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Grimms' Fairy Tales

Grimms' Fairy Tales


by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm

Grimms' Fairy Tales Tales 41-50 Summary

Tale 41: Herr Korbes

  • A hen and a rooster take a carriage ride to visit a dude named Herr Korbes, picking up a bunch of hitchhikers on the way: a cat, an egg, a duck, a pin, a needle, and a millstone. 
  • When they arrive, they position themselves in various obnoxious, stabby ways, culminating with the millstone who falls on the guy and kills him. 
  • We're told that Herr Korbes must've been very wicked so that's why this all happened. 
  • Um, okay.

Tale 42: The Godfather

  • This poor man has run out of people to ask to be godparent to his kids, so the final child's godparent is Death. 
  • The kid grows up able to predict who will live or die, and makes a fortune. 
  • One day he goes to visit his godfather and sees a bunch of creepy stuff like severed fingers and skulls inside the house. 
  • The guy runs away before his godfather can do anything to him. Phew.

Tale 43: Mother Trudy

  • A stubborn girl informs her parents that she's going to go visit Mother Trudy, despite the word on the street being that she's a wicked lady. 
  • The girl goes anyway, and sees a black man, a green man, and a red man, which creep her out. Even worse, when she peeks into the house, she sees Mother Trudy as the devil with a flaming head. 
  • This delights Mother Trudy, who changes the girl into a block of wood and throws her on the fire.
  • Yeah, some of these guys don't have happy endings.

Tale 44: Godfather Death

  • A poor man who already has twelve children has to run out on the road to find a godfather for the thirteenth. 
  • The first person he finds is the Lord, but the man rejects him as godfather since he's unfair. The second person he finds is the devil, whom he doesn't want because he tricks people. The third person he finds is Death, whom he accepts because he doesn't discriminate against the rich or poor.
  • Death's gift to his godson is letting him know whether a person can be cured or not, so the guy becomes a famous doctor. 
  • He tries to cheat Death out of taking a king's life, and then the king's daughter's life (since the reward for curing the daughter is marriage). 
  • Death whisks his godson away and kills him. 
  • Note to self: trying to cheat Death never works.

Tale 45: Thumbling's Travels

  • A tailor has a tiny son named Thumbling. 
  • He wanders around and generally makes a nuisance of himself, but helps a group of robbers steal from a king. 
  • He ends up swallowed by a cow, and after escaping the smoked cow sausage, he persuades a fox to bring him back home. 
  • No more wandering for Thumbling.

Tale 46: Fitcher's Bird

  • This sorcerer (Fitcher) has a thing for cute girls, so he wanders around, knocking on doors, and if a pretty girl answers, he compels her to jump inside the basket on his back. 
  • This happens to the eldest of three sisters, but once he gets her home, she violates his rules, then sees a chamber full of bloody body parts, so he kills her. 
  • Same thing happens to the second sister.
  • The third sister is clever, so she hides the egg he's given her to guard so it doesn't get bloody. She's horrified to find the bodies of her two sisters chopped up, but she reassembles them and they come back to life. 
  • She smuggles them out of the sorcerer's house, along with some gold, by asking the sorcerer to take a basket back to her parents' place. She tricks him into thinking that she's watching him the whole time so that he doesn't peek inside.
  • Meanwhile, she dresses up a skull to put in the highest window, and rolls herself in honey and feathers for a disguise. Hasn't she ever heard of a ski mask? 
  • The sorcerer's friends coming to their wedding think the skull is her, and that she in disguise is just Fitcher's bird. 
  • When she gets home, her relatives go and burn the sorcerer and his wedding guests alive in the house.

Tale 47: The Juniper Tree

  • A woman loathes her stepson, so she kills him and puts him in the stew. 
  • Her daughter cries and cries, seasoning the stew with her tears. His father unknowingly eats his son. Yep, that just happened.
  • The dead boy's stepsister, Marlene, saved the bones, which she buries under the juniper tree where his dead mother is buried. 
  • A bird flies out of the tree and sings a beautiful song that compels the townspeople to give it gifts: a golden chain, a pair of red shoes, and a millstone. Okay, actually, the song is a creepy little ditty about how his mother slew him and his father ate him, but whatever floats your boat.
  • The bird returns home and gives out the gifts: the chain to the father, the shoes to the sister, and the millstone to the stepmother. It drops on her and kills her. 
  • Then the bird becomes the boy, alive again, and the three of them live happily together.

Tale 48: Old Sultan

  • An old dog named Sultan hears his master plotting to kill him since he's too old to be useful anymore. 
  • The dog strikes up a bargain with the wolf to stage a mock-attack, which is successful, so the farmer coddles his dog from then on. 
  • Then Sultan goes back on his promise to let the wolf get away with stealing a sheep, which ticks off the wolf, but the dog gets back at him in the end.

Tale 49: The Six Swans

  • A king goes hunting in the forest, but gets lost, and has to agree to a witch's terms to get out again: he has to marry her daughter, who takes a disliking to the king's children from his previous marriage. 
  • So she enchants shirts and throws them onto the six boys, who turn into swans. The daughter manages to stay hidden throughout this whole shebang.
  • The father, who is not terribly bright, wants to take his daughter back to the castle with him, where doubtless the stepmother is waiting to do terrible things to her. 
  • Off the girl wanders, to find her brothers. She sees them enter a hut and take off their swan skins. They tell her the only way to disenchant them is to spend six years without talking or laughing, and sew them six shirts of asters (a flower). That sounds okay enough for her.
  • She spends a while hanging out in a tree and sewing. A king's huntsmen see her and try to persuade her to speak or come down from the tree. 
  • Instead of answering them, she throws down her clothing, one piece at a time (totally the rational response). When the king sees her, he falls in love with her and marries her even though she's remaining silent the whole time.
  • The king, unfortunately, has an evil mother, who steals away each baby that the maiden gives birth to, and smears the maiden's mouth with blood, to suggest that she ate her babies. 
  • The maiden obviously can't speak to defend herself, so after the third time this happens, the king agrees to let the court sentence her to death.
  • Right as she's tied to the stake, her swan-brothers fly up, and she tosses the shirts on them. They become human again, except for the little brother who's missing his left arm since she didn't have time to finish the left sleeve. They kill the king's mother, find the hidden babies, and everyone's happy.

Tale 50: Brier Rose

  • A king and a queen who finally have a child hold a feast in her honor. However, they only have twelve golden plates so they can only invite twelve of the thirteen wise women in the land. 
  • The thirteenth one gets stabby, crashes the party, and curses the princess: in her fifteenth year, she will prick her finger on a spindle and drop dead.
  • The final wise woman, who hadn't wasted her blessing for the princess on mundane stuff like beauty, virtue, and wealth, manages to redirect the curse into sleep rather than death.
  • The king, in a classic example of helicopter parenting, has all the spindles in the kingdom burned. 
  • This is fine until the princess's fifteenth birthday, when she finds an old tower, wherein an old woman is spinning. Curious, the princess gives it a shot, pricks herself, and swoons into a slumber. 
  • Everyone and everything in the castle also wind down and snooze. A giant hedge grows around the castle and any prince who tries to break in dies a gruesome death on it.
  • One young prince is lucky enough to try at the end of the century. 
  • The hedge blossoms and lets him in. He finds Brier Rose, kisses her, and she wakes up (no mention of bedhead, lucky her). 
  • The rest of the palace wakes up and they celebrate the wedding with lots of fancy stuff.

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