14. Love Stories

Rapunzel, A Brothers Grimm Fairy Tale

Chapter 1

The Carpenter and His Wife  

ONCE UPON A TIME, there lived a carpenter and his wife.  More than anything, they wanted a child of their own.  At long last, their wish came true –  the wife was going to have a baby!   

From the second floor window of their small house, the wife could see into the garden next door.  Such fine fresh rows of plants and flowers there were!  But no one dared to go over the garden wall to see them up close. For the garden belonged to a witch!

One day the wife was looking down at the garden from her window.  How fresh-looking were those big green heads of lettuce! “It is just what I need to eat!” said the wife to her husband.  “You must go and get me some.”

“But we cannot!” said the carpenter.  “You know as well as I do that the garden belongs to the witch, who lives next door.”

“If I cannot have that lettuce,” said the wife, “I will not eat anything at all!  I will die!”

What could the carpenter do?  Late that night, he climbed over the garden wall. With very quiet steps, he took one green head of lettuce.  With more quiet steps, he went back over the garden wall.  His wife ate up the lettuce right away.  

But eating the lettuce only made her want more! If she could not have more lettuce, she said, there was nothing she would eat at all! So the next night, the carpenter climbed back over the garden wall.  He picked up one more head of lettuce. All at once came a high, loud, voice.  

“STOP!  What do you think you are doing?”

“I…uh…am getting lettuce for my wife,” said the carpenter.

“You thief!” yelled the witch.  “You will pay for this!”

“Please!” said the carpenter.  “My wife is going to have a baby.  She saw your lettuce and wanted it so very much.”

“Why should I care about that?” shouted the witch.

“I will do anything!” said the carpenter.  He thought, “Maybe I can build her something.”  

“You say you will do anything?” said the witch.

“Yes,” he said.

“Fine!” said the witch.  “Here’s the deal.  Go ahead – take all the lettuce you want.  Your wife will have a baby girl.  And when she does, the baby will be mine!”

“What?!” said the carpenter.  “I would never agree to that!”

“You already did!” said the witch.  And she laughed an evil laugh.

Chapter 2

The Tower

Soon the wife had a baby girl, just as the witch had said.  To keep the baby safe from the witch, the carpenter built a tall tower deep in the woods.  He built stairs that led up to a room at the very top, a room with one window.  He and his wife took turns staying with the baby.  

Rapunzel Story

But the witch had a magic ball.  The ball showed her just where the baby was, at the top room of the tower.  One day when the carpenter and his wife were both in the house, she cast a spell over both of them.  They fell into a deep, deep sleep.  And at once, the witch went to the tower.

At the top room, the witch said to the baby, “I will call you Rapunzel. For that is the name of the lettuce that brought you to me.  Now Rapunzel, you are mine!”

But the witch did not know how to take care of a baby.  Rapunzel grew into a child, and the witch did not even know how to cut her hair. The girl’s blond hair grew longer and longer every day.  

All the witch could do was keep the child locked in the room at the very top of the tower.  She told the girl that the world was a very bad place.  That was why she could not leave the tower.

As she grew up, many times Rapunzel said to the witch, “There is nothing here for me to do! Why must I stay in this tower all the time?”

And the witch shouted back, “I already told you so many times! The world is a very bad place.  Now go comb your hair and be quiet.”

“But is it really so bad out there?  Sometimes I hear people laughing down below,” Rapunzel would say sometimes.

At such times the witch would yell, “How many times do I have to repeat myself? Don’t listen to anything you see or hear out there.  The world is much worse than you think!  You will stay in this tower forever, Rapunzel.  So get used to it!”

On her 12th birthday, Rapunzel said to the witch, “I do not care what you say anymore!  I am so tired of staying here alone all the time! When you are gone, I will chip away at the door.  I will make a hole.  I will run down the stairs and outside, no matter what you say!”

“Think again!” said the witch.  With her power, she made all the stairs in the tower fall down.  She made the doors close up.  Now there was no way for Rapunzel to escape!

Chapter 3

A Singing Voice

By then, Rapunzel’s hair had grown very, very long.  Once the stairs were gone, when it was time for the witch to visit her in the tower, she would call from outside, “Rapunzel, Rapunzel!  Let down your hair!”  

Rapunzel Story

Rapunzel would throw her long blond braid out of the window.  The witch would grab hold of her hair like a rope.  And that is how the witch climbed up the tower wall to the window in Rapunzel’s room.

Five more long years went by.  Poor Rapunzel!  She knew she must stay in the room.  All she could do was to sing sad songs out of the window.  Sometimes birds at the treetops would join in her songs.  Then she would feel a bit better.


But not much.

One day, a prince was riding through the woods.  He heard a beautiful singing voice.  Where was it coming from?  He rode closer and closer to the sound.  At last, he came to the tower.  

“This is odd!” he said, looking around the tower wall.  “There is no door at the bottom.  Yet someone is singing at the very top.  How does anyone get in or out of there?”   Each day, the prince came back to the tower.  There was something about that voice that pulled him back.  Who was that young woman singing at the top?  Could he ever meet her?

One day when the prince rode up, he saw an old woman standing below the tower.  He jumped behind a tree to hide.  It was a witch!  He heard her call out, “Rapunzel, Rapunzel!  Let down your hair!”  A long blond braid was thrown out from a window at the very top.  The old woman grabbed onto the braid.  And she climbed the wall to the window at the top of the tower.  

“Ah, ha!” said the prince.  “So that is how it is done!” He waited. 

After a bit, the braid was thrown from the window again.  The witch climbed back down the tower wall.  Then she left.  

The prince waited.  He stepped up to the tower.  In a voice that sounded as much like the witch as he could, he called out, “Rapunzel, Rapunzel!  Let down your hair!” In a moment, the same long blond braid came out of the window.  “It worked!” thought the prince.  He climbed up the wall of the tower.

You can be sure that Rapunzel was very surprised to see the prince climb into her window. She had never seen a person up close before other than the witch, and never a man! “Who are you?” she said in fear.

“Do not worry!” said the prince. “I am a friend.”

“But I do not know you,” said Rapunzel.

“I feel as if I know you,” said the prince.  “Since I have heard you sing songs from up here day after day.  You have a beautiful voice!  And I love it when the birds sing with you, too.”

“Yes, I like that, too,” said Rapunzel.  “It may be the only thing I like, since I must stay here in this same old tower, day after day, my whole life long.” Rapunzel told the prince about the witch.  She told him that since the world was such a very bad place, she must always stay in the tower room.

“But the world is not as bad as she says!” said the prince.  He told Rapunzel about flowers and festivals, games and gardens.  He told her about puppies and puddles, strawberries and secrets.

Many hours went by. At last, Rapunzel said he must go – the witch may come back at any time!  “Very well,” said the prince.  “But I will be back tomorrow.”  Rapunzel threw her braid out the window, and the prince climbed down.

The next day, the prince climbed back up to Rapunzel’s room.  He said, “I have a surprise for you.”  He had brought strawberries for her. 

As she tasted a strawberry Rapunzel thought, “Now I know that what I was told is not true.  The world can be a very fine place!  I must get out of this tower as soon as I can.”  But how?

Chapter 4

Plan to Escape

One day, the prince said, “If only you could get out of this tower.  I can come and go by  climbing up the walls by holding onto your braid.  But once I am down, how can you get down, too?”

“I know!” said Rapunzel.  “Bring me a ball of silk each time you come. I can weave the silk into a ladder.  Silk folds up so small the witch won’t see it.  When the ladder gets long enough to reach the ground, we will both be able to climb out of here.”

“That’s it!” said the prince.  Then he moved closer to Rapunzel.  “We will both be free.  When we are out in the world, will you marry me?”  

“Yes,” said Rapunzel, “I will.”  Every day after that, the prince brought a ball of silk to Rapunzel.  Over time, she weaved the silk into a long ladder.

On Rapunzel’s 18th birthday the witch spoke to her in a sharp voice. “Before you open your mouth this time,” said the witch, “know this.  I am sick and tired of hearing you talk about how alone you are in the tower all the time.  It isn’t go to change, Rapunzel!   Forever!”

“Who says I’m alone in the room all the time?” said Rapunzel.

“What?!” said the witch.  “Who has been up here with you?”

“No one!” said Rapunzel at once, in fear.  “I mean, no one but you!”

The witch did not believe her.  She started to look everywhere in the room for something to prove that someone else had been there.  Soon she found the ladder.  She held it high in the air.  She yelled, “What is the meaning of this?”

“My friend the prince brought me the silk,” said Rapunzel.  

“You will never see this prince again!” yelled the witch.  She took out a knife.  Snip, snap, and Rapunzel’s lovely braid was cut off! 

Holding the braid in one hand, the witch laughed an evil laugh.  With a stroke of her magic, Rapunzel was cast away to a far-away desert. Then the witch stayed in the tower room.  She knew that soon the prince would come back.

Rapunzel Story

Chapter 5

The Last Climb

The witch did not have to wait long.  Soon the prince was calling at the bottom of the tower, in a voice that was supposed to sound like her own, “Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair!”

“So that is how he did it!” thought the witch.  Holding tightly to one end of Rapunzel’s braid, she threw the braid out the window.  The prince took hold and climbed up.  When he got to the window, he was much surprised to see the witch!

“Where is Rapunzel?” he called out.  “What have you done with her?”

“You will never see your Rapunzel again!” yelled the witch.  

The witch pushed the prince so hard that he lost hold of the window.  Down, down, he fell!


The prince landed on some bushes below.  That helped with the fall, but the bushes had sharp thorns.  Some of the thorns went into his eyes.  The prince was blind!

Chapter 6

The Desert

For two years the poor blind prince wandered the world, looking for Rapunzel. From morning to night he called for her, but it was no use.  At last, he reached a desert. One day, he heard a beautiful voice singing.  “Oh!” he thought.  “I know that voice!”  It was his dear Rapunzel!  He went closer and closer to the voice he knew so well.  

“My prince!” called Rapunzel when she saw him.  The two of them hugged tight.  Two tears of joy fell into the eyes of the prince.  All at once, he could see again!

And what happened next, well, I’m sure you can guess!  The prince and Rapunzel went back to the kingdom where the prince lived.  They were married as soon as they could. The prince became king of the land and Rapunzel became queen.  The two of them lived happily ever after.

Rapunzel Story
14. Love Stories

The Fisherlad and the Mermaid’s Ring

The Fisherlad and the Mermaids Ring

ONCE IN SCOTLAND a young lad was so smitten with a bonny lass that he did nothing but think of her night and day. At last he summoned his courage, offered her his heart and asked for hers to return.

Flattered was she but alas! her heart was already offered to another. She sweetly smiled then her eyes flit about and off she was, leaving the lad feeling cast-adrift and sunk.

Well, if there was one thing the lad was sure of, he could no longer walk about the people of that town. Not with everyone knowing she had passed him over for another lad, snickering and pointing at him as he went by. Nor could he fish anymore with the lads at the shore, for the shame of it.

So with a heavy heart he gathered his nets inside his boat and sailed to an uninhabited island, where he built himself a hut. Every morning, very early, he sailed to the sea, laid his nets and hauled a day’s catch. He took his catch to market at a port where no one knew his face, sold his fish, bought food and other necessities, and sailed home to his island. Such was his life, day after day.

And so it would have stayed but one day, the corner of his eye caught something gleaming amidst the fish in his net. Quickly, he grabbed it by one hand, though it twisted and thrashed, and he tied the net into a knot so that whatever it was, was securely fastened.

“Release me!” called a mermaid. To look at, she was just like any other girl up to the waist, but below that she flipped a long fishtail that glittered with shiny yellow-green scales.

“I know better,” said he. “You know as well as I do that you must grant me a wish.”

The Fisherlad and the Mermaids Ring

“Very well,” she said, “I suppose you want a bag of gold coins. I happen to know of a sunken ship not far from here with such treasure.”

“Ay, I have no interest in a bag of coins,” he said. “‘Twill not give me what I want.”

“So it’s a trunk of treasure you require?” She reared her head with pride. “I am the daughter of the king of the sea, and can have my mer-servants deliver such a trunk to your island.”

“If you know enough about me to know about my island,” said the lad, “you know what it is I really want.”

“The bonny lass?” sighed the mermaid. “Why her?”

“Och, you know why!” he said. “Her blue eyes. Her blond hair. The way she moves. She is what I want most in all the world and if I can’t have her, I want naught else!”

“Ah, she is not so different from the others,” said the mermaid, but when the fisherlad tightened his hold on the netting, she quickly added, “Of course I can grant your wish of love, but you must realize it will take some time. Release me and I’ll give you a magic ring. After one year and a day, when you go to her and offer her the ring, she will not refuse.”

“How do you know she won’t be wedded by then?”

“She’ll not be,” promised the mermaid.

So the fisherlad cut away the net from the mermaid, took her ring and placed it in a jar on his mantle. He decided to scratch the wood to keep track of every day that went by.

As he sailed back to his island one day not long after that, he saw what looked from a distance like a heap of seaweed. More curious it was when the seaweed moved, and as he sailed to shore, he saw that it was a wee brown-haired lass whose mangled dark hair lay in a heap around her.

“What are you doing here?” he frowned.

The Fisherlad and the Mermaids Ring

“Och, do not send me away – I have to go somewhere! My father has a new bride not much older than myself. She’s horrible and mean and I fear she’s bound to do something terrible to me.”

“You can’t stay here. Go back and make it right with her.”

“Don’t ask me to do that! Besides, I can’t go anywhere because the winds aren’t right.”

“Tomorrow morning the winds will change.”

“And my raft is broken.”

“I’ll fix it.”

“Please! I need to stay somewhere where I’m alone and safe!”

“So do I!” thundered the lad, glowering at her. A long silence.

“Then I’ll jump into the sea,” she cried, bursting into tears, “for there’s naught else for me to do!” Tears streamed down her dirty face.

“Ah…” He looked away. What else could he do? “Very well then, I suppose you can stay.”

“‘Twill be just like living alone, with me here,” said the lass quickly. “Only better. I’ll cook your dinner and tend the place while you’re gone, but you’ll hardly know I’m here.”

“Good,” he said. “Keep it that way.”

The girl was true to her word. When the lad returned from fishing or from the market, she would present a hot meal for him and after placing it on the table she would leave. Where she went, where she slept, he knew not and he did not wonder in the least.

The Fisherlad and the Mermaids Ring

One day he had an especially good day. The fish were plentiful and sold well at market. After the girl set his dinner before him, he said, “There now, you don’t have to go so quickly. Lay yourself a plate and sit across from me. We might as well eat together.”

So they ate, saying little, but the next day they said a few words more, and the day after that, more still, until they got to know all about one another. He understood completely why she had to leave her house, and pounded the table with fury when she told him about her father and how he had been blind to the dangerous situation he put her in. She listened with sympathy to the tale of his bonny lass and how he planned to win her heart with the mermaid’s ring after the 101 days. In fact, she posted a chart over the mantle to keep track of the days gone by and the ones left. A clever idea, he thought, since the scratches on the wood were becoming hard to tell apart.

When the lad returned home from fishing one day, he saw she had moved flowers from the field and planted them in front of the hut. Another time she trained a rose vine to twine above the front door.

The Fisherlad and the Mermaids Ring

Around that time she started to help him beach the boat and spread the nets. Though she was but a wee brown-haired lass and nearly as small as a child and sometimes seemed to disappear completely behind the nets since her skin and hair were as dark as the wet ropes, still she was surprisingly strong and helpful to have around.

One morning she said, “When you go to market, you must bring back a bit of window glass to keep the weather out.” He obliged, and the next day while he was gone she placed the glass in the window holes. Indeed, the hut stayed warmer that evening. Another time she told him, “Bring me back some whitewash – these walls are far too dreary.” He complied, and she washed the walls and painted them white. Though he started to grumble about precious little money being left after he fetched her this or fetched her that, he had to admit that his hut was more comfortable than it had ever been before.

In the shed one day, he noticed a pile of grass had been pushed against one wall and was pressed down in the middle, and he realized that it must be where she slept at night. A bit ashamed that he had never wondered about it before, he decided to forego fishing for a few days and started gathering wood and hammering it to the hut.

The Fisherlad and the Mermaids Ring

“What will you be at now?” she asked.

“‘Tis not proper for a lass to sleep in a shed next to the rods and shovels,” said he. “This will be a room of your own.”

“I don’t need fussin’ on my account,” she sniffed, but he noticed as she went about the house that evening she was humming to herself. A melody that was the same as one his mother used to sing.

And so the days went quickly by. Half the year was over, then but a few days left of the year, then the year was gone and it was one day after, the last day of his waiting. When the lad entered the hut that afternoon, he saw her in front of the hearth with the magic ring on her finger, holding up her hand and looking at it from all angles.

The Fisherlad and the Mermaids Ring

“What are you doing?” he barked, startling her.

“‘Tis nothing,” she said quickly, dropping the ring back into the jar and sealing it with its lid. “Just making sure all is well with the ring for tomorrow.”

Then she went to her room. When she returned, she held a packet with all of her belongings.

“I’m leaving now. I’m going back to my father’s home.”

“What? Aren’t you worried how they will treat you?”

“I’ll manage. I’m older now.”

“It’s only been a year.”

“One year is enough.”

“But…the winds aren’t right.”

“They will be soon.”

“But we never fixed your raft. I’ll give you a ride in the boat.”

“I fixed the raft. I’d just as soon leave as I came, if that’s alright with you.”

She walked over to the chart, took it off the wall, laid it before him and marked off the last day.

“Tomorrow,” she said, “you will claim your own true love.”

And she left.

For the rest of the day, the fisherlad stayed in his chair. He stared at the walls and at the floor. He slept in the chair. Early the next morning when he woke, the first thing he saw was the chart on the table before him. He went over to the mantle where he kept the mermaid’s ring and set out to claim the love of his life.

Only it wasn’t to the village he was born where he set his sail. It was to the land of the girl who had stayed with him at the island. She was surprised to see him enter her father’s garden.

“How are you? Did you find the love of your life?”

“Yes, I did. I mean, now, I have.”

“And will she have you?” asked the girl, staring at the ring that he held in front of her.

“You tell me,” he said, sweeping her into his arms.

And so the two were wed, and a fine wedding it was, with all the family and friends that the girl and lad thought had been cross with them but who were no longer angry, if they had ever been at all.

In the village, one day it so happened the lad chanced upon the same bonny lass who had captured his heart before. She had the same golden hair and blue eyes, and the same tall, slim frame, but there was nothing about her that seemed different or better than other girls. Later that day he took his bride back to their island, where they both wanted to be most of all.

The Fisherlad and the Mermaids Ring

That was when they saw the mermaid sitting on a rock in the water.

“Did you find your own true love?” said she.

“Yes I did – and here she is!” said the lad.

“But she does not have blond hair,” said the mermaid.


“And she does not have blue eyes.”


“Nor is she tall or slim.”

“‘Tis so,” said he, “as you can see she’s right short, and, if I can say so, perhaps a bit filled out?” His bride bopped him on the shoulder.

“Yet she is your own true love?”

“No doubt about it.”

“So our bargain is kept. You got what you asked for.” The mermaid dived off the rock and into the sea, and that was the last they ever saw of her.

And so the fisherlad and his wee brown-haired lass lived happily for the rest of their days.

14. Love Stories

The Girl with the Loveliest Hair in the World

Once upon a time, in a city called Hindustan, there lived a merchant who sold perfumes, and he had a daughter named Dorani whom he dearly loved. Dorani had a friend who was a fairy, and both Dorani and her fairy friend were able to sing more sweetly and dance more gracefully than anyone else in the kingdom. For this reason they were held in high favor by the king, or rajah, of fairyland.  And the rajah’s name was Indra.

Dorani had the loveliest hair in the world, for it was like spun gold, and the smell of it was like the smell of fresh roses. But her hair was so long and thick that the weight of it was often unbearable.  One day she cut off a shining tress.  Wrapping the hair in a large leaf, she threw it in the river which ran just below her window.

Girl With The Loveliest Hair in the World

Now it so happened that the king’s son was out hunting, and had gone down to the river to drink, when there floated towards him a folded leaf, from which came a perfume of roses. He opened it, and within he found a lock of hair like spun gold, and from which came a faint, exquisite fragrance.

When the prince reached home that day he looked so sad and was so quiet that his father wondered if any ill had befallen him, and asked his son what was the matter.

The youth took the tress of hair which he had found in the river.  Holding it up to the light, he replied, “See, my father, was there ever hair like this? Unless I can win and marry the maiden that owns that lock of hair, I must die!”

So the king immediately sent heralds throughout all his dominions to search for the damsel with hair like spun gold. At last he learned that she was the daughter of the perfume merchant.

Rumor spreads quickly.  Soon Dorani heard of this also. She said to her father, “If the hair is mine, and the king requires me to marry his son, then I must do so. But please ask the king to allow me this: that after the wedding, though I will stay all day at the palace, I wish every night to return to my old home.”

Her father listened to her with amazement, but answered nothing, as he knew she was wiser than he.

Of course the hair was Dorani’s, and soon the king summoned the perfume merchant, and told him that he wished for his daughter to be given in marriage to the prince.

The father bowed his head three times to the ground.  He replied, “Your highness is our lord, and all that you bid us we will do. The maiden asks only this – that if, after the wedding, she stays all day at the palace, that she may be allowed to return each night to her father’s house.”

The king thought this a very strange request but said to himself that it was, after all, his son’s affair, and the girl would surely soon tire of going to and fro. So he made no difficulty, and everything was speedily arranged and the wedding was celebrated with great rejoicing.

At first, the condition attached to his wedding with the lovely Dorani troubled the prince very little, for he thought that he would at least see his bride during the day. But to his dismay, he found that she would do nothing but sit the whole time upon a stool with her head bowed forward upon her knees, and he could never persuade her to say a single word.

Each evening she was carried back to her house on a covered platform that was carried on poles on the shoulders of four men, a transport called a palanquin. Each morning Dorani returned soon after daybreak; and yet never a sound passed her lips, nor did she show by any sign all day long that she saw, or heard, or heeded her husband.

Unhappy and troubled, the prince was wandering in an old and beautiful garden near the palace when he came upon the old gardener, who had served the prince’s great grandfather. When the old gardener saw the prince he came and bowed before him and said,

“Child! Why do you look so sad – what’s the matter?”

The prince replied, “I am sad, old friend, because I have married a wife as lovely as the stars, but she will not speak a single word to me, and I know not what to do. Night after night she leaves me for her father’s house, and day after day she sits in mine as though turned to stone, and utters no word, whatever I may say or do.”

The gardener asked the prince to wait for him.  A little later he came back with five or six small packets, which he placed in the young man’s hands.  He said, “Tomorrow, when your bride leaves the palace, sprinkle the powder from one of these packets upon your body. While continuing to see everything clearly yourself, you will become invisible to everyone else. More I cannot do, but may all go well for you!”

The prince thanked him, and put the packets carefully away in his turban.

The next night, after Dorani left for her father’s house, the prince sprinkled the magic powder over himself, and then hurried after her. Indeed he was invisible to everyone else, although he felt as usual, and could see all that passed before him. He speedily caught up with the palanquin and walked beside it to the perfume merchant’s dwelling. There his bride entered the house.  He followed silently behind her.

Dorani proceeded to her own room where were set two large basins, one filled with rose oil perfume and one of water. In these she washed herself, and then she arrayed herself in a robe of silver, and wound about her neck strings of pearls, while a wreath of roses crowned her hair. When fully dressed, she seated herself upon a four-legged stool over which was a canopy with silken curtains. These she drew around her.  Then she called out, “Fly, stool, fly!”

Instantly the stool rose up in the air.  The invisible prince, who had watched all these proceedings with great wonder, seized it by one leg as it flew away, and found himself being borne through the air at a rapid rate.

In a short while they arrived at the house of Dorani’s fairy friend, who, as I told you before, was also a favorite with the king, or rajah, of fairyland. The fairy stood waiting on the threshold, as beautifully dressed as Dorani herself was. 

When the stool stopped at her door, the fairy friend cried in astonishment –

“Why, the stool is flying all crooked today!

I suspect that you have been talking to your husband, so it will not fly straight.”

But Dorani declared she had not spoken one word to him, and she couldn’t think why the stool flew as if weighed down at one side. The fairy looked doubtful, but made no answer, and took her seat beside Dorani, the prince again holding tightly to one leg. Then the stool carried both on through the air until it came to the palace of Indra the rajah.

All through the night the women sang and danced before the rajah Indra, while a magic lute played by itself the most bewitching music the prince had ever heard, and the prince was quite entranced. Just before dawn the rajah gave the signal to cease. Again the two women seated themselves on the stool and, with the prince clinging to one leg, it flew back to earth, and bore Dorani and her husband safely to the perfume merchant’s shop.

Here the prince hurried straight on to the palace. As he passed the threshold of his own rooms he became visible again. Then he lay down upon a couch and waited for Dorani to arrive.

As soon as she came, she took a seat and remained as silent as usual, with her head bowed on her knees. For a while not a sound was heard.  Presently the prince said, “I dreamed a curious dream last night, and as it was all about you I am going to tell it to you, although you heed nothing.”

The girl, indeed, did not respond to his words and stayed as still ever.  But in spite of that, he proceeded to relate every single thing he had seen the evening before, leaving out no detail. And when he praised her singing – and his voice shook a little – Dorani just looked at him, but she said naught, though in her own mind, she was filled with wonder.

“What a dream!” she thought. “Could it have been a dream? How could he have learned in a dream all I have done?” Still she kept silent.  Only she looked that one time at the prince, and then remained all day as before, with her head bowed upon her knees.

When night came, the prince again made himself invisible and followed her. The same things happened again as had happened before, but Dorani sang better than ever. In the morning the prince a second time told Dorani all that she had done, pretending that he had dreamed of it. Directly after he had finished Dorani gazed at him.  She said, “Is it true that you dreamt this, or were you really there?”

“I was there,” answered the prince.

“But why do you follow me?” asked the girl.

“Because,” replied the prince, “I love you, and to be with you is happiness.”

This time Dorani’s eyelids quivered but she said no more, and was silent the rest of the day. However, in the evening, just as she was stepping into her palanquin, she said to the prince, “If you do love me, prove it by not following me tonight.”

And so the prince did as she wished, and he stayed at home.

That evening when she and her fairy friend flew through the air on the magic stoo, it flew so unsteadily that they could hardly keep their seats.  At last the fairy exclaimed, “There is only one reason that it should jerk like this! You must have been talking to your husband!”

And Dorani replied, “Yes, I have spoken!” But no more would she say.

That night Dorani sang so marvelously that at the end the rajah Indra rose up and vowed that she might ask whatever she liked and he would give it to her. At first she was silent.  But when he pressed her, she said, “If you insist, then I request the magic lute.”

The rajah, when he heard this, was displeased with himself for having made so rash a promise, because he valued the magic lute that played by itself above all his possessions. But as he had promised, so he must perform.

“You must never come back again,” he said roughly, “for once having asked so much, how will you in the future be content with smaller gifts?”

Girl With The Loveliest Hair in the World

Dorani bowed her head silently as she took the lute.  She passed with the fairy out of the great gate, where the stool awaited them. More unsteadily than ever, it flew back to earth.

When Dorani got to the palace that morning she asked the prince whether he had dreamed again. He laughed with happiness, for this time she had spoken to him of her own free will.  He replied, “No, but I begin to dream now – not of what has happened in the past, but of what may happen in the future.”

That day Dorani sat very quietly, but she answered the prince when he spoke to her. And when evening fell, and with it the time for her departure, she still sat on. The prince came close to her and said softly, “Are you not going back to your house tonight, Dorani?”

At that she rose and threw herself into his arms, whispering, “Never again!  Nay, never again will I leave thee!”

Girl With The Loveliest Hair in the World

So the prince won his beautiful bride.  And though neither of them dealt any further with fairies and their magic, they learnt more daily of the magic of Love, which one may still learn, although fairy magic has long since fled away.

14. Love Stories

The Little Mermaid

Far out in the sea where the water is very deep, the Sea King ruled the undersea world.

In the deepest spot of the sea was his castle. The walls were made of blue coral.  On the roof were shells that opened and closed when the water passed by. And that is where the Sea King lived with his mother and four daughters, each one born a year apart.

The youngest of the four princesses was the Little Mermaid. She spent much of her time swimming to ships that had fallen to the bottom of the sea.  The ships held treasures from the world above! She would fill her arms and set up her collection here and there. All the while she would sing. As she did, fish circled around to hear her.  For the Little Mermaid’s voice was the most beautiful one under the sea.

The girls knew that when they turned 15, they could swim up to the surface for the first time. It would be a long time that the Little Mermaid had to wait, as she was the youngest! So she made her grandmother tell her all about life up on land. Tales about ships and towns, and every bit of stories about humans that she knew.  

Soon the eldest sister turned 15.  She was the first to be allowed to rise up to the surface.  When she came back, she had many wonders to tell her sisters about!  She told about resting on soft white sand. High above was a deep blue sky with puffy white clouds.  Later the sun set, she said, and the whole sky turned gold and red. She had watched the birds fly high above her, dipping and making turns in the red and gold sky.

When the next sister turned 15, it was winter.

She told of icebergs floating in the sea and shining bright.  All the ships stayed far away from the icebergs, she said, as if in fear. But the icebergs did not seem lonely.  They were like friends, floating close to each other. 

When it was the third sister’s turn, she told about moving as close as she could to the gate of a town. She heard people call out, horses that went clip, clopping down the street. And even music that she had never heard before.


All this the Little Mermaid heard with wonder.  It wasn’t fair that she had to wait the longest!  At last the day came when she turned 15, too. Now she could rise up over the surface and see for herself.  

When she came up over the water, the Little Mermaid was next to a large ship. On the ship beautiful music was playing.  Sailors were dancing on the deck. They were laughing and having a fine time. It must be a party! Now and then as the waves lifted up the Little Mermaid, she could see better.  A handsome young man stepped out on the deck. When he did, a hundred rockets rose in the air. The party was for him. Was it his birthday? She swam closer.

The men all seemed to like that young man.  When he spoke, the sailors would laugh. Sometimes they patted him on his back in joy. Once that made his crown fall off. The men laughed and picked it up. “A crown,” said the Little Mermaid.  “He must be a prince.”

Suddenly, it became very dark and the wind picked up.  The sailors started to run about on deck.  They pulled down the sail. The ship dipped and swooped.  It rolled side to side, and up and down on the high waves.

Then lightning.  Thunder.  A strong rainstorm hit.  The poor ship started to tip on the rough waves!  It was so dark that the Little Mermaid could see nothing.  Then lightning lit up the sky, and she could see the young prince on deck.  He seemed to be the only one still there! He was working hard to keep the ship afloat.  He was throwing ropes out to his men who had jumped. But then, all at once, the waves got very high and the ship started to tip over.  The Prince was flung to the side of the ship and thrown overboard! Down into the sea he fell.

He dropped very fast.  What was the Little Mermaid to do?  She knew that human beings cannot live under the water. She dove deep and fast.  She reached out and was able to grab his shirt. Then she swam up to the surface as fast as she could.  At last she could pull his head above the water. There the two of them floated as the waves rose and fell.  By morning, the storm had passed. Yet the prince was as still as he had been all night. From far off the Little Mermaid saw tops of hills.  “Land!” she said.

She swam to the shore, pulling him behind her.  It was not easy to pull the young man up onto dry sand, but she did it.  Was he dead? She sang a sad song. All of a sudden, the prince started to move.  “Oh! Are you all right?” she asked, and touched his forehead.

Just then, she heard a group of girls come over.  At once, she dove into the sea and hid behind a rock.  They must not see her – a mermaid! The girls found the prince, who was now awake. They called for help and soon he was led off. The prince would never know that she had saved him.  The Little Mermaid sank into a deep gloom. When she went back home, her sisters wanted to know all about her trip.  But she was too sad to say anything.

Days went by.  Then weeks. The sisters went to their grandmother for help.  The old woman went to her granddaughter. “Child, what is the matter?” she said.

The Little Mermaid cried out, “Grandmother, I will never be happy again!” She told about meeting the prince and saving him.  Then having to leave him behind. “Unless I can somehow walk on land and be with that young man, I will be sad for the rest of my days!”  

“My dear,” said the grandmother, “you know as well as I do that it is not possible for a mermaid to walk on two legs!  Why, the only one who can do anything like that is the Sea Witch. But of course it is much too dangerous to go to her.”

The Sea Witch!  Before she knew it, the Little Mermaid was headed to the far corner of the sea, where the Sea Witch lived.

“This is no problem,” said the Sea Witch when the Little Mermaid told her what she needed. “I fix problems much harder than this.  Why, to have legs all you need to do is to drink my potion.” Then she turned to face the girl. “But I don’t just give it away, you understand.”

“Oh!” said the Little Mermaid.  “What then is your price?” In her heart, she felt a lift.  So there was a way she could have two legs and be with the prince after all!  

“Oh, not too much,” said the Sea Witch.  “For one, you must give up your voice.”

“My voice?” said the Little Mermaid.  She knew her voice is what everyone loved about her the best.

“You don’t need it,” said the Sea Witch.  “Chitter, chatter, what a waste of time! But know this, little pretty.  If the prince marries someone else, the next day you must die. And your voice will stay with me forever.  But then again, who knows? He might choose YOU….”

The Little Mermaid’s heart leaped.  

The Sea Witch held out a glass with the green potion.  “So!” she said. “What are you going to do? Make up your mind!  I don’t have all day.”

The Little Mermaid took the potion and drank it.  At once she felt dizzy and in pain, as if a sword was being passed through her body. She spun and jerked about, then fell.  When she awoke, she was on the same dry land as when she had rescued the prince. Lifting up her head, she could see that her dream had come true.  Where her tail had been, she had two human legs!

“Say, Miss, are you in trouble?”  It was none other than the prince! She tried to say something but no words came out of her mouth.  “Can you not speak?” said he. She shook her head “no.” “Oh! Well then, let me take you to the castle.  You can clean up there and get some dry clothes to wear.”

You can be sure the Little Mermaid was very happy to join the prince at the castle!  At first, walking on her two legs was shaky. But soon she got the hang of it. That night, the prince showed her around the castle rooms.  He would point to a portrait and tell her all about the person. When he said something funny, they laughed together. When the story was sad, her kind eyes told him that she knew why and she felt sad, too.

The next day was a royal party.  The prince had not been not looking forward to going to it. Hours of standing with finely-dressed people who talk and talk and have nothing to say!  He asked the Little Mermaid if she might come with him. She nodded a big “yes”! That day, with the Little Mermaid by his side, the prince felt glad.  Sometimes he would make a comment in a low voice to her. And by her eyes and face, he knew that she understood.

After that, the prince wanted the Little Mermaid by his side every day.  He thought he could even fall in love with her. But he still held out hope to marry the one with the lovely voice he remembered from when he had been rescued.  Of course, it could not be his wonderful new friend who was not able to talk, let alone sing.

The King called for his son one day.  “Son,” he said, “your mother and I have made a decision.  It is time that you took a bride. Lucky for you that we already picked one out for you.”

“What!?” said the prince.  He only wanted to marry the woman with the beautiful voice that he remembered.  “Who is she?”

“A princess from a nearby land.  Tonight she is coming with her parents.  We will make the wedding plans.”

The prince was crushed.  And the Little Mermaid felt fear.  She knew what would happen to her the day after the prince married someone else!

That night her troubles got even worse.  What the Little Mermaid did not know was that the Sea Witch had put her voice into this princess.  She was a stuck-up princess who thought only of herself. Yet when she spoke, it was the Little Mermaid’s voice that came out! The prince was stunned. He asked the princess to sing. It was the Little Mermaid’s voice that filled the room. The prince could not believe his luck!  At last, he could marry the woman he had longed for all this time! When he shared his joy with the Little Mermaid, she tried to show that she was happy for him.  But gloom filled her heart.

The next morning at dawn, the Little Mermaid went to the sea. Her sisters, worried since they had not heard from her, rose above the water to see how she was.  Their youngest sister let them know the trouble she was in. The prince’s wedding was going to take place the very next day! And the day after that she must die. The sisters said not to worry, that they had an idea!  They told her to come back to the shore later that night. Then they dove back into the sea.

That night, the Little Mermaid came back to the shore as she was told to do.  The three sisters rose up again. Gone was their beautiful long hair. For they had cut it all off to give to the Sea Witch in exchange for a knife.  With the knife, the Little Mermaid must kill the princess that very night. Then the wedding could not take place and she could return to the sea and be with her family.  She took the knife for she knew how much they had done for her in love. But in her heart she knew she was not going to kill the princess.

The wedding day had arrived.  The Little Mermaid stepped up to the wedding ship with the other guests.  The wedding would take place at sunset.

In the meantime, the three sisters had returned home.  They were met with an angry father. “Where is your sister?” the Sea King shouted. “Where have you all been?”

They told the father the trouble their youngest sister was in. The father swam up to the wedding ship.  He saw the prince and princess getting ready to marry. He knew that his daughter did not use the knife the night before.  

At once, the Sea King rushed to see the Sea Witch.  She laughed. She said there was only one way to save his youngest daughter from her fate.  If he would just hand over his scepter to her, the Little Mermaid could be saved. With the scepter in her hand, the Sea Witch would rule the underworld kingdom!  The Sea King took a deep breath. What else could he do? So, he agreed.

The Sea Witch grabbed the scepter and laughed in glee.  She rushed to the wedding ship to see her victory. The Little Mermaid saw the Sea Witch rise out of the sea.  She saw that with the scepter, the Sea Witch had become a huge sea monster. Tentacles were twisting out from all over her body like an octopus.  The Little Mermaid knew she must protect the prince and even his new bride. So she took out the knife. Just then, one of the Sea Witches tentacles reached out and lifted the Little Mermaid right off the ship!  “This is the end for you!” crowed the Sea Witch.

Before the Little Mermaid knew it, she was wrapped up by the tentacle.  She was spun to the very chest of the Sea Witch. And the knife she was holding – the Sea Witch’s very own knife – she used it and dove it deep into the chest of the monster.

The Sea Witch reeled back in pain and the Little Mermaid was freed. On the ship, the guests ran around in fear.  The prince shot arrow after arrow at the monster.  Finally, the Sea Witch dropped down under the water.  As she fell, the Little Mermaid’s voice was let go, and it returned to her.    

The princess then shouted in a gruff harsh voice, “What a lousy kingdom this is!  You can’t even have a proper wedding!” The prince heard the princess and knew that she was not who he thought she was.  Then the Little Mermaid started to sing. The prince knew that the voice he remembered belonged to the very one he had grown to love.

The angry princess stormed off the wedding ship.  And her family followed close behind.

When the Sea King arrived, the scepter was floating in the sea, as if it were waiting for him.  With a sweep of his arm, it was his again.

“Well!” said the Sea King.  “I see my daughter is in good hands.” and, with a wave of his scepter, he lifted the Little Mermaid back onto the ship.

The prince put his arms around her. “Now I know it was you all along!” said the prince.  “Will you marry me?” The Little Mermaid had her voice back now.  But with all the happiness in her heart, she could not manage to speak. So she nodded “yes” with a warm smile.  And a wedding on board ship took place after all.

14. Love Stories

Princess of Fire

There was once and incredibly rich, beautiful, and wise Princess. Tired of false suitors who were only interested in her money, she announced that she would only marry whoever managed to present her with the most valuable, tender, and sincere gift of all.
The palace filled up with flowers and gifts of every kind, letters describing undying love, and love-struck poems. Among all these wonderful gifts, she found a pebble, a simple dirty pebble. Intrigued, she demanded to see whoever it was who had offered this gift. Despite her curiosity, she pretended to be highly offended by the gift when the young man was brought before her. He explained it to her like this,
“Dear Princess, this pebble represents the most valuable thing one can give – it is my heart. It is also sincere, because it is not yet yours, and it is as hard as a stone. Only when it fills with love will it soften and be more tender than any other.”

The young man quietly left, leaving the Princess surprised and captivated. She fell so in love that she took the little pebble with her wherever she went, and for months she regaled the young man with gifts and attention. But his heart remained as hard as the stone in her hands. Losing hope, she ended up throwing the pebble into a fire. In the heat of the fire, the sand crumbled from around it, and from out of that rough stone a beautiful golden figure emerged. With this, the Princess understood that she herself would have to be like the fire, and go about separating what is useless from what is truly important.

During the following months she set about changing the kingdom, and devoted her life, her wisdom, and her riches to separating what is truly valuable from what is unimportant. She gave up the luxury, the jewels, the excess; and it meant that everyone in the kingdom now had food to eat and books to read. So many people came away from their interaction with the Princess enchanted by her character and her charisma. Her mere presence transmitted such human warmth that they started to call her ‘The Princess of Fire’.

And as with the pebble, the fire of her presence melted the hardness of the young man’s heart. And just as he had promised, he became so tender and considerate that he made the Princess happy till the end of her days.