THE SEVEN RAVENS,
There was once a widow who had eight children,
seven boys and one girl. The' youngest, a lovely little
daughter, caused her but little pain or trouble, for she
was very gentle and uncommonly obedient. The seven
boys, however, each one of whom seemed to grow
bigger and stronger than the others, were often so wild
and unruly that even the old grandfather could not
always maintain his authority over them.
Now, it happened one evening that the seven
spirited youths continued their out-door frolic longer than
was allowed them, and that they would not obey the
call of their mother to come in to the evening meal.
At last they left the street, but not until their little sister
went out to them and said: Do be good, dear brothers,
and come! Mother and grandfather are very angry
with you, and your soup will get cold too."
But as each wanted to get to the bowl first, they
stormed into the room with such noise and violence,
that the mother angrily exclaimed: Be quiet, you god-
less boys! I could wish that you were seven ravens! "
Hardly had the wicked words been uttered, however,
when the seven boys were changed into seven coal
black ravens, and with loud whirring and croaking, flew
through the open window and vanished in the twilight.
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4 THE SEVEN RAVENS.
Mother and grandfather turned pale as death with fright,
the little sister at first looked upon it as a joke, but when
she comprehended the curse, she began to cry so bitterly
that it was pitiful to see. It seemed impossible to pacify
her; and it was not until she was told that her little broth-
ers would come back again that she became more quiet.
But one year after another went round and the
seven brothers did not return. Mother and grandfather
had, indeed, long ago given up the hope of ever seeing
them again; only the little sister, who in the meantime
had grown up, would not hear of such a thing. "They
surely could not have flown out of the world," said she,
sadly. "I will go and seek until I find them, or I shall
have no more peace of mind." Then she packed a
little basket with food, strapped it on her back, took a
little stool in her hand to rest upon, bade farewell to
mother and grandfather, and began her perilous journey
through the wide, wide world. She made inquiries for
the seven-ravens wherever she went; but no one could
give her the least information.
Thus this good little sister had wandered for a long,
long time, without ever having found even so much as
a single trace of her enchanted brothers.
One evening she lay down on the edge of a forest,
and as she was very tired, she soon fell asleep. When
she awoke, the bright morning star sparkled down upon
her. It shone so wonderfully into the dear child's heart,
that she could not help stretching forth her hands to it
confidently, and crying:
Thou lovely, golden morning star,
.1 stretch to thee my hands from far;
To my dear brothers I would go,
Be pleased, dear star, the way to show."
THE SEVEN RAVENS. 5
Thereupon the beautiful morning star floated down
from the sky in the form of a marvellously beautiful,
golden-haired boy in white garments. He kissed the
pale cheeks of the jaded child, ~o that they bloomed like
young roses, and spoke to her while he handed her a
"This golden key, a guiding star,
Will lead thee where the ravens are,
And where, in lordly pomp and pride,
Brave wedding-guests stand side by side."
And when the lovely morning star had once more
softly kissed the child upon the forehead, it soared back
to the sky and vanished behind the clouds.
Joyfully the little sister now pursued the path
which the golden key always indicated. But this path
led her far away over hill and dale, until she stood be-
fore a little mountain castle, which shone regally in the
splendor of the setting sun. This was Falconburg.
Formerly the rich widow of account had lived here with
her only child. But this Countess has been a very
proud and hard-hearted woman. As she was one day
walking about in the court-yard of the castle, with her
boy, she was accosted by an ugly old beggar woman who
asked for alms. In great anger she called to a servant to
drive the woman out of the castle instantly. The beggar,
however, who was an evil witch, said to the Countess:
"Would that thy boy were a wild falcon, and could
never be released, until the morning star sent him a
bride! Thy riches, in very shame at thy avarice, shall
creep into a casket as a mouse creeps into a hole!"
To the servant, who now siezed her arm to drive her
away, the hag said: "And thou! Thou shall shrink
into a gray-bearded dwarf, and shalt guard the treasure-
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8 Thi SEVEN RAVENS.
casket of this covetous Countess. If, after many years
the falcon bride should come, thou mayst give it to her
as a morning-gift; but let her beware of opening it in
this accursed place. Let her open it at home in her own
chamber, then shall the whole spell be dissolved! The
hag vanished, but her curse was fulfilled on the spot:
The beautiful boy went about as a wild falcon, the servant
as a gray-bearded dwarf; but everything else in the
castle, Countess and all, vanished, leaving no trace be-
hind; nothing remained in the empty rooms but a pallet
of straw, a table ready laid, a few old stools, and a
locked casket. These few effects were in a room
i.n the tower, which served the dwarf for both living
and sleeping. Here in this enchanted Falconburg the
seven ravens had found hospitable quarters, after wan-
dering about in the world for many years. In re-
turn they promised to be faithful to the falcon, an d to
remain with him until the day of release from the wicked
sorcery should come for them all.
When the little sister arrived at the castle, she
found the gates locked; but as soon as she touched the
lock with the golden key, the door turned on its hinges;
and, as the maiden entered, the gray-haired dwarf came
to meet her, and asked whom she sought. Shyly the
child spoke: "The morning star has sent me here, and
I am looking for my brothers, the seven ravens." Hardly
had the little man heard this, when he bowed low.be-
fore the beautiful child, and said: "The ravens are not
at home just now; they have flown to the chase with
my lord and master, the noble falcon, from whence they
will not return before midnight. Still, if you will wait'
for them, you will give them all great pleasure." Then
the dwarf conducted the little girl up the stairs to his
THE SEVEN RAVENS. 9
chamber, and said, politely: "As you see, the little
:able is laid and the little bed prepared; eat heartily
and sleep well until morning." The little sister did as
she was bidden; she ate and drank something out of
each little plate and glass which had been set for the
ravens, and then lay down to sleep. She soon slept so
soundly that she did not hear the return of the ravens.
At midnight when they came in, the little dwarf
ran to them, saying joyfully: My masters, do not make
a noise! Up in the tower-chamber sleeps the young lady
whom the morning star has sent us." "That is my
bride!" cried the noble falcon, jubilantly. "God be
praised the day of our release draws nigh! and he
hastened up stairs to greet the bride. But when he
came there he was struck as if with blindness.
He could nowhere see the beautiful maiden; the little
bed of straw stood there as if no onee had slept in it.
Sorrowfully.the falcon came back; then the seven
.ravens hopped up alone, and when they entered, they
",saw a maiden beautiful as a picture, lyipg upon the
pallet. They placed themselves in a row around the
sleeping child, and gazed mournfully upon, it.
Then the eldest of the ravens began to speak:. 'Oh!
it is our little sister! How large and handsome the
child has grown!" "Yes, it is our little sister," said
the second; I recognize her by her curly brown hair! "
"And I by her rosy cheeks," said the third. "And I
by the dimple in her chin," spoke the fourth. And I by
her sweet little hands!" said the fifth. "And I by the
little ring on her finger!" added the sixth. And at last
the seventh raven said: I should know her by her soft,
lovely eyes! oh! that she would awake and open them;
we should then, perhaps, be delivered!" And the
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THE SEVEN RAVENS. 11
ravens were already about to awaken the little sister
when the dwarf entered and cried: "For the sake of
heaven, no! Take rather the child and carry her home,
for she must leave this castle asleep. Here, I present to
her a casket, and when she opens it at home in her own
little chamber, the wicked spell will depart from us all."
With these words the dwarf laid the mysterious casket
in the little girl's lap. She, however, heard all as though
in a dream, and willingly allowed the seven ravens to
lift her softly and bear her away through the air. They
set her down silently before the door of the paternal
dwelling, and flew swiftly back to Falconburg.
The grandfather and the mother were greatly
frightened when the little sister stood before them again
so suddenly. God!" they sighed, "thou returnest
alone. Where are thy brothers? "Be quiet," said the
child, "they are coming too." Then she went into her
little room and opened the jewel box with a little golden
key. But lo, there was nothing in it but a little mirror.
When she looked into that, however, she blushed red
as a rose, for as she saw herself there, she stood beauti-
fully attired like the bride of a king. At that moment
the young Count of Falconburg entered the house with
the seven brothers, who embraced and kissed their
mother and grandfather most tenderly; the Counc, how-
ever, at once besought of them the hand of the little
sister, who was quickly called in. Lovely as a bride
she approached the Count and gave her consent. Then
was ti rejoicing great. A marriage, so royal that one
like it has probably seldom been seen, was celebrated in
the beautiful castle of Falconburg, which was restored
with great splendor and magnificence.
The seven brothers grew up to be very good and
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