Once upon a time, there was a very
poor blacksmith whose worldly possessions were a
tumbled down cottage, a wife, a troop of hungry
children, and otherwise nothing but seven pence. So
with these seven pence he bought himself a stout rope
and went into the forest to hang himself. He found a
tall tree with a strong branch, threw the rope over
it and began to tie a knot. Suddenly a lady all in
black stood before him, as if she had risen up out of
the ground. "Blacksmith, stop that at
once," she commanded.
blacksmith was so frightened that he untied the rope,
and the woman immediately disappeared. As soon as she
was gone, he began to tie the rope around the branch
again. But the lady in black reappeared at
once, waved a threatening finger at him and snapped,
"I told you to stop that, Blacksmith!"
Again the blacksmith
untied the rope, and started to make his way home.
But on the way he thought to himself, "There's
nothing left for me at home but to die of hunger
anyway. I think I'd rather hang myself."
again he found a good tree for hanging himself, and
tied the rope around a branch. But the lady in black
was there at once, shaking with anger. "Why
won't you listen to me, Blacksmith?" she
else can I do?" sighed the blacksmith. "I
and my family are going to starve anyway."
will not starve," answered the lady in black,
"because I shall give you all the money you
could possibly wish for. But in return, you must give
me that thing which you have at home, and yet know
not that you have."
blacksmith could hardly believe his ears, or his
eyes, when he saw the sack full of gold coins that
the lady handed to him. He thanked her heartily and
set off as fast as he could with the heavy sack.
don't forget your promise," called the lady in
black after him. "That which you have at home,
yet know not that you have, belongs to me. In seven
years I shall come to claim it."
everything there is in my house," laughed the
blacksmith. "If there's anything there I don't
know about you're welcome to it." And off he
blacksmith got home he counted the sack of gold coins
into a great heap. The family was overjoyed.
"Our little Golden-Curls has brought us
luck," laughed the blacksmith's wife, and she
showed her husband a beautiful little baby girl with
golden hair and a golden star on her forehead. It was
the blacksmith's baby daughter, who had just been
born that day. The blacksmith was shocked and
saddened. So that was the thing he had at home, which
he had not known about!
the years passed and Golden-Curls grew into a
beautiful little girl, the joy and sorrow of her
parents. On her seventh birthday, a black coach
stopped outside the cottage and the lady in black
stepped from it. "I have come for your little
girl," she said, and led the girl to the coach.
The parents and the other children begged her to
relent, but the woman was not to be moved. The
coachman cracked his whip and in a flash the carriage
drove for a long, long time, through barren deserts
and dark forests, until at last they reached a huge
black castle. "This castle is yours," said
the lady in black. "It has one hundred rooms,
all of which you may enter freely, except the
hundredth one. Do not enter that, or great evil will
befall you. Remember! In seven years' time I shall
visit you again." And with that, the lady in
black drove away.
seven years to the day the lady in black returned in
her carriage. "Have you been into the hundredth
room?" was the first thing she asked.
I haven't," replied Golden-Curls honestly.
are a good, obedient girl. In seven years I shall
return again, and if you have still obeyed me, I will
make you the happiest of girls. But if you step
inside that hundredth room, a fate more terrible than
death will await you." With this threat the lady
in black rode off again for another seven years.
seven years passed quickly, and the day came for the
lady in black to return. Golden-Curls could hardly
wait, for she was sure she would be rewarded in some
marvelous way for her obedience. Then suddenly she
heard strange and beautiful music. "Who can be
playing so sweetly in my castle?" she wondered.
Following the sounds up a twisting staircase, she
came to the topmost room of the castle, the hundredth
room, for that was where the music was playing.
Without stopping to think she opened the door, and
stood there staring, horrified at what she had done.
twelve men in black cowls were sitting around a great
table, and a thirteenth man was standing looking down
at her. "Golden-Curls, Golden Curls, what have
you done?" he cried, and his voice echoed like
thunder around the stone chamber. Golden-Curls was so
terrified that her heart missed several beats.
"Whatever can I do?" she wailed.
must never, never tell a soul what you have seen in
this room. That is the only way you may find
forgiveness for what you have done."
closed the heavy door and went downstairs. Almost at
once she heard the lady in black's carriage rattling
up. "What did you see in the hundredth
room?" the woman snapped, for she knew at once
what had happened.
shook her head and said nothing.
well, if it's dumb you are then dumb you shall stay!
From this moment on you will be able to speak to no
one but me." And saying this the lady in black
drove Golden-Curls out of the castle.
walked until she could go no further. She came to a
beautiful green meadow, lay down on the grass and
cried herself to sleep. Now it happened that the
young king of that land, who was out hunting, passed
by the meadow and saw Golden-Curls lying there
asleep. She was so beautiful that he at once fell in
love with her, and he didn't mind at all that she
couldn't speak. He took her to his palace, where a
few days later they were married. And so Golden-Curls
became a queen. She
lived very happily at the castle, and before a year
had passed a little boy was born to her, who also had
golden hair and a golden star on his forehead.
Everyone in the palace was delighted with their new
the very first night after the baby's birth, the
terrible lady in black appeared at Golden-Curls'
bedside, and said in a cruel voice, "Tell me
what you saw in the hundredth room, or I'll kill your
Golden-Curls was terrified, but she remembered what
the thirteenth man had said: she must keep silent. So
she just shook her head. Then the woman seized the
little baby, strangled him, and rubbed his blood on
Golden-Curls lips, and vanished with the dead child.
In the morning
everyone was horrified when they saw the blood on her
face, and they wondered, "Surely she couldn't
have eaten her own child?" But the king did not accuse
her and no one else dared to, and Golden-Curls still
could not speak. Another
year passed and a little girl was born to
Golden-Curls. She too had golden hair and a golden
star on her forehead. Everyone at the palace was
delighted, but they were frightened too, lest the
same terrible thing should happen as last time. So
the king set a strong guard around Golden-Curls'
room, but to no avail.
the night the lady in black appeared again and said,
"Tell me what you saw in the hundredth room, or
I'll kill the girl too." Golden-Curls was beside
herself with grief, but she still only shook her
head. The woman strangled the little girl, rubbed
blood on Golden-Curls' lips, and vanished carrying
the dead child.
day the palace was thrown into dismay by the news,
and the king in a rage gave orders for Golden-Curls
to be burned at the stake. She wept and wept, but no
one now felt the least bit sorry for her. As they were leading her out
beyond the city, the black carriage appeared again,
and the lady in black stepped out of it. "This
is your last chance to tell me what you saw in the
hundredth room," she cried. "Tell me, or
they will most certainly burn you alive."
still just shook her head and said nothing.
executioners tied Golden-Curls to the stake and lit
the fire beneath her. But just as the flames were
starting to lick at her feet, the lady in black
suddenly became dressed in white, and called out,
"Put out the fire! Please, hurry!"
Everyone was astonished, but the executioners quickly
doused the flames. The lady in white went to her
carriage, and out of it climbed a little boy and
girl, both with golden hair and golden stars on their
brought them to Golden-Curls, saying, "By
keeping silent so steadfastly, you have saved
yourself, and you have also saved me, by delivering
me from a terrible enchantment." With that she
all this the king could hardly believe his eyes or
ears, especially when Golden-Curls finally spoke to
him and told him the whole strange story. They rode
straight back to the palace, and lived there long and
happily together. The old blacksmith, his wife and
all his children came to live with them, and all were
blessed with the greatest happiness and good fortune.