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Once upon a time, there was a very, very poor blacksmith. He used to be well off. But alas, when his trade slowed down, hard times came, and his wife and little children just kept asking for food. He fell into such poverty that he had only seven pennies left in his entire household. And his hungry, skinny children were now starting to whimper that they wanted to eat. He felt sorry for them and went out. He bought a rope with those last seven pennies, intending to hang himself somewhere in the forest.

Cartoon blacksmith father with two poor kids.

He comes to that forest, finds a spot and throws the rope over a strong branch of a tall tree, to hang himself. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a black lady appears and tries to dissuade him from hanging himself, saying it’s a sin and shameful.

Cartoon blacksmith with a rope in a forest.

The poor blacksmith was startled when this lady appeared out of thin air, and he moved on. After taking just a few steps, he changed his mind again and was about to throw the rope over a branch. As if she had fallen from the sky, the lady was there again. She tried to dissuade him. He shook his head, it seemed both right and not right to him; but he didn’t throw the rope and stood there, as if nailed to the spot. When the lady disappeared, all his misery appeared before his eyes again. And indeed, he prepared the rope on the branch, intending to put it around his neck and hang from it.

The lady now stood right in front of him and said to him: “Don’t hang yourself, blacksmith, don’t hang! I will help you in your misery, I’ll give you as much wealth as you want, if only you promise me what you don’t know about at home yet.” – “Well, what could that be that I wouldn’t know about in my empty house? It must be some trifle!” thought the blacksmith and promised the lady what she asked, if only she would help him out of his misery. She immediately filled his pocket with money and gold. “Here you have,” she says, “what I promised you. And for what you promised me, I’ll come in seven years.” With that, she vanished as if she had never been there, and the blacksmith, now wealthy, headed home.

Cartoon illustration of a family of blacksmith with kids.

He arrived home all happy and spread the wealth on the table. What joy of joys! His dear wife just smiled at all that glitter and immediately ran to buy food. The hungry children jumped for joy and boasted about how they ate their fill. But then the conversation turned to how their father came by this wealth. “It’s nothing, not even worth mentioning,” said the blacksmith; “I only promised what I don’t know about at home yet.” You can’t imagine how the wife was frightened at these words; because she felt that she had just conceived a child under her heart. “Oh, what have you done!” she says to him. “You’ve sold your own child before it was even born!” The blacksmith was shocked too, but what could he do? He had given his word, and now he couldn’t take it back.

Well then. Soon after, the blacksmith’s wife gave birth to a beautiful, lovely little girl, with golden hair on her head and a golden star on her forehead, which is why they never called her anything else but Goldilocks.

Cartoon illustration of father, wife and their newborn Goldilocks.

The parents took care of her and raised her as best they could; only sometimes did their hearts tighten when they thought about the fact that she was theirs, yet not theirs. Seven years later, to the minute of the hour when she was born, a black horse clattered under the blacksmith’s windows, and from the carriage stepped out the black lady, told the blacksmith why she had come, and sat the girl in her carriage. With tears and lamentations, all the family members accompanied them to the cemetery*). They wanted to go even further, but the lady wouldn’t allow it, saying she would cast a spell on them. Weeping, they returned home and mourned for the lovely girl, as if they would never see her again.

Cartoon carriage in front of the house.

The black lady and the lovely golden-haired girl flew in that black carriage through desolate fields, dense forests, until finally they stopped at a beautiful large castle.

Cartoon black lady showing a little girl around a castle.

The lady led the pretty little girl into the castle, showed her around sixty-nine rooms, and then spoke to her like this:

A detailed, cartoon-style illustration of Goldilocks, a young girl with flowing golden hair and a golden star on her forehead.

“Here you will live, my girl. You will take care of and manage these sixty-nine rooms for me; you have plenty of space to walk around in all of them and live in whichever one you like. But don’t you dare peek into that hundredth room, or you’ll end up badly! We’ll see each other again in seven years; until then, take care!” – As she said this, she vanished. For seven whole years, there was no news or word of her. And for those entire seven years, our Goldilocks lived peacefully in that castle: she walked through the sixty-nine rooms, swept, managed and cleaned them so that everything in them shone like gold; but she didn’t even peek into that hundredth room, although it always bothered her and sometimes even kept her from sleeping. – When seven years had passed, the lady returned. “Well, did you peek into the last room?” she asked Goldilocks, and Goldilocks answered that she didn’t.

Goldilocks is peeking throuhg the door.

The lady was satisfied because she knew that Goldilocks really hadn’t seen that last room. Then she gave her the same instructions again and disappeared for another seven years.

Our Goldilocks walks through the sixty-nine beautiful chambers, walks through and manages them to keep them clean as mirrors. Year after year passes for her as if in a dream. Once, near the end of these seven years, as she’s walking and thinking about how the lady will praise her for the beautiful chambers, she hears lovely music playing in that last room. She skipped like a fawn and was already there at the door, and the music sounded even more sweet and lovely now.

She pressed the handle and whoosh! she was inside.

In this hundredth room, twelve enchanted people were sitting at a table; they sat just as they had sat when they were enchanted there. Behind the door stood one more, and he said to Goldilocks: “Goldilocks, for the eternal God’s sake, don’t reveal what you’ve now seen in this room! No matter what that lady might do to you, keep it secret to the grave. Because if you utter even a word, you yourself will be unhappy for all eternity and we will remain enchanted here!” – With that, everything fell silent and Goldilocks, frightened and scared, ran out.

And here she didn’t even notice until the black lady stood before her, and she already knew in advance that Goldilocks had seen that last room. She just wagged her finger at her and said: “Goldilocks, Goldilocks, what have you done? You peeked into that hundredth room! Now tell me, what did you see there?” But dear Goldilocks, saying no and nothing, kept it secret to the grave. – When kindness didn’t work, the lady threatened her this way and that; but Goldilocks just kept denying and denying. Finally, the lady says: “If you don’t tell me what you saw in that room, I’ll throw you into a well and you’ll become mute!” And indeed, she threw her into a deep well and cast a spell on her so that she couldn’t talk to anyone else in the world except the black lady.

Goldilocks is standing in a deep well.

When Goldilocks somewhat recovered in that well, she found herself on sandy ground, and wonder of wonders, some kind of passage appeared to her underground. She followed that passage and came out beautifully onto a lovely meadow. Then she stayed there on that meadow, living on strawberries and roots.

Goldilocks at meadow.

And that black lady appeared to her there more often and always just begged her to reveal what she had seen in that last room in her castle. But Goldilocks never said anything.

In that region where the meadow was, a young king was once hunting, and as he was hunting, he came to the meadow and found beautiful Goldilocks lying asleep on the grass.

Cartoon king on a white horse.

He looked at her, looked, and couldn’t stop wondering where such unseen beauty could have come from.

Happy goldilocks at meadow.

And the more he wondered and looked, the more he liked her, until finally he decided to wake her up, take her home and marry her, no matter what people would say about it.

So he woke her up quietly and asked her who she was, where she was from. But she couldn’t say anything. He thought that she was just frightened of him, or that she was shy, and so he kept asking and asked her if she would go with him to his castle. To this, she at least nodded her head that she didn’t mind. So the young king took her to his castle, had her nicely dressed and, as he had intended, married her soon after.

Goldilocks still couldn’t speak even then; but the young king loved her anyway and lived with her happily and peacefully. About a year later, she was approaching childbirth and here she, as if sensing something not good, just kept getting sadder and sadder day by day. The day of birth came and she gave birth to a beautiful boy with golden hair on his head and a golden star on his forehead. Who was happier than the king? He immediately had all the surrounding lords summoned for a feast to rejoice with him. But indeed, his great joy turned into great sorrow. And how? I’ll tell you.

At night, the black lady appeared to Goldilocks again and began to threaten her that if she doesn’t reveal what she saw in that last room, she will strangle her golden-haired boy. Goldilocks was overcome with horror, trembling all over like an aspen leaf; but she remained silent. “You’ll end up badly yourself!” threatened the lady. But Goldilocks didn’t say a word. – Then the lady strangled the beautiful boy, smeared Goldilocks’s mouth with blood, and disappeared.

There’s no telling how everyone was frightened when they found the boy dead in the morning. The king just turned pale both from fright and from grief. They then searched the whole castle and inquired strictly in all directions who could have done this; but they couldn’t find out anything. Goldilocks had her mouth smeared with blood, so indeed they started to say that perhaps she had strangled the boy herself. And she, innocent, couldn’t utter a word in her defense. Some even condemned her to death, saying she deserved it. But the king overlooked and overheard everything and lived with her, as before, peacefully, because he loved her.

A year later, Goldilocks came into labor again and gave birth to a little girl with golden hair on her head and a golden star on her forehead. The king rejoiced even more now, and to prevent misfortune, he had a great guard posted at night in the room where Goldilocks was lying.

But all that didn’t help, because the black lady first cast a spell on everyone so that they fell asleep like logs, and then she stood before Goldilocks herself. “Well, I’ll see,” she threatened, “whether I’ll finally find out or not what you saw in that last room! You see, you’ll perish one way or another! If I strangle your child now, the king will have you burned!” But Goldilocks, even at these threats, just like a stone, said nothing. The black lady strangled the little girl, smeared Goldilocks’s mouth with blood, and disappeared.

In the morning they found the child dead and the guard didn’t even know if anything had rustled in that room. The king became terribly angry that such injustices were happening in his court and had even stricter investigations made into what could have happened, who could have done it. But they couldn’t get anywhere with that. At last, everyone started openly saying that there was no possibility that anyone else could have strangled the child but the queen herself, that after all, there was no one else with her, and look, her mouth was bloody again and that she indeed couldn’t speak a word. Such talk finally moved the king to condemn Goldilocks to death himself.

They were to burn the unfortunate Goldilocks outside the town. They had already led her out; they had already tied her to a pole; they were already lighting the wood under her and all the people were watching.

Goldilocks is tied up with a rope on a pole.

Suddenly, a black carriage thunders through the crowd and stops by Goldilocks. The black lady stepped out of the carriage and said: “You see, my word has come true: one way or another, you’re going to your doom! Tell me what you saw in that last room in my castle?”

Cartoon carriage with the fire.

But Goldilocks remained silent and no matter how much the lady pressed her, she absolutely refused to reveal anything.

When the smoke and flames began to lash at Goldilocks, as if by miracle, the black lady transformed and her face turned white. She immediately ordered the fire to be put out, saying that Goldilocks was innocent, and said to her: “Your salvation and my happiness is that you didn’t give yourself away; by that, you have freed me and those twelve that you saw in that last room. If you had revealed it, you would have damned both yourself and us for all eternity!”

With that – without knowing how – she gave her her own children back alive and disappeared herself in that carriage, as if in a whirlwind. At that moment, Goldilocks herself began to speak and told the king everything about how things had been for her from the very beginning. – The king couldn’t believe his eyes and ears; but now it was so, and not otherwise.

He didn’t know what to do for joy: whether to grab the golden children, or to embrace his Goldilocks and beg her to forgive him for causing her so much fear himself.

Then he led both his wife and children to the castle and they lived even more peacefully now, and that with her father, the blacksmith, whom they then found and welcomed to live with them with his whole family. The end.

From the collection of Slovak legends and rumours collected by the Slovak storyteller Pavol Dobšinský.

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