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rapunzelg By the Brothers Grimm. This wonderful story has it all: the maiden in the tower, the baby taken at birth by a wicked witch, and an enchanted but forbiden garden. In addition you can relish the iconic image of a maiden lowering her long tresses of golden hair down to her prince, so that he can climb up to her. Fortunately she had strong roots.

The colour picture is by Johnny Gruelle, and the black and white picture lower down is by Walter Crane.

Read by Natasha. Duration 12 minutes.

There were once a man and a woman who had long wished for a child – but without any luck.

At last, the woman hoped that God was about to grant her

desire. They had a little window at the back of their house

from which a splendid garden could be seen, which was full of the most

beautiful flowers and herbs. It was, however, surrounded by a high

wall, and no one dared to go into it because it belonged to an

enchantress, who had great power and was dreaded by all the world.

One day the woman was standing by this window and looking down into the

garden, when she saw a bed which was planted with the most beautiful

plant called a rapunzel, and it looked so fresh and green that she longed

for it, she quite pined away, and began to look pale and miserable.

Then her husband was alarmed, and asked: ‘What troubles you, dear wife?’

‘Ah,’ she replied, ‘if I can’t eat some of the rapunzel, which is in

the garden behind our house, I shall die.’

The man, who loved her, thought: ‘Sooner than let your wife die,

better bring her some of the rapunzel – let it cost you what it will.’

When it was getting dark, he clambered down

over the wall into the garden of the enchantress, hastily clutched a

handful of the rapunzel plant and took it to his wife. She at once made herself

a salad of it, and ate it greedily. It tasted so good to her–so very

good, that the next day she longed for it three times as much as

before. If he was to have any rest, her husband must once more descend

into the garden. In the gloom of evening therefore, he let himself

down again; but when he had clambered down the wall he was struck with terror, for he saw the enchantress standing before him. ‘

“How can you dare,’ said she with angry look, ‘Climb down into my garden and steal my

rapunzel like a thief? You shall suffer for it!’

‘Ah,’ answered he, ‘let mercy take the place of justice, I only made up my mind to do it

out of necessity. My wife saw your rapunzel from the window, and felt

such a longing for it that she would have died if she had not got some

to eat.’

rapunzel Then the enchantress allowed her anger to be softened, and

said to him: ‘If you speak the truth, I will allow you to take away

with you as much rapunzel as you will, only I make one condition, you

must give me the child which your wife will bring into the world; it

shall be well treated, and I will care for it like a mother.’

The man in his terror agreed to everything, and when the child was born, the enchantress appeared at once, gave the child the name of Rapunzel, and took it away with her.

Rapunzel grew into the most beautiful child under the sun. When she

was twelve years old, the enchantress shut her into a tower, which lay

in a forest, and had neither stairs nor door, but quite at the top was

a little window. When the enchantress wanted to go in, she placed

herself beneath it and cried:

‘Rapunzel, Rapunzel,

Let down your hair to me.’

Rapunzel had magnificent long hair, fine as spun gold, and when she

heard the voice of the enchantress she unfastened her braided tresses,

wound them round one of the hooks of the window above, and then the

hair fell twenty yards down, and the enchantress climbed up by it.

After a year or two, it happened that the king’s son rode through

the forest and passed by the tower. Then he heard a song, which was so

charming that he stood still and listened. This was Rapunzel, who in

her solitude passed her time in letting her sweet voice sing out. The

king’s son wanted to climb up to her, and looked for the door of the

tower, but none was to be found. He rode home, but the singing had so

deeply touched his heart, that every day he went out into the forest

and listened to it. Once when he was thus standing behind a tree, he

saw that an enchantress came there, and he heard how she cried:

‘Rapunzel, Rapunzel,

Let down your hair to me.’

Then Rapunzel let down the braids of her hair, and the enchantress

climbed up to her. ‘If that is the ladder that leads to the top, I too

will try my fortune,’ said he, and the next day when it began to grow

dark, he went to the tower and cried:

‘Rapunzel, Rapunzel,

Let down your hair to me.’

Immediately the hair fell down and the prince climbed up.

At first Rapunzel was terribly frightened when a man, such as her eyes

had never yet beheld, came to her; but the king’s son began to talk to

her quite like a friend, and told her that his heart had been so

stirred that it had let him have no rest, and he had been forced to

see her. Then Rapunzel lost her fear, and when he asked her if she

would take him for her husband, and she saw that he was young and

handsome, she thought: ‘He will love me more than old Dame Gothel the enchantress

does’; and she said yes, and laid her hand in his.

She said: ‘I will willingly go away with you, but I do not know how to get down. Bring

with you a ball of silk every time that you come, and I will weave a

ladder with it, and when that is ready I will climb down, and you will

take me on your horse.’ They agreed that until that time he should

come to her every evening, for the old woman came by day. The

enchantress remarked nothing of this, until once Rapunzel said to her:

‘Tell me, Dame Gothel, how it happens that you are so much heavier for

me to draw up than the young king’s son–he is with me in a moment.’

‘Ah! you wicked child,’ cried the enchantress. ‘What do I hear you

say! I thought I had separated you from all the world, and yet you

have deceived me!’ In her anger she clutched Rapunzel’s beautiful

hair, wrapped it twice round her left hand, seized a pair of

scissors with the right, and snip, snap, they were cut off, and the

lovely braids lay on the ground. And she was so pitiless that she took

poor Rapunzel into a desert where she had to live in great grief and


On the same day that she cast out Rapunzel, however, the enchantress

fastened the braids of hair, which she had cut off, to the hook of the

window, and when the king’s son came and cried:

‘Rapunzel, Rapunzel,

Let down your hair to me.’

she let the hair down. The king’s son climbed, but instead of finding

his dearest Rapunzel, he found the enchantress, who gazed at him with

wicked and poisonous looks. ‘Aha!’ she cried mockingly, ‘you would

fetch your dearest, but the beautiful bird sits no longer singing in

the nest; the cat has got it, and will scratch out your eyes as well.

Rapunzel is lost to you; you will never see her again.’ The king’s son

was beside himself with pain, and in his despair he leapt down from

the tower. He escaped with his life, but the thorns into which he fell

pierced his eyes. Then he wandered quite blind about the forest, ate

nothing but roots and berries, and did naught but and weep over

the loss of his dearest wife. Thus he roamed about in misery for some

years, and at last came to the desert where Rapunzel, with the twins

to which she had given birth, a boy and a girl, lived in wretchedness.

He heard a voice, and it seemed so familiar to him that he went

towards it, and when he approached, Rapunzel knew him and fell on his

neck and wept. Two of her tears wetted his eyes and they grew clear

again, and he could see with them as before. He led her to his kingdom

where he was joyfully received, and they lived for a long time

afterwards, happy and contented.

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