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By the side of a wood, in a country a long way off, ran a fine streamof water; and upon the stream there stood a mill. T...


By the side of a wood, in a country a long way off, ran a fine streamof water; and upon the stream there stood a mill. The miller’s housewas close by, and the miller, you must know, had a very beautifuldaughter. She was, moreover, very shrewd and clever; and the miller wasso proud of her, that he one day told the king of the land, who used tocome and hunt in the wood, that his daughter could spin gold out ofstraw. Now this king was very fond of money; and when he heardthe miller’s boast his greediness was raised, and he sent for thegirl to be brought before him. Then he led her to a chamber in hispalace where there was a great heap of straw, and gave her aspinning-wheel, and said, «All this must be spun into gold beforemorning, as you love your life.» It was in vain that the poor maidensaid that it was only a silly boast of her father, for that she coulddo no such thing as spin straw into gold: the chamber door was locked,and she was left alone.

She sat down in one corner of the room, and began to bewail her hardfate; when on a sudden the door opened, and a droll-looking little manhobbled in, and said, «Good morrow to you, my good lass; what areyou weeping for?» «Alas!» said she, «I must spin this straw into gold,and I know not how.» «What will you give me,» said the hobgoblin, «todo it for you?» «My necklace,» replied the maiden. He took her at herword, and sat himself down to the wheel, and whistled and sang:

«Round about, round about, Lo and behold! Reel away, reel away, Straw into gold!»

And round about the wheel went merrily; the work was quickly done, andthe straw was all spun into gold.

When the king came and saw this, he was greatly astonished andpleased; but his heart grew still more greedy of gain, and he shutup the poor miller’s daughter again with a fresh task. Then she knewnot what to do, and sat down once more to weep; but the dwarf soonopened the door, and said, «What will you give me to do your task?’«The ring on my finger,» said she. So her little friend took thering, and began to work at the wheel again, and whistled and sang:

«Round about, round about, Lo and behold! Reel away, reel away, Straw into gold!»

till, long before morning, all was done again.

The king was greatly delighted to see all this glittering treasure;but still he had not enough: so he took the miller’s daughter to a yetlarger heap, and said, «All this must be spun tonight; and if it is, youshall be my queen.» As soon as she was alone that dwarf came in, andsaid, «What will you give me to spin gold for you this third time?’«I have nothing left,» said she. «Then say you will give me,» saidthe little man, «the first little child that you may have when you arequeen.» «That may never be,» thought the miller’s daughter: and as sheknew no other way to get her task done, she said she would do what heasked. Round went the wheel again to the old song, and the manikin oncemore spun the heap into gold. The king came in the morning, and,finding all he wanted, was forced to keep his word; so he married themiller’s daughter, and she really became queen.

At the birth of her first little child she was very glad, and forgotthe dwarf, and what she had said. But one day he came into her room,where she was sitting playing with her baby, and put her in mind ofit. Then she grieved sorely at her misfortune, and said she wouldgive him all the wealth of the kingdom if he would let her off, butin vain; till at last her tears softened him, and he said, «I willgive you three days» grace, and if during that time you tell me myname, you shall keep your child.»

Now the queen lay awake all night, thinking of all the odd names thatshe had ever heard; and she sent messengers all over the land to findout new ones. The next day the little man came, and she beganwith Timothy, Ichabod, Benjamin, Jeremiah, and all the names shecould remember; but to all and each of them he said, «Madam, that isnot my name.»

The second day she began with all the comical names she could hearof, Bandy-Legs, Hunchback, Crook-Shanks, and so on; but the littlegentleman still said to every one of them, «Madam, that is not my name.»

The third day one of the messengers came back, and said, «I havetravelled two days without hearing of any other names; butyesterday, as I was climbing a high hill, among the trees of theforest where the fox and the hare bid each other good night, I saw alittle hut; and before the hut burnt a fire; and round about the firea funny little dwarf was dancing upon one leg, and singing:

“Merrily the feast I’ll make. Today I’ll brew, tomorrow bake; Merrily I’ll dance and sing, For next day will a stranger bring. Little does my lady dream Rumpelstiltskin is my name!”»

When the queen heard this she jumped for joy, and as soon as herlittle friend came she sat down upon her throne, and called all hercourt round to enjoy the fun; and the nurse stood by her side withthe baby in her arms, as if it was quite ready to be given up. Thenthe little man began to chuckle at the thought of having the poorchild, to take home with him to his hut in the woods; and he criedout, «Now, lady, what is my name?» «Is it John? » asked she. «No,madam!» «Is it Tom? » «No, madam!» «Is it Jemmy? » «It is not.’«Can your name be Rumpelstiltskin? » said the lady slyly. «Somewitch told you that!—some witch told you that!» cried the littleman, and dashed his right foot in a rage so deep into the floor, thathe was forced to lay hold of it with both hands to pull it out.

Then he made the best of his way off, while the nurse laughed and thebaby crowed; and all the court jeered at him for having had so muchtrouble for nothing, and said, «We wish you a very good morning, and amerry feast, Mr Rumpelstiltskin! »

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