Once there lived a mother together with her only daughter who was very small and pale and somewhat different from
other children. When her mother went out with her everyone would stand still, look at the child and start to whisper.
When the little girl asked her mother why people looked at her in such a strange way her mother would always answer:
"Because you are wearing such a pretty little dress." And the little girl was content with that. But when they got home
again her mother would take her in her arms, kiss her over and over again and say: "My dear child, sweet angel, what
will become of you when I am dead? No one knows what a dear little angel you are, not even your father!"
After a while the mother suddenly fell ill and on the ninth day she passed away. Her husband in his despair threw
himself on the deathbed and wanted to be buried with his wife. But his friends consoled him and helped him to adjust.
He soon got over it and after a year had gone by he had taken another wife, one more beautiful, younger and richer
than the first, but she was by far not as good.
Ever since her mother died the little girl would sit all day long in her room at her window for there was no one who
wanted to go out her. Her face kept getting paler all the time and then, for one whole year, she stopped growing.
When the new wife came to live with them the little girl thought: "Now I will be able to go for walks again in the park
when the sun is shining on the lovely paths where the pretty flowers and bushes are, and all the well-dressed people."
For she lived in a narrow little lane where the sun hardly ever found its way in, and when she sat at her window she
could only see a small portion of the blue sky about the size of a handkerchief. The new mother left the house every
day, both in the morning and again in the afternoon. And she would always put on a lovely colorful dress, much prettier
than any the real mother had worn. But she never took the her little daughter along with her.
Finally this little girl mustered up all her courage and she begged the new mother to take her along when she went into
town. But her mother would hear nothing of it and said: "You must be out of your mind! What would people think if I
were to be seen with you? You are all hunched up. Hunched-back children never go out for walks. They always have to
stay at home."
After that the little girl was very quiet and when the woman had left the house she climbed up on a chair and looked at
herself in a mirror; and in truth, her back was humped, very much indeed. Then she sat down again at her window and
looked down at the street and thought about what a good mother she had had and how she always used to take her
out, day after day. Then she thought again about her hunched back:
"What can be in there?" she asked herself. "There must be something in such a hump."
The summer passed and when winter came the little girl had become even paler than before and she was so weak that
she could no longer sit at he window, for now she was no longer able to leave her bed. And when the first green
shoots of the spring flowers appeared her real mother came to her bedside one night and told her how golden and
gorgeous everything was in heaven.
The next morning the little girl was found dead in bed.
"Do not cry, husband!" said his wife. "It is best for that poor child!" And the husband uttered not a word but only
nodded his head.
After the little girl had been buried an angel flew down from heaven on great white swan’s wings, seated itself on the
grave and knocked on it as if it were a door. Hearing that the little girl came up out of the grave and the angel told her
that he had come to take her to her mother in heaven. Sheepishly the little girl asked if it were possible for a hunched-
back child to get into heaven. She could not imagine that, because in heaven everything was so dignified and beautiful.
But the angel replied: "You dear, good child, you are no longer hunchbacked!" and touched her with the back of his
white hand. Then the old, ugly hump fell off like a huge, hollow shell. And what was in it?
Two beautiful, white angel wings! And now the little girl extended them and, as if she had always known how to fly and
together with the angel she flew out into the radiant sunshine and up into the high blue heavens. At the highest place
in heaven sat her mother waiting for her. And her little girl flew straightaway into her mother's outstretched arms.— *
* The motif of this fairy tale is not mine. I have remembered it ever since my childhood but have no idea where it
Illustrations: Hans von Volkmann (Son)
|Reveries at French Firesides
|The Little Hunchbacked Girl
Richard von Volkmann-Leander