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Once upon a time there lived a man and his wife, who much wished to have a child, but for a long time in vain. These people had a little window into the back part of their house, out of which one could see into a beautiful garden, which was full of fine flowers and vegetables; but it was surrounded by a high wall, and no one dared to go in, because it belonged to a Witch who possessed great power, and who was feared by the whole world. One day the woman stood at this window looking into the garden, and there she saw a bed which was filled with the most beautiful radishes, and which seemed so fresh ad green that she felt quite glad; and a great desire seized her to eat one of these radishes. This wish returned daily, and as she knew that she couldn't partake of them she fell ill, and looked very pale and miserable. This frightened her husband, who asked, "What ails you, my dear wife?"
"Ah!" she replied, "if I cannot get any of those radishes to eat out of the garden behind the house I shall die!" The husband, loving her very much, thought, "Rather than let my wife die, I must fetch her some radishes, cost what they may." So in the gloom of the evening, he climbed the wall of the Witch's garden, and, snatching a handful of radishes in great haste, brought them to his wife, who made herself a salad with them, which she ate with great relish. However, they were so nice, and so well flavored, that the next day after she felt the same desire for the third time, and could not get any rest, so that her husband was obliged to promise her some more. So in the evening, he made himself ready, and began clambering up the wall; but, oh! how terribly frightened he was, for there he saw the old Witch standing before him. "How dare you," she began, looking at him with a frightful scowl, "how dare you climb over into my garden to take away my radishes like a thief? Evil shall happen to you for this."
"Ah!" replied he, "let pardon be granted before justice; I have only done this from a great necessity: my wife saw your radishes from her window, and took such a fancy to them that she would have died if she had not eaten of them." Then the Witch ran after him in a passion, saying, "If she behave as you say I will let you take away all the radishes you please, but I make one condition: you must give me the child which your wife will bring into the world. All shall go well with it, and I will care for it like a mother." In his anxiety the man consented, and when the child was born the Witch appeared at the same time, gave the child the name "Rapunzel," and took it away with her.
Rapunzel grew to be the most beautiful child under the sun, and when she was twelve years old the Witch shut her up in a tower, which stood in a forest, and had neither stairs nor door, and only one little window just at the top. When the Witch wished to enter she stood beneath, and called out
for Rapunzel had long and beautiful hair, as fine as spun gold; and as soon as she heard the Witch's voice she unbound her tresses, opened the window, and then the hair fell down twenty ells, and the Witch mounted up by it.
After a couple of years had passed away, it happened that the King's son was riding through the wood, and came by the tower. There he heard a song so beautiful that he stood still and listened. It was Rapunzel, who, to pass the time of her loneliness away, was exercising her sweet voice. The King's son wished to ascend to her and looked for a door to the tower, but he could not find one. So he rode home, but the song had touched his heart so much that he went every day to the forest and listened to it; and, as he thus stood one day behind a tree, he saw the Witch come up and heard her call out
Then Rapunzel let down her tresses, and the Witch mounted up. "Is that the ladder on which one must climb? Then I will try my luck, too," said the Prince, and the following day, as he felt quite lonely, he went to the tower and said
Then the tresses fell down, and he climbed up. Rapunzel was much frightened at first when a man came in, for she had never seen one before; but the King's son began to talk in a friendly way to her, and told how his heart had been so moved by her singing that he had had no peace until he had seen her himself. So Rapunzel lost her terror, and when he asked her if she would have him for a husband, and she saw that he was young and handsome, she thought, "Any one may have me, rather than the old woman;" so saying "Yes," she put her hand within his: "I will willingly go with you, but I know not how I am to descend. When you come, bring with you a skein of silk each time, out of which I will weave a ladder, and when it is ready I will come down by it, and you must take me upon your horse." Then they agreed that they should never meet till the evening, as the Witch came in the daytime. The old woman remarked nothing upon it, until one time Rapunzel began to say to her, "Tell me, mother, how it happens you find it more difficult to come up to me than the young King's son, who is with me in a moment?"
"Oh, you wicked child!" exclaimed the Witch, "what do I hear? I thought I had separated you from all the world, and yet you have deceived me." And, seizing Rapunzel's beautiful hair in a fury, she gave her a couple of blows with her left hand, and, taking a pair of scissors in her right, snip, snap! she cut them all off; and the beautiful tresses lay upon the ground. Then she was so hardhearted that she took the poor maiden into a great desert, and left her to live in great misery and grief.
But the same day when the old Witch had carried Rapunzel off, in the evening she made the tresses fast above to the window latch, and when the King's son came, and called out
she let them down. The Prince mounted; but when he got to the top he found, not his dear Rapunzel, but the Witch, who looked at him with furious and wicked eyes. "Aha!" she exclaimed, scornfully, "you would fetch your dear wife; but the beautiful bird sits no longer in her nest, singing; the cat has taken her away, and will now scratch out your eyes. To you Rapunzel is lost; you will never see her again."
The Prince lost his senses with grief at these words, and sprang out of the window of the tower in his bewilderment. His life he escaped with , but the thorns into which he fell put out his eyes. So he wandered, blind, into the forest, eating nothing but roots and berries, and doing nothing but weep and lament for the loss of his dear wife. He wandered about thus, in great misery, for some few years, and at last arrived at the desert where Rapunzel lived in great sorrow. Hearing a voice which he thought he knew, he went up to her; and as he approached, Rapunzel recognized him, and fell upon his neck and wept. Two of her tears moistened his eyes, and they became clear again, so that he could see as well as formerly.
Then he led her away to his kingdom, where he was received with great demonstrations of joy, and where they lived long contented, and happy.
What became of the old Witch, no one ever knew.
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