Once upon a time, there was an old fairy castle that stood in the middle of a deep, dark forest. An old fairy lived in the castle, who could take on any form she wanted. One day she would fly around in the shape of an owl, and the next day she would crawl like a cat through the land. But at night, she always turned back into an old fairy. If a young man came too close to her castle, he would become completely ensnared and unable to take a step until she came to rescue him. But she would only do this if he gave his word that he would never come back again.
One day, a beautiful girl came close to the castle, and the fairy turned her into a bird. The fairy put her in a cage and hung her in a room. There were seven hundred of these cages in the castle, all with beautiful birds inside.
There was a girl named Jorinde, who was the most beautiful girl in the world, and a shepherd boy named Joringel was in love with her. They were going to get married soon. One day, they were walking together in the forest. Joringel said, “We must be careful not to come too close to the fairy castle.” It was a beautiful evening, the last rays of the setting sun shining through the trees, and the doves singing.
Jorinde sat down to watch the setting sun, and Joringel sat next to her. They were both sad, they didn’t know why, but it seemed as if they would be separated from each other forever. They had walked a long way, but when they wanted to go back, they didn’t know which way to take. The sun had already sunk halfway behind the hill. Joringel suddenly saw that they had sat down right under the walls of the old fairy castle. He turned pale and trembled with fear, but Jorinde was still singing:
“From a willow bush a ringdove sang, Oh, what a day, oh what a day. He mourned the fate of his beloved partner, Oh what a day.”
Then her song stopped suddenly. Joringel turned around and saw that his Jorinde had turned into a nightingale. Her beautiful song ended with a sad sound. An owl, with fiery eyes, flew around them three times and shouted three times: “Hoo-hoo-hoo, to-whit to-whoo, to-whit to-whoo.”
And Joringel stood there, petrified like a rock, unable to move, cry, or speak. Now the sun went completely down, and it became dark. The owl flew into a bush, and a little later, the old fairy appeared.
She muttered something to herself, grabbed the nightingale with her hand, and left. The poor Joringel saw her taking the nightingale, but what could he do? He couldn’t speak, and he couldn’t move from where he stood. Finally, the fairy returned and sang a strange song with a hoarse voice: “As long as the prisoner is not quick, her downfall is her fate. Stay there, oh stay there. When the spirits are around her, the enchantment remains forever. Go away, go away.”
Suddenly, Joringel was free. Then he fell to his knees before the fairy and begged her to give him back his beloved Jorinde. But she laughed at him and said he would never see her again.
He prayed, he cried, he mourned, but all in vain. “Alas!” he said, “what will become of me now?” He couldn’t go back to his own home, so he went to a strange village and became a shepherd. Many times he walked around the hated fairy castle, as close as he dared, but all was in vain. He heard or saw nothing of Jorinde.
One night he dreamed that he found a beautiful purple flower with a dewdrop in the center as big as a pearl. In his dream, he picked the flower and went to the castle. Everything he touched with the flower was enchanted, and he found his Jorinde again.
When he woke up in the morning, he went in search of the flower. He searched for eight days but found nothing. On the ninth day, he was lucky, he found the purple flower with the dewdrop in the center as big as a pearl. He picked the flower and went back to the castle. He got very close to the castle but wasn’t ensnared. He touched the door with the flower, and the door opened. He went inside but stopped when he heard all the birds singing. Finally, he came to the room where the fairy was with seven hundred singing birds in seven hundred cages.
When she saw Joringel, she became furious, but she couldn’t get closer than two meters to him because of the flower in his hand. He looked around at the birds. They were all nightingales, so how was he to know which bird was Jorinde? Then he saw that the fairy had taken a cage and was trying to escape with it. He ran after her and touched the cage with the flower. And there was Jorinde standing in front of him again! She hugged him, and she looked just as beautiful as ever.
Then he touched all the other birds with the flower, and they all regained their old form. He took Jorinde home, and they got married. And they lived happily ever after!