Rapunzel is an old nickname for an herb with leaves like lettuce and roots like a radish -- it is also called rampion.
There once lived a man and a woman who always wished for a child, but could not have one. These people had a little window at the back of their house from which a splendid garden could be seen. The garden was full of the most beautiful flowers and herbs. It was, however, surrounded by a high wall, and no one dared to go into it because it belonged to a witch, who had great power and was feared by the entire world.
One day the woman was standing by the window and looking down into the garden, when she saw a bed which was planted with the tastiest rapunzel. It looked so fresh and green that she longed for it and had the greatest desire to eat some. This desire increased every day. The woman knew that she could not get any of it and grew more pale and miserable each day.
Her husband was worried about her and asked "What is wrong my dear?"
"Ah," she replied, "if I can't eat some of the rapunzel from the garden behind our house I think I shall die."
The man, who loved her, thought, "Sooner than let my lovely wife die, I will bring her some of the rapunzel myself, no matter what the cost."
In the twilight of the evening, he climbed over the wall into the garden of the witch, hastily grabbed a handful of rapunzel and took it to his wife. She at once made herself a salad and ate it happily. She, however, liked it so much -- so very much, that the next day she longed for it three times as much as before. If he was to have any rest, her husband must once more descend into the garden. In the gloom of evening, therefore, he set out again; but when he had climbed over the wall he was terribly afraid, for he saw the witch standing before him.
"How dare you," she said with angry look, "sneak into my garden and steal my rapunzel like a thief? You shall suffer for this!"
"Ah," the frightened husband answered, "please have mercy; I had to have the rapunzel. My wife saw it from the window and felt such a longing for it that she would have died if she had not got some to eat."
Then the witch allowed her anger to be softened, and said to him, "If this is true, I will allow you to take as much as you like, only I make one condition. You must give me the baby daughter your wife will bring into the world; she shall be well treated, and I will care for it like a mother." The man in his fear consented and when the baby was born the witch appeared at once, gave the child the name of Rapunzel and took the baby away with her.
Rapunzel grew into the most beautiful child beneath the sun. When she was twelve years old, the witch shut her into a tower, which lay in a forest. The tower had no stairs or doors, but only a little window at the very top. When the witch wanted to go in, she stood beneath the window and cried,
Let down your hair."
Rapunzel had magnificent long hair, fine as spun gold, and when she heard the voice of the witch she wound her braids round one of the hooks of the window, and then the hair fell down the side of the tower and the witch climbed up by it.
After a year or two, it came to pass that the Prince rode through the forest and went by the tower. He heard a song which was so lovely that he stood still and listened. This was Rapunzel who in her loneliness passed her time singing. The Prince wanted to climb up to her, and looked for the door of the tower, but none was to be found. He rode home, but the singing had so deeply touched his heart, that every day he went out into the forest and listened to it.
Once when he was standing behind a tree listening to Rapunzel's song, he saw the witch come and heard how she cried,
Let down your hair."
Then Rapunzel let down the braids of her hair, and the witch climbed up to her.
"If that is the ladder by which one mounts, I will for once try my fortune," thought the Prince and the next day when it began to grow dark, he went to the tower and cried,
Let down your hair."
Immediately the hair fell down and the Prince climbed up.
At first Rapunzel was terribly frightened when a man such as her eyes had never seen, came to her; but the Prince began to talk to her quite like a friend and told her that his heart had been so stirred by her singing that it had let him have no rest. Then Rapunzel lost her fear, and when he asked her if she would take him for her husband -- and she saw that he was kind and handsome, she said yes, and laid her hand in his.
She said, "I will willingly go away with you, but I do not know how to get down. Bring a bit of silk with you every time you come and I will weave a ladder with it. When that is ready I will climb down and we shall escape together." They agreed that until that time he should come to her every evening, for the old woman came by day.
The witch knew nothing of this, until once Rapunzel said in her distraction, "Oh my, you are so much heavier when you climb than the young Prince."
"Ah! You wicked child," cried the witch "What do I hear thee say! I thought I had separated you from the entire world but you have deceived me."
In her anger she clutched Rapunzel's beautiful hair, seized a pair of scissors -- and snip, snap -- cut it all off. Rapunzel's lovely braids lay on the ground but the witch was not through. She was so angry that she took poor Rapunzel into a desert where she had to live in great grief and misery.
The witch rushed back to the tower and fastened the braids of hair which she had cut off, to the hook of the window, and when the Prince came and cried,
Let down your hair,"
She let the hair down. The Prince climbed to the window, but he did not find his dearest Rapunzel above, but the witch, who gazed at him with a wicked and venomous look.
"Aha!" she cried mockingly, "You've come for Rapunzel but the beautiful bird sits no longer singing in the nest; the cat has got it and will scratch out your eyes as well. Rapunzel is banished and you will never see her again!"
The Prince was beside himself and in his despair he fell down from the tower. He escaped with his life, but the thorns into which he fell pierced his eyes. Then he wandered quite blind about the forest, ate nothing but roots and berries and did nothing but weep over the loss of his dearest Rapunzel.
In this way, the Prince roamed in misery for some months and at length came to the desert where the witch had banished Rapunzel. He heard a voice singing and it seemed so familiar to him that he went towards it. When he approached, Rapunzel knew him and fell into his arms and wept.
Two of her tears fell on his eyes and the Prince could see again. He led her to his kingdom where he was joyfully received, and they lived for a long time afterwards, happy and contented.
Once upon a time there was a miller who was poor, but who had a beautiful daughter. Now it happened that he got into a conversation with the king, and to make an impression on him he said, "I have a daughter who can spin straw into gold."
The king said to the miller, "That is an art that I really like. If your daughter is as skillful as you say, and then bring her to my castle tomorrow, and I will put her to the test."
When the girl was brought to him he led her into a room that was entirely filled with straw. Giving her a spinning wheel and a reel, he said, "Get to work now. Spin all night, and if by morning you have not spun this straw into gold, then you will have to die." Then he himself locked the room, and she was there all alone.
The poor miller's daughter sat there, and for her life she did not know what to do. She had no idea how to spin straw into gold. She became more and more afraid, and finally began to cry.
Then suddenly the door opened. A little man stepped inside and said, "Good evening, Mistress Miller, why are you crying so?"
"Oh," answered the girl, "I am supposed to spin straw into gold, and I do not know how to do it."
The little man said, "What will you give me if I spin it for you?" "My necklace," said the girl.
The little man took the necklace, sat down before the spinning wheel, and whir, whir, whir, three times pulled, and the spool was full. Then he put another one on, and whir, whir, whir, three times pulled, and the second one was full as well. So it went until morning, and then all the straw was spun, and all the spools were filled with gold.
At sunrise the king came, and when he saw the gold he was surprised and happy, but his heart became even greedier for gold. He had the miller's daughter taken to another room filled with straw. It was even larger, and he ordered her to spin it in one night, if she valued her life.
The girl did not know what to do, and she cried. Once again the door opened, and the little man appeared. He said, "What will you give me if I spin the straw into gold for you?"
"The ring from my finger," answered the girl.
The little man took the ring, and began once again to whir with the spinning wheel. By morning he had spun all the straw into glistening gold. The king was happy beyond measure when he saw it, but he still did not have his fill of gold. He had the miller's daughter taken to a still larger room filled with straw, and said, "Tonight you must spin this too. If you succeed you shall become my wife." He thought, "Even if she is only a miller's daughter, I will not find a richer wife in the entire world."
When the girl was alone the little man returned for a third time. He said, "What will you give me if I spin the straw this time?"
"I have nothing more that I could give you," answered the girl.
"Then promise me, after you are queen, your first child."
"Who knows what will happen," thought the miller's daughter, and not knowing what else to do, she promised the little man what he demanded. In return the little man once again spun the straw into gold.
When in the morning the king came and found everything just as he desired, he married her, and the beautiful miller's daughter became queen.
A year later she brought a beautiful child to the world. She thought no more about the little man, but suddenly he appeared in her room and said, "Now give me that which you promised."
The queen took fright and offered the little man all the wealth of the kingdom if he would let her keep the child, but the little man said, "No. Something living is dearer to me than all the treasures of the world."
Then the queen began lamenting and crying so much that the little man took pity on her and said, "I will give you three days' time. If by then you know my name, then you shall keep your child."
The queen spent the entire night thinking of all the names she had ever heard. Then she sent a messenger into the country to inquire far and wide what other names there were. When the little man returned the next day she began with Kaspar, Melchior, Balzer, and said in order all the names she knew. After each one the little man said, "That is not my name."
The second day she sent inquiries into the neighborhood as to what names people had. She recited the most unusual and most curious names to the little man: "Is your name perhaps Beastrib? Or Muttoncalf? Or Legstring?"
But he always answered, "That is not my name."
On the third day the messenger returned and said, "I have not been able to find a single new name, but when I was approaching a high mountain in the corner of the woods, there where the fox and the hare say good-night, I saw a little house. A fire was burning in front of the house, and an altogether comical little man was jumping around the fire, hopping on one leg and calling out:
Today I'll bake; tomorrow I'll brew,
Then I'll fetch the queen's new child,
It is good that no one knows,
Rumpelstiltskin is my name.
You can imagine how happy the queen was when she heard that name. Soon afterward the little man came in and asked, "Now, Madame Queen, what is my name?"
She first asked, "Is your name Kunz?""No."
"Is your name Heinz?""No."
"Is your name perhaps Rumpelstiltskin?"
"The devil told you that! The devil told you that!" shouted the little man, and with anger he stomped his right foot so hard into the ground that he fell in up to his waist. Then with both hands he took hold of his left foot and ripped himself up the middle in two.