Wednesday, 29 July 2020

Strong Fairy Tale Heroines #23: CAP O’ RUSHES




This English fairy tale will remind you in equal parts of Cinderella and King Lear. A rich father orders his daughters to tell him how much they love him. (Never a wise thing to do.) When his youngest daughter gives him an answer he finds unacceptable, he banishes her from his house. Now destitute and homeless, she walks away into a fen, weaves herself a cloak and cap of rushes to hide her grand clothing and finds unpaid work as a scullery maid in another great house. Since she refuses to tell them her own name, they call her Cap o’ Rushes.

After this, the story conforms for a while pretty much to the Cinderella type, although apart from being unpaid she’s not badly treated: the other kitchen maids behave to her in quite a friendly manner. Evening after evening they try unsuccessfully to get her to come along with them to watch the grand people dancing. Cap o’ Rushes has her own fish to fry, though, and her eventual marriage is less an end in itself than an opportunity to teach her arrogant father a lesson. In this she succeeds, and the story ends touchingly in forgiveness and reconciliation. 

The tale seems to have first appeared in the Suffolk Notes and Queries of The Ipswich Journal. It was contributed by one A.W.T. along with the note: ‘Told by an old Servant to the Writer when a Child’. I have not found a date for this, but it was republished in Longman’s Magazine, Feb. 1889 and in Folk-Lore, Vol I, no III, September 1890.




Well, there was once a very rich gentleman and he’d three daughters, and he thought to see how fond they was of him. So he says to the first, ‘How much d’you love me, my dear?’

            ‘Why,’ she says, ‘as I love my life.’

            ‘That’s good,’ says he. So he says to the second, ‘How much do you love me, my dear?’

            ‘Why,’ she says, ‘better nor all the world.’

            ‘That’s good’ says he, so he says to the third, ‘How much do you love me, my dear?’

            ‘Why, I love you as fresh meat loves salt,’ says she. 

            Well, he were that angry. ‘You don’t love me at all,’ says he, ‘and in my house you stay no longer.’ So he drove her out there and then and shut the door on her. 


            Well she went away, and on and on till she came to a fen, and there she gathered a lot of rushes and made them into a cloak, with a kind o’ hood, to cover her from head to foot and to hide her fine clothes. And then she went on and on till she came to a great house.

            ‘Do you want a maid?’ says she.

            ‘No we don’t,’ says they.

            ‘I hain’t nowhere to go,’ says she, ‘and I’d ask no wages and do any kind of work,’ says she.

            ‘Well,’ says they, ‘if you like to wash the pots and scrape the saucepans, you may stay.’

            So she stayed there and washed the pots and scraped the saucepans and did all the dirty work, and because she gave no name they called her ‘Cap o’ Rushes’.

Now one day there was to be a great dance a little way off, and the servants was let to go and look at the grand people. Cap o Rushes said she was too tired to go, so she stayed home. But when they was gone she offed with her cap o’ rushes and cleaned herself, and went to the dance. No one there was so finely dressed as she.

            Well who should be there but her master’s son, and what should he do but fall in love with her the minute he set eyes on her? He wouldn’t dance with anyone else. But before the dance was done, Cap o’ Rushes she slipped off and away she went home. And when the other maids was back she was framin’ to be asleep with her cap o’ rushes on. 

            Next morning they says to her, ‘You did miss a sight, Cap o’ Rushes!’

            ‘What sight was that?’ says she.

            ‘Why, the beautifullest lady you ever see dressed right gay and gallant. The young master, he never took his eyes off her.’

            ‘I should ha’ liked to have seen that!’ says Cap o’ Rushes. 

            ‘Well there’s to be another dance this evening, and perhaps she’ll be there.’

            But come the evening, Cap o’ Rushes said she was too tired to go with them. Howsumdever, when they was gone she offed with her cap o’ rushes and cleaned herself, and away she went to the dance.

            The master’s son had been reckoning on seeing her, and he danced with no one else and never took his eyes off her. But before the dance was over she slipped off and home she went, and when the maids came back she framed to be asleep with her cap o’ rushes on.

            Next day they says to her again, ‘Well, Cap o’ Rushes, you should ha’ been there to see the lady. There she was again, gay and gallant, and the young master he never took his eyes off her.’
            ‘Well, there,’ says she, ‘I should ha’ liked to ha’ seen her!’

            ‘Well,’ says they, ‘there’s a dance again this evening, and you must go with us, for she’s sure to be there.’

            But come this evening, Cap o’ Rushes said she was too tired to go, and do what they would she stayed at home. But when they was gone she offed with her cap o’ rushes and cleaned herself, and away she went to the dance.

            The master’s son was rarely glad when he saw her. He danced with none but her and never took his eyes off her. When she wouldn’t tell him her name or where she came from, he gave her a ring and told her that if he didn’t see her again, he should die. But afore the dance was over she slipped off and home she went, and when the maids came home she was framing to be asleep with her cap o’ rushes on.

            So the next day they says to her, ‘There, Cap o’ Rushes, you didn’t come last night, and now you won’t see the lady, for there’s no more dances.’

            ‘Well, I should ha’ rarely liked to ha’ seen her,’ says she.


The master’s son he tried every way to find out where the lady was gone, but ask where he might and go where he might, he never heard nothing about her. And he got worse and worse for the love of her, till he had to keep to his bed. 

            ‘Make some gruel for the young master,’ they says to the cook, ‘he’s dying for love of the lady.’ The cook, she set about making it, when Cap o’ Rushes came in. 

            ‘What are you doin’?’ says she.

            ‘I’m going to make some gruel for the young master,’ says the cook, ‘for he’s dying for love of the lady.’

            ‘Let me make it,’ says Cap o’ Rushes.

            Well the cook wouldn’t let her at first, but at last she said yes, and Cap o’ Rushes made the gruel. And when she had made it she slipped the ring into it on the sly before the cook took it upstairs. The young man, he drank it, and he saw the ring at the bottom.

            ‘Send for the cook!’ says he. So up she comes.

            ‘Who made this gruel?’ says he. 

            ‘I did,’ says the cook, for she were frightened. And he looked at her. 

            ‘No you didn’t,’ says he. ‘Say who did it, and you shan’t be harmed.’

            ‘Well then, ‘twas Cap o’ Rushes,’ says she.

            ‘Send Cap o’ Rushes here,’ says he. So Cap o’ Rushes came.

            ‘Did you make my gruel?’ says he.

            ‘Yes, I did,’ says she.

            ‘Where did you get this ring?’ says he.

            ‘From him as gave it me,’ says she.

            ‘Who are you, then?’ says the young man.

            ‘I’ll show you,’ says she, and she offed with her cap o’ rushes and there she was in her beautiful clothes.

            Well, the master’s son got well very soon, and they was to be married in a little time. It was to be a very grand wedding, and everyone was asked, far and near. And Cap o’ Rushes’ father was asked. But she never told nobody who she was.  

            But before the wedding she went to the cook, and says she:

            ‘I want you to dress every dish without a mite of salt.’

            ‘That’ll be rarely tasty,’ says the cook.

            ‘That don’t signify,’ says she.

            ‘Very well,’ says the cook.

            Well, the wedding day came, and they was married. And after they was married, all the company sat down to their vittles. When they began to eat the meat, that was so tasteless they couldn’t eat it. But Cap o’ Rushes’ father he tried first  one dish and then another, and then he burst out crying.

            ‘What is the matter?’ said the master’s son to him.

            ‘Oh!’ says he, ‘I had a daughter. And I asked her how much she loved me. And she said, “As much as fresh meat loves salt.” And I turned her from my door, for I thought she didn’t love me. And now I see she loved me best of all. And she may be dead for aught I know.’

            ‘No, father, here she is!’ said Cap o’ Rushes. And she goes up to him and puts her arms around him.

And so they was happy ever after.


Picture credits:
Cap o' Rushes by John Batten
Cap o' Rushes by Arthur Rackham



Tuesday, 21 July 2020

Strong Fairy tale Heroines #22: THE FLYING HEAD


Home of the Leshy. "Fairy Forest at Sunset" by Ivan Bilibin, 1906.


This Russian fairy tale, collected by Ivan Khudyakov in the 1860s (and rather clunkily titled ‘The Stepmother’s Daughter and the Stepdaughter’) is outlined in ‘Russian Folk-Tales’ translated by WRS Ralston (1873). Ralston quotes just a couple of paragraphs of the story and merely summarises the second half. I cannot source any other English translation, so since it’s quite clear what happens, and it’s a great story, I’ve filled in the outline. 

The basic motif (AT 480: ‘The Kind and the Unkind Girls’) is common to many fairy tales: the Grimms’ ‘Mother Holle’, Perrault’s ‘Diamonds and Toads’, and the Scots tale ‘The Well at the World’s End’ in this series are good examples. Are these kinds of heroines 'strong'?  In what way are they not? They deal with their own problems in their own way. Men are quite unimportant in this type of tale, rarely even making an appearance: the message is that kindness, courtesy and hard work will be rewarded with riches, not marriage. Anyway, the details of this particular version are so peculiarly sinister, I can’t resist including it.  

Magical disembodied heads in European fairy tales usually rise out of wells or springs, rather than flying (or rolling?) through woods, and they usually ask for the heroine to comb their hair, or wash them. (Do what they request, and do it nicely!) The one in this fairy tale may (possibly) be some incarnation of the Leshy, the spirit of the woods - or it may not: Russian fairy tale experts out there, please let me know! Interestingly though, forest-dwelling flying heads are to be found in North-East Coast Native American folklore. These whirl through the trees and may emit shrieks so terrible as to bring death to the hearer. The Passamaquoddy tell of a creature named K’Cheebellok, a head without a body, but with ‘heart, wings and long legs’ (Fewkes, ‘Contribution to Passamaquoddy Folk-Lore’, Journal of American Folklore 1890, 271); and in their collection of Native American stories for children, ‘When the Chenoo Howls’ (Walker, 1998), Joseph and James Bruchac tell a story based on Senecan and Iroquois legends, of Dagwaynonyent, a malevolent and voracious Flying Head. (Being polite to this one wouldn’t have worked.) 

What’s also interesting that even the ‘kind’ heroine of this story seems to feel uneasy about the Head. Why else would she rely upon the clarion call of cock-crow to banish it – usually the cue for ghosts and evil spirits to depart?  




There was once an old woodcutter who had two daughters, one by his first wife  and one by his second. The second wife became jealous of her stepdaughter. She treated her badly and never stopped nagging her husband, telling him they were too poor to raise two girls. ‘You had better take her into the forest and leave her,’ she said. ‘She is no good to us!’

            At last, ground down by her complaints, the woodcutter agreed. He took the girl away into the forest with him, and left her in a kind of hut, telling her to prepare some soup for their dinner while he was cutting wood. 

            At that time, there happened to be a gale blowing. The old man tied a log to a tree in such a way that when the wind blew, the log struck the tree and made a knocking sound. This made the girl think the old man was cutting wood nearby, but in reality he had gone away. 

            When the soup was ready, she called to her father to come to dinner. No reply came from him, so she called again and again. 

            Now, deep in the forest there was a human head, and it heard the girl calling out, ‘Come to dinner! Come to dinner!’ 

So it answered her: ‘I’m coming! I’m coming!’

            And when the Head arrived, it cried, ‘Maiden, open the door!’ 

She opened the door.

            ‘Maiden, Maiden! Lift me over the threshold!’ 

She lifted it over.

‘Maiden, Maiden! Put the dinner on the table!’

She did so, and she and the Head sat down to dinner. When they had dined, ‘Maiden, Maiden!’ said the Head, ‘take me off the bench!’ 

She took it off the bench and cleared the table. It lay down to sleep on the bare floor; she lay down on the bench. As soon as she was fast asleep, the Head went into the forest and called its servants. When the maiden woke, the hut had become a house. Servants, horses and everything one could think of suddenly appeared. 

The servants came to the maiden and said, ‘Get up! It’s time to go for a drive!’ So she got into a carriage along with the Head, but she took a cock along with her. As they drove along, she told the cock to crow, and it crowed. Again she told it to crow; it crowed again. And a third time she told it to crow. When it had crowed for the third time, the Head fell to pieces and became a heap of golden coins. 

The girl told the servants to drive her back to her home. When her father and stepmother saw the gold treasure she had brought back with her, they were amazed, and the stepmother wanted her own daughter to have the same good fortune.  ‘Take the girl into the woods with you,’ she told her husband, ‘and leave her in the hut!’ And the woodcutter did so.

Alone in the hut, the girl stirred the soup until it was ready, and then she called out, ‘Come to dinner! Come to dinner!’

Deep in the forest, the human head heard her. 

‘I’m coming! I’m coming!’ it answered. 

And when it arrived, it cried, ‘Maiden, open the door!’ 

So the girl opened the door. When she saw the Head, she was so frightened she hid behind the door and tried to push it shut. But the Head was in the way, and it said, ‘Maiden, Maiden! lift me over the threshold!’

‘No, I won’t touch a horrible Head like you!’

So the Head rolled itself into the hut.

‘Maiden, Maiden! put the dinner on the table!’

‘No, I won’t eat with a horrible Head like you!’

So the Head had to dish up its own dinner. The bowl and spoon flew on to the table, and the spoon worked hard and flew back and forth from the bowl, serving the Head until all the soup was gone.  

‘Maiden, Maiden,’ said the Head. ‘Take me off the bench!’ 

But still the girl wouldn’t touch the Head, so it sprang down by itself and lay on the bare floor to sleep. 

And the girl was too frightened to creep past it, so she lay down on the bench and was so weary that she fell asleep. 

And when she was fast asleep, it ate her. 






I can find no illustrations of this Russian fairy tale, but I have found some great depictions of flying heads from other cultures. This Japanese yokai, from the Bakemono zukushi scroll (Edo period, 18th/19th century) is a cloud dwelling monster with a mouth large enough to swallow the world!

 


Tuesday, 14 July 2020

Strong Fairy Tale Heroines #21: PRINCE LINDWORM



This fairy tale is often mistakenly claimed to be Norwegian – a mistake which can be traced back to the anonymous writer of the English preface to Kay Nielsen’s ‘East of the Sun and West of the Moon’ (1920) which states that all the stories in the collection come from Sir George Dasent’s 1859 translation of Asbjørnsen & Moe’s ‘Norske Folkeeventyr’ and then adds that ‘Prince Lindworm' has been ‘newly translated for this volume' leaving the distinct impression that it too must be a Norwegian story.

But ‘Prince Lindworm’ is Danish. As ‘Kong Lindorm’ it was collected by N Levinson in 1854 from Maren Mathisdatter in Fureby by Løkken, and was published in Axel Olrik’s Danske Sagn og Aeventyr fra Folkemunde, 1913. (Thanks to Simon Roy Hughes's excellent blog 'Norwegian Folktales' for this information.)  There is also a much longer and more complicated 'King Lindorm' in the Langs' 'The Pink Story Book', translated from Swedish. 

I don’t know who did this English translation; it might have been Kay Nielsen himself, who of course was a Dane. Some lines, such as ‘the Queen wanted a dear little child to play with, and the King wanted an heir to his kingdom’ do not have the ring of authentic oral storytelling to me and are probably attempts to make the story more accessible to children. Helpful old women in fairy tales are usually just helpful old women: in this story someone, likely the translator, has decided to call her a witch and then has to explain that ‘she was a nice kind of witch, not the cantankerous sort’. I’ve deleted it. (Neither am I convinced that this old woman lives in an oak tree, but let that pass.)

In fact this fairy tale is surprisingly violent! It starts like ‘Tatterhood’(#15 in this series): a queen who longs for a child must choose one of two flowers to eat, and eats both – but it rapidly turns  splendidly sinister as the queen gives birth to twins, one of which is a malevolent lindworm.

It can be difficult to tell just from reading a fairy tale how it might come across in a live performance. The outrageous behaviour of the king and queen in this story is a good example: it’s related in a very poker-faced way on the page. But a good story teller would bring out all the black comedy – the selfishness of the human prince who wants his parents to sacrifice yet another ‘bride’ to his serpent brother (with no guarantee of any more success than the last time), the increasingly desperate scheming, the fearful king peeping through the keyhole, and the surely guilt-driven ‘love and kindness’ which king and queen finally lavish upon their new daughter-in-law…  All of this could be very funny. 

As for the shepherd’s daughter, by holding her nerve and following the old woman’s advice to the letter (as the queen neglected to do), she gets the better of her dangerous slimy serpent-husband, challenge for challenge. There’s a hint of ‘Tam Lin’ in the plot – you’ll remember how Janet saves her enchanted lover by holding him tight as he’s changed into all kinds of deadly forms? Unlike Janet, this girl’s actions are driven by self-preservation rather than love. In a fairy tale we can be sure that once Prince Lindworm is disenchanted, the two of them really will live happily ever after; but I’m afraid the other two princesses are simply collateral damage. As supporting cast they are expendable, like the anonymous redshirted crew of the Starship Enterprise who get blasted moments after beaming down to the alien planet. Fairy tales are more hard-hearted than you think. 

[NB:When you get to it, 'lye' is a strong alkali solution obtained by mixing water with wood ash.]





Once upon a time there was a fine young king who was married to the loveliest of queens. They were exceedingly happy, all but for one thing – they had no children. And this often made them both sad, because the queen wanted a dear little child to play with, and the king wanted an heir to his kingdom.

            One day the queen went out for a walk by herself and she met an old woman who asked, ‘Why do you look so sad, lady?’

            ‘It’s no use my telling you,’ said the queen, ‘no one in the world can help me.’

            ‘Oh, you never know,’ said the old woman. ‘Just let me hear your trouble, and maybe I can put things to rights.’

            ‘The king and I have no children, and that is why I am so distressed.’

            ‘I can set that right,’ said the old woman. ‘Listen, and do exactly as I tell you. Tonight, at sunset, take a little drinking-cup with two lugs and put it bottom upwards on the ground in the north-west corner of your garden. Go and lift it tomorrow morning at sunrise, and you will find two roses underneath it. If you eat the red rose, you will give birth to a little boy, if you eat the white rose, to a little girl, but whatever you do, do not eat both the roses, or you’ll be sorry – I warn you!’

            The queen thanked the old woman a thousand times. She went home and did as she’d been told, and next morning at sunrise she crept out into the garden and lifted the drinking-cup. There were the two roses underneath it, one red and one white. And now she did not know which to choose. 


            ‘If I choose the red one,' she thought, ‘I will have a little boy who may grow up to go to the wars and be killed. But if I choose the white one, and have a little girl, one day she will get married and go away and leave us. So whichever it is, we may be left with no child after all.’

            At last she decided on the white rose, and she ate it, and it was so sweet she took and ate the red one too, without remembering the old woman’s warning.

            Some time after this, the king went away to the wars, and while he was still away the queen gave birth to twins. One was a lovely baby boy, and the other was a Lindworm. She was terribly frightened when she saw the Lindworm, but he wriggled away out of the room and nobody seemed to have seen him but herself, so she thought that it must have been a dream. The baby prince was so beautiful and strong, the queen was delighted with him, and so was the king when he came home. Not a word was said about the Lindworm: only the queen thought about it now and then. 

            Years passed and it was time for the prince to be married. The king sent him off to visit foreign kingdoms, in the royal coach, with six white horses, to find a princess grand enough to be his wife. But at the very first cross-roads the way was barred by an enormous Lindworm, enough to frighten the bravest. He lay in the middle of the road with a great wide-open mouth, and cried, 

            ‘A bride for me before a bride for you!’

Then the prince made the coach turn round and try another road, but it was all no use. For at the first cross-ways, there lay the Lindworm again, crying out, ‘A bride for me before a bride for you!’ So the prince had to turn back home again for the castle, and give up his visits to the foreign kingdoms. And his mother the queen had to confess that what the Lindworm said was true. For he really was the eldest of her twins, and so ought to have a wedding first. 

            There seemed nothing for it but to find a bride for the Lindworm, if his younger brother the prince were to be married at all. So the king wrote to a distant country and asked for a princess to marry his son, but of course he didn’t say which son, and presently a princess arrived. But she wasn’t allowed to see her bridegroom until he stood by her side in the great hall and was married to her, and then of course it was too late for her to say she wouldn’t have him. But next morning the princess had vanished. The Lindworm lay sleeping all alone, and it was quite plain that he had eaten her. 


            A little while after, the prince decided that he might now go journeying again in search of a princess. Off he drove in the royal carriage with the six white horses, but at the first cross-ways, there lay the Lindworm, crying with his great wide open mouth, ‘A bride for me before a bride for you!’ So the carriage tried another road, and the same thing happened, and they had to turn back again this time, just as before. Then the king wrote to several foreign countries, to know if anyone would marry his son. At last another princess arrived, this time from a very far distant land. And of course, she was not allowed to see her future husband before the wedding took place, – and then, lo and behold! it was the Lindworm who stood at her side. And next morning the princess had disappeared, and the Lindworm lay sleeping all alone, and it was quite clear that he had eaten her. 

            By and by the prince started on his quest for the third time, and at the first cross-roads there lay the Lindworm with his great wide open mouth, demanding a bride as before. And the prince went straight back to the castle and told the king he must find another bride for his elder brother.

            ‘Where shall I find her?’ said the king. ‘I have already made enemies of two great kings who sent their daughters here as brides, and I have no notion how I can obtain a third lady. People are beginning to talk, and I am sure no princess will come.’

            Now down in a cottage near the wood lived the king’s shepherd, an old man with his only daughter. So the king came and asked him, ‘Will you give me your daughter to marry my son the Lindworm? I will make you rich for the rest of your life.’

            ‘No sir,’ said the shepherd, ‘that I cannot do. She is my only child and I need her to care of me. Besides, if the Lindworm would not spare two lovely princesses, he will not spare her either. He will gobble her up, and she is much too good for such a fate.’

            But the king wouldn’t take no for an answer, and the old man at last had to give in.

            Well, when the old shepherd told his daughter she was to be Prince Lindworm’s bride, she was utterly in despair. Into the woods she went, crying and wringing her hands and bewailing her hard fate. And while she wandered to and fro, and old woman appeared out of a big hollow oak tree and asked her why she was so so sad?

            ‘Oh it’s no use telling you,’ said the shepherd girl, ‘for no one in the world can help me.’

            ‘Oh, you never know,’ said the old woman. ‘Just let me hear what your trouble is, and maybe I can put things right.’

            ‘Ah, how can you?’ said the girl. ‘For I am to be married to the king’s eldest son, who is a Lindworm, and he has already married two beautiful princesses and devoured them, and he will eat me too!’

‘All that be set  right,’ said the old woman,  ‘if you will do exactly as I tell you.’ And the girl said she would. 

‘Listen then,’ said the old woman. ‘After the marriage ceremony is over, and when it is time for you to go to bed, you must ask to be dressed in ten snow-white shifts. And you must ask for a tub full of lye, and a tub full of fresh milk, and and many whips as a boy can carry in his arms – and have all these brought into your bed-chamber. Then, when the Lindworm bids you shed a shift, you must bid him slough a skin. And when all his skins are off, you must dip the whips in the lye and whip him; next you must wash him in the fresh milk; and lastly, you must take him and hold him in your arms, if it’s only for one moment.’

‘The last is the worst,’ said the shepherd’s daughter, and she shuddered at the thought of holding the cold, slimy, scaly Lindworm. 

‘Do as I say and all will be well,’ said the old woman.

When the wedding day arrived the girl was fetched in the royal chariot with the six white horses, and taken to the castle to be decked as a bride. And she asked for ten snow-white shifts to be brought to her, and the tub of lye, and the tub of milk, and as many whips as a boy could carry in his arms, and the king said she should have whatever she asked for.

She was dressed in beautiful robes and looked the loveliest of brides. She was led to the hall where the wedding ceremony was to take place, and saw the Lindworm for the first time as he came in and stood by her side.  So they were married, and the wedding feast was held.

When the feast was over, the bridegroom and bride were brought to their apartment, and as soon as the door was shut, the Lindworm turned to her and said,

‘Fair maiden, shed a shift!’

The shepherd’s daughter answered him, ‘Prince Lindworm, slough a skin!’

‘No one has ever dared tell me to do that before!’ said he.

‘But I command you to do it now!’ said she. Then he began to moan and wriggle: and in a few minutes a long snake-skin lay upon the floor beside him. The girl drew off her first shift, and spread it on top of the skin. 

The Lindworm said to her again, ‘Fair maiden, shed a shift.’

The shepherd’s daughter answered him again, ‘Prince Lindworm, slough a skin.’ 

‘No one has ever dared tell me to do that before,’ said he. 

‘But I command you to do it now,’ said she. Then with groans and moans he cast off the second skin, and she covered it with her second shift. The Lindworm said for the third time, 

‘Fair maiden, shed a shift!’

The shepherd’s daughter anwered him again, ‘Prince Lindworm, slough a skin.’ 

‘No one has ever dared tell me to do that before,’ said he, and his little eyes rolled furiously. But the girl was not afraid, and once more she commanded him to do as she bade.

And so this went on until nine Lindworm skins were lying on the floor, each of them covered with a snow-white shift. And there was nothing left of the Lindworm but a huge thick mass, most horrible to see. And the girl seized the whips, dipped them in the lye and whipped him as hard as ever she could. Next, she bathed him all over in the fresh milk. Lastly she dragged him on to the bed and put her arms around him. And she fell fast asleep that very moment.

Next morning very early, the king and the courtiers came and peeped in through the keyhole. They wanted to know what had become of the girl, but none of them dared enter the room. However, in the end they grew bolder and opened the door a tiny bit. And there they saw the girl, all fresh and rosy, and beside her lay no Lindworm, but the handsomest prince that anyone could wish to see.

The king ran out to fetch the queen, and after that there were such rejoicings in the castle as never were known before or since. The wedding took place all over again, with banquets and merrymakings for days and weeks. No bride was ever so beloved by a king and queen as this peasant maid from the shepherd’s cottage, and there was no end to their love and kindness towards her, because by her sense and her calmness and her courage she had saved their son, Prince Lindworm.



Picture credits:

Prince Lindworm, by Kay Nielsen from 'East of the Sun  and West of the Moon'
The Queen lifts the drinking cup, by Kay Nielsen
Prince Lindworm, by the-sly-wink at Deviant Art: click this link
The Bride and the Lindorm, by HJ Ford