From the Galpoghor Series:
Once upon a time there was a man and his wife who longed to have a child. But their prayers were never answered. And then, at last, when they had almost lost all hope, their wish came true.
Now in the back of their cottage the couple had a little window through which they could see a splendid garden full of the most beautiful flowers and plants. The owner of that garden, however, was a witch whom everybody feared; and no one dared approach.
One day, not long before the baby's birth, the wife was standing at the gazing fondly at the blooms and herbs when, suddenly, she was filled with a strange longing for the green rapunzel plant. It looked so fresh and crisp it made her mouth water each time she saw it. This desire grew greater every day so that the poor woman became quite pale and sick. The husband, afraid that she might die, promised to fetch rapunzel for her. He well knew, of course, how dangerous it was to enter the witch's garden.
As dusk cast its purple shadows on the Earth, he climbed the wall into the garden and took a handful of fresh green Rapunzel leaves, swiftly returning to his wife. At once she made herself a salad and declared it to be quite delicious.
Next day her longing was three times as great!
So her husband, who loved her dearly, returned to the garden in the twilight to bring some fresh rapunzel. But this time, just as he was bending down, he saw a shadow fall upon him.
It was the witch!
'How dare you steal my herbs!' she screamed at him, her eyes flashing with rage. 'You are a thief and must be punished.'
'Have mercy on me,' cried the man. 'What you say is true, but I did it for my wife who is with child. She saw Rapunzel from her window and fell ill from longing for it. I thought she'd surely die if I did not take her some.'
'Well now', said the witch with a sly smile, 'if that is so your wife may eat rapunzel to her heart's content. But there is one condition: when your child is born it must be mine. I shall care for it like a mother and all will be well.'
In his terror the man agreed to what the witch demanded, relieved to escape alive. And so, when the child was born, the witch came to claim the babe, named her Rapunzel and carried her away.
Rapunzel grew up to be the most be beautiful maid in all the world. But her beauty was her misfortune. For when she was twelve the witch shut her in a tower so that no man should see her and wish to wed her. The tower was deep within the forest, had neither a stairway nor a door, and had but a single window at the top.
Whenever the witch came she shouted, 'Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair.'
For the maid had long, long hair as fine as burnished gold. And when she beard the witch's voice, she would loosen her tresses, wind the top part round a window hook and let down the rest for the witch to climb.
For a long time Rapunzel remained in her longely tower with no company save that of the horrid witch.
One day a prince came riding through the forest and
heard her singing through the tower window. Her voice was so sweet and pure that the prince stopped his horse and listened. Then he followed the music through the trees until he reached the c tall stone tower. And there, of course, he was puzzled to find neither stairway nor door. Finally, he rode off in dismay.
All the same, the lovely voice had touched his heart and he could not put it from his mind. Each day he would ride to the tower deep in the forest and listen to the song.
Then, one morning, as he stood behind a tree he saw the witch approach and heard her shout, 'Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair.'
He was astonished to see the long golden hair come tumbling to the ground from the tower window, and the witch climbing up it.
'If that's the rope to climb,' he murmured to himself, 'I'll climb it too and try my fortune.'
So next day at dusk he rod to the tower and loudly called, 'Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair.'
And straightaway the hair came tumbling down and the prince climbed up.
When poor Rapunzel set eyes on the young man she was much afraid; she had never seen a man before. But the prince spoke gently to her, told of how he had heard her song, and how her singing had touched his heart. He had so much longed to see her.
Slowly Rapunzel lost her fear and when he asked her to be his bride she laid her hand in his, thinking to herself, He will surely love and care for me more than the horrid witch.' And she said aloud, 'Willingly I would be your bride but I cannot leave this tower. There is no way down.' Then an idea was born. 'If you bring a thread of silk each time you come, I can weave a ladder from it; using that I can climb down and we can ride away together.'
It was agreed. He visited her each day at dusk; the witch came in the daytime and noticed nothing amiss. As the days passed, however, Rapunzel let out her secret without thought.
'You know,' she said one day to the witch, 'you pull more roughly on my hair than the young prince.'
'What's this I hear?' the witch cried aghast. 'I thought I'd hidden you from the world but you've deceived me!'
In her fury she seized Rapunzel's hair, snatched up a pair of scissors and - snip! snap! - the long golden tresses lay lifeless on the ground. Then, by a magic spell she banished Rapunzel to a far-off land where she would live out her days alone.
On the evening of that selfsame day, the wicked witch was waiting in the tower for the prince to come. And when he called, 'Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair,' she let down Rapunzel's hair for him to climb.
Suspecting nothing, the prince climbed up to the window and into the room-right into the witch's clutches. Instead of his dear Rupunzel he found the ugly witch glaring at him with blazing eyes.
'Aha,' she screeched, 'so you seek your little song bird. Well now, that bird has flown away. This cat caught her and will now scratch out your eyes so that you will never see her again.'
When he heard these words the prince was beside himself with grief and, in his sorrow, leapt down from the window. Down, down he plunged into a clump of briars whose thorns scratched out the light in both his eyes. How could he find his dear Rapunzel now?
He wandered blindly through the forest, eating and drinking nothing but roots and dew, weeping and lamenting for his dear lost bride.
So he wandered for several years until at last he came by chance to that far-off land where Rapunzel lived. In the meantime, she had given birth to twins, a boy and girl. And now she lived alone with them. As he groped along his lonely way, the prince suddenly heard a sweet and pure voice: it was the mother singing to her children.
He recognized the voice at once.
'Rapunzel! My long-lost Rapunzel!' the blind prince cried.
Unable to believe her ears, Rapunzel ran towards the cry and there beheld the ragged wanderer. She knew him right away, rushed to embrace and kiss her beloved prince. And as she wet his face with tears, a strange thing happened: two crystal tears moistened his arid eyes and the veil of darkness was drawn aside. All at once he could see again.
He gazed fondly upon his dear Rapunzel and his newfound children.
Soon the four of them left for the prince's realm where they were greeted with relief and joy. And they lived together in peace and comfort for ever more.
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