“The Maiden without Hands”
A poor miller only had his mill and an apple tree behind it. One day he went to the woods for firewood and an old man came to him and promised him great riches for what stood behind his mill. The miller was okay with losing an apple tree, so he said yes. The old man then said he’d be back in three years.
When the miller got home his wife said that there was gold in every drawer and chest in the house. The miller then told him about the man who, apparently, wanted his apple tree. But his wife said it must have been a wizard who wanted their daughter who had been sweeping earlier.
Three years later, when the wizard was to come claim the maiden, she washed herself until she was as clean as snow and then drew a circle around herself with white chalk.
The wizard could not cross the circle, and he told the miller to take away all her water so that she couldn’t wash. The miller was too frightened to disobey.
The next day the wizard showed up, but her hands were still clean because she had wept on them. Since he could not touch her, the wizard told the miller to chop off her hands. If he didn’t, the wizard would take the miller.
The miller begged his daughter to forgive him, and she did. So he cut off her hands.
But when the wizard showed up on the third day, her stumps were still clean because she had wept on them. Since the wizard couldn’t touch her for three days, he no longer had a claim on her.
The miller wanted to take care of his daughter for what he had done to her, but she said that she needed to go out in the world. He reluctantly let her go.
She wandered for a day without food until she came to the royal gardens. She saw trees with such fruit, but she couldn’t reach them because they were surrounded by a moat. So she prayed to get something to eat less she die. A guardian fairy, unseen by the maiden, showed up and made a channel in the water so that the maiden could get to the trees.
The maiden came to a pear tree and ate one that was hanging low. A gardener saw the maiden and fairy and thought them spirits and didn’t do anything.
After eating, the maiden went to the shrubs and fell asleep.
The next day the king came and counted the pears and found one missing. He asked the gardener what happened who explained that there was a ghost in the garden. The king wasn’t all that convinced, and said that he would watch that night.
That night the king, with a priest and the gardener, saw the maiden come out of the shrubs and eat another pear with what they thought an angel nearby.
The priest asked if she were from heaven or Earth, and the maiden replied that she wasn’t a ghost, but forsaken by all but God. But the king asked her to be his friend. He had silver hands made for her and they eventually married.
A year later, the king went to battle. He placed his wife under the care of his mother. Shortly afterwards, the queen had a son. The mother sent a letter to the king.
The messenger grew tired and sat down to sleep. The wizard then came and changed the letter saying that the son was a changeling. The king was upset by this, and replied that the queen was to be looked after until he returned. When the messenger again slept, the wizard changed the letter to one saying the mother was to kill both the queen and the son.
The mother was stunned by this, and sent more letters, each was intercepted by the wizard. In the last letter, he told the mother to cut out the boy’s tongue and put out the queen’s eyes. But the mother could not do anything of the sort. So she bound the boy to the mother’s back and told them to flee and never return.
The queen traveled until she came to a forest. Not knowing where to go, she prayed. She then saw the light of a cottage with a sign reading, “Everyone who dwells here is safe.” A maiden in white garments came out and welcomed them. After putting the baby to sleep, she came to the queen. The maiden explained she was a fairy sent to take care of the queen and the baby.
They lived at the cottage for years, and since the queen was so good her hands grew back.
When the king returned to the castle, he wanted to see his wife and child. But his mother showed him the horrid letters “he” wrote. The king then vowed that he would go to the ends of the Earth, not eating or drinking, until he found his family.
For seven years he searched, until heaven led him to the cottage. The angel/fairy took the king inside, gave him something to eat, then let him sleep. She then covered his face.
She then went to the queen and her son, named Pain-bringer, and told them the king was asleep in the next room. They went out and the cover had slipped from his face. The queen told the boy to cover the face of his father, but the boy didn’t understand. He thought his father was God.
The king woke and asked who they were. The queen explained, but the king said his wife had silver hands. She explained her hands had regrown. The angel/fairy then came in with the silver hands to show the king.
They then went home and lived happily ever after.
Why did the wizard wait three years?
Why didn’t the maiden draw the circle around a chair, so she wouldn’t have to stand all time?
What would she be doing that just standing there would dirty her hands so the wizard could touch her? And what about the circle?
So the wizard tells the miller to cut off her hands, but doesn’t stay to see it done or to immediately collect the maiden? It’s almost like he isn’t all that interested in having her.
So the wizard waits three years but then gives up after three days?
After walking for a day and feeling that she would die of hunger, she eats one pear?
What king keeps count of the pears on his trees?
So the wizard really had no other purpose than to be a dick? What was he, an Ye Olde Troll?
Was there some reason the maiden/queen was always being helped by fairy/angels? She didn’t seem to be any more pure of heart or beautiful than any other fairy tale maiden.
So the queen is about a day’s travel from the castle, but it takes the king seven years to find her?
Who names their son Pain-bringer?