Folktales > Rumplestiltskin

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Narrator: Once upon a time there was a miller who had a beautiful daughter who enjoyed spinning cloth at her spinning wheel. One day the king passed through the village, and everyone came to greet him and to try to win his favor and perhaps be rewarded.

King: Greetings, my subjects, how is everyone this fine day?

Farmer: Greetings, your majesty, I am a dairy farmer, and I made this special cheese just for you.

King: Oh my, that looks fine indeed. Here, take this bag of gold for your efforts.

Farmer: Oh thank you, sire, there is more cheese where that came from.

Cobbler: Greetings, your majesty. I am a cobbler, and I made this pair of riding boots just for you. They're excellent for riding, but not so good for walking, because of the way they're swayed.

King: Oh my, how splendid. Take this bag of gold for your troubles.

Cobbler: Oh thank you, sire! I can also make them for your other foot if you like.

Narrator: Soon, the king passed by the miller's house.

Miller: Greetings, your majesty. I am a miller. And I have a, uh, sack of flour that I have milled just for you.

King: Oh. That's... that's very nice, thank you. I'm sure the royal chef can make some decent bread out of it. Good day.

Miller: But wait! I also have... I have a daughter who is very good with her spinning wheel.

King: Oh, how nice. Well, have her spin some yarn and send it to me if you like. I do have a few cats who'd love to play with it. Now good day.

Miller: Yarn, sire? Why, she doesn't spin yarn. She spins... she spins... straw... into GOLD!

King: Fiddlesticks! That's impossible.

Miller: It may well be, sire, but she still can do it. Now that must be worth something.. eh?

King: It certainly is. Bring her to me tomorrow, and I shall put her to the test.

Narrator: So the next day, the miller's daughter was brought before the king, and he said to her...

King: Now then young lady, here is room full of straw, and here is a spinning wheel. And here are some pods of blackeyed peas in case you get hungry.

Daughter: Pods of blackeyed peas? That's an odd snack.

King: Well, I've been told that some people never work without eyepods. Now then, I'll lock the door, and come back tomorrow morning. If this straw has been spun into gold, you shall be handsomely rewarded.

Daughter: And if not?

King: Oh. I'll just cut off your head.

Daughter: You're joking, right?

King: Of course I am. I'd never do such a thing as that. I have an executioner to do it for me. Well... have fun!

Daughter: But... but... oh, how did I get myself into this? Oh. Of course, it was my dad's big mouth. It's hopeless. How am I ever going to spin straw into gold? (Cries.)

Dwarf: Now now, don't cry.

Daughter: (Startled) Who's there?

Dwarf: It's only me, over here in the straw.

Daughter: Why, it's a tiny man.

Dwarf: Don't call me tiny – that sounds like a horse's name. I am a diminutive. Why were you crying?

Daughter: Because I have to spin all of this straw into gold, or else I'll lose my head.

Dwarf: Sounds like you have already.Is that all? Piece of cake. What will you give me if I do it for you?

Daughter: Well, I don't have any money to pay you with. How about this necklace?

Dwarf: If that's the best you can do, so be it. Stand back, dearie.

Narrator: And so, he set to work, and within minutes, he had spun all of the straw into gold. Very pleased, she gave him the necklace. And the next morning, when the king came...

King: I – I don't believe it! I didn't think it could be done. This is too good to be true. Tonight, I'm going to give you and even larger room full of straw to spin into gold.

Daughter: But- but

Narrator: And so she was given an even larger room full of straw to spin into gold.

Daughter: This is really hopeless. Not even the little man – oops the diminutive -can help me this time. (Cries)

Dwarf: Okay okay, what's wrong this time.

Daughter: You again! Oh, I have to spin twice as much straw into gold this time, There's no way a little – I mean a diminutive little fellow like you could get me out of this.

Dwarf: Never underestimate me, dearie. What will you give me if I can do this job?

Daughter: If you do this job for me, I'll give you this ring off my finger.

Dwarf: Hmnm.... Not a bad piece of jewelry, I guess. Very well.

Narrator: And he began turning the spinning wheel faster than before. Soon, all the straw had been spun into gold. The astonished girl have him the ring and he left. And the next morning...

King: This is amazing, absolutely amazing. It's like having King Midas' goose, or something like that. This time, I take you to a much much bigger room full of straw.

Daughter: But but

Narrator: And this time he took her to a roomful of straw that was enormous, cavernous, titanic and gargantuan. Besides which it was really huge.

Daughter: Well, I know what to do now. (Feigns crying)

Dwarf: Yeah yeah, I had a feeling this would happen.

Daughter: You probably can guess what I want now.

Dwarf: Yeah, I read your mind.

Daughter: Trouble is, I have no more jewelry to pay you with right now. But when I get out of her, I promise I'll come up with something.

Dwarf: Never mind that.

Daughter: Really? That's very generous of you.

Dwarf: Not at all. Such a big job as this is going to require a very big payment. For this, I will have to have your firstborn child.

Daughter: That's an easy deal to make. I don't even have a firstborn child. Or a second-born for that matter.

Dwarf: But when you do have firstborn child, it will be mine, if I do this task. Agreed.

Daughter: Sure, why not. I don't ever plan to be a mother anyway.

Dwarf: What's that?

Daughter: Huh? Oh, I just said, uh, my mother would have told me to do it this way.

Narrator: And so, the deal was made. The little man (Dwarf clears throat) sorry, the diminutive spun all the straw into gold in just a couple of hours then disappeared. And the next morning when the king returned...

King: Wow! I have never seen anything like this. You are indeed a miracle worker. Listen, I could use a queen around this castle. Why don't you marry me, and then you can have all the gold you want. Or straw if that's what you prefer. Surely a woman who works magic like this can help me keep my socks picked up.

Narrator: And so they were married. And the Miller's Daughter became a queen. And she and the king were very happy. And one year later, a child was born to them, and they were happier still. But then one night, as the queen and her baby were alone... the little man – the diminutive – reappeared.

Dwarf: Greetings my dear.

Daughter: You! What are you doing here? I don't have any more straw.

Dwarf: I'm not here to be a straw man. I'm here to get paid. Hand over the kid.

Daughter: No! I won't give up my child.

Dwarf: A deal is a deal. When somebody does a job, they deserve payment for it.

Daughter: But I didn't know what I was saying when I agreed.

Dwarf: Too bad. I think the courts would side with me. I have a strong precedent in Piper vs. Hamelin.

Daughter: Oh, I 'll be happy to pay you for the work. I'm rich now, you can have anything you want.

Dwarf: What I want is what we agreed on. To us enchanted folks, honoring an agreement is much more important than all the riches in the world.

Daughter: Well, then.... let's make another agreement.

Dwarf: Hmmm... I never thought of that. Very well. Here's my new agreement. I will release you from our other agreement if you can guess my name in one week. I will return every night and give you a chance to guess. If you are unable to guess my name by the end of the week, I will take your child as agreed. Agreed? (The queen stammers) Agreed.

Narrator: The next day, the diminutive man came back, and the queen tried to guess his name.

Daughter: Let's see... is it Thomas? Jonathon? William? Jeffrey?

Dwarf: Nope, nope. You're way off track.

Narrator: The next night he returned again, and she tried some more unusual names.

Daughter: Bartholomew? Artemis? Melchior?

Dwarf: You're wasting my time.

Narrator: So the queen sent some of her knights out to scour the kingdom talking to people and finding out their names in hopes of coming up with some more unusal ones.

Daughter: Shortribs, Sheepshanks, Tickatickatosonosorimboharrybarrybiskayeshmopompom.

Dwarf: One more day, dearie!

Narrator: Yes, she did have just one more day left. And it appeared hopeless. She sent every knight and servant she could find out throughout the countryside, looking for new names, but none of them could find any names she hadn't tried already. Then one of her servants told her.

Servant: The strangest thing happened today, your highness. I was out wandering through the woods, looking for hermits and such who might have unusual names, when I saw this teeny tiny little house – you might even call it diminutive – built into a hole in a tree. And I heard a voice singing "I'll get the child, I'll win the game, for Rumplestiltskin is my name". Isn't that the silliest song you've ever heard.


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Daughter: Oh thank you, thank you! That silly little song is going to earn you a big reward.

Narrator: So, when the diminutive man came for the last time...

Dwarf: Okay, let's get this over with. Make your last guesses, and I'll take your child and get out of here.

Daughter: Let me see... is your name Conrad?

Dwarf: (Makes sound of buzzer)

Daughter: Hmmm... Is it Barack?

Dwarf: (Makes sound of buzzer)

Daughter: Well then, I'll have to make my final answer. Is it by any chance... Rumplestiltskin

Dwarf: What! How did you – how could you – who told you???

Narrator: And he flew into such a rage that he literally tore himself in two.

Daughter: Yuck. And I thought he was diminutive before.

Narrator: And that's the story of Rumplestiltskin from the Brothers Grimm.

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About this Story

Rumplestiltskin, is one of the classic fairy tales about a supernatural creature who comes to the aid of a damsel in distress and demands a stiff payment (classically a first born child) unless the damsel can guess his name. Originally told by the Brothers Grimm.

@ Your Library

For more great American Folk Tales and legendary heroes go to your local library. You will find Folk Tales in the 398 section (Dewey Decimal System)

Look for more stories about:

  • Rapunzel
  • Grimm Brothers
  • King Midas
  • Golden Goose
  • Pied Piper

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