A queen, out riding, saw a woman beating her daughter.
The mother, ashamed to admit that her grown daughter was useless and lazy, improvised that the girl was so industrious that the wool of their small herd could not fulfill her mad desire to spin, and beating her was the only way to stop her from working
Clapping her hands the queen said, “This is just the sort of girl I would love to have in my service. And if she is truly as hard-working as you say, she may even do as a wife for my younger son. Diligent hands are dowry enough.”
Taking the girl with her at once, the queen brought her to a large room with prepared wool and a spinning wheel.
“If you live up to my expectations,” the queen told her, “I will be happy to have such a daughter-in-law. If you fail,” she shrugged, “you will receive the standard punishment for lying to royalty.”
Attempting to spin, the young woman found the small amount of yarn she managed to twist was bunched and uneven. She fell into tears, until she heard someone calling from outside.
Looking out she saw three ugly old women.
She explained her sorrow to them and admitted, “Now it seems I truly cannot spin to save my life.”
Smiling among themselves, the women urged her to bring them up, which she promptly did.
The first woman had an unnaturally large foot and sat, beginning to pump the treadle. The second woman, whose bottom lip was over large, wetted the wool, and the third woman, with a thumb more than twice natural size, twisted the thread.
The wool of the queen’s test was shortly transformed, and with grateful tears the young woman asked how she could repay the kindness.
They told her they would return on her wedding day and not to be ashamed of their appearance, but to introduce and honor them as aunts.
The girl promised to remember, and at her wedding feast she invited them to the high table.
Unable to stop staring at his new relatives, the prince asked each in turn how she had become so ugly. Upon hearing all three times it was the result of their labors, and evidence of their skill,
the prince declared, “Never again shall my beautiful bride sit and spin!”
And the new princess loved the three all the more.
I’ve read this story in a collection of fairy tales…I think it was one of Andrew Lang’s books. I like this story.
RYC: Publication year of Jane Eyre was 1847, and pub. year for Pride and Prejudice was 1813. I believe that Jane Eyre is considered Victorian, and P&P is Georgian (?). By the time of Jane Eyre, I think the notion of afternoon had moved back into its more sensical time frame.
I loved this story. I loved how the older women were not sent out as witches but the girl, in gratitude, embraced them.
What a lovely story!