I hang on the wall in a chamber deep underground. I’ve been watching a man pace back and forth for so long that he has made the surface of the ground quite smooth.

Finally he stops and says, “Why do you hang here? No one can be merry here.”

Indeed. This is the lair of dragons, and though the young man has severed their heads from their bodies, he himself is imprisoned.

When is it going to dawn on him that he can take me from the wall and play me? All he needs to do is to blow a few notes and the gnomes will come. For every note he sounds, more will come, and they will grant his wish for freedom.

The Gnomes’ Flute in The Gnomes, Grimms. Illustration by Arthur Rackham.

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