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The Seven Ravens

There was once a man who had seven sons, and last of all onedaughter. Although the little girl was very pretty, she was ...

The Seven Ravens

There was once a man who had seven sons, and last of all onedaughter. Although the little girl was very pretty, she was so weak andsmall that they thought she could not live; but they said sheshould at once be christened.

So the father sent one of his sons in haste to the spring to getsome water, but the other six ran with him. Each wanted to be first atdrawing the water, and so they were in such a hurry that all let theirpitchers fall into the well, and they stood very foolishly looking atone another, and did not know what to do, for none dared go home. Inthe meantime the father was uneasy, and could not tell what made theyoung men stay so long. «Surely,» said he, «the whole seven must haveforgotten themselves over some game of play’; and when he had waitedstill longer and they yet did not come, he flew into a rage and wishedthem all turned into ravens. Scarcely had he spoken these words when heheard a croaking over his head, and looked up and saw seven ravens asblack as coal flying round and round. Sorry as he was to see hiswish so fulfilled, he did not know how what was done could be undone,and comforted himself as well as he could for the loss of his sevensons with his dear little daughter, who soon became stronger andevery day more beautiful.

For a long time she did not know that she had ever had any brothers;for her father and mother took care not to speak of them before her:but one day by chance she heard the people about her speak of them.«Yes,» said they, «she is beautiful indeed, but still ’tis a pitythat her brothers should have been lost for her sake.» Then she wasmuch grieved, and went to her father and mother, and asked if she hadany brothers, and what had become of them. So they dared no longer hidethe truth from her, but said it was the will of Heaven, and that herbirth was only the innocent cause of it; but the little girl mournedsadly about it every day, and thought herself bound to do all she couldto bring her brothers back; and she had neither rest nor ease, till atlength one day she stole away, and set out into the wide world to findher brothers, wherever they might be, and free them, whatever it mightcost her.

She took nothing with her but a little ring which her father andmother had given her, a loaf of bread in case she should be hungry,a little pitcher of water in case she should be thirsty, and a littlestool to rest upon when she should be weary. Thus she went on and on,and journeyed till she came to the world’s end; then she came to thesun, but the sun looked much too hot and fiery; so she ran away quicklyto the moon, but the moon was cold and chilly, and said, «I smell fleshand blood this way!» so she took herself away in a hurry and came tothe stars, and the stars were friendly and kind to her, and each starsat upon his own little stool; but the morning star rose up and gaveher a little piece of wood, and said, «If you have not this littlepiece of wood, you cannot unlock the castle that stands on theglass-mountain, and there your brothers live.» The little girl tookthe piece of wood, rolled it up in a little cloth, and went on againuntil she came to the glass-mountain, and found the door shut. Thenshe felt for the little piece of wood; but when she unwrapped thecloth it was not there, and she saw she had lost the gift of the goodstars. What was to be done? She wanted to save her brothers, and hadno key of the castle of the glass-mountain; so this faithful littlesister took a knife out of her pocket and cut off her little finger,that was just the size of the piece of wood she had lost, and put itin the door and opened it.

As she went in, a little dwarf came up to her, and said, «What areyou seeking for?» «I seek for my brothers, the seven ravens,» answeredshe. Then the dwarf said, «My masters are not at home; but if youwill wait till they come, pray step in.» Now the little dwarf wasgetting their dinner ready, and he brought their food upon sevenlittle plates, and their drink in seven little glasses, and set themupon the table, and out of each little plate their sister ate asmall piece, and out of each little glass she drank a small drop;but she let the ring that she had brought with her fall into the lastglass.

On a sudden she heard a fluttering and croaking in the air, and thedwarf said, «Here come my masters.» When they came in, they wanted toeat and drink, and looked for their little plates and glasses. Thensaid one after the other,

«Who has eaten from my little plate? And who has been drinking out ofmy little glass?»

«Caw! Caw! well I ween Mortal lips have this way been.»

When the seventh came to the bottom of his glass, and found therethe ring, he looked at it, and knew that it was his father’s andmother’s, and said, «O that our little sister would but come! then weshould be free.» When the little girl heard this (for she stoodbehind the door all the time and listened), she ran forward, and in aninstant all the ravens took their right form again; and all hugged andkissed each other, and went merrily home.

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