“The True Bride”
There once was a beautiful girl who had a wicked step-mother who always gave her work. One day the step-mother gave her twelve pounds of feathers to clean, but every time the girl got a small pile done they would blow all over the place. She cried and asked if there was no one to pity her.
Then an old woman asked what was wrong. The girl told her about the feathers, and if she wasn’t done by evening she would be beaten. The woman told the girl to rest and not worry. The girl fell asleep, and when she woke the woman was gone but all the feathers were done and everything was clean.
The next day the step-mother gave the girl a spoon to empty a pond. To make matters worse, the spoon had holes in it. Despite the pointlessness of the task, the girl started. Soon the old woman appeared and told her to go rest. The girl laid down and fell asleep, when she awoke the woman was gone and the pond was empty.
The next day, the step-mother told the girl to build her a castle, and for it to be ready by that evening. The girl went to the valley and cried. Soon the old woman showed up and told her to sleep. The girl fell asleep and the old woman built a glorious castle.
The girl went to get her step-mother who – instead of asking how the girl had built by herself in a day a castle filled with tapestries and other fineries – poked into every corner to make sure everything was perfect. But when she went into the cellar, she fell and died.
So the girl now lived in a castle full of beautiful dresses and chests of gold. Soon men appeared to woo the beautiful and rich girl. But she didn’t take to any of them, until the son of the king came.
One day, they were sitting under a lime tree in the garden when he said he would rush home to get his father’s permission to marry. He would be back in a few hours and she was to wait for him under the lime tree. She kissed him on the cheek and had him promise to never let anyone kiss him on that cheek.
For three days she waited for him under the lime tree. On the fourth day she figured she should go looking for him. She packed three dresses – one with bright stars, one with silver moons, and one with golden suns – and some jewels and went looking for him, but nobody had seen him. Eventually, she hired herself as a cow-herd and buried her dresses.
She tended cattle for several years in this other kingdom, and then one day heard that the king’s daughter was to be married. She was out with her cattle when she saw the bridegroom ride past, and was shocked to find it was her prince. The next day he rode by again and when she sang to her cows he stopped as if he was trying to remember something. But then he rode on.
A three day festival was to be had for the marriage. She cleaned herself up and put on the dress with the golden suns. Everyone was stunned by her beauty, and the prince danced with her all night. But she slipped away to return to being a cow-herd.
The next night she wore the moon dress, and again danced with the prince all night. Before she left, she promised to be back the third night.
The third night she wore the dress of stars. When she arrived he – finally – asked who she was. She then kissed him on the cheek and he remembered. So they left that castle. They went back to her castle where everyone was waiting for the priest to marry the two.
That’s it. Why did the prince forget the true bride? Don’t know. The fake bride, whether she was a witch who put a spell on the prince, it’s not said. If she was a witch, why did she wait years to marry, and why didn’t she do something about this interloper? Who was the old woman? Why did she just disappear from the story?
Anyway, why – other than to be dickish – would the step-mother give someone a spoon with holes to empty a pond?
Is a spoon with holes in it still a spoon?
If you gave someone an impossible task that they apparently accomplish with ease, why would your first thought be to give them an even more impossible task? Wouldn’t you be more interested in how they did the impossible in the first place?
What happened to the girl’s father? He’s not even mentioned in the story.
“I’ll be back in a couple of hours.” Three days later, “I think I should go looking for them.”
These three dresses of the sun, moon, and stars is kind of like “The Princess in Disguise.” Along with dancing with a prince for three nights who never asks her name.