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Grimms' Fairy Tales

Grimms' Fairy Tales


by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm

Grimms' Fairy Tales Tales 91-100 Summary

Tale 91: The Gnome

  • A king has an apple tree that he loves so much, he has a protective spell put on it: if anyone picks an apple, they'll be sent far underground. By magic. Ya know. 
  • This deters apple-pickers, but the king's three daughters crave a bite of the juicy fruit, so they pluck one to share and are sent to an underground prison.
  • Wow, does this sound familiar.
  • Three hunters (who are also brothers) join the search for the missing princesses. They set up in this old castle where one brother at a time is badly beat up by a gnome that, of course, reappears.
  • Only the youngest is brave enough to fight back, and the gnome, in order to prevent himself from getting beat on even more, tells him where the princesses are.
  • The youngest brother descends into a well, fights dragons, and sends up each princess on a rope. However, the gnome had warned him that his brothers weren't trustworthy, so he sends up a stone in his place. Sure enough, the brothers cut the rope and the stone falls (if it had been him, he would've died from the fall).
  • The brother wanders around the caverns and finds a flute that helps him get back to the surface, because flutes generally have levitating powers. 
  • When gets back up top, he goes to the king, where the daughters recognize him. His traitorous brothers are put to death, and he gets the youngest princess for his wife. Bonus.

Tale 92: The King of the Golden Mountain

  • A merchant accidentally gives up his only son in a bargain to a dwarf that makes him rich. Whoops. 
  • When the dwarf comes to claim the boy, the merchant resists, and it's decided that the boy belongs to no one, but must float down the river. Why? Don't ask questions.
  • He reaches a castle where a princess is enchanted as a snake and instructs him to withstand torture silently for three nights.
  • The princess is disenchanted and they wed, making him king of the Golden Mountain. 
  • Dude really wants to go home, but his wife ain't havin' it. 
  • Finally, she relents, and gives him a wishing ring, cautioning him not to use it on her. He goes home and his parents don't believe that it's really him, so he wishes that his wife were there to prove it. 
  • She's not happy about this (don't husbands ever listen?), and she betrays him by taking back the ring and wishing herself and their child home. 
  • In search of her, he comes upon a group of giants arguing over how to divide their inheritance: an invisibility cloak, a pair of boots that will take their wearer anywhere in seconds, and a sword that will chop off the heads of everyone but he who holds it. 
  • The king cleverly says he has to test them out first, and disappears with all three.
  • He returns home, torments his wife while he's invisible, and then beheads everyone so he can rule the Golden Mountain all alone.

Tale 93: The Raven

  • One day a queen is so annoyed with her little daughter that she wishes she'd become a raven.
  • The daughter, because this is a fairy tale and all, becomes a raven and flies away. 
  • A man is walking through a forest, and a raven tells him that she's actually a cursed king's daughter, and that he can free her by following her instructions. 
  • The problem is, he keeps falling asleep when he should be looking for the right opportunity to rescue her, so she runs out of time and has to split. 
  • But not before she leaves him some bread, meat, and wine that never run out. He uses these to persuade a giant to give him a lift to the glass mountain where the princess is now captive. 
  • Then he steals some magic items from thieves, including a horse that can ride up everywhere, including the glass mountain. 
  • Finally he appears, and his presence fully disenchants the princess, so they get married.

Tale 94: The Clever Farmer's Daughter

  • A farmer asks for some land from the king, and when he starts plowing, he finds a tiny golden mortar. 
  • Against his clever daughter's advice, he brings it to the king, who demands the matching pestle, and imprisons the farmer when he cannot produce it. 
  • The farmer is overheard lamenting about his daughter's advice, so the king asks to see his daughter if she's really so clever.
  • To figure that out, he sets her a challenge: come not dressed but not naked, not on horse but not by carriage, not on the road and not off the round. 
  • Got it? Great. Here's what she does: she wears a fishnet, half-rides a donkey, and lets only her toes touch the ground so she's not either on or off the road. 
  • Apparently, she's looking pretty sexy since the king marries her on the spot. However, he makes her promise never to interfere in his affairs.
  • She gives another farmer advice on how to solve a legal quandary, and when the king suspects his wife's involvement, he tells her to leave. 
  • But she gets one last request: to take with her the dearest thing she can think of. 
  • So she drugs the king and drags him along. Ha. Of course her clever choice convinces him that she's a keeper, so they go back to the castle together.

Tale 95: Old Hildebrand

  • A priest wants to hook up with a farmer's wife, so the wife plays sick and the priest gives a sermon about how people with sick relatives should make a pilgrimage to Mount Cuckold in Italy. 
  • As soon as the farmer's gone, the priest and wife begin cavorting. 
  • The farmer tells his less-gullible neighbor where he's going, so the neighbor smuggles him back into the house so they can catch the adulterers in the act. 
  • The farmer (whose name is Hildebrand—hence the title) gives the priest a good beating.

Tale 96: The Three Little Birds

  • A king and his two ministers are walking and overhear three maidens saying they'd like to marry one of each of them. 
  • That's a totally logical way to pick a spouse, so they all get married. Duh.
  • The sister who married the king gives birth to beautiful children, two boys and a girl, while the king is away. 
  • The other sisters are jealous so they throw the babies in the river and tell the king that his queen gave birth to animals. Finally, the king is so enraged he locks her in a tower.
  • A fisherman finds each of the babies and raises the kids as his own. 
  • The two boys go off to look for their real parents, but are rude to an old woman, who doesn't help them. Meanwhile, the girl goes to look for her brothers and is kind to the old woman, who gives her advice about fetching a magical bird and magical water. 
  • The bird reveals to the king who his children are and helps heal their imprisoned mother, while her sisters are killed for their treachery.
  • Yes, we know that only one bird played a significant role but the title has three; each time a kid was thrown in the river, a little bird comes to sing a prophecy about the wicked sisters dying, which we think is where the title comes from.

Tale 97: The Water of Life

  • This king gets sick, which makes his three sons all mopey. An old man tells them to seek the Water of Life to heal him. 
  • The first two brothers are rude to a dwarf who imprisons them in a gorge, while the third brother is kind, so the dwarf advises him on how to enter an enchanted castle.
  • When the brother enters the castle, he swipes some cool magic items, and encounters a beautiful princess who says she'll marry him in a year's time. He leaves with the Water of Life and also rescues his brothers. 
  • Then, he uses the cool magical items to help a kingdom in distress on the way home. But his brothers decide to betray him so as to gain the kingdom for themselves, so they swap out the Water of Life for bitter saltwater. 
  • The king thinks his youngest son is trying to off him, so he orders him killed. Luckily, the hunter (that's fairy tale parlance for hit man, in this case) takes pity on him and lets him go.
  • The kingdom that the younger brother had helped sends tokens of gratitude, leading the king to think something is up. 
  • Wising up, he forgives his youngest son, who passes the princess's test when it's time to marry (the brothers had tried but failed). 
  • They want to kill the perfidious brothers, but they were canny enough to book a one-way ride on a ship first, and manage to escape.

Tale 98: Doctor Know-It-All

  • A poor man with the unfortunate name of Crab is dealing with a doctor, and decides he wants to live that kind of nice life. 
  • The doctor advises him to get doctor-looking clothes and a sign that says "Doctor Know-It-All" for his door. 
  • No sooner has he done those things, than a nobleman comes to him for help finding stolen money. 
  • The "doctor" brings his wife to dinner with the nobleman, and as each servant brings in each course, he announces that it's the first, second, and so on. 
  • The servants, who are the thieves, freak out because he's supposedly found them out. 
  • The nobleman tests the doctor by asking him what's in a hidden dish, and he laments, "Poor crab," which is correct since there were crabs in there. 
  • The servants pay him off to return the money without revealing their identities, so Doctor Know-It-All ends up rich with a good rep. Quite the con man.

Tale 99: The Spirit in the Glass Bottle

  • A poor man (yeah, there are a lot of them in these tales) has a son whom he tries to send to university. But he can't afford it for long, so the son comes home and helps his father chop wood. 
  • While wandering in the forest, he finds a spirit in a glass bottle begging to be released. 
  • After outwitting the spirit (who'd wanted to kill him at first), he receives a cloth that heals wounds with one end and produces silver with the other. 
  • So his father has enough money to live nicely, and he can return to university.

Tale 100: The Devil's Sooty Brother

  • A penniless soldier makes a bargain with the devil to serve him for seven years. 
  • One stipulation: he can't wash himself or cut his hair during this time, so he looks pretty gross while stoking the fires in hell. 
  • When he's released from service, he's given gold and instructed to say that he's the devil's sooty brother. That has a nice ring to it.
  • A king likes him enough that he gives the soldier his younger daughter in marriage. 
  • So, hey, deals with the devil don't always turn out that bad.

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