(This is late due to day job and illness.)
A huntsman was going to the woods to hunt when he met an old woman. She asked for alms and he gave her what he could. She told him that in the woods he would see nine birds fighting over a cloak. If he shot into the middle of them, one would die and the others would fly off dropping the cloak. If he swallowed the heart of the dead bird, every morning when he woke up there would be a gold piece under his pillow. And the cloak was a wishing cloak. You put it on and wish where to go and there you are.
The huntsman went into the woods and saw the birds. He fired, one dropped dead, and he swallowed its heart. He picked up the cloak and walked back home.
The next morning he checked under his pillow and found a gold piece. Once he had gathered up a pile, he decided to see the world.
One day he came upon a castle. An old woman – a witch – and her daughter saw the man. The witch knew at once he had a bird’s heart and wanted it for the gold. She threatened her daughter on what she needed to do to get the heart away from him. The huntsman – falling in love with the maiden – decided to stay at the castle to “rest.”
Once the huntsman was fully smitten with the girl, the witch made a drink and had the girl pass it to him. When he drank it, it brought up the bird’s heart. The girl took it and swallowed it. The huntsman no longer found a gold piece under his pillow, but he was so in love that he didn’t think of it. The witch took the gold from the girl every morning.
The witch also wanted the cloak, but the girl wanted to leave it with the huntsman. The witch beat the girl and told her worse would happen if she didn’t help.
The huntsman found the girl looking out a window. He asked what was wrong, and she told him that in the distance was the Garnet Mountain “where the precious stones grow.” But only the birds could get to it. So the huntsman took his cloak and put it over him and the girl and wished them to Garnet Mountain.
They picked up a bunch of the gems, but the witch had put a spell on the huntsman that he would fall asleep. Once he did, the girl took his cloak and wished herself back to the castle.
When the huntsman woke up, he figured out he had been betrayed. Before he could figure out what to do, three giants came by. He laid down, as if asleep, but the first giants kicked him. The second told the first to step on him, but the third said not to bother. The third also said that if the man climbed higher, he’d be picked up by the clouds.
Once the giants left, the man climbed higher until a cloud picked him up. It carried him for some time, until it landed in a cabbage field. The huntsman was hungry, so decided to eat some cabbage leaves. But once he ate the cabbage, he turned into an ass. He was still hungry, so he kept eating cabbages, until he came to a different kind which turned him back into a man.
After sleeping, the huntsman picked a head each of the donkey and human cabbages, and went to get his own. When he found the castle, he dyed his face so nobody would recognize him.
He showed up at the castle and the witch answered the door. He begged for shelter, saying he was a king’s messenger sent to seek the most delicious salad. The witch was greedy and wanted to taste this salad, and the messenger said okay, since he had two heads of the cabbage.
The witch took the head of cabbage to the kitchen to prepare the salad, but she could not wait so she ate a couple of leaves and turned into an ass and ran out into the courtyard.
The maid came in and she too wished to have a taste, and she turned into an ass and ran outside. The huntsman/messenger was sat with the maiden but was wondering where the salad was. So he went and gathered up the salad – which the maid had dropped – and took it to the maiden. She ate and turned into an ass and ran outside.
The huntsman washed his face and gathered the asses. He took them to a nearby mill and gave them to the miller, as long as he kept them as the huntsman asked. The huntsman told him that the old ass – the witch – was to get three beatings and one meal a day. The maid ass was to get one beating and three meals, and the maiden ass – since he couldn’t bear the thought of her being beaten – just three meals a day. The miller agreed.
A couple of days later the miller came back saying that the old ass was dead, and the other two were very sad. So the huntsman took them back and fed them the human cabbage. The maiden begged forgiveness saying it was all her mother’s fault and offered to throw up the bird’s heart, but the huntsman said to keep it because he would make her his wife.
I have this cloak that will take me wherever I wish. I guess I’ll walk home.
How does a bird’s heart make a gold piece appear under your pillow?
I have a magic cloak that can take me anywhere, so I’ll go back to my abusive mother.
That was an odd, helpful thing for the third giant to say.
The story says the cabbages turned people into asses, so why isn’t the story called, “Ass Cabbages?”
Who is growing these donkey cabbages? And why? What’s the story in that?
So this witch gets a gold piece every morning and can go where “precious stones grow,” but she’s still answering the door to beggars?
When I first read this and came to the maid ass being beaten, I thought I had missed something in the story as to why the huntsman would want her beaten. But when I reread it to make my notes, the maid didn’t show up until she ate some of the salad. What did the huntsman have against maids?