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HERE was once a miller who was very poor, but he had a
beautiful daughter. Now, it happened that he came to
speak to the king, and, to give himself importance, he
said to him, "I have a daughter who can spin straw into
The king said to the miller, "That is a talent that
pleases me well; if she be as skilful as you say, bring
her to-morrow to the palace, and I will put her to the
When the maiden was brought to him, he led her to a
room full of straw, gave her a wheel and spindle, and
said, "Now set to work, and if by the morrow this straw
be not spun into gold, you shall die." He locked the
door, and left the maiden alone.
The poor girl sat down disconsolate, and could not for
her life think what she was to do; for she knew not—how
could she?—the way to spin straw into gold; and
her distress increased so much that at last she began
to weep. All at once the door opened, and a little man
entered and said, "Good evening, my pretty miller's
daughter; why are you weeping so bitterly?"
"Ah!" answered the maiden, "I must spin straw into
gold, and know not how to do it."
 The little man said, "What will you give me if I do it
"My neckerchief," said the maiden.
He took the kerchief, sat down before the wheel, and
grind, grind, grind—three times did he grind—and
the spindle was full; then he put another thread on,
and grind, grind, grind, the second was full; so he
spun on till morning; when all the straw was spun, and
all the spindles were full of gold.
The king came at sunrise, and was greatly astonished
and overjoyed at the sight; but it only made his heart
the more greedy of gold. He put the miller's daughter
into another much larger room, full of straw, and
ordered her to spin it all in one night, if life were
dear to her. The poor helpless maiden began to weep,
when once more the door flew open, the little man
appeared, and said, "What will you give me if I spin
this straw into gold?"
"My ring from my finger," answered the maiden.
The little man took the ring, began to turn the wheel,
and, by the morning, all the straw was spun into
The king was highly delighted when he saw it, but was
not yet satisfied with the quantity of gold; so he put
the damsel into a still larger room, full of straw, and
said, "Spin this during the night; and if you do it, you
shall be my wife." "For," he thought, "if she's only a
miller's daughter, I shall never find a richer wife in
the whole world."
 As soon as the damsel was alone, the little man came the
third time and said, "What will you give me if I again
spin all this straw for you?"
"I have nothing more to give you," answered the girl.
"Then promise, if you become queen, to give me your
"Who knows how that may be, or how things may turn out
between now and then?" thought the girl, but in her
perplexity she could not help herself: so she promised
the little man what he desired, and he spun all the
straw into gold.
When the king came in the morning and saw that his
orders had been obeyed, he married the maiden, and the
beautiful miller's daughter became a queen. After a
year had passed she brought a lovely baby into the
world, but quite forgot the little man, till he walked
suddenly into her chamber, and said, "Give me what you
promised me." The queen was frightened, and offered the
dwarf all the riches of the kingdom if he would only
leave her her child; but he answered, "No; something
living is dearer to me than all the treasures of the
Then the queen began to grieve and to weep so bitterly,
that the little man took pity upon her and said, "I
will give you three days; if in that time you can find
out my name, you shall keep the child."
All night long the queen thought over every name she
had ever heard, and sent a messenger through the
kingdom, to inquire what names
 were usually given to
people in that country. When, next day, the little man
came again, she began with Caspar, Melchior,
Balthazar, and repeated, each after each, all the names
she knew or had heard of; but at each one the little
man said, "That is not my name."
The second day she again sent round about in all
directions, to ask how the people were called, and
repeated to the little man the strangest names she
could hear of or imagine: to each he answered always,
"That is not my name."
The third day the messenger returned and said, "I have
not been able to find a single new name; but as I came
over a high mountain by a wood, where the fox and the
hare bid each other good-night, I saw a little house,
and before the house was burning a little fire, and
round the fire danced a very funny, little man, who
hopped upon one leg, and cried out:—
"To-day I brew, to-morrow I bake,
Next day the queen's child I shall take;
How glad I am that nobody knows
My name is Rumpelstilzchen!"
You may guess how joyful the queen was at hearing this;
and when, soon after, the little man entered and said,
"Queen, what is my name?" she asked him mischievously,
"Is your name Kunz?"
"Is your name Carl?"
"Are you not sometimes called Rumpelstilzchen?"
 "A witch has told you that—a witch has told you!"
shrieked the poor little man, and stamped so furiously
with his right foot that it sank into the earth up to
the hip; then he seized his left foot with both hands
with such violence, that he tore himself right in two.