Rumpelstiltskin – A German Folktale
Posted on: April 15, 2021.

There once lived a miller, in a faraway land in Germany, whose ill fate made his wealth dwindle, and landed him in misery and poverty. Unable to find a moral solution to redeem himself, he devised a plan to get rich.

Accordingly, he made it known to the town, hoping it would reach the ears of the king, that his daughter had the unique talent of spinning straw into pure gold!

Just as the miller had hoped, the king heard about the miller’s proclamation and wanted to see for himself the miller’s talented daughter and test her skills.

Subsequently, the miller took his daughter to meet the king who commanded that the girl be taken to one of the rooms in the tower of the palace, fill the room with straw and lock the girl in.

The king further stated that he would give the girl one night to complete her work, and that he would inspect the girl’s work the next day, and release her only if she successfully spins all the straw into gold.

If not, the girl would be the king’s prisoner forever. The miller’s daughter was overcome with grief for she really had no such talent as her father had falsely claimed. She sobbed large tears, not knowing what to do.

To her bewilderment, an imp suddenly appeared before here. After listening to her predicament, the imp offered to help her spin the straw into gold, in return for the gold necklace that she was wearing.

The miller’s daughter readily accepted the imp’s offer, as she had no other choice, and was even thankful for it. True to his word, the imp spun all the straw into gold before the night was over.

The next morning, the king walked into the tower room to inspect the girl’s work, mostly convinced that nothing would have happened, for such a thing as straw could not possibly be spun into gold by any human.

Inside the tower room, the king could not believe his eyes. He was shocked to see all the straw spun to gold, that glittered bright and yellow before his eyes. He summoned the royal goldsmith to inspect the work.

The goldsmith confirmed that it was indeed gold and not an occult trick or black magic. The king was stunned, and felt even a little betrayed. Instead of releasing the girl as stated earlier, he furthered the test.

The girl was to be put into a bigger room within the tower that night, filled with even more straw to be spun into gold before the night ended. The miller’s daughter sobbed large tears, feeling helpless.

A second time, the same imp appeared before her, magically, and offered to spin all the straw into gold, in return for the gold ring that the miller daughter was wearing on her finger. The girl readily accepted.

Pocketing her gold ring, the cunning imp set about spinning all the straw into gold, finishing even faster this time, though the amount of straw was double that of the first. It was just a couple of hours past midnight.

The king had the girl’s work inspected by the royal goldsmith the next morning, who confirmed that it was pure gold and not a trick. However, the king stated that for the third and final time he would test the girl.

She was to be put in the biggest room in the tower, filled with even more straw. If she had spun all that straw into pure gold threads before the night was over, the king would marry her, and make her queen of the land.

Sobbing large tears, the miller’s daughter lamented her fate, not knowing what to expect or do. A third time, the imp appeared before the girl. This time, however, the girl had nothing left to offer the imp.

Immediately, the wicked imp made her a horrible, terrible offer—the miller’s daughter was to give him the first child that would be born to her from her marriage to the king—the crown prince!

With no other choice but to give in to the imp’s peculiar offer, the girl accepted to the deal. Before the night was over, the imp had spun all the straw into gold, working the fastest this time, and left around midnight.

Now, the king was thoroughly impressed with the “unique talent” of the miller’s daughter, and being a greedy person himself, was convinced that he would only get richer and richer with straw turning to gold.

In a grand ceremony, the king married the miller’s daughter, the new queen. The miseries and poor days of the miller was over, now the king’s father-in-law, and rich beyond belief, much more than he’d once been.

A year passed, and the miller’s daughter gave birth to a child. She had by now completely forgotten about the imp and her promise to him. And exactly when the child was a year old, the imp appeared prompted.

He demanded that the queen give him her first child as promised earlier. The queen was devastated, and pleaded with the imp to make any other demand—even a 100 kilograms of gold—but not the child.

But the imp wouldn’t hear of it. It was not gold that he required by a king’s child. Finally, the imp gave her a chance—if she could correctly guess his name in three days, she could keep her child.

The queen spent the first two days trying to guess the imp’s name but in vain. It seemed the imp had a rather unique name. The queen summoned her messenger and told him to follow the imp and find out his name.

The messenger followed the imp to a cottage in the woods, where the imp presumably lived. Eavesdropping the imp inside his house, the messenger heard him singing what his name was. The queen was informed.

On the third and final day, the queen pretended not knowing what the imp’s name was and purposely kept wrong-guessing. Suddenly, she remarked, “Then your name must be Rumpelstiltskin!”.

The imp was enraged. She was right! How could she have guessed his name? He angrily stomped the ground with his left foot… so hard that a hole appeared into which he fell… disappearing forever.



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