Once there was a man who had seven sons and no daughter. He scarcely dared hope to have a girl. But at last his wife did have another baby, and it was a girl.
All the family rejoiced. The father wanted to baptize the little girl at once. He sent the boys to the river for water. They hurried so much that the boy with the pitcher dropped it into the running water. They splashed about and peered into the water, all seven of them. But the pitcher had disappeared. They didn’t know what to do, for they did not dare go home empty-handed. The father waited and waited, and he became very impatient. He looked at the tiny girl in her cradle. “Drat those boys!” he cried. “What are they up to now? May they all turn into crows?”
Immediately the father heard a sound of wings rushing overhead, and he saw seven birds fly into the sky. That was more than he’d expected. He wished he’d been more patient. It was too late now, for he could not undo the curse. The parents were sad to lose their good boys. They gave the best of care to the little girl, to make up for it. She grew prettier every day. Her parents did not tell her that because of her the seven brothers had been lost. But one day, she heard a woman say, “She’s a nice girl. But just the same, because of her, her seven brothers were lost.”
The little girl was horrified. What had she done to her brothers? She asked her parents, and they knew they would have to tell her the truth. The little girl grew very sad. Seven fine boys had vanished, just because she’d been born. At last she decided she must roam the world until she found them.
She took only a ring her mother had given her, and a bit of bread. Then she set off. She walked until she came to the end of the world. She went to the stars, and they were very kind. The morning star gave her a sharp little bone, and said, “You’ll need a bone like this to open the glass mountain where your brothers are.” The little girl wrapped the bone carefully in her handkerchief, and put it in her pocket.
When she got to the glass mountain, its gates were locked. She took out her handkerchief and untied it. She opened the gate of the glass mountain and went in. Inside was a dwarf, who asked what she wanted. “I’m looking for my seven brothers,” she answered. “They’re my good masters,” said the dwarf. “If you’ll wait, they’ll soon be here. I’m just getting their dinner.” He was setting a table as he talked. There were seven crystal plates and seven glasses. The girl drank a drop from each glass. She ate a crumb from each piece of bread. Then she dropped her mother’s ring into the seventh glass. Presently there was a rush of wings, and a croaking of crows. The dwarf said, “I hear my masters coming.” The seven crows came in, and looked at their glasses and plates. One look was enough. “Someone’s been eating in my dish, and drinking in my glass. And that someone is a human being,” each one said. Nevertheless they ate and drank well. When the seventh drank his water, he almost choked on the ring at the bottom of his glass. He took it out, and at once recognized his mother’s ring. All the crow brothers stared at it. “Has our sister come this long, weary way after us?” they asked. “I wonder, has she broken the spell? Perhaps we can become people again,” said the seventh brother. “How I should like to see her!” Their sister heard them, and she came from behind the door where she’d been hiding. The moment her brothers saw her, the spell was broken. They became people again. They all hugged their little sister. Then, with hearts full of joy, they set off for home together.
The Seven Crow Princes ~ by The Brothers Grimm