|The moon, according
Once upon a time, in what would later become Germany, there lived "a king who had a son, and his son wished to wed the daughter of a powerful king." The girl he loved was named Maid Maleen, and she was a renowned beauty. But her father, the powerful king, had already chosen a match he considered more advantageous. He refused to give his son permission to marry Maid Maleen. So Maleen told her father "I cannot and will not accept anyone else as my husband." Those words so angered her father that he "became furious and ordered a dark tower to be built that prevented the rays of the sun and the moon from penetrating its walls." Then he threw his daughter into it, with food enough to last for seven years, and sealed the entry. The time passed slowly for Maid Maleen and her handmaid. They learned to gauge time by the dwindling store of food, and, when it was nearly gone, they knew that the seven years were drawing to an end. But no one came to rescue them. At last, Maild Maleen said to her handmaid,"We have just one last resort. We must see if we can break through the wall." So they took it in turns to pick at the mortar, and soon had loosened a series of stones. When the hole was big enough, they climbed out. Then they understood why no one had come for them: the kingdom "lay in ruins, the city and villages, as far as they could see, had been burned to the ground, the fields had been destroyed. Not a soul could be seen." A search for food brought only wild nettles and bitter berries. At last, the two maidens begged at a nearby castle. "There, they were told to move on, until the cook came and said they could work in the kitchen as cinderellas. The son of the king in whose realm they were now living was none other than the former betrothed of Maid Maleen." He had a new betrothed, chosen for him by his father. She "had a face as ugly as sin, and her heart was just as wicked." She was kept hidden away until the day of the wedding, at which time she still dreaded to show her face. So she instructed her maids to find a servant to wear the wedding gown, and walk in her place. They brought up Maid Maleen from the scullery, and the bride to be ordered her to wear the gown. Maid Maleen refused. The wicked princess ordered her a second time; she refused again. Now the wicked princess declared that she would have the girl's head chopped off if she did not comply. So Maid Maleen had no choice but to obey. But when the prince saw her, he thought to himself,"She looks just like my Maid Maleen; I'd swear it was really her, but I'm sure she's a prisoner in the tower, or she's dead." So he took the maiden by the hand and started along the path to church. That's when Maid Maleen sang out," Nettle bush, nettle bush, so small and so bear, why are you now standing there? There was a time, you know, when I ate you raw, you know, raw and rough." And the prince wondered what this meant. They went on, and soon came to a footbridge. Now the girl in the wedding gown called out," Footbridge, please don't break or chide, for I'll gladly admit I'm not his true bride." Rather, she said, that honor should go to Maid Maleen. The prince asked what this meant, but the girl said nothing. When they got to the church door, the girl in the gown chanted again that she was not "his true bride". The prince ignored this, and placed a heavy necklace of gems around his bride's neck. Then they went into church where "the priest clasped their hands in wedlock". Now the bride left the prince and ran to the chamber of the real bride. They quickly exchanged clothes. But Maid Maleen kept the necklace hidden. Then the real bride put on a veil to cover her ugly face, and went to the prince. That's when he asked her why she had spoken that way to a nettle bush. She denied having said a word to the bush, but soon realized that her double had deceived her. She ran and asked what she had said, then repeated the rhyme to the prince. His confusion only deepened, so he asked why she had spoken to the draw bridge. Again she tried to deny that she had done so, and again, realized her mistake. She ran to Maid Maleen, learned the rhyme, and spoke it for the prince. But now he demanded to know what she had said at the church door. When she could not repeat it, he insisted that she show him the necklace. And since she was ignorant of rhyme and jewelry, he declared,"If you don't know this, then you're not my true bride." But she told him,"I'm the bride you were to marry but I was afraid that the people would have mocked me when they saw me on the streets. So I commanded the cinderella to put on my clothes and go to church in my place." Then they sent for Maid Maleen, and the false bride told the servants "that the kitchen cinderella was a cheat and that they were to chop off her head." Maid Maleen screamed so loud that "that the prince heard her voice". Of course, he came and set her free. Then he called for a light, and that is when he saw "the golden necklace around her neck that he had given her at the church door." so he knew that she was his lawfully wedded wife. He drew her into his chambers and asked her why she had mentioned Maid Maleen earlier. That's when she told him,"I am Maid Maleen. For seven years, on your account, I was a prisoner in darkness and suffered hunger and thirst. Then I lived for a long time in need and poverty. But today the sun is shining on me once again, "So they "kissed each other and were happy for the rest of their lives." As for the ugly princess, "as payment for her actions...she had her head chopped off." And the tower that had held Maid Maleen captive remained for many, many years. The children who lived near chanted as they passed the ruins,"Cling, clang, clum, who's sitting there alone and glum? The princess sits without a key, the princess I can't see. The walls are thick and will not break, the stones won't move, for heaven's sake. Come, little Hans, with your coat so gay, come follow me this very day.
From, The Complete Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm (1812/2003) Ed.: Zipes p. 574
Notes: Again with the seclusion in the dark where the sun don't shine...this time in a tower instead of below the ground, but still. Good for Maleen for breaking out, though she went a bit overboard on telling the truth, I think. Come on. You don't have to sing to every bush and bridge, admitting that you're false.