Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm

Once upon a time there was a forester. He went into the woods to hunt, and after entering the woods he heard a sound of crying, as though it were a little child. Following the sound, he finally came to a tall tree, at the top of which a little child was sitting. His mother had fallen asleep under the tree with the child. A bird of prey had seen him in her arms, flown down, picked him up in its beak, and then set him on the tall tree.

The forester climbed the tree, brought the child down, and thought, "I will take the child home with me, and bring him up with my Lenchen."

So he took him home, and the two children grew up together. The child whom he had found on the tree was called Foundling-Bird, because a bird had carried him away. Foundling-Bird and Lenchen loved each other so much, ever so much, that whenever they did not see one another they were sad.

Now the forester had an old cook. One evening she took two buckets and began to fetch water. She did not go out to the well just once, but many times.

Lenchen saw this and said, "Listen, old Sanna, why are you fetching so much water?"

"If you won't tell anyone, I will tell you."

So Lenchen said that she would not tell anyone, and then the cook said, "Early tomorrow morning when the forester is out hunting I will heat the water, and when it is boiling in the kettle I will throw Foundling-Bird into it and cook him.

The forester got up very early the next morning and went out hunting. When he left, the children were still in bed.

Then Lenchen said to Foundling-Bird, "If you will never leave me, I will never leave you either."

Foundling-Bird said, "Never, ever."

Then Lenchen said, "Then I will tell you that last night old Sanna carried so many buckets of water into the house that I asked her why she was doing that. She said that if I would not tell anyone she would tell me. I said that I would be sure not to tell anyone, and she said that early tomorrow morning when father was out hunting, she would boil a kettle full of water, throw you into it, and cook you. But let us hurry and get up, get dressed, and run away together.

So the two children got up, hurriedly got dressed, and went away.

When the water in the kettle was boiling, the cook went into the bedroom to get Foundling-Bird and throw him into it. But when she went to their room and to their beds, both the children were gone.

Then she became terribly frightened and said to herself, "What will I say when the forester comes home and sees that the children are gone. I must hurry and follow them and get them back again."

Then the cook sent out three servants who were to run after the children and bring them back. The children were sitting at the edge of the woods when they saw the three servants running toward them from afar.

Lenchen said to Foundling-Bird, "Never leave me, and I will never leave you."

Foundling-Bird said, "Never, ever."

Then Lenchen said, "You, turn into a rosebush, and I to a rose on it."

When the three servants reached the edge of the woods nothing was there but a rosebush with one rose on it, but the children were nowhere."

Then they said, "There is nothing to be done here," and they went home and told the cook that they had seen nothing out there but a little rosebush with one rose on it.

Then the old cook scolded them, saying, "You simpletons, you should have cut the rosebush in two and then broken off the rose and brought it home with you. Hurry up and do it."

So they had to go out and look for the second time. The children, however, saw them coming from afar.

Lenchen said, "Foundling-Bird, never leave me, and I will never leave you."

Foundling-Bird said, "Never, ever."

Lenchen said, "You, turn into a church, and I to the chandelier in it."

When the three servants arrived, nothing was there but a church with a chandelier in it. So they said to one another, "What can we do here? Let us go home."

When they reached home, the cook asked if they had found them, and they said that they had found nothing but a church with a chandelier in it.

The cook scolded them, saying, "You fools, why didn't you break down the church and bring the chandelier home with you?"

This time the old cook herself got up and with the three servants went out after the children.

The children, however, saw from afar that the three servants were coming, with the cook tottering after them.

Then Lenchen said, "Foundling-Bird, never leave me, and I will never leave you."

Foundling-Bird said, "Never, ever."

Lenchen said, "Turn into a pond, and I to a duck upon it."

The cook came up to them, and when she saw the pond she leaned out over it and was about to drink it up. But the duck quickly came swimming toward her, took hold of her head with its beak, and pulled her into the water, where the old witch drowned.

Then the children went home together, and were very happy, and if they have not died, they are still alive.

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Revised September 4, 2002.