The Iron Stove a Fairy Tale about Love

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This fairy tale first collected by the Grimm Brothers highlights the resilience of both human and magical spirits, illustrating how the princess’s determination and love for the prince allow her to overcome great challenges. Enjoy

Once upon a time, in an era when wishes whispered to the stars had the power to alter the very threads of fate, a young prince found himself ensnared by the malevolent spells of a witch.

With a mere twist of her twisted fingers, she condemned him to existence within the cold, unyielding iron walls of a stove, hidden deep in the heart of an ancient, whispering forest.

Seasons melded into years, and years into decades, yet no hero emerged to shatter the curse that bound him to his iron prison.

In the same realm, yet a kingdom apart, a princess, in the bloom of her youth, found herself ensnared by the forest’s untamed beauty, her path back to her father’s castle obscured by the towering embrace of the trees.

For nine long days and nights, she wandered, each step leading her deeper into the heart of the unknown, until, by a twist of fate, she came upon the iron stove, a silent sentinel in the clearing.

From within its iron confines, a voice, as clear and real as the wind rustling through the leaves, broke the oppressive silence. “From whence do you come, and where do you aim to go?” it inquired, its tone tinged with a loneliness that pierced her heart.

“I am lost, separated from my father’s kingdom, and I see no way back,” she confessed, her voice a melancholy echo among the ancient trees.

“Fear not, for I can guide you home,” the voice proposed, a glimmer of hope threading through its words. “But such assistance comes with a price. Promise to return and liberate me from this prison. I am a prince, cursed to remain within this stove by a witch’s spite, and you, in return, shall be my bride.”

Though fear clutched at the princess’s heart, the thought of seeing her beloved home once more outweighed her trepidation. With a heavy heart, she agreed, binding herself to a fate as uncertain as the path that had led her to this moment.

“In return for your promise, I grant you a silent guardian to guide your steps back to the warmth of your hearth,” the prince assured her.

True to his word, a silent figure appeared, guiding her through the forest’s maze, back to the safety of her kingdom within two hours’ time.

Her return was met with a joy that filled the castle’s halls with laughter and tears. Her father, the king, embraced her, relief and love evident in his eyes. Yet, the weight of her promise hung over her like a shadow amid the light of her homecoming.

She confided in her father, revealing the vow she had made to the mysterious voice, to return, to free him, and to unite her life with his.

The king, driven by fear for his only daughter’s safety, devised a plan. In her stead, they would send the miller’s daughter, a beauty in her own right, armed with a knife and a hope to scrape away the curse that bound the prince.

But as the first light of dawn crept over the horizon, it became clear that their plan was in vain. The voice from within the stove discerned the truth. “You are not the one who promised to return,” it declared, sending her back from whence she came.

Undeterred, the king tried once more, this time with the swineherd’s daughter, whose beauty outshone the miller’s. Yet, despite her efforts, the stove remained unyielding.

As daylight broke, the voice inside spoke once more, its patience waning.

“Bring back the princess who made the vow, for without her, the kingdom itself stands on the brink of ruin.”

Confronted with the stark ultimatum from the voice within the iron stove, the princess was left with no choice but to fulfill her daunting promise.

With a heart laden with dread yet fortified by determination, she bid a tearful farewell to her father, concealing a knife within her cloak as she ventured back into the enigmatic depths of the forest.

Upon reaching the iron stove, she began her task with a resolve that belied her delicate frame. The iron, though seemingly impervious, yielded under her persistent efforts, and soon a small aperture was carved.

Peering inside, she beheld a sight that arrested her very soul—a youth of such surpassing beauty, adorned in gold and jewels, that the world outside seemed pale in comparison.

With renewed vigor, she expanded the breach until it was large enough for him to emerge. “You have freed me, and in doing so, have become my bride,” the prince proclaimed, his voice a melody of gratitude and love.

He expressed a desire to whisk her away to his kingdom immediately, but she, yearning for a final farewell to her father, requested a brief return home.

The prince consented, with a caveat: she must limit her words to her father to no more than three, lest their chance at happiness be snatched away.

Yet, in the joy of her reunion, she spoke beyond the given limit, and with her words, the iron stove vanished, transported to realms unknown, though the prince was freed from his prison.

Realizing her mistake, she bade her father a true goodbye, taking with her scant provisions for her journey back through the forest in search of her lost love.

For nine days, she searched to no avail, until, driven by desperation and the gnawing pain of hunger, she sought refuge in a tree as night approached. As the cloak of darkness enveloped the forest, a distant light caught her weary eye, sparking a glimmer of hope in her heart.

Descending from her makeshift sanctuary, she followed the beacon through the night, her prayers whispering in the wind.

At last, she arrived at a quaint, seemingly abandoned cottage, overgrown with grass and marked by time. Peering through its window, she discovered a curious sight—an assembly of toads of all sizes, gathered around a feast fit for royalty, their table set with silverware that glittered in the dim light.

Mustering her courage, she knocked on the door. At her signal, a portly toad, with an air of importance about him, called out in a voice that was both commanding and whimsical:

“Little green waiting-maid,
Waiting-maid with the limping leg,
Little dog of the limping leg,
Hop hither and thither,
And quickly see who is without.”

At his command, a smaller toad hobbled to the door, opening it to reveal the princess standing on the threshold, a figure of both hope and despair.

Upon her arrival at the small, overgrown house, the princess was greeted by an assembly of toads, each more peculiar than the last. The eldest, a corpulent toad with an air of authority, summoned a box with the promise of aid for her quest.

From it, she received three large needles, a plough-wheel, and three nuts—magical items destined to aid her in the trials ahead. With these tools, she navigated the perilous landscapes that lay between her and her beloved, each obstacle a testament to her unwavering resolve.

Finally arriving at a grand castle, she found herself in the presence of the prince she had freed, only to discover his heart promised to another.

In the shadows of her servitude, she cracked the first of the toads’ nuts, revealing a dress of such splendor it caught the eye of the prince’s intended.

Bargaining with the dress, she secured a night in the prince’s chambers, hoping to awaken his memory of their bond. Despite her pleas, he remained unresponsive, lost in an enchanted slumber.

Undeterred, she repeated her attempts over two more nights, each time revealing dresses of increasing magnificence from the enchanted nuts, and each time, her heartfelt cries went unheard.

It was not until the final night, when the prince, wary of the sleeping draught, stayed awake to hear her lamentations, that he recognized his true savior.

In the stillness of the night, they fled, overcoming the magical barriers that once separated them with the aids given by the toads. Their return to the little house revealed its true nature as a grand castle, and the toads as enchanted royalty, now restored to their true forms.

Their union was celebrated with a joyous wedding, merging their destinies and kingdoms.

The princess and the prince, alongside the rejuvenated royal toads, lived in a harmony that bridged their worlds, their happiness a beacon across their lands.

In time, they brought the old king to their castle, ensuring that no heart remained burdened by solitude.

As the kingdoms flourished, so too did the tale of their adventure, a story of love’s triumph over enchantment, whispered on the winds and sung by the bards. And in this way, the tale weaves its way to us, a reminder of the magic that binds us all.

Also read: The FairiesHans and the Griffin’s Feather

Follow Up Questions

What curse was placed on the prince by the witch, and how was he imprisoned?
How did the princess initially find the prince, and what promise did she make to him?
How did the princess finally free the prince from his curse?

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