GRIMM'S FAIRY TALES - online book

130 Fairy Stories Adapted & Arranged for young people

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at last the ugly maiden became less unpleasant to him, and he
appeared inclined to make her his wife.
One evening, when the king was sitting with the ugly and
wicked maiden, there came to the kitchen door a beautiful white
duck, and said to the kitchen maid, " Please make a fire here that
I may warm and dry my feathers."
So the kitchen maid lighted a fire on the hearth, and the duck
came in, and seating herself by it, plumed and stroked her
feathers with her beak. Presently she said, "What is my brother Rudy doing now ?"
" Nothing," said the maid; " Rudy is shut up in a dungeon with snakes and adders."
"And what is the black witch doing, and where is her daughter ?"
"They are both with the king,and he will marry the daughter." " Heaven forbid," said the duck, and she went out and swam away. The next evening, she came again and said the same words. But when this happened a third time, the kitchen maid felt that she ought to tell the king, so she went to him and des­cribed what the duck had said and done. " I will come and see for myself," he said, and the next evening, when the duck pushed her head through the kitchen door, the king drew his sword and cut it off. The next moment there stood before him a beautiful maiden, exactly like the picture which his coachman had shown him of his sister, and he knew it must be his right bride. So he sent for beautiful clothes and told her to put them on, and led her into the castle quite joyfully. She then told him of the false­hood and cunning which had been used to betray her, till at last, she had been pushed into the water of the brook, and the king deceived by the witch; she begged, however, as her first request, that her brother should be released from the dungeon into which he had been unjustly thrown.
When the king had granted this petition, which he did readily, he went to the old witch, told her that her wickedness had been discovered, and that if she and her daughter did not at once leave his dominions they should be dragged to death by horses in a cask full of spikes. After they were gone, the king married the beautiful maiden, whose picture he had seen, and rewarded her brother so handsomely that he became quite a rich man.