The Rich Traveller
There once was a poor woodcutter who lived in the forest on the outskirts of a small village with his wife and seven children. Every day he would go to the village or the forest, chopping and selling wood while his wife stayed home to feed his family.
One day, the woodcutter's wife fell terribly ill, and the next day she passed away. Worried for the safety of his children left all alone at home during the day, the woodcutter took a second wife.
All seemed well for many months, until winter came, with its howling winds and biting cold. Overworked and half frozen to death, the woodcutter contracted a fatal illness, leaving his children and second wife with hardly a penny to their name. The children's stepmother struggled valiantly to keep them alive, but a few weeks after the woodcutter's death, the seven children and their stepmother sat down together at the table knowing that this was their final meal before they starved to death.
As they were sitting down, there came a knock at the door. It was a traveller, asking if he could come in and share their bread. The stepmother graciously let him in, offering to share what little they had.
Over the dinner, the traveller noticed that one of the children, the eldest girl, Linden, was very pretty. After dinner, he spoke to her stepmother, asking if she could come to live with him. At first she adamantly refused, but when he produced a large bag of gold, she began to reconsider. 'The man is obviously very rich.' She thought, 'Linden may have a happy life with him. Perhaps he will treat her well. With this money, I can keep us all alive until the spring, when I will be able to find a job.' And so the traveller took Linden away, and her little brothers and sisters stayed alive.
Winter melted into spring, and the stepmother found a job washing clothes for the villagers. Nearly all of them forgot all about Linden, whom they had heard nothing from. Sometimes her stepmother would complain about her, saying, "Ungrateful brat , now that she is living comfortably with a rich man, she should send some money to her poor starving family back home."
Pierre, the eldest son, had not forgotten Linden. He would tell his stepmother, "Mama, Linden is not like that. I am sure she would send us some money if she could."
Pierre felt that something must be wrong. Asking around the villagers, he discovered that the traveller had visited many families, each time using their desperation to take their daughters away. None of them had ever seen their daughters again. He also found out that the man lived in a large house not too far away.
That night, under the cover of darkness, Pierre snuck out of the house and travelled to the house. In the morning, he knocked on the door, begging for work. Not recognizing him, the master of the house gave him a job as the cook's assistant.
Every night, he searched the house, looking for his sister. Finally, he found her in a cell underground with several other girls. Enraged, he sneaked into the man's bedroom, and, using the sword hanging above the bed, struck off his head. He then stole the man's keys and set his sister and her companions free. Together they travelled home to a hero's welcome from their friends and family.