Once upon a time there was a man and a woman who had long wished for a child but had never received one



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First edition, 1812
Rapunzel
Once upon a time there was a man and a woman who had long wished for a child but had never received one.
Finally, however, the woman came to be with child.
Through the small rear window of these people's house they could see into a fairy's garden that was filled with flowers and herbs of all kinds.
No one dared enter this garden.
One day the woman was standing at this window, and she saw the most beautiful rapunzel in a bed.
She longed for some, but not knowing how to get any, she became miserably ill.
Her husband was frightened, and asked her why she was doing so poorly.
"Oh, if I do not get some rapunzel from the garden behind our house, I shall surely die," she said.
The man, who loved her dearly, decided to get her some, whatever the cost.
One evening he climbed over the high wall, hastily dug up a handful of rapunzel, and took it to his wife.
She immediately made a salad from it, which she devoured greedily.
It tasted so very good to her that by the next day her desire for more had grown threefold.
The man saw that there would be no peace, so once again he climbed into the garden.
To his horror, the fairy was standing there.
She scolded him fiercely for daring to enter and steal from her garden.
He excused himself as best he could with his wife's pregnancy, and how it would be dangerous to deny her anything.
Finally the fairy spoke, "I will accept your excuse and even allow you to take as much rapunzel as you want, if you will give me the child that your wife is now carrying."
In his fear the man agreed to everything.
When the woman gave birth, the fairy appeared, named the little girl Rapunzel, and took her away.
This Rapunzel became the most beautiful child under the sun, but when she was twelve years old, the fairy locked her in a high tower that had neither a door nor a stairway, but only a tiny little window at the very top.
When the fairy wanted to enter, she stood below and called out:
Rapunzel, Rapunzel!

Let down your hair to me.


Rapunzel had splendid hair, as fine as spun gold.
When the fairy called out, she untied it, wound it around a window hook, let it fall twenty yards to the ground, and the fairy climbed up it.
One day a young prince came through the forest where the tower stood.
He saw the beautiful Rapunzel standing at her window, heard her sing with her sweet voice, and fell in love with her.
Because there was no door in the tower and no ladder was tall enough to reach her, he fell into despair.
He came to the forest every day, until once he saw the fairy, who said:
Rapunzel, Rapunzel!

Let down your hair.


Then he knew which ladder would get him into the tower.
He remembered the words that he would have to speak, and the next day, as soon as it was dark, he went to the tower and called upward:
Rapunzel, Rapunzel!

Let down your hair!


She let her hair fall. He tied himself to it and was pulled up.
At first Rapunzel was frightened, but soon she came to like the young king so well that she arranged for him to come every day and be pulled up. Thus they lived in joy and pleasure for a long time.
The fairy did not discover what was happening until one day Rapunzel said to her, "Frau Gothel, tell me why it is that my clothes are all too tight. They no longer fit me."
"You godless child," said the fairy. "What am I hearing from you?" She immediately saw how she had been deceived and was terribly angry.
She took Rapunzel's beautiful hair, wrapped it a few times around her left hand, grasped a pair of scissors with her right hand, and snip snip, cut it off.
Then she sent Rapunzel into a wilderness where she suffered greatly and where, after a time, she gave birth to twins, a boy and a girl.
On the evening of the same day that she sent Rapunzel away, the fairy tied the cut-off hair to the hook at the top of the tower, and when the prince called out:
Rapunzel, Rapunzel!

Let down your hair!


she let down the hair.
The prince was startled to find the fairy instead of his beloved Rapunzel.
"Do you know what, evil one?" cried the angry fairy. "You have lost Rapunzel forever."
The prince, in his despair, threw himself from the tower.
He escaped with his life, but he lost his eyesight in the fall.
Sorrowfully he wandered about in the forest weeping and, eating nothing but grass and roots.
Some years later he happened into the wilderness where Rapunzel lived miserably with her children.
He thought that her voice was familiar.
She recognized him instantly as well and threw her arms around his neck.
Two of her tears fell into his eyes, and they became clear once again, and he could see as well as before.
* Source: Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, Kinder- und Hausmärchen (Children's and Household Tales -- Grimms' Fairy Tales), 1st ed. (Berlin, 1812), v. 1, no. 12.


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