Thursday, October 25, 2012

Scary Tales: The Cannibal Innkeeper

Here is today's scary tale, excerpted from Bluebeard Tales From Around the World (Surlalune Fairy Tale Series).

The Cannibal Innkeeper


ONCE there was a poor orphan girl who worked as a servant at the house of a rich man. Her dearest companion was a little dog that her parents had given her before they died.

One day the chieftain of a robber band, disguised as an ordinary servant, came to the rich man’s house and asked the girl to marry him. Sensing something sinister about him, the girl rejected the suitor’s advances, so, with the assistance of his fellow robbers, he carried her away by force.

Now a prisoner in the robber’s house, the girl still refused to marry him, in spite of his friendly words, his threats, and his abuse. Finally he gave up his attempts to win her love, and sold her to a wild and cruel innkeeper.

Now this innkeeper would rob travelers, kill them, cut them into pieces, and serve their cooked flesh to his other guests. He terrorized the poor girl by showing her the valuables he had stolen from his victims, the room where he murdered them, and the weapons he used for his wicked deeds. Then he locked her and her little dog in an adjoining room.

Soon afterward he brought in a little boy whom he had captured in the woods gathering berries. He cut off the boy’s head and cut him into pieces. Then he forced the girl to cook the boy’s flesh and serve it to the innkeeper’s guests.

Some time later the innkeeper brought in a very old woman, ugly and wrinkled, and nothing but skin and bones. Perhaps wanting to fatten her up for later, he locked her in the room with the girl and her dog.

After their captor had left, the old woman told the girl that the cannibal innkeeper was her own son, and that she, disguised so well that he could not recognize her, had come to punish him for his wickedness. Skilled in witchcraft, the old woman told the girl how she could escape. She would first have to kill her little dog and eat a piece of its heart. The girl did this, and then the old woman rubbed some ointment all over the girl’s body, which transformed her into a duck.

A little later the wild man opened the door, and the duck flew over his head, escaping into the open. The innkeeper ran from room to room looking for the girl, and his mother uttered a magic curse that caused the house to collapse upon him, killing him at once.

The girl turned around and saw the heap of ruins, but as the old woman had not told her how she could again become a human being, she has remained a duck to this very day.


Abstracted from

Gaster, M. “Why Does the Duck Feed on Refuse? The Story of the Cannibal Innkeeper.” Rumanian Bird and Beast Stories. London: Folk-Lore Society, 1915. no. 85, pp. 259-61.


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