Grimm's Household Tales with the
translated by Margaret Hunt
The Singing, Springing Lark
THERE was once on a time a man who
was about to set out on a long journey, and on parting he asked his three
daughters what he should bring back with him for them. Whereupon the eldest
wished for pearls, the second wished for diamonds, but the third said,
"Dear father, I should like a singing, soaring lark." The father
said, "Yes, if I can get it, you shall have it," kissed all
three, and set out. Now when the time had come for him to be on his way
home again, he had brought pearls and diamonds for the two eldest, but
he had sought everywhere in vain for a singing, soaring lark for the youngest,
and he was very unhappy about it, for she was his favorite child. Then
his road lay through a forest, and in the midst of it was a splendid castle,
and near the castle stood a tree, but quite on the top of the tree, he
saw a singing, soaring lark. "Aha, you come just at the right moment!"
he said, quite delighted, and called to his servant to climb up and catch
the little creature. But as he approached the tree, a lion leapt from
beneath it, shook himself, and roared till the leaves on the trees trembled.
"He who tries to steal my singing, soaring lark," he cried,
"will I devour." Then the man said, "I did not know that
the bird belonged to thee. I will make amends for the wrong I have done
and ransom myself with a large sum of money, only spare my life."
The lion said, "Nothing can save thee, unless thou wilt promise to
give me for mine own what first meets thee on thy return home; and if
thou wilt do that, I will grant thee thy life, and thou shalt have the
bird for thy daughter, into the bargain." But the man hesitated and
said, "That might be my youngest daughter, she loves me best, and
always runs to meet me on my return home." The servant, however,
was terrified and said, "Why should your daughter be the very one
to meet you, it might as easily be a cat, or dog?" Then the man allowed
himself to be over-persuaded, took the singing, soaring lark, and promised
to give the lion whatsoever should first meet him on his return home.
When he reached home and entered his house, the first who met him was no other than his youngest and dearest daughter, who came running up, kissed and embraced him, and when she saw that he had brought with him a singing, soaring lark, she was beside herself with joy. The father, however, could not rejoice, but began to weep, and said, "My dearest child, I have bought the little bird dear. In return for it, I have been obliged to promise thee to a savage lion, and when he has thee he will tear thee in pieces and devour thee," and he told her all, just as it had happened, and begged her not to go there, come what might. But she consoled him and said, "Dearest father, indeed your promise must be fulfilled. I will go thither and soften the lion, so that I may return to thee safely." Next morning she had the road pointed out to her, took leave, and went fearlessly out into the forest. The lion, however, was an enchanted prince and was by day a lion, and all his people were lions with him, but in the night they resumed their natural human shapes. On her arrival she was kindly received and led into the castle. When night came, the lion turned into a handsome man, and their wedding was celebrated with great magnificence. They lived happily together, remained awake at night, and slept in the daytime. One day he came and said, "To-morrow there is a feast in thy father's house, because your eldest sister is to be married, and if thou art inclined to go there, my lions shall conduct thee." She said, "Yes, I should very much like to see my father again," and went thither, accompanied by the lions. There was great joy when she arrived, for they had all believed that she had been torn in pieces by the lion, and had long ceased to live. But she told them what a handsome husband she had, and how well off she was, remained with them while the wedding-feast lasted, and then went back again to the forest. When the second daughter was about to be married, and she was again invited to the wedding, she said to the lion, "This time I will not be alone, thou must come with me." The lion, however, said that it was too dangerous for him, for if when there a ray from a burning candle fell on him, he would be changed into a dove, and for seven years long would have to fly about with the doves. She said, "Ah, but do come with me, I will take great care of thee, and guard thee from all light." So they went away together, and took with them their little child as well. She had a chamber built there, so strong and thick that no ray could pierce through it; in this he was to shut himself up when the candles were lit for the wedding-feast. But the door was made of green wood which warped and left a little crack which no one noticed. The wedding was celebrated with magnificence, but when the procession with all its candles and torches came back from church, and passed by this apartment, a ray about the bredth of a hair fell on the King's son, and when this ray touched him, he was transformed in an instant, and when she came in and looked for him, she did not see him, but a white dove was sitting there. The dove said to her, "For seven years must I fly about the world, but at every seventh step that you take I will let fall a drop of red blood and a white feather, and these will show thee the way, and if thou followest the trace thou canst release me." Thereupon the dove flew out at the door, and she followed him, and at every seventh step a red drop of blood and a little white feather fell down and showed her the way.
So she went continually further and further in the wide world, never looking about her or resting, and the seven years were almost past; then she rejoiced and thought that they would soon be delivered, and yet they were so far from it! Once when they were thus moving onwards, no little feather and no drop of red blood fell, and when she raised her eyes the dove had disappeared. And as she thought to herself, "In this no man can help thee," she climbed up to the sun, and said to him, "Thou shinest into every crevice, and over every peak, hast thou not seen a white dove flying?" "No," said the sun, "I have seen none, but I present thee with a casket, open it when thou art in sorest need." Then she thanked the sun, and went on until evening came and the moon appeared; she then asked her, "Thou shinest the whole night through, and on every field and forest, hast thou not seen a white dove flying?" "No," said the moon, "I have seen no dove, but here I give thee an egg, break it when thou art in great need." She thanked the moon, and went on until the night wind came up and blew on her, then she said to it, "Thou blowest over every tree and under every leaf, hast thou not seen a white dove flying?" "No," said the night wind, "I have seen none, but I will ask the three other winds, perhaps they have seen it." The east wind and the west wind came, and had seen nothing, but the south wind said, "I have seen the white dove, it has flown to the Red Sea, where it has become a lion again, for the seven years are over, and the lion is there fighting with a dragon; the dragon, however, is an enchanted princess." The night wind then said to her, "I will advise thee; go to the Red Sea, on the right bank are some tall reeds, count them, break off the eleventh, and strike the dragon with it, then the lion will be able to subdue it, and both then will regain their human form. After that, look round and thou wilt see the griffin which is by the Red Sea; swing thyself, with thy beloved, on to his back, and the bird will carry you over the sea to your own home. Here is a nut for thee, when thou are above the center of the sea, let the nut fall, it will immediately shoot up, and a tall nut-tree will grow out of the water on which the griffin may rest; for if he cannot rest, he will not be strong enough to carry you across, and if thou forgettest to throw down the nut, he will let you fall into the sea."
Then she went thither, and found everything as the night
wind had said. She counted the reeds by the sea, and cut off the eleventh,
struck the dragon therewith, whereupon the lion overcame it, and immediately
both of them regained their human shapes. But when the princess, who had
before been the dragon, was delivered from enchantment, she took the youth
by the arm, seated herself on the griffin, and carried him off with her.
There stood the poor maiden who had wandered so far and was again forsaken.
She sat down and cried, but at last she took courage and said, "Still
I will go as far as the wind blows and as long as the cock crows, until
I find him," and she went forth by long, long roads, until at last
she came to the castle where both of them were living together; there
she heard that soon a feast was to be held, in which they would celebrate
their wedding, but she said, "God still helps me," and opened
the casket that the sun had given her. A dress lay therein as brilliant
as the sun itself. So she took it out and put it on, and went up into
the castle, and everyone, even the bride herself, looked at her with astonishment.
The dress pleased the bride so well that she thought it might do for her
wedding-dress, and asked if it was for sale? "Not for money or land,"
answered she, "but for flesh and blood." The bride asked her
what she meant by that, so she said, "Let me sleep a night in the
chamber where the bridegroom sleeps." The bride would not, yet wanted
very much to have the dress; at last she consented, but the page was to
give the prince a sleeping-draught. When it was night, therefore, and
the youth was already asleep, she was led into the chamber; she seated
herself on the bed and said, "I have followed after thee for seven
years. I have been to the sun and the moon, and the four winds, and have
enquired for thee, and have helped thee against the dragon; wilt thou,
then quite forget me?" But the prince slept so soundly that it only
seemed to him as if the wind were whistling outside in the fir-trees.
When therefore day broke, she was led out again, and had to give up the
golden dress. And as that even had been of no avail, she was sad, went
out into a meadow, sat down there, and wept. While she was sitting there,
she thought of the egg which the moon had given her; she opened it, and
there came out a clucking hen with twelve chickens all of gold, and they
ran about chirping, and crept again under the old hen's wings; nothing
more beautiful was ever seen in the world! Then she arose, and drove them
through the meadow before her, until the bride looked out of the window.
The little chickens pleased her so much that she immediately came down
and asked if they were for sale. "Not for money or land, but for
flesh and blood; let me sleep another night in the chamber where the bridegroom
sleeps." The bride said, "Yes," intending to cheat her
as on the former evening. But when the prince went to bed he asked the
page what the murmuring and rustling in the night had been? On this the
page told all; that he had been forced to give him a sleeping-draught,
because a poor girl had slept secretly in the chamber, and that he was
to give him another that night. The prince said, "Pour out the draught
by the bed-side." At night, she was again led in, and when she began
to relate how ill all had fared with her, he immediately recognized his
beloved wife by her voice, sprang up and cried, "Now I really am
released! I have been as it were in a dream, for the strange princess
has bewitched me so that I have been compelled to forget thee, but God
has delivered me from the spell at the right time." Then they both
left the castle secretly in the night, for they feared the father of the
princess, who was a sorcerer, and they seated themselves on the griffin
which bore them across the Red Sea, and when they were in the midst of
it, she let fall the nut. Immediately a tall nut-tree grew up, whereon
the bird rested, and then carried them home, where they found their child,
who had grown tall and beautiful, and they lived thenceforth happily until
Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm. Household Tales. Margaret Hunt, translator. London: George Bell, 1884, 1892. 2 volumes.
From Hesse. "Löweneckerchen "is the Westphalian Lauberken, Nieders: Leverken, Old Dutch Leeuwercke, Leewerick, Lewerk, Lerk, our Lerche. Another story of the Schwalm district has much that is peculiar; indeed this story is told with numerous variations. A merchant is going to the fair, and asks his three daughters what he shall bring back for them. The eldest wants a beautiful dress, the second a pair of shoes, the third a rose. It is difficult to procure the rose, for it is winter. Whenever he asks for one, people laugh and inquire if he imagines that roses grow in the snow. This distresses the merchant, because the young- is his favourite child. On his way back he comes to a castle with a garden in which it is half summer, and half winter. On one side deep snow is lying, on the other it is warm, and everything is flowering as in spring, and there is a hedge entirely of roses in it. The man enters the garden, plucks a rose, and rides away again. Soon afterwards he hears something panting behind him, looks round, and sees with alarm a great black beast which calls to him, "Give me back my rose, or die." The man replies," Leave me the rose, I want to take it back with me to my daughter who is the most beautiful girl in the world." "I am willing," says the beast; "but give her to me to be my wife." "Oh yes," says the man, to get rid of him, and thinks "he will never come to fetch her;" but the beast calls after him, "In a week I will come and fetch my bride." The merchant reaches home, and gives each daughter what she had wished for. After some time the beast comes and takes away his bride by force. He takes her to the castle with the summer and winter garden, everything is very beautiful and wonderful, and the beast behaves kindly, and does all he can to please her. They eat together, and he will not eat unless she carves for him, and gradually she begins to love him dearly. One day she wants to know how her father and sisters at home are. The beast takes her to a mirror where she sees her father lying ill from grief on her account, and her sisters weeping. Her heart grows heavy and she entreats the beast to allow her to go home. "Yes says he; "but promise me to return again in a week." She does so, and then hurries home to her father; but sorrow has already eaten too deeply into his heart, and after he has had the joy of seeing her, he dies. She mourns and weeps, and when she remembers the beast, the week is long past. She anxiously hastens to him, but when she arrives, everything is changed, the music is silent, the castle entirely hung with black crape, and the summer-garden covered with snow. The beast himself is gone; she seeks him everywhere, but cannot find him. Full of grief because of this, she goes into the garden and sees a heap of cabbages which are already old and decayed. She spreads them out, and when she has turned a few of them over, she sees her dear beast lying as if dead beneath them. She runs, draws water, and pours it over him, on which he revives, springs up, loses his former shape, and a king's son is standing before her. And now all is joy, the black crape is torn down, the musicians play, the summer-garden blooms again, and the two celebrate their wedding.
A third story comes from Hanover. A certain King has three daughters who become ill, and in order that they may recover, they must eat some game. The huntsman is sent into the forest, but can find no game at all. At length he sees a raven, and as he thinks, "that, too, is game," he aims at it, but the raven cries, "Huntsman, do not fire, for if you will promise me one of the King's daughters, I will procure you as much game as you like." The huntsman goes and tells this to the King, who says, "Thou canst always promise this to the raven; there is no necessity to keep thy word." So the huntsman promises the princess to the raven, who drives as much game up to him as he wants to shoot. The three princesses eat some of it and are cured. A great feast is made ready, and in the evening when a window is open, the raven comes in and demands his promised bride. The King will not give her, but at length he says, "I will ask my daughters if one of them is inclined to be thy wife." The eldest and the second say no; the youngest says "Yes, I will go with the raven, if my waiting-maid may accompany me." The raven consents to this, takes the princess beneath one wing, and the waiting-maid beneath the other, and carries them to a magnificent castle. A mirror hangs in the princess's bedroom in which she can see everything which happens in the castle which has been her home, only she is not to let the waiting-maid look in it. For this reason the King's daughter always carries the key of the room about with her; but once she leaves it in the door, and the waiting-maid goes in and looks in the mirror. For this the raven tears her to pieces, and says to the princess, "Now thou must go away and go into service for seven years, and do the work of seven maids." And he likewise tells her that she will meet an aged woman with whom she must exchange clothes, and then she will come to a house and a woman will look out of it and scold her, but she is not to mind it; and he pulls out one of his feathers and gives it to her saying, "When any piece of work is too hard for thee, hike out his feather and say, 'By the raven's command this shall be done,' and the work will be done." She is however obliged to promise to be true to him. So she goes away, exchanges her beautiful garments for the old woman's bad ones, and comes to the house where the cross old woman looks out. The King daughter offers her services, but the old woman says, "I have had seven maids, how canst thou do their work with thy dainty hands?" "Oh, indeed, I will try to do it," says the princess. In the first place she has to clean a stable, but her hands are soon blistered; then she takes the feather and says," By the raven's command the stable is to be cleaner than it has ever been before." Instantly the work is done. For seven years she is in service there, and whatsoever is too difficult for her to do is done by the help of the raven's feather. The men-servants and boys belonging to the house who crowd about her, and torment her because of her extreme beauty, are all mocked by her. One day the coachman says, "May I come to thee to-night?" "Yes," she answers; but when she hears him coming she gets out her feather and says, "By the raven's command shall he go into the yard and dress and undress himself for one hour, and then come and thank me for the pleasure he has had." As they have all been made fools of by her, one after the other, they assemble together to beat her with rods, but she takes the feather and says, "By the raven's command they shall all undress themselves and cut at each other till the blood flows, and then they shall come and say, 'Thank you,' for it." Thus she obtains peace until the seven years are over, and then a prince drives up in the greatest splendour and takes her away, and this is the raven whose period of enchantment has now come to an end. In Die junge Amerikanerin (1. 30-231) the story is ill used. The beast is a dragon from whose garden (there is no winter in it) the father plucks a rose, and for this has to promise his daughter. The daughter goes of her own accord to the castle of the dragon, who pretends to be foolish, and awkward. At night however she dreams of a beautiful youth, and gradually becomes accustomed to him, until at last she loves him, she visits her parents and returns by means of a ring which is turned inward or outward. Finally, she one night owns to him that she loves him, and in the morning he is a handsome young man, and is freed from the spell. It is also discovered that she is not the merchant's daughter, but has been substituted for her by an enchantress.
In the Leipzig collection it is the seventh story (pp. 113-130); in the Büchlein für die Jugend, No. 4. For a story from Silesia, see Wolf's Zeitschrift, 1. 310. For one from the Tyrol, see Zingerle, p. 391. In Swedish, see Meier, No. 57. The story of The Iron Stove (No. 127) is allied, and so are those given in the notes to it. The Singing Ringing Tree, in the Brunswick Collection, should be mentioned here, and also The Three Beasts, in Musäus. In Swedish there is Graumantel (see further on); in Netherlandish, No. 3; in Wodana; in Hungarian, No. 15; in Gaal. Several stories in the Pentamerone are similar; The Magic Coffer (2. 9); Pintosmauto (5. 1) and The Golden Root, 5. 4. In D'Aulnoy, The Blue Bird (No. 3.); The Ram (No. 10); and the Green Snake (No. 15). Beauty and the Beast, in the 5th Conversation, in Madame de Beaumont's stories, also belongs to this group. Finally, we must point out the story of the Woodcutter's Daughter, taken from an Indian popular saga of the present day, which is given in Somadeva's appendix, 2. 191, 211.
These various conceptions of the story always bear the impress of the story of Psyche, so well known from Apuleius. The heart is tried, and everything earthly and evil falls away in recognition of pure love. Our story also agrees with it in this, that light brings down misfortune, and that night, which loosens all bonds, dissolves the spell. The incident of the unhappy girl travelling over the world and begging help from everything in nature, and at last from the stars also, which speak in antique forms and sayings, is beautiful. Their energy and sympathy likewise appear in the story of Eve, in Rudolf's Weltchronik (Cass. MS. folio 21a). She entreats the sun and moon to tell Adam of her misery when they come to the East, and they do it. Just as the maiden seeks help from the sun, moon, and wind, a man in a Hungarian story, whose wife has been stolen from him, seeks it, first from the sea-king, then from the moon-king, and finally from the star-king (Molbech's Udvalgte Eventyr, No. 14), and the same is told in a Servian tale, Wuk, No. 10. In connection with this, Rhesa's Popular Songs of Lithuania should be looked at. The feathers and tailing drops of blood remind us of the folk-lore of the feathered pink, one species of which has a dark purple spot in its heart, which people say is a drop of blood which fell from the Redeemer on the cross. Further- more the feathers are to show the way, and the drops of blood to preserve the remembrance of the bewitched person, and thus we are led to the saga of the drops of blood, over which Parcifal ruminates, and which call back his wife to his memory; see Altd. Wälder, vol. i. 1. Roses in winter remind us of one of the Kühländchen songs, where three roses grown on one stalk, and blooming between Christmas and Easter, are asked for (Meinert, 1. 95). The guarding and plucking the flowers recalls the dwarfs' rose-garden, which is trampled down by the mischievous heroes, for which the dwarfs demand heavy penalties.