The Rose Tree
The Rose Tree
There once was a good man who had two children: a girl by a first wife, and a boy by the second. The girl was beautiful and beloved by her brother. Her wicked stepmother, though, hated her.
“Child,” ordered the stepmother one day, “go to the market and buy some candles.”
She gave her the money, and the little girl went, bought the candles, and started home. There was a stile to cross, so she put down the candles so she could get over it. Just then, a dog came up and ran off with the candles.
The girl went back to the grocer's and got a second bunch. She came to the stile, set down the candles, and proceeded to climb over. Up came the dog and ran off with the candles.
She went again to the grocer's and she got a third bunch of candles, but the same thing happened. Although she was frightened to go home, the little girl felt she had no choice, so she went to her stepmother, crying, and told her what had happened.
The stepmother was not as angry as the girl expected. She said to the child, “Come, lay your head on my lap, so I can comb the tangles from your hair.”
The little one laid her head on the woman's lap, and she proceeded to comb the yellow silken hair. As the stepmother combed, the hair fell over her knees and rolled right down to the ground.
And the stepmother hated the child even more because of the beauty of her hair. So she said to her, “I cannot part your hair on my knee. Go fetch a billet of wood.” The girl fetched it, and the stepmother said, “I cannot part your hair with a comb, fetch me an ax.” So the girl fetched it.
“Now,” said the wicked woman, “lay your head down on the billet while I part your hair.”
She was a trusting girl, so she laid down her little golden head without fear. Bang! Down came the ax and her head was off. The stepmother quickly buried the girl under a rose tree in the garden. When her father and brother woke up the next day, the wicked woman told them that surely the girl had become lost while fetching candles.
One day the rose tree flowered. It was spring, and there among the flowers was a beautiful white bird that sang, and sang, and sang like an angel out of heaven. Away she flew, and she went to a cobbler's shop and perched on a tree there. She chirped away in a sweet voice,
“Sing that beautiful song again,” said the shoemaker.
“I will if you'll first give me those little red shoes you are making.” The cobbler gave her the shoes, and the bird sang the song. Then she flew to a tree in front of the watchmaker's and sang,
“Oh, what a beautiful song! Sing it again, sweet bird,” said the watchmaker.
“If you will give me that gold watch and chain in your hand, then I'll sing it.”
The watchmaker gave the bird the watch and chain. The bird took it in one foot, the shoes in the other, and, after having repeated the song, flew away to where three millers were working. She perched on a tree and sang,
“Oh, what a beautiful song! Sing it again, sweet bird,” the three men said in unison.
“If you will put the millstone round my neck,” said the bird. The men did what the bird wanted and away it flew with the millstone round its neck, the red shoes in one foot, and the gold watch and chain in the other. It sang the song and then flew home.
It rattled the millstone against the eaves of the house, and the stepmother said, “It's thundering outside.”
Then the little boy ran out to see the thunder and down dropped the red shoes at his feet. It rattled the millstone against the eaves of the house once more, and the stepmother said again, “It's thundering out.”
Then the father ran out and down fell the chain about his neck.
In ran father and son, laughing and saying, “See, what fine things the thunder has brought us!”
Then the bird rattled the millstone against the eaves of the house a third time, and the stepmother said, “It thunders again. Perhaps the thunder has brought something for me,” and she ran out. The moment she stepped outside the door, down fell the millstone on her head. She died instantly, and nobody was terribly sad that she was gone.