The Story Finder

Voices in Fairy Tales

by Michelle Tocher

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Shy Carpenter

Themes: Friendship | Terror | Trust

My best friend and I grew up in houses that stood side-by-side, and our fathers were both carpenters. We were so close to one another that we used to be called Little Fork and Little Knife. My friend became a soldier, and I became a carpenter. He was much more courageous than me, and when I set off to work with a master craftsman, my friend came with me. He worked in the house as a servant, but he was lazy and bored, and he soon got the heave-ho.

I didn’t want to stay without him, so I left and traveled on with him.

One day we came to a large mysterious forest, and I said, “I’m not going in there. There will be witches and ghosts jumping all over the place.” My soldier friend laughed. He wasn’t afraid at all. In fact, I’d never seen him look livelier. He went on ahead and so I had to follow him into the dark wood. We were soon lost, but then we came upon a brightly lit castle. In front of the castle, we saw a black dog, and a red swan swimming in the pond. In the kitchen, we found a gray cat standing by the fire, stirring food in a pot. There were no other creatures anywhere to be seen. We investigated the castle from top to bottom, and then my friend proposed that we go down into the cellars. We found people down there! An old woman, a boy, and a maiden.

The old woman told us that they wouldn’t be able to come up until we killed the red swan, the dog, and the cat. I was terrified, and I wanted out of that strange place, but my friend was just getting warmed up to do the job that he had trained for!

The Shy Carpenter in The Soldier and the Carpenter, Grimms