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Toads and Diamonds
From Andrew Lang's The Blue Fairy Book
Illustration by Ben Kutcher.
THERE was once upon a time a widow who had two daughters. The elder was
so much like her in face and humor that whoever looked upon the daughter
saw the mother. They were both so disagreeable and so proud that there
was no living with them.
The younger, who was the very picture of her
father for courtesy and sweetness of temper, was withal one of the most
beautiful girls ever seen. As people naturally love their own likeness,
this mother doted on her elder daughter and at the same time had a horrible
aversion for the younger. She made her eat in the kitchen and work continually.
Among other things, this poor child was forced
twice a day to draw water above a mile and a half from the house and bring
home a pitcher full of it. One day, as she was at this fountain, there
came to her a poor woman, who begged of her to let her drink.
"Oh! ay, with all my heart, Goody,"
said this pretty little girl. And rinsing immediately the pitcher, she
took up some water from the clearest place of the fountain, and gave it
to her, holding up the pitcher all the while that she might drink the easier.
The good woman, having drunk, said to her,
"You are so very pretty, my dear, so good and so mannerly, that I cannot
help giving you a gift." For this was a fairy, who had taken the form of
a poor country woman, to see how far the civility and good manners of this
pretty girl would go. "I will give you for a gift," continued the Fairy,
"that, at every word you speak, there shall come out of your mouth either
flower or a jewel."
When this pretty girl came home, her mother
scolded her for staying so long at the fountain.
"I beg your pardon, mamma," said the poor
girl, "for not making more haste." And in speaking these words there came
out of her
mouth two roses, two pearls, and two diamonds.
"What is it I see there?" said her mother,
quite astonished. "I think I see pearls and diamonds come out of the girl's
mouth! How happens this, child?"
This was the first time she had ever called
The poor creature told her frankly all that
had happened, not without dropping out infinite numbers of diamonds.
"In good faith," cried the mother, "I must
send my elder child thither. Come hither, Fanny. Look what comes out of
your sister's mouth when she speaks. Would you not be glad, my dear, to
have the same gift given to you? You have nothing else to do but go and
draw water out of the fountain, and when a certain poor woman asks you
to let her drink, to give it to her very civilly."
"It would be a very fine sight indeed," said
this ill-bred minx, "to see me draw water."
"You shall go, hussy!" said the mother, "and
So away she went, but grumbling all the way,
taking with her the best silver tankard in the house. She was no sooner
at the fountain than she saw coming out of the wood a lady most gloriously
dressed, who came up to her, and asked to drink. This was the very fairy
who appeared to her sister, but now had taken the air and dress of a princess,
to see how far this girl's rudeness would go.
"Am I come hither," said the proud, saucy
one, "to serve you with water, pray? I suppose the silver tankard was brought
purely for your ladyship, was it? However, you may drink out of it, if
you have a fancy."
"You are not over and above mannerly," answered
the Fairy, without putting herself in a passion. "Well, then, since you
have so little breeding, and are so disobliging, I give you for a gift
that at every word you speak there shall come out of your mouth a snake
So soon as her mother saw her coming she cried
out, "Well, daughter?"
"Well, mother?" answered the pert hussy, throwing
out of her mouth two vipers and two toads.
"Oh! mercy!" cried the mother. "What is it
I see? Oh! it is that wretch your sister who has occasioned all this, but
she shall pay for it." And immediately she ran to beat her.
The poor child fled away from her, and went
to hide herself in the forest, not far from thence. The King's son, then
on his return from hunting, met her, and seeing her so very pretty, asked
her what she did there alone and why she cried.
"Alas, sir, my mother has turned me out of
The King's son, who saw five or six pearls
and as many diamonds come out of her mouth, desired her to tell him how
that happened. She thereupon told him the whole story. The King's son fell
in love with her, and, considering with himself that such a gift was worth
more than any marriage portion, conducted her to the palace of the King
his father, and there married her.
As for the proud elder sister, she soon made
herself so much hated that her own mother turned her off. And the miserable
wretch, having wandered about a good while without finding anybody to take
her in, went to a corner of the wood, and there died.