Cast a glance onto your hands. Have a look how they are formed. Move your hands a bit and feel their strength and agility. Now open your hands with the palm upwards and remember how it feels when you hold them under a jet of water: How you at first feel the humidity of the water gently at your fingertips, then the pressure of the water jet on your palms. Trace how the weight of the water feels in you hands, and how it wanes when you turn your hands sideways. Our hands are faithful companions for us. What have you done with them today? Turned off the buzzer in the morning, kicked back the blanket, cleaned your teeth, combed yourself, opened and closed doors, operated electrical appliances… Could you get dressed without hands?
The story I want to tell you now is about hands, too.
A long time ago lived a miller with his wife and his daughter. They just about made their living and possessed besides the mill only an apple tree which stood behind the mill. One day the miller went into the woods to fell timber and met a stranger who offered him to make him rich. “That sounds good”, said the miller. “But for sure you want something in return?” – „Yes, in fact I do. Give me that what stands behind your mill, then your chests will bristle and you don’t have to live in want any more.” – “We’ll probably do without the apple tree”, thought the miller, agreed and went home to look if the stranger has spoken the truth. As his wife saw him coming she ran to meet him to tell him the news: “Guess what had happened: At a stroke our chests are overcrowded with gold and jewellery, and so much showy clothes lie in our cabinets. Do you know how this came about?” Then the miller told her what bechanced in the woods. “You old fool”, she snarled at him. “Just in the very moment as you gave your promise our daughter stood behind the mill and swept the courtyard. The stranger must have been the devil!“ The miller was terrified and thought about what to do now. They agreed on not telling the daughter actually about it because the stranger wanted to collect his exchange value not until three years. “Who knows, in three years can happen a lot…”, they said.
But to the day after three years the devil appeared at the miller’s home and said to him: “Tomorrow I’ll come after your daughter.” Then he had to tell his daughter about it. Because she was a pious girl, she prayed the whole night, then she casted a circle with chalk around herself. So the devil couldn’t approach to her. Furiously he commanded the miller: “Take the washing things from her. Tomorrow I’ll come back!” The miller did so, but because his daughter wept the whole night onto her hands they were entirely pure, and so the devil again couldn’t come after her. “Chop off the damned hands of that hussy!” commanded the devil. “Otherwise I’ll take you instead of your daughter when I’ll come back tomorrow.” The miller was deeply scared, but he stood very much in awe of the devil. “My beloved child”, he said to his daughter, ”the devil commanded me to chop off your hands, otherwise he’ll come after me tomorrow. I am so scared of him!” – “ Do just like he said, beloved father. I am completely in your hand.“ So he chopped of her hands. As the devil came their stumps were entirely pure because she wept in the night onto them, and again he couldn’t come after her. Foaming he went away. As the devil has gone the family of the miller was very glad. “Stay with me, my daughter”, said the miller. “Of the wealth which the devil granted us nothing should lack you.” But the daughter reflected: Should she really stay here? Or should she, helpless without her hands, set out into the world?
How would you decide in her stead? And what would you say to father and mother?