Home » Children's Stories » Rumpelstiltskin
Once a poor miller, who had a very beautiful daughter, was sent for by the king. The miller, who had never in his life been at court, did not feel at all at ease. So, instead of saying something sensible, or keeping quiet, he said to the king, "I have a daughter who can spin gold out of straw." Then the miller thought he had
spoken words that would make the king think him an important person.
"Your daughter is indeed clever if she can do as you say," answered the
king. "Bring her to my castle tomorrow and we shall see."
So the next day the miller's daughter, dressed in a satin skirt and a velvet bodice, was brought to court. She was at once led to a room which was full of straw. Nothing else was in the room but a spinning wheel. "Now set to work," said the king, "and if between tonight and tomorrow at dawn you have not spun this straw into gold, you must die." Then he went out, carefully locking the door behind him.
So there sat the poor miller's beautiful daughter, knowing not what to do, for she had no idea in the world how to spin straw into gold. She could only hide her face in her hands and weep. Suddenly the locked door sprang open, and in stepped the queerest-looking little man imaginable. His coat and loose trousers were made of white cotton, with large red dots. On his head he wore a red and white hat with a cock's feather. In his right
hand he held a wand.
"Good evening, Mistress Miller. But wherefore do you weep?"
"Alas!" answered the maiden. "I have to spin gold out of straw and I know not how to do it."
"But I do," said the little man. "What will you give me if I spin it for you?" `. 'My necklace," said the miller's daughter.
The little man took the necklace and sat down before the spinning wheel. He spun, and he spun, and he spun, until all the straw had disappeared and all the spindles were filled with gold. Then with a low bow he vanished.
At sunrise the king came, and was astonished to see so much gold. But it only made him want still more. So he took the miller's daughter to a larger room, full of straw, and again he said, "Now set to work, and if, between tonight and tomorrow at dawn, you have not spun this straw into gold, you must die."
When the maiden was left alone she again began to weep in despair. But in a moment the door flew open and again the curious little man stood before her.
"What will you give me if I spin this straw into gold?"
"My ring," said the miller's daughter.
The little man took the ring, and sat down before the spinning wheel. He spun, and he spun, and he spun, until all the straw had disappeared and all the spindles were filled with gold. Then with a low bow the little man again disappeared.
When, in the early morning, the king came, he was delighted to see the shining gold, but he was not yet satisfied. So he led the miller's daughter to a still larger room, full of straw, and this time he said, "Spin this into gold and you shall be my queen. I shall come again at sunrise." Then he left her.
Before long the curious little man again appeared and he once more found the maiden weeping.
"What will you give me if I spin this straw into gold?"
"Alas, I have nothing more that I can give!" said the miller's daughter. "Then promise me your first child if you become queen," said the little man.
I may never have a little child, thought the girl, and so she promised.
Then the little man sat down before the spindle, and he spun, and he spun, and he spun, until all the straw had disappeared and all the spindles were filled with gold. Then with his usual low bow the strange little man vanished.
When the king came in the morning, he was not sorry to marry the miller's daughter. For even if she be of humble birth, he thought, I could not find a lovelier woman in the world. So the wedding took place that same day.
About a year afterward, the king and queen had a beautiful child.
The queen had quite forgotten her promise to the little man and was very happy, when suddenly he entered her room and demanded the baby. The poor queen held her little one tight and said she would part with all the riches of her kingdom if only she might keep the child.
"No," he said, "a human child is dearer to me than all the kingdoms in the world."
Then the poor mother wept as if her heart would break. Finally, the little man took pity on her, and said, "I will give you three days and if in that time you can find out my name, you shall keep your child."
The queen lay awake all night, thinking of all the odd names she had ever heard. The next day the little man came again, and the queen repeated all the names she could remember beginning with Timothy, Benjamin, and Jeremiah. But the little man said, "No, I am not called by any of these."
The next morning the queen sent a messenger all through the kingdom collecting all the names he could find. When the little man came the second time, she tried all sorts of strange names, like Brownbones, Dickybird, and Spindleshanks. But he only shook his head and kept repeating, "No, that's
not my name.
On the third day the messenger came back late. "I have not been able to find any new names," said he, "but as I came round the corner of a wood, at the foot of a high mountain, this is what I saw and heard. Close by, there was a little house. In front of it was a fire burning, and round the fire a ridiculous little man was hopping on one leg and singing
`Although today I brew and bake, Tomorrow the Queen's own child I take. So nobody tell, for goodness' sake, That my name is Rumplestiltskin.' "
Oh, how joyful the queen was when she heard this!
Soon the little man came in, made a low bow, and said, "Your Majesty, what is my name?"
The queen was now merry enough to be mischievous, so, instead of saying his real name at once, she asked, "Is it Fred?"
"Is it Arnold?"
"Is is Harry?"
"Is it Henry?"
"Then it is Rumplestiltskin," cried the queen.
When the little man heard this, he flew into a terrible rage and stamped his foot on the ground so violently that it sank deep into the ground.
Then, wild with fury, he seized his left leg with both hands and pulled and pulled. He pulled with such force that his right leg came off. Then Rumplestiltskin hopped away and was never heard of again.