One day while pulling a bucket of water from the well she leaned over too far and fell in. Recovering, she found herself in a beautiful meadow. The sun was shining, and there were thousands of flowers. She walked along and soon came to an oven full of bread.
The bread called out, "Take me out, or I'll burn! I've been thoroughly baked for a long time!"
The girl took the bread from the oven and walked further until she came to a tree laden with ripe apples.
"Shake me! Shake me! We apples are all ripe!" cried the tree, and the girl shook the tree until the apples fell as though it were raining apples. When none were left in the tree, she continued on her way.
Finally she came to a small house. An old woman was peering out from inside. She had very large teeth, which frightened the girl, and she wanted to run away.
But the old woman called out to her, "Don't be afraid, dear child. Stay here with me, and if you do my housework in an orderly fashion, it will go well with you. Only you must take care to make my bed well and shake it until the feathers fly, then it will snow in the world. I am Frau Holle."
Because the old woman spoke so kindly to her, the girl agreed, and started in her service. She took care of everything to her satisfaction and always shook her featherbed vigorously. Therefore she had a good life with her: no angry words, and cooked meals every day. Now after she had been with Frau Holle for a time, her heart saddened. Even though she was many thousands of times better off here than at home, still she had a yearning for home.
Finally she said to the old woman, "I have such a longing for home, and even though I am very well off here, I cannot stay longer."
Frau Holle said, "You are right, and because you have served me so faithfully, I will take you back myself."
With that she took her by the hand and led her to a large gate. The gate was opened, and while the girl was standing under it, an immense rain of gold fell, and all the gold stuck to her, so that she was completely covered with it.
"This is yours because you have been so industrious," said Frau Holle.
With that the gate was closed and the girl found herself above in the world. She went home to her mother, and because she arrived all covered with gold, she was well received.
When the mother heard how she had come to the great wealth, she wanted to achieve the same fortune for the other, the ugly and lazy daughter. She made her go and jump into the well. Like the other one, she too awoke in a beautiful meadow, and she walked along the same path.
When she came to the oven, the bread cried again, "Oh, take me out, take me out, or else I'll burn! I've been thoroughly baked for a long time!"
But the lazy one answered, "As if I would want to get all dirty," and walked away.
Soon she came to the apple tree. It cried out, "Oh, shake me, shake me, we apples are all ripe."
But she answered, "Oh yes, one could fall on my head," and with that she walked on.
When she came to Frau Holle's house, she was not afraid, because she had already heard about her large teeth, and she immediately began to work for her. On the first day she forced herself, was industrious and obeyed Frau Holle, when she said something to her, because she was thinking about all the Gold that she would give her. But on the second day she already began to be lazy, on the third day even more so, then she didn't even want to get up in the morning. She did not make the bed for Frau Holle, the way she was supposed to, and she did not shake it until the feathers flew.
Frau Holle soon became tired of this and dismissed her of her duties. This is just what the lazy girl wanted, for she thought that she would now get the rain of gold. Frau Holle led her too to the gate. She stood beneath it, but instead of gold, a large kettle full of pitch spilled over her.
"That is the reward for your services," said Frau Holle, and closed the gate. Then the lazy girl returned home, entirely covered with pitch, and it would not come off as long as she lived.
Every day the poor girl had to take a seat on the road by a well and had to spin so much that the blood sprang from her fingers. Now it happened once that the spool was entirely bloody, and she leaned over into the well and wanted to wash it off; but it jumped from her hand and fell down. She cried, ran to her stepmother and told her of the misfortune.
She scolded her severely and was so uncompassionate that she said, "You let the spool fall, so go get it back."
Then the girl went back to the well and didn't know what she should do; and in her great fear she jumped into the well, in order to get the spool.
One of the girls span very industriously, but the other one liked to spend her time chatting, and furthermore, when evening came she was the first one who began to nod and to sleep. When the industrious one quit work for the night at eleven o'clock, the lazy one had already slept a few hours. For this reason the lazy sister caused the industrious girl much grief.
It was Easter time, and on Easter Eve the industrious girl sat spinning while the other one had gone out to see the Easter celebration and to amuse herself.
Liese was spinning when the clock struck eleven. The door opened and in walked a beautiful woman wearing a long white silken dress. She had beautiful long golden yellow hair and carried in her hand a beautiful distaff, white as silver and fine as silk. With a friendly voice she greeted the good girl, who was just letting the last flax run onto the reel as thread.
Feeling the thread, she said:
Industrious Liese,Then she touched the girl's spinning wheel with her golden distaff, and with a friendly smile she disappeared. And who was she? She was Frau Holle.
Empty is your distaff,
Fine is your thread,
You have done well.
Following this appearance, industrious Liese went to bed. Her sister came home later and went to bed as well. On Easter morning when the two girls got up, in the place of Liese's wooden spinning wheel there stood one of shining gold. It sparkled and glistened magnificently, and the thread that Liese had spun was as fine and white as silk. And as she unreeled it, she discovered that however much thread she removed, the reel remained full. Liese was delighted!
However, when the lazy girl looked at her spinning wheel, she was startled to discover that her distaff was covered with straw instead of flax. And her chest was now filled with chopped straw instead of the beautiful linen cloth that had been there.
And that is why even today they say that the distaff must be spun empty on the Holy Evening, or Frau Holle will come and bring chopped straw.
However, the guardian angel that watches over every pious child never left her and always showed her the way home. But one time the guardian angel pretended to not be close at hand, and the child was unable to find her way out of the woods. She walked on and on until nightfall, when she saw a light burning in the distance.
She walked toward it, finally coming to a small hut. She knocked on the door, and it opened. Coming to a second door, she knocked there as well. An old man opened the door for her. He had a snow-white beard and looked very venerable. He was none other than Saint Joseph.
Very friendlily he said, "Come, dear child, take a seat on my chair by the fire and warm yourself while I get you some fresh water, if you are thirsty; but here in the forest I have nothing for you to eat except a few roots, which you must first scrape and then cook."
Saint Joseph handed her the roots, which she scraped clean. Then she brought forth the little piece of pancake and the bread that her mother had given her. Putting everything together into a pot next to the fire, she cooked some porridge for herself.
When it was ready Saint Joseph said, "I am hungry. Give me some of your meal."
The child was happy to do so, and gave him more than what she kept for herself, but God's blessing was with her, and she had all that she wanted to eat.
After they had eaten, Saint Joseph said, "Let us go to bed now. I have only one bed. You can sleep in it and I'll lie down on some straw on the floor."
"No," she answered. "You sleep in your bed. The straw is soft enough for me."
However, Saint Joseph took the child into his arms and carried her to the bed. She said her prayers and fell asleep.
The next morning when she awoke she wanted to say "good morning" to Saint Joseph, but she did not see him. She got up and looked everywhere for him but could not find him in any corner. Finally she saw a bag of money behind the door, so heavy that she could barely carry it. On it was written that it was for the child who had slept there that night.
She took the bag and returned to her mother with it. And because she gave all the money to her mother, the mother had to be satisfied with her.
The next day the second child wanted to go into the woods as well. The mother gave her a much larger piece of pancake and bread. The same thing happened to her as with the first child. In the evening she came to Saint Joseph's hut, and he gave her some roots for porridge.
When it was ready he said to her, as before, "I am hungry. Give me some of your meal."
The child answered, "Share with me."
Afterward when Saint Joseph offered her his bed, saying that he would sleep on some straw, she said, "No, let's sleep in the bed together. There is plenty of room for both of us."
Saint Joseph took her into his arms and laid her on the bed, then he himself slept on the straw.
In the morning the child awoke and looked for Saint Joseph, but he had disappeared. Behind the door she found a bag of money. It was as long as a hand, and on it was written that it was for the child who had slept there that night. She ran home with it and gave it to her mother; however, she secretly kept a few coins for herself.
Now the oldest daughter had become very curious, so the next morning she too wanted to go into the woods. The mother gave her as many pancakes as she wanted, as well as bread and cheese. In the evening she found Saint Joseph in his hut just as the other two had done.
When the porridge was ready Saint Joseph said, "I am hungry. Give me some of your meal."
She answered, "Just wait until I am full, then you can have whatever is left over."
She ate nearly everything, and Saint Joseph had to scrape off the leftovers from the bowl.
Afterward the good old man offered her his bed, saying that he would sleep on some straw. This she freely accepted, and let the old man sleep on the hard floor.
The next morning when she awoke, Saint Joseph was nowhere to be seen, but she was not at all concerned about him. She looked behind the door for the moneybag. She thought that something was lying there on the floor, but unable to see what it was, she bent down until she touched it with her nose. It stuck to her nose, and when she straightened up she saw to her fright that it was a second nose. She began to cry and the howl, but nothing helped. She had to look at her nose, which stuck out far from her face. Crying out, she ran away.
She finally came to Saint Joseph. She fell at his feet and begged him so long that he finally took pity and removed the nose; then he even gave her a few pennies.
When she arrived at home the mother asked, "What gift did you receive?'
She lied, saying, "A large bag filled with money, but I lost it on the way home."
"Lost!" cried the mother. "Then we'll go and find it!"
She took the child by the hand and wanted to look for the money. The child began to cry and did not want to go, but finally they went off together. On the way they were approached by so many lizards and snakes that they did not know how to escape. The lizards and snakes bit the child until she died, and they also bit the mother in the foot, because she had not better brought up the child.
Upon leaving the woods on her way home, the girl again saw the angel, who asked for a few strawberries. The girl gladly gave them to the angel.
Then the angel said, "When you come to the gate you will see a box. Take this with you, but do not open it until you arrive home."
No -- she would not open it.
Arriving at the gate she found the box, quickly took it home to her mother, and then opened it. It was filled with precious stones and gold coins. Thus the girl suddenly had become very wealthy.
Another girl heard about this and wanted to go into the woods and look for strawberries as well. Her mother also gave her cabbage and bacon to take along.
When she came to the gate, the angel was sitting there and asked, "Give me a little of your cabbage and bacon."
The girl answered, "You can eat dirt!"
She went further into the woods and picked a basketful of strawberries.
Leaving the woods she saw the same angel, who asked, "Give me a few strawberries."
The girl said, "I'm going to eat the strawberries myself," and gave nothing to the angel, who then replied, "Just be on your way! At the gate you will find a box. You may take it with you, but do not open it until you arrive at home."
Oh, how the girl ran until she came to the gate and found the box! She was beside herself with joy. Arriving at home she opened the box -- and what was inside? Nothing but little black devils.
So it fell one day the two girls were to go out and spin by the side of the well, and the woman's daughter had flax to spin, but the man's daughter got nothing to spin but bristles.
"I don t know how it is," said the woman's daughter, "you're always so quick and sharp, but still I'm not afraid to spin a match with you."
Well, they agreed that she whose thread first snapped should go down the well. So they span away; but just as they were hard at it, the man's daughter's thread broke, and she had to go down the well. But when she got to the bottom, she saw far and wide around her a fair green meadow, and she hadn't hurt herself at all.
So she walked on a bit, until she came to a hedge which she had to cross.
"Ah! don't step hard on me, pray don't, and I'll help you another time, that I will," said the hedge.
Then the girl made herself as light as she could, and stepped so carefully that she hardly touched a twig.
So she went on a bit farther, until she came to a brindled cow, which walked there with a milking pail on her horns. It was a large pretty cow, and her udder was very full and round.
"Ah! be so good as to milk me, pray," said the cow. "I'm so full of milk. Drink as much as you please, and throw the rest over my hoofs, and see if I don't help you some day."
So the man's daughter did as the cow begged. As soon as she touched the teats, the milk spouted out into the pail. Then she drank until her thirst was quenched, and the rest she threw over the cow's hoofs, and the milking pail she hung on her horns again.
When she had gone a bit farther, a big sheep met her, which had such thick long wool, it hung down and draggled after him on the ground, and on one of his horns hung a great pair of shears.
"Ah! please clip off my wool," said the sheep, "for here I go about with all this wool, and catch up everything I meet, and besides, it's so warm, I'm almost choked. Take as much of the fleece as you please, and twist the rest around my neck, and see if I don't help you some day."
Yes, she was willing enough, and the sheep lay down on her lap, and kept quite still, and she clipped him so neatly that there wasn't a scratch on his skin. Then she took as much of the wool as she chose, and the rest she twisted around the neck of the sheep.
A little farther on, she came to an apple tree, which was loaded with apples. All its branches were bent to the ground, and leaning against the stem was a slender pole.
"Ah! do be so good as to pick my apples off me," said the tree, "so that my branches may straighten themselves again, for it's bad work to stand so crooked. But when you beat them down, don't strike me too hard. Then eat as many as you please. Lay the rest around my roots, and see if I don't help you some day or other."
Yes, she picked all she could reach with her hands, and then she took the pole and knocked down the rest. Afterwards she ate her fill, and the rest she laid neatly around the roots.
So she walked on a long, long way, and then she came to a large farmhouse, where an old hag of the trolls lived with her daughter. There she turned in to ask if she could get a place.
"Oh!" said the old hag. "It's no use your trying. We've had ever so many maids, but none of them was worth her salt."
But she begged so nicely that they would just take her on trial, that at last they let her stay. So the old hag gave her a sieve, and asked her go and fetch water in it. She thought it strange to fetch water in a sieve, but still she went, and when see came to the well, the little birds began to sing:
Daub in clay,Yes, she did so, and found she could carry water in a sieve well enough. But when she got home with the water, and the old witch saw the sieve, she cried out, "This you haven't sucked out of your own breast."
Stuff in straw,
Daub in clay,
Stuff in straw.
Then the old witch said, that she might now go into the stall to pitch out dung and milk the cows. But when she got there she found a pitchfork so long and heavy she couldn't move it, much less work with it. She didn't know at all what to do, or what to make of it.
But the little birds sang again that she should take the broomstick and toss out a little with that, and all the rest of the dung would fly after it. So she did that, and as soon as she began with the broomstick, the stall was as clean as if it had been swept and washed.
Now she had to milk the cows, but they were so restless that they kicked and frisked; there was no getting near them to milk them.
But the little birds sang outside:
A little drop, a tiny sup,Yes, she did that. She just milked a tiny drop for the little birds outside. It was as much as she could, but then all the cows stood still and let her milk them. They neither kicked nor frisked. They didn't even lift a leg.
For the little birds to drink it up.
When the old witch saw her coming in with the milk, she cried out, "This you haven't sucked out of your own breast. But now just take this black wool and wash it white."
The girl was at her wit's end to know how to do this, for she had never seen or heard of anyone who could wash black wool white. Still she said nothing, but took the wool and went down with it to the well. There the little birds sang again, and told her to take the wool and dip it into the large tub that stood there. She did so, and out it came as white as snow.
"Well, I never!" said the old witch, when she came in with the wool. "It's no good keeping you. You can do everything, and at last you'll be the plague of my life. We'd best part, so take your wages and be off."
Then the old hag drew out three chests, one red, one green, and one blue, and of these the girl was to choose one as wages for her service. Now she didn't know at all which to choose, but the little birds sang:
Don't take the red, don't take the green,So she took the blue chest, as the birds sang.
But take the blue, where may be seen
Three little crosses all in a row.
We saw the marks, and so we know.
"Bad luck to you, then," said the old witch. "See if I don't make you pay for this!"
So when the man's daughter was just setting off, the old witch shot a red-hot bar of iron after her, but she sprang behind the door and hid herself, so that it missed her, for her friends, the little birds, had told her beforehand how to behave.
Then she walked on and on as fast as she could. But when she got to the apple tree, she heard an awful clatter behind her on the road, and that was the old witch and her daughter coming after her.
So the girl was so frightened and scared, she didn't know what to do.
"Come here to me, girl, do you hear," said the apple tree, "I'll help you. Get under my branches and hide, for if they catch you they'll tear you to death, and take the chest away from you."
Yes, she did so, and she had hardly hidden herself before up came the old witch and her daughter.
"Have you seen any girl pass this way, you apple tree?" said the old hag.
"Yes, yes," said the Apple tree. "One ran by here an hour ago. But now she's got so far ahead you'll never catch up with her."
So the old witch turned back and went home again.
Then the lassie walked on a bit, but when she came just about where the sheep was, she heard an awful clatter beginning on the road behind her, and she didn't know what to do. She was so scared and frightened; for she knew well enough it was the old witch, who had changed her mind.
"Come here to me, girl," said the sheep, "and I'll help you. Hide yourself under my fleece, and then they'll not see you, or else they'll take away the chest, and tear you to death."
Just then up came the old witch, tearing along.
"Have you seen any girl pass here, you sheep?" she cried to the sheep.
"Oh yes," said the sheep, "I saw one an hour ago, but she ran so fast you'll never catch her."
So the old witch turned around and went home. But when the girl had come to where she met the cow, she heard another awful clatter behind her.
"Come here to me, girl," said the cow, "and I'll help you to hide yourself under my udder, else the old hag will come and take away your chest, and tear you to death." True enough, it wasn't long before she came up.
"Have you seen any girl pass here, you cow?" said the old hag.
"Yes, I saw one an hour ago," said the cow, "but she's far away now, for she ran so fast I don't think you'll ever catch up with her."
So the old hag turned around, and went back home again.
When the girl had walked a long, long way farther on, and was not far from the hedge, she heard again that awful clatter on the road behind her, and she got scared and frightened, for she knew well enough it was the old hag and her daughter, who had changed their minds.
"Come here to me, girl," said the hedge, "and I'll help you. Creep under my twigs, so that they can't see you; or else they'll take the chest from you, and tear you to death."
Yes; she made all the haste she could to get under the twigs of the hedge.
"Have you seen any girl pass this way, you hedge?" said the old hag to the hedge.
"No, I haven't seen any girl," answered the hedge, and was as smooth-tongued as if he had melted butter in his mouth; but all the while he spread himself out, making himself so big and tall, that one would have to think twice before crossing him. And so the old witch had no choice but to turn around and go home again.
When the man's daughter got home, her stepmother and her stepsister were more spiteful against her than ever; for now she was much prettier, and so smart, it was a joy to look at her. Still she couldn't get permission to live with them, but they drove her out into a pigsty. That was to be her house. So she scrubbed it out neat and clean.
Then she opened her chest, to see what she had got for her wages. As soon as she unlocked it, she saw inside so much gold and silver, and lovely things, which came streaming out until all the walls were hung with them, and at last the pigsty was far grander than the grandest king's palace. And when the stepmother and her daughter saw this, they almost jumped out of their skin, and began to ask what kind of a position she had had down there.
"Oh," said the girl, "Can't you see what good wages I received? It was such a family and such a mistress to serve, you couldn't find anyone like them anywhere."
Yes, the woman's daughter made up her mind to go out to serve too, so that she might get just such another gold chest.
So they sat down to spin again, and this time the woman's daughter was to spin bristles, and the man's daughter flax, and she whose thread first snapped was to go down the well. It wasn't long, as you might guess, before the woman's daughter's thread snapped, and so they threw her down the well.
The same thing happened. She fell to the bottom, but met with no harm, and found herself on a lovely green meadow. When she had walked a bit she came to the hedge.
"Don't step hard on me, pray, girl, and I'll help you again," said the hedge.
"Oh!" said she. "What should I care for a bundle of twigs?" And she tramped and stamped over the hedge until it cracked and groaned.
A little farther on she came to the cow, which walked about ready to burst for want of milking.
"Be so good as to milk me, girl," said the cow, "and I'll help you again. Drink as much as you please, but throw the rest over my hoofs."
Yes, she did that. She milked the cow, and drank until she could drink no more. But when she was finished, there was none left to throw over the cow's hoofs, and as for the pail, she tossed it down the hill and walked on.
When she had gone a bit farther, she came to the sheep, which walked along with his wool dragging after him.
"Oh, be so good as to clip me, girl," said the sheep, "and I'll serve you again. Take as much of the wool as you will, but twist the rest around my neck."
Well, she did that; but she went so carelessly to work, that she cut great pieces out of the poor sheep, and as for the wool, she carried it all away with her.
A little while after she came to the apple tree, which stood there quite crooked with fruit again.
"Be so good as to pick the apples off me so that my limbs may grow straight, for it's weary work to stand all awry," said the apple tree. "But please take care not to beat me too hard. Eat as many as you will, but lay the rest neatly around my roots, and I'll help you again."
Well, she picked those nearest to her, and beat down those she couldn't reach with the pole. But she didn't care how she did it, and broke off and tore down great branches, and ate until she was as full as full as could be, and then she threw down the rest under the tree.
When she had gone a good bit farther, she came to the farm where the old witch lived. There she asked for a place, but the old hag said she wouldn't have any more maids, for they were either worth nothing, or were too clever, and cheated her out of her goods. But the woman's daughter was not to be put off, she would have a place, so the old witch said she'd give her a trial, to see if she was fit for anything.
The first thing she had to do was to fetch water in sieve. Well, off she went to the well, and drew water in a sieve, but as fast as she got it in, it ran out again. So the little birds sang:
Daub in clay,But she didn't care to listen to the birds' song, and pelted them with clay, until they flew off far away. And so she had to go home with the empty sieve, and was well scolded by the old witch.
Stuff in straw,
Daub in clay,
Put in straw.
Then she was to go into the stall to clean it, and milk the cows. But she was too good for such dirty work, she thought. Still, she went out into the stall, but when she got there, she couldn't get on at all with the pitchfork, it was so big.
The birds said the same to her as they had said to her stepsister, and told her to take the broomstick, and toss out a little dung, and then all the rest would fly after it; but all she did with the broomstick was to throw it at the birds.
When she came to milk, the cows were so unruly, they kicked and pushed, and every time she got a little milk in the pail, over they kicked it. Then the birds sang again:
A little drop, a tiny sup,But she beat and banged the cows about, and threw and pelted at the birds everything she could lay hold of, and made such a to do, it was awful to see. So she didn't make much either of her pitching or milking, and when she came indoors she got blows as well as hard words from the old witch, who sent her off to wash the black wool white; but that, too, she did no better.
For the little birds to drink it up.
Then the old witch thought this was really too bad, so she set out the three chests, one red, one green, and one blue, and said she no longer had any need of her services, for she wasn't worth keeping, but for wages she should have permission to choose whichever chest she pleased.
Then sang the little birds:
Don't take the red, don't take the green,She didn't care a pin for what the birds sang, but took the red one, which caught her eye most. And so she set out on her road home, and she went along quietly and easily enough. There was no one who came after her.
But take the blue, where may be seen
Three little crosses all in a row.
We saw the marks, and so we know.
When she got home, her mother was ready to jump with joy, and the two went at once into the ingle, and put the chest up there, for they made up their minds there could be nothing in it but pure silver and gold, and they thought to have all the walls and roof gilded like the pigsty.
But lo! when they opened the chest there came tumbling out nothing but toads, and frogs, and snakes; and worse than that, whenever the woman's daughter opened her mouth, out popped a toad or a snake, and all the vermin one ever thought of; so that at last there was no living in the house with her.
That was all the wages she got for going out to service with the old witch.
As we are naturally fond of those who resemble us, the mother doted on her elder daughter, while for the younger she had a most violent aversion, and made her take her meals in the kitchen and work hard all day. Among other things that she was obliged to do, this poor child was forced to go twice a day to fetch water from a place a mile or more from the house, and carry back a large jug ?lled to the brim.
As she was standing one day by this spring, a poor woman came up to her, and asked the girl to give her some water to drink.
"Certainly, my good woman," she replied, and the beautiful girl at once stooped and rinsed out the jug, and then, ?lling it with water from the clearest part of the spring, she held it up to the woman, continuing to support the jug, that she might drink with greater comfort.
Having drunk, the woman said to her, "You are so beautiful, so good and kind, that I cannot refrain from conferring a gift upon you," for she was really a fairy, who had taken the form of a poor village woman, in order to see how far the girl's kind heartedness would go. "This gift I make you," continued the fairy, "that with every word you speak, either a ?ower or a precious stone will fall from your mouth."
The girl had no sooner reached home than her mother began scolding her for being back so late.
"I am sorry, mother," said she, "to have been out so long," and as she spoke, there fell from her mouth two roses, two pearls, and two large diamonds. The mother gazed at her in astonishment.
"What do I see!" she exclaimed, " Pearls and diamonds seem to be dropping from her mouth! How is this, my daughter?"
It was the ?rst time she had called her daughter.
The poor child related in all simplicity what had happened, letting fall quantities of diamonds in the course of her narrative.
"I must certainly send my other daughter there," said the mother. "Look, Fanchon, see what falls from your sister's mouth when she speaks! Would you not be glad to receive a similar gift? All you have to do, is to go and fetch water from the spring, and if an old woman asks you for some to drink, to give it her nicely and politely."
"I should like to see myself going to the spring," answered the rude, cross girl.
" I insist on your going," rejoined the mother, "and that at once."
The elder girl went off, still grumbling; with her she took the handsomest silver bottle she could ?nd in the house.
She had no sooner arrived at the spring, than she saw a lady magni?cently dressed walking towards her from the wood, who approached and asked for some water to drink. It was the same fairy who had appeared to the sister, but she had now put on the airs and apparel of a princess, as she wished to see how far this girl's rudeness would go.
"Do you think I came here just to draw water for you?" answered the arrogant and unmannerly girl; "I have, of course, brought this silver bottle on purpose for madam to drink from! Well, all I have to say is -- drink from it if you like."
"You are scarcely polite," said the fairy, without losing her temper; "however, as you are so disobliging, I confer this gift upon you, that with every word you speak, a snake or a toad shall fall from your mouth."
Directly her mother caught sight of her, she called out, "Well, my daughter!"
"Well, my mother!" replied the ill-tempered girl, throwing out as she spoke two vipers and two toads.
"Alack!" cried the mother, "What do I see? This is her sister's doing, but I will pay her out for it," and, so saying, she ran towards the younger girl with intent to beat her.
The unhappy girl ?ed from the house, and went and hid herself in a neighbouring forest. The king's son, who was returning from hunting, met her, and seeing how beautiful she was, asked her what she was doing there all alone, and why she was crying.
"Alas! sir, my mother has driven me from home."
The king's son, seeing ?ve or six pearls and as many diamonds, falling from her mouth as she spoke, asked her to explain how this was, and she told him all her tale.
The king's son fell in love with her, and thinking that such a gift as she possessed was worth more than any ordinary dower brought by another, he carried her off to his father's palace, and there married her.
As for her sister, she made herself so hated, that her own mother drove her from the house. The miserable girl, having gone about in vain trying to ?nd someone who would take her in, crept away into the corner of a wood, and there died.
Of higher worth are gentle words
Than diamonds or gold,
And even o'er the minds of men
A great power they hold.
It costs some pains to be polite,
And needs some kindly thought,
But soon or late, as here you see,
Reward will come unsought.
She said one day to the bad one: "Go and draw a bucket of water."
The bad one did not want to go, and so she would not obey her mother.
The good daughter, however, said: "I will go and draw it."
She went to draw the water, and the bucket fell down the well.
She said: "If I go home now without the bucket, who knows what my mother will do to me?"
So she climbed down the well, and at the bottom found a narrow passage, with a door. She knocked at the door.
"Have you not found a cord and bucket?"
There was a saint there, who answered: "No, my child."
She continued her way and found another door.
"Have you not found a cord and bucket?"
That was the devil there. He answered her angrily because she was a good girl; he did not say: "My child."
She knocked at another door.
"Have you not found a cord and bucket?"
It was the Madonna who replied: "Yes, my child. Listen. You could do me a pleasure to stay here while I am away. I have my little son here, to whom you will give his soup; you will sweep and put the house in order. When I come home I will give you your bucket."
The Madonna went away, and the good girl put the house in order, gave the child his broth, swept the house; and while she was sweeping, instead of finding dirt, she found coral and other beautiful things. She saw that it was not dirt, and put it aside to give the Madonna when she returned.
When the Madonna came back, she asked: "Have you done all I told you to do?"
The good girl answered: "Yes, but I have kept these things here; I found them on the ground; it is not dirt."
"Very well; keep them for yourself. Would you like a dress of calico, or one of silk?"
The girl answered: "No, no! a calico dress." Instead of that, the Madonna gave her the silk one.
"Do you wish a brass thimble, or a silver one?"
"Give me the brass one."
"No, take the silver thimble. Here is the bucket and your cord. When you reach the end of this passage, look up in the air."
The girl did so, and a beautiful star fell on her brow.
She went home, and her mother ran to meet her to scold her for being away so long; and was about to strike her, when she saw the star on her brow, which shone so that it was beautiful to see, and said: "Where have you been until now? Who put that thing on your forehead?"
The girl answered: "I don't know what there is there."
Her mother tried to wash it away, but instead of disappearing, it shone more beautiful than ever.
Then the girl told what had happened to her, and the other sister wished to go there, too. She went, and did the same as her sister. She let the bucket fall, climbed down, and knocked at the saint's door.
"Have you not found a cord and bucket?"
"No, my child."
She knocked at the next door. "Have you not found a cord and bucket?"
The devil answered: "No, I have not found them; but come here, my child, come here."
But when she heard that he had not found her bucket, she said: "No, I will go on."
She knocked at the Madonna's door.
"Have you not found a cord and bucket?"
The Madonna said that she had.
"I am going away: you will give my son his broth, and then you will sweep. When I return I will give you your bucket."
Instead of giving the broth to the child, the bad girl ate it herself.
"Oh!" she said, "how good it was!"
She swept and found a great deal of dirt.
"Oh, poor me! My sister found so many pretty things!"
The Madonna returned.
"Have you done what I told you?"
"Do you wish the brass or silver thimble?"
"Oh! I want the silver one!"
She gave her the brass one.
"Do you want the calico dress or the silk one?"
"Give me the silk dress."
She gave her the calico dress.
"Here is your bucket and cord. When you are out of here, look up into the air."
When she was out she looked up into the air and there fell on her forehead a lump of dirt that soiled her whole face. She went home in a rage to weep and scold her sister because she had had the star, while she had that dirt on her face. Her mother began to wash her face and rub it; and the more she did so the less the dirt went away.
Then the mother said: "I understand; the Madonna has done this to show me that I loved the bad girl and neglected the good one."
This lady, from her courtly carriage, beauty, and affability, was the wonder of all that knew her; but, as covetousness is said to be the root of all evil, so it happened in this instance. The king hearing of a lady who had likewise an only daughter, for the sake of her riches had a mind to marry; though she was old, ugly, hook-nosed, and humpbacked, yet all this could not deter him from marrying her.
Her daughter, also, was a yellow dowdy, full of envy and ill-nature; and, in short, was much of the same mould as her mother. This signified nothing, for in a few weeks the king, attended by the nobility and gentry, brought his intended bride to his palace, where the marriage rites were performed.
They had not been long in the court before they set the king against his own beautiful daughter, which was done by false reports and accusations. The young princess, having lost her father's love, grew weary of the court, and one day meeting with her father in the garden, she desired him, with tears in her eyes, to give her a small subsistence, and she would go and seek her fortune; to which the king consented, and ordered her mother-in-law [stepmother] to make up a small sum according to her discretion.
She went to the queen, who gave her a canvas bag of brown bread and hard cheese, with a bottle of beer; though this was but a very pitiful dowry for a king's daughter.
She took it, returned thanks, and proceeded on her journey, passing through groves, woods, and valleys, till at length she saw an old man sitting on a stone at the mouth of a cave, who said, "Good morrow, fair maiden, whither away so fast?"
"Aged father," says she, "I am going to seek my fortune."
"What has thou in thy bag and bottle?"
"In my bag I have got bread and cheese, and in my bottle good small beer; will you please to partake of either?"
"Yes," said he, "with all my heart."
With that the lady pulled out her provisions, and bid him eat and welcome.
He did so, and gave her many thanks, saying thus: "There is a thick thorny hedge before you, which will appear impassable, but take this wand in your hand, strike three times, and say, 'Pray, hedge, let me come through,' and it will open immediately; then, a little further, you will find a well; sit down on the brink of it, and there will come up three golden heads, which will speak. Pray do whatever they require."
Promising she would follow his directions, she took her leave of him. Arriving at the hedge, and pursuing the old man's directions, it divided, and gave her a passage; then, going to the well, she had no sooner sat down than a golden head came up singing:
Wash me, and comb me,"Yes," said she, and putting forth her hand, with a silver comb performed the office, placing it upon a primrose bank.
And lay me down softly,
And lay me on a bank to dry,
That I may look pretty,
When somebody comes by.
Then came up a second and a third head, making the same request, which she complied with. She then pulled out her provisions and ate her dinner.
Then said the heads one to another, "What shall we do for this lady who hath used us so kindly?"
The first said, "I will cause such addition to her beauty as shall charm the most powerful prince in the world."
The second said, "I will endow her with such perfume, both in body and breath, as shall far exceed the sweetest flowers."
The third said, "My gift shall be none of the least, for, as she is a king's daughter, I'll make her so fortunate that she shall become queen to the greatest prince that reigns."
This done, at their request she let them down into the well again, and so proceeded on her journey.
She had not travelled long before she saw a king hunting in the park with his nobles; she would have avoided him, but the king having caught a sight of her, approached, and what with her beauty and perfumed breath, was so powerfully smitten, that he was not able to subdue his passion, but commenced his courtship immediately, and was so successful that he gained her love, and, conducting her to his palace, he caused her to be clothed in the most magnificent manner.
This being ended, and the king finding that she was the King of Colchester's daughter, ordered some chariots to be got ready, that he might pay the king a visit. The chariot in which the king and queen rode was adorned with rich ornamental gems of gold. The king, her father, was at first astonished that his daughter had been so fortunate as she was, till the young king made him sensible of all that happened.
Great was the joy at court amongst all, with the exception of the queen and her club-footed daughter, who were ready to burst with malice, and envied her happiness; and the greater was their madness because she was now above them all. Great rejoicings, with feasting and dancing, continued many days. Then at length, with the dowry her father gave her they returned home.
The deformed daughter perceiving that her sister had been so happy in seeking her fortune, would needs do the same; so disclosing her mind to her mother, all preparations were made, and she was furnished not only with rich apparel, but sweetmeats, sugar, almonds, etc., in great quantities, and a large bottle of Malaga sack.
Thus provided, she went the same road as her sister, and coming near the cave, the old man said, "Young woman, whither so fast?"
"What is that to you?" said she.
"Then," said he, "what have you in your bag and bottle?"
She answered, "Good things, which you shall not be troubled with."
"Won't you give me some?" said he.
"No, not a bit, nor a drop, unless it would choke you."
The old man frowned, saying, "Evil fortune attend thee."
Going on, she came to the hedge, through which she espied a gap, and thought to pass through it, but, going in, the hedge closed, and the thorns run into her flesh, so that it was with great difficulty that she got out.
Being now in a painful condition, she searched for water to wash herself, and, looking round, she saw the well; she sat down on the brink of it, and one of the heads came up, saying, "Wash me, comb me, and lay me down softly, etc."
But she banged it with her bottle, saying, "Take this for your washing."
So the second and third heads came up, and met with no better treatment than the first; whereupon the heads consulted among themselves what evils to plague her with for such usage.
The first said, "Let her be struck with leprosy in her face."
The second, "Let an additional smell be added to her breath."
The third bestowed on her a husband, though but a poor country cobbler.
This done, she goes on till she came to a town, and it being market day, the people looked at her, and seeing such an evil face fled out of her sight, all but a poor cobbler (who not long before had mended the shoes of an old hermit, who having no money, gave him a box of ointment for the cure of the leprosy, and a bottle of spirits for a stinking breath).
Now the cobbler having a mind to do an act of charity, was induced to go up to her and ask her who she was.
"I am," said she, "the King of Colchester's daughter-in-law."
"Well," said the cobbler, "if I restore you to your natural complexion, and make a sound cure both in face and breath, will you in reward take me for a husband?"
"Yes, friend," replied she, "with all my heart."
With this the cobbler applied the remedies, and they worked the effect in a few weeks, and then they were married, and after a few days they set forward for the court at Colchester. When the queen understood she had married a poor cobbler, she fell into distraction, and hanged herself for vexation.
The death of the queen was not a source of sorrow to the king, who had only married her for her fortune, and bore her no affection; and shortly afterwards he gave the cobbler a hundred pounds to take the daughter to a remote part of the kingdom, where he lived many years mending shoes, while his wife assisted the housekeeping by spinning, and selling the results of her labours at the country market.
As she went along she came to a gate, which spoke, and said to her, "Pretty maiden, will you open me, for I have not been opened for many a year?"
"Open yourself," said the girl. "I have no time to open you."
So she went on, and came to a cow, and the cow said, "Pretty maiden, stop and milk em, for I have not been milked for many a day."
"Milk yourself," said the girl. "I have no time to milk you."
So she went on, and came to a mill, and the mill said, "Pretty maiden, will you turn me, for I have not been turned for many a day."
"Turn yourself," said the girl. "I have no time to turn you." By this time the girl began to get tired, so he hid the bag in the mill hopper.
When the old woman got up in the morning, and missed the girl, she went straight to the chimney, and found her money was gone.
So she set off directly after the girl, and when she came to the gate she said, "Gate o' mine, gate o' mine, have you seen a maid o' mine, with a ji-jaller bag, and a long leather bag, with all the money in that ever I had?"
And the gate said, "Further on."
Then she went on and came to the cow, of whom she asked the same question, and got the same answer.
And she went on and came to the mill, and said, "Mill o' mine, have you seen a maid o' mine, with a ji-jaller bag, and a long leather bag, with all the money in it that e'er I had?"
And the mill said, "Down the mill hopper."
So the old woman got her money again, and soon she hired a new girl, and told her the very same things she had told the first. The new girl did just like the first, and ran away. But when she came to the gate she opened it, and when she came to the cow she milked it, and when she came to the mill she turned it.
So when the old woman went after the girl, and asked the gate, the cow, and the mill whether they had seen her, there was no answer, and the girl got away with the bag of money.
Well, she went all about the town, but no one wanted a girl like her. So she went on farther into the country, and she came to a place where there was an oven where there was lots of bread baking.
And the bread said, "Little girl, little girl, take us out, take us out. We have been baking seven years, and no one has come to take us out."
So the girl took out the bread, laid it on the ground, and went on her way.
Then she met a cow, and the cow said, "Little girl, little girl, milk me, milk me! Seven years have I been waiting, and no one has come to milk me."
The girl milked the cow into the pails that stood by. As she was thirsty she drank some, and left the rest in the pails by the cow.
Then she went on a little bit farther, and came to an apple-tree, so loaded with fruit that its branches were breaking down, and the tree said, "Little girl, little girl, help me shake my fruit. My branches are breaking, it is so heavy."
And the girl said, "Of course I will, you poor tree."
So she shook the fruit all off, propped up the branches, and left the fruit on the ground under the tree.
Then she went on again till she came to a house. Now in this house there lived a witch, and this witch took girls into her house as servants. And when she heard that this girl had left her home to seek service, she said that she would try her, and give her good wages.
The witch told the girl what work she was to do. "You must keep the house clean and tidy, sweep the floor and the fireplace; but there is one thing you must never do. You must never look up the chimney, or something bad will befall you."
So the girl promised to do as she was told, but one morning as she was cleaning, and the witch was out, she forgot what the witch said, and looked up the chimney. When she did this a great bag of money fell down in her lap. This happened again and again. So the girl started to go off home.
When she had gone some way she heard the witch coming after her. So she ran to the apple-tree and cried:
Apple-tree, apple-tree hide me,So the apple-tree hid her. When the witch came up she said:
So the old witch can't find me;
If she does she'll pick my bones,
And bury me under the marble stones.
Tree of mine, tree of mine,And the apple-tree said, "No, mother; not for seven year."
Have you seen a girl
With a willy-willy wag, and a long-tailed bag,
Who's stole my money, all I had?"
When the witch had gone down another way, the girl went on again, and just as she got to the cow she heard the witch coming after her again, so she ran to the cow and cried:
Cow, cow, hide me,So the cow hid her.
So the old witch can't find me;
If she does she'll pick my bones,
And bury me under the marble stones.
When the old witch came up, she looked about and said to the cow:
Cow of mine, cow of mine,And the cow said, "No, mother; not for seven year."
Have you seen a girl
With a willy-willy wag, and a long-tailed bag,
Who's stole my money, all I had?
When the witch had gone off another way, the little girl went on again, and when she was near the oven she heard the witch coming after her again, so she ran to the oven and cried:
Oven, oven, hide me,And the oven said, "I've no room, ask the baker."
So the old witch can't find me;
If she does she'll break my bones,
And bury me under the marble stones.
And the baker hid her behind the oven.
When the witch came up she looked here and there and everywhere, and then said to the baker:
Man of mine, man of mine,So the baker said, "Look in the oven."
Have you seen a girl,
With a willy-willy wag, and a long-tailed bag,
Who's stole my money, all I had?
The old witch went to look, and the oven said, "Get in and look in the furthest corner."
The witch did so, and when she was inside the oven shut her door, and the witch was kept there for a very long time. The girl then went off again, and reached her home with her money bags, married a rich man, and lived happy ever afterwards.
The other sister then thought she would go and do the same. And she went the same way.
But when she reached the oven, and the bread said, "Little girl, little girl, take us out. Seven years have we been baking, and no one has come to take us out."
The girl said, "No, I don't want to burn my fingers."
So she went on till she met the cow, and the cow said, "Little girl, little girl, milk me, milk me, do. Seven years have I been waiting, and no one has come to milk me."
But the girl said, "No, I can't milk you, I'm in a hurry," and went on faster.
Then she came to the apple-tree, and the apple- tree asked her to help shake the fruit. But the girl said, "No, I can't; another day p'raps I may," and went on till she came to the witch's house.
Well, it happened to her just the same as to the other girl -- she forgot what she was told, and one day when the witch was out, looked up the chimney, and down fell a bag of money. Well, she thought she would be off at once.
When she reached the apple-tree, she heard the witch coming after her, and she cried:
Apple-tree, apple-tree, hide me,But the tree didn't answer, and she ran on further.
So the old witch can't find me;
If she does she'll break my bones,
And bury me under the marble stones.
Presently the witch came up and said:
Tree of mine, tree of mine,The tree said, "Yes, mother; she's gone down that way."
Have you seen a girl,
With a willy-willy wag, and a long-tailed bag,
Who's stole my money, all I had?
So the old witch went after her and caught her, she took all the money away from her, beat her, and sent her off home just as she was.
Source: Collected by Mrs. Gomme at Deptford.
Parallels: I have a dim memory of hearing a similar tale in Australia in 1860. It is clearly parallel with the Grimms' ''Frau Holle," where the good girl is rewarded and the bad punished in a similar way. Perrault's "Toads and Diamonds" is of the same genus.
Whatever her own daughter might do, she looked kindly at her and said, "Sensible darling!" but as for the step daughter, whatever she might do to please, it was always taken amiss.
Everything she did was wrong, and not as it should be. Yet, sooth to say, the little stepdaughter was as good as gold; in good hands she would have swum in cheese and butter, but, living with her stepmother, she bathed herself every day in tears.
What was she to do? The blast, though it blows, does not blow forever, but a scolding old woman it is not so easy to avoid. She will take anything into her head, even to combing one's teeth. And the stepmother took it into her head to drive her stepdaughter from the house.
"Take her, take her away, my old man, whithersoever you like, that mine eyes may not see her, that my ears may not hear of her; but don't take her to my own daughter in the warm room, but take her into the bare fields to the bitter, biting frost."
The old man began to lament and weep, but for all that he put his daughter in the sledge; he would have liked to cover her with the horse-cloth, but even that he dared not do. So he took the homeless one into the bare fields, threw her on a heap of snow, crossed himself, and hastened home as fast as possible, that his eyes might not see his daughter's death.
There the poor little thing remained on the fringe of the forest, sat down under a fir-tree, shivered, and softly said her prayers.
All at once she heard some thing. Morozko was crackling in a fir-tree not far off, and he leaped from fir to fir and snapped his fingers. And look! now he has come to that fir beneath which the girl was sitting; and he snapped his fingers, and leaped up and down, and looked at the pretty girl.
"Maiden, maiden, 'tis I -- Moroz-Ruby-Nose!"
"Welcome, Moroz! God must have sent thee to my poor sinful soul."
"Art thou warm, Maiden?"
"Warm, warm, dear little father Morozushko!"
Moroz began to descend lower, and crackle still more, and snap his fingers more than ever, and again he began speaking to the girl. "Art thou warm, maiden? Art thou warm, beauty?"
The girl was scarce able to draw her breath, and yet she kept on saying, "Yes, warm, Morozushko; warm, little father!"
Morozko crackled more than ever, and snapped his fingers harder and yet harder, and he said to the maiden for the last time, "Art thou warm, maiden? Art thou warm, beauty? Art thou warm, sweet clover?"
The girl was all benumbed, and it was only in a voice scarcely audible that she could say, "Oh, yes! warm, darling little pigeon mine, Morozushko!"
Morozko quite loved her for her pretty speeches. He had compassion on the girl; he wrapped her in furs, warmed her with warm coverings, and brought her a coffer, high and heavy, full of bridal garments, and gave her a robe all garnished with gold and silver. She put it on, and oh, how beautiful and stately she looked! And she sat down and began to sing songs.
And the stepmother was preparing her funeral feast and frying pancakes.
"Be off, husband, and bury your daughter!" she cried.
And off the old man went.
But the little dog under the table said, "Bow-wow! The old man's daughter is going about in silver and gold, but the old woman's daughter no wooers will look at."
"Silence, you fool! There's a pancake for you, and now say, 'The wooers will take the old woman's daughter, but there's nothing left of the old man's daughter but her bones.'"
The little dog ate the pancake, but again he said, "Bow-wow! The old man's daughter goes about in silver and gold, but the old woman's daughter no wooers will look at."
The old woman kept beating the dog and giving him pancakes, but the little dog would have his way, and said, "The old man's daughter goes about in silver and gold, but the old woman's daughter no wooers will look at."
The floors creaked, the doors flew open wide, and in they brought the high and heavy coffer, and behind it walked the stepdaughter, in gold and silver, glittering like the sun.
The stepmother looked at her, and threw up her arms. "Old man, old man! Put to a pair of horses, and take my daughter at once. Put her in the selfsame field, in the selfsame place."
And the old man took the daughter to the selfsame place.
And Moroz-Ruby-Nose came and looked at his guest, and began to ask her, "Art thou warm, maiden?"
"Be off with you!" replied the old woman's daughter, "or are you blind not to see that my arms and legs are quite benumbed with cold?"
Morozko began skipping and jumping, fair words were not to be expected from that quarter. And he was angry with the step daughter, and froze her to death.
"Old man, old man! Go and fetch my daughter. Put to my swift horses, and don't overturn the sledge and upset the coffer."
But the little dog under the table said, "Bow-wow! The wooers will wed the old man's daughter, but they'll bring home nothing of the old woman's daughter but a sack of bones."
"Don't lie! There's a cake. Take it and say, 'They'll carry about the old woman's daughter in gold and silver!'"
And the doors flew open, the nasty old woman ran out to meet her daughter, and instead of her she embraced a cold corpse. She began to howl and cry. She knew then that she had lost her wicked and envious daughter.
Holena sat around in idleness, while Marushka had to cook, wash, spin, weave, bring grass, and take care of the cow. She was willing to work; she didn't know why her mother hated her, but she bore reproaches with patience.
At last the stepmother and her daughter thought only of how to get rid of poor Marushka. They tortured her with hunger, and beat her, but she endured it all and grew more beautiful each day.
One day, in the middle of winter, Holena pretended to want violets, and she said to Marushka, "Go to the woods and get me some violets. I want to put them in my belt and enjoy their perfume."
"But, sister, what has come to your mind? I have never heard of violets blossoming in winter," answered Marushka.
"How do you dare to question when I command? Worthless creature, toad! If you do not go this minute to the woods and get me violets I will kill you," threatened Holena.
The stepmother seized Marushka, pushed her out of the house, and closed the door. The girl went to the forest, weeping bitterly. Deep snow was on the ground; there was no trace of a path. Long she wandered. She was hungry and cold, and prayed to God to take her out of the world.
At last, off in the distance, she saw a bright light. She went toward it and ascending a hill she came to a fire; around the fire on twelve stones, sat twelve men; three old men with long white beards, three somewhat younger, three in years of manhood, and three beautiful youths. They were sitting in silence and looking calmly on the fire. They were the Twelve Months.
December sat in the first place; his hair and beard were white as snow; he held a scepter in his hand. Marushka stood in astonishment, but after a time, summoning courage, she drew near, and asked, "Kind men, will you let me warm myself at the fire? I am shivering with cold."
December nodded his head. When the maid was warm, he asked, "Why are you here?"
"I am looking for violets," answered Marushka.
"But there are no violets in winter; everything is covered with snow."
"I know that," answered Marushka, sadly; "but my mother and sister have sent me for violets; if I do not get them they will kill me. Tell me, good shepherds, is there any place where I can find violets?"
December rose from his seat, went to the youngest month, and said, "Brother March, sit in the first place."
March took the highest place and waved the scepter above the fire; that instant the fire burned more powerfully. The snow thawed; birds appeared on the branches and grass grew green, beneath the trees; flowers began to open. Spring had come. In the thickets violets were blooming; there were so many that they were like a blue carpet.
"Quick, Marushka, pluck them!" said March.
Marushka gathered a great bouquet, thanked the Twelve Months, and hurried home.
Holena and her mother were astonished when they saw Marushka coming with a large bunch of violets in her hand. They opened the door; she entered and the whole house was filled with the perfume.
"Where did you find them?" asked Holena.
"On a hill; there are many of them under the trees."
Holena took the violets, put them in her belt and enjoyed their perfume; she didn't offer even one of them to Marushka.
The next day they sent Marushka for strawberries. Long she wandered around in the cold, praying God to take her out of the world; then she came to the Twelve Months and again met with a kind reception.
Learning what she wanted, December left his place and going to the month sitting just opposite, gave him the scepter, and said, "Brother June, sit in the first place."
June sat in the highest place and waved the scepter above the fire; that instant the flames leaped high, the snow melted, the earth was covered with grass, the trees with leaves; the birds began to sing; many-colored flowers bloomed in the forest. Summer had come.
Little white blossoms gleamed, like stars, in the grass, as if some one had put them there on purpose. Before Marushka's eyes the flowers became fruit, and the berries were ripe. She could not look around before the grass was dotted with them as if some one had sprinkled it with blood-drops.
Marushka gathered many berries and took them to her sister.
Helena ate some of them and gave her mother some, but did not offer even one to Marushka.
The next day Holena wanted apples, and she sent Marushka for them. The unfortunate girl waded through deep snow and wandered around in the cold praying God to take her out of the world. At last she found the Twelve Months sitting in front of their fire as formerly.
When she told them what she had been sent for, December gave the scepter to his brother September, who sat in the first place and waved the scepter over the fire. The fire burned brighter and the snow vanished, but Nature had a solemn face; leaves were falling from the trees, a fresh wind drove them hither and thither over the dry and yellow grass.
Marushka saw no flowers, but she saw an apple tree loaded with red fruit.
"Shake the tree quickly," said September.
She shook it; one blushing apple fell. She shook it again; another fell.
"Now hurry home," said September.
She obeyed, and carried home the two apples. Holena wondered at their beauty and so did her mother.
"Where did you get them?"
"On a hill; there are many there yet."
"Why didn't you bring more?" asked Holena, angrily. "No doubt you ate them on the road."
"I did not. I shook the tree once: one apple fell; I shook it again: another fell. They wouldn't let me shake it again; they told me to go home."
"May lightning strike you!" screamed Holena, and she wanted to beat her sister. The poor girl began to cry. Holena ate an apple; it seemed to her wonderfully sweet.
She finished, and said to her mother, "Give me my cloak, I'll go into the forest myself. If that good-for-nothing girl goes she will be sure to eat the apples. I'll shake off every apple whether they permit me to or not; it's all the same to me,"
She put on her cloak, tied a shawl over her head and went out. The snow was deep; there was no trace of a human foot anywhere. She wandered long, and at last she came to the Twelve Months. Without asking leave Holena walked straight to the fire and began to warm her hands.
"What do you want; why are you here?" asked December, severely.
"Why ask, old man? What business is it of yours where I am going?" answered Holena, and turned to go into the forest.
December frowned and raised his scepter. That moment the fire died down, the heavens grew dark; snow fell in great flakes, as if someone were shaking feathers out of a tick; and a cutting, all-chilling wind whistled through the forest. Holena could not see one step before her; she felt that her limbs were growing stiff. She cursed Marushka, and stumbled on.
The mother, waiting at home, looked through the window, and ran to the gate; but hours passed by, one after another, and no Holena came.
"Most likely she found the apples so good that she can't stop eating them. I'll go myself and look for her," said the mother.
She put on her cloak, threw a shawl over her head and went in search of her daughter. Time passed. Marushka got supper ready, and fed the cow, but neither Holena nor her mother came.
"Where are they stopping so long?" thought Marushka, and she sat down to spin. The spinning was finished, then night came, but still they were not at home.
"Lord be merciful to us! What has happened to them?" said the kind-hearted girl.
She looked out. The heavens were gleaming with stars, the earth glittering with snow, but no human being was visible anywhere. She closed the door, made the sign of the cross, repeated "Our Father" for her stepmother and sister, and then lay down to sleep. The next day she looked for them at breakfast, waited for them at dinner; but in vain. They came not again to the house of living man.
Some time passed, and his wife died. He was unhappy before, but now a greater misfortune had befallen him.
He grieved and grieved, and at last he said to himself, "I will go and take another wife; she will mind the house, and tend my orphan child."
So he arose and took a second wife, but this wife brought with her a daughter of her own. When this woman came into her husband's house and saw his child, she was angry in heart.
She treated Little Rag-Girl badly. She petted her own daughter, but scolded her stepdaughter, and tried to get rid of her.
Every day she gave her a piece of badly cooked bread, and sent her out to watch the cow, saying, "Here is a loaf; eat of it, give to every wayfarer, and bring the loaf home whole."
The girl went, and felt very miserable.
Once she was sitting sadly in the field, and began to weep bitterly.
The cow listened, and then opened its mouth, and said, "Why are you weeping? What troubles you?"
The girl told her sad tale.
The cow said, "In one of my horns is honey, and in the other is butter, which you can take if you want to, so why be unhappy?"
The girl took the butter and the honey, and in a short time she grew plump. When the stepmother noticed this she did not know what to do for rage. She rose, and after that every day she gave her a basket of wool with her; this wool was to be spun and brought home in the evening finished. The stepmother wished to tire the girl out with toil, so that she should grow thin and ugly.
Once when Little Rag-Girl was tending the cow, it ran away onto a roof.
She pursued it, and wished to drive it back to the road, but she dropped her spindle on the roof.Note by Wardrop: "In some parts of the Caucasus the houses of the peasantry are built in the ground, and it is quite possible to walk onto a roof unwittingly."
Looking inside she saw an old woman seated, and said to her, "Good mother, will you give me my spindle?"
The old dame replied, "I am not able, my child, come and take it yourself." The old woman was a devi.
The girl went in and was lifting up her spindle, when the old dame called out, "Daughter, daughter, come and look at my head a moment. I am almost eaten up."
The girl came and looked at her head. She was filled with horror; all the worms in the earth seemed to be crawling there.
The little girl stroked her head and removed some, and then said, "You have a clean head. Why should I look at it?"
This conduct pleased the old woman very much, and she said, "When you leave here, go along such and such a road, and in a certain place you will see three springs -- one white, one black, and one yellow. Pass by the white and black, and put your head in the yellow and rinse it with your hands."
The girl did this. She went on her way, and came to the three springs. She passed by the white and black, and bathed her head with her hands in the yellow fountain. When she looked up she saw that her hair was quite golden, and her hands, too, shone like gold. In the evening, when she went home, her stepmother was filled with fury. After this she sent her own daughter with the cow. Perhaps the same good fortune would visit her!
So Little Rag-Girl stayed at home while her stepsister drove out the cow. Once more the cow ran onto the roof. The girl pursued it, and her spindle fell down.
She looked in, and seeing the devi woman, called out, "Dog of an old woman! Here! Come and give me my spindle!"
The old woman replied, "I am not able, child, come and take it yourself."
When the girl came near, the old woman said, "Come, child, and look at my head."
The girl came and looked at her head, and cried out, "Ugh! What a horrid head you have! You are a disgusting old woman!"
The old woman said, "I thank you, my child; when you go on your way you will see a yellow, a white, and a black spring. Pass by the yellow and the white springs, and rinse your head with your hands in the black one."
The girl did this. She passed by the yellow and white springs, and bathed her head in the black one. When she looked at herself she was black as an African, and on her head there was a horn. She cut it off again and again, but it grew larger and larger.
She went home and complained to her mother, who was almost frenzied, but there was no help for it.
Her mother said to herself, "This is all the cow's fault, so it shall be killed."
This cow knew the future.
When it learned that it was to be killed, it went to Little Rag-Girl and said, "When I am dead, gather my bones together and bury them in the earth. When you are in trouble come to my grave, and cry aloud, 'Bring my steed and my royal robes!'"
Little Rag-Girl did exactly as the cow had told her. When it was dead she took its bones and buried them in the earth.
After this, some time passed. One holiday the stepmother took her daughter, and they went to church.
She placed a trough in front of Little Rag-Girl, spread a large measure of millet in the courtyard, and said, "Before we come home from church fill this trough with tears, and gather up this millet, so that not one grain is left."
Then they went to church.
Little Rag-Girl sat down and began to weep.
While she was crying a neighbor came in a said, "Why are you in tears? What is the matter?"
The little girl told her tale. The woman brought all the brood hens and chicken, and they picked up every grain of millet, then she put a lump of salt in the trough and poured water over it.
"There, child," said she, "there are your tears! Now go and enjoy yourself."
Little Rag-Girl then thought of the cow.
She went to its grave and called out, "Bring me my steed and my royal robes!"
There appeared at once a horse and beautiful clothes. Little Rag-Girl put on the garments, mounted the horse, and went to the church.
There all the folk began to stare at her. They were amazed at her grandeur.
Her stepsister whispered to her mother when she saw her, "This girl is very much like our Little Rag-Girl!"
Her mother smiled scornfully and said, "Who would give that sun darkener such robes?"
Little Rag-Girl left the church before anyone else; she changed her clothes in time to appear before her stepmother in rags. On the way home, as she was leaping over a stream, in her haste she let her slipper fall in.
A long time passed. Once when the king's horses were drinking water in this stream, they saw the shining slipper and were so afraid that they would drink no more water. The king was told that there was something shining in the stream, and that the horses were afraid.
The king commanded his divers to find out what it was. They found the golden slipper, and presented it to the king.
When he saw it, he commanded his viziers, saying, "Go and seek the owner of this slipper, for I will wed none but her."
His viziers sought the maiden, but they could find no one whom the slipper would fit.
Little Rag-Girl's mother heard this, adorned her daughter, and placed her on a throne. Then she went and told the king that she had a daughter whose foot he might look at. It was exactly the model for the shoe. She put Little Rag-Girl in a corner, with a big basket over her. When the king came into the house he sat down on the basket, in order to try on the slipper.
Little Rag-Girl took a needle and pricked the king from under the basket. He jumped up, stinging with pain, and asked the stepmother what she had under the basket. The stepmother replied, "It is only a turkey I have there."
The king sat down on the basket again, and Little Rag-Girl again stuck the needle into him.
The king jumped up, and cried out, "Lift the basket. I will see underneath!"
The stepmother pleaded with him, saying, "Do not blame me, your majesty, it is only a turkey, and it will run away."
But the king would not listen to her pleas. He lifted the basket up, and Little Rag-Girl came forth, and said, "This slipper is mine, and fits me well."
She sat down, and the king found that it was indeed a perfect fit. Little Rag-Girl became the king's wife, and her shameless stepmother was left with a dry throat.
The widow's daughter was ugly, lazy, obstinate and spiteful; yet as she was her mother's own child, the latter was delighted with her and pushed every thing upon her husband's daughter.
But the old man's child was beautiful, industrious, obedient and good. God had gifted her with every virtuous and lovable quality, yet she was persecuted by her spiteful sister, as well as by her stepmother; it was fortunate that she possessed endurance and patience, or she would have fared badly.
Whenever there was any hard work to be done, it was put upon the old man's daughter -- she was obliged to get dry wood from the forest, drag the heavy sacks of grain to the mill; in short, every task always fell to her lot. The whole livelong day she had no rest, but was kept continually going upstairs and down.
Still the old woman and her treasure of a daughter were constantly dissatisfied, and always had something to find fault with.
The stepdaughter was a heavy cross to the second wife, but her own daughter was like the basil plant, which is placed before the images of the saints.
When the stepsisters went to the village in the evening to spin, the old man's daughter did not allow herself to be interrupted in her work, but finished a whole sieve full of spools, while the old woman's daughter with difficulty completed a single one. When they came home late at night, the old woman's daughter jumped nimbly over the fence and asked to hold the sieve till the other had leaped over it too.
Meantime the spiteful girl hurried into the house to her parents, and said she had spun all the spools. The stepsister vainly declared that they were the work of her own hands; mother and daughter jeered at her words, and of course gained their cause.
When Sunday or Friday came the old woman's daughter was brushed and bedizened as though the calves had licked her. There was no dance, no feather-plucking in the village to which the old woman's daughter did not go, but the stepdaughter was sternly denied every pleasure of the kind.
Yet when the husband came home, his wife's tongue ran like a mill-wheel -- her stepdaughter was disobedient, bold, bad-tempered, this, that, and the other; he must send her away from home, put her out at service, whichever he chose; it was impossible to keep her in the house because she might ruin her daughter too.
The old man was a jackanapes, or, as the saying goes, under petticoat government. Everything his wife said was sacred. Had he obeyed the voice of his heart the poor old man might perhaps have said something, but now the hen had begun to crow in the house, and the rooster was of no consequence; yet, if he had thought of opposing them, his wife and her daughter would have soon made him repent it.
One day, when he was unusually angry about what his wife had told him, he called the young girl, and said: "My dear child, your mother is always saying that you are disobedient to her, have a spiteful tongue, and are wicked, so that it is not possible for you to stay any longer in my house; therefore go wherever the Lord may guide you, that there may no longer be so much quarreling here on your account. But I advise you as a father, wherever you may go, to be obedient, humble, and industrious, for here with me all your faults have been overlooked, parental affection has aided, but among strangers nobody knows what sort of people you may meet, and they will not indulge you as we have done."
When the poor girl saw that her stepmother and her daughter wanted to drive her out of the house at any cost, she kissed her father's hand with tears in her eyes, and went out into the wide world without any hope of ever returning home. She walked along the road till she chanced to meet a little sick dog, so thin that one could count its ribs.
When the dog saw her, it said: "You beautiful, industrious girl, have pity on me and take care of me, I will reward you some day."
The girl did pity the poor animal, and, taking it in her arms, washed and cleaned it thoroughly. Then she left it and went on, glad that she had been able to do a good action. She had not walked far when she came to a fine pear-tree in full bloom, but it was completely covered with caterpillars.
When the pear-tree saw the girl, it said: "You beautiful, industrious girl, take care of me and rid me of these caterpillars, I will repay you for it some day."
The girl, with her usual diligence, cleared the pear-tree from its dry branches and most carefully removed the caterpillars; then she walked quietly on to seek some place where she might enter into service.
On her way she came to a ruined, neglected fountain, which said to her: "You beautiful, industrious girl, take care of me, I will reward you some day."
The little maid cleared the fountain, cleaned it thoroughly, and then went on again. As she walked she came to a dilapidated oven, which had become almost entirely useless.
As soon as the oven saw her, it said: "You beautiful, industrious girl, line me with stones and clean me, I will repay you some day!"
The young girl knew that work harms no one, so she rolled up her sleeves, moistened some clay, stopped the holes in the stove, greased it and cleaned it till it was a pleasure to see it. Then she washed her hands and continued her journey.
As she walked on, day and night, it happened, I don't know how -- that she missed her way; yet she did not lose her trust in God, but walked on and on until early one morning, after passing through a dark forest, she reached a beautiful meadow.
In the meadow she saw a little house, completely overgrown with vines, and when she approached it an old woman came out kindly to meet her, and said: "What are you seeking here, child, and who are you?"
"Who should I be, good dame! A poor girl, motherless, and I may say fatherless, too, for God alone knows what I have suffered since my own mother's hands were folded on her breast. I am seeking service, and as I know nobody and am wandering from place to place I have lost my way. But the Lord guided me, so that I have reached your house and I beg you to give me a shelter."
"Poor child!" replied the old dame. "Surely God himself has led you to me and saved you from danger. I am the goddess of Sunday. Serve me today, and I promise that you shall not leave my house empty-handed tomorrow."
"Very well, but I don't know what I have to do."
"You must wash and feed my little children, who are now asleep, and then cook my dinner; when I come home from church I want to find it neither hot nor cold, but just right to eat."
When she had said this, the old woman set off for church. The young girl rolled up her sleeves and went to work.
First of all she prepared the water for the bath, then went out-doors and began to call: "Children, children, children, come to mother and let her wash you."
When she looked up, what did she behold? The courtyard was filled and the woods were swarming with a host of dragons and all sorts of wild beasts of every size. But, firm in her faith and trust in God, the young girl did not quail, but taking one animal after another washed and cleaned it in the best possible way.
Then she set about cooking the dinner, and when Sunday came out of church and saw her children so nicely washed and every thing so well done she was greatly delighted. After she had sat down to the table, she told the young girl that she might go up into the attic, choose whichever chest she wanted, and take it away with her for her wages; but she must not open it until she reached her father's house.
The maiden went to the garret, where there were a number of chests, some old and ugly, others new and beautiful. But as she was not a bit covetous, she took the oldest and ugliest of them all. When she came down with it, the goddess of Sunday frowned slightly, but there was no help for it, so she blessed the girl, who took her trunk on her back and joyfully returned to her father's house.
On the way, lo and behold! there was the oven full of beautifully risen, nicely browned cakes. The girl ate and ate, as many as she could, then took some with her for her journey and went on.
Soon she came to the fountain she had cleaned, and which was now filled to the brim with water as clear as tears and as sweet and cold as ice. On the edge stood two silver goblets, from which she drank the water until she was entirely refreshed. Then, taking one goblet with her, she walked on.
As she went, lo and behold! there stood the pear-tree she had cleaned, full of pears as yellow as wax, perfectly ripe, and as sweet as honey. When the pear-tree saw the girl, it bent its branches down to her, and she ate some of the fruit and took more pears to eat on the way, just as many of them as she wanted.
From there she journeyed on again, and lo and behold! she next met the little dog, which was now well and handsome; around its neck it wore a collar of ducats which it gave the old man's daughter as a reward for taking care of it in its sickness.
So the young girl at last reached her father's house. When the old man saw her his eyes filled with tears and his heart throbbed with joy. The girl took out the dog's collar and the silver goblet and gave them to her father; when they opened the chest together, out came countless numbers of horses, cattle, and sheep, till the sight of so much wealth instantly made the old man young again.
But his wife stood as if she were dazed, and did not know what to do in her rage.
Her daughter, however, plucked up courage and said: "Never mind, mother, the world isn't emptied yet; I'll go and fetch you still greater treasures."
After saying this she angrily set oft at once. She walked and walked along the same path her stepsister had followed.
She, too, met the sick, feeble dog, passed the pear-tree covered with caterpillars, the dry, neglected fountain, and the dilapidated oven which had become almost useless; but when dog, tree, fountain and oven begged her to take care of them, she answered rudely and scornfully: "Do you suppose I'll soil my delicate hands! Have you often been tended by people like me?"
As they all knew that it is easier to get milk from a dry cow than to make a spoiled, lazy girl obliging, they let her go her way in peace, and no longer asked her for help.
As she walked on and on, she too at last reached the goddess Sunday. But here also she behaved sullenly, saucily, and awkwardly. Instead of cooking the dinner nicely and washing Sunday's children as thoroughly as her stepsister had done, she burned them all till they screamed and ran off as though crazed by the burns and the pain. The food she scorched, charred, and let curdle so that no one could eat it, and when Sunday came home from church she covered her eyes and ears in horror at what she found in her house.
Even the gentle, indulgent goddess could not get along with such an obstinate, lazy girl as this one, so she told her to go up into the garret, choose any chest she wanted, and then in God's name continue her journey.
The girl went, took the newest and handsomest trunk, for she liked to get as much as possible of the best and finest things, but was not willing to do faithful service.
When she came down she did not go to the goddess Sunday to receive her blessing, but hurried off as if she were quitting an evil house. She nearly ran herself off her feet, in the fear that her mistress might change her mind and follow her to get her trunk back.
When she reached the oven there were some nice cakes in it, but when she approached to satisfy her hunger the fire burned her and she could take none.
The silver goblets were again at the fountain and the fountain was full of water to the brim, but when the girl tried to seize the cup to drink, the goblets instantly vanished, the water dried up, and the girl almost died of thirst.
When she came to the pear-tree it stood full of pears, but do you suppose the traveler could taste even one of them? No! The tree had made itself a thousand times as tall as before, so that its boughs touched the clouds! So the old woman's daughter might pick her teeth, she obtained nothing else.
Going further on she met the dog, which again had a collar of ducats round its neck; but when the girl tried to take it off the dog bit her so that he tore off her fingers and would not let her touch him.
The girl, in rage and shame, sucked her delicate little hands, but it did no good.
At last, after great difficulty, she reached her mother's house, but even here she did not find herself rolling in money, for when the old man's wife opened the chest, out came a host of dragons, which swallowed her and her daughter as if they had never been in the world. Then dragons, trunk, and all vanished.
The old man could now live in peace, and possessed countless riches; his daughter he married to a worthy, capable man. The cocks now crowed on the gate posts, the threshold, and everywhere, but the hens no longer crowed as an evil omen in the house of the old man, who had not many days of life remaining.
He was bald and bent, because his wife had quarreled with him too often and looked to see if he didn't need a drubbing.
Although the widow's daughter was bad-tempered, obstinate, vain, and a chatterer, her mother loved her passionately, praised her, and covered her with caresses. She was favoured in every way.
The stepson, who was a good-natured lad, and who did all kinds of work, was for ever grumbled at, checked, and treated like a sluggard.
As for the stepdaughter, who was so wonderfully pretty, and who had the disposition of an angel, she was tormented, worried, and ill-treated in a thousand ways. Between her sister and her stepmother her life was made miser able.
It is natural that one should love one's own children better than those of other folk; but it is only right that liking and disliking should be indulged in with moderation. The evil stepmother, however, loved her child to distraction, and equally detested her stepchildren. To such a pitch did she carry these feelings that when she was angry she used to say how she would advance the fortune of her daughter even at the orphans' expense.
An old proverb says, "Man sets the ball rolling, but Heaven directs it," and we shall see what happened.
One Sunday morning the stepdaughter, before going to church, went out into the garden to pluck some flowers to place on the altar. She had gathered some roses, when, on lifting up her eyes, she saw, right in front of her, three young men who sat upon a grassy bank. They were clothed in garments of dazzling white which shone like sun shine.
Near by them was an old man, who came and asked the girl for alms.
The girl was a little frightened when she saw the three men, but when the old man came to her she took her last piece of money out of her pocket and gave it to him.
The poor man thanked her, put the piece of money into his bag, and, laying his hand on the girl's head, said to the young men: "You see this little orphan; she is good and patient in suffering, and has so much pity for the poor that she gives them even the last penny she has. What do you wish for her?"
The first one said: "I wish that when she cries her tears may turn to pearls."
"I wish," said the second, "that when she laughs the most delicately perfumed roses may fall from her lips."
"And I," said the third, "wish that when she touches water golden fish spring up in it."
"So shall it be," said the old man, and he and his companions vanished.
When the girl saw that, she gave thanks to Heaven, and ran joyfully into the house.
Hardly had she entered when her stepmother met her and gave her a slap on the face, saying: "Where are you running to?"
The poor girl began to cry, but behold! Instead of tears, pearls fell from her eyes. The stepmother forgot her rage, and set herself to gather them up as quickly as possible. The girl could not help laughing at the sight, and from her lips there fell roses of such a delightful scent that the stepmother was beside herself with pleasure. After that the girl, wishing to preserve the flowers she had plucked in the garden, poured some water into a glass: as soon as she touched the water with her finger, it was filled with beautiful golden fish.
From that time the same things never failed to happen. The girl's tears turned to pearls, when she laughed roses, which did not die, fell from her lips; and water which she only touched with her little finger became filled with golden fish.
The stepmother became better disposed towards her, and by little and little learned from her the secret of how she had obtained these gifts.
On the following Sunday she sent her own daughter into the garden to pluck flowers as if for the altar. Hardly had the girl gathered some roses, when, lifting up her eyes, she saw the three young men sitting on a grassy bank, beautiful, and shining like the sun, and by them was the old man, clad in white, who asked her for alms.
When she saw the young men, the girl pretended to be afraid, but when the old man spoke to her, she ran to him, took out of her pocket a gold piece, looked hard at it, and then gave it to him, but evidently very much against her will.
The old man put the money in his bag, and said to the three others: "You see this girl who is her mother's spoilt child? She is bad-tempered, wicked, and is hard hearted as regards the poor. We know very well why she has been so charitable, for the first time in her life, today. Tell me then what you wish for her."
The first said: "I wish that when she cries her tears may change to lizards."
"I," said the second, " wish that when she laughs, hideous toads may fall from her lips."
"And I," said the third, "wish that when she touches water with her hand it may be filled with serpents."
"It shall be as you wish," said the old man, and he and his companions disappeared.
The girl was terrified, and ran into the house to tell her mother what had happened. All occurred as had been said. When she laughed toads sprang from her lips, when she cried her tears changed to lizards, and when she touched water it became full of serpents.
The stepmother did not know what to do. She paid greater attention than ever to her daughter, and hated the orphans more and more, and so tormented them that the lad, not being able to put up with it, took leave of his sister, praying Heaven to guard her, and, leaving his stepmother's house, set out to seek his fortune.
The wide world was before him. He knew not where to go, but he knew that Heaven, that sees all men, watches over the orphans. He prayed, and then walking down to the burial-ground where slept his father and mother, he knelt at the grave. He wept and prayed for a time, and having kissed the earth which covered them three times, he rose and prepared to set out on his journey.
All of a sudden he felt, in the folds of his dress on his bosom, something he had not perceived there before. He put his hand up, and was so astonished that he could scarcely believe his eyes, for he found there a charming little picture of his much-loved sister, surrounded by pearls, roses, and little golden fish. Delighted at the sight, he kissed the picture, looked around the burial-ground once more, made the sign of the cross, and set out on his way.
A story is soon told, but events move slowly.
After many adventures of little importance he came to the capital of a kingdom situated on the seashore. There he sought to obtain a living, and he was not unsuccessful, for he was engaged to look after the king's garden, and was both well fed and well paid.
This good fortune did not, however, make him forget his poor sister, about whom he was much troubled. When he had a moment to himself, he would sit down in some quiet spot and look at his picture, sometimes melting into tears, for he looked upon the portrait of his sister as a precious legacy given to him by his parents at their grave.
One day while the lad sat thus by a brook, the king saw him, and creeping up to him from behind very softly, he looked over his shoulder at the likeness that the young man was regarding so attentively.
"Give me the portrait," said the king. The lad gave it to him. The king looked at it and was delighted.
"Never," said he, "in all my life did I see such a beautiful girl, never have I heard of such a one, never did I dream there was such. Tell me, does she live?"
The lad burst into tears, and told the king that the picture was the portrait of his sister, who some time ago had been so favoured by Heaven that when she cried her tears became pearls, when she laughed roses sprang from her lips, and when she touched water it was filled with golden fish.
The king ordered him to write at once to his stepmother, to tell her to send her lovely step daughter to his palace, where the king waited to make her his wife. On the occasion of his marriage he declared he would heap rewards on the stepmother and on the brother of his bride. The lad wrote the letter, and the king sent a servant with it.
A story is quickly told, but events move slowly.
After she had read the letter, the stepmother did not show it to the orphan, but to her own daughter. So they plotted together, and the stepmother went to an old sorceress to consult her, and to be instructed in magic.
She then set out with her two daughters. As they came near to the capital of the king's dominions, in a place near to the sea, the stepmother suddenly threw the stepdaughter out of the carriage, muttered some magic words, and spat three times behind her. All at once the poor girl became very little, covered with feathers, and changed into a wild duck. She commenced to cackle, threw herself into the sea, just as ducks do, and began to swim about there.
The stepmother dismissed her with these words: "By the force of my hate, I have done what I wished! Swim away upon the shore like a duck, happy in liberty, and in the meantime my daughter, clothed in your beauty, shall marry the king, and enjoy all that was meant for you."
Hardly had she finished these words when her daughter found herself clothed in all the charms of the unfortunate girl. So they went on their way, came to the palace, which they reached at the time named in the letter, and there the king received the daughter from the hands of the treacherous step mother, in place of the orphan.
After the marriage, the stepmother, loaded with presents, returned to her home. The king, looking upon his wife, could not imagine how it was that he did not feel that love and tenderness that had been aroused in him at the sight of the portrait. However, there was no remedy, what was done was done. Heaven sees one, and knows of what malady one shall die, and what woman one shall marry!
The king admired his wife's beauty, and thought of the pleasure he would have when he saw the pearls drop from her eyes, the roses from her lips, and the golden fish spring up in the water she touched. During the feast, however, the queen chanced to laugh at her husband, and a mass of hideous toads sprang forth!
The king ran off quickly. Then the queen commenced to cry, and instead of pearls, lizards dropped from her eyes. An attendant presented a basin of water to her, but she had no sooner dipped the tip of her finger in the water than it became a mass of serpents, which began to hiss and dart into the middle of the wedding party.
Every one was afraid, and all was in confusion. The guards were at last called in, and by their aid the hall was cleared of the horrible reptiles.
The king had gone into the garden, where he met with the orphan lad; and so enraged was the king at the trick that he thought had been played him, that he gave the lad a blow on the head with his stick. The poor lad, falling down upon the ground, died at once.
The queen came running to the king, sobbing, and, taking him by the hand, said: "What have you done? You have killed my brother, who was altogether guiltless. Is it his fault or mine that, since I have been married to you, I have lost the wonderful powers I once had? They will come back again in time, but time will not bring my brother to me more."
"Pardon me, my dear wife," said the king. "In a moment of rage I thought he had betrayed me, and I wished to punish him. I am sorry for what I have done; now, however, it is beyond recall. Forgive me, and I forgive you with all my heart."
"I pardon you," said the queen, "but I beg you to order that my brother shall be honourably buried."
The queen's wish was carried out. The poor lad, who was thought to be the queen's brother, was put in a fine coffin, and laid on a magnificent catafalque in the church.
When night came on a guard of honour was placed around the coffin and at the gates to watch till morning. Towards midnight the doors of the church opened of their own accord and without any noise, and, at the same moment, an irresistible drowsiness came over the soldiers, who all went to sleep.
A pretty little wild duck entered, stopped in the middle of the church, shook its feathers, of which it freed itself one by one, and there stood the orphan girl in her former shape. She approached the coffin of her brother, and shed very many tears over him, which all changed to pearls.
After she had wept for some time, she reassumed the feathers once more, and went out. When the guards awoke, great was their surprise to find a number of beautiful pearls on the coffin.
The next day they told the king how the gates of the church had opened of themselves at midnight, how an irresistible desire to sleep had overtaken them, and how the pearls had been dis covered upon the coffin. The king was surprised at their story, and more so when he saw the pearls. He doubled the guard, and told them to watch more carefully the second night.
At the same time the doors opened again of themselves, and the soldiers again fell asleep. The wild duck entered, shook off its feathers, and became the lovely girl. At the sight of the double guard, all of them fast asleep, she could not help laughing, and beautiful roses fell from her lips. As she approached her brother her tears broke forth and fell in a shower of pearls to the ground. At length she took her feathers again and flew away.
When the guards awoke they collected the roses and pearls and took them to the king, who was now more surprised than before, seeing not only the pearls but the roses also.
He again doubled the guards, and he threatened them with the most severe punishment if they did not keep awake. They did their best, but all was of no use. At the end of their nap on the third night they found not only pearls and roses, but also golden fish swimming in the church font.
The king was now very much astonished, and began to think that there must be some magic in the matter.
When night came on he again doubled the number of the guards, and hid himself in the chapel, after having put up a mirror in which he could see everything reflected without being himself seen.
At midnight the doors opened of themselves, the soldiers dropt their arms, lay down on the ground, and fell fast asleep. The king did not take his eyes off the mirror, and he saw a little wild duck enter, and look timidly around it. When it saw the guards all asleep it seemed to take courage, and came into the middle of the church.
Then it cast off its feathers and became a girl of extraordinary loveliness. The king was trans ported with joy and wonder, and felt that this must be his true bride. When she had come to the coffin the king rushed forward with a wax taper in his hand and set fire to the feathers, the flame leaping up and waking the guards. When the girl saw what was done she ran to the king wringing her hands, while pearls dropped from her eyes.
"What have you done?" she cried. "How shall I now escape the fury of my stepmother, by whose magic arts I was turned into a wild duck?"
Then she told the king all, and he at once ordered some of his guards to seize the woman who had so treacherously married him, and to conduct her out of the kingdom. He also sent some soldiers to take the stepmother and burn her as a sorceress.
While the king gave these orders the girl took from her bosom three little vessels, which she had brought with her from the sea, full of different liquids. She sprinkled the liquid in one of them over her brother, and he became supple and warm; his cheeks took their colour again, and the warm red blood began to run from his wound. His sister sprinkled him again with the second liquid, which had the property of healing, and his wound at once closed. She sprinkled him the third time with the water which had the property of calling back to life.
The young man opened his eyes, looked on his sister with astonishment, and threw himself, full of happiness, into her arms.
At the sight of this the king was overjoyed. He took the young man by the hand, and, leading his sister, the three went to the palace.
In a short time he married his true bride, and he lived happily with her and her brother for many years.
This is a tale told in the lake district of Luzon. At times of rain or in winter the waters of the Laguna de Bai rise and detach from the banks a peculiar vegetation that resembles lettuce. These plants, which float for months down the Pasig River, gave rise, no doubt, to the story.Many years ago there lived on the banks of the Laguna de Bai a poor fisherman whose wife had died, leaving him two beautiful daughters named Mangita and Larina.
Mangita had hair as black as night and a dark skin. She was as good as she was beautiful, and was loved by all for her kindness. She helped her father mend the nets and make the torches to fish with at night, and her bright smile lit up the little nipa house like a ray of sunshine.
Larina was fair and had long golden hair of which she was very proud. She was different from her sister, and never helped with the work, but spent the day combing her hair and catching butterflies. She would catch a pretty butterfly, cruelly stick a pin through it, and fasten it in her hair. Then she would go down to the lake to see her reflection in the clear water, and would laugh to see the poor butterfly struggling in pain.
The people disliked her for her cruelty, but they loved Mangita very much. This made Larina jealous, and the more Mangita was loved, the more her sister thought evil of her.
One day a poor old woman came to the nipa house and begged for a little rice to put in her bowl. Mangita was mending a net and Larina was combing her hair in the doorway. When Larina saw the old woman she spoke mockingly to her and gave her a push that made her fall and cut her head on a sharp rock; but Mangita sprang to help her, washed the blood away from her head, and filled her bowl with rice from the jar in the kitchen.
The poor woman thanked her and promised never to forget her kindness, but to her sister she spoke not a word. Larina did not care, however, but laughed at her and mocked her as she painfully made her way again down the road. When she had gone Mangita took Larina to task for her cruel treatment of a stranger; but, instead of doing any good, it only caused Larina to hate her sister all the more.
Some time afterwards the poor fisherman died. He had gone to the big city down the river to sell his fish, and had been attacked with a terrible sickness that was raging there.
The girls were now alone in the world. Mangita carved pretty shells and earned enough to buy food, but, though she begged Larina to try to help, her sister would only idle away the time.
The terrible sickness now swept every where and poor Mangita, too, fell ill. She asked Larina to nurse her, but the latter was jealous of her and would do nothing to ease her pain. Mangita grew worse and worse, but finally, when it seemed as if she would soon die, the door opened and the old woman to whom she had been so kind came into the room. She had a bag of seeds in her hand, and taking one she gave it to Mangita, who soon showed signs of being better, but was so weak that she could not give thanks.
The old woman then gave the bag to Larina and told her to give a seed to her sister every hour until she returned. She then went away and left the girls alone.
Larina watched her sister, but did not give her a single seed. Instead, she hid them in her own long hair and paid no attention to Mangita's moans of pain.
The poor girl's cries grew weaker and weaker, but not a seed would her cruel sister give her. In fact, Larina was so jealous that she wished her sister to die.
When at last the old woman returned, poor Mangita was at the point of death. The visitor bent over the sick girl and then asked her sister if she had given Mangita the seeds. Larina showed her the empty bag and said she had given them as directed. The old woman searched the house, but of course could not find the seeds.
She then asked Larina again if she had given them to Mangita. Again the cruel girl said that she had done so.
Suddenly the room was filled with a blinding light, and when Larina could see once more, in place of the old woman stood a beautiful fairy holding the now well Mangita in her arms.
She pointed to Larina and said, "I am the poor woman who asked for rice. I wished to know your hearts. You were cruel and Mangita was kind, so she shall live with me in my island home in the lake. As for you, because you tried to do evil to your good sister, you shall sit at the bottom of the lake forever, combing out the seeds you have hidden in your hair."
Then she clapped her hands and a number of elves appeared and carried the struggling Larina away.
"Come," said the fairy to Mangita, and she carried her to her beautiful home, where she lives in peace and happiness.
As for Larina, she sits at the bottom of the lake and combs her hair. As she combs a seed out, another comes in, and every seed that is combed out becomes a green plant that floats out of the lake and down the Pasig.
And to this day people can see them, and know that Larina is being punished for her wickedness.
The man went to a distant town for merchandise; so the two wives lived together in the house. But they hated each other; the younger one, who was her husband's favourite, ill-treated the other. She made her do all the menial work in the house; rebuked her all day and night; and did not give her enough to eat.
One day the younger wife said to the elder, "Come and take away all the lice from the hair of my head.''
While the elder wife was searching among the younger one's hair for the vermin, one lock of hair by chance gave way; on which the younger one, mightily incensed, tore off the single tuft that was on the head of the elder wife, and drove her away from the house.
The elder wife, now become completely bald, determined to go into the forest, and there either die of starvation or be devoured by some wild beast. On her way she passed by a cotton plant. She stopped near it, made for herself a broom with some sticks which lay about, and swept clean the ground round about the plant.
The plant was much pleased, and gave her a blessing.
She wended on her way, and now saw a plantain tree. She swept the ground round about the plantain tree, which, being pleased with her, gave her a blessing.
As she went on she saw the shed of a Brahmani bull. As the shed was very dirty, she swept the place clean, on which the bull, being much pleased, blessed her.
She next saw a tulasi plant, bowed herself down before it, and cleaned the place round about, on which the plant gave her a blessing.
As she was going on in her journey she saw a hut made of branches of trees and leaves, and near it a man sitting cross-legged, apparently absorbed in meditation. She stood for a moment behind the venerable muni.
"Whoever you may be," he said, "come before me; do not stand behind me; if you do, I will reduce you to ashes."
The woman, trembling with fear, stood before the muni.
"What is your petition?" asked the muni.
"Father Muni," answered the woman, "thou knowest how miserable I am, since thou art all-knowing. My husband does not love me, and his other wife, having torn off the only tuft of hair on my head, has driven me away from the house. Have pity upon me, Father Muni!"
The muni, continuing sitting, said, "Go into the tank which you see yonder. Plunge into the water only once, and then come to me again."
The woman went to the tank, washed in it, and plunged into the water only once, according to the bidding of the muni. When she got out of the water, what a change was seen in her! Her head was full of jet black hair, which was so long that it touched her heels; her complexion had become perfectly fair; and she looked young and beautiful Filled with joy and gratitude, she went to the muni, and bowed herself to the ground.
The muni said to her, "Rise, woman. Go inside the hut, and you will find a number of wicker baskets, and bring out any you like."
The woman went into the hut, and selected a modest-looking basket.
The muni said, "Open the basket."
She opened it, and found it filled with ingots of gold, pearls and all sorts of precious stones.
The muni said, "Woman, take that basket with you. It will never get empty. When you take away the present contents their room will be supplied by another set, and that by another, and that by another, and the basket will never become empty. Daughter, go in peace."
The woman bowed herself down to the ground in profound but silent gratitude, and went away.
As she was returning homewards with the basket in her hand, she passed by the tulasi plant whose bottom she had swept.
The tulasi plant said to her, "Go in peace, child! Thy husband will love thee warmly."
She next came to the shed of the Brahmani bull, who gave her two shell ornaments which were twined round its horns, saying, "Daughter, take these shells, put them on your wrists, and whenever you shake either of them you will get whatever ornaments you wish to obtain."
She then came to the plantain tree, which gave her one of its broad leaves, saying, "Take, child, this leaf; and when you move it you will get not only all sorts of delicious plantains, but all kinds of agreeable food."
She came last of all to the cotton plant, which gave her one of its own branches, saying, "Daughter, take this branch; and when you shake it you will got not only all sorts of cotton clothes, but also of silk and purple. Shake it now in my presence."
She shook the branch, and a fabric of the finest glossy silk fell on her lap. She put on that silk cloth, and wended on her way with the shells on her wrists, and the basket and the branch and the leaf in her hands.
The younger wife was standing at the door of her house, when she saw a beautiful woman approach her. She could scarcely believe her eyes. What a change! The old, bald hag turned into the very Queen of Beauty herself! The elder wife, now grown rich and beautiful, treated the younger wife with kindness.
She gave her fine clothes, costly ornaments, and the richest viands. But all to no purpose. The younger wife envied the beauty and hair of her associate.
Having heard that she got it all from Father Muni in the forest, she determined to go there. Accordingly she started on her journey. She saw the cotton plant, but did nothing to it; she passed by the plantain tree, the shed of the Brahmani bull, and the tulasi plant, without taking any notice of them.
She approached the muni. The muni told her to bathe in the tank, and plunge only once into the water. She gave one plunge, at which she got a glorious head of hair and a beautifully fair complexion. She thought a second plunge would make her still more beautiful. Accordingly she plunged into the water again, and came out as bald and ugly as before.
She came to the muni, and wept.
The sage drove her away, saying, "Be off, you disobedient woman. You will get no boon from me."
She went back to her house mad with grief. The lord of the two women returned from his travels, and was struck with the long locks and beauty of his first wife. He loved her dearly; and when he saw her secret and untold resources and her incredible wealth, he almost adored her. They lived together happily for many years, and had for their maid-servant the younger woman, who had been formerly his best beloved.
Here my story endeth.
So he called them to him, and said, "It is time to go out in the world and seek your fortune. I'll start the oldest first. Go and see what luck you have in the world!"
So the oldest girl took her bundle of clothes tied up in a big kerchief, and away she went. After a while, just as she was beginning to feel hungry, she saw standing right near her a cow.
The cow said:
Milk me, milk me, or my bag will bust!No sooner had the cow said this, and the girl was wishing for something to milk the cow into, than she espied right near the cow an oven. From it came a voice, which said:
Milk me, milk me, or my bag will bust!
Take me out or I'll burn up!The girl looked inside the oven to see what was talking, and there was a fine loaf of bread. She took it out, dug the center out of it, and filled the hollow with milk from the cow, then had a meal of bread and milk.
Take me out or I'll burn up!
She said, "The old man sent me out, and I must be doing well."
After she had eaten all the bread and milk she wanted, she went on her way. Pretty soon she came to an apple-tree full of apples.
Shake me, shake me, or my limbs will break!said the apple-tree.
Shake me, shake me, or my limbs will break!"
So the girl shook the tree until her lap was full of apples. When she had eaten all the apples she wanted, she put some in her kerchief and went on her way.
Towards dusk she came to a fine-looking mansion, and she thought she would inquire if they (the occupants) wanted anybody to work for them.
Seeing a man standing in front of the house, she called out, "Halloo!"
"Halloo!" answered the man, who liked the girl's looks.
"Do you want a girl to work for you?" asked the girl.
"I think we do need one," answered the man; "but my master isn't home tonight, so you had better stay all night. Which door would you like to enter? One is a gold door: if you go in through it, you will be covered from head to foot with gold. The other is a tar door: if you go in through it, you will be covered with tar."
"Oh, I don't mind!" replied the girl. "I had just as soon be covered with tar as with gold."
"You are so humble, you deserve to go through the golden door."
"I don't care," repeated the girl.
Thereupon the man led her through the golden door; and the gold clung to her nose, her fingers, her ears, to every part of her, until she was completely covered with gold.
When she was well inside the house, the man said, "We have two places where we put those who come here. Will you sleep under the ladder with the cats and dogs, or will you sleep in the high bed with all your gold and glitter?"
"I'd just as soon crawl under the ladder with the cats and dogs as to sleep in the high bed."
"Being as you are so humble, I'll put you in the high bed with all your gold and glitter."
When she reached the room where the high bed was, she saw that everything was of gold. The gold from everything she touched stuck to her, even the golden sheets; and in the morning, with the golden sheets clinging fast to her, she thought she was rich enough to go home. So home she went.
When the family saw her coming, her father said, "What! Is that lazy whelp coming back? I'll get the horse-whip and whip her to death!"
The girl, however, as soon as she came near enough to make herself heard, cried out, "O father! I'm rich, rich!"
And sure enough, the father had never seen so much gold in his life as he now saw on his daughter. As soon as he touched her, the gold fell off from her to the ground.
The father ordered the girl to tell where she had been. When he heard the story, he decided to send the second daughter to try her luck in the same way.
The second daughter had precisely the same experiences as her sister, and she too returned home "rich, rich!"
Then the father said, "Now for Lazy Maria! She's never been good for anything yet. Let's see what she can do!"
To her he said, "Even if you are our baby, you must go."
So Lazy Maria took her bundle on her shoulder and started. Soon she came to the cow, which said:
Milk me, milk me, or my bag will bust!"Go along, you old bitch! I don't care if it does," replied the girl.
Milk me, milk me, or my bag will bust!
Then the voice from within the oven cried out:
Take me out or I'll burn up!"Burn up, then! I won't touch you. I won't work when I'm all tired out," complained the girl, and went on her way. When she came to the apple-tree, it cried:
Take me out or I'll burn up!
Shake me, shake me, or my limbs will break!"Let your limbs break, then! I sha'n't shake you," said the girl, and went on.
Shake me, shake me, or my limbs will break!"
When she came to the mansion, the man on guard told her of the two doors, and asked her through which she wanted to enter.
"I want to go through the golden door," said the girl.
"All right!" and the man pushed her through the tar door. The tar stuck to her hair, filled her eyes, and covered her from head to foot.
"Oh, my father will kill me!" she cried.
"Where will you sleep, under the ladder with the cats, or in the high bed?" asked the man.
"In the high bed, tar and all," at once decided the girl.
"All right! Creep under the ladder."
And the man pushed her among the cats and dogs.
"You must be more humble," said he, "if you would get on in the world."
The next morning the poor girl, all covered with tar as she was, started for home.
When the family saw her coming, they rushed out to see the gold; but when they discovered that she was covered with tar instead of gold, they cried, "Let's whip her!"
"Oh, no!" said her father. "Let's scrub the tar off!" but, scrub as they would, they couldn't get it off, because, you see, it had been put on by a witch.
They scraped and scraped until they scraped the hair off her head, and the skin off her fingers and toes. At last they scraped off one of her warts, and there lay the witch. At that all the tar fell off, and Lazy Maria was free once more. But while her two sisters were rich and could go and come as they liked, Lazy Maria always had to stay at home, poor.
This tale and the two which follow were told to me by Mrs. William Buell. Other members of the same family spell the name Bull. Mrs. Buell is related to the Brink family, of which many members have been great story-tellers, fortune-tellers, witch doctors, and, as Mrs. B. says, unusual people. Mrs. B. learned these stories from hearing her mother tell them; and, as she has a most retentive memory, I doubt not that they are very nearly as she heard them. She thinks that her mother was German. The story is a variant of "Mother Holle," in the Grimm collection.
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Revised January 5, 2019.