Grimm’s Grimmest – Fowler’s Fowl
No one knew where he took them because none ever came back.
One day the sorcerer knocked on the door of a man who had three beautiful daughters.
He feigned weakness and carried a basket on his back to hold any gifts he may be offered. The eldest daughter came outside with a piece of bread after he asked for a bite to eat.
At the sorcerer’s touch, she came under his spell and could not help herself from jumping into his basket. At that, the sorcerer hurried off to his house in the middle of a dark forest. Everything in the house was beautiful and the sorcerer gave the girl everything she wished.
It went this way for a couple of days and then the sorcerer told the girl that he would be leaving for a journey. He gave her the keys to the house, allowing her to go wherever she pleased except for a single room that was opened by a little key. He forbade her from entering the room under pain of death.
He also gave her an egg and told her that she must be very careful with it, carrying it wherever she went because something terrible would happen if it got lost. She took the keys and the egg and promised to take care of everything.
When he had gone, she went through the house from top to bottom and looked at everything. The rooms glittered with silver and gold, so much splendor. Finally she came to the forbidden door, she meant to walk past but her curiosity got the best of her. She looked at the seemingly ordinary key and put it in the keyhole.
She meant to turn it just a little bit, but the door sprang open. A great bloody basin stood in the middle of the room. It was filled with the parts of dead bodies that been hacked to pieces; besides it stood a butcher’s block with a gleaming axe on top.
The girl was so horrified that she dropped the egg, falling into the bloody basin. She quickly picked it up and wiped off the blood, but the blood reappeared in a moment. Nothing could clean the egg, no matter how much she scrubbed and washed.
It was not long before the sorcerer returned from his journey. He asked for the key and the egg. She gave them to him trembling, and he could see the red spots on the egg, which told him that she had been in the bloody chamber. “You have gone in the room against my will,” he said, “And shall go back against your own. Your life is finished.”
He threw her down, dragged her in by the hair, and cut her head off on the block. Then he hacked her into pieces so that the blood flowed all over the floor, and tossed her into the basin with the rest of his victims.
“Now I’ll go and get the second one,” the sorcerer said, and he went back to the house disguised as a poor man begging for food. He spelled the second daughter, bringing her to his house in his basket on his back. She fared no better than her sister for her curiosity led her astray.
Now the sorcerer went and fetched the third girl, but she was smart and clever. When she had the key and the egg and he had left for his journey, she first carefully put the egg away, then she looked all around the house and finally went into the forbidden room.
There in the basin lay her dear sisters, miserably murdered and hacked into pieces. But she got her wits about her and set to work, gathering all the parts and laying them in the right order. And when nothing was missing, the limbs began to move and joined together and the two girls opened their eyes and were alive again.
The third sister led them out of the horrible room and hid them away. When he returned, the sorcerer immediately demanded the key and the egg, and as he could see no trace of blood, he said, “You have passed the test and shall be my bride.”
“I will marry you,” she answered, ” but first you must take a basket full of gold to my father and mother, and you must carry it on your own back. Meanwhile, I will get everything ready for the wedding.” Then she ran to where her sisters were hidden, telling them that this was the time that they could be saved.
She put both of them into the basket and covered them with gold so that they could not be seen. Then she called the sorcerer and said, “Now take the basket, and don’t stop to rest on the way. I’ll be keeping guard from my little window to make sure you don’t.”
The sorcerer lifted the basket onto his shoulders and walked off with it. But it was so painfully heavy that the sweat streamed down his face and he feared that he would die. He sat down to rest awhile, but right away one of the girls in the basket cried out for him to continue on his journey. He thought it was his bride calling to him and got up and went on his way.
Again he wanted to sit down, but right away the voice cried out. Each time he tried to stop, the voice would call out to him and he had to keep going until finally, groaning and panting, he brought the basket with the gold and the two girls into their parents’ house.
Meanwhile, the bride was getting everything ready for the wedding and sending out the invitations to the sorcerer’s friends. Then she took a skull crowned it with jewels and a garland of flowers, carried it to the attic, and placed it as if to look out of the attic window.
When everything was ready for the wedding, she disguised herself to look like a very strange bird. She left the house and on her way she met some of the house guests, who asked where she had come from and how the young bride was faring.
Further on her journey, she met her bridegroom, who was slowly returning home. He asked the same questions as his friends before him, and received the same answers, He looked up to the window, saw the decorated skull, and believed it to be his true bride.
But just as he had gone in to greet his guests, the brothers and other relatives of the bride arrived to rescue her. They locked all the doors to the house so that no one could escape, and then sit it afire, and the sorcerer and all his friends were burnt to ashes.
Fowler’s Fowl is filled with deception and dismemberment. The sorcerer was a fiend and a murderer, but he dug his own grave or rather his funeral pyre. It made me wonder what motivated him to kill the first girl, the one that became the first test to the second girl he stole away from her house.
And curiosity really killed the cat when the first and second sisters could not control themselves when entering the forbidden room.