I have to admit, I didn’t know what to expect from this story from reading the title! I’ve learnt to expect the unexpected when it comes to Grimm Fairy Tales!
The Donkey Cabbage starts with a huntsman helping an old woman. The woman tells him to go to a tree where nine birds were fighting over a cloak. She tells the huntsman that if he shot among them, one would die and they would drop the cloak that they were fighting over. The cloak was special. It was a wishing cloak. To make things even better, if he swallowed the heart of the dead bird, he would find money underneath his pillow every morning. This totally came true for the huntsman. He decided to go out and see the world.
The huntsman came across a castle where an old witch lived with her beautiful daughter. The witch knew about the heart and the cloack and encouraged her daughter to steal both things. A drink was given to the hunstman which made him bring up the bird’s heart. The daughter then swallowed it, gaining all the luck that the huntsman once had. She needed to have the wishing cloak too, so she asked the huntsman to wish them to the Garnet Mountain. Whilst they were there, they settled down to sleep, this gave the daughter the opportunity to steal the wishing cloak, which she did. She wished herself home.
The huntsman was found by three giants, who talked about killing him. The third giant said a cloud would take him away. The huntsman travelled on the cloud which took him to a cabbage garden. The huntsman was starving by now, so decided to eat some cabbage. The cabbage turned him into a donkey. Whilst exploring another part of the cabbage garden, he ate some more, which turned him back into a man. The huntsman took both types of cabbage and travelled back to the castle. The huntsman told the witch that he was a royal messenger with a misson to get the finest cabbage for the King but he was a little worried that the cabbages would wither. The witch, of course, wanted the cabbage for herself. The huntsman gladly gave her some cabbage, which she then passed on to her maid and her daughter. They all turned into donkeys. The huntman sold all of the donkeys to a miller, telling him to beat them and to limit their meals, except for the younger cabbage which was the daughter.
Later on, the huntsman visited the donkeys and found the oldest one (the witch) was dead. The other two were incredibly sad. The huntsman gave them the cabbage which would turn them back into humans. The witch’s daughter said she would give back the wishing cloak and the bird’s heart, but the huntsman said there would be no need if she married him. So she did!
I did enjoy reading this strange little tale. It really did feel like a story with two parts. The cabbage bit and the bird heart. It made sense though together, even though it really shouldn’t have done so! I’ve come to expect strange things…