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The Seven Ravens

The Seven Ravens

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Published by: oliviamirea on Jun 02, 2011
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(A German Tale)
 
THE SEVEN RAVENS
There was once a man who had seven sons, and last of all one daughter. Although the little girlwas very pretty, she was so weak and small that they thought she could not live; but they said sheshould at once be christened.So the father sent one of his sons in haste to the spring to get some water, but the other six ranwith him. Each wanted to be first at drawing the water, and so they were in such a hurry that alllet their pitchers fall into the well, and they stood very foolishly looking at one another, and didnot know what to do, for none dared go home. In the meantime the father was uneasy, and couldnot tell what made the young men stay so long. 'Surely,' said he, 'the whole seven must haveforgotten themselves over some game of play'; and when he had waited still longer and they yetdid not come, he flew into a rage and wished them all turned into ravens. Scarcely had he spokenthese words when he heard a croaking over his head, and looked up and saw seven ravens as black as coal flying round and round. Sorry as he was to see his wish so fulfilled, he did notknow how what was done could be undone, and comforted himself as well as he could for theloss of his seven sons with his dear little daughter, who soon became stronger and every daymore beautiful.For a long time she did not know that she had ever had any brothers; for her father and mother took care not to speak of them before her: but one day by chance she heard the people about her speak of them. 'Yes,' said they, 'she is beautiful indeed, but still 'tis a pity that her brothers shouldhave been lost for her sake.' Then she was much grieved, and went to her father and mother, andasked if she had any brothers, and what had become of them. So they dared no longer hide thetruth from her, but said it was the will of Heaven, and that her birth was only the innocent causeof it; but the little girl mourned sadly about it every day, and thought herself bound to do all shecould to bring her brothers back; and she had neither rest nor ease, till at length one day she stoleaway, and set out into the wide world to find her brothers, wherever they might be, and freethem, whatever it might cost her.She took nothing with her but a little ring which her father and mother had given her, a loaf of  bread in case she should be hungry, a little pitcher of water in case she should be thirsty, and alittle stool to rest upon when she should be weary. Thus she went on and on, and journeyed tillshe came to the world's end; then she came to the sun, but the sun looked much too hot and fiery;so she ran away quickly to the moon, but the moon was cold and chilly, and said, 'I smell fleshand blood this way!' so she took herself away in a hurry and came to the stars, and the stars werefriendly and kind to her, and each star sat upon his own little stool; but the morning star rose upand gave her a little piece of wood, and said, 'If you have not this little piece of wood, you cannotunlock the castle that stands on the glass-mountain, and there your brothers live.' The little girltook the piece of wood, rolled it up in a little cloth, and went on again until she came to theglass-mountain, and found the door shut. Then she felt for the little piece of wood; but when sheunwrapped the cloth it was not there, and she saw she had lost the gift of the good stars. Whatwas to be done? She wanted to save her brothers, and had no key of the castle of the glass-
 
mountain; so this faithful little sister took a knife out of her pocket and cut off her little finger,that was just the size of the piece of wood she had lost, and put it in the door and opened it.As she went in, a little dwarf came up to her, and said, 'What are you seeking for?' 'I seek for my brothers, the seven ravens,' answered she. Then the dwarf said, 'My masters are not at home; butif you will wait till they come, pray step in.' Now the little dwarf was getting their dinner ready,and he brought their food upon seven little plates, and their drink in seven little glasses, and setthem upon the table, and out of each little plate their sister ate a small piece, and out of each littleglass she drank a small drop; but she let the ring that she had brought with her fall into the lastglass.On a sudden she heard a fluttering and croaking in the air, and the dwarf said, 'Here come mymasters.' When they came in, they wanted to eat and drink, and looked for their little plates andglasses. Then said one after the other,'Who has eaten from my little plate? And who has been drinking out of my little glass?'
'Caw! Caw! well I weenMortal lips have this way been.'
When the seventh came to the bottom of his glass, and found there the ring, he looked at it, andknew that it was his father's and mother's, and said, 'O that our little sister would but come! thenwe should be free.' When the little girl heard this (for she stood behind the door all the time andlistened), she ran forward, and in an instant all the ravens took their right form again; and allhugged and kissed each other, and went merrily home.
 
Grimms' Notes
 From the Maine district, but the beginning, up to where the little sister goes out into the world, isadded from a Viennese story. The former only tells briefly that the three little sons (seven in thelatter) play at cards on Sunday, during church time, and on that account are bewitched by their mother, as in a story in E. M. Arudt, where for the same reason they are changed into mice (seefurther on). The story of the
Six Swans
, No. 49, has some resemblance, in which story, too, theAustrian one is merged. In that we have the ravens in the black and more unhappy form; in thestory of the
Twelve Brothers
they also appear in the same way as here, and the whole bears someaffinity. We have also a story about the Glass Mountain from Hanau. There was an enchanted princess whom no one could set free, who had not climbed the Glass Mountain whither she was banished. Then a young apprentice came to the inn; a boiled chicken was set before him for dinner, all the bones of which he carefully collected, put them in his pocket, and went towardsthe Glass Mountain. When he had got there he took out a little bone, stuck it in the mountain, andclimbed on it, and then he stuck in one little bone after the other until he had in this way mountedalmost to the top. He had only one single step more to make, but the little bone was wanting todo it with, whereupon he cut off his little finger and stuck it in the Glass Mountain, and thusattained the summit and released the princess. Thus does Sivard deliver proud Bryniel af Glarbierget (
 Altdän. Lieder 
, S. 31), riding up it on his foal. In a song from Ditmars, occurs"So schalst du my de Glasenburg [1]Mit eeneu Perd opriden."Wolfdieterich is bewitched in a tomb, where, according to the
 Dresd. Gedicht 
, Str. 289.vir perg umb in geleit [2],die waren auch glesseineund waren hel und glatt."In the old edition it says (Str. 1171),"mit glasse was fürware [3] burg und grabe überzogen,es mocht nichts wan zum toresein in die burg geflogen."A Glass Mountain occurs in the
Younger Titurel 
(Str. 6177) also in other stories, viz, in
Snow-white
( No. 53), in the
 Raven
( No. 93), in the
Iron Stove
(127). King Arthur dwells with Morganle Fay, on the Glass island, and it is easy to trace a connection not in words alone, with the NorseGläsiswoll. In Scotland, walls are still to be found covered as it were with glass (vitrified forts),see
 Archaeologia Britan
. 4. 242.
Saemundar Edda
, 2. see 879, Notes.When the little sister reaches the end of the world, we may compare the observations in theScottish version of the
 Frog King 
( No. 1). Fortunatus also travels until at last he can go nofarther, with reference to which Nyerup (
 Morskabsläsning 
, p. 161) quotes the following song,

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