A fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm
There was once upon a time a queen who had a little daughter who
was still so young that she had to be carried. One day the
child was naughty, and the mother might say what she liked, but
the child would not be quiet. Then she became impatient, and as
the ravens were flying about the palace, she opened the
window and said, "I wish you were a raven and would fly away,
and then I should have some rest." Scarcely had she spoken the
words, before the child was changed into a raven, and flew from
her arms out of the window. It flew into a dark forest, and
stayed in it a long time, and the parents heard nothing of their
Then one day a man was on his way through this forest
and heard the raven crying, and followed the voice, and when
he came nearer, the bird said, "I am a king's daughter by birth,
and am bewitched, but you can set me free."
What am I to do?" asked
She said, "Go further into the forest, and you will find
a house, wherein sits an aged woman, who will offer you meat
and drink, but you must accept nothing, for if you eat and
drink anything, you will fall into a sleep, and then you will
not be able to set me free. In the garden behind the house
there is a great heap of tan, and on this you will stand
and wait for me. For three days I shall come every afternoon at
two o'clock in a carriage. On the first day four white horses
will be harnessed to it, then four chestnut horses, and lastly
four black ones, but if you are not awake, but sleeping, I shall
not be set free." The man promised to do everything that she
desired, but the raven said, "Alas, I know already that you will
not set me free; you will accept something from the woman." Then
the man once more promised that he would certainly not touch
anything either to eat or to drink.
But when he entered the house the old woman came
to him and said, "Poor man, how faint you are, come and refresh
yourself, eat and drink."
"No," said the man, "I shall not eat or
drink." She, however, let him have no peace, and said, "If
you will not eat, take one drink out of the glass, one is
nothing." Then he let himself be persuaded, and drank. Shortly
before two o'clock in the afternoon he went into the garden to the
tan heap to wait for the raven. As he was standing there, his
weariness all at once became so great that he could not struggle
against it, and lay down for a short time, but he was determined
not to go to sleep. Hardly, however, had he lain down, than
his eyes closed of their own accord, and he fell asleep and
slept so soundly that nothing in the world could have aroused him.
At two o'clock the raven came driving up with four white horses,
but she was already in deep grief and said, I know he is asleep.
And when she came into the garden, he was indeed lying there
asleep on the heap of tan. She alighted from the carriage, went
to him, shook him, and called him, but he did not awake. Next
day about noon, the old woman came again and brought him food and
drink, but he would not take any of it. But she let him have no
rest and persuaded him until at length he again took one drink
out of the glass. Towards two o'clock he went into the garden to
the tan heap to wait for the raven, but all at once felt such
a great weariness that his limbs would no longer support him.
He could not help himself, and was forced to lie down, and fell
into a heavy sleep.
When the raven drove up with four brown
horses, she was already full of grief, and said, "I know he is
asleep." She went to him, but there he lay sleeping, and there was
no wakening him. Next day the old woman asked what the meaning
of this was. He was neither eating nor drinking anything, did he want
to die? He replied, "I am not allowed to eat or drink, and shall
not do so." But she set a dish with food, and a glass with wine
before him, and when he smelt it he could not resist, and swallowed
a deep draught. When the time came, he went out into the garden
to the heap of tan, and waited for the king's daughter,
but he became still more weary than on the day before, and lay down
and slept as
soundly as if he had been a stone. At two o'clock the raven came
with four black horses, and the coachman and everything else was
black. She was already in the deepest grief, and said, "I know
that he is asleep and cannot set me free."
When she came to him,
there he was lying fast asleep. She shook him and called him,
but she could not awaken him. Then she laid a loaf beside him,
and after that a piece of meat, and thirdly a bottle of wine, and
he might consume as much of all of them as he liked, but they would
never grow less. After this she took a gold ring from her finger,
and put it on his, and her name was engraved on it. Lastly, she
laid a letter beside him wherein was written what she had given
him, and that none of the things would ever grow less, and in it
was also written, "I see right well that here you will never be able
to set me free, but if you are still willing to do so, come to
the golden castle of Stromberg; it lies in your power, of that I
am certain." And when she had given him all these things,
she seated herself in her carriage, and drove to the golden castle
When the man awoke and saw that he had slept, he was sad at heart,
and said, "She has certainly driven by, and I have not set her free."
Then he perceived the things which were lying beside him,
and read the letter wherein was written how everything had
happened. So he arose and went away, intending to go to the golden
castle of Stromberg, but he did not know where it was. After he
had walked about the world for a long time, he entered into a dark
forest, and walked for fourteen days, and still could not find his
way out. Then it was once more evening, and he was so tired that
he lay down in a thicket and fell asleep. Next day he went
onwards, and in the evening, as he was again about to lie down
beneath some bushes, he heard such a howling and crying that he
could not go to sleep. And at the time when people light the
candles, he saw one glimmering, and arose and went towards it.
Then he came to a house which seemed very small, for in front
of it a great giant was standing. He thought to himself, "If I go
in, and the giant sees me, it will very likely cost me my life."
At length he ventured it and went in. When the giant saw him,
he said, "It is well that you come, for it is long since I have
eaten, I shall at once devour you for my supper."
you did not," said the man, "I do not like to be eaten, but if
you have any desire to eat, I have quite enough here to satisfy
"If that be true," said the giant, "you may be easy, I was only
going to devour you because I had nothing else."
Then they went,
and sat down to the table, and the man took out the bread, wine,
and meat which would never come to an end. "This pleases me
well," said the giant, and ate to his heart's content. Then
the man said to him, "Can you tell me where the golden castle
of Stromberg is?"
The giant said, "I shall look at my map,
all the towns, and villages, and houses are to be found on it."
He brought out the map which he had in the room and looked for the
castle, but it was not to be found on it. "It's no matter," said
he, "I have some still larger maps in my cupboard upstairs,
and we shall look at them." But there, too, it was in vain. The
man now wanted to set out again, but the giant begged him to
wait a few days longer until his brother, who had gone out to
bring some provisions, came home. When the brother came home
they inquired about the golden castle of Stromberg. He replied,
"When I have eaten and have had enough, I will look at the map."
Then he went with them up to his chamber, and they searched
on his map, but could not find it. Then he brought out still
older maps, and they never rested until they found the golden
castle of Stromberg, but it was many thousands of miles away. "How
am I to get there?" asked the man. The giant said, "I have two
hours, time, during which I shall carry you into the neighbourhood,
but after that I must be at home to suckle the child that we have."
So the giant carried the man to about a hundred leagues from
the castle, and said, "You can very well walk the rest of the way
alone." And he turned back, but the man went onwards day and
night, until at length he came to the golden castle of Stromberg.
It stood on a glass mountain, and the bewitched maiden was
driving in her carriage round the castle, and then went inside
it. He rejoiced when he saw her and wanted to climb up to her,
but when he began to do so he always slipped down the glass again.
And when he saw that he could not reach her, he was very worried,
and said to himself, "I shall stay down here below, and wait for
her." So he built himself a hut and stayed in it for a whole year,
and every day saw the king's daughter driving about above, but
never could reach her.
Then one day he saw from his hut three robbers who were beating
each other, and cried to them, "God be with you." They stopped
when they heard the cry, but as they saw no one, they once more
began to beat each other, and that too most dangerously. So he
again cried, "God be with you." Again they stopped, looked
round about, but as they saw no one they went on beating each
other. Then he cried for the third time, "God be with you," and
thought, "I must see what these three are about," and went thither
and asked why they were beating each other so furiously. One of
them said that he had found a stick, and that when he struck a door
with it, that door would spring open. The next said that he had
found a mantle, and that whenever he put it on, he was invisible,
but the third said he had found a horse on which a man could
ride everywhere, even up the glass mountain. And now they did not know
whether they ought to have these things in common, or whether
they ought to divide them.
Then the man said, "I shall give you
something in exchange for these three things. Money indeed
have I not, but I have other things of more value, but first I
must make an experiment to see if you have told the truth." Then
they put him on the horse, threw the mantle round him, and gave
him the stick in his hand, and when he had all these things
they were no longer able to see him. So he gave them some
vigorous blows and cried, "Now, vagabonds, you have got what you
deserve, are you satisfied?" And he rode up the glass mountain,
but when he came to front of the castle at the top, it was shut.
Then he struck the door with his stick, and it sprang open
immediately. He went in and ascended the stairs until he
came to the hall where the maiden was sitting with a golden
globlet of wine before her. She, however, could not see him
because he had the mantle on. And when he came up to her,
he drew from his finger the ring which she had given him, and
threw it into the goblet so that it rang. Then she cried, "That
is my ring, so the man who is to set me free must be here."
They searched the whole castle and did not find him, but he had gone
out, and had seated himself on the horse and thrown off the
mantle. When they came to the door, they saw him and cried
aloud in their delight. Then he alighted and took the king's
daughter in his arms, but she kissed him and said, "Now have you
set me free, and to-morrow we will celebrate our wedding."