There was once an old castle that stood in the middle of a large, thick wood, and in the castle lived an old witch. All the day long she flew about as an owl, or crept about the country like a cat; but at night she always became an old woman again. Whenever any youth came within a hundred paces of her castle, he became quite fixed, and could not move a step until she came to set him free. When any pretty maiden came within that distance, she was changed into a bird; and the fairy put her into a cage and hung her up in a chamber in the castle. There were seven hundred of these cages hanging in the castle, and all with beautiful birds in them.
Now, there was once a maiden whose name was Jorinda: she was prettier then all the pretty girls that ever was seen; and a shepherd whose name was Jorindel was very fond of her, and they were soon to be married. One day they went to walk in the wood, that they might be alone and Jorindel said, “We must take care that we do not go too near to the castle.” It was a beautiful evening; the last rays of the setting sun shone bright through the long stems of the trees upon the green underwood beneath, and the turtledoves called plaintively from the tall birches.
Jorinda sat down to gaze upon the sun; Jorindel sat down by her side; and both felt sad, they knew not why; but it seemed as if they were to be parted from one another forever. They had wondered a long way and when they looked to see which way they should go home, they found themselves at a loss to know what path to take.
the sun was setting fast, and already half his circle had disappeared behind the hill: Jorindel on a sudden looked behind him, and as he saw through the bushes that they had, without knowing it, sat down close under the old walls of the castle, he shrank for fear, turned pale, and trembled. Jorinda was singing,
“The ring-dove sang from the willow spray,
He mourned for the fate
Of his lovely mate,
The song ceased suddenly. Jorindel turned to see the reason, and beheld his Jorinda changed into a nightingale; so that her song ended with a mournful jug, jug. An owl with fiery eyes flew three times around them, and three times screamed Tu Whu! Tu Whu! Tu Whu! Jorindel could not move; he stood fixed as a stone, and could neither weep, nor speak, nor stir a hand or foot. And now the sun went quite down; the gloomy night came, the owl flew into a bush; and a moment later the old witch came forth, pale and meager, with staring eyes and a nose and chin that nearly met one another.
She mumbled something to herself, seized the nightingale, and went away with it in her hand. Poor Jorindel saw the nightingale was gone, but what could he do? He could not speak, her could not move from the spot where he stood. At last the witch came back and sang in a hoarse voice,
“Till the prisoner’s fast,
And her doom is cast,
There stay! Oh stay!
When the charm is around her,
And the spell has bound her,
His away! Away!”
On a sudden Jorindel found himself free. Then he fell on his knees before the witch, and prayed for her to give him back his dear Jorinda: but she said he should never see her again, and went her way.
He prayed, he wept, he sorrowed, but all in vain. “Alas!” He said, “what will become of me?”
He could not return to his own home, so he went to a strange village, and employed himself in keeping sheep. Many a time did he walk round and round as near to the hated castle as he dared go. At last he dreamt one night that he found a beautiful purple flower, and in the middle of it lay a costly pearl; and he dreamt that he plucked the flower, and went with it in his hand to the castle, and that everything he touched with it was disenchanted, and that there he found his dear Jorinda again.
In the morning when he awoke, he began to search over hill and dale for this pretty flower; and eight long days he searched for it in vain. But on the ninth day, early in the morning, he found the beautiful purple flower: and in the middle of it was a large dew-drop as big as a costly pearl.
Then her plucked the flower and travelled day and night till he came to the castle. He walked nearer then a hundred paces to it, and yet he did not become fixed as before, but found that he could go close up to the door.
Jorindel was very glad to see this: he touched the door with the flower and it sprang open, so that he went in through the court, and listened when he heard so many birds singing. At last he came to the chamber where the witch sat, with the seven hundred birds singing in the seven hundred cages. When she saw Jorindel she was very angry and screamed with rage; but she could not come within two yards of him; for the flower he held in his hand protected him. He looked around at the birds but alas! There were many, many nightingales, and how then should he find his Jorinda? While he was thinking what to do, he observed that the witch had taken down one of the cages, and was making her escape through the door. He ran to her, touched the cage with the flower, and his Jorinda stood before him. She threw her arms around his neck and looked as beautiful as when they walked together in the wood.
Then he touched all the other birds with the flower, so that they resumed their old forms; and took his dear Jonrinda home, where they lived happily together many years.