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Once upon a time, in a very boring village, lived a very happy husband and wife. Though their lives were mundane, they were very much in love. There was only one black spot in their existence…They were unable to conceive a child. Ten years passed. They were still happy, and they looked around them, at all the other couples they knew, and decided having a child was not as important as they had once thought.

Then one day the wife discovered she was going to have a child. After so many years of waiting, their dream was about to come true. Both husband and wife were ecstatic.

Months passed, and the summer came. The wife, now heavily pregnant, took to sitting on their back step, whick looked out over a beautiful garden belonging to their only neighbor. The centerpiece of this garden was a huge bed of rampion. The wife, who had never cared for rampion before, began to develop a yearning for the plant. She spent hours on the back step, dreaming of a huge rampion salad with olives and tomato and a sweet honey vinaigrette.

Her husband, at first, thought nothing of his wife's obsession with rampion...Until one night he awoke to find her staring out of their bedroom window (which also looked over the garden) singing a little song to the bed of rampion. Now he was worried. He called her back to bed, but she would not come unless he promised to find her some rampion of her own. He agreed, but only to make her sleep. He knew that he would find no rampion at the market, or in any of their other neighbor's gardens, for the rampion season had passed. The garden behind their house belonged to a powerful fairy, and she was not likely to give away any of her prized rampion, which she kept alive through some sort of magic the villagers did not understand.

But his wife would not be denied her rampion. Instead of going to the fairy to ask permission, the husband planned to sneak into the garden during the dark moon and "borrow" some. He was much too frightened of his neighbor to confront her directly. So the dark moon came, and the husband made his way into the fairy's garden, and escaped successfully with a large quantity of the stuff. The wife made a salad of it immediately, and it was gone. The husband thought their troubles were over, but instead of quenching his wife's desire for it, the rampion salad had made her crave it even more. The next night, the husband had to go back to the garden, and again he was successful. But again it was not enough for his wife. On the third night, he returned to the garden, but with a heavy heart, for he knew that the fairy would eventually catch him, and he could see no end to his wife's desire. And that very night he was apprehended by his neighbor in her bed of rampion.

The fairy had lived in this village for as long as anyone could remember, and she had a reputation for being mean and nasty and cheap. She was also known to be powerful in her magic. She appeared suddenly in the garden right behind the husband, and asked quietly, "Who tramples my rampion?"

The husband, terrified, threw up his hands, which were of course full of the fairy's rampion. She gently removed the rampion from the husband's clenched fingers, and smiled at him. "Why do you steal my rampion, neighbor?"

" wife..." He could barely speak in his fright, but the fairy folded her arms and waited. "You see, neighbor, my wife is pregnant, and she has developed a craving for rampion, but of course no has any rampion this time of year, except you, and..."

"And you thought you would come and steal it from me? Did it occur to you that I might give you some if you had only asked me?"

"I was told by the other villagers that you were not likely to give me any freely, that is, you might require of me some favor or service, or perhaps money, and I have no money, and my wife was so desperate for the rampion..."

"You will never know now whether I would have given you the rampion freely or not. You shouldn't listen to gossip. I should kill you. It is in my right, you know. You trespassed on my property. You stole from me. But I will not kill you. It would not be the neighborly thing to do. But I have always wanted a child..."

"No, you can't. You wouldn't. My wife and I tried for years to have a child, with no success. This child is a miracle we never expected. It would kill my wife..."

"Your wife will not die. In fact she will have more children. You will be sad, and you will miss this child dearly, but you will have other children and each other to love. The child is mine. Take this rampion back to your wife, and tell her the deal you have made with me. She will have all the rampion she can eat for the rest of her pregnancy, and I will come to take the child three years from the day the child is born. Go now...

The child was born at the end of the summer, a girl, whom her parents called Rapunzel, which is another name for rampion. She was much loved by her parents, but they were always sad, because they knew they could not keep her. Two years passed, and the wife found herself pregnant again. Upon hearing this, the fairy sent a rampion plant to her neighbors as a gift. But the wife would never eat rampion again as long as she lived, and her husband threw it out into the compost heap. The plant took root there, and grew into a beautiful bed of rampion to rival the fairy's own. This would always remind them of their Rapunzel. Their second child was born, another daughter. The two children were inseparable, and the younger girl adored her sister Rapunzel.

But time passed, and Rapunzel's third birthday came, and as she had promised, the fairy knocked on their door and asked for Rapunzel. There were long, tearful goodbyes on all sides, and the fairy was moved to tears herself. She decided that rather than take Rapunzel away as she had originally intended, she would raise her in her cottage, and allow her to play in the garden, where her parents could see her and watch her grow.

And grow she did, into a beautiful, intelligent little girl. The wife watched for her every day, and every day the fairy allowed Rapunzel to play outside in the bed of rampion. The wife had another child, and another. She loved her three children, and her husband, with all of her heart, but she missed Rapunzel so terribly...

The husband was as grief-stricken as his wife, and could no longer bear the sadness in his family. He plotted to sneak into the fairy's cottage and steal his daughter back, and escape to some other village to live with his family. One night, during the dark of the moon, he made his way into the fairy's garden once more, and climbed a trellis to what he believed was Rapunzel's room. But the fairy was waiting for him, and she was furious.

"How dare you! How dare you trespass on my property again! This time I will kill you! We made a deal. Would you go back on your word? I am glad to have Rapunzel. At least I know she won't be raised by a liar and a thief and an oath-breaker!" The fairy raised her had as if to cast some wicked spell, but Rapunzel, who had heard her father climbing up the side of the cottage, grabbed the fairy's arm and begged her not to kill her father.

The fairy had a soft spot for Rapunzel, whom she thought of as her own daughter. "I will not kill him, Rapunzel. I cannot ask him for his word that he will never try this again, however. He is not trustworthy. But you are. Will you promise never to leave me, as long as you live?"

Rapunzel considered for a moment, for she missed her family very much. She said, "I promise, Godmother, on two conditions. The first is that you see to it that no harm ever comes to any of my family."

"Not only will they be safe, but they will lack for nothing so long as they stay away from you."

"The second condition is that I will get to see my sister, whom I have not laid eyes upon since you brought me here. I miss her terribly, and it makes me sad that I cannot watch her grow up."

"You will see your sister twice a year, once on her birthday, and once on yours. She will bring you letters from your family, and bring back letters from you to them. Agreed?"

"Yes, Godmother, I agree. May I kiss my father goodbye?" The fairy nodded, and Rapunzel embraced her father. They cried and promised to write a letter to each other every day.

The father returned to his family with the news. His wife was furious with him, for she would no longer be able to watch Rapunzel from the window. But when he told her that their second daughter would be able to visit Rapunzel, and that they could write her letters, her anger died. She sat down immediately to write to her daughter.

The fairy took Rapunzel to the place where she had originally intended to keep her, a tower way out in the woods behind her cottage. The tower was beautiful, tall and shining, made of the finest white marble. It had no door, and only one window, at the very top. From this window, Rapunzel could look out over the village and beyond to the sea. The fairy came three times a day, to bring Rapunzel food and to teach her fairy magic. In the beginning, the fairy used her magic to enter Rapunzel's room, but as time passed and Rapunzel's hair grew longer and longer (for she had never cut it) the fairy began to use Rapunzel's braids as a ladder. Rapunzel's sister came twice a year, and she used the same method to enter the tower. Years went by, and Rapunzel grew into a beautiful young woman. Rapunzel also turned out to be a powerful sorceress, though she hid the extent of her power from the fairy, whom she felt might become jealous. She spent her days practicing her magic and sitting in front of her window, gazing out at the sky and singing, for she a lovely voice.

One day a young man happened to be passing by on horseback, and heard Rapunzel's song. He was enchanted by her voice. He came to the bottom of the tower and called up to her. "Who is it up there? Are you as beautiful as you sound?"

Rapunzel peeked her head out of her window, and found herself looking at the most handsome young man she had ever seen (not that she had seen too many, having been locked up in a tower most of her life). She answered, "Good day to you, sir. I am pleased that you enjoy my song, but you must leave here. I am the protege of a powerful fairy, and she would be most displeased to find you here speaking to me..."

"I care not. My, but you are beautiful..."

"Please, sir, I mean you no disrespect, but you must leave. She is due at any moment with my lunch, and she will surely kill you if she finds you here."

"I would not cause you any grief. May I ask you name?"

"No! Please! You must leave now! She is coming!"

The man bowed and remounted his horse. "I will come again, lovely!" he called up to her, and rode away into the woods.

The fairy came as scheduled. "Rapunzel, Rapunzel," she called, "Let down your hair for me!"

And so Rapunzel did, in the usual way. Little did either woman know, that in the woods the man hid, watching their every move. He stayed there until nightfall, and saw the fairy come again. Again she called out to Rapunzel to let down her hair, and climbed up into the window. As soon as she left, the man decided to try it for himself. "Rapunzel, Rapunzel," he shouted, "Let down your hair for me!"

Rapunzel looked out the window to find the same man beneath her window. "Please, sir, I asked you to go away. She will not be at all pleased..."

"How will she know if we never tell her? I only wish to talk with you, Rapunzel."

They argued back and forth for some time, but in the end the man's perseverance won out, and Rapunzel let down her hair. They sat in front of the fire for some time talking. Just before sunrise, Rapunzel begged the man to leave. The fairy, who arrived every day at three specific times, brought Rapunzel's breakfast exactly an hour after sunrise. She did not want to take the chance that she would find the man in Rapunzel's room. He agreed to leave, but only if Rapunzel would allow him to return. She agreed happily, for she had had a wonderful evening. He would return at the same time every night.

This went on for some time. One day she asked him not to come the next evening, for that was one of her sister's two days a year to visit. He did not believe Rapunzel, thinking she was hiding another man from him. He was already at this point very much in love with her.

He came the next day, but not at his usual time. He came in the morning, and hid out in the woods as he had done before. He saw the fairy arrive, leading a blindfolded young woman of about the same age as his Rapunzel. The fairy removed the blindfold, and he saw that the girl bore a striking resemblance to his love. So she had not been lying after all! He felt quite guilty about his mistrust of Rapunzel, and was about to leave, when he heard Rapunzel's voice call out sweetly to her sister. She let down her braids, and the fairy left them alone. He came out of the woods and stood listening below Rapunzel's window.

The two women talked for some time about their family, and the man began to get bored. Then he heard one of them begin to cry, and they were speaking too softly for him to hear. He could not bear the thought of Rapunzel or her beautiful sister crying, and must stop it. He called up the window, "Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair for me!"

Rapunzel, though she too was in love with him, was furious at him for coming. "Please leave us. I have only two days a year with my sister, and I will allow no interruptions in our time together."

"But, lovely Rapunzel, I heard one of you crying, and I can't bear the thought of anyone causing you sadness..."

Rapunzel's sister did not care for any interruptions either, but she was curious to know who came calling at her sister's window. She stuck her head out and introduced herself.

The man bowed deeply. He said, "It is an honor to meet you, Lady. I am Prince Rafael. My father is King of this Land, and I am courting your sister in the hope that someday she will agree to become my bride. You are as lovely as Rapunzel, and as sweet. How is it that you two are only allowed two visits a year?

The girls went on to tell Rafael the whole story. He was horrified by the fairy's behavior, and vowed to them that he would put an end to Rapunzel's imprisonment one way or another. Rapunzel begged him not to go against the fairy, who was more powerful than he could imagine, but Rafael would not be stopped. He did however agree to wait until Rapunzel's sister left, so that nothing would jeopardize their time together.

The following day, the fairy arrived as usual an hour after sunrise, but instead of finding Rapunzel alone in her room, she found her with the man. She was enraged, and threw him immediately out of the tower. The prince had been prepared to fight, for he was a valiant and noble warrior, but he never had a chance against the fairy. She followed him out to where he lay bleeding on the ground, and said, "You will never set your eyes on my Rapunzel again, Prince." She cast a spell, which took away his eyesight, and returned to Rapunzel in the tower. Badly wounded and blind, he called for his horse, and together they wandered back to the king's castle.

Rapunzel sat crying in her tower. She was sure that her Rafael was dead, and that the fairy would kill her, too. But the fairy, who loved Rapunzel above all things, could not be angry at her. "I know," she said, "that that man must have forced his way in here to you. How did he do it?"

Rapunzel thought quickly. "He had a rope with some sort of claw attached," she replied, "and he would stand on the back of his horse and throw it up time after time until it finally caught on the window ledge. Then he would climb up."

"How many times has he done this?" the fairy demanded.

"Two or three times. I begged him not to come, I told him you would be angry, but he wanted very much to marry me."

"Why did you never tell me?"

"I was afraid you'd be angry with me. I told him I could never marry him, that I had promised to stay with you forever."

"You are a good girl, Rapunzel. I have taught you well. But if anything like this should ever happen again, you must tell me immediately..."

"Yes, Godmother. Tell me, is he...dead?"

"No, my daughter. Even I would not dare to kill a king's son. Did you know who he was?"

"Not until today, Godmother. Is he badly hurt?"

"He will live, but I have cast the spell of blindness upon him, so that he will never find his way back here. You will hear no more from him."

After the fairy left, Rapunzel sat and cried for some time. She would never see her prince again! But once all of her tears were gone, she began to think. She, too, was a powerful sorceress. Surely there was something she could do...

Time passed, and it came to be Rapunzel's birthday, and time for her sister to visit again. She arrived the same way, blindfolded, with the fairy. As soon as the fairy left, Rapunzel's sister asked about Prince. Rapunzel began to cry again, and told her the sad tale. Her sister was furious with the fairy. All along, Rapunzel had been teaching her sister everything the fairy had taught her, so that she, too, was a powerful sorceress. Neither one alone could stand against the fairy, but perhaps together...

So they hatched their plot, and when the fairy came to take Rapunzel's sister back to her family, she found two fairy-taught sorceresses against her. They cast a strong spell, weaving it with love (which makes the best spells) and the fairy was caught. She begged Rapunzel to remember her promise to stay with her Godmother always.

Rapunzel replied, "You have taken me from my family, and kept my sister from me, and blinded the man I love. I can no longer stay with you, Godmother. I don't think anyone in the world would fault me for breaking a promise to someone as jealous and spiteful and mean as you are. I have no love left for you."

They left her in the tower, trapped forever, and closed up the window. The two sisters returned to their family, and there was great rejoicing everywhere in the village, for people there had been sick of the nasty fairy for some time. But Rapunzel could not stay, because she had to go and find her prince.

Her sister would not be separated from her, so the two set off together the next morning to find the king's castle. It took them most of the day to get there. They found castle gates and entered the town, which was a very somber, dark place. They asked a passer-by for the reason, and she responded,

"The King's son has returned to us after a long absence, but he has been blinded by an evil curse. The King and Queen are offering him in marriage to any woman, or a fortune and a kingdom of his own to any man who lifts the curse. Many have tried, for this is a wealthy kingdom, and the prince is a handsome man, but all have failed. We are losing hope..."

The sisters thanked the woman and headed into the town. They found a place to stay for the night, and thought hard about how to cure the prince. Finally they came up with a spell they were sure would work. The next morning, they went to the castle and asked to be allowed in to try and cure the prince. No one there believed two lovely young girls would have the power to cure him. Out of desperation, the Queen allowed them to try. They stood before the prince, silent, and began to cast their spell. But it did not work.

Rapunzel, who thought she had failed the man she loved, began to cry. The Prince recognized the sound of her tears, and said, "Is it you? If it is, sing for me..."

And so Rapunzel went to him, and took his hand, and began to sing his favorite song. She cried as she sang, and her tears splashed onto Rafael's face. Two touched his eyes, and he smiled, and said, "You've come back to me, my Rapunzel!"

His sight was restored by Rapunzel's tears, and the two embraced. The castle was at this point in an uproar, and everyone was ecstatic. The Queen and King welcomed their son's love and her sister warmly. Rafael and Rapunzel were married shortly thereafter, and Rafael brought his wife's family back to live in the castle. Nothing was ever heard from the fairy again...In fact, she's probably still locked up in the tower. And everyone lived happily ever after...

The End

From the Brothers Grimm

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adapted by Queen Moon on 22 March 1999