1909: The Seven Ravens

Arthur Rackham - Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm (1909 edition)

The good little sister took a knife and cut off her own tiny finger, fitted it into the keyhole, and succeeded in opening the lock.

When she had entered, she met a Dwarf, who said: “My child, what are you looking for?”

“I am looking for my brothers, the Seven Ravens,’ she answered.

The Dwarf said: “My masters, the Ravens, are not at home; but if you like to wait until they come, please to walk in.”

Thereupon the Dwarf brought in the Ravens’ supper, on seven little plates, and in seven little cups, and the little sister ate a crumb or two from each of the little plates, and took a sip from each of the little cups, but she let the ring she had brought with her fall into the last little cup.

All at once a whirring and crying were heard in the air; then the Dwarf said: “Now my masters the Ravens are coming home.”

Then they came in, and wanted to eat and drink, and began to look about for their little plates and cups.

But they said one after another: “Halloa! who has been eating off my plate? Who has been drinking out of my cup? There has been some human mouth here.”

And when the seventh drank to the bottom of his cup, the ring rolled up against his lips.

He looked at it, and recognized it as a ring belonging to his father and mother, and said: “God grant that our sister may be here, and that we may be delivered.”

As the maiden was standing behind the door listening, she heard the wish and came forward, and then all the Ravens got back their human form again.

And they embraced and kissed one another, and went joyfully home.

The Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm (1909); illustration by Arthur Rackham

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