A girl's mother dies and the father (who's rich) remarries a woman with two daughters who are pretty but mean. They boss around the girl and make her sleep by the ashes, which is how she winds up with the nickname Cinderella.
She plants a twig from a hazel bush on her mother's grave and waters it with her tears while praying and stuff.
Meanwhile, there's going to be a three-night festival so the king's son can find a bride (think of it as an abridged version of The Bachelor).
The sisters boss around Cinderella to help them primp and prepare, and the stepmother gives her permission to tag along…if she can pick out a bunch of lentils from the ashes.
Which she does, with the help of some birds. But even then the stepmother forbids her from going because she has nothing to wear.
Cinderella starts crying, so the stepmother relents and says she can go if she can separate even more lentils from the ashes. Again, birds to the rescue.
Despite Cinderella's toiling, her stepmother leaves her at home anyway, because she's, well, a big fat jerk.
But Cinderella asks for help from the hazel tree at her mother's grave, and it gives her a gold and silver dress with silk slippers, and it's off to the festival with her.
She looks so awesome that nobody recognizes her. And the prince? Well, he only has eyes for her, and spends the whole night dancing with Cinderella. That is, until she splits.
The prince doesn't succeed in following her when she leaves, though they suspect it's in the direction of her father's house.
She goes back to dance the second night, and again is traced to the vicinity of her family's house. Her father chops down the pear tree where they think she went, but no one's there, just Cinderella lying in the ashes as usual.
The third night's the same, except the prince has coated the stairs with pitch. She loses a gold shoe on her way, which the prince takes to her family's house for eligible maidens to try on.
The shoe's too small for the stepsisters, who all, at their mother's urging, cut off a toe or heel. This actually fools the prince, and he takes each one on his horse to go to the palace until the birds warn him to look for the blood in their shoes (gross).
Finally, after the stepmother puts up a lot of resistance, Cinderella gets to try on the shoe, and duh, it fits.
So the prince sweeps her off her feet and whisks her away from a life of picking lentils out of the ashes.
The sisters come to the wedding, but their eyes are pecked out by Cinderella's helper birds—as if having mutilated feet wasn't enough of a punishment.
Tale 22: The Riddle
A prince and his servant spend the night with a witch who tries to poison them.
The witch's daughter had warned them, so only the horse gets poisoned. They leave it behind, but the servant goes back for the saddle and kills the raven sitting there and takes it with him. The raven is eaten by a dozen murderers that the prince and servant had stumbled upon, so they die, too. Yeah, it's kind of a blood bath.
The prince and his servant reach a city where a princess will marry anyone who poses a riddle she can't solve, but kill anyone whose riddle she solves.
The prince summarizes the passing on of poison as "One slew nobody yet slew twelve."
The princess and her maid try to seduce the answer out of them, but it doesn't work, so the marriage is celebrated. It's off to a good start.
Tale 23: The Mouse, the Bird, and the Sausage
A mouse, bird, and sausage live together and divide the chores evenly, with the bird gathering wood because it can fly, and so on.
The bird gets mad because it thinks it has the worst bargain, so they change up the tasks.
The sausage is swallowed by a dog when out gathering wood, the mouse falls into the food while cooking, and the bird drowns in the well.
Real uplifting stuff, guys.
Tale 24: Mother Holle
A maiden has to jump into a well to go after a spindle because her stepmother is mean. What else is new, really?
She falls into another land where she has to take bread out of an oven and shake the apples from a tree, because the fruit asks her to.
She meets Mother Holle, a giant scary-looking woman who's nonetheless nice to her and rewards her with a shower of gold after she completes a ton of chores.
The stepsister is jealous, so she also jumps down the well and emerges in the strange land, but ignores the pleas of the oven and the tree, proceeding straight to Mother Holle's house.
Being lazy and mean-tempered gets her covered in a shower of pitch.
Moral of the story: at least pretend to be industrious and polite when meeting supernatural figures. Got that, kiddos?
Tale 25: The Seven Ravens
After seven sons, a man and his wife finally have a daughter.
She's born sickly so the man sends his sons to get water for the baptism, but they screw up and the impatient father utters a curse: that they should turn into ravens.
The daughter recovers and grows up, then hears people gossiping about how she's the cause of her family's catastrophe.
She sets out to go find her brothers, walking all the way to the end of the world.
The sun and moon are both kind of harsh and totally unhelpful, but the stars give her a drumstick to open the glass mountain where her brothers are. That's handy.
She loses it, and cuts off her pinky finger to use as a key instead (who needs a locksmith?).
Her brothers fly in, and once they know she's there, they're all disenchanted.
They all go happily home together.
Tale 26: Little Red Cap
This little girl is all cute and stuff, and she always wears a red velvet cap her grandmother had made her, so everyone calls her Little Red Cap. You might know her as Little Red Riding Hood.
Her mom has her bring some cake and wine to her grandmother, making extra sure to caution her not to stray from the path. There's danger in them there trees.
Along the way, she meets a wolf, pretty much gives him directions straight to her grandmother's place, and lets him persuade her to go off the path and pick flowers for her grandmother. Maybe we should call her Little Naïve Cap instead.
The wolf devours the grandmother and bizarrely decides to cross-dress in her clothing. He has the famous exchange with Little Red ("Oh, Grandmother, how big your X, Y, and Z are!") and then he gobbles her up, too.
A woodsman hears the wolf's satiated snores and decides that something must be up since grannies usually don't make so much noise.
He checks in, finds the wolf, and opens his belly, letting Little Red and her grandmother out. They fill the wolf's belly with stones and he dies. Little Red feels really bad about not taking her mom's paranoid but helpful advice.
Get this: Little Red returns to her grandmother's one day, and there's another creepy wolf trying to get her to leave the path.
This time, however, she's a good girl and goes straight to grandma's. They fill a basin with sausage-boiling water, tricking the wolf into tumbling into it and drowning.
The world is safe again for not-so-naïve little girls, yay.
Tale 27: The Bremen Town Musicians
A donkey, dog, cat, and rooster strike out on their own.
The place where they stop to rest is a robber's den, and they proceed to scare the snot out of the robbers by braying, barking, meowing, and crowing all at once.
The robbers leave, but return, determined to regain their loot.
The animals beat them until they're convinced that the place is filled with enemies. So the animals start a band called the Bremen town musicians and—just kidding.
The tale's called that because they were going to go to the town of Bremen and become musicians, but they don't actually get around to it because they like the robber's house and decide to stay there.
Tale 28: The Singing Bone
Two brothers set out to kill a boar plaguing a kingdom.
The younger, kind-hearted brother is given a magic spear that lets him kill the boar no problem, but the older brother gets jealous, kills his sibling, and goes to claim the reward (which is a marriage to a king's daughter).
Later a shepherd finds a bone, which sings and tells the truth about the murder. The wicked brother is killed for his crimes.
Tale 29: The Devil With the Three Golden Hairs
A boy was born with a caul and a prophesy that he'll marry the king's daughter.
This irks the local king, who befriends the boy's parents and buys him off them. The king throws the boy in a box in the river, hoping to be rid of him.
Not so fast. The boy is found and taken in by a miller. He grows up, but the same king finds him and realizes his identity.
He offers the boy gold in exchange for carrying a letter to the queen. The letter's actually a nasty trick; it contains instructions to kill its bearer.
On his way, the boy stops by a cottage that turns out to be a robber's den (which are apparently, like, everywhere). The robbers play a prank and change the letter to say that its bearer should be wed to the king's daughter.
The king is obviously not thrilled with this when he gets home, so he decides to get rid of the boy by asking him to go fetch three golden hairs from the devil's head.
The boy is asked to help others on his way, investigating why a town's fountain has run dry, why a golden apple tree is barren, and why a ferryman cannot leave his post.
The devil's grandmother takes pity on the boy and hides him, plucking each of the three hairs while also asking for each of the solutions to those various conundrums.
The boy is richly rewarded by the people he helps, and when the greedy king tries to go get his own riches, he's tricked by the ferryman into taking on his duties.
So he's stuck there ferrying while the boy enjoys his new throne, wife, and riches.
Tale 30: The Louse and the Flea
A flea cries because a louse has been scalded, which causes a door to creak in sympathy, which causes a broom to sweep, which causes a cart to race around, which causes a dung heap to burn with fury, which causes a tree to shake itself, which causes a maiden to break her water jug, which causes a spring to flow.
Everyone drowns after these various actions have been recounted in charming little poems.