The Widow’s Two Daughters.

Another Grimm tale, this one translated by MRS. H. B. PAULL and published by Fredrick Warne & Co London circa 1885.  To my knowledge this is no longer under copyright.  Source.

The Widow’s Two Daughters.

A widow, who lived in a cottage at some little distance from the village, had two daughters, one of whom was beautiful and in­dustrious, the other idle and ugly. But this ugly one the mother loved best, because she was her own child; and she cared so little for the other, that she made her do all the work, and be quite a Cinderella in the house.

Poor maiden, she was obliged to go every day and seat herself by the side of a well which stood in the broad high road, and here she had to sit and spin till her fingers bled. One day when the spindle was so covered with blood that she could not use it, she rose and dipped it in the water of the well to wash it While she was doing so, it slipped from her hand and fell to the bottom. In terror and tears, she ran and told her step­mother what had happened.

The woman scolded her in a most violent manner, and was so merciless that she said, “As you have let the spindle fall into the water, you may go in and fetch it out, for I will not buy another.”

Then the maiden went back to the well, and hardly knowing what she was about in her distress of mind, threw herself into the water to fetch the spindle.

At first she lost all consciousness, but presently, as her senses returned, she found herself in a beautiful meadow, on which the sun was brightly shining and thousands of flowers grew.

She walked a long way across this meadow, till she came to a baker’s oven, which was full of new bread, and the loaves cried, “Ah, pull us out! pull us out, or we shall burn, we have been so long baking !”

Then she stepped near to the oven, and with the bread shovel took the loaves all out.

She walked on after this, and presently came to a tree full of apples, and the tree cried, “Shake me, shake me, my apples are all quite ripe.”

Then she shook the tree till the fruit fell around her like rain, and at last there was not one more left upon it. After this she gathered the apples into one large heap, and went on farther.

At last she came to a small house, and looking earnestly at it, she saw an old woman peeping out, who had such large teeth that the girl was quite frightened, and turned to run away.

But the old woman cried after her, “What dost thou fear, dear child? Come and live here with me, and do all the work in the house, and I will make you so happy. You must, however, take care to make my bed well, and to shake it with energy, for then the feathers fly about, and in the world they will say it snows, for I am Mother Holle.”

As the old woman talked in this kind manner, she won the maiden’s heart, so that she readily agreed to enter her service.

She was very anxious to keep friendly with her, and took care to shake up the bed well, so that the feathers might fly down like snow flakes. Thereiore she had a very happy life with Mother Holle. She had plenty to eat and drink, and never heard an angry word.

But after she had stayed a long time with the kind old woman, she began to feel sad, and could not explain to herself why, till at last she discovered that she was home sick. And it seemed to her a thousand times better to go home than to stay with Mother Holle, although she made her so happy.

And the longing to go home grew so strong that at last she was obliged to speak.

“Dear Mother Holle,” she said, “you have been very kind to me, but I have such sorrow in my heart that I cannot stay here any longer; I must return to my own people.”

“Then,” said Mother Holle, “I am pleased to hear that you are longing to go home, and as you have served me so well and truly, I will show you the way myself.”

So she took her by the hand, and led her to a broad gateway. The gate was open, and as the young girl passed through, there fell upon her a shower of gold, which clung to her dress, and re­mained hanging to it, so that she was bedecked with gold from head to foot.

“That is your reward for having been so industrious” and as the old woman spoke she placed in her hand the spindle which had fallen into the well.

Then the great gate was closed, and the maiden found herself once more in the world, and not far from her step-mother’s house. As she entered the farm-yard, a cock perched on the wall crowed loudly, and cried,

“Kikeriki! our golden lady is come home, ‘ see.”

Then she went in to her mother; and because she was so be­decked with gold, both the mother and sister welcomed her kindly. The maiden related all that had happened to her;  and when the mother heard how much wealth had been gained by her step-daughter, she was anxious that her own ugly and; die daughter should try her fortune in the same way.

So she made her go and sit on the well and spin; and the girl who wanted all the riches without working for them did not spin fast enough to make her fingers bleed.

So she pricked her finger, and pushed her hand in the thorn bushes, till at last a few spots of blood dropped on the spindle.

Directly she saw these spots, she let it drop into the water, and sprung in after it herself. Just as her sister had done, she found herself in a beautiful meadow, and walked for some distance along the same path, till she came to the baker’s oven.

She heard the loaves cry, “Pull us out, pull us out, or we shall burn, we have been here so long baking.”

But the idle girl answered, “No, indeed, I have no wish to soil my hands with your dirty oven” and so she walked on till she came to the apple-tree.

“Shake me, shake me,” it cried, ” for my apples are all quite ripe.”

“I don’t agree to that at all,” she replied, “for some of the apples might fall on my head,” and as she spoke she walked lazily on farther.

When she at last stood before the door of Mother Holle’s house, she had no fear of her great teeth, for she had heard all about them from her sister, so she walked right up to her and offered to be her servant. Mother Holle accepted the offer of her services, and for a whole day the young girl was very industrious and did everything that was told her, for she thought of the gold that was to be poured upon her.

But on the second day she gave way to her laziness, and on the third it was worse. Several days passed and she would not get up in the mornings at a proper hour. The bed was never made or shaken so that feathers could fly about, till at last Mother Holle was quite tired of her and said she must go away, that her services were not wanted any more.

The lazy girl was quite overjoyed at going, and thought the golden rain was sure to come when Mother Holle led her to the gate. But as she passed under it a large kettle full of pitch was upset over her.

“That is the reward of your service,” said the old woman as she shut the gate. So the idle girl walked home with the pitch sticking all over her, and as she entered the court the cock on the wall cried out—

“Kikeriki! our smutty young lady is come home, I see.”

The pitch stuck closely, and hung all about her hair and her clothes, and do what she would as long as she lived it never would come off.

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41 Responses to The Widow’s Two Daughters.

  1. There is another message here as well. After recieving her reward the first daughter should have thanked her stepmother for helping her achieve her wealth. Without the stepmother she couldn’t have been succesful.

    I wonder why Grimm tales have fallen into such disfavor? I wonder….

    Thanks for sharing.

  2. njartist49 says:

    Long ago I came upon another tale of two daughters:
    Their father was a manure farmer who would gather manure and mix it with straw. Much to the consternation of the daughters, the manure and straw pile was near the house, emitting a strong odor. When his daughters had grown but not yet married, he died, leaving the two without dowries.
    For several months the daughters were distressed as to how they should manage and who would marry them. Finally, the eldest put on her father’s work clothes and determined to work on the manure pile and sell the composted manure at the market; now the younger daughter scorned to join her sister and mocked her from the window.

    Yet the eldest persevered; and after a few years, while she was still young, acquired enough money to put together a dowry for herself. Soon she was courted and married. Her much disconcerted sister resisted following her example and descending into poverty was forced to take up the manure business in order to survive.

  3. greenlander says:

    If only the real world worked like this… it would be a better place.

  4. hdob says:

    I appreciate you Grimm series. I have been reading through a collection of them myself, and note that industriousness is a common theme, however, I think evil step-parents is an even more common theme. Good children seem to end up orphaned and subsequently attached to wicked step-parents. Just as frequently, children are punished for a parent’s poor judgment. Parents never seem to suffer, though sometimes, as in this case, the step-sib does get punished.

  5. AmStrat says:

    Holle… doesn’t that mean “hell” in German?

  6. Phantasmagoria says:

    I thought she was the embodiment of winter, what with the whole shaking of the feathers to make it snow thing.

    But that said, I’m not sure I’m getting the meaning. Unless it’s “work hard and you’ll be rewarded, be lazy and get covered in a highly flammable liquid and me at the mercy of any open flame for the rest of your life”.

  7. I art laughing, the stepmother was obviously abusive. In our time, she would have thankfully been jailed.

    It’s worth noting that a later Romanian version of this tale (Fata moșului și fata babei) exists, in which an old man inspires his daughter to work hard and cultivate personal qualities, while the daughter’s stepmother teachers her own daughter that she is the golden child who can do no wrong(TM). The stepmother, after encouraging her daughter to go to all the parties in the village and harshly forbidding the old man’s daughter to do the same, eventually nagged her husband into sending his own daughter away. This girl went through the land doing similar chores to the ones in The Widow’s Two Daughters and finally ends up tending the house of a saint who tends dragons. The old saint allows her to take whatever coffer would please her from her attic, and she picks the most worn and decrepit one to be seen; on returning home, she opens the coffer to find herds of oxen and sheep leaping from it. The stepmother sends her own daughter to retrieve the same, and she refuses to do any chores on the way; although she ruins the household with her ineptitude, she is allowed to take any coffer from the attic, and chooses the most splendid and ornate one available. On returning with it, she finds only angry dragons inside, who swallow her and the stepmother whole (everyone else lives happily ever after).

    It’s refreshing that, in the Romanian version, the narrator calls the old man out as an idiot for taking his nagging wife’s side against his good daughter.

  8. I Art Laughing says:

    Shrineofvirtue, I was making a veiled reference to a politician who seems to think that anyone who succeeds must have a wonderful stepmother/big brother backing them up.

  9. pugsfugly says:

    I’m going to have to go through my storage unit and dig out the box of books my Grand-dad left me. I know there’s a very old, leather-bound collection of Grimm’s fables in one of them. I forgot how much I enjoyed these stories.

  10. zykos says:

    The problem with these old tales is the association of physical beauty with moral beauty. Today, the relationship is reversed: pretty girls will gradually get used to getting all the social attention and being put on a pedestal, which will breed in them laziness, cruelty and egoism, whereas the uglier ones, much like boys, will need to win people’s favor through their better character, higher intelligence and care for others.

  11. Chachi says:

    Wouldn’t it be more likely that the beautiful one would be idle and the ugly one industrious?

    Anyway, made your way to this blog god only knows how but am intrigued by your blogs about women and infidelity. Many marriages come to a fork in the road and cheating is probably something that many more people contemplate than carry out. The worst thing about cheating is not the sex with someone else or even the emotions for someone else, but the deception and betrayal. I feel guilty just writing about this. If my spouse seriously considers someone else I want to know about it, likewise if I did I would tell my spouse. It is far more honorable to discuss it and even suggest an open marriage than to sneak around behind the back of someone you are supposed to love.

  12. P Ray says:

    @Dalrock:
    How did the mother become a widow in the first place?

  13. Wald says:

    @Amstrat, Hölle (die) is the German word for hell.

  14. Chachi says:

    Been reading your blog for past few hours. The concern for the future of marriage as well as my own experience with regular folk in the day to day brings me to this conclusion; outside of a minority of Americans, say a few ultra religious groups and immigrants from more traditional cultures, the future of marriage is going to be extremely different from what your commenters seem to desire. The present shows the future and marriage of the present is increasingly non-existent. Americans seem to be going the baby mama and baby daddy route more than legal or religious marriage. The infidelity thing, more and more people are open to open so infidelity is becoming obsolete. How can you cheat when you have your partner’s permission to see other people? Its a non-issue.

    Honestly, I don’t know. Sometimes I think its all for the best. Maybe there is a better, more honest and functional way than lifelong vows of fidelity to just one person and the guilt that tsunamis you when you are unable to live up to that.

  15. ybm says:

    You’re right there is a better way than the cultural wasteland women have decided to embrace: Patriarchial domination. Whether it is a christian one, an Islamic one, or a secular one. The fact is that white upper middle class women are becoming extinct, they simply aren’t reproducing. And so there beliefs like sex-pos feminism will die with their barren wombs.

    I for one cheer it on.

  16. Chachi says:

    The extinction of the human race, or any demographic of it, is nothing to fear. Greater civilizations than ours have come and gone. Time is cyclical. Nothing lasts forever.

  17. ybm says:

    Good, then do your part if you are an upper-middle class white woman, and have yourself spayed.

  18. Chachi says:

    Question: formal marriage and fidelity expectations have been linked to the rise of agriculture and land ownership. We are currently a post-agricultural society and most of us don’t own land, so then why do we still care?

  19. ybm says:

    An irrelevant connection.

    Upper middle class white men are starting to realize that their women have simply decided, unilaterally, to end their lines. I’m going my part to help, with every one-night-stand I engage in, I have subtracted one day of fertility from a white upper-middle class woman. One need only look at information all around the internet that shows that white upper-middle class women are the LEAST likely to mate outside of their race and social class. They are an endangered species, and white upper-middle class men should be encouraged to collect as many trophies as they can before the extinction event occurs soon.

    And I couldn’t be happier.

  20. Miserman says:

    I see that beauty / ugly facet as a message saying that industrious women are attractive and lazy women are unattractive. In fact, women who spend more time working than eating tend to look better than women who spend more time eating than working. ;-)

  21. Chachi
    Time is not syclical

  22. Stingray says:

    The first Grimm book was a children’s book. Children are going to naturally identify with the beautiful characters and take the lesson more to heart as little girls will strive for the beauty through the work.

  23. Feminist Hater says:

    Chachi is advising one to follow evil by abandoning morality simply because greater society has decided to become decadent. Other people are doing it, so you do it too or else… Very common amongst women. A common refrain is that because other people are having affairs, they’re entitled to have them and no consequences should be placed on them.

    Follow Satan if you want to but I’m extremely happy to note that religious communities, real religious communities, are having far more children. Perhaps hope is not yet dead and will live on when the dust settles and those who revel in moral decay now will be no more.

  24. bskillet81 says:

    @AmStrat

    Holle: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holle_(goddess)

    Germanic goddess of birth, death, and reincarnation. Fitting.

  25. Dalrock says:

    @Feminist Hater

    Chachi is advising one to follow evil by abandoning morality simply because greater society has decided to become decadent.

    I think it has much more to do with assuaging her own personal guilt. She isn’t saying to abandon morality because everyone is doing it, she is saying to abandon morality because she already did it and the guilt is crushing her. If only everyone else abandons morality then she won’t feel guilty for insisting on making a promise which she didn’t want to keep, and if she has children, for focusing on her own immediate satisfaction over their profound need to grow up with a father leading the house.

    @Chachi

    Question: formal marriage and fidelity expectations have been linked to the rise of agriculture and land ownership. We are currently a post-agricultural society and most of us don’t own land, so then why do we still care?

    Interestingly women are only so modern, enlightened and independent when it comes to adultery, abandoning their marriages, and refusing to submit to their husbands. When it comes to child support, alimony, and other forms of divorce theft they tend to get downright nostalgic. They are in the end, suckers for the classics.

  26. AmStrat says:

    Ah, okay. I do not speak a word of German (well… I know what ja or nein means…) so I wouldn’t notice a difference between holle and hölle.

    Thanks all!

  27. Dalrock says:

    I found another wiki page, this one specifically referencing Mother Holle relating to the Grimm tale. I found it quite interesting. The figure is extremely old:

    Marija Gimbutas[2] names Hulda (or Holda, Holla, Holle) as having originally been an ancient Germanic supreme goddess who predates most of the German pantheon, including deities such as Odin, Thor, Freya and Loki, continuing traditions of pre-Indo-European Neolithic Europe.

    The tale in the OP was told to the Grimm brothers by the woman one of them would ultimately marry:

    The legend itself, as it was eventually passed to the Grimm Brothers, originates from oral traditions in Central Germany in what is now known as Hesse. It was told to them by Henriette Dorothea Wild (whom Wilhelm Grimm married in 1825) with more details added in the second edition (1819). It is still common expression in Hesse to say “Hulda is making her bed” when it is snowing, that is, she shakes her bed and out comes snow from heaven!

  28. greyghost says:

    Maybe I have it backwards from every body else but when I read the story I got the message that industrious and honest hard working people are seen as beautiful.

  29. Brendan says:

    I don’t see any evidence that “more and more people” outside a tiny minority of poly people are “open to open”. Most people are not “open to open” even in the context of a more serious dating relationship or a cohabitation arrangement, never mind marriage. Open relationships are quite rare, even today.

    What is happening is that fewer people are actually entering a committed relationship of any type, rather than more and more people becoming de facto poly.

  30. Chachi says:

    “I think it has much more to do with assuaging her own personal guilt. She isn’t saying to abandon morality because everyone is doing it, she is saying to abandon morality because she already did it and the guilt is crushing her.”

    What the hell are you talking about? How did I “abandon morality”? I’m asking questions here after reading your blog’s comments for 2+ hours and trying to make sense out of it, especially Doug’s comments, as well as what I’m seeing in the day to day around me. You may be part of a small demographic that gets married once, stays married and has kids after marriage but the majority of lower-middle class Americans do not live like that. I’m here to discuss it and try to make sense out of it. Have they outgrown it? Did it never really work for them to beginwith? What are the alternatives? Etc.

    YBM, aren’t the upper middle classes the ones who don’t have high OOW birthrates and lower divorce rates than the lower-middle classes?

  31. Chachi says:

    “I’m asking questions here after reading your blog’s comments for 2+ hours and trying to make sense out of it, especially Doug’s comments”

    “I think it has much more to do with assuaging her own personal guilt. She isn’t saying to abandon morality because everyone is doing it, she is saying to abandon morality because she already did it and the guilt is crushing her. If only everyone else abandons morality then she won’t feel guilty”

    I notice nobody questioned Doug’s morality when he advocated open relationships.

  32. GT66 says:

    zykos says: “The problem with these old tales is the association of physical beauty with moral beauty. ”

    The idea is that to be seen as beautiful, one should be industrious and that being lazy makes one seem ugly. Isn’t this certainly true even today?

  33. Anonymous says:

    Feminists would say the second daughter’s part of the story was “sexist” and awful.

  34. Cane Caldo says:

    Sorry I’m late.

    @Zykos & GT66

    “The problem with these old tales is the association of physical beauty with moral beauty. Today, the relationship is reversed: pretty girls will gradually get used to getting all the social attention and being put on a pedestal, which will breed in them laziness, cruelty and egoism, whereas the uglier ones, much like boys, will need to win people’s favor through their better character, higher intelligence and care for others.”

    &

    “Feminists would say the second daughter’s part of the story was “sexist” and awful.”

    Is it really the experience that pretty women at work are lazy? Most of the ones I know work hard–they’re just usually inept. The prettiest ones I’ve known are constantly at a task. It’s the ugly and plain feminists who are usually lazy.

  35. @ Chachi “formal marriage and fidelity expectations have been linked to the rise of agriculture and land ownership.”

    Could you please be more specific ? Time/place/culture etc…

    Another question if you permit -“If only everyone else abandons morality then she won’t feel guilty”
    Interesting suggestion – if that would to happen. What other consequences do you think would occur by “abandoning morality” ? Has a human society ever done this in the course of history or even within the last century ?
    One might to review the holocaust and other atrocities that occur when a society decides to “abandon morality”. To suggest by “abandoning morality so a person doesnt “feel bad” is the defacto face of human cruelty and evil.

    Another one for the road:)
    “How can you cheat when you have your partner’s permission to see other people? Its a non-issue.”
    Could you please name a in history a society that has successfully done ? If so, what what was the societies downfall ?
    Double standard – sorry my dear by women dont do well around other women- they are FAR to jealous.
    No man is willing to make a willing financial and emotional commitment to strumpet.
    A lesser male may make a temporary sexual arrangement but is nothing more than to satisfy a glandular urge. Of which females are STUPID enough to think they can use sex to make a man love and commit to them.
    If you think I am being harsh then please offer a believable explanation for the increase in the out of wedlock birth rate when birth control is widely available with a low failure rate ?
    Your premise and conclusions are ex-facie in terms of history, science, and basic understanding of human nature.

  36. Btw, I am with YBM on “Good, then do your part if you are an upper-middle class white woman, and have yourself spayed.”

  37. tweell says:

    I don’t think you will get an answer, Michael Singer. From Dalrock on another thread:

    Chachi, Babhiji?

    Indian salutations for a woman?

    I thought she reminded me of a troll I banned early on but didn’t make the connection until you brought this up. Her local ISP just happens to match. Close enough for me.

  38. Höllenhund says:

    What is happening is that fewer people are actually entering a committed relationship of any type, rather than more and more people becoming de facto poly.

    Another probable reason is that women are increasingly desperate as the ratio of alphas among men is falling, so they’re more willing to enter soft harems.

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