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Sweetheart Roland

There was once upon a time a woman who was a real witch and hadtwo daughters, one ugly and wicked, and this one she love...

Sweetheart Roland

There was once upon a time a woman who was a real witch and hadtwo daughters, one ugly and wicked, and this one she loved because shewas her own daughter, and one beautiful and good, and this one shehated, because she was her stepdaughter. The stepdaughter once had apretty apron, which the other fancied so much that she becameenvious, and told her mother that she must and would have that apron.«Be quiet, my child,» said the old woman, «and you shall have it.Your stepsister has long deserved death; tonight when she is asleep Iwill come and cut her head off. Only be careful that you are at the farside of the bed, and push her well to the front.» It would have beenall over with the poor girl if she had not just then been standing ina corner, and heard everything. All day long she dared not go out ofdoors, and when bedtime had come, the witch’s daughter got into bedfirst, so as to lie at the far side, but when she was asleep, theother pushed her gently to the front, and took for herself the place atthe back, close by the wall. In the night, the old woman came creepingin, she held an axe in her right hand, and felt with her left to see ifanyone were lying at the outside, and then she grasped the axe with bothhands, and cut her own child’s head off.

When she had gone away, the girl got up and went to her sweetheart,who was called Roland, and knocked at his door. When he came out, shesaid to him: «Listen, dearest Roland, we must fly in all haste; mystepmother wanted to kill me, but has struck her own child. Whendaylight comes, and she sees what she has done, we shall be lost.’«But,» said Roland, «I counsel you first to take away her magic wand,or we cannot escape if she pursues us.» The maiden fetched the magicwand, and she took the dead girl’s head and dropped three drops ofblood on the ground, one in front of the bed, one in the kitchen, andone on the stairs. Then she hurried away with her lover.

When the old witch got up next morning, she called her daughter,and wanted to give her the apron, but she did not come. Then the witchcried: «Where are you?» «Here, on the stairs, I am sweeping,» answeredthe first drop of blood. The old woman went out, but saw no one on thestairs, and cried again: «Where are you?» «Here in the kitchen, I amwarming myself,» cried the second drop of blood. She went into thekitchen, but found no one. Then she cried again: «Where are you?’«Ah, here in the bed, I am sleeping,» cried the third drop of blood.She went into the room to the bed. What did she see there? Her ownchild, whose head she had cut off, bathed in her blood. The witch fellinto a passion, sprang to the window, and as she could look forthquite far into the world, she perceived her stepdaughter hurrying awaywith her sweetheart Roland. «That shall not help you,» cried she,«even if you have got a long way off, you shall still not escapeme.» She put on her many-league boots, in which she covered anhour’s walk at every step, and it was not long before she overtookthem. The girl, however, when she saw the old woman stridingtowards her, changed, with her magic wand, her sweetheart Roland intoa lake, and herself into a duck swimming in the middle of it. Thewitch placed herself on the shore, threw breadcrumbs in, and went toendless trouble to entice the duck; but the duck did not let herself beenticed, and the old woman had to go home at night as she had come.At this the girl and her sweetheart Roland resumed their naturalshapes again, and they walked on the whole night until daybreak. Thenthe maiden changed herself into a beautiful flower which stood in themidst of a briar hedge, and her sweetheart Roland into a fiddler. It wasnot long before the witch came striding up towards them, and said tothe musician: «Dear musician, may I pluck that beautiful flower formyself?» «Oh, yes,» he replied, «I will play to you while you do it.’As she was hastily creeping into the hedge and was just going topluck the flower, knowing perfectly well who the flower was, he beganto play, and whether she would or not, she was forced to dance, forit was a magical dance. The faster he played, the more violentsprings was she forced to make, and the thorns tore her clothesfrom her body, and pricked her and wounded her till she bled, and as hedid not stop, she had to dance till she lay dead on the ground.

As they were now set free, Roland said: «Now I will go to my fatherand arrange for the wedding.» «Then in the meantime I will stay here andwait for you,» said the girl, «and that no one may recognize me, I willchange myself into a red stone landmark.» Then Roland went away, andthe girl stood like a red landmark in the field and waited for herbeloved. But when Roland got home, he fell into the snares ofanother, who so fascinated him that he forgot the maiden. The poorgirl remained there a long time, but at length, as he did not returnat all, she was sad, and changed herself into a flower, and thought:«Someone will surely come this way, and trample me down.»

It befell, however, that a shepherd kept his sheep in the field andsaw the flower, and as it was so pretty, plucked it, took it withhim, and laid it away in his chest. From that time forth, strangethings happened in the shepherd’s house. When he arose in themorning, all the work was already done, the room was swept, the tableand benches cleaned, the fire in the hearth was lighted, and the waterwas fetched, and at noon, when he came home, the table was laid, and agood dinner served. He could not conceive how this came to pass, forhe never saw a human being in his house, and no one could haveconcealed himself in it. He was certainly pleased with this goodattendance, but still at last he was so afraid that he went to a wisewoman and asked for her advice. The wise woman said: «There is someenchantment behind it, listen very early some morning if anything ismoving in the room, and if you see anything, no matter what it is, throwa white cloth over it, and then the magic will be stopped.»

The shepherd did as she bade him, and next morning just as day dawned,he saw the chest open, and the flower come out. Swiftly he sprangtowards it, and threw a white cloth over it. Instantly thetransformation came to an end, and a beautiful girl stood before him,who admitted to him that she had been the flower, and that up to thistime she had attended to his house-keeping. She told him her story,and as she pleased him he asked her if she would marry him, but sheanswered: «No,» for she wanted to remain faithful to her sweetheartRoland, although he had deserted her. Nevertheless, she promisednot to go away, but to continue keeping house for the shepherd.

And now the time drew near when Roland’s wedding was to be celebrated,and then, according to an old custom in the country, it was announcedthat all the girls were to be present at it, and sing in honour of thebridal pair. When the faithful maiden heard of this, she grew so sadthat she thought her heart would break, and she would not go thither,but the other girls came and took her. When it came to her turn tosing, she stepped back, until at last she was the only one left, andthen she could not refuse. But when she began her song, and it reachedRoland’s ears, he sprang up and cried: «I know the voice, that isthe true bride, I will have no other!» Everything he had forgotten,and which had vanished from his mind, had suddenly come home again tohis heart. Then the faithful maiden held her wedding with hersweetheart Roland, and grief came to an end and joy began.

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