About | Books | Cards | Dragons | Fables | Faery Names | Recipes | Rings


Old Mother Frost

There was once a widow who had two daughters, one of whom was beautiful and industrious, and the other ugly and lazy. She showed more love, however, to the ugly one, because she was her own daughter; but she made the other do all the hard work, and live like a kitchen-maid. The poor maiden was forced out daily on the high-road, and had to sit by a well and spin so much that the blood ran from her fingers. Once it happened that her spindle became quite covered with blood, so, kneeling down by the well, she tried to wash it off, but, unhappily, it fell out of her hands into the water. She ran crying to her stepmother, and told her misfortune; but she scolded her terribly, and behaved very cruelly, and at last said — "Since you have let your spindle fall in, you must yourself fetch it out again!"

Then the maiden went back to the well, not knowing what to do, and, in her distress of mind, she jumped into the well to fetch the spindle out. Presently she lost all consciousness, and when she came to herself again she found herself in a beautiful meadow, where the sun was shining, and many thousands of flowers blooming around her. She got up and walked along till she came to a baker's, where the oven was full of bread, which cried out, "Draw me, draw me, or I shall be burnt. I have been baked long enough." So she went up, and, taking the bread-peel, drew out one loaf after the other. Then she walked on further, and came to an apple tree, whose fruit hung very thick, and which exclaimed, "Shake us, shake us; we apples are all ripe!" So she shook the tree till the apples fell down like rain, and when none were left on she gathered them all together in a heap, and went farther.

At last she came to a cottage, out of which an old woman was peeping, who had such very large teeth that the maiden was frightened and ran away. The old woman, however, called her back, saying, "What are you afraid of, my child? Stop with me: if you will put all things in order in my house, then shall all go well with you; only you must take care that you make my bed well, and shake it tremendously, so that the feathers fly; then it snows upon Earth. I am 'Old Mother Frost.'" As the old woman spoke so kindly the maiden took courage, and consented to engage in her service. Now, everything made her very contented, and she always shook the bed so industriously that the feathers blew down like flakes of snow; therefore her life was a happy one, and there were no evil words; and she had roast and baked meat every day.

For some time she remained with the old woman; but, all at once, she became very sad, and did not herself know what was the matter. At last she found she was homesick; and, although she fared a thousand times better when she was at home, still she longed to go. So she told her mistress, "I wish to go home, and if it does not go so well with me below as up here, I must return." The mistress replied, "It appeared to me that you wanted to go home, and, since you eve served me so truly, I will fetch you up again myself." So saying, she took her by the hand, and led her before a great door, which she undid; and when the maiden was just beneath it, a great shower of gold fell, and a great deal stuck to her, so that she was covered over and over with gold. "That you must have for your industry," said the old woman, giving her the spindle which had fallen into the well. Thereupon the door was closed, and the maiden found herself upon the earth, not far from her mother's house; and, as she came into the court, the cock sat upon the house, and called—

Our golden maid's come home again."

Then she went in to her mother, and, because she was so covered with gold, she was well received.

The maiden related all that had happened; and, when the mother heard how she had come by these great riches, she wished her ugly, lazy daughter to try her luck. So she was forced to sit down by the well and spin; and, in order that her spindle might become bloody, she pricked her finger by running a thorn into it; and then throwing the spindle into the well, she jumped in after it. Then, like the other, she came upon the beautiful meadow, and traveled on the same path. When she arrived at the baker's the bread called out, "Draw me out, draw me out, or I shall be burnt. I have been baked long enough." But she answered, "I have no wish to make myself dirty about you," and so went on. Soon she came tot he apple-tree, which called out, "Shake me, shake me; my apples are all quite ripe." But she answered, "You do well to come to me; perhaps one will fall on my head;" and so she went on further. When she came to "Old Mother Frost's" house she was not afraid of the teeth, for she had been warned; and so she engaged herself to her.

The first day she set to work in earnest, and was very industrious, and obeyed her mistress in all she said to her, for she thought about the gold which she would present to her. On the second day, however, she began to idle; on the third, still more so; and then she would not get up of a morning. She did not make the beds, either, as she ought, and the feathers did not fly. So the old woman got tired, and dismissed her from her service, which pleased the lazy one very well; but she thought, "Now the gold-shower will come." Her mistress led her to the door; but, when she was beneath it, instead of gold, a tubful of pitch was poured down upon her. "That is the reward of your service," said "Old Mother Frost," and shut the door to. Then came lazybones home, but she was quite covered with pitch; and the cock upon the house when he saw her, cried—

Our dirty maid's come home again."

But the pitch stuck to her, and as long as she lived, would never come off again.


About | Books | Cards | Dragons | Fables | Faery Names | Recipes | Rings