There once was a penniless miller whose greatest joy was his kind and loving daughter. One warm spring morning, the miller and his daughter went to the royal palace to deliver some sacks of flour to the king.
The miller wanted to impress the king. The miller boasted, “Your Majesty, not only do I sell the best flour in the land, but I also have a very special daughter. She has the ability to spin straw into gold!”
“Indeed, that is quite a skill! But she must prove her talent!” said the greedy king.
The king led the miller’s daughter to a room filled from the floor to the ceiling with straw. “Spin all of this straw into gold by tomorrow morning,” he said, shutting the door.
The miller’s daughter gulped at the king’s words. She did not know how to spin straw into gold! “What am I to do?” she asked herself. She placed her head in her hands and began to weep.
Suddenly, a voice asked, “Why are you crying?”
The miller’s daughter raised her head and wiped the tears from her face with the back of her hand. Beside her stood an odd bearded man who was no larger than a child.
“Oh!” exclaimed the miller’s daughter with surprise. “The king ordered me to spin this straw into gold by morning. The only trouble is, I do not know how to spin straw into gold!”
“What will you give me if I spin all of this straw into gold?” asked the mysterious little visitor.
The miller’s daughter thought for a moment and then replied, “I will give you my necklace.”
The little man quickly snatched the necklace from the miller’s daughter and said, “Well, then, it’s a deal.”
The small fellow hopped over to the spinning wheel and set to work. The miller’s daughter watched in amazement as the little man spun the straw into gold.
When the sun rose the next morning, the king entered the room and was delighted by what he saw. He led the miller’s daughter to another room. Like the last room, this room was filled from the floor to the ceiling with straw, only this time the room was much larger.
“If you can spin all of this straw into gold by tomorrow morning, I will marry you and you will become queen,” said the greedy king. He walked out of the room and locked the door behind him. The miller’s daughter gazed at the
enormous piles of straw that surrounded her.
“I am doomed!” she said to herself. “I cannot spin straw into gold!” She lowered her head and sobbed. Suddenly, a short man appeared before her. Through her tears, she could tell that it was the same little man who had helped her the night before. The man approached her and asked, “Why are you crying again?”
“The king asked me to spin this straw into gold. If I do, I will become the queen. But I cannot spin straw into gold,” said the miller’s daughter.
“What will you give me if I spin the straw into gold?” asked the little man.
“I am afraid I have nothing else to give,” said the miller’s daughter.
“Surely, you must have something! What about your firstborn child?” suggested the mysterious little stranger.
The miller’s daughter shuddered. If she were to have a child, she could not give it to this strange fellow! But the miller’s daughter felt she had no choice. She turned to the little man and said, “If you help me spin this straw into gold, then you can have my firstborn child.”
The little man clapped his hands with delight. He skipped over to the spinning wheel and sat down. With a great whir, the man set the spinning wheel in motion. As the little man worked, the miller’s daughter lay down on a pile of soft golden thread. Soon, she was asleep.
The next morning, the miller’s daughter awoke to the sound of the door opening. The king stood in the doorway. The room was filled with glittering gold, but the little man was nowhere to be seen.
“Ha, ha! You have done it again, my talented lady!” said the king with great joy. He picked up a handful of golden thread and let it run through his fingers.
“You are a woman of incredible skill, and I would like you to be my wife! Please marry me,” said the king. Though the miller’s daughter was ashamed that the king did not know the truth, she was honored by the king’s proposal. With a bright smile, the miller’s daughter accepted the king’s proposal. The very next morning, the king and the miller’s daughter married in a beautiful ceremony at the royal palace. Everyone in the kingdom, young and old, turned out to see the amazing woman who was able to spin straw into gold. They were proud to have such a talented woman as their queen.
Within a year, the queen gave birth to a beautiful daughter. The queen valued nothing more than her precious new child. She was so delighted by her daughter that she forgot all about her agreement with the little man who helped her spin straw into gold.
One day, the queen sat with her daughter in the royal nursery. The queen cradled the baby in her arms and sang to her. All of a sudden, the strange little man appeared in front of the queen.
The queen gasped in shock and pulled her daughter closer to her.
“Greetings, Your Highness. I have not forgotten our agreement. I spun straw into gold for you, and now I want your daughter,” said the little man.
“I am very grateful for the help you gave me, but please, do not take my child!” pleaded the queen to the little man.
The little man placed his hands on his hips and frowned. “You said that you would give me your firstborn child if I helped you spin straw into gold. I have done what you asked, and you still will not give me your daughter,” he said. “But you seem to truly care about your daughter. I will take pity on you and give you another chance. You have three days to guess my name. If you guess correctly, then you can keep your baby. But if you are unable to guess my name, then I get your child.”
The queen was very grateful that the little man had given her another chance to keep her child. But before she got the chance to thank him, he was gone.
The queen was terrified at the thought of the odd little man taking her daughter, but surely she would be able to guess the man’s name.
The queen did not sleep at all that night. She stayed awake creating a long list of names.The next day, the strange little man arrived to hear the queen’s first guesses. The queen pulled out her list and cleared her throat. She began, “Is your name Casper, Melchior, or Balthazar?”
The little man shook his head and smiled broadly.
“Is it Luther, Leonard, or Lucius?” she continued confidently.
“No,” said the man with a smile.
“What about Jacques, Pierre, or Vincent?” asked the queen.
“I am sorry, Your Majesty. All of those guesses are incorrect, as well!” giggled the little man.
The queen’s voice quivered with worry as she continued reading. “Cyril, Beauregard, or Constantine? Wait! I know! Grunwald, Brutus, or Horace?” she asked.
The tiny man said, “No. None of those!”
Eventually, the queen came to the end of her list of names. She still did not know the little man’s name. He hopped toward the door cackling, “Ha! You have two more days, Your Highness!” With that, he waved and disappeared.
The queen was extremely worried. Her list contained every name she could think of, and still she did not know the little man’s name.
On the second day, the queen sent messengers to the distant corners of the kingdom. She told her messengers to remember every unusual name they heard.
When the little man returned, the queen read a list of all the odd names found by her messengers. But by the end of her second day, the queen still did not know the name of the odd little man.
On the third day, the queen had almost given up hope. All of a sudden, one of her messengers came running into the palace.
“Your Majesty, I think I have some information that you might find helpful,” panted the messenger.
“Yes! Yes! What is it?” asked the queen.
“When I was walking through the forest, I saw an odd-looking little man dancing around a fire. He hopped around the fire and sang:
The queen’s heart will surely break,
For tomorrow her child I’ll take.
But today we play the guessing game,
For Rumpelstiltskin is my name!”
“His name is Rumpelstiltskin!” rejoiced the queen. “Now I will be able to keep my precious daughter! Thank you for your excellent work!” the queen said to the helpful messenger.
Soon after the messenger left, the little man arrived at the palace.
He approached the queen and said, “What is my name, Queen? If you do not guess correctly today, your daughter will be mine!”
The queen looked the strange man in the eye and asked, “Is your name Joseph, Gerard, or Sulzberger?”
“No!” cackled the little man as he anxiously hopped up and down.
“Well, then, what about Wallace or Igor?” asked the queen.
“Wrong again!” cried the man, with great excitement.
The queen leaned towards the little man and stared directly into his eyes. In a loud voice, she said, “Well, if none of those are your name, then perhaps your name is none other than Rumpelstiltskin!”
“What?! How did you know? Who told you my name?!” screamed the little man. His tiny bearded face was red with anger. He clenched his fists and stomped on the floor. He pounded his feet so hard that the room rumbled and shook.
Suddenly, his foot came down so hard that he kicked a hole right through
the floor! In an instant, the strange little man disappeared, never to be
The queen smiled with satisfaction and kissed her baby on the head.