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Age Rating 8 Plus.
A story by The Brothers Grimm.
Start of Story
There was once upon a time a king who had a great forest near his
palace, full of all kinds of wild animals. One day he sent out a
huntsman to shoot him a roe, but he did not come back. 'Perhaps some
accident has befallen him,' said the king, and the next day he sent out
two more huntsmen who were to search for him, but they too stayed away.
Then on the third day, he sent for all his huntsmen, and said: 'Scour
the whole forest through, and do not give up until you have found all
three.' But of these also, none came home again, none were seen again.
From that time forth, no one would any longer venture into the forest,
and it lay there in deep stillness and solitude, and nothing was seen
of it, but sometimes an eagle or a hawk flying over it. This lasted for
many years, when an unknown huntsman announced himself to the king as
seeking a situation, and offered to go into the dangerous forest. The
king, however, would not give his consent, and said: 'It is not safe in
there; I fear it would fare with you no better than with the others,
and you would never come out again.' The huntsman replied: 'Lord, I will
venture it at my own risk, of fear I know nothing.'
The huntsman therefore betook himself with his dog to the forest. It was
not long before the dog fell in with some game on the way, and wanted to
pursue it; but hardly had the dog run two steps when it stood before a
deep pool, could go no farther, and a naked arm stretched itself out of
the water, seized it, and drew it under. When the huntsman saw that, he
went back and fetched three men to come with buckets and bale out the
water. When they could see to the bottom there lay a wild man whose body
was brown like rusty iron, and whose hair hung over his face down to his
knees. They bound him with cords, and led him away to the castle. There
was great astonishment over the wild man; the king, however, had him put
in an iron cage in his courtyard, and forbade the door to be opened
on pain of death, and the queen herself was to take the key into her
keeping. And from this time forth everyone could again go into the
forest with safety.
The king had a son of eight years, who was once playing in the
courtyard, and while he was playing, his golden ball fell into the cage.
The boy ran thither and said: 'Give me my ball out.' 'Not till you have
opened the door for me,' answered the man. 'No,' said the boy, 'I will
not do that; the king has forbidden it,' and ran away. The next day he
again went and asked for his ball; the wild man said: 'Open my door,'
but the boy would not. On the third day the king had ridden out hunting,
and the boy went once more and said: 'I cannot open the door even if I
wished, for I have not the key.' Then the wild man said: 'It lies under
your mother's pillow, you can get it there.' The boy, who wanted to have
his ball back, cast all thought to the winds, and brought the key. The
door opened with difficulty, and the boy pinched his fingers. When it
was open the wild man stepped out, gave him the golden ball, and hurried
away. The boy had become afraid; he called and cried after him: 'Oh,
wild man, do not go away, or I shall be beaten!'
The wild man turned
back, took him up, set him on his shoulder, and went with hasty steps
into the forest. When the king came home, he observed the empty cage,
and asked the queen how that had happened. She knew nothing about it,
and sought the key, but it was gone. She called the boy, but no one
answered. The king sent out people to seek for him in the fields, but
they did not find him. Then he could easily guess what had happened, and
much grief reigned in the royal court.
When the wild man had once more reached the dark forest, he took the boy
down from his shoulder, and said to him: 'You will never see your father
and mother again, but I will keep you with me, for you have set me free,
and I have compassion on you. If you do all I bid you, you shall fare
well. Of treasure and gold have I enough, and more than anyone in the
world.' He made a bed of moss for the boy on which he slept, and the
next morning the man took him to a well, and said: 'Behold, the gold
well is as bright and clear as crystal, you shall sit beside it, and
take care that nothing falls into it, or it will be polluted. I will
come every evening to see if you have obeyed my order.'