The Dismemberment


A miller and his wife have fallen into poverty and have nothing left but their mill and the apple tree behind. One day the miller is confronted by an old man who offers him riches and an easy life if he will give him what is behind the mill. The miller thinks to himself that all that is behind the mill is the apple tree, hence, he readily agrees. When he returns home he retells the story to his wife, who laments that their daughter was behind the mill. When the stranger, who turns out to be the devil, comes to claim his part of the deal, he sees that the girl has washed herself, dressed in white, and has surrounded herself in a circle of chalk. When he approaches her, an unseen force throws him across the yard. He cannot reach her. He tells the miller to take all water away from her, for otherwise he is powerless over her. The next morning the devil comes again, but her hands are clean because she has wept on them. He tells the father to cut off her hands so he may take her. The father is tired of working so hard. He want to be rich, so he does as he is told. The daughter obediently stretches out her arms so that he father can mutilate her. But she cries and her stumps remain clean. Again, the devil returns and is repelled from her by a protective spirit. He eventually relinquishes his plan since he has no power over her. The miller and his wife offer to care for her for the rest of her days, as they are quite wealthy now, but she refuses and decides to go into the forest alone and trust what befalls her.