GRIMM'S FAIRY TALES - online book

130 Fairy Stories Adapted & Arranged for young people

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She rose immediately and went to the meadows, which lay far away in the valley, till she came to a fountain, near which stood three old oak trees. The moon, round and full, shone so brilliantly over the mountain that it would have been easy to pick up a pin. The first thing she did was to take off a skin that covered her face, and then stoop down and bathe in the cool water. After this she dipped the skin into the water, and then laid it on the grass to dry and whiten in the moonlight.
But how the maiden was changed ! You could scarcely imagine her to be the same. The grey wig fell off, and her golden hair, sparkling like sunbeams, flowed over her shoulders and enveloped her like a mantle. Her eyes glittered like the stars of heaven, while her cheeks glowed with the soft bloom of the apple blossom.
But the beautiful maiden was sorrowful, for she seated herself on the ground and wept bitterly. Tear after tear fell from her eyes, and trickled through her long hair to the ground.
She sat mourning in this way for some time, and might have remained there longer had she not heard a strange cracking and rustling sound among the trees. She sprang up like a doe that hears the crack of the hunter's gun. A dark cloud at the same moment covered the face of the moon, and in the twinkling of an eye she had disguised herself again in the skin and the grey hair, and disappeared like a light blown out by the wind. Trembling like an aspen leaf, she ran back to the house and told what had occurred to the old woman, who stood at the door; but she only smiled pleasantly and said, " I know all about it, my child."
Then she led her in, and lighted a fresh fagot; but instead of again seating herself to spin, she took a broom, and began sweep­ing and dusting the room. " We must have everything clean and neat," she said to the maiden.
"But, mother," she replied, "why do you begin to work at such a late hour as this ? What is it for?"
"Well, what o'clock is it?" asked the old woman.
"Not yet midnight," she replied, "but the clock has struck eleven."
" Do you"not remember," said the woman, presently, "that it is thre years to-day since you came to me ? The time is up, and we cannot remain any longer together !"
"Oh ! dear mother," cried the maiden in alarm, "are you going