Once there lived a forester, who went into the woods to hunt, and when he entered the forest he heard crying like that of a small child. He followed the sound of the bawling and finally reached a tall tree and at the top sat a small child. The mother and child had fallen asleep under the tree and a raptor had spied the child in its mother’s lap. It flew down and snatched the babe in its beak and placed it high in the tree.
The forester climbed up, brought the child down and thought to himself “You shall take the child home and raise it with your own dear little Lena.” So he brought the child home and the two children grew up together. But the child who had been found in the tree and had been carried away by a bird was called the Foundlling Bird. Foundling Bird and Lenchen loved each other so, that when the one did not see the other, it was sad.
Now the forester had an old cook who took two pails and began to fetch water and she didn’t go out once but went to the well many times. Lenchen saw this and said “Listen, old Sanne, why are you carrying so much water?” “If you won’t tell a soul, I will reveal it to you.” Lenchen assured her that no, she wouldn’t tell a soul, so the cook said “Early tomorrow morning when the forester is out to hunt, I will boil water and when it boils in the pot I will throw in the Foundling Bird and cook it.”
The next morning bright and early the forester got up and went out to the hunt and when he was away the children were still lying in bed. Lenchen spoke to the little Foundling Bird “Don’t leave me, I won’t leave you,” and the Foundling Bird replied “Never and nevermore!” And Lenchen responded “I only want to say that old Sanne carried so much water into the house last night that I asked her why she did it. And she replied she would tell me if I didn’t reveal it to a single soul. She said tomorrow morning when father goes out to hunt she would boil the pot full of water, throw you inside and boil it. Let’s get up quickly, get dressed and make our escape.”
The two children rose, dressed themselves quickly and went out in the world. When the water boiled in the kettle, the cook went into the bedchamber, wanted to fetch the Foundling Bird and throw him into the pot. But when she entered and approached the bed, both children were gone. She became hideously fearful and spoke out loud to herself “What shall I say to the forester when he returns home and sees the children gone? Quick! Fast behind them so we can catch them!”
The cook sent out three servants to pursue the children and catch them. But the children sat in front of the forest and when they saw in the distance the three servants coming in pursuit, Lenchen spoke to the Foundling Bird: “Don’t leave me, I won’t leave you.” And the Foundling Bird replied “Now and nevermore!”. So Lenchen replied “You shall become a rose bush and I the roses blooming on it!” When the three servants came to the forest, there was nothing more than a rose bush and one rose at the top, but the children were nowhere to be seen. They said to each other “There is nothing here,” and went home and told the cook that they saw nothing in the forest except a rose bush with a little rose blooming at the top. The old cook scolded them “You simpletons! You should have cut the rose branches in two and broken off the little rose and brought it home. Quickly now, go out and do it!” Now they had to go out a second time and search. But the children saw them coming from afar and Lenchen spoke: “Foundling Bird, don’t leave me and I won’t leave you!” The Foundling Bird replied “Now and nevermore!” Lenchen spoke “You shall become a church and I the crown inside.” When the three servants came this time, they could find nothing but a church and a crown inside They said to one another “What shall we do? Let’s go home” When they reached home the cook asked if they hadn’t found anything. They replied, “No, they hadn’t found anything but a church with a crown inside.” “You fools!” the cook scolded, “Why didn’t you smash the church and bring home the crown?”