the-three-spinsters

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Household Stories from the collection of The Brothers Grimm, 1882, illustrated by Walter Crane (see the complete book here)

The Three Spinsters

The Three Spinsters, The Three Spinners or The Three Spinning Women



  There was once a girl who was lazy and would not spin, and her mother could not persuade her to it, do what she would. At last the mother became angry and out of patience, and gave her a good beating, so that she cried out loudly. At that moment the Queen was going by; as she heard the crying, she stopped; and, going into the house, she asked the mother why she was beating her daughter, so that every one outside in the street could hear her cries.

  The woman was ashamed to tell of her daughter’s laziness, so she said,

  “I cannot stop her from spinning; she is for ever at it, and I am poor and cannot furnish her with flax enough.”

  Then the Queen answered,

  “I like nothing better than the sound of the spinning-wheel, and always feel happy when I hear its humming; let me take your daughter with me to the castle—I have plenty of flax, she shall spin there to her heart’s content.”

  The mother was only too glad of the offer, and the Queen took the girl with her. When they reached the castle the Queen showed her three rooms which were filled with the finest flax as full as they could hold.

  “Now you can spin me this flax,” said she, “and when you can show it me all done you shall have my eldest son for bridegroom; you may be poor, but I make nothing of that—your industry is dowry enough.”

  The girl was inwardly terrified, for she could not have spun the flax, even if she were to live to be a hundred years old, and were to sit spinning every day of her life from morning to evening. And when she found herself alone she began to weep, and sat so for three days without putting her hand to it. On the third day the Queen came, and when she saw that nothing had been done of the spinning she was much surprised; but the girl excused herself by saying that she had not been able to begin because of the distress she was in at leaving her home and her mother. The excuse contented the Queen, who said, however, as she went away,

  “To-morrow you must begin to work.”

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