Once upon a time, a man and a woman lived in a snug home near a beautiful walled garden. They were quite happy, except for one thing: They had no children. Finally, after years of waiting, the wife became pregnant.
Oddly enough, the woman found that she craved something called rampion, a green for making salads. Rampion is also called Rapunzel. Her husband spied some inside the walls of the garden next door. Although he'd never met the person who tended the garden, he thought he'd try his luck at getting some for his hungry wife.
That night, by the light of the moon, he climbed over the stone wall into the beautiful garden and picked a small basketful of the rampion. He rushed back over the wall and gave the leaves to his wife who ate them happily.
The next night she craved more, so he was forced to make another trip over the wall into the neighbor's garden. This time though, he was caught in the act — by an old, warty fairy.
“How dare you steal into my garden and take my rampion?” she hissed.
“Oh, I'm sorry,” he said. “But I felt I had to. My wife is pregnant and craving your delicious rampion. You're quite a gardener!”
“I think she'll have a daughter,” said the fairy. “I was planning to kill you, but I will spare you on one condition.”
“You name it,” said the man.
“Your wife shall have as much rampion as she likes, and you shall live,” said the fairy, “but when your daughter is twelve years old, you will give her to me. Then, you are never to see her again.”
The man agreed, because he was afraid the fairy would kill him otherwise. When he told his wife, she cried, but she agreed that her husband really had no choice.
When the child was born, the hideous fairy appeared and gave her the name Rapunzel. Then she vanished, only to reappear, as promised, on the girl's twelfth birthday.
“I have come for you, Rapunzel,” said the fairy.
The girl agreed to go because she did not want her father to die.
The fairy shut Rapunzel up in a stone tower in the middle of a forest. There was no door to this tower, and no stairs. There was only one window high at the top, far too high for any ladder to reach.
When the fairy wanted to go up, she stood at the bottom and cried in her hoarse voice, “Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your golden hair.”
Rapunzel, who had spectacularly long hair, would drop her luxurious locks down to the fairy standing far below. Then the woman would climb up the hair.
After a few years, a prince riding through the forest happened to hear a beautiful voice singing. He hurried toward the sound and saw the tower. In the window far above, he saw a beautiful girl, singing sweetly to herself.
The prince wanted to climb the tower, but he saw right away that it wasn't possible. There was no door or stairs. He rode home, but every day he came back to the tower and listened to the girl's sweet song and waited for a glimpse of her face in the window.
One day while he was waiting, he saw the fairy arrive and croak, “Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your golden hair.”
As he watched the wicked woman climb the hair, he came up with a plan to reach the beautiful maiden. The next day when it grew dark, he went to the tower and croaked like the old fairy, “Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your golden hair.”
Down came the beautiful golden hair, and up he climbed.
As you can imagine, the prince's appearance was a bit of a shock for Rapunzel. The prince reassured her, though, and told her that he had heard her singing for many months and that he had fallen in love with her through her splendid songs. Rapunzel fell in love with him as well. The prince asked her to marry him, and she happily said yes.
“But how will you escape from this prison?” the prince asked.
“Bring a length of silk thread with you every time you visit,” Rapunzel said. “I will weave a thread ladder, and when it is ready I will come with you.”
So, every evening, the prince returned with a fine silk thread, and as they talked she wove the ladder of silk. Finally, the ladder was finished. It had not been easy hiding it from the old fairy, for she was quite suspicious and questioned Rapunzel harshly about strange human smells in the tower. Rapunzel, however, was able to convince her that nothing was amiss.
One night, by the glowing light of the moon, the prince came to rescue Rapunzel. She hung the delicate ladder from the windowsill and climbed down carefully into the arms of her waiting prince charming! They were married shortly after at the prince's royal residence and lived there very happily.
As for the ugly fairy, to this day she can't understand how Rapunzel escaped. And she's quite vexed about it!