Rumpelstiltskin at Apple Hollow Farm


"Tomorrow I brew, today I bake, And then the child away I'll take;

     Once upon a time there was a poor miller who lived with his daughter, Christina, in an old mill-house by the river. Christina was tall and stately and beautiful, with long golden hair and eyes as blue as the sea. "Such a daughter as mine," thought the miller, "is fit to be a queen."
     Now it so happened that the King had no wife, and that he was searching for a maiden beautiful and clever enough to rule with him as Queen. Many maidens came before him - from the north, south, east and west they came - but the King would have none of them. One day the poor miller had to go to the palace to deliver some flour. While he was there he begged for an audience with the King. When he entered the royal chamber, he bowed low before the throne and said, "Sire, I have a daughter, Christina, who is so wondrous fair the stars are pale beside her."
     "She must be more than beautiful to be my bride," said the King. "She must be exceedingly clever as well."
     "She is a most excellent spinner," said the miller.
     "Many maidens can spin,"said the King.
     "Yes," agree the miller, who was struck with an idea, "but Christina can spin straw into gold!"
     "She can really spin straw into gold?" marveled the King, while the ladies and gentlemen of the court buzzed with excitement.
     "Now that's a talent worth having!" said the King to the miller. "If your daughter is as clever as you say, bring her to the palace tomorrow, and I shall test her."
     The miller realized he had gone too far, but there was nothing to be done about it, so the next day he appeared at the palace with Christina.
     "You are very lovely, Christina," said the King, looking long at her flower-like face, "but your father has sworn you are exceedingly clever as well. Now we shall test the truth of his words."
     So saying, he led Christina into a room full of straw and gave her a spinning wheel and spindle.
"Set to work and spin all night," he said, "and if by early dawn you have not spun the straw into gold you shall die." Then he left her alone.
     Poor Christina sat down at the spinning wheel, but she did not touch it. She only stared at it, and at the great piles of straw all around her. She hadn't the slightest idea of how to spin straw into gold!      "I shall surely die in the morning," she thought, and she began to cry. She had been weeping for quite a while, when suddenly the door opened, and a tiny little man stepped in. He wore a peaked hat and pointed shoes, and he had a nose as sharp as a knife and as long as a broom handle.
     "Good evening, Miss Miller-maid; why are you weeping?"
     "Oh!" sobbed Christina, "I have to spin straw into gold, and I haven't the faintest notion of how it's done."
     "What will you give me if I spin it for you?" asked the little man.
     "I will give you my necklace," answered Christina.
     The little man took the necklace and sat down at the spinning wheel. Away it went: whir, whir, whir, spinning out fine threads of gold. Round and round it whirled until morning, when all the straw was gone and all the spindles were full of golden thread. "There you are, Miss Miller-maid!" cried the tiny man, and he made a sweeping bow.
     "Thank you a thousand times!" said Christina. But she had scarcely spoken the words when the strange little fellow was gone.
     As soon as the sun rose, the King entered the room. He was astonished at the sight of all the spindles gleaming with gold.
     "You have done very well, Christina," he said. "I am so delighted, you must show me more!"
     That evening at sundown he had the miller's daughter put into another room, much bigger than the first and with twice as much straw.
     "If you value your life," the King said, "you must spin it all into gold before morning."
     Christina did not know what to do any more than she had the night before, so she sat down and began to cry again. Once more the tiny man came in and said, "What will you give me if I spin the straw into gold for you?"
     "I will give you the ring from my finger," Christina said.
     "Very well," the dwarf said. He took the ring, and when morning came he had spun all the straw into glittering golden thread.
     When the King arrived, he was delighted at the sight of the second room filled with the shining treasure, but still he was not satisfied. That evening he had Christina brought into a still bigger room, filled with three times as much straw, and said: "You must spin all this into gold tonight. If you succeed you shall become my wife."
     Christina felt more helpless than ever, for she knew she couldn't spin all that straw into gold. She began to sob harder than ever. Soon the little man appeared for the third time and said, "What will you give me if I spin the straw into gold this time?"
     "I have nothing more to give you," answered Christina sadly.
     "Will you promise to give me one thing when you are Queen?"
     "Yes, Yes!" cried Christina eagerly.
     "When you are Queen you must give me your first child," said the little man.
     "But - - - my first child," faltered Christina.
     "Remember, you have promised already," the man reminded her.
     Seeing no other way to get her task done, she bade him set to work on the straw. When the King came in the morning and found the gold, he was delighted, and straightaway prepared for the wedding. They were married at court that very day. Some time later, when a beautiful son was born, they were very happy. The baby was christened in a great court ceremony, and all the land rejoiced. The Queen had forgotten all about the little man and her promise.
     One day when she was sitting in the garden by herself when suddenly a voice said: "Well, Miss Miller-maid! Now give me what you promised."
     Christina looked down and saw the tiny man. "Oh!" she cried out. "I cannot give up my baby, little man. I will give you rubies and diamonds - as many as you wish."
     "No thank you," was the answer.
     Then the Queen began to sob bitterly, and declared that if her baby was taken from her, she would as soon be dead.
     At length the little man said, "I will give you three days, and if, in that time, you guess my name, you may keep your child."
     The Queen agreed, and she lay awake the whole night pondering over all the names she ever heard. She sent messengers to scour the land, and to search far and near for unusual names. On the first night the little man came to her and said, "Do you know my name?"
     "Is it John?" asked Queen Christina.
     "Is it James?"
     "Joseph, Jehosophat, Jeremiah?" asked the Queen, going on to harder names.
     "No, no, no!: shrieked the little man.
     Half the night the guessing went on. It was no use. He kept shaking his head to every name the Queen mentioned. At last he went away, shaking his finger at her and reminding her she had only two more nights.
     The next night he came again. "Well," he asked "do you think you can guess my name tonight?"
     "I shall try," answered the Queen. This time she tried all the unusual names the messengers had brought. "Is it Belshazzar?" she began.
     The little man shook his head.
     Melchior, Sheepshanks, Cruickshanks, Spindleshanks, Mercurio, Merthiades, Malachi; she tried them all. None of them were right.
     "You have one more night," the little man crowed, "only one more night!" And off he ran, doubled up with mirth.
     Poor Queen Christina could not sleep a wink. She lay awake, racking her brains and trying to think of the little man's name.
     By this time all the messengers had returned but one. He decided to keep on searching till he heard the most unusual name possible before going back to his queen. He had ridden all day, asking of everyone he saw: "What is your name?"
     At last he turned back toward the palace with his list. Just as he came to the top of a high hill near the wood, he saw a little house, the tiniest he had ever seen. In front of this house burned a fire, and around the fire danced a tiny little man with a peaked hat and pointed shoes and a nose as sharp as a knife and as long as a broom handle. As the grotesque little man hopped and jumped, he sang in a raspy voice:
     "Tomorrow I brew, today I bake, And then the child away I'll take;
     For little knows my royal dame, That Rumpelstiltskin is my name!"
     Fast as the wind the messenger sped toward the palace. Arriving all out of breath, he
ran to the Queen and told her what he had seen and heard. A few minutes later the little man appeared.
     "Well, my Queen, have you thought of a name?" he asked.
     "Is your name Conrad?" said the Queen.
     "No, indeed."
     "Is it Cornelius or Copernicus?"
     "No, no. We are wasting time. Give me the child!"
     "Not so fast," said Queen Christina. "Is your name, perhaps, Rumpelstiltskin?"
     "Some demon has told you, some demon has told you," screamed the little man, shaking his fists. In his rage, he stamped his foot into the ground so hard and deep that he sank up to his waist. In his frustration and anger, he seized his left leg with both hands and tore himself asunder in the middle, ending his life.
Editorial note: there must be a moral here, but I'm not sure what it is.
A pretty Grimm fairy tale, if you ask me!

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MacThis page last updated: 16 May 2012



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