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There were once a man and a woman who had long in vain

wished for a child. At length the woman hoped that God

was about to grant her desire. These people had a little

window at the back of their house from which a splendid garden

could be seen, which 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 an enchantress, who had

great power and was dreaded by all the world. One day the woman

was standing by this window and looking down into the garden,

when she saw a bed which was planted with the most beautiful

rampion - rapunzel, and it looked so fresh and green that she

longed for it, and had the greatest desire to eat some. This desire

increased every day, and as she knew that she could not get any

of it, she quite pined away, and began to look pale and miserable.

Then her husband was alarmed, and asked, what ails you, dear

wife. Ah, she replied, if I can't eat some of the rampion, which

is in the garden behind our house, I shall die. The man, who loved

her, thought, sooner than let your wife die, bring her some of

the rampion yourself, let it cost what it will. At twilight, he

clambered down over the wall into the garden of the enchantress,

hastily clutched a handful of rampion, and took it to his wife. She

at once made herself a salad of it, and ate it greedily. It tasted

so good to her - so very good, 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 let himself down again. But when he had

clambered down the wall he was terribly afraid, for he saw the

enchantress standing before him. How can you dare, said she with

angry look, descend into my garden and steal my rampion like a

thief. You shall suffer for it. Ah, answered he, let mercy take

the place of justice, I only made up my mind to do it out of

necessity. My wife saw your rampion 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 enchantress allowed her anger to be softened, and

said to him, if the case be as you say, I will allow you to take

away with you as much rampion as you will, only I make one

condition, you must give me the child which your wife will bring

into the world. It shall be well treated, and I will care for it

like a mother. The man in his terror consented to everything, and

when the woman was brought to bed, the enchantress appeared at once,

gave the child the name of rapunzel, and took it away with her.

Rapunzel grew into the most beautiful child under the sun.

When she was twelve years old, the enchantress shut her into a

tower, which lay in a forest, and had neither stairs nor door, but

quite at the top was a little window. When the enchantress

wanted to go in, she placed herself beneath it and cried:

"Rapunzel, Rapunzel,

let down your hair to me."

Rapunzel had magnificent long hair, fine as spun gold, and when

she heard the voice of the enchantress she unfastened her braided

tresses, wound them round one of the hooks of the window above,

and then the hair fell twenty ells down, and the enchantress climbed

up by it.

After a year or two, it came to pass that the king's son rode

through the forest and passed by the tower. Then he heard a song,

which was so charming that he stood still and listened. This was

Rapunzel, who in her solitude passed her time in letting her sweet

voice resound. The king's son 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 thus standing behind a tree, he saw that an enchantress

came there, and he heard how she cried,

"Rapunzel, Rapunzel,

let down your hair."

Then Rapunzel let down the braids of her hair, and the

enchantress climbed up to her. If that is the ladder by which one

mounts, I too will try my fortune, said he, and the next day when

it began to grow dark, he went to the tower and cried,

. "Rapunzel, Rapunzel,

let down your hair."

Immediately the hair fell down and the king's son climbed up.

At first Rapunzel was terribly frightened when a man, such as

her eyes had never yet beheld, came to her. But the king's son

began to talk to her quite like a friend, and told her that his

heart had been so stirred that it had let him have no rest, and he

had been forced to see her. Then Rapunzel lost her fear, and when

he asked her if she would take him for her husband, and she saw that

he was young and handsome, she thought, he will love me more than

old dame gothel does. And 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 with you a skein of silk every time that

you come, and I will weave a ladder with it, and when that is ready

I will descend, and you will take me on your horse. They agreed

that until that time he should come to her every evening, for the

old woman came by day. The enchantress remarked nothing of

this, until once Rapunzel said to her, tell me, dame gothel, how

it happens that you are so much heavier for me to draw up than

the young king's son - he is with me in a moment. Ah. You

wicked child, cried the enchantress. What do I hear you say. I

thought I had separated you from all the world, and yet you have

deceived me. In her anger she clutched Rapunzel's beautiful

tresses, wrapped them twice round her left hand, seized a pair of

scissors with the right, and snip, snap, they were cut off, and the

lovely braids lay on the ground. And she was so pitiless that she

took poor Rapunzel into a desert where she had to live in great

grief and misery.

On the same day that she cast out Rapunzel, however, the

enchantress fastened the braids of hair, which she had cut off, to

the hook of the window, and when the king's son came and cried,

"Rapunzel, Rapunzel,

let down your hair."

she let the hair down. The king's son ascended, but instead offinding his dearest Rapunzel, he found the enchantress, who gazed

at him with wicked and venomous looks. Aha, she cried mockingly,

you would fetch your dearest, 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 lost to you. You will never see

her again. The king's son was beside himself with pain, and in

his despair he leapt 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 naught but lament and weep over the loss of his

dearest wife. Thus he roamed about in misery for some years, and at

length came to the desert where Rapunzel, with the twins to which

she had given birth, a boy and a girl, lived in wretchedness. He

heard a voice, and it seemed so familiar to him that he went towards

it, and when he approached, Rapunzel knew him and fell on his neck

and wept. Two of her tears wetted his eyes and they grew clear

again, and he could see with them as before. He led her to his

kingdom where he was joyfully received, and they lived for a long

time afterwards, happy and contented.


The end