The day before the wedding, my father held a feast. At the table, everyone was asked to tell a story. I just listened, but then my bridegroom said to me, “Come, my darling, do you know nothing? Relate something to us.”

I ignored his disrespect, and said, “Well then, I will relate a dream. I went walking into the woods and came to a house. A bird warned me not to go in, but I went in anyway. I looked into all the rooms. I only dreamt this, of course, my darling, but there was something horrible about the place. In the cellar I found a very, very old woman whose head shook. I asked her, ‘Does my bridegroom live in this house?’ And she answered, ‘Alas, child you have come into a murderers’ den. Your bridegroom lives here and he will hew you into pieces, cook you, and eat you.’

Of course, my darling, I only dreamt this. The old woman hid me behind a great hogshead, and, just then, the robbers came in dragging a maiden with them. They were drunk and paid no heed to her cries and lamentations. They plied her with wine until her heart burst, and then they pulled off her pretty clothes. They took her, and hewed her fair body into pieces on a table and sprinkled them with salt. Of course, my darling, I only dreamt this.

There was a ring on her little finger, though, and when they chopped it off, the finger flew up into the air and landed in my bosom. Here it is. So you see, it was no dream.”

The Miller’s Daughter Betrothed to a Robber in The Robber Bridegroom, Grimms. Illustration by Walter Crane.

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