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The Seven Ravens
Grimms Fairy Tales and German Folklore

There was once a man who had seven sons, and still he had
no daughter, however much he wished for one. At length his
wife again gave him hope of a child, and when it came into
the world it was a girl. The joy was great, but the child was
sickly and small, and had to be privately baptized on account of
its weakness. The father sent one of the boys in haste to the
spring to fetch water for the baptism. The other six went with
him, and as each of them wanted to be first to fill it, the jug
fell into the well. There they stood and did not know what to do,
and none of them dared to go home. As they still did not return,
the father grew impatient, and said, they have certainly forgotten
it while playing some game, the wicked boys. He became afraid that
the girl would have to die without being baptized, and in his
anger cried, I wish the boys were all turned into ravens. Hardly
was the word spoken before he heard a whirring of wings over his
head, looked up and saw seven coal-black ravens flying away.

The parents could not withdraw the curse, and however sad they
were at the loss of their seven sons, they still to some extent
comforted themselves with their dear little daughter, who soon
grew strong and every day became more beautiful. For a long time
she did not know that she had had brothers, for her parents were
careful not to mention them before her, but one day she
accidentally heard some people saying of herself, that the girl was
certainly beautiful, but that in reality she was to blame for the
misfortune which had befallen her seven brothers. Then she was much
troubled, and went to her father and mother and asked if it was
true that she had had brothers, and what had become of them. The
parents now dared keep the secret no longer, but said that what
had befallen her brothers was the will of heaven, and that her
birth had only been the innocent cause. But the maiden took it to
heart daily, and thought she must save her brothers. She had no
rest or peace until she set out secretly, and went forth into the
wide world to search for her brothers and set them free, let it
cost what it might. She took nothing with her but a little ring
belonging to her parents as a keepsake, a loaf of bread against
hunger, a little pitcher of water against thirst, and a little
chair as a provision against weariness.

And now she went continually onwards, far, far to the very end of
the world. Then she came to the sun, but it was too hot and
terrible, and devoured little children. Hastily she ran away, and
ran to the moon, but it was far too cold, and also awful and
malicious, and when it saw the child, it said, I smell, I smell
the flesh of men. At this she ran swiftly away, and came to the
stars, which were kind and good to her, and each of them sat on its
own particular little chair. But the morning star arose, and gave
her the drumstick of a chicken, and said, if you have not that
drumstick you can not open the glass mountain, and in the glass
mountain are your brothers.

The maiden took the drumstick, wrapped it carefully in a cloth,
and went onwards again until she came to the glass mountain. The
door was shut, and she thought she would take out the drumstick.
But when she undid the cloth, it was empty, and she had lost the
good star's present. What was she now to do. She wished to rescue
her brothers, and had no key to the glass mountain. The good
sister took a knife, cut off one of her little fingers, put it in
the door, and succeeded in opening it. When she had gone inside, a
little dwarf came to meet her, who said, my child, what are you
looking for. I am looking for my brothers, the seven ravens, she
replied. The dwarf said, the lord ravens are not at home, but if
you will wait here until they come, step in. Thereupon the little
dwarf carried the ravens' dinner in, on seven little plates, and
in seven little glasses, and the little sister ate a morsel from
each plate, and from each little glass she took a sip, but in the
last little glass she dropped the ring which she had brought away
with her.

Suddenly she heard a whirring of wings and a rushing through
the air, and then the little dwarf said, now the lord ravens are
flying home. Then they came, and wanted to eat and drink, and
looked for their little plates and glasses. Then said one after
the other, who has eaten something from my plate. Who has drunk
out of my little glass. It was a human mouth. And when the
seventh came to the bottom of the glass, the ring rolled against
his mouth. Then he looked at it, and saw that it was a ring
belonging to his father and mother, and said, God grant that our
sister may be here, and then we shall be free. When the maiden,
who was standing behind the door watching, heard that wish,
she came forth, and on this all the ravens were restored to their
human form again. And they embraced and kissed each other,
and went joyfully home.