The Girl without Hands.

A Short Story :The Girl without Hands


A certain miller had little by little fallen into poverty, and had nothing left but his mill and a large apple-tree behind it.

Once when he had gone into the forest to fetch wood, an old man stepped up to him whom he had never seen before, and said, "Why dost thou plague thyself with cutting wood, I will make thee rich, if thou wilt promise me what is standing behind thy mill?"

"What can that be but my apple-tree?" thought the miller, and said, "Yes," and gave a written promise to the stranger.

He, however, laughed mockingly and said, "When three years have passed, I will come and carry away what belongs to me," and then he went.

When the miller got home, his wife came to meet him and said, "Tell me miller. Where does this sudden wealth come into our house?”

All at once every box and chest was filled. No one brought it in.

“I know not how it happened." He answered, "It comes from a stranger who met me in the forest and promised me great treasure. I, in return, have promised him what stands behind the mill. We can very well give him the big apple-tree for it."

"Ah, husband," said the terrified wife, "that must have been the devil! He did not mean the apple-tree, but our daughter, who was standing behind the mill sweeping the yard."

The miller's daughter was a beautiful, pious girl and lived through the three years in the fear of God and without sin. When therefore the time was over and the day came when the Evil-one was to fetch her, she washed herself clean and made a circle round herself with chalk.

The devil appeared quite early, but he could not come near to her. Angrily, he said to the miller, "Take all water away from her, that she may no longer be able to wash herself, for otherwise I have no power over her."

The miller was afraid and did so. The next morning the devil came again, but she had wept on her hands and they were quite clean. Again he could not get near her and furiously said to the miller, "Cut her hands off, or else I cannot get the better of her."

The miller was shocked and answered, "How could I cut off my own child's hands?"

Then the Evil-one threatened him and said, "If thou dost not do it thou art mine, and I will take thee thyself."

The father became alarmed and promised to obey him. So he went to the girl and said, "My child, if I do not cut off both thine hands, the devil will carry me away, and in my terror I have promised to do it. Help me in my need and forgive me the harm I do thee."

She replied, "Dear father, do with me what you will, I am your child."

Thereupon she laid down both her hands and let them be cut off. The devil came for the third time, but she had wept so long and so much on the stumps, that after all they were quite clean.

Then he had to give in and had lost all right over her. The miller said to her, "I have by means of thee received such great wealth that I will keep thee most delicately as long as thou livest."

But she replied, "Here I cannot stay, I will go forth, compassionate people will give me as much as I require." Thereupon she caused her maimed arms to be bound to her back, and by sunrise she set out on her way and walked the whole day until night fell.

Then she came to a royal garden and by the shimmering of the moon she saw that trees covered with beautiful fruits grew in it, but she could not enter, for there was much water round about it.

And as she had walked the whole day and not eaten one mouthful and hunger tormented her, she thought, "Ah, if I were but inside, that I might eat of the fruit, else must I die of hunger!" Then she knelt down, called on God the Lord, and prayed.

And suddenly an angel came towards her, who made a dam in the water, so that the moat became dry and she could walk through it. And now she went into the garden and the angel went with her. She saw a tree covered with beautiful pears, but they were all counted.

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