The Seven Ravens
The Seven Ravens
Once upon a time, there was a man who had seven sons, but no daughters. He and his wife both wished for the birth of a girl, and at long last, their wish came true.
The whole family was jubilant. The day came to baptize the tiny girl and the father sent his seven sons down to the river to get water for the baptism. In a hurry to return to their family, the boys accidentally dropped the pitcher into the water. Although they looked and looked, they couldn't retrieve it. They knew their father would grow frustrated at their delay, and they were right.
The father had become very impatient and cried out, “I wish those boys were all turned into ravens.”
That instant, he heard the flapping of wings over his head and saw seven coal-black ravens fly past in the sky. The father was horrified that his careless curse had come true, but he had no idea how to reverse it.
Now, they had only their daughter, who grew to be happy and beautiful. Her parents didn't tell her that because of her, they had lost their seven boys.
But one day, the girl overheard a woman say, “Oh, yes, she's a beautiful child, but it was because of her that her seven brothers were lost.”
Then she went to her parents and asked them to explain this to her.
“It wasn't your fault,” her father said sadly. And he told her about his careless curse. The young girl still felt that she was at fault and she grew very sad, worrying about her brothers living as ravens.
Finally, she decided to set out to find and rescue her brothers. She took an old golden ring that her mother had given her and a loaf of good bread to eat. She walked and walked until she came to the end of the world. Then she walked toward the sun, but it was too hot and threatened to burn her. Then she walked toward the oceans, but they were too deep and threatened to drown her. So she ran toward the moon, but it was too cold and threatened to freeze her. At last she went to the stars, and they were very generous and fed her a delicious chicken dinner.
Then, they gave her a small chicken bone and said, “You'll need a bone to open the glass mountain where your brothers are.” The little girl put the bone in her pocket and went in search of the glass mountain. When she came to it, the gates were locked. She searched her pocket for the bone, but it had fallen out.
The girl was brave, as well as beautiful and strong. She knew she needed a bone to open the gate so she cut off her little finger and put it in the door. The new bone opened the gates to the glass mountain, and she went in.
Inside, she met a gnome who said, “Little girl, what are you looking for?”
“I am looking for my seven brothers,” said the girl, “the seven ravens.”
“The ravens are my masters,” said the gnome. “They are not at home. If you wait, they'll be here soon because it is nearly time for their dinner.”
The gnome led her into a dining room where there were seven gold plates and seven crystal glasses. The girl drank a sip from each glass and took a bite from the food on each plate. Then into the last glass she dropped her mother's ring, and hid behind a door.
Suddenly there was a flapping of wings and a rushing of air, and the sounds of cawing ravens.
The seven ravens flew into the room and looked at their plates and glasses.
“Someone has been drinking from my glass,” they said, one after another. “Someone has been eating from my plate. It was a human being.” Still, the ravens were hungry, so they ate and drank.
At last the seventh raven drank until his glass was empty. Then he almost choked on the ring.
He took it from his beak and knew at once it was his mother's.
“Is our sister here?” said the ravens. “It's so far from home. Perhaps she has broken the spell. Perhaps we can be humans again.”
“If we could just see her,” said the seventh raven.
Just then the girl, who had been hiding behind a door, stepped forward.
The moment her brothers saw her, the careless curse was broken. They all became humans again. Then, in merry company, they returned to their parents' home.