Once upon a time there was a poor woodcutter who had a beautiful daughter. The woodcutter was very proud of her.
One day he boasted to the king, «My daughter can spin straw into gold.»
If your daughter can do this,» said the king, «bring her to me and I shall see.»
So the woodcutter went home and told his daughter to wear her most lovely dress and come before the king. The king took the girl to a room in his castle that was filled with straw. As he showed her the spinning wheel in the corner he said, «Spin this straw into gold by sunrise or you shall die.»
The woodcutter’s daughter sat on the stool and began to cry. Suddenly, the door creaked open and a strange little man appeared. «What will you give me to spin this straw into gold?» asked the little man. «I’ll gladly give you my necklace.» «Good,» he said taking the necklace. The little man set to work and by sunrise the room was filled with gold.
When the king saw the gold he became greedy. He got more straw. «By sunrise all this shall be gold.» Once more the woodcutter’s daughter began to cry. In a moment the door opened and in came the strange little fellow. «What will you give me this time?» he asked. «I’ll gladly give you my ring,» said the girl. «Good,» said the little man as he sat down to spin the straw. By sunrise all the straw was gold.
Once more the king was pleased. He got even more straw. «Spin this straw into gold and in the morning I shall marry you and make you my queen.» When the king went away the little fellow returned. «What will you give me this time?» he asked. «I’ve nothing left to give,» replied the woodcutter’s daughter. «Then you shall give me your first child when you are queen.» She promised the little man her first child.
By sunrise the straw was gold and the king married the woodcutter’s daughter. The happy queen had a baby boy and forgot all about her promise. One day the little man came to take the queen’s baby boy. The queen begged to keep her child. The little man said, «You have three days to guess my name. If you can’t, I shall take your baby boy.»
All night the queen thought of every name. In the morning when the little man came she tried all of them. At each one the little man said, «No. It is not I.» On the second day she tried even more names. «No. It is not I,» said the little man.
That night one of the queen’s messengers came to her to tell of a strange sight indeed. While riding through the forest he had seen a fire. Around the fire danced an odd fellow who sang a song.
This was what he sang:
«Today I bake, tomorrow I brew,
Then, dear prince, I come for you.
None can guess, none can claim
That Rumpelstiltskin is my name.»
That night the little man came calling.
«What is my name?» he asked, jumping up and down.
«It’s Robin,» answered the queen.
«It is not!»
«It’s Jack,» said the queen.
«It is not!»
«Then Rumpelstiltskin is your name.»
At this the little fellow flew into a rage.
«Curses!», he shrieked, and stamped his feet so hard that he fell through the floor and disappeared forever.
By Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm