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The Three Spinsters

There was once a lazy girl who would not spin, and let her mother say what she would, she could not get her to work. At last the mother, getting both angry and impatient, gave her a blow, which made the girl cry very loud; just then the Queen, passing by, heard the noise, and stopping the carriage, she stepped into the house, and asked the mother why she beat her daughter in such a way that the passers-by in the street heard her shrieks. The mother however, was ashamed that her daughter's laziness should be known, and said, "I cannot make her leave off spinning; she will spin for ever and ever, and I am so poor that I cannot procure the flax." The Queen replied, "I never heard anything I like better than spinning, and I am never more pleased than when the wheels are whirring. Let your daughter go with me to the castle; I have flax enough and she may spin as much as she pleases."

The mother was very glad at heart, and the Queen took the girl home with her. As soon as they entered the castle she led her up into three rooms, which were all full of the finest flax from top to bottom. "Now, spin this flax for me," said the Queen, "and, when you have prepared it all, you shall have my eldest son for a husband. Although you are poor, I do not despise you on that account; your unwearied industry is dowry enough." The girl, however, was inwardly frightened, for she could not have spun the flax had she sat there from morning till night until she was three hundred years old. When she was left alone, she began to cry, and thus she sat three days without stirring a hand. On the third day the Queen came, and when she saw that nothing was yet spun she wondered, and the maiden excused herself by saying that she had not been able to begin yet, on account of her great sorrow at leaving her mother's house. So the Queen was satisfied; but on leaving she said, "You must begin to work for me tomorrow."

As soon as the girl was again alone,she knew not how to act or help herself, and in her vexation she went and looked out of the window. She saw three women passing by, the first of who had a broad, flat foot, the second such a large under-lip that it reached nearly to her chin, and the third a very big thumb. They stopped before the window, and looking up asked the girl what she wanted. She told them her trouble, and they offered her their help, saying "Will you invite us to the wedding, and not be ashamed of us, but call us your aunts, and let us sit at your table? If you do all these, we will spin the flax in a very short time for you."

"With all my heart," replied the girl; "come in and begin at once." Then she let in these three women, and, making a clear place in the first room, they sat themselves down and began spinning. One drew the thread and trod the wheel, the other moistened the thread, and the third pressed it and beat with her fingers on the table; and as often as she did so a pile of thread fell on the ground, which was spun in the finest manner. The girl hid the three spinsters, however, from the Queen, and showed her, as often as she came, the heaps of spun yarn; so that she received no end of praise. When the first room was empty the three women went to the second, and at length to the third, so that soon all was cleared out. Now the three spinsters took leave, saying to the girl: "Do not forget what you promised us; it will make your fortune."

When the girl showed the Queen the empty rooms and the great pile of thread, the wedding was performed, and the bridegroom was glad that he had such a clever and industrious wife, and praised her exceedingly.

"I have three aunts," said the girl, "who have done me much service; so I would not willingly forget them in my good fortune. Allow me, therefore, to invite them to the wedding, and sit with me at the table." The Queen and the bridegroom asked, "Why should we not allow it?"

When the feast was begun the three old maids entered in great splendor, and the bride said, "You are welcome, dear aunts."

"Ah," said the bridegroom, "how do you come by such ugly friends?" and, going up to the one with the big foot, he asked, "Why have you such a broad foot?" — "From treading, from treading," she replied. Then he went to the second and asked, "Why have you such an overhanging lip?" — "From licking," she answered, "from licking." Then he asked the third, "Why have you such a broad thumb?" — "From pressing the thread," she replied, "from pressing the thread." At this the Prince was frightened, and said "Therefore my bride shall never touch a spinning wheel again."

And so she was set free from the unlucky flax spinning.

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