Norwegian fairy tale from Asbjørnsen and Moe's collection. The original, "De tre mostrene", was found at Project Runeberg, and was translated to English by me for E2. Enjoy!


There was once a poor man living in a house far into the woods, and he made his living from hunting. He had a single daughter, and she was both pretty and beautiful. Since her mother died early, and the girl now was nearly grown, she said she wanted to go see other people, so she could learn to earn her bread for herself. "Yes, my daughter," said the father, "you haven't learned anything from me but plucking and and cooking fowl, but you can still try to go out and earn your own bread."

So the girl went out to ask for work, and when she had walked for a while, she came to the king's estate. She stayed there, and the queen liked her so well that the other servants got jealous of her. They told the queen that the girl bragged about being able to spin a pound of linen in twenty-four hours; the queen did a lot of all kinds of handiwork. "Yes, have you said so, you will have to do it," said the queen; "but I'll give you a bit more time." The poor girl didn't dare to say that she had never spun in her life, but only asked for a private chamber; she got that, and rock and linen was carried up there. She sat there, crying, and didn't know what to do; she turned the rock back and forth, and didn't even know what to do with it - she hadn't even seen a rock before.

But as she sat there, an old woman came in and saw her.

"What is wrong, my child?" she said.

"Oh," said the girl, "it won't help telling you; you can't help me anyway!"

"Nobody know," said the woman. "Could be that I knew some advice after all."

Yes, I might as well tell her, thought the girl, and then she told her about how the other servants had spread that she was able to spin a pound of linen in twenty four hours; "and I, poor girl," she said, "I've never in all my days seen a rock before, and still I'm to spin so much in just a day!"

"Yes, it doesn't matter, child," said the woman; "will you call me aunt on your day of honor, I will spin for you; then you can lie down and go to sleep."

Yes, the girl wanted that, and she went to bed.

In the morning when she awoke, all the linen lay on the table, all spun, and that so beautifully done that no-one had ever seen such even and pretty yarn. The queen was so happy for the beautiful yarn she got, and held the girl even dearer. But the others got even more jealous, and they told the queen that the girl had bragged about being able to weave the yarn she had spun, in only twenty four hours. The queen said again, that had she said so, she would have to do it; but if she couldn't do it in twenty four hours, she would get a bit more time. The girl still didn't dare refusing, but asked for a private chamber, where she could try.

She sat there again, crying, not knowing what to do, when another old woman entered and asked: "What is the problem, my child?"

The girl wouldn't answer at first, but eventually told her what the problem was.

"Yes, it doesn't matter, child," said the woman; "will you call me aunt on your day of honor, I will weave for you; then you can lie down and go to sleep."

The girl didn't have to be asked twice, she went straight to bed.

When she awoke, the bundle was on the table, woven so neatly and tightly as possible. She took the bundle and went down to the queen, and she was very happy with the beautiful cloth, and held the girl even dearer. But the others got still more jealous, and thought of nothing but how to get revenge.

Eventually, they told the queen that the girl now had bragged about being able to sew the whole bundle into shirts in just twenty four hours. Yes, the same thing happened again: The girl didn't dare admitting that she didn't know how to sew; she came up to a private chamber again and sat down and cried. But again, and old woman turned up and promised to sew for her, if she would only call her aunt on her day of honor; the girl promised to do so, and she did as the woman said and went to sleep. In the morning when she awoke, she found a stack of shirts on the table. They were more beautiful than she had ever seen and were completely done.

When the queen saw that work, she was so happy about it that she clapped her hands; "I have never seen or had a more beautiful seam," she said, and since that day she held the girl as dear as if she was her own child.

"If you want the prince, you can have him," she told the girl, "because you will never need to send for help; you can sew and spin and weave anything yourself." Since the girl was beautiful and the prince liked her, they had wedding immediately. But as soon as the prince had sat down with the girl at their wedding table, an old ugly woman came in, with a long nose - it must have been five feet long."

So the bride stood up, curtsied and said: "Hello, aunt!"

"Is that the aunt of my bride?" said the prince.

Yes, she was.

"Yes, she better sit down at the table then," said the prince; but he and the others all thought it was horrible to have her there.

Suddenly, another ugly woman came in; she had such a big and broad bottom that she hardly managed to squeeze through the door. The bride stood up immediately and greeted her: "Hello, aunt!" and the prince asked again, if this was his bride's aunt. They both confirmed, and the prince said that if that was so, she better sit down as well.

But not before she had sat down, another old and ugly woman came in, with eyes as big as dinner plates, and as red and moist that it was a horrible sight. The bride stood up again and greeted: "Hello, aunt!" and the prince asked her to sit at the table, too; but he wasn't happy, and he thought to himself: "God help me, what kind of aunts my bride has!"

When some time had passed, he couldn't help himself, but asked: "How in the world can by bride, so beautiful, have such ugly, misshapen aunts?"

"I'll tell you," said the one. "I was just as beautiful as your bride, when I was her age; but my long nose comes from having nodded my head while spinning, so my nose grew and got as long as you now see."

"And I," said the other, "since I was young, I have sat and pushed the weave back and forth, and because of it, by bottom has become all big and swollen, as you can see."

And the third said: "Since I was very young, I have sat and stared and sewed night and day; and because of it, my eyes have grown so large and red, and there's no more hope for them."

"I see," said the prince, "it was well that I was told; for if people can get so ugly from it, by bride will never spin nor weave nor sew until the end of her days!"


Give me more fairy tales!

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