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, rose to my feet, 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 then the robbers came in. They were dragging a maiden with them. They were drunk and paid no heed to her cries. They threw her on the table and plied her with wine until her heart burst. Then they pulled off her pretty clothes, hewed her fair body into pieces, and sprinkled them with salt. Of course, my darling, I only dreamt this.
“She wore a ring, and when they chopped off her little finger, it flew up into the air and landed on my breast. I have it right here. So now you see, my darling, it was not a dream.”
The Miller’s Daughter Betrothed to a Robber in The Robber Bridegroom, Grimms. Illustration by Walter Crane.