THE THREE SPINNERS
ONCE upon a time there was a lazy maiden who would not
spin, and, let her mother say what she would, she could not make her do it. At last, the
mother, in a fit of impatience, gave her a blow which made the girl cry out loudly.
At that very instant, the Queen drove by, and, hearing
the screams, she stopped the carriage, came into the house, and asked the mother why she
beat her daughter in such a way that people in passing could hear the cries.
Then the mother felt ashamed that her daughter's laziness
should be known, so she said: "Oh, your Majesty, I cannot take her away from her
spinning: she spins from morning till night, and I am so poor that I cannot afford to buy
"There is nothing I like better than to hear the
sound of spinning," the Queen replied, "and nothing pleases me more than the
whirl of spinning-wheels. Let me take your daughter home with me to the castle; I have
flax enough, and she may spin there to her heart's content."
The mother rejoiced greatly in her heart, and the Queen
took the maiden home with her. When they arrived in the castle, she led her up into three
rooms, which were piled from top to bottom with the finest flax.
"Now spin me this flax," said the Queen,
"and when thou has spun it all, thou shalt have my eldest son for a husband. Although
thou art poor, yet I do not despise thee on that account, for thy untiring industry is
The maiden was filled with inward terror, for she could
not have spun the flax had she sat there day and night until she was three hundred years
old! When she was left alone, she began to weep, and thus she sat for three days without
stirring a finger.
On the third day the Queen came, and when she saw that nothing was as yet spun, she wondered over it, but the maiden excused herself by saying that she could not begin in consequence of the great sorrow she felt in being separated from her mother.
This satisfied the Queen, who, on leaving her, said:
"Thou must begin to work for me to-morrow."
But when the maiden was once more alone, she did not know
what to do, or how to help herself, and in her distress she went to the window and looked
out. She saw three women passing by, the first of whom had a great broad foot, the second
such a large under-lip that it hung down to her chin, and the third an enormous thumb.
They stopped under the window, and, looking up, asked the
maiden what was the matter.
When she had told them of her trouble, they immediately
offered her their help, and said:
"Wilt thou invite us to the wedding, and not be
ashamed of us, but call us thy aunts, and let us sit at thy table? If thou wilt, we will
spin all the flax, and do it in a very short time."
"With all my heart," answered the glrl,
"only come in, and begin at once."
Then she admitted the three strange women, and, making a
clear space in the first room, they sat themselves down and began spinning.
One drew the thread and trod the wheel, the other
moistened the thread, the third pressed it and beat it on the table, and every time she
did so, a pile of thread fell on the ground spun in the finest way.
The maiden concealed the three spinners from the Queen,
but showed her the heaps of spun yarn whenever she came, and received no end of praise for
When the first room was empty, the second was commenced,
and when that was finished, the third was begun, and very soon cleared.
Then the three spinners took their leave, saying to the
"Forget not what thou hast promised us; it will make
When the girl showed the Queen the empty rooms and the
great piles of thread, the wedding was announced. The bridegroom rejoiced that he had won
so clever and industrious a wife, and he praised her exceedingly.
"I have three aunts," said the maiden,
"and as they have done me many kindnesses, I could not forget them in my good
fortune; permit me to invite them to our wedding and allow them to sit with me at
So the Queen and the bridegroom consented.
"Alas!" exclaimed the bridegroom, "how is
it you have such ugly relations?" and going up to the one with a broad foot, he
"Why have you such a broad foot?"
"From threading, from threading," she answered.
Then he went to the second, and asked:
"Why have you such an overhanging lip?"
Then he asked the third:
"Why have you such a big thumb ?" "From pressing the thread," answered she.
Then the Prince became frightened, and said:
"Then shall my lovely bride never more turn a
spinning-wheel, as long as she lives!"
Thus was the maiden freed from the hated flax-spinning. '
FROM THE BOOK:
<THE YOUNG FOLKS TREASURY>
THE UNIVERSITY SOCIETY INC.