Once upon a time there lived a
“Oh,” said the king, “that is indeed a wonderful gift. Tomorrow you must bring your daughter to my castle, so she may spin some gold for me.”
Then the miller was sorry he had lied, but he had to do as the king ordered.
This particular king loved gold more than anything else, so he was very pleased at the prospect of turning straw into gold. He led the poor girl into one of the giant castle rooms. There, in the middle of the room, stood a spinning wheel, and near it was a great heap of straw.
The king turned to the miller's daughter, and said, “There is your spinning wheel, and here is the straw. If you do not spin all of it into gold by morning, your head shall be cut off.” Then the king left the room and locked the door.
Tears flowed down the poor girl's face, for she had no idea how to spin straw into gold. While she was crying, the door flew open and a little old man stepped into the room. He had bowlegs and a long red nose and wore a tall, peaked cap. Bowing low to the girl, he said, “Good evening, my dear young lady. Why are you crying?”
“Oh,” said the girl, “the king has ordered me to spin all this straw into gold, and I do not know how.”
Then the little man said, “What will you give me if I will spin it for you?”
“This string of gold beads from my neck,” said the girl.
The little man took the beads and, sitting down, began to spin. As the young girl watched, she could scarcely believe her eyes. The coarse straw was turning into glittering gold threads. The little man kept working until the entire pile of straw was transformed into gold.
The next morning the king unlocked the door. He was delighted to see the pile of gold, but seeing it made him want even more. He led the girl to a still larger room, which was also full of straw. Turning to the trembling girl, he said, “There is your spinning wheel, and here is the straw. If you do not spin all of it into gold by morning, your head shall be cut off.”
The maiden's eyes filled with tears at the sight of the huge heap of straw. Again, she began to cry. All at once the door opened and in jumped the little old bowlegged man. He took off his pointed cap and said to the miller's daughter, “What will you give me if I help you again, and spin this straw into gold?”
“This ruby ring from my finger,” said the maiden.
The little man took the ring and began to spin. In the morning the straw had all been turned into the finest gold.
When the king opened the door, how his eyes glistened at the sight of the gold! Yet, as before, it made him desire even more. Taking the poor girl by the hand, he led her to an incredibly large room. This room was so full of straw that there was hardly space for her to sit at the spinning wheel.
Turning to the girl, the king said, “There is your spinning wheel, and here is the straw. If you do not spin all of it into gold by morning, your head shall be cut off. But if you do spin the gold, I will marry you and make you my queen.”
Hardly had the door closed behind the king when the little old man came hopping and skipping into the room. Taking off his pointed cap, he said to the girl, “What will you give me if I will again spin this straw for you?”
“Oh!” said the maiden, “I have nothing more to give.”
“Then you must make me a promise,” said the little man. “You must promise to give me your first child, after you become queen.”
The girl saw no other way to save her life, so she made the promise. Then the little man sat down and spun all the straw into gold. When the king opened the door the next morning, he saw the maiden sitting beside a large heap of shining gold. The king kept his promise and married the girl.
About a year later the queen had a lovely child, but she had forgotten all about her promise. One day the little old man came hopping into the queen's room and said, “Now give me what you have promised.”
The queen was frightened and began to cry, and the little man felt sorry for her.
“I will give you three days,” he said, “and if, in that time, you can guess my name, you shall keep the child.”
The queen lay awake that night, thinking of all the names she had ever heard. In the morning men were sent to every part of the kingdom to find strange names.
The next day the little man came again. The queen began to call off to him all the unusual names she had found — Caspar, Melchior, and many, many others.
As she read through her list, the little man shook his head and said, “No, that is not my name.”
Then the queen had her men go from house to house throughout the town. They took down the name of every man, woman, and child.
When the little man came again, the queen had another long list of names. “Is your name Cowribs, or Sheepshanks, or Bandylegs?” she asked.
He answered to each one, “No, that is not my name.”
On the third day the queen's men began to come back from all parts of the kingdom. One of the men said, “As I was going by some deep woods, I came upon a little house, in front of which a little man was dancing around a fire. He wore a pointed cap and had a long nose and bowed legs. As he went hopping and jumping about, first on one leg and then on the other, he sang:”
On hearing this, the queen wept with joy. She knew that at last she had found the name. At sunset the little fellow came skipping up to the queen.
“Now,” he said, “this is your last chance. Tell me my name.”
The queen, still pretending not to be sure, decided to have a little fun first. She asked, “Is your name Peter?”
“Then your name is Rumpelstiltskin.”
“The fairies have told you!” shouted the little man. He became so angry that, in his rage, he stamped his foot right into the ground. This made him angrier still, and taking hold of his left foot with both hands, he pulled so hard that he tore himself in half.