Storybook Castle
Storybook Castle










The Complete Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales
This collection of "classics" certainly is a departure from the Disney versions. The tales are mostly very dark and pessimistic, as originally recorded by the Brothers. For the more "colourful" children's stories it is better to buy the specific tales from the bookstore instead of a collective book.
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This story is available in the following languages
[ English ]


On St. Valentine's Day Mother Nature calls all the birds together to choose their mates. Once they gathered on a fresh green meadow by a river. All around them fruit trees were in bloom and on a little hill good Mother Nature sat. Flowers grew all around her. In the river little fishes swam; the whisked their fins and shone like silver. Rabbits skipped and on the branches of the trees the birds were singing. For good St. Valentine had driven away the winter. And all the birds were singing:

"Spring is here! It's here! It's here!"

Then came flying through the air a little elf called Cupid. He was shooting magic arrows. And when the birds felt in their hearts those magic arrows they were filled with love and each one wished to choose the mate that he loved best. So, one and all, they piped up, crying:

"Mother Nature! Let the choosing start! For each we'd fly away with that sweet mate we choose to build a nest in tree or hedgerow and raise our young together!"

Now Mother Nature was holding on her hand a lovely, shy young eagle. The eagle had white feathers like a bonnet on her head and all around her neck were more white feathers all afluff and very soft. So sweet was she, so sweet and gentle, that Mother Nature bent and kissed her. Then looking up, good Mother Nature saw before her a fine big eagle, as proud, as grand and as powerful as a king. And turning to the other birds, she said:

"This eagle before me is the greatest of the birds. So he shall have first choice. Until he chooses for himself a mate no other bird shall choose!" Then that mighty eagle spoke up quickly, saying:

"With all my heart, good Mother, I choose that lovely eagle maid which you are holding on your hand."

At that the pretty eagle hung her head. She did not answer yes or no, so modest, shy and sweet was she.

But now another mighty eagle cried out fiercely:

"You shall not have that maid! I love her more than you do! She must be mine! Mine! Mine!"

"Nay, nay!" a third great eagle screamed. "I'll have her! That I will! I love her best of all!"

And with that those three great eagles all began to screech. Each cried, "I'll have her!" And while they screeched and argued, not another bird could choose his mate. Well, by and by other birds began to chirp and scold and twitter, for they were all impatient. Each one had seen a pretty bird he wanted for his mate and each one wished to fly away with her to build a nest and raise their young. At last the goose, the cuckoo and the duck all spoke at once.

"Keck, keck! Cuckoo! Quack, quack! If these three eagles can't agree, we pray you, Mother Nature, let us speak to them and try to end their squabble."

So Mother Nature answered, "Very well! Speak out!"

Then the falcon said to those three screeching eagles, "You'll never settle this affair by screeching!"

"That's true! We'll fight!" the eagles screamed.

"Nay!" the falcon answered. "Prove which of you is the gentlest. Let not the boldest but the gentlest have the maid." Yet still the eagles screeched.

So the goose spoke up and said, "Let all these eagles give this maiden up. Let each one choose another mate!"

But then the hawk began to rage, "Tis like a goose you would speak! What bird who calls himself a gentleman would give up his true love and choose another mate?"

"Aye!" cooed the dove. "No lover of a maid should ever change. Not even if she says she will not have him for her mate. He should love her still and serve her all his life!"

"My hat!" then quacked the duck. "What sense is there in that? To wait a lifetime for a maid!"

"Aye, aye!" agreed the goose. "There's more than one fair birdie one might choose as mate!"

"Fie on you, goose!" the falcon cried. "You geese have never known what true love is!"

"Well, I say, let these eagles live alone!" the cuckoo snapped. "Just let them take no mates at all."

"Live all their lives alone!" the blackbird shrieked. "Who would have thought of that save you, you cuckoo? No self-respecting bird who lives on seeds could ever have thought up so bad a thing as for a bird to live alone! To think of that it took a murderer like you! You, who pounce on little worms, poor little worms and eat them up!"

And so they quarreled until Mother Nature cried:

"Be still! There is one thing I've not done! I have not asked this eagle-maiden which of these three eagles she would have as mate. So speak up, pretty one! You shall decide this matter. Which one do you choose?"

Then the pretty eagle spoke--shyly, very shyly. "Almighty Queen, I am so young, so very young. I want no mate at all. Pray let me wait before I choose. Next year, if these three eagles will come back, then--maybe! Maybe!"

"So be it!" Mother Nature cried. "She shall not choose until St. Valentine's Day comes round next year!"

At that, those three big eagles drooped their wings and sank their heads down on their breasts. They seemed like sails of ships when all the wind is taken from them.

But Mother Nature turned at last to all the other birds and said, "Now you may choose your mates!" And then what joy there was among those birds! Each flew off to that sweet birdie he loved best. Then how they sang! Such gladness poured out! They sang to thank St. Valentine. They sang to welcome summer.

"St. Valentine," they sang, "we thank thee for our mates!" And then they sang again:

    "To good St. Valentine!
    Thus sing small birdies for thy sake!
    Now welcome, Summer, with thy sun so soft!
    Thou hast this winter weather beaten back,
    And driven away the long, long night's long black!
    Well have we reason for to gladden oft!"

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Peter Sadlon
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