The Old Woman in the Wood
The Old Woman in the Wood

nce upon a time a poor servant girl was traveling with her boxes through a wood, and a band of robbers sprang out of the brushwood.

But, she jumped out of her cart and hid herself behind a tree. As soon as the robbers had disappeared, with their booty, she began to cry bitterly, and said to herself: "What shall I do now? I cannot find my way out of the wood, and I must peris with hunger!" When evening came, she sat down under a tree. Then a little white pigeon came flying towards her, carrying in his beak a small golden key.

The bird put the key into her hand, and said, "Do you see yonder great tree? within it is a cupboard, and there you will find food enough." The girl went to the tree, and unlocking it, found pure milk in a jug, and white bread, and one of these she made a good meal. When she had finished, she said to herself, "I am so tired I should like to go to bed." In a moment the pigeon flew up, bringing another gold key, and said: "Do you see yonder tree? open it and you will find a bed!" She opened it, and there stood the little white bed and, after saying her prayers, she went to sleep. In the morning the pigeon came bringing another key, with which he told the girl to pen a certain tree. When she did so, she found dresses of all kinds, as beautiful as any princess could desire. And the pigeon every day brought her what she needed.

One day, however, the pigeon came and asked the Maiden whether she would do an act of love for him. "With all my heart!" was her reply. "I wish you then," said the pigeon, "to come with me to a little cottage, and in it, on the hearth, you will see an old woman, who will say, "Good day!" But for my sake, give her no answer; but go past her right hand, and into a room, where upon a table will lie a number of rings, and among them several with glittering stones; but leave them alone, and look out a plain one which will be there, and bring it to me as quickly as possible."

The maiden thereupon went to the cottage, and stepped in; and there sat an old woman who made a great face when she saw her, but said, "Good-day, my child!" The maiden made no answer, but went towards the door. "Whither are you going?" cried the old woman, and she tried to detain the maiden. But she went into the room and saw the heap of rings upon the table. She searched for the plain ring, but could not find it; and while she searched, she saw the old woman slip in and take up a bird-carge, with which she made off. So the maid pursued her, and saw the ring in the bill of the bird. She took the ring and ran back. She leaned herself back against her tree and waited for the pigeon; but presently the tree became, as it were, weak and yielding, and its branches began to droop. All at once the boughs bent round, and became two arms; and as the maiden turned round, the tree became a handsome man, who embraced and kissed her, saying, "You have saved me out of the power of the old woman, who is an evil witch. She changed me into a tree a long while ago, and every day I became a white pigeon for two hours; but so long as she had possession of the ring, I could not regain my human form."

And his servants and horses recovered also, for they likewise had been changed into trees; and they accompanied their master to his kingdom (for he was a king's son), and there he married the maiden, and they lived happily every afterwards.

Click here for more Grimm's Tales.