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BROTHER AND SISTER
BROTHER took his sister by the hand and said, "Since
our mother is dead we have no more happy hours: our
stepmother beats us every day, and whenever we come
near her she kicks us away. She gives us hard crusts
and nasty scraps to eat, and the dog under the table
fares better than we do, for he does sometimes get a
nice bit thrown to him. It would break our mother's
heart if she knew it! Come, we will go out into the
wide world together."
They went along the whole day through meadows, over
rocks and stones, and when it rained the little sister
said, "Heaven and our hearts are crying together." In
the evening they came to a great wood, and were so worn
out with grief, hunger, and weariness, that they sat
down in a hollow tree and went to sleep.
The next morning, when they awoke, the sun was already
high in the heavens, and shone down very hot on the
tree. Upon which said the brother, "Sister, I am
thirsty; I would go and have a drink if I knew where
there was a spring: I think I can hear one trickling."
He got up, took his sister by the hand, and they went
to look for the spring.
The wicked stepmother, however, who was a witch, and
well knew how the children had run
 away, had crept
after them secretly, in the way witches do, and had
bewitched all the springs in the wood. When they had
found a spring that was dancing brightly over the
stones, the brother stooped down to drink; but his
sister heard a voice in its murmur, which said,
"Whoever drinks of me will become a tiger." Eagerly the
little sister cried, "I pray thee, brother, do not
drink, lest thou become a wild beast and tear me to
The brother did not drink, although he was so thirsty,
but said, "I will wait for the next spring." When they
came to the next, the little sister heard it say, "Who
drinks of me will become a wolf; who drinks of me will
become a wolf!" and cried out, "Oh brother, I pray thee
do not drink, lest thou become a wolf and eat me up."
The brother did not drink, but said, "I will wait till
I come to the next spring, but then I must drink, say
what you will, for my thirst is getting unbearable."
And when they came to the third spring, the little
sister heard a voice in its murmur, saying, "Whoever
drinks of me will become a roe," and she cried,
"Oh brother, do not drink, I pray thee, lest thou become a
roe and run away from me." But the brother had already
knelt down by the stream, stooped down, and drank of
the water; and as soon as the first drop touched his
lips, there he lay—a white roe.
The little sister cried over her poor bewitched
brother, and the roe cried also as he rested mournfully
beside her. At last the maiden said,
"Nev-  er mind, dear
Roe, I will never forsake you." So she took off her
golden garter and put it round the roe's neck, then
pulled some rushes and wove them into a cord. To this
she tied the little animal and led him on, and they
both went still deeper into the wood. When they had
gone a long, long way, they came at last to a little
house into which the maiden peeped; and as it was
empty, she thought, "Here we may stay and live." So she
made a pretty bed of leaves and moss for the roe; and
every morning she went out and gathered roots, berries,
and nuts for herself; and for the roe she brought
tender grass, which he ate out of her hand, and played
about and was very happy. In the evening, when the
little sister was tired and had said her prayers, she
laid her head upon the roe, who was her pillow, and
went sweetly to sleep; and if her brother had only kept
his proper shape, they would have led a very happy
They had lived alone in this way during a long time,
when it happened that the king of the country held a
great hunt in the forest. Through the trees might be
heard the blowing of horns, the barking of dogs, and
the joyous cries of the hunters, which when the little
roe heard he was almost beside himself with delight.
"Oh," said he to his sister, "let me go and see the
hunt: I can no longer refrain;" and he begged hard
till she consented.
"But," said she, "when you return at evening I shall
have shut my door against the wild huntsmen, and in
order that I may know you, knock
 and say—'My little
sister, let me in;' but if you do not say so, I shall
not open the door."
Now off sprang the roe, and was so happy to find
himself in the open air. The king and his huntsmen saw
the beautiful beast and set off after him, but they
could not catch him; for when they thought they had
certainly got him, he sprang over a bush and
disappeared. When it was dark he galloped up to the
little house, knocked, and cried, "My little sister,
let me in." And when the door was opened he sprang in,
and rested all night on his pretty little bed. Next
morning the hunt began again, and when the roe heard
the blast of the horns, and the "Ho! ho!" of the
hunters, he could not rest, and cried, "Sister, open
the door; I must go."
His sister opened the door and said, "But mind you must
be back in the evening and make your little speech,
that I may let you in."
When the king and his huntsmen saw the white roe with
the gold band once more, they all rode after him, but
he was too quick and agile for them. This chase lasted
the whole day; at last, towards evening, the hunters
surrounded him, and wounded him with an arrow in the
foot, so that he was forced to limp and go slowly. One
of the hunters, creeping softly after him to the little
house, heard him say, "My sister, let me in," and saw
that the door was opened and immediately shut to again;
so he went back to the king, and told him all he had
seen and heard.
"We will have another hunt to-morrow," said the king.
 The little sister was greatly alarmed when she saw her
white roe was wounded; she washed off the blood, laid
herbs upon the place, and said, "Go now to thy bed,
dear Roe, and get well."
The wound, however, was so slight that the next morning
he felt nothing of it, and when he heard the noise of
the hunt, he said, "I cannot keep away; I must go,
and nothing shall keep me."
His sister cried and said, "Now you will go and be
killed, and leave me here alone in the forest, forsaken
by all the world; I will not let you go out."
"Then I shall die here of grief," answered the roe: "for
when I hear the sound of the horn, I do feel as if I
could jump out of my shoes." So his sister could not do
less than open the door with a heavy heart, and the roe
sprang out joyfully into the forest.
As soon as the king saw him, he said to his huntsmen,
"Now hunt him all day till evening, but don't do
anything to hurt him."
When the sun was set the king said to his huntsman,
"Now come and show me the little house you saw in the
wood." And when he was before the door he knocked and
cried, "Dear little sister, let me in." Immediately the
door opened, the king entered, and there stood a maiden
more beautiful than any one he had ever seen. The
damsel was frightened when she found there had come in,
not her roe, but a man who wore a golden crown on his
head. But the king looked kindly at her, took her hand
and said, "Wilt thou go with me to my castle, and be my
 "Oh yes," answered the maiden, "but the roe must come
with me, for I cannot forsake him."
The king replied, "He shall remain with you as long as
you live, and shall want for nothing."
At this moment he came springing in, his sister tied
the cord of rushes round his neck, led him with her own
hand, and they all left the little house together.
The king took the beautiful maiden on his own horse and
conducted her to his castle, where the marriage was
celebrated with great pomp. She was now queen, and they
lived a long time very happily together; while the roe
was petted and taken care of, and played all day about
But the wicked stepmother, on whose account these
children had been driven into the wide world, thought
nothing less than that the little sister had been torn
to pieces by wild beasts in the forest, and that the
brother, in the shape of a roe, had been killed by the
hunters. When she now heard they were so happy, and
that everything went well with them, envy and spite
raged in her heart and gave her no rest, and her only
thought was how she could do some mischief to them
both. Her own daughter, who was as ugly as the night
and had only one eye, was continually reproaching her,
and saying, "It is I who ought to have been made
"Never mind," said the old witch to console her; "when
the time comes I will manage it."
By and by the queen gave birth to a beautiful little
boy; and the king being away at the hunt,
 the old witch
took upon herself the form of the lady-in-waiting,
entered the room where the queen lay, and said to her,
"Come, the bath is ready, which will do you good and
give you new strength; make haste before it gets cold."
Her daughter was also at hand, and they carried the
poor weak queen between them into the bathroom, and
laid her in the bath: then they shut the door and ran
away. But under the bath they had first lighted a great
furnace-fire, so that the beautiful young queen could
not save herself from being scorched alive.
When that was done the old witch took her own daughter,
put a cap on her, and laid her on the bed in the
queen's room. She changed her also into the shape of
the young queen, all except her one eye, and she could
not give her another. But in order that the king might
not observe it, she was obliged to lie on that side
where there was no eye. In the evening, when he was
come home, and heard that he had a little son, he was
very much delighted, and wished to visit his dear wife
and see how she was getting on; on which the old woman
cried out in a great hurry, "As you value your life,
don't touch the curtain; the queen must not see the
light, and must be left quite quiet."
So the king went away, and never found out that it was
a false queen in the bed.
But when it was midnight, and all the world was asleep,
the nurse who was sitting beside the cradle, and who
was the only person awake, saw the door open and the
true queen come in. She took the baby out of the
cradle, laid it in her
 arms, and nursed it tenderly.
She then shook up the pillows, laid it down again, and
covered it with the counterpane. She did not forget the
roe either, but went into the corner where it lay, and
stroked it gently. After this she passed out, quite
silently, through the door; and the nurse inquired next
morning of the sentinels whether any one had gained
entrance into the palace during the night, but they
answered, "No—we have seen nobody." She continued to
come in the same way for several nights, though she
spoke never a word; the nurse always saw her, but never
dared to mention it.
When some time had passed, the queen at last began to
speak, and said—
"How is my baby? How is my roe?
I can come again twice, then for ever must go."
The nurse could not answer her; but when she had
disappeared she went to the king, and told him all
about it, upon which he cried, "What does it mean? I
will myself watch by the child to-night."
In the evening he came to the nursery, and then at
midnight the dead queen appeared, and said—
"How is my baby? How is my roe?
I can come but once more, then for ever must go;"
and nursed and fondled the baby as before, then
vanished. The king did not dare to address her, but
watched again the following night. This time she said—
"How is my baby? How is my roe?
I can come but this once, then for ever must go."
Upon which the king could no longer contain himself,
but sprang forward and cried, "Thou canst surely be no
one but my own dear wife!"
She replied, "Yes, I am thy dear wife;" and as soon as
she had spoken these words she was restored to life,
and became once more fresh and blooming.
Then she related to the king the crime committed on her
by the old witch and her ugly daughter, whom he at once
commanded to be brought to judgment, and had sentence
passed upon them. The daughter was taken forth into the
woods, where the wild beasts tore her in pieces, and
the witch was burnt. And behold! as soon as there was
nothing left of her but ashes, the white roe became
changed again and resumed his human form; so they all
lived happily together till the end of their lives.