocco case, opened it, and looked at the
photograph. 'I wonder?' he said at last.

by Oscar Wilde

~The Selfish Giant~

Every afternoon, as they were coming from school, the children used to go and play in the Giant's garden.

It was a large lovely garden, with soft green grass. Here and there over the grass stood beautiful flowers like stars, and there were twelve peach-trees that in the spring-time broke out into delicate blossoms of pink and pearl, and in the autumn bore rich fruit. The birds sat on the trees and sang so sweetly that the children used to stop their games in order to listen to them. "How happy we are here!" they cried to each other.

One day the Giant came back. He had been to visit his friend the Cornish ogre, and had stayed with him for seven years. After the seven years were over he had said all that he had to say, for his conversation was limited, and he determined to return to his own castle. When he arrived he saw the children playing in the garden.

"What are you doing here?" he cried in a very gruff voice, and the children ran away.

"My own garden is my own garden," said the Giant; "any one can understand that, and I will allow nobody to play in it but myself." So he built a high wall all round it, and put up a notice-board.


He was a very selfish Giant.

Selfish Giant by Albert Nguyen









The poor children had now nowhere to play. They tried to play on the road, but the road was very dusty and full of hard stones, and they did not like it. They used to wander round the high wall when their lessons were over, and talk about the beautiful garden inside. "How happy we were there," they said to each other.

Then the Spring came, and all over the country there were little blossoms and little birds. Only in the garden of the Selfish Giant it was still winter. The birds did not care to sing in it as there were no children, and the trees forgot to blossom. Once a beautiful flower put its head out from the grass, but when it saw the notice-board it was so sorry for the children that it slipped back into the ground again, and went off to sleep. The only people who were pleased were the Snow and the Frost. "Spring has forgotten this garden," they cried, "so we will live here all the year round." The Snow covered up the grass with her great white cloak, and the Frost painted all the trees silver. Then they invited the North Wind to stay with them, and he came. He was wrapped in furs, and he roared all day about the garden, and blew the chimney-pots down. "This is a delightful spot," he said, "we must ask the Hail on a visit." So the Hail came. Every day for three hours he rattled on the roof of the castle till he broke most of the slates, and then he ran round and round the garden as fast as he could go. He was dressed in grey, and his breath was like ice.

"I cannot understand why the Spring is so late in coming," said the Selfish Giant, as he sat at the window and looked out at his cold white garden; "I hope there will be a change in the weather."

But the Spring never came, nor the Summer. The Autumn gave golden fruit to every garden, but to the Giant's garden she gave none. "He is too selfish," she said. So it was always Winter there, and the North Wind, and the Hail, and the Frost, and the Snow danced about through the trees.

One morning the Giant was lying awake in bed when he heard some lovely music. It sounded so sweet to his ears that he thought it must be the King's musicians passing by. It was really only a little linnet singing outside his window, but it was so long since he had heard a bird sing in his garden that it seemed to him to be the most beautiful music in the world. Then the Hail stopped dancing over his head, and the North Wind ceased roaring, and a delicious perfume came to him through the open casement. "I believe the Spring has come at last," said the Giant; and he jumped out of bed and looked out.

What did he see?

He saw a most wonderful sight. Through a little hole in the wall the children had crept in, and they were sitting in the branches of the trees. In every tree that he could see there was a little child. And the trees were so glad to have the children back again that they had covered themselves with blossoms, and were waving their arms gently above the children's heads. The birds were flying about and twittering with delight, and the flowers were looking up through the green grass and laughing. It was a lovely scene, only in one corner it was still winter. It was the farthest corner of the garden, and in it was standing a little boy. He was so small that he could not reach up to the branches of the tree, and he was wandering all round it, crying bitterly. The poor tree was still quite covered with frost and snow, and the North Wind was blowing and roaring above it. "Climb up! little boy," said the Tree, and it bent its branches down as low as it could; but the boy was too tiny.

And the Giant's heart melted as he looked out. "How selfish I have been!" he said; "now I know why the Spring would not come here. I will put that poor little boy on the top of the tree, and then I will knock down the wall, and my garden shall be the children's playground for ever and ever." He was really very sorry for what he had done.

So he crept downstairs and opened the front door quite softly, and went out into the garden. But when the children saw him they were so frightened that they all ran away, and the garden became winter again. Only the little boy did not run, for his eyes were so full of tears that he did not see the Giant coming. And the Giant stole up behind him and took him gently in his hand, and put him up into the tree. And the tree broke at once into blossom, and the birds came and sang on it, and the little boy stretched out his two arms and flung them round the Giant's neck, and kissed him. And the other children, when they saw that the Giant was not wicked any longer, came running back, and with them came the Spring. "It is your garden now, little children," said the Giant, and he took a great axe and knocked down the wall. And when the people were going to market at twelve o'clock they found the Giant playing with the children in the most beautiful garden they had ever seen.

All day long they played, and in the evening they came to the Giant to bid him good-bye.

"But where is your little companion?" he said: "the boy I put into the tree." The Giant loved him the best because he had kissed him.

"We don't know," answered the children; "he has gone away."

"You must tell him to be sure and come here to-morrow," said the Giant. But the children said that they did not know where he lived, and had never seen him before; and the Giant felt very sad.

Every afternoon, when school was over, the children came and played with the Giant. But the little boy whom the Giant loved was never seen again. The Giant was very kind to all the children, yet he longed for his first little friend, and often spoke of him. "How I would like to see him!" he used to say.

Years went over, and the Giant grew very old and feeble. He could not play about any more, so he sat in a huge armchair, and watched the children at their games, and admired his garden. "I have many beautiful flowers," he said; "but the children are the most beautiful flowers of all."

One winter morning he looked out of his window as he was dressing. He did not hate the Winter now, for he knew that it was merely the Spring asleep, and that the flowers were resting.

Suddenly he rubbed his eyes in wonder, and looked and looked. It certainly was a marvellous sight. In the farthest corner of the garden was a tree quite covered with lovely white blossoms. Its branches were all golden, and silver fruit hung down from them, and underneath it stood the little boy he had loved.

Downstairs ran the Giant in great joy, and out into the garden. He hastened across the grass, and came near to the child. And when he came quite close his face grew red with anger, and he said, "Who hath dared to wound thee?" For on the palms of the child's hands were the prints of two nails, and the prints of two nails were on the little feet.

"Who hath dared to wound thee?" cried the Giant; "tell me, that I may take my big sword and slay him."

"Nay!" answered the child; "but these are the wounds of Love."

"Who art thou?" said the Giant, and a strange awe fell on him, and he knelt before the little child.

And the child smiled on the Giant, and said to him, "You let me play once in your garden, to-day you shall come with me to my garden, which is Paradise."

And when the children ran in that afternoon, they found the Giant lying dead under the tree, all covered with white blossoms.

by Oscar Wilde

~The Elves (two stories)

There was once a poor servant-girl who was
industrious and cleanly and swept the house every
day, and emptied her sweepings on the great heap in
front of the door. One morning when she was just going
back to her work, she found a letter on this heap, and
as she could not read, she put her broom in the corner,
and took the letter to her employers, and behold it
was an invitation from the elves, who asked the girl to
hold a child for them at its christening.
The girl did not know what to do, but, at length,
after much persuasion, and as they told her that it was not
right to refuse an invitation of this kind, she consented.

Then three elves came and conducted her to a hollow
mountain, where the little folks lived. Everything there
was small, but more elegant and beautiful than can be
described. The baby's mother lay in a bed of black ebony ornamented with pearls, the covers were embroidered
with gold, the cradle was of ivory, the bath-tub of gold.
The girl stood as godmother, and then wanted to go
home again, but the little elves urgently entreated her to stay three days with them. So she stayed, and passed the
time in pleasure and gaiety, and the little folks did all
they could to make her happy. At last she set out on her way home. But first they filled her pockets quite full of money,
and then they led her out of the mountain again.
When she got home, she wanted to to begin her work,
and took the broom, which was still standing in the corner,
in her hand and began to sweep.
Then some strangers came out of the house, who asked
her who she was, and what business she had there.
And she had not, as she thought, been three days
with the little men in the mountains, but seven years,
and in the meantime her former masters had died.

A certain mother had her child taken out of its
cradle by the elves, and a changeling with a large head
and staring eyes, which would do nothing but eat and drink,
lay in its place. In her trouble she went to her neighbor,
and asked her advice. The neighbour said that she was
to carry the changeling into the kitchen, set it down on the hearth, light a fire, and boil some water in two egg-shells,
which would make the changeling laugh, and if he laughed,
all would be over with him. The woman did everything
that her neighbor bade her. When she put the egg-shells
with water on the fire, goggle-eyes said, I am as old now
as the wester forest, but never yet have I seen anyone boil anything in an egg-shell. And he began to laugh at it.

Whilst he was laughing, suddenly came a host of little
elves, who brought the right child, set it down on the
hearth, and took the changeling away with them.

by The Brothers Grimm

~The Elves~

 (another story with that title)

There was once upon a time a rich king who had
three daughters, who daily went to walk in the palace
garden, and the king was a great lover of all kinds
of fine trees, but there was one for which he had
such an affection, that if anyone gathered an apple
from it he wished him a hundred fathoms underground.
And when harvest time came, the apples on this tree
were all as red as blood. The three daughters went
every day beneath the tree, and looked to see if the wind
had not blown down an apple, but they never by any
chance found one, and the tree was so loaded with
them that it was almost breaking, and the branches
hung down to the ground.

Then the king's youngest child had a great desire for
an apple, and said to her sisters, our father loves us
far too much to wish us underground, it is my belief
that he would only do that to people who were strangers.
And while she was speaking, the child plucked off
quite a large apple, and ran to her sisters, saying,
just taste, my dear little sisters, for never in my life
have I tasted anything so delightful.
Then the two other sisters also ate some of the apple,
whereupon all three sank deep down into the earth,
where they could hear no cock crow.

When mid-day came, the king wished to call them to
come to dinner, but they were nowhere to be found.
He sought them everywhere in the palace and garden,
but could not find them. Then he was much troubled,
and made known to the whole land that whosoever brought
his daughters back again should have one of them to wife. Hereupon so many young men went about the country
in search, that there was no counting them, for everyone
loved the three children because they were so kind
to all, and so fair of face.

Three young huntsmen also went out, and when they
had traveled about for eight days, they arrived at a great
castle, in which were beautiful apartments, and in one
room a table was laid on which were delicate dishes which
were still so warm that they were smoking, but in the
whole of the castle no human being was either to be seen or heard. They waited there for half a day, and the food
still remained warm and smoking, and at length they
were so hungry that they sat down and ate, and agreed
with each other that they would stay and live in that castle,
and that one of them, who should be chosen by casting
lots, should remain in the house,
and the two others seek the king's daughters.

They cast lots, and the lot fell on the eldest, so next day
the two younger went out to seek, and the eldest
had to stay home. At mid-day came a small,
small mannikin and begged for a piece of bread,
then the huntsman took the bread which he had
found there, and cut a round off the loaf and was about
to give it to him, but while he was giving it to the
mannikin, the latter let it fall, and asked the huntsman
to be so good as to give him that piece again.
The huntsman was about to do so and stooped,
on which the mannikin took a stick, seized him by
the hair, and gave him a good beating.

Next day, the second stayed at home, and he fared
no better. When the two others returned in the evening,
the eldest said, well, how have you got on? Oh, very badly,
said he, and then they lamented their misfortune
together, but they said nothing about it to the youngest,
for they did not like him at all, and always called him stupid Hans, because he did not know the ways of the world.

On the third day, the youngest stayed at home,
and again the little mannikin came and begged for a
piece of bread. When the youth gave it to him, the elf
let it fall as before, and asked him to be so good as to give
him that piece again. Then said Hans to the little mannikin,
what, can you not pick up that piece yourself?
If you will not take as much trouble as that for your
daily bread, you do not deserve to have it.
Then the mannikin grew very angry and said he was to
do it, but the huntsman would not, and took my
dear mannikin, and gave him a thorough beating.
Then the mannikin screamed terribly, and cried, stop,
stop, and let me go, and I will tell you where
the king's daughters are.

When Hans heard that, he left off beating him and
the mannikin told him that he was a gnome,
and that there were more than a thousand like him,
and that if he would go with him he would show him
where the king's daughters were. Then he showed him
a deep well, but there was no water in it. And the elf
said that he knew well that the companions Hans had
with him did not intend to deal honorably with him,
therefore if he wished to deliver the king's children,
he must do it alone.

The two other brothers would also be very glad
to recover the king's daughters, but they did not want
to have any trouble or danger. Hans was therefore to
take a large basket, and he must seat himself in it with
his hunting knife and a bell, and be let down.
Below are three rooms, and in each of them was a princess,
who was lousing a dragon with many heads, which he must
cut off. And having said all this, the elf vanished.

When it was evening the two brothers came and asked
how he had got on, and he said, pretty well so far, and
that he had seen no one except at mid-day when a
little mannikin had come and begged for a piece of bread,
that he had given some to him, but that the mannikin had
let it fall and had asked him to pick it up again,
but as he did not choose to do that, the elf had begun to
scold, and that he had lost his temper, and had
given the elf a beating, at which he had told him
where the king's daughters were. Then the two were
so angry at this that they grew green and yellow.

Next morning they went to the well together,
and drew lots who should first seat himself in the basket,
and again the lot fell on the eldest, and he was to seat
himself in it, and take the bell with him.
Then he said, if I ring, you must draw me up again
immediately. When he had gone down for a short
distance, he rang, and they at once drew him up again.
Then the second seated himself in the basket, but he did
just the same as the first, and then it was the turn of
the youngest, but he let himself be lowered quite to the bottom.

When he had got out of the basket, he took his knife, and
went and stood outside the first door and listened, and
heard the dragon snoring quite loudly.
He opened the door slowly, and one of the princesses
was sitting there, and had nine dragon's heads lying upon
her lap, and was lousing them. Then he took his knife
and hewed at them, and the nine fell off.
The princess sprang up, threw her arms round his neck,
embraced and kissed him repeatedly, and took her stomacher, which was made of pure gold, and hung it round his neck.

Then he went to the second princess, who had a dragon
with five heads to louse, and delivered her also, and
to the youngest, who had a dragon with four heads,
he went likewise. And they all rejoiced, and embraced
him and kissed him without stopping.
Then he rang very loud, so that those above heard him,
and he placed the princesses one after the other in the
basket, and had them all drawn up, but when it came
to his own turn he remembered the words of the elf,
who had told him that his comrades did not mean well
by him. So he took a great stone which was lying there,
and placed it in the basket, and when it was about
half way up, his false brothers above cut the rope,
so that the basket with the stone fell to the ground,
and they thought that he was dead, and ran away with
the three princesses, making them promise to tell their
father that it was they who had delivered them.
Then they went to the king, and each
demanded a princess in marriage.

In the meantime the youngest huntsman was wandering
about the three chambers in great trouble, fully expecting
to have to end his days there, when he saw,
hanging on the wall, a flute, then said he, why do you
hang there. No one can be merry here.

He looked at the dragons, heads likewise and said, you
too cannot help me now. He walked to and fro for such
a long time that he made the surface of the ground quite
smooth. But at last other thoughts came to his mind,
and he took the flute from the wall, and played a few
notes on it, and suddenly a number of elves appeared,
and with every note that he sounded one more came.
Then he played until the room was entirely filled.

They all asked what he desired, so he said he wished to
get above ground back to daylight, on which they seized
him by every hair that grew on his head, and thus they
flew with him onto the earth again.
When he was above ground, he at once went to the
king's palace, just as the wedding of one princess
was about to be celebrated, and he went to the room
where the king and his three daughters were.
When the princesses saw him they fainted.

Hereupon the king was angry, and ordered him to be
put in prison at once, because he thought he must
have done some injury to the children.
When the princesses came to themselves, however,
they entreated the king to set him free again.

The king asked why, and they said that they were not
allowed to tell that, but their father said that they were
to tell it to the stove. And he went out, listened at the door,
and heard everything. Then he caused the two brothers
to be hanged on the gallows, and to the third he gave
his youngest daughter, and on that occasion
I wore a pair of glass shoes, and I struck them against
a stone, and they said, klink, and were broken.

by The Brothers Grimm

~The Elves (one more story)

A shoemaker, by no fault of his own, had become so poor
that at last he had nothing left but leather for one pair
of shoes. So in the evening, he cut out the shoes which
he wished to begin to make the next morning, and as he
had a good conscience, he lay down quietly in his bed, commended himself to God, and fell asleep. In the morning,
after he had said his prayers, and was just going to sit down to work, the two shoes stood quite finished on his table. He was astounded, and knew not what to think.

elves1  He took the shoes in his hands to observe them closer, and they were so neatly made, with not one bad stitch in them, that it was just as if they were intended as a masterpiece. Before long, a buyer came in, and as the shoes pleased him so well, he paid more for them than was customary, and, with
the money, the shoemaker was able to purchase leather for
two pairs of shoes. He cut them out at night, and next morning was about to set to work with fresh courage, but he had no
need to do so for, when he got up, they were already made,
and buyers also were not wanting, who gave him money
enough to buy leather for four pairs of shoes.
Again the following morning he found the pairs made,
and so it went on constantly, what he cut out in the evening
was finished by the morning, so that he soon had his
honest independence again, and at last became a wealthy man.

elves2 Now it befell
that one evening not long before christmas,
when the man
had been cutting out, he said to his wife, before going to bed, what think you
if we were to stay up to-night to see who it is that lends us this
helping hand. The woman liked the idea, and lighted a
candle, and then they hid themselves in a corner of the room, behind some clothes which were hanging up there, and watched. When it was midnight, two pretty little naked men came,
sat down by the shoemaker's table, took all the work which
was cut out before them and began to stitch, and sew, and hammer so skilfully and so quickly with their little fingers
that the shoemaker could not avert his eyes for astonishment. They did not stop until all was done, and stood finished on the table, and they ran quickly away. Next morning the woman
said, the little men have made us rich, and we really must show that we are grateful for it. They run about so, and have
nothing on, and must be cold. I'll tell you what I'll do,
I will make them little shirts, and coats, and vests, and trousers, and knit both of them a pair of stockings, and you make
them two little pairs of shoes. The man said, I shall
be very glad to do it.

elves3 And one night, when everything was ready, they laid their presents all together on the table instead of the cut-out work, and then concealed themselves to see
how the little men would behave. At midnight they came bounding in, and wanted to get to work at once, but as they
did not find any leather cut out, but only the pretty little
articles of clothing, they were at first astonished, and then
they showed intense delight.
They dressed themselves with the greatest rapidity,
put on the beautiful clothes, and sang, now we are boys so
fine to see, why should we longer cobblers be.
Then they danced and skipped and leapt over chairs and
benches. At last they danced out of doors.
From that time forth they came no more, but as long
as the shoemaker lived all went well with him, and all
his efforts prospered.

by The Brothers Grimm

~The Goose-Girl~

There was once upon a time an old queen whose
husband had been dead for many years, and she
had a beautiful daughter. When the princess grew
up she was betrothed to a prince who lived at a great
distance. When the time came for her to be married,
and she had to journey forth into the distant kingdom,
the aged queen packed up for her many costly vessels
of silver and gold, and trinkets also of gold and silver,
and cups and jewels, in short, everything which
appertained to a royal dowry, for she loved
her child with all her heart.

She likewise sent her maid-in-waiting, who was to
ride with her, and hand her over to the bridegroom,
and each had a horse for the journey, but the horse
of the king's daughter was called Falada, and could speak.
So when the hour of parting had come, the aged
mother went into her bedroom, took a small knife
and cut her finger with it until it bled.
Then she held a white handkerchief to it into which
she let three drops of blood fall, gave it to her
daughter and said, dear child, preserve this carefully,
it will be of service to you on your way.

by Willy Pogany 
So they took a sorrowful leave of each other, the
princess put the piece of cloth in her bosom,
mounted her horse, and then went away to her
bridegroom. After she had ridden for a while she felt
a burning thirst, and said to her waiting-maid, dismount,
and take my cup which you have brought with you
for me, and get me some water from the stream,
for I should like to drink. If you are thirsty,
said the waiting-maid, get off your horse yourself,
and lie down and drink out of the water,
I don't choose to be your servant.

So in her great thirst the princess alighted,
bent down over the water in the stream and drank,
and was not allowed to drink out of the golden cup.
Then she said, ah, heaven, and the three drops of
blood answered, if this your mother knew,
her heart would break in two. But the king's daughter
was humble, said nothing, and mounted her horse again.

She rode some miles further, but the day was warm,
the sun scorched her, and she was thirsty once more,
and when they came to a stream of water,
she again cried to her waiting-maid, dismount,
and give me some water in my golden cup,
for she had long ago forgotten the girl's ill words.
But the waiting-maid said still more haughtily,
if you wish to drink, get it yourself,
I don't choose to be your maid. Then in her great
thirst the king's daughter alighted, bent over the
flowing stream, wept and said, ah, heaven,
and the drops of blood again replied, if this your
mother knew, her heart would break in two.

And as she was thus drinking and leaning right
over the stream, the handkerchief with the three
drops of blood fell out of her bosom, and floated
away with the water without her observing it,
so great was her trouble. The waiting-maid, however,
had seen it, and she rejoiced to think that she had now
power over the bride, for since the princess had lost the
drops of blood, she had become weak and powerless.

So now when she wanted to mount her horse again,
the one that was called Falada, the waiting-maid said,
Falada is more suitable for me, and my nag will do
for you, and the princess had to be content with that.
Then the waiting-maid, with many hard words,
bade the princess exchange her royal apparel for her
own shabby clothes, and at length she was compelled
to swear by the clear sky above her, that she would
not say one word of this to anyone at the royal court,
and if she had not taken this oath she would have been
killed on the spot. But Falada saw all this,
and observed it well. 
The waiting-maid now mounted Falada, and the true
bride the bad horse, and thus they traveled onwards,
until at length they entered the royal palace.
There were great rejoicings over her arrival, and the prince sprang forward to meet her, lifted the waiting-maid from
her horse, and thought she was his consort.

She was conducted upstairs, but the real princess
was left standing below. Then the old king looked
out of the window and saw her standing in the courtyard,
and noticed how dainty and delicate and beautiful
she was, and instantly went to the royal apartment,
and asked the bride about the girl she had with her
who was standing down below in the courtyard,
and who she was. I picked her up on my way for a
companion, give the girl something to work at,
that she may not stand idle.

But the old king had no work for her, and knew of none,
so he said, I have a little boy who tends the geese,
she may help him. The boy was called Conrad, and
the true bride had to help him to tend the geese.
Soon afterwards the false bride said to the young king,
dearest husband, I beg you to do me a favor.
He answered, I will do so most willingly.
Then send for the knacker, and have the head
of the horse on which I rode here cut off, for it vexed
me on the way. In reality, she was afraid that the horse
might tell how she had behaved to the king's daughter.

by Willy Planck

Then she succeeded in making the king promise that
it should be done, and the faithful Falada was to die,
this came to the ears of the real princess,
and she secretly promised to pay the knacker a piece
of gold if he would perform a small service for her.
There was a great dark-looking gateway in the town,
through which morning and evening she had to pass
with the geese, would he be so goood as to nail up
Falada's head on it, so that she might see him again,
more than once. The knacker's man promised to do that,
and cut off the head, and nailed it fast beneath the dark gateway.

Early in the morning, when she and Conrad drove out
their flock beneath this gateway, she said in passing,
alas, Falada, hanging there.

Then the head answered, alas, young queen, how ill you fare.
If this your mother knew, her heart would break in two.

Then they went still further out of the town, and drove
their geese into the country. And when they had
come to the meadow, she sat down and unbound her
hair which was like pure gold, and Conrad saw it
and delighted in its brightness, and wanted to pluck
out a few hairs. Then she said, blow, blow, thou gentle
wind, I say, blow Conrad's little hat away, and make
him chase it here and there, until I have braided all
my hair, and bound it up again.

And there came such a violent wind that it blew
Conrad's hat far away across country, and he was
forced to run after it. When he came back she had finished combing her hair and was putting it up again,
and he could not get any of it. Then Conrad was angry,
and would not speak to her, and thus they watched
the geese until the evening, and then they went home.
Next day when they were driving the geese out through
the dark gateway, the maiden said,
alas, Falada, hanging there.

Falada answered, alas, young queen, how ill you fare.
If this your mother knew, her heart would break in two.

And she sat down again in the field and began to
comb out her hair, and Conrad ran and tried to
clutch it, so she said in haste, blow, blow, thou
gentle wind, I say, blow Conrad's little hat away,
and make him chase it here and there, until I have
braided all my hair, and bound it up again.

Then the wind blew, and blew his little hat off his
head and far away, and Conrad was forced to run
after it, and when he came back, her hair had been
put up a long time, and he could get none of it, and
so they looked after their geese till evening came.

But in the evening after they had got home,
Conrad went to the old king, and said, I won't tend
the geese with that girl any longer.
Why not, inquired the aged king. Oh, because she
vexes me the whole day long. Then the aged king
commanded him to relate what it was that she did to
him. And Conrad said, in the morning when we pass
beneath the dark gateway with the block,
there is a horse's head on the wall, and she says to it,
alas, Falada, hanging there.

And the head replies, alas, young queen how ill you fare.
If this your mother knew, her heart would break in two.

And Conrad went on to relate what happened on the goose pasture, and how when there he had to chase his hat.

The aged king commanded him to drive his block out
again next day, and as soon as morning came,
he placed himself behind the dark gateway, and heard
how the maiden spoke to the head of Falada,
and then he too went into the country,
and hid himself in the thicket in the meadow.
There he soon saw with his own eyes the goose-girl
and the goose-boy bringing their flock, and how after
a while she sat down and unplaited her hair,
which shone with radiance. And soon she said,
blow, blow, thou gentle wind, I say, blow Conrad's
little hat away, and make him chase it here and there,
until I have braided all my hair, and bound it up again.

Then came a blast of wind and carried off Conrad's hat,
so that he had to run far away, while the maiden
quietly went on combing and plaiting her hair,
all of which the king observed. Then, quite unseen,
he went away, and when the goose-girl came home
in the evening, he called her aside, and asked why
she did all these things. I may not tell that,
and I dare not lament my sorrows to any human being,
for I have sworn not to do so by the heaven which is
above me, if I had not done that, I should have lost my life.

He urged her and left her no peace, but he could
draw nothing from her. Then said he, if you will
not tell me anything, tell your sorrows to the iron-stove
there, and he went away. Then she crept into the
iron-stove, and began to weep and lament, and emptied
her whole heart, and said, here am I deserted by the
whole world, and yet I am a king's daughter,
and a false waiting-maid has by force brought me to
such a pass that I have been compelled to put off
my royal apparel, and she has taken my place with
my bridegroom, and I have to perform menial service
as a goose-girl if this my mother knew,
her heart would break in two.

The aged king, however, was standing outside by
the pipe of the stove, and was listening to what she
said, and heard it. Then he came back again, and bade
her come out of the stove. And royal garments were
placed on her, and it was marvellous how beautiful
she was. The aged king summoned his son, and
revealed to him that he had got the false bride who
was only a waiting-maid, but that the true one was
standing there, as the former goose-girl.
The young king rejoiced with all his heart when he
saw her beauty and youth, and a great feast was made
ready to which all the people and all good friends
were invited.

At the head of the table sat the bridegroom
with the king's daughter at one side of him, and the
waiting-maid on the other, but the waiting-maid
was blinded, and did not recognize the princess in
her dazzling array. When they had eaten and drunk,
and were merry, the aged king asked the waiting-maid
as a riddle, what punishment a person deserved who
had behaved in such and such a way to her master,
and at the same time related the whole story, and asked
what sentence such a person merited.
Then the false bride said, she deserves no better fate
than to be stripped entirely naked, and put in a barrel
which is studded inside with pointed nails, and two
white horses should be harnessed to it, which will drag her
along through one street after another, till she is dead.

It is you, said the aged king, and you have pronounced
your own sentence, and thus shall it be done unto you.
And when the sentence had been carried out, the young king married his true bride, and both of them reigned over their kingdom in peace and happiness.

by The Brothers Grimm

~The Old Woman in the Wood~

A poor servant-girl was once traveling with the family
with which she was in service, through a great forest,
and when they were in the midst of it, robbers came
out of the thicket, and murdered all they found.
All perished together except the girl, who had jumped
out of the carriage in a fright, and hidden herself
behind a tree. When the robbers had gone away with
their booty, she came out and beheld the great disaster.
Then she began to weep bitterly, and said,
"What can a poor girl like me do now?
I do not know how to get out of the forest,
no human being lives in it, so I must certainly starve."

She walked about and looked for a road, but could
find none. When it was evening she seated herself
under a tree, gave herself into God's keeping, and
resolved to sit waiting there and not go away,
let happen what might. When she had sat there for
a while, a white dove came flying to her with a little
golden key in its beak. It put the little key in her hand,
and said, "Do you see that great tree, there in is a little lock,
open it with the tiny key, and you will find food enough,
and suffer no more hunger."

by Anne Anderson  
Then she went to the tree and opened it, and found
milk in a little dish, and white bread to break into it,
so that she could eat her fill. When she was satisfied,
she said, "It is now the time when the hens at home go
to roost, I am so tired I could go to bed too."
Then the dove flew to her again, and brought another
golden key in its bill, and said, "Open that tree there,
and you will find a bed." So she opened it, and found
a beautiful white bed, and she prayed God to protect
her during the night, and lay down and slept.

In the morning the dove came for the third time,
and again brought a little key, and said,
"Open that tree there, and you will find clothes."
And when she opened it, she found garments beset
with gold and with jewels, more splendid than those
of any king's daughter. So she lived there for some
time, and the dove came every day and provided her
with all she needed, and it was a quiet good life.

Then one day the dove came and said,
"Will you do something for my sake?" "With all my heart,"
said the girl. Then said the little dove,
"I will guide you to a small house, enter it and inside it,
an old woman will be sitting by the fire and will say,
'good-day.' But on your life give her no answer,
let her do what she will, but pass by her on the
right side. Further on, there is a door, which open,
and you will enter into a room where a quantity
of rings of all kinds are lying, amongst which
are some magnificent ones with shining stones.
Leave them, however, where they are, and seek out
a plain one, which must likewise be amongst them,
and bring it here to me as quickly as you can."

The girl went to the little house, and came to the door.
There sat an old woman who stared when she saw her,
and said, "Good-day my child."
The girl gave her no answer, and opened the door.
"Whither away?" cried the old woman, and seized
her by the gown, and wanted to hold her fast, saying,
"That is my house, no one can go in there if I choose
not to allow it." But the girl was silent, got away
from her, and went straight into the room.

Now there lay on the table an enormous quantity of rings,
which gleamed and glittered before her eyes.
She turned them over and looked for the plain one,
but could not find it. While she was seeking,
she saw the old woman and how she was stealing
away, and wanting to go off with a bird-cage which
she had in her hand. So she went after her and took
the cage out of her hand, and when she raised it up
and looked into it, a bird was inside which had
the plain ring in its bill.

by Arthur Rackham

Then she took the ring, and ran quite joyously home
with it, and thought the little white dove would come
and get the ring, but it did not.
Then she leant against a tree, determined to wait for
the dove. As she thus stood, it seemed just as if the
tree was soft and pliant, and was letting its branches
down. And suddenly the branches twined around
her, and were two arms, and when she looked around,
the tree was a handsome man, who embraced
and kissed her heartily, and said,
"You have delivered me from the power of the old woman,
who is a wicked witch. She had changed me into
a tree, and every day for two hours I was a white
dove, and so long as she possessed the ring I could not
regain my human form." Then his servants and his
horses, who had likewise been changed into trees,
were freed from the enchanter also, and stood beside him.
And he led them forth to his kingdom, for he was a
king's son, and they married, and lived happily.

by The Brothers Grimm

~The Snow Man~

    It is so delightfully cold, said the Snow Man,
that it makes my whole body crackle.
This is just the kind of wind to blow life into one.
How that great red thing up there is staring at me!
He meant the sun, who was just setting. It shall not make
me wink. I shall manage to keep the pieces.

    He had two triangular pieces of tile in his head,
instead of eyes, his mouth was made of an old broken
rake, and was, of course, furnished with teeth.
He had been brought into existence amidst the joyous
shouts of boys, the jingling of sleigh-bells, and the
slashing of whips. The sun went down, and the full
moon rose, large, round, and clear,
shining in the deep blue.

    There it comes again, from the other side,
said the Snow Man, who supposed the sun was
showing himself once more. Ah, I have cured him
of staring, though, now he may hang up there, and
shine, that I may see myself. If I only knew how to
manage to move away from this place,
I should so like to move. If I could, I would slide along
yonder on the ice, as I have seen the boys do,
but I don't understand how, I don't even know how to run.

Snowman by John Henry 
Away, away, barked the old yard-dog.
He was quite hoarse, and could not pronounce
Bow wow properly. He had once been an indoor dog,
and lay by the fire, and he had been hoarse ever since.
The sun will make you run some day. I saw him, last winter,
make your predecessor run, and his predecessor
before him. Away, away, they all have to go.
I don't understand you, comrade, said the Snow Man.
Is that thing up yonder to teach me to run?
I saw it running itself a little while ago, and now it has
come creeping up from the other side.
You know nothing at all, replied the yard-dog, but then,
you've only lately been patched up. What you see yonder
is the moon, and the one before it was the sun.
It will come again to-morrow, and most likely teach
you to run down into the ditch by the well, for I think
the weather is going to change. I can feel such pricks
and stabs in my left leg,
I am sure there is going to be a change.
I don't understand him, said the Snow Man to himself,
but I have a feeling that he is talking of something very disagreeable. The one who stared so just now, and
whom he calls the sun, is not my friend, I can feel that too. 
Away, away, barked the yard-dog, and then he
turned round three times, and crept into his kennel to sleep.
    There was really a change in the weather.
Towards morning, a thick fog covered the whole
country round, and a keen wind arose, so that the cold
seemed to freeze one's bones, but when the sun rose,
the sight was splendid. Trees and bushes were covered
with hoarfrost, and looked like a forest of white coral,
while on every twig glittered frozen dew-drops.

The many delicate forms concealed in summer by
luxuriant foliage, were now clearly defined, and
looked like glittering lace-work. From every twig glistened
a white radiance. The birch, waving in the wind, looked
full of life, like trees in summer, and its appearance was wondrously beautiful. And where the sun shone,
how everything glittered and sparkled, as if diamond
dust had been strewn about, while the snowy carpet
of the earth appeared as if covered with diamonds,
from which countless lights gleamed, whiter
than even the snow itself.
    This is really beautiful, said a young girl, who had
come into the garden with a young man, and they
both stood still near the Snow Man, and
contemplated the glittering scene. Summer cannot show
a more beautiful sight, she exclaimed, while her eyes sparkled.

    And we can't have such a fellow as this in the
summer time, replied the young man, pointing
to the Snow Man, he is capital.
    The girl laughed, and nodded at the Snow Man, and
then tripped away over the snow with her friend.
The snow creaked and crackled beneath her feet,
as if she had been treading on starch.
    Who are these two? asked the Snow Man
of the yard-dog. You have been here longer than
I have, do you know them?

Of course I know them, replied the yard-dog, she
has stroked my back many times, and he has given me
a bone of meat. I never bite those two.
    But what are they? asked the Snow Man.
    They are lovers, he replied, they will go and live
in the same kennel by-and-by, and gnaw at the same
bone. Away, away!
    Are they the same kind of beings as you and I?
asked the Snow Man. 
Well, they belong to the same master, retorted
the yard-dog. Certainly people who were only born
yesterday know very little. I can see that in you.
I have age and experience. I know every one here in
the house, and I know there was once a time when I did
not lie out here in the cold, fastened to a chain. Away, away!

    The cold is delightful, said the Snow Man, but do
tell me tell me, only you must not clank your chain so,
for it jars all through me when you do that.
    Away, away! barked the yard-dog, I'll tell you,
they said I was a pretty little fellow once, then I used
to lie in a velvet-covered chair, up at the master's house,
and sit in the mistress's lap. They used to kiss my nose,
and wipe my paws with an embroidered handkerchief,
and I was called "Ami, dear Ami, sweet Ami."
But after a while I grew too big for them, and they sent
me away to the housekeeper's room, so I came to live
on the lower story. You can look into the room from
where you stand, and see where I was master once,
for I was indeed master to the housekeeper.

It was certainly a smaller room than those up stairs,
but I was more comfortable, for I was not being
continually taken hold of and pulled about by the children
as I had been. I received quite as good food, or even
better. I had my own cushion, and there was a stove
it is the finest thing in the world at this season of the year.
I used to go under the stove, and lie down quite beneath it.
Ah, I still dream of that stove. Away, away!
    Does a stove look beautiful? asked the Snow Man,
is it at all like me?
    It is just the reverse of you, said the dog,
it's as black as a crow, and has a long neck and a
brass knob, it eats firewood, so that fire spurts out
of its mouth. We should keep on one side,
or under it, to be comfortable. You can see it
through the window, from where you stand.

    Then the Snow Man looked, and saw a bright polished
thing with a brazen knob, and fire gleaming from the
lower part of it. The Snow Man felt quite a strange
sensation come over him, it was very odd,
he knew not what it meant, and he could not account
for it. But there are people who are not men of snow,
who understand what it is. And why did you leave her?
asked the Snow Man, for it seemed to him that the
stove must be of the female sex. How could you give
up such a comfortable place?

    I was obliged, replied the yard-dog.
They turned me out of doors, and chained me up here.
I had bitten the youngest of my master's sons in the leg,
because he kicked away the bone I was gnawing.
"Bone for bone," I thought, but they were so angry,
and from that time I have been fastened with a chain,
and lost my bone. Don't you hear how hoarse I am.
Away, away! I can't talk any more like other dogs.
Away, away, that is the end of it all.

    But the Snow Man was no longer listening.
He was looking into the housekeeper's room on the
lower story, where the stove stood on its four iron legs,
looking about the same size as the Snow Man himself.
What a strange crackling I feel within me, he said.
Shall I ever get in there? It is an innocent wish,
and innocent wishes are sure to be fulfilled. I must go
in there and lean against her, even if I have to
break the window.
    You must never go in there, said the yard-dog,
for if you approach the stove, you'll melt away, away.
    I might as well go, said the Snow Man,
for I think I am breaking up as it is.

    During the whole day the Snow Man stood looking
in through the window, and in the twilight hour the
room became still more inviting, for from the stove
came a gentle glow, not like the sun or the moon, no,
only the bright light which gleams from a stove when
it has been well fed. When the door of the stove was
opened, the flames darted out of its mouth,
this is customary with all stoves. The light of the
flames fell directly on the face and breast of the
Snow Man with a ruddy gleam. I can endure it no longer,
said he, how beautiful it looks when it stretches
out its tongue?
    The night was long, but did not appear so to the
Snow Man, who stood there enjoying his own
reflections, and crackling with the cold.
In the morning, the window-panes of the housekeeper's
room were covered with ice. They were the most
beautiful ice-flowers any Snow Man could desire,
but they concealed the stove. These window-panes
would not thaw, and he could see nothing of the stove,
which he pictured to himself, as if it had been a lovely
human being. The snow crackled and the wind whistled
around him, it was just the kind of frosty weather
a Snow Man might thoroughly enjoy.
But he did not enjoy it, how, indeed,
could he enjoy anything when he was stove sick?

    That is terrible disease for a Snow Man,
said the yard-dog, I have suffered from it myself,
but I got over it. Away, away, he barked and then
he added, the weather is going to change.
And the weather did change, it began to thaw.
As the warmth increased, the Snow Man decreased.
He said nothing and made no complaint, which is a
sure sign. One morning he broke, and sunk down
altogether, and, behold, where he had stood,
something like a broomstick remained sticking up
in the ground. It was the pole round which the boys
had built him up. Ah, now I understand why he had
such a great longing for the stove, said the yard-dog.
Why, there's the shovel that is used for cleaning
out the stove, fastened to the pole.
The Snow Man had a stove scraper in his body,
that was what moved him so. But it's all over now.
Away, away. And soon the winter passed. Away, away,
barked the hoarse yard-dog. But the girls in the house sang,

Come from your fragrant home, green thyme;
Stretch your soft branches, willow-tree;
The months are bringing the sweet spring-time,
When the lark in the sky sings joyfully.
Come gentle sun, while the cuckoo sings,
And I'll mock his note in my wanderings.

    And nobody thought any more of the Snow Man.

By Hans Christian Anderson

~Mary's Child~

Near a great forest there lived a woodcutter with his wife.
He had but one child, a three-year old girl.
Now they were so poor that they no longer had
their daily bread, and they did not know how
they were to feed her.

One morning the woodcutter, filled with sorrow,
went out to his work in the woods.
While he was chopping wood suddenly there stood
before him a beautiful tall woman with
a crown of shining stars on her head.

She said to him, "I am the Virgin Mary,
mother of the Baby Jesus. You are poor and needy.
Bring your child to me. I will take her with me
and be her mother and care for her."

The woodcutter obeyed, fetched his child, and turned
her over to the Virgin Mary, who took her up into
heaven with her. There the child fared well.
She ate sweetened bread and drank fresh milk.
Her clothes were of gold, and the little angels played with her.

When she was fourteen years old, the Virgin Mary
summoned her one day and said, "Dear child,
I am about to make a long journey.
Take care of these keys to the thirteen doors of heaven.
You may open twelve of these doors, and behold
the glorious things inside, but the thirteenth door,
to which this little key belongs, is forbidden for you.
Be careful not to open it, or you will be unhappy."

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 been to all twelve.
An apostle, surrounded by great brilliance,
sat in each one. She rejoiced in the magnificence
and splendor, and the little angels who always
accompanied her rejoiced with her.

marienkind by Heinrich Lefler and Joseph Urban

Now only the forbidden door remained, and she felt
a great desire to know what was hidden behind it.
She said to the little angels, "I will not open it all the
way, nor will I will go inside, but I will only unlock it
so that we can see just a little through the crack."

"Oh no," said the little angels, "that would be a sin.
The Virgin Mary has forbidden it, and it might
easily lead to unhappiness for you."

To that she said nothing, but the desire in her
heart was not stilled. To the contrary, it gnawed away,
tormenting her, and would give her no rest.

Then one day when the angels had all gone out,
she thought, " I am entirely alone now, and I could
peek in. If I do so, no one will ever know."

She sought out the key, and as soon as she had it in
her hand, she put it into the lock as well, and as soon
as it was in the lock, she turned it around as well.
The door sprang open, and there she saw the Trinity
sitting in fire and brilliance.
She stayed there a little while, looking at
everything in amazement. Then she put her finger a
little way into the brilliance, and her finger turned
entirely golden. Immediately a great fear fell upon her.
She slammed the door shut, and ran away.

The fear did not go away, do what she may.
He heart pounded furiously forth and would not
become still. And the gold remained on her finger
as well. It would not come off, no matter
how much she washed and rubbed.

Not long afterward, the Virgin Mary returned from
her journey. She summoned the girl, and asked her
to return the keys of heaven. When the girl gave the
ring of keys to her, the Virgin looked into her eyes
and said, "Have you not opened the thirteenth door as well.?"

"No," she replied.

Then the Virgin Mary laid her hand on the girl's heart,
and felt how it pounded and pounded, and saw
well that she had disobeyed her order and had
opened the door. Then she said further,
"You did not do it for sure?"

"No," said the girl a second time.

Then the Virgin noticed the finger that had turned
golden from having touched the heavenly fire,
and knew well that the girl had sinned, and
she said a third time, "Have you not done it?"

"No," said the girl a third time.

Then the Virgin Mary said, "You have not obeyed me,
and you have lied as well. You are no longer
worthy to be in heaven."

Then the girl sank into a deep sleep, and when
she awoke she lay below on earth, in the middle
of a wilderness. She wanted to cry out, but she could
not bring forth a sound. She jumped up and wanted
to run away, but in wherever she turned,
she was held back by thick thorn hedges which
she could not break through. In the wilderness where
she was imprisoned there stood an old hollow tree.
It would have to serve as her home.
She crept inside it when night came, and slept there.
And when it stormed and rained, she found shelter
inside it, but it was a miserable life, and she cried
bitterly when she thought about how beautiful it had
been in heaven, and how the angels had played with her.

Roots and wild berries were her only food,
which she looked for as far as she could go.
In the fall she gathered the fallen nuts and leaves,
and carried them into the opening in the tree.
The nuts were her food during the winter, and when
snow and ice came, she crept under the leaves like
a poor little animal, so that she would not freeze.
Before long her clothes were ripped to shreds,
and one piece of them after another fell off her.

When the sun shone warmly again she went outside
and sat in front of the tree. Her long hair covered her
on all sides like a cloak. Thus she sat year after year,
feeling the world's misery and pain.

One day, when the trees were once again a fresh green,
the king of the country was hunting in the woods.
He followed a deer that had fled into the thicket that
surrounded this part of the woods.
Getting off his horse, he tore the brush aside and
cut himself a path with his sword. When he had at last
forced his way through, he saw a wonderfully beautiful
girl sitting under the tree, covered entirely with
her golden hair, down to her toes.

Filled with amazement, he stood still and looked
at her, then he spoke to her, saying, "Who are you?
Why are you sitting here in this wilderness?"

But she gave no answer, for she could not open her mouth.
The king continued, "Will you go with me to my castle?"

To this she just nodded her head a little.
The king took her into his arms, lifted her onto his horse,
and rode home with her. Arriving at the royal
castle, he had her dressed in beautiful clothing
and gave her an abundance of everything.
Although she could not speak, she was still so
beautiful and charming that he fell in love her
with all his heart, and it was not long before
he married her.

About a year later the new queen brought a son
into the world. Afterward the Virgin Mary appeared
to her in the night when she was lying alone in her
bed, and said, "If you will tell the truth and confess
that you unlocked the forbidden door,
I will open your mouth and give you back your speech,
but if you persevere in sin, and stubbornly deny it,
I will take your newborn child away with me."

The queen was allowed to answer, but she remained
obstinate, and said, "No, I did not open the forbidden
door," and the Virgin Mary took the newborn child out
of her arms and disappeared with it.

The next morning when the child was not to be found,
it was rumored among the people that the queen was
a cannibal and had killed her own child. She heard all
this and could say nothing to the contrary, but the king
did not want to believe it, because he loved her so much.

One year later the queen again bore a son. In the night
the Virgin Mary again came to her, and said,
"If you will confess that you opened the forbidden door,
I will give you your child back and release your tongue,
but if you continue in sin and deny it, then I will
take this newborn child with me as well."

Then the queen said again, "No, I did not open the
forbidden door," and the Virgin took the child out of
her arms, and took it away with her to heaven.

The next morning, when this child had disappeared
as well, the people loudly said that the queen had eaten 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 ordered the
councilors, under threat of death,
to say nothing more about it.

The following year the queen gave birth to a
beautiful little daughter, and for a third time the
Virgin Mary appeared to her in the night.

She said, "Follow me." Taking the queen by the hand,
she led her to heaven, and showed her there her
two oldest children, who were laughing and
playing with the ball of the world.

When the queen rejoiced at seeing this, the Virgin
Mary said, "Has your heart not yet softened?
If you will confess that you opened the forbidden door,
I will give you back your two little sons."

But for a third time the queen answered,
"No, I did not open the forbidden door." Then the virgin let her sink down to earth again, and took away her third child as well.

The next morning, when it became known, all the people
shouted loudly, "The queen is a cannibal.
She must be condemned." And the king was no
longer able to hold back his councilors."

A trial was held, and as she was not able to respond
and defend herself, she was condemned to be burned
at the stake. Wood was piled together. After she had
been bound tightly to a stake, and the fire was
beginning to burn around her, the hard ice of pride
melted. Her heart was moved by regret, and she
thought, "If only I could 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!"

Immediately rain began to fall from heaven,
and it put out the fiery flames. A light broke forth
above her, and the Virgin Mary descended.
She had the two little sons by her side,
and the newborn daughter on her arm.
Speaking kindly to her, she said,
"Whoever repents a sin and confesses
it will be forgiven."

Then she gave her the three children, released
her tongue, and gave her happiness for her entire life.

by The Brothers Grimm

~Little Brother and Little Sister~

Little brother took his little sister by the hand and said,
"Since our mother died we have not had a single
good hour. Our stepmother beats us every day, and
whenever we come near her she kicks us away with
her feet. Hard leftover crusts of bread are our food .
The little dog under the table is better off, for she often
throws it a good morsel. God have mercy, if our mother
were to know about this. Come, let us go away
together into the wide world."

They walked the whole day over meadows,
fields, and stones. And when it rained the little sister said,
"God and our hearts are crying together!"

In the evening they came to a large forest, and they
were so tired from sorrow and hunger and from the long
walk that they climbed into a hollow tree and fell asleep.
The next day when they awoke the sun was already high
in the sky and shone hotly down into the tree.

Then the brother said, "Sister, I am thirsty.
If I knew of a little spring I would go and get
a drink. I think I hear one."

The brother got up and took his sister by the
hand to try to find the spring.   
Now the wicked stepmother was a witch,
and she had seen how the two children had gone away,
and had secretly crept after them, as witches do,
and she had bewitched all the springs in the woods.

They found a spring, glistening as it ran over the
stones. The brother was about to drink from it,
but his sister heard how its rushing sound said,
"Whoever drinks from me will become a tiger.
Whoever drinks from me will become a tiger."

Then the sister cried out, "Please, brother,
do not drink, or you will become a wild
animal and tear me to pieces."

The brother did not drink, although he was
very thirsty, but said, "I will wait for the next spring."

When they came to the second spring the sister
heard it say as well, "Whoever drinks from me will
become a wolf. Whoever drinks from me will become a wolf."

Then the sister cried out, "Please, brother,
do not drink, or you will become a wolf and eat me up."

The brother did not drink, and said, "I will wait until
we come to the next spring, but then I must drink,
say what you will, for I am very thirsty."

by Arthur Rackham

When they came to the third spring the sister
heard how its rushing sound said, "Whoever drinks from
me will become a deer. Whoever drinks from
me will become a deer."

The sister said, "Oh, brother, do not drink, or
you will become a deer and run away from me."

But the brother had already knelt down by the
spring, leaned over, and drunk from the water.
As soon as the first drops touched his lips he lay
there in the form of a young deer.

Now the sister cried over her poor bewitched
brother, and the deer cried also, sitting sadly next to her.

Finally the girl said, "Be quiet, my sweet little deer.
I will never, never leave you."

She took off her golden garter and put it around the
deer's neck. Then she picked some rushes and wove them
into a soft cord. This she tied to the little animal and led it onward, walking deeper and deeper into the woods.

After they had walked a long, long way they finally came
to a little house. The girl looked in, and because it was
empty, she thought, "We can stay here and live."

She found leaves and moss to make a soft bed for the
deer. Every morning she went out and gathered roots,
berries, and nuts for herself, and brought tender grass
for the little deer, who ate out of her hand, and was
contented and played around about her.
In the evening, when the sister was tired and
had said her prayers, she laid her head on the deer's
back for a pillow, and gently fell asleep.
If only the brother had had his human form,
it would have been a wonderful life.

For some time they were alone like this in the wilderness.
Then it happened that the king of the country held a
great hunt in these woods. The blasts of the horns,
the barking of the dogs, and the merry shouts of the
huntsmen sounded through the trees. The little deer
heard this and wanted ever so much to be with them.

"Oh," he said to his sister, "let me go and join the hunt.
I cannot resist it any longer."
He begged so long that she finally agreed.

"But," she said she to him, "come back to me in the evening.
I must lock the door to keep the wild huntsmen out.
To let me know that it's you, knock and say, 'My little sister,
let me in.' If you do not say that, I will not unlock the door."

Then the young deer jumped away. He felt so good
and was so happy to be in the open air. The king and
his huntsmen saw the beautiful animal and started after
him, but they could not catch him, and whenever they
thought that they surely had him, he jumped away
over the bushes and disappeared.

When it was dark he ran to the little house, knocked,
and said, "My little sister, let me in."

She opened the door for him, and he jumped inside
and rested all night on his soft bed.

The next day the hunt began anew, and when the
little deer again heard the hunting horn and
the huntsmen's shouts, he could not resist, but said,
"Sister, open the door for me. I must be off."

His sister opened the door for him, saying, "But this
evening you must be here again and say the password."

When the king and his huntsmen again saw the young
deer with his golden collar, they all chased after him,
but he was too fast and nimble for them. And so it went
the entire day, but as evening fell, the huntsmen had
surrounded him, and one of them wounded him a little
in the foot, causing him to limp. Slowly, he ran away.

A huntsman crept after him to the little house and
heard how he called out, "My little sister, let me in,"
and saw that someone opened the door for him,
and then immediately shut it again. The huntsman
took notice of all this, then went to the king and
told him what he had seen and heard.

Then the king said, "Tomorrow we will continue with our hunt."

The little sister, however, was terribly frightened
when she saw that her young deer was wounded.
She washed the blood off him, applied herbs, and said,
"Go to bed, my sweet deer, so that you will get well again."

But the wound was so slight that the next morning
the deer no longer felt it. And when he again heard
the merry sound of the hunt outside, he said, "I cannot
resist it. I must be there. They'll never get me."

Crying, the sister said, "This time they will kill you,
and I will be alone in the woods, forsaken by the
whole world. I will not let you out."

"Then I will die here from grief," answered the deer.
"When I hear the hunting horn I feel that I
have to jump out of my shoes!"

Then the sister could not help herself, and with a
heavy heart she unlocked the door for him. The deer
vigorously and joyfully bounded off into the woods.

When the king saw him he said to his huntsmen,
"Chase after him all day long and into the night,
but take care that no one does him any harm."

As soon as the sun had set the king said to the
huntsman, "Now come and show me the
little house in the woods."

When he came to the door he knocked and
called out,
"Dear little sister, let me in."

The door opened, and the king walked in, and there
stood a girl who was more beautiful than any girl he
had ever seen. The girl was frightened when she saw
that it was not her deer, but a man wearing a golden
crown on his head who came in.

However, the king looked kindly at her, reached
out his hand to her, and said, "Will you go with me
to my castle and be my dear wife?"

"Oh, yes," answered the girl, "but the little deer must
go with me. I cannot leave him."

The king said, "He shall stay with you as long as you
live, and he shall want nothing."

Just then he came bounding in, and the sister again
tied him to the cord of rushes. She herself took hold
of it and walked out of the little house with him.

The king lifted the beautiful girl onto his horse and
took her to his castle, where their wedding was held
with great splendor. She was now the queen, and they
lived happily together for a long time. The deer was cared
for and cherished, and ran about in the castle garden.

Now the wicked stepmother who had caused the
children to go out into the world thought that the
sister had been torn to pieces by wild animals in the woods,
and that the brother, as a deer, had been killed by
the huntsmen. When she heard that they were happy
and well off, envy and hatred filled her heart,
leaving her no peace. Her only thoughts were how
she could bring about their downfall.

Her own daughter, who was ugly as night and had
only one eye, complained to her, saying,
"I am the one who should have become queen."

"Just be quiet," answered the old woman, then comforted
her by saying, "When the time comes I shall be at hand."

As time went by the queen brought a handsome little
boy into the world. It happened at a time when the
king was out hunting. Then the old witch took the
form of the chambermaid, went into the room where
the queen was lying and said to her, "Come, your
bath is ready. It will do you good and give you fresh
strength. Hurry, before it gets cold."

The witch's daughter was also nearby.
They carried the weak queen into the bathroom
and put her into the tub. Then they locked the door
shut and ran away. Now they had made a fire of such
hellish heat in the bathroom that the beautiful
young queen soon suffocated.

When this was done the old woman took her
daughter, put a nightcap on her head, and laid her
in the queen's bed. Furthermore, she gave her the
form and appearance of the queen, but she could not
replace the lost eye. So that the king would not notice it, the witch's daughter was to lie on the side where she had no eye.

In the evening when the king came home and heard that
he had a little son he was delighted.
He was about to go to his dear wife's bed to see
how she was, when the old woman quickly called out,
"You must leave the curtains closed. The queen is not yet permitted to look into the light, and she must have her rest."

The king went away, not knowing that a false queen
was lying there in her bed. At midnight when everyone
was asleep, the nurse who was sitting in the nursery
by the cradle, and who was the only one still awake,
saw the door open and the true queen walk in.
She took the child from the cradle, laid him on her
arm, and nursed him. Then she fluffed up his pillow,
laid him back down, and covered him with his little quilt.
And she did not forget the deer, but went to the corner
where he was lying and stroked his back. Then she went
back out through the door without saying a word.

The next morning the nurse asked the watchmen
whether anyone had come into the castle during
the night, and they answered, "No, we did not see anyone."

In this manner she came many nights, never speaking
a word. The nurse saw her every time, but she did not
dare to tell anyone about it. After some time had
thus passed, the queen began to speak in the night, saying,
"How is my child? How is my deer? I shall come
two more times, then never again."

The nurse did not answer her, but when the
queen had disappeared again, she went to the
king and told him everything.

The king said, "Good heaven, what is this?
Tomorrow night I will keep watch by the child."

That evening he went into the nursery, and at midnight
the queen again appeared and said, "How is my child?
How is my deer? I shall come one more time, then never again."

She nursed the child as she had done before,
and then disappeared.

The king did not dare to speak to her, but on the
following night he kept watch again. Once again she
said, "How is my child? How is my deer?
I come this one time, then never again."

Now the king could not restrain himself. He jumped
towards her, saying, "You can only be my dear wife."

She answered, "Yes, I am your dear wife," and in that
moment, by the grace of God, she came back to life,
fresh, vibrant, and healthy.

She told the king about the crime that the wicked witch
and her daughter had committed against her.
The king ordered both to be brought before the
court, and a judgment was pronounced against them.
The daughter was led into the woods where she was
torn to pieces by wild animals, and the witch was
thrown into a fire where she miserably burned to death.
And as soon as she had burned to ashes, the deer
was transformed, and he received his human form again.
And the sister and the brother lived happily
together until they died.

by The Brothers Grimm