I decided if I scrimped and saved, maybe I’d be able to buy us a tiny cottage in the new village. I had to leave Rapunzel for a few days at a time to get my vegetables to market and then to sell them. I was nervous the villagers who knew her parents would discover her. They would immediately recognize the child who had been taken. She bore a strong resemblance to her sister and had the same golden hair as her mother and brother. There was no way to lock the door so I finally came up with the idea of boarding the door completely shut. Rapunzel had long hair and if she hung it out the tower window, I’d be able to climb up and down it like a rope. It wasn’t a permanent solution, but would have to do until I could afford a rope.
Rapunzel complained bitterly about this arrangement but she was a headstrong and adventurous girl of 15 and I couldn't risk her venturing into the village and giving away our location. I promised her it was temporary. I was doing my best to earn money.
Week after week all late summer, I took my vegetables into town. I was collecting a good store of coins. I never bought us any extra treats anymore like I had in the past. When I approached the tower, I’d call up, “Rapunzel, let down your hair!” and her long rope-like braid would descend. She’d first wrap it around a post so it wouldn’t pull and I’d clamor up.
Rapunzel eyed the growing supply of coins and wondered when I was going to buy the rope. I felt errant in my mothering. I’d been so excited about being able to buy a cottage, I’d forgotten about a rope. “I’ll get one next time I go to the village,” I told her.
True to my word, I bought a thick rope the next time I was in the village. It cost me several coins but it was worth it. I wanted to keep my darling girl happy. I was walking back toward our tower, after being away a few days when I heard talking and laughing. It was coming from inside and I heard the distinct sound of a male voice. I froze and hid behind some bushes. Fear clutched me. Who could it be? How did he get inside the tower? Was Rapunzel safe? Then I realized that the other voice I heard was Rapunzel’s, happy and lilting. How dare she? It wasn’t safe to let anyone know about our tower home, and she knew it!
While I watched from my hiding spot, Rapunzel lowered her long braid over the ledge of the window. She threw her arms around the young man and he actually kissed her! I was horrified.
“My mother said she’s bringing home a rope next time,” Rapunzel murmured as she nuzzled against his chest.
“Then we can escape!” he said. He slid down the cord that was her braid. “Farewell, my love!” he called up to her. As he climbed on his horse, I realized he was the prince!
“I will come every day and see if it’s safe,” he said.
“I’ll leave my shawl out the window if it is!” she promised. With that, he walked off into the woods, humming.
Before I had been paralyzed with fear, now it was pure rage that kept me rooted to my spot. That stupid girl! How could she have betrayed me this way? I had given her everything I could and all the love I had. Everything I had done for the past 15 years had been for her!
After enough time had passed that I knew Rapunzel wouldn’t suspect me, I went to the base of the tower and called up to her, “Rapunzel, let down your hair.” I was determined to give her the benefit of the doubt; maybe she’d tell me about the prince on her own.
Well, she didn’t. I asked her if anything interesting had happened in my absence. “No,” she said innocently.
“Did anyone happen through the woods? Did you see anyone?”
“No,” she said, clearly lying. This time my rage did not paralyze me but instead it propelled me into action. In one quick motion, I grabbed a nearby knife, one I used for pruning my plants, and hacked off her braid.
“Liar!” I screamed. “I saw the prince!”
Rapunzel and I both dissolved into tears after I saw what I had done. My temper had gotten the best of me again.
“I’m sorry!” she wailed. I wrapped my arms around her and told her I was sorry too. I was sorry that I had kept her hidden away. My fears had made a prisoner out of her. I very nearly had the money saved to buy us a little cottage in the distant village. She wouldn’t have to hide there and we could live in peace. I promised her things would get better. I told her that she had to be honest with me though. We had to trust each other.
Come back to see the surprise that is awaiting Rapunzel’s mother.