Page:The Folk-Lore Journal Volume 7 1889.djvu/145

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137
THE PHILOSOPHY OF RUMPELSTILTSKIN.

bring his daughter to the palace that her skill might be tested. She was then locked up in a room filled with straw, given a spinning-wheel, and ordered to spin all the straw into gold during the night, or lose her life. The lonely girl sat bewailing her fate, when the door suddenly opened, and a little man stood before her. Learning why she wept, he agreed to fulfil the task for her on her giving him her necklace; and in the morning, when the king came, he found the straw spun into gold. The sight of this increased his greed, and he shut the girl in a larger room, the straw in which she was to spin under the same threat. Again the little man came to her aid, this time receiving her ring in payment. But when the task was laid upon her a third time, the mannikin would help her only on her agreeing to give him the first child whom she should bear the king after her marriage. One year after this the child was born, and when the little man came to claim it, the weeping mother offered him all the wealth of her kingdom to set her free from the bargain. At last, touched by her grief, he agreed to let her keep the child if within three days she found out his name. Then the queen thought of all the names that she had ever heard, and sent far and wide to learn other names. But on the first day that the mannikin came, she said all the names that she knew, but never the right one. And it was the same on the second day. Then on the third day a messenger came to her, saying that he could find no new name, but that he had seen a funny little man dancing round a fire in the forest, and shouting—

"To-day I bake, to-morrow brew,
The next I'll have the young Queen's child,
Ha I glad am I that no one knew
That Rumpelstiltskin I am styled."

Soon after this the mannikin appeared before the queen, who asked him if his name was Conrad or Harry? When he said "No," she said, "Perhaps your name is Rumpelstiltskin?" "The devil has told you that," cried the little man; and in his anger he plunged his right foot so deep into the earth, that his whole leg went in; then, in rage, he pulled out his left leg so hard with both hands, that he tore himself in two.