said, "Since our own dear mother's death we have not had one happy hour;
our stepmother beats us every day, and, when we come near her, kicks us
away with her foot. Come, let us wander forth into the wide world." So
all day long they travelled over meadows, fields, and stony roads. By
the evening they came into a large forest, and laid themselves down in a
hollow tree, and went to sleep. When they awoke the next morning, the
sun had already risen high in the heavens, and its beams made the tree
so hot that the little boy said to his sister, "I am so very thirsty,
that if I knew where there was a brook, I would go and drink. Ah! I
think I hear one running;" and so saying, he got up, and taking his
Sister's hand they went to look for the brook.
The wicked stepmother, however, was a witch, and had witnessed the
departure of the two children: so, sneaking after them secretly, as is
the habit of witches, she had enchanted all the springs in the forest.
Presently they found a brook, which ran trippingly over the pebbles, and
the Brother would have drunk out of it, but the Sister heard how it said
as it ran along, "Who drinks of me will become a tiger!" So the Sister
exclaimed, "I pray you, Brother, drink not, or you will become a tiger,
and tear me to pieces!" So the Brother did not drink, although his
thirst was very great, and he said, "I will wait till the next brook."
As they came to the second, the Sister heard it say, "Who drinks of me
becomes a wolf!" The Sister ran up crying, "Brother, do not, pray do not
drink, or you will become a wolf and eat me up!" Then the Brother did
not drink, saying, "I will wait until we come to the next spring, but
then I must drink, you may say what you will; my thirst is much too
great." Just as they reached the third brook, the Sister heard the voice
saying, "Who drinks of me will become a fawn--who drinks of me will
become a fawn!" So the Sister said, "Oh, my Brother do not drink, or you
will be changed into a fawn, and run away from me!" But he had already
kneeled down, and he drank of the water, and, as the first drops passed
his lips, his shape took that of a fawn.
At first the Sister wept over her little, changed Brother, and he wept
too, and knelt by her, very sorrowful; but at last the maiden said, "Be
still, dear little fawn, and I will never forsake you!" and, taking off
her golden garter, she placed it around his neck, and, weaving rushes,
made a girdle to lead him with. This she tied to him, and taking the
other end in her hand, she led him away, and they travelled deeper and
deeper into the forest. After they had gone a long distance they came to
a little hut, and the maiden, peeping in, found it empty, and thought,
"Here we can stay and dwell." Then she looked for leaves and moss to
make a soft couch for the Fawn, and every morning she went out and
collected roots and berries and nuts for herself, and tender grass for
the Fawn. In the evening when the Sister was tired, and had said her
prayers, she laid her head upon the back of the Fawn, which served for a
pillow, on which she slept soundly. Had but the Brother regained his own
proper form, their lives would have been happy indeed.
Thus they dwelt in this wilderness, and some time had elapsed when it
happened that the King of the country had a great hunt in the forest;
and now sounded through the trees the blowing of horns, the barking of
dogs, and the lusty cry of the hunters, so that the little Fawn heard
them, and wanted very much to join in. "Ah!" said he to his Sister, "let
me go to the hunt, I cannot restrain myself any longer;" and he begged
so hard that at last she consented. "But," she told him, "return again
in the evening, for I shall shut my door against the wild huntsmen, and,
that I may know you, do you knock, and say, 'Sister, dear, let me in,'
and if you do not speak I shall not open the door."
As soon as she had said this, the little Fawn sprang off quite glad and
merry in the fresh breeze. The King and his huntsmen perceived the
beautiful animal, and pursued him; but they could not catch him, and
when they thought they certainly had him, he sprang away over the
bushes, and got out of sight. Just as it was getting dark, he ran up to
the hut, and, knocking, said, "Sister mine, let me in." Then she
unfastened the little door, and he went in, and rested all night long
upon his soft couch. The next morning the hunt was commenced again, and
as soon as the little Fawn heard the horns and the tally-ho of the
sportsmen he could not rest, and said, "Sister, dear, open the door; I
must be off." The Sister opened it, saying, "Return at evening, mind,
and say the words as before." When the King and his huntsmen saw him
again, the Fawn with the golden necklace, they followed him, close, but
he was too nimble and quick for them. The whole day long they kept up
with him, but towards evening the huntsmen made a circle around him, and
one wounded him slightly in the hinder foot, so that he could run but
slowly. Then one of them slipped after him to the little hut, and heard
him say, "Sister, dear, open the door," and saw that the door was opened
and immediately shut behind him. The huntsman, having observed all this,
went and told the King what he had seen and heard, and he said, "On the
morrow I will pursue him once again."
The Sister, however, was terribly afraid when she saw that her Fawn was
wounded, and, washing off the blood, she put herbs upon the foot, and
said, "Go and rest upon your bed, dear Fawn, that your wound may heal."
It was so slight, that the next morning he felt nothing of it, and when
he heard the hunting cries outside, he exclaimed, "I cannot stop away--I
must be there, and none shall catch me so easily again!" The Sister wept
very much and told him, "Soon will they kill you, and I shall be here
alone in this forest, forsaken by all the world: I cannot let you go."
"I shall die here in vexation," answered the Fawn, "if you do not, for
when I hear the horn, I think I shall jump out of my skin." The Sister,
finding she could not prevent him, opened the door, with a heavy heart,
and the Fawn jumped out, quite delighted, into the forest. As soon as
the King perceived him, he said to his huntsmen, "Follow him all day
long till the evening, but let no one do him any harm." Then when the
sun had set, the King asked his huntsman to show him the hut; and as
they came to it he knocked at the door and said, "Let me in, dear
Sister." Upon this the door opened, and, stepping in, the King saw a
maiden more beautiful than he had ever beheld before. She was frightened
when she saw not her Fawn, but a man enter, who had a golden crown upon
his head. But the King, looking at her with a kindly glance, held out to
her his hand, saying, "Will you go with me to my castle, and be my dear
wife?" "Oh, yes," replied the maiden; "but the Fawn must go too: him I
will never forsake." The King replied, "He shall remain with you as long
as you live, and shall never want."
The King took the beautiful maiden upon his horse, and rode to his
castle, where the wedding was celebrated with great splendor and she
became Queen, and they lived together a long time; while the Fawn was
taken care of and played about the castle garden.
The wicked stepmother, however, on whose account the children had
wandered forth into the world, had supposed that long ago the Sister had
been torn into pieces by the wild beasts, and the little Brother in his
Fawn's shape hunted to death by the hunters. As soon, therefore, as she
heard how happy they had become, and how everything prospered with them,
envy and jealousy were aroused in her wicked heart, and left her no
peace; and she was always thinking in what way she could bring
misfortune upon them.
Her own daughter, who was as ugly as night, and had but one eye, for
which she was continually reproached, said, "The luck of being a Queen
has never happened to me." "Be quiet, now," replied the old woman, "and
make yourself contented: when the time comes I will help and assist
you." As soon, then, as the time came when the Queen gave birth to a
beautiful little boy, which happened when the King was out hunting, the
old witch took the form of a chambermaid, and got into the room where
the Queen was lying, and said to her, "The bath is ready, which will
restore you and give you fresh strength; be quick before it gets cold."
Her daughter being at hand, they carried the weak Queen between them
into the room, and laid her in the bath, and then, shutting the door,
they ran off; but first they made up an immense fire in the stove, which
must soon suffocate the poor young Queen.
When this was done, the old woman took her daughter, and, putting a cap
upon her head, laid her in the bed in the Queen's place. She gave her,
too, the form and appearance of the real Queen, as far as she was able;
but she could not restore the lost eye, and, so that the King might not
notice it, she turned her upon that side where there was no eye.
When midnight came, and every one was asleep, the nurse, who sat by
herself, wide awake, near the cradle, in the nursery, saw the door open
and the true Queen come in. She took the child in her arms, and rocked
it a while, and then, shaking up its pillow, laid it down in its cradle,
and covered it over again. She did not forget the Fawn, either, but
going to the corner where he was, stroked his head, and then went
silently out of the door. The nurse asked in the morning of the guards
if any one had passed into the castle during the night; but they
answered, "No, we have not seen anybody." For many nights afterwards she
came constantly, but never spoke a word; and the nurse saw her always,
but she would not trust herself to speak about it to any one.
When some time had passed away, the Queen one night began to speak, and
"How fares my child! how fares my fawn?
Twice more will I come, but never again."
The nurse made no reply; but, when she had disappeared, went to the
King, and told him. The King exclaimed, "Oh, mercy! what does this
mean?--the next night I will watch myself by the child." So in the
evening he went into the nursery, and about midnight the Queen appeared,
"How fares my child! how fares my fawn?
Once more will I come, but never again."
And she nursed the child, as she usually did, and then disappeared. The
King dared not speak; but he watched the following night, and this time
"How fares my child! how fares my fawn?
This time have I come, but never again."
At these words the King could hold back no longer, but, springing up,
cried, "You can be no other than my dear wife!" Then she answered, "Yes,
I am your dear wife;" and at that moment her life was restored by God's
mercy, and she was again as beautiful and charming as ever. She told the
King the fraud which the witch and her daughter had practised upon him,
and he had them both tried, and sentence was pronounced against them.
The little Fawn was disenchanted, and received once more his human form;
and the Brother and Sister lived happily together to the end of their