GRIMM'S FAIRY TALES - online book

130 Fairy Stories Adapted & Arranged for young people

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543
THE THREE TASKS.
Altogether, the castle was as magnificent as if built for the king himself.
It was after sunset when the maiden awoke, and, seeing the glitter of a thousand lamps, she ran with hasty steps, and, finding the gate open, entered the court. The steps leading to the en­trance-hall were covered with red cloth, and the gilded balconies were full of rich and blooming flowers. All was so magnificently beautiful that the maiden stood still with astonishment.
She knew not how long she might have remained standing thus,-if she had not thought all at once that her step-mother was coming. "Ah," said she to herself, "what joy it would be to live here, and be no longer tormented as I am now!" She was, however, obliged to go, and tell her step-mother that the castle was finished.
" I will just go and see for myself," she said, and, rising from hei seat, she followed the maiden ; but, on entering the castle, the bright­ness and glitter so dazzled her, that she was obliged to cover her eyes with her hand. " You see how easy this is to you," she said ; " ah, yes, I ought to have given you something still more difficult."
She went into all the rooms, prying into every corner, to see if she could not find something wrong or defective; but this was im­possible. "I will go down stairs," she said at last- looking at her step-daughter maliciously; "it is necessary for me to examine kitchens and cellars also, and if you have forgotten one single thing, you shall not escape punishment." But nothing was wanting: the fire burned on the hearth, the supper was boiling in the sauce­pan; brooms, brushes, fenders, fire-irons, were in their proper places, and the walls and shelves were covered with brass and copper, glass and china, which glittered in the lamplight:—nothing was wanting, not even the coal-scuttle, or the water-can.
"Where are the steps to the cellar?" cried the woman; "I want to see if the casks are full of wine of the right sort, or it will be bad for you."
She raised the trap-door as she spoke, and descended the stairs leading to the cellars; but scarcely had she taken two steps, when the heavy door, which was not pushed back far enough, fell to with a dreadful crash. The maiden heard a scream, and fol­lowed as quickly as she could to help her unkind step-mother, but having been struck by the dooi, she had fallen to the bottom oi the steps, and there the maiden found her lying dead.