From “The Fairy Book” by Miss Mulock

There was once a miller who was very poor, but he had a beautiful daughter. Now, it happened that he came to speak to the king, and, to give himself importance, he said to him, “I have a daughter who can spin straw into gold.”

The king said to the miller, “That is a talent that pleases me well; if she is as skillful as you say, bring her tomorrow to the palace, and I will put her to the proof.”

When the maiden was brought to him, he led her to a room full of straw, gave her a wheel and spindle, and said, “Now set to work, and if by the morrow this straw is not spun into gold, you shall die.” He locked the door and left the maiden alone.

The poor girl sat down disconsolate, and could not for her life think what she was to do; for she knew not–how could she?–the way to spin straw into gold; and her distress increased so much that at last, she began to weep. All at once the door opened, and a little man entered, and said, “Good evening, my pretty miller’s daughter why are you weeping so bitterly?”

“Ah!” answered the maiden, “I must spin straw into gold, and know not how to do it.”

The little man said, “What will you give me if I do it for you?”

“My neckerchief,” said the maiden.

He took the kerchief, sat down before the wheel, and grind, grind, grind–three times did he grind–and the spindle was full: then he put another thread on, and grind, grind, grind, the second was full; so he spun on till morning; when all the straw was spun, and all the spindles were full of gold.

The king came at sunrise and was greatly astonished and overjoyed at the sight, but it only made his heart the more greedy of gold. He put the miller’s daughter into another much larger room, full of straw, and ordered her to spin it all in one night if life were dear to her. The poor helpless maiden began to weep when once more the door flew open, the little man appeared, and said, “What will you give me if I spin this straw into gold?”

“My ring from my finger,” answered the maiden.

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