by the Grimm Brothers
THERE ONCE lived a man and his wife who had long wished for a child, but in
vain. Now there
was at the back of their house a little window which overlooked a beautiful garden full of the finest
vegetables and flowers; but there was a high wall all round it, and no one ventured into it, for it
belonged to a witch of great might, and of whom all the world was afraid. One day when the wife
was standing at the window, and looking into the garden, she saw a bed filled with the finest
rampion; and it looked so fresh and green that she began to wish for some; and at length she
longed for it greatly. This went on for days, and as she knew she could not get the rampion, she
pined away, and grew pale and miserable.
Then the man was uneasy, and asked, "What is the matter, dear wife?" "Oh,"
answered she, "I
shall die unless I can have some of that rampion to eat that grows in the garden at the back of our
house." The man, who loved her very much, thought to himself, "Rather than lose my wife I will
get some rampion, cost what it will."
So in the twilight he climbed over the wall into the witch's garden, plucked
hastily a handful of
rampion and brought it to his wife. She made a salad of it at once, and ate of it to her heart's
content. But she liked it so much, and it tasted so good, that the next day she longed for it thrice
as much as she had done before; if she was to have any rest the man must climb over the wall
So he went in the twilight again; and as he was climbing back, he saw, all
at once, the witch
standing before him, and was terribly frightened, as she cried, with angry eyes, "How dare you
climb over into my garden like a thief, and steal my rampion! It shall be the worse for you!"
"Oh," answered he, "be merciful rather than just; I have only done it through
necessity; for my
wife saw your rampion out of the window, and became possessed with so great a longing that she
would have died if she could not have had some to eat."
Then the witch said, "If it is all as you say, you may have as much rampion
as you like, on one
condition- the child that will come into the world must be given to me. It shall go well with the
child, and I will care for it like a mother."
In his distress of mind the man promised everything; and when the time came
when the child was
born the witch appeared, and, giving the child the name of Rapunzel (which is the same as
rampion), she took it away with her.
Rapunzel was the most beautiful child in the world. When she was twelve years
old the witch shut
her up in a tower in the midst of a wood, and it had neither steps nor door, only a small window
above. When the witch wished to be let in, she would stand below and would cry, "Rapunzel,
Rapunzel! Let down your hair!"
Rapunzel had beautiful long hair that shone like gold. When she heard the
voice of the witch she
would undo the fastening of the upper window, unbind the plaits of her hair, and let it down
twenty ells below, and the witch would climb up by it.
After they had lived thus a few years it happened that as the King's son was
riding through the
wood, he came to the tower; and as he drew near he heard a voice singing so sweetly that he
stood still and listened. It was Rapunzel in her loneliness trying to pass away the time with sweet
songs. The King's son wished to go in to her, and sought to find a door in the tower, but there
was none. So he rode home, but the song had entered into his heart, and every day he went into
the wood and listened to it.
Once, as he was standing there under a tree, he saw the witch come up, and
listened while she
called out, "Oh Rapunzel, Rapunzel! Let down your hair."
Then he saw how Rapunzel let down her long tresses, and how the witch climbed
up by them and
went in to her, and he said to himself, "Since that is the ladder, I will climb it, and seek my fortune."
And the next day, as soon as it began to grow dusk, he went to the tower and cried, "Oh Rapunzel,
Rapunzel! Let down your hair." And she let down her hair, and the King's son climbed up by it.
Rapunzel was greatly terrified when she saw that a man had come in to her,
for she had never seen
one before; but the King's son began speaking so kindly to her, and told how her singing had
entered into his heart, so that he could have no peace until he had seen her herself. Then Rapunzel
forgot her terror, and when he asked her to take him for her husband, and she saw that he was
young and beautiful, she thought to herself, "I certainly like him much better than old mother
Gothel," and she put her hand into his hand, saying, "I would willingly go with you, but I do not
know how I shall get out. When you come, bring each time a silken rope, and I will make a ladder,
and when it is quite ready I will get down by it out of the tower, and you shall take me away on
They agreed that he should come to her every evening, as the old woman came
in the day-time. So
the witch knew nothing of all this until once Rapunzel said to her unwittingly, "Mother Gothel,
how is it that you climb up here so slowly, and the King's son is with me in a moment?"
"O wicked child," cried the witch, "what is this I hear! I thought I had hidden
you from all the
world, and you have betrayed me!"
In her anger she seized Rapunzel by her beautiful hair, struck her several
times with her left hand,
and then grasping a pair of shears in her right- snip, snap- the beautiful locks lay on the ground.
And she was so hard-hearted that she took Rapunzel and put her in a waste and desert place,
where she lived in great woe and misery.
The same day on which she took Rapunzel away she went back to the tower in
the evening and
made fast the severed locks of hair to the window-hasp, and the King's son came and cried,
"Rapunzel, Rapunzel! Let down your hair."
Then she let the hair down, and the King's son climbed up, but instead of
his dearest Rapunzel he
found the witch looking at him with wicked, glittering eyes.
"Aha!" cried she, mocking him, "you came for your darling, but the sweet bird
sits no longer in the
nest, and sings no more; the cat has got her, and will scratch out your eyes as well! Rapunzel is
lost to you; you will see her no more."
The King's son was beside himself with grief, and in his agony he sprang from the tower; he
escaped with life, but the thorns on which he fell put out his eyes. Then he wandered blind
through the wood, eating nothing but roots and berries, and doing nothing but lament and weep
for the loss of his dearest wife.
So he wandered several years in misery until at last he came to the desert
place where Rapunzel
lived with her twin-children that she had borne, a boy and a girl. At first he heard a voice that he
thought he knew, and when he reached the place from which it seemed to come Rapunzel knew
him, and fell on his neck and wept. And when her tears touched his eyes they became clear again,
and he could see with them as well as ever.
Then he took her to his kingdom, where he was received with great joy, and
there they lived long
and happily. - -