Thursday, July 10, 2014

Grimm: The Robber Bridegroom

This story is part of the Brothers Grimm (Crane) unit. Story source: Household Stories by the Brothers Grimm, translated by Lucy Crane and illustrated by Walter Crane (1886).


The Robber Bridegroom

There was once a miller who had a beautiful daughter, and when she was grown up, he became anxious that she should be well married and taken care of, so he thought, "If a decent sort of man comes and asks her in marriage, I will give her to him."

Soon after a suitor came forward who seemed very well to do, and as the miller knew nothing to his disadvantage, he promised him his daughter. But the girl did not seem to love him as a bride should love her bridegroom: she had no confidence in him; as often as she saw him or thought about him, she felt a chill at her heart.

One day he said to her, "You are to be my bride, and yet you have never been to see me."

The girl answered, "I do not know where your house is."

Then he said, "My house is a long way in the wood."

She began to make excuses and said she could not find the way to it, but the bridegroom said, "You must come and pay me a visit next Sunday; I have already invited company, and I will strew ashes on the path through the wood so that you will be sure to find it."

When Sunday came, and the girl set out on her way, she felt very uneasy without knowing exactly why, and she filled both pockets full of peas and lentils. There were ashes strewed on the path through the wood, but, nevertheless, at each step she cast to the right and left a few peas on the ground.


So she went on the whole day until she came to the middle of the wood, where it was the darkest, and there stood a lonely house, not pleasant in her eyes, for it was dismal and unhomelike. She walked in, but there was no one there, and the greatest stillness reigned.

Suddenly she heard a voice cry,

Turn back, turn back, thou pretty bride,
Within this house thou must not bide,
For here do evil things betide."

The girl glanced round and perceived that the voice came from a bird who was hanging in a cage by the wall. And again it cried,

Turn back, turn back, thou pretty bride,
Within this house thou must not bide,
For here do evil things betide.

Then the pretty bride went on from one room into another through the whole house, but it was quite empty, and no soul to be found in it.

At last she reached the cellar, and there sat a very old woman nodding her head.

"Can you tell me," said the bride, "if my bridegroom lives here?"

"Oh, poor child," answered the old woman, "do you know what has happened to you? You are in a place of cut-throats. You thought you were a bride, and soon to be married, but death will be your spouse. Look here, I have a great kettle of water to set on, and when once they have you in their power, they will cut you in pieces without mercy, cook you, and eat you, for they are cannibals. Unless I have pity on you and save you, all is over with you!"

Then the old woman hid her behind a great cask, where she could not be seen.

"Be as still as a mouse," said she; "do not move or go away, or else you are lost. At night, when the robbers are asleep, we will escape. I have been waiting a long time for an opportunity."


(600 words)






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