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The Brothers Grimm
The Juniper-Tree
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THE JUNIPER-TREE

Long, long ago, some two thousand years or so, there lived a rich man
with a good and beautiful wife. They loved each other dearly, but
sorrowed much that they had no children. So greatly did they desire to
have one, that the wife prayed for it day and night, but still they
remained childless.

In front of the house there was a court, in which grew a juniper-tree.
One winter's day the wife stood under the tree to peel some apples,
and as she was peeling them, she cut her finger, and the blood fell on
the snow. 'Ah,' sighed the woman heavily, 'if I had but a child, as
red as blood and as white as snow,' and as she spoke the words, her
heart grew light within her, and it seemed to her that her wish was
granted, and she returned to the house feeling glad and comforted. A
month passed, and the snow had all disappeared; then another month
went by, and all the earth was green. So the months followed one
another, and first the trees budded in the woods, and soon the green
branches grew thickly intertwined, and then the blossoms began to
fall. Once again the wife stood under the juniper-tree, and it was so
full of sweet scent that her heart leaped for joy, and she was so
overcome with her happiness, that she fell on her knees. Presently the
fruit became round and firm, and she was glad and at peace; but when
they were fully ripe she picked the berries and ate eagerly of them,
and then she grew sad and ill. A little while later she called her
husband, and said to him, weeping. 'If I die, bury me under the
juniper-tree.' Then she felt comforted and happy again, and before
another month had passed she had a little child, and when she saw that
it was as white as snow and as red as blood, her joy was so great that
she died.

Her husband buried her under the juniper-tree, and wept bitterly for
her. By degrees, however, his sorrow grew less, and although at times
he still grieved over his loss, he was able to go about as usual, and
later on he married again.

He now had a little daughter born to him; the child of his first wife
was a boy, who was as red as blood and as white as snow. The mother
loved her daughter very much, and when she looked at her and then
looked at the boy, it pierced her heart to think that he would always
stand in the way of her own child, and she was continually thinking
how she could get the whole of the property for her. This evil thought
took possession of her more and more, and made her behave very
unkindly to the boy. She drove him from place to place with cuffings
and buffetings, so that the poor child went about in fear, and had no
peace from the time he left school to the time he went back.

One day the little daughter came running to her mother in the store-
room, and said, 'Mother, give me an apple.' 'Yes, my child,' said the
wife, and she gave her a beautiful apple out of the chest; the chest
had a very heavy lid and a large iron lock.

'Mother,' said the little daughter again, 'may not brother have one
too?' The mother was angry at this, but she answered, 'Yes, when he
comes out of school.'

Just then she looked out of the window and saw him coming, and it
seemed as if an evil spirit entered into her, for she snatched the
apple out of her little daughter's hand, and said, 'You shall not have
one before your brother.' She threw the apple into the chest and shut
it to. The little boy now came in, and the evil spirit in the wife
made her say kindly to him, 'My son, will you have an apple?' but she
gave him a wicked look. 'Mother,' said the boy, 'how dreadful you
look! Yes, give me an apple.' The thought came to her that she would
kill him. 'Come with me,' she said, and she lifted up the lid of the
chest; 'take one out for yourself.' And as he bent over to do so, the
evil spirit urged her, and crash! down went the lid, and off went the
little boy's head. Then she was overwhelmed with fear at the thought
of what she had done. 'If only I can prevent anyone knowing that I did
it,' she thought. So she went upstairs to her room, and took a white
handkerchief out of her top drawer; then she set the boy's head again
on his shoulders, and bound it with the handkerchief so that nothing
could be seen, and placed him on a chair by the door with an apple in
his hand.

Soon after this, little Marleen came up to her mother who was stirring
a pot of boiling water over the fire, and said, 'Mother, brother is
sitting by the door with an apple in his hand, and he looks so pale;
and when I asked him to give me the apple, he did not answer, and that
frightened me.'

'Go to him again,' said her mother, 'and if he does not answer, give
him a box on the ear.' So little Marleen went, and said, 'Brother,
give me that apple,' but he did not say a word; then she gave him a
box on the ear, and his head rolled off. She was so terrified at this,
that she ran crying and screaming to her mother. 'Oh!' she said, 'I
have knocked off brother's head,' and then she wept and wept, and
nothing would stop her.

'What have you done!' said her mother, 'but no one must know about it,
so you must keep silence; what is done can't be undone; we will make
him into puddings.' And she took the little boy and cut him up, made
him into puddings, and put him in the pot. But Marleen stood looking
on, and wept and wept, and her tears fell into the pot, so that there
was no need of salt.

Presently the father came home and sat down to his dinner; he asked,
'Where is my son?' The mother said nothing, but gave him a large dish
of black pudding, and Marleen still wept without ceasing.

The father again asked, 'Where is my son?'

'Oh,' answered the wife, 'he is gone into the country to his mother's
great uncle; he is going to stay there some time.'

'What has he gone there for, and he never even said goodbye to me!'

'Well, he likes being there, and he told me he should be away quite
six weeks; he is well looked after there.'

'I feel very unhappy about it,' said the husband, 'in case it should
not be all right, and he ought to have said goodbye to me.'

With this he went on with his dinner, and said, 'Little Marleen, why
do you weep? Brother will soon be back.' Then he asked his wife for
more pudding, and as he ate, he threw the bones under the table.

Little Marleen went upstairs and took her best silk handkerchief out
of her bottom drawer, and in it she wrapped all the bones from under
the table and carried them outside, and all the time she did nothing
but weep. Then she laid them in the green grass under the juniper-
tree, and she had no sooner done so, then all her sadness seemed to
leave her, and she wept no more. And now the juniper-tree began to
move, and the branches waved backwards and forwards, first away from
one another, and then together again, as it might be someone clapping
their hands for joy. After this a mist came round the tree, and in the
midst of it there was a burning as of fire, and out of the fire there
flew a beautiful bird, that rose high into the air, singing
magnificently, and when it could no more be seen, the juniper-tree
stood there as before, and the silk handkerchief and the bones were
gone.

Little Marleen now felt as lighthearted and happy as if her brother
were still alive, and she went back to the house and sat down
cheerfully to the table and ate.

The bird flew away and alighted on the house of a goldsmith and began
to sing:

'My mother killed her little son;
My father grieved when I was gone;
My sister loved me best of all;
She laid her kerchief over me,
And took my bones that they might lie
Underneath the juniper-tree
Kywitt, Kywitt, what a beautiful bird am I!'

The goldsmith was in his workshop making a gold chain, when he heard
the song of the bird on his roof. He thought it so beautiful that he
got up and ran out, and as he crossed the threshold he lost one of his
slippers. But he ran on into the middle of the street, with a slipper
on one foot and a sock on the other; he still had on his apron, and
still held the gold chain and the pincers in his hands, and so he
stood gazing up at the bird, while the sun came shining brightly down
on the street.

'Bird,' he said, 'how beautifully you sing! Sing me that song again.'

'Nay,' said the bird, 'I do not sing twice for nothing. Give that gold
chain, and I will sing it you again.'

'Here is the chain, take it,' said the goldsmith. 'Only sing me that
again.'

The bird flew down and took the gold chain in his right claw, and then
he alighted again in front of the goldsmith and sang:

'My mother killed her little son;
My father grieved when I was gone;
My sister loved me best of all;
She laid her kerchief over me,
And took my bones that they might lie
Underneath the juniper-tree
Kywitt, Kywitt, what a beautiful bird am I!'

Then he flew away, and settled on the roof of a shoemaker's house and
sang:

'My mother killed her little son;
My father grieved when I was gone;
My sister loved me best of all;
She laid her kerchief over me,
And took my bones that they might lie
Underneath the juniper-tree
Kywitt, Kywitt, what a beautiful bird am I!'

The shoemaker heard him, and he jumped up and ran out in his shirt-
sleeves, and stood looking up at the bird on the roof with his hand
over his eyes to keep himself from being blinded by the sun.

'Bird,' he said, 'how beautifully you sing!' Then he called through
the door to his wife: 'Wife, come out; here is a bird, come and look
at it and hear how beautifully it sings.' Then he called his daughter
and the children, then the apprentices, girls and boys, and they all
ran up the street to look at the bird, and saw how splendid it was
with its red and green feathers, and its neck like burnished gold, and
eyes like two bright stars in its head.

'Bird,' said the shoemaker, 'sing me that song again.'

'Nay,' answered the bird, 'I do not sing twice for nothing; you must
give me something.'

'Wife,' said the man, 'go into the garret; on the upper shelf you will
see a pair of red shoes; bring them to me.' The wife went in and
fetched the shoes.

'There, bird,' said the shoemaker, 'now sing me that song again.'

The bird flew down and took the red shoes in his left claw, and then
he went back to the roof and sang:

'My mother killed her little son;
My father grieved when I was gone;
My sister loved me best of all;
She laid her kerchief over me,
And took my bones that they might lie
Underneath the juniper-tree
Kywitt, Kywitt, what a beautiful bird am I!'

When he had finished, he flew away. He had the chain in his right claw
and the shoes in his left, and he flew right away to a mill, and the
mill went 'Click clack, click clack, click clack.' Inside the mill
were twenty of the miller's men hewing a stone, and as they went 'Hick
hack, hick hack, hick hack,' the mill went 'Click clack, click clack,
click clack.'

The bird settled on a lime-tree in front of the mill and sang:

'My mother killed her little son;

then one of the men left off,

My father grieved when I was gone;

two more men left off and listened,

My sister loved me best of all;

then four more left off,

She laid her kerchief over me,
And took my bones that they might lie

now there were only eight at work,

Underneath

And now only five,

the juniper-tree.

and now only one,

Kywitt, Kywitt, what a beautiful bird am I!'

then he looked up and the last one had left off work.

'Bird,' he said, 'what a beautiful song that is you sing! Let me hear
it too; sing it again.'

'Nay,' answered the bird, 'I do not sing twice for nothing; give me
that millstone, and I will sing it again.'

'If it belonged to me alone,' said the man, 'you should have it.'

'Yes, yes,' said the others: 'if he will sing again, he can have it.'

The bird came down, and all the twenty millers set to and lifted up
the stone with a beam; then the bird put his head through the hole and
took the stone round his neck like a collar, and flew back with it to
the tree and sang--

'My mother killed her little son;
My father grieved when I was gone;
My sister loved me best of all;
She laid her kerchief over me,
And took my bones that they might lie
Underneath the juniper-tree
Kywitt, Kywitt, what a beautiful bird am I!'

And when he had finished his song, he spread his wings, and with the
chain in his right claw, the shoes in his left, and the millstone
round his neck, he flew right away to his father's house.

The father, the mother, and little Marleen were having their dinner.

'How lighthearted I feel,' said the father, 'so pleased and cheerful.'

'And I,' said the mother, 'I feel so uneasy, as if a heavy
thunderstorm were coming.'

But little Marleen sat and wept and wept.

Then the bird came flying towards the house and settled on the roof.

'I do feel so happy,' said the father, 'and how beautifully the sun
shines; I feel just as if I were going to see an old friend again.'

'Ah!' said the wife, 'and I am so full of distress and uneasiness that
my teeth chatter, and I feel as if there were a fire in my veins,' and
she tore open her dress; and all the while little Marleen sat in the
corner and wept, and the plate on her knees was wet with her tears.

The bird now flew to the juniper-tree and began singing:

'My mother killed her little son;

the mother shut her eyes and her ears, that she might see and hear
nothing, but there was a roaring sound in her ears like that of a
violent storm, and in her eyes a burning and flashing like lightning:

My father grieved when I was gone;

'Look, mother,' said the man, 'at the beautiful bird that is singing
so magnificently; and how warm and bright the sun is, and what a
delicious scent of spice in the air!'

My sister loved me best of all;

then little Marleen laid her head down on her knees and sobbed.

'I must go outside and see the bird nearer,' said the man.

'Ah, do not go!' cried the wife. 'I feel as if the whole house were in
flames!'

But the man went out and looked at the bird.

She laid her kerchief over me,
And took my bones that they might lie
Underneath the juniper-tree
Kywitt, Kywitt, what a beautiful bird am I!'

With that the bird let fall the gold chain, and it fell just round the
man's neck, so that it fitted him exactly.

He went inside, and said, 'See, what a splendid bird that is; he has
given me this beautiful gold chain, and looks so beautiful himself.'

But the wife was in such fear and trouble, that she fell on the floor,
and her cap fell from her head.

Then the bird began again:

'My mother killed her little son;

'Ah me!' cried the wife, 'if I were but a thousand feet beneath the
earth, that I might not hear that song.'

My father grieved when I was gone;

then the woman fell down again as if dead.

My sister loved me best of all;

'Well,' said little Marleen, 'I will go out too and see if the bird
will give me anything.'

So she went out.

She laid her kerchief over me,
And took my bones that they might lie

and he threw down the shoes to her,

Underneath the juniper-tree
Kywitt, Kywitt, what a beautiful bird am I!'

And she now felt quite happy and lighthearted; she put on the shoes
and danced and jumped about in them. 'I was so miserable,' she said,
'when I came out, but that has all passed away; that is indeed a
splendid bird, and he has given me a pair of red shoes.'

The wife sprang up, with her hair standing out from her head like
flames of fire. 'Then I will go out too,' she said, 'and see if it
will lighten my misery, for I feel as if the world were coming to an
end.'

But as she crossed the threshold, crash! the bird threw the millstone
down on her head, and she was crushed to death.

The father and little Marleen heard the sound and ran out, but they
only saw mist and flame and fire rising from the spot, and when these
had passed, there stood the little brother, and he took the father and
little Marleen by the hand; then they all three rejoiced, and went
inside together and sat down to their dinners and ate.


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
From "Grimm's Fairy Tales" by Jakob Grimm (1785 -1863) and Wilhelm
Grimm (1786-1859) -- translated from "Kinder und Hausmarchen"
("Nursery and Household Tales") by Edgar Taylor and Marian Edwardes.
 

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