The Three Spinners

The Three Spinners

There was once a girl who was lazy and refused to do her spinning. No matter what her mother said, the girl would not do her work. At last the mother was so angry with her daughter that she yelled loudly at her. This made the girl cry. Now at this very moment the queen drove by. When she heard the weeping, she stopped her carriage, went into the house, and asked the mother why she was yelling at her daughter.

The woman was ashamed to reveal the laziness of her daughter and said, “I cannot get her to stop her spinning. She insists on spinning forever and ever, and I am poor and cannot buy the flax.”

“Oh,” answered the queen, “there is nothing I like better than to hear the sound of spinning. Let me have your daughter with me in the palace. I have lots of flax, and there she can spin as much as she likes.”

The mother was very satisfied with this arrangement, and so the queen took the girl with her. When they arrived at the palace, the queen led the girl to three rooms that were filled from floor to ceiling with the finest flax.

“Now spin me this flax,” said the queen, “and when you have done it, you shall have my eldest son for a husband. I don't mind that you're poor. I like the fact that you're such a hard worker.”

The girl was terrified, for she could not have spun the flax even if she had lived until she was five hundred years old and had worked on it day in and day out. When left alone, she began to cry. She wasn't able to spin at all. On the third day, the queen came. When she saw that nothing had been spun, she was surprised, but the girl excused herself by saying that she had not been able to begin because she missed her mother.

The queen was satisfied with this excuse, but she said that now it was time to get to work. When the girl was alone again, she did not know what to do. In her distress, she went to the window. Then she saw three women coming toward her. The first had a broad, flat foot, the second had such a great lower lip that it hung down over her chin, and the third had a wide thumb. They stopped before the window, looked up, and asked the girl what was wrong. She told them and the women offered to help. They said, “We will help if you will invite us to your wedding, not be ashamed of us, and call us your aunts, and likewise place us at your table. Then we will spin the flax for you in short order.”

“With all my heart, I promise to these conditions,” she replied. Then she let in the three strange women and cleared a place in the first room, where they seated themselves and began their spinning. The one drew the thread and trod the wheel, the other wet the thread, and the third twisted it and struck the table with her finger. As often as she struck the table, a skein of thread fell to the ground that was spun in the finest manner possible.

The girl concealed the three spinners from the queen whenever she came to inspect the great quantity of spun thread. When the first room was empty, she went to the second, and at last to the third, and that too was quickly cleared. Then the three women got ready to leave and said to the girl, “Do not forget what you have promised us — it will make your fortune.”

When the maiden showed the queen the empty rooms and the great heap of yarn, the queen gave orders for the wedding. And the bridegroom rejoiced that he was to have such a clever and industrious wife.

“I have three aunts,” said the girl. “They have been very kind to me, and I want to invite them to the wedding and let them sit with us at the table.”

The queen and the bridegroom agreed. When the wedding feast began, the three women entered in strange apparel, and the bride said, “Welcome, dear Aunts.”

“Oh,” said the bridegroom, “how do you come by these odious friends?”

He went to the one with the broad, flat foot, and said, “How do you come by such a broad foot?”

“By treading,” she answered.

Then the bridegroom went to the second, and said, “How do you come by your large lip?”

“By licking,” she answered.

Then he asked the third, “How do you come by your broad thumb?”

“By twisting the thread,” she answered.

At this, the queen's son was alarmed and said, “Neither now nor ever shall my beautiful bride touch a spinning wheel!”

And so, the lucky girl never had to spin again.

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