The Rose-Tree

Joseph Jacobs


De Rozenboom


Once upon a time there was a good man with two children: a girl with his first wife and a boy with his second wife. The girl was white as snow, had cherry lips and beautiful golden hair that reached to the ground. Her brother loved her dearly, but her evil stepmother hated her. ‘Child’, said the stepmother one day, ‘go to the shop and buy some candles for me.’

She gave her the money and the girl went on her way to buy the candles. On her way back there was a steep hill and she put the candles down for a second to get over the hill. Just at that moment a dog came running up to her that took the candles and ran away. So she returned to the shop and bought another pair of candles. Again she had to put the candles down and again the dog took them. And the third time it happened again.

The girl returned home crying and told her stepmother what had happened. The stepmother was infuriated, the money was gone and there were no candles, but she acted as if she didn’t mind. ‘Come, lay your head on my lap, I will brush your hair’, said the stepmother. When the girl laid down, the stepmother got jealous of her beautiful hair and said to the girl: ‘Grab a piece of wood. With this comb I can’t get the knots out of your hair.’ The girl got the wood, a while later the stepmother said: ‘Grab the axe too. The wood is not working either.’

The girl brought the axe and laid down. The wicked stepmother got the axe, chopped off her golden hair and started laughing maniacally. Then she took the girl’s heart and cooked it in a pot. Without knowing what he was eating her husband tasted the meal and said he didn’t like it. The brother realized what was in the pot and refused to eat. When the stepmother wasn’t paying attention, he took the food, put the heart of the girl in a box and buried it under a rose tree crying.


De Rozenboom

On a spring day the rose tree started blooming beautifully and on one of the roses sat a white bird with a beautiful voice. The bird sang and sang and sang and at some point flew to the shoemaker and sang there too:

‘My evil stepmother killed me,
My sweet father ate me,
My little brother who I love dearly,
Sits below, oh so loyal.’

‘Bravo!’ said the shoemaker. ‘Sing it again please?’ ‘If you give me the gorgeous red shoes you are making’, answered the bird. The shoemaker gave the bird the shoes and the bird started singing, after which he flew to the watchmaker and started singing there:

‘My evil stepmother killed me,
My sweet father ate me,
My little brother who I love dearly,
Sits below, oh so loyal.’

‘What a beautiful song. Sing it again, sweet bird’, asked the watchmaker. ‘If you give me that gorgeous gold watch, I will do it’, said the bird. The watchmaker gave him the watch and the bird flew, after singing the song again, to the mill. Here were three millers chopping a big mill stone. The bird started singing:

‘My evil stepmother killed me,
My sweet father ate me,
My little brother who I love dearly,
Sits below, oh so loyal.’

All three men stopped working and cheered: ‘Oh, what a beautiful song! Sing it again, sweet bird.’ ‘If you tie the mill stone around my neck, I shall do it’, said the bird. The men did it and after signing the song, the bird flew home with the red shoes, the watch and the mill stone.

The bird rattled the mill stone against the house and the stepmother said: ‘There’s thunder.’ When the little boy ran outside to watch the thunder, the bird threw the red shoes to him. After that the bird rattled the house again. The father ran outside and the gold watch fell onto his wrist.

Father and son ran inside laughing and said: ‘Look what the thunder brought us!’ Then the bird rattled the house for a third time and the stepmother said: ‘Again thunder. Maybe there is something for me too’, and she ran outside. The moment she stepped out the door, the bird dropped the mill stone and the stepmother was crushed.

Download the PDF of The Rose-Tree with illustrations


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