“The Hut in the Forest”
A woodcutter lived by a forest with his wife and three daughters. One day, he wanted his dinner brought by his eldest daughter. So she could find him, he would take a bag of millet and sow it behind him. At noon the daughter set out with some soup, but the birds had cleaned up the millet. So she kept going until the sun set.
She was alone in the dark when she saw a faint light. Hoping it was someone who could take her in for the night, she went to it. She knocked at the door and a voice told her to come in. She went in and found an old man with a beard almost to the ground sitting at a table. By the stove were a hen, a cock, and a cow. She told him her story and begged to stay the night, and he asked the animals what to do. They said, “Duks,” which meant they were okay with it.
The man said she could stay the night, but she should cook their supper. So she made a good supper, but only for the old man and herself. After eating, she asked where she could sleep. The man told her to go upstairs to a room with two beds and to make them both up, and that he would come up to sleep. She went up, made up the beds, then laid down and fell asleep. The old man came up, and shook his head when he saw her asleep. But he opened a trap door and took her down to the cellar.
The woodcutter came home and was angry with his wife for not sending the eldest daughter, but the wife said she went out and must have gotten lost. So he said to send the middle daughter the next day, but he’d use lentils, which are bigger than millet. But the birds picked them up, and daughter kept walking, and she found the same house and the same thing happened.
The third day the woodcutter asked his youngest to bring him his dinner. He’d throw peas, which were bigger than lentils. But again the birds ate them. She got lost and found the house. But instead of eating her dinner with the man, she got some barley for the chickens and some hay for the cow, along with water.
After eating, the girl went up and made up the beds, but she waited until the man came up before laying down.
At midnight, there was a great noise of cracks and windows and doors throwing themselves open. The girl was unhurt, and eventually fell asleep again. She awoke in the morning in a royal hall. Three attendants came in and asked what order she would give. She was going to make soup for the old man, and looked over at his bed. But the old man was a prince bewitched to live in the forest as an old man with only his three attendants with him. The spell would only be broken when a young woman with love for everything came to them.
The prince sent his attendants to get her parents for the marriage. She asked about her sisters, and he said they’d be sent as servants to charcoal-burners until they learned to be kinder to animals.
Instead of saying, “Go east and follow the sounds of an ax hitting a tree,” the woodcutter goes for the sowing millet route.
You’d think a woodcutter raising daughters near a forest he’d teach them a little more woodsense. In all the years of his woodcutting, he never asked them to bring him soup before?
How far away did this daughter think her father was cutting wood?
My two oldest daughters are missing in the woods. Send the youngest.
Hi, we just met, but you broke the spell I was under, so let’s get married.