The Iron Stove

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The Iron Stove is a fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm, as tale number 127. It is Aarne–Thompson type 425A, the animal bridegroom.

Synopsis[edit]

A prince is cursed by a witch and imprisoned in an iron stove in the woods. A lost princess finds the stove and is surprised to find it talking to her, offering to help her find her way back home, provided she return to the woods with a knife to scrape a hole in the stove, thereby freeing the prince, and marry him.

Her father the King, not wanting to give up his only child to a stove in the woods, tries to send substitutes back to the woods including a miller's daughter and a pig-herd's daughter. Although very beautiful, the women betray their origins, and the princess herself reluctantly returns to the woods. When she scrapes with the knife to make a hole, she sees that the prince is very handsome. He wants to take her to his own country, but she wishes to first bid her father farewell. He agrees, but tells her to speak no more than three words. She fails this prohibition, and can not find the iron stove.

In the woods, she finds a cottage full of toads and frogs. They give her shelter for the night, tell her how to find the prince—by climbing a high glass mountain, and crossing three piercing swords and a great lake—and give her gifts—three large needles, a plough-wheel, and three nuts. She uses the needles to climb the glass mountain and rolls over the swords on the plough-wheel.

She comes upon a castle where the prince is to be married, and takes a job as a maid. One night she cracks nut and finds inside it a dress. She finds that each nut holds a dress and each dress is more beautiful than the last. The prince's bride asks to buy the first dress, but instead the princess offers a trade. In exchange for the dress, she will be allowed to spend one night in the prince's room. That night the bride gives the prince a sleeping drink so that he sleeps through the night and the princess cannot reveal to him who she is. She weeps and the servants overhear. The second night the princess makes the same bargain with the bride but again the bride gives the prince a sleeping drink so that he sleeps through the night. As the princess weeps, the servants again hear. On the third night the princess trades the last dress for a chance to spend the night in the prince's room. Again the bride gives the prince a sleeping drink but this time the servants have told the prince of the princess' sorrowful pleas, and he does not drink. When the princess begins to weep, he reveals that he is awake and knows that she is his true love.

They steal the bride's clothing so she could not get up and flee, using the ploughwheel and the needles to get back to the cottage of toads and frogs, but when they arrive, it becomes a castle, and the frogs and toads, which were the children of kings, are all transformed back into their true forms. They marry and live there for many years, until they are reconciled with the prince's father.

In popular culture[edit]

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