There was once an old castle that stood in the middle of a deep gloomy wood, and in the castle lived an old fairy. This fairy could take any shape she pleased. All the day long, she flew about in the form of an owl, or crept about the country like a cat. But at night she always became an old woman again. When any young man came within a hundred feet of her castle, he became quite fixed, and could not move a step till she came and set him free, which she would not do till he had given her his word never to come there again. But when any pretty maiden came near 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 than all the pretty girls that ever were seen before. A shepherd boy, 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, so that they might be alone. Jorindel said, ‘We must take care that we don’t go too near to the fairy’s castle.’ It was a beautiful evening; the last rays of the setting sun shone bright through the trees upon the green underwood beneath, and the turtle-doves sang from the tall birches.

Jorinda sat down to gaze upon the sun. Jorindel sat by her side and both felt sad. They did not know why, but it seemed as if they were to be parted from one another for ever. They had wandered 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 it was already hard to see. Jorindel looked behind him, and saw through the bushes that they had, without knowing it, sat down close under the old walls of the castle. Then he became afraid, turned pale, and trembled. Jorinda was just singing and when her song stopped suddenly, Jorindel turned to see the reason. Jorinda had changed into a nightingale, so that her song ended with a sad cry. An owl with fiery eyes flew three times round them, and three times screamed:

 'Tu wu! Tu wu! Tu wu!'

Jorindel could not move; he stood fixed as a stone, and could neither weep, nor speak, nor move hand or foot. Then the sun went quite down; the gloomy night came; the owl flew into a bush. A moment later the old fairy came out pale and mean, with staring eyes.

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, he could not move from the spot where he stood. At last the fairy came back and sang with a hoarse voice:

 'Till the prisoner is fast,
  And her doom is cast,
  There stay! Oh, stay!
  When the charm is around her,
  And the spell has bound her,
  Flee away! Away!'

Suddenly Jorindel found himself free. Then he fell on his knees before the fairy, and begged her to give him back his dear Jorinda, but she laughed at him, and said he should never see her again. Then she went on her way.

He prayed and he wept, but all in vain. ‘Alas!’ he said, ‘what will become of me?’ He could not go back to his own home, so he went to a strange village, and found a job keeping sheep. Many times he walked round and round as near to the hated castle as he dared go, but all in vain. He heard or saw nothing of Jorinda.

At last he dreamt one night that he found a beautiful purple flower, and that in the middle of it lay a precious pearl. He dreamt that he plucked the flower, and went with it in his hand into the castle, and that everything he touched with it was disenchanted, and that there he found his 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 dewdrop, as big as a precious pearl. Then he plucked the flower, and set out and travelled day and night, till he came again to the castle.

He walked nearer than a hundred feet to it, and yet he did not become fixed as before, but found that he could go quite close up to the door. Jorindel was very glad indeed to see this. Then he touched the door with the flower, and it sprang open. He went in through the court, and listened when he heard so many birds singing. At last he came to the chamber where the fairy 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 was his safeguard. He looked around at the birds, but alas! There were many, many nightingales, and how then should he find out which was his Jorinda? While he was thinking what to do, he saw the fairy had taken down one of the cages, and was making her escape through the door. He ran after her, touched the cage with the flower, and Jorinda stood before him, and threw her arms round his neck looking as beautiful as ever, as beautiful as when they walked together in the wood.

Then he touched all the other birds with the flower, so that they all took their old forms again; and he took Jorinda home, where they were married, and lived happily together many years: and so did a good many other boys, whose maidens had been forced to sing in the old fairy’s cages by themselves, much longer than they liked.