Chapter 2 of 3– You each have a lot of personal power. The words you say are extremely powerful and have the power to harm or the power to heal or somewhere in between. This is illustrated in the story called “Frogs and newts or gold coins.” It is adapted from a Grimm’s fairy tale that you will hear told as part of this story. Please sit back and enjoy “Frogs and newts or gold coins.”
- Click here to return to Story chapters 1-3 links: Frogs and newts or gold coins to see the previous chapter in this story.
Chapter 2: Two Girls and the Three Gnomes – A Grimm’s Fairy Tale re-told by Debbie Dunn
Once there were two friends. One friend had recently lost her father. That girl was plain to look at. The other friend had recently lost her mother. That girl was pretty as a picture. Regardless of their looks or lack of looks, the two girls spent time together quite frequently.
One day, the plain girl’s mother said, “Tell your father that I would like to marry him. If he’ll agree, I’ll always give you milk to wash in and milk to drink; whereas, my own daughter will only get water to wash in and water to drink.”
The pretty girl went home and told her father just that. Her father said, “Well, I don’t know, daughter. Marriage can be a mixed bag of blessings. Tell you what, take this old boot with a hole in the toe region. Carry it up to the attic, hang it on a peg, and pour water into it. If the water runs out the hole, marriage and I will have nothing to do with each other. However, if the water stays in the boot, I’ll take the chance of marrying your friend’s mother.”
The pretty girl did as she was instructed. She poured the water in. The water level rose and rose until the boot was completely full. The pretty girl called for her father, “Father, look. Not one drop has fallen out of the boot. It’s almost as if the hole was not really there.”
Her father said, “All right, daughter. I guess I better take that as a sign that I should marry again. Tell your friend’s mother to meet me at the church on Sunday, and we will be wed.”
His daughter did as she was instructed. Come Sunday, the wedding took place. All four of them moved in together.
On the first day, the woman kept her promise. The pretty girl was given milk to wash in and milk to drink. Her own daughter was given water to wash in and water to drink. The second day, both girls were given water to wash in and water to drink. On the third day, and for each day thereafter, the woman’s own daughter was given milk to wash in and milk to drink. On the other hand, the pretty girl was given water to wash in and water to drink, and that was the way the situation remained.
As time went on, when the woman couldn’t help observing how pretty was her new husband’s daughter and how plain, almost ugly, was her own daughter, she forged a terrible disliking for her stepdaughter.
One cold winter day, the stepmother gave her stepdaughter a paper dress to put on. Then she ordered, “Go into the forest and collect me a basket full of strawberries. I have a great longing to taste fresh strawberries again.”
The pretty girl said, “But stepmother, there is nothing but snow outside and no green things. It is impossible to find any strawberries growing in the middle of winter. Also, I will freeze to death wearing a dress made of paper.”
Her stepmother said, “Don’t you argue with me. Now go! Don’t return until you have gathered a basket full of strawberries.” Secretly, of course, the stepmother hoped that the pretty girl would freeze and starve to death so she would never have to lay eyes on her again.
The pretty girl was quite obedient. She entered the forest and searched diligently for strawberries.
Eventually, the shivering girl came upon a small house in the forest. She saw three little men, gnomes, in fact, who were staring out the window. They waved her inside and she gladly complied. Straight she went to the fireplace.
The men asked, “What are you doing out in this cold weather wearing such a dress as that?”
The pretty girl said, “My stepmother ordered me to gather some strawberries for her. I am not allowed to return until I fill this basket with them.”
She then sat down by the fireplace and pulled out the old hunk of bread that her stepmother had given her for food.
The three little men begged, “Give us some.”
The pretty girl said, “Of course, I will gladly share with you kind men.” She broke the bread into four pieces, and they each ate some.
After she had warmed herself, the men said, “Please take this broom and sweep the back porch for us.”
The pretty girl said, “Of course, I will be happy to.” The girl took the broom and went outside.
The little gnomes looked at each other and questioned, “What should we give her for being so gentle and so very kind and generous?”
The first gnome said, “She shall get prettier, day by day. That is my gift to her.”
The second gnome said, “A gold coin will fall out of her mouth with each word she speaks. That is my gift to her.”
The third gnome said, “She shall become the wife of a king. That is my gift to her.”
After the pretty girl cleared the back porch of all the snow, she saw delicious looking strawberries growing there. She gathered all she could until her basket was full. She returned inside and thanked the three little men. With a glad heart, she returned home.
The stepmother pretended to be glad to see the pretty girl. She asked, “Where did you find these lovely strawberries?”
The pretty girl opened her mouth and began her tale. With each word that came out of her mouth, a gold coin also fell. Soon the whole floor was covered with gold coins.
The plain girl was quite jealous. She said, “Look at her. See how she throws money around. The nerve of her coming here and doing that!” Secretly, she longed to be able to do the same. She gave her mother no peace until she too was allowed to go into the forest to gather strawberries.
Her mother gave her a thick fur coat to wear and lots of good things to eat. The plain girl walked straight to the little men’s house. She walked inside without even waiting for an invitation. She sat herself down and began to eat.
The gnomes begged, “Give us some.”
The plan girl said, “No way! Since I don’t even have enough for me, why would I wish to give any to you?” The girl stuffed her mouth with every bite of that food, not even offering them one crumb.
The little men ordered, “Go outside and sweep the back porch.”
The plan girl said, “You think I’m going to go out in the cold to sweep? You have another thing coming. Do I look like your maid? I don’t think so!” But seeing that the men were not giving her any strawberries, she finally flounced outside.
The three little men inquired, “What should we give such a greedy, unkind, sarcastic girl?”
The first gnome said, “She shall grow uglier day by day, so that her outside appearance will soon match the ugliness that already resides on the inside. That is my gift to her.”
The second gnome said, “A frog or newt shall leap from her mouth with every mean-hearted word that she speaks. That is my gift to her.”
The third gnome said, “She shall die a painful death. That is my gift to her.”
When the plain girl could find no strawberries anywhere around, she finally gave up and stomped home.
Her mother welcomed her with open arms and said, “Well, my dear, what happened to you?”
The plain girl opened her mouth and as she explained, frogs and newts leaped out at every word. Her misery knew no bounds and her jealousy for her pretty stepsister grew and grew. The stepmother also grew to hate her now beautiful stepdaughter. She came up with another plan to get rid of her for certain.
One day, she boiled and colored some yarn. She draped this hot mass over her stepdaughter’s shoulders and ordered, “Dig a hole in the ice of the nearby river and rinse out this yarn for me so it’s nice and clean.”
The stepdaughter obeyed. She walked to the river and attempted to chop a hole in the ice. She wasn’t having much luck, when suddenly, a carriage pulled up. Inside the carriage was the king of the land.
The king asked, “Excuse me, but what are you doing?”
The pretty girl said, “I am trying to chop a hole in this ice so that I might rinse this yarn for my stepmother.” With each word that she spoke, a gold coin came tumbling out.
Liking her beauty and the sight of those gold coins, and also seeing the gentle and kind look in the girl’s eyes, he asked, “Would you like to come to the castle with me and be my wife?”
The girl also liked the king’s looks. Motivated by that and the longing to no longer have to live with her stepmother and stepsister, she agreed.
Time passed and a baby boy was born.
One day, her stepmother and stepsister came to the castle. They sneaked into the queen’s bedroom and threw her out the window to her death. Then the stepsister climbed into her bed and covered up her head.
When the king came to the room expecting to talk to his beautiful wife, the queen, he was most surprised to see frogs or newts covering the floor instead of the gold coins. The stepmother was standing by for just that occasion. She lied, “Oh, the queen is not feeling well. That is why her head is covered and frogs and newts are coming out instead of gold coins. She will soon be on the mend.”
The king left and tried again the next day. The stepmother said, “Oh, she is still not feeling well.”
In the meantime, a duck came waddling up to the castle and asked the serving boy, “Are all my guests comfortable and is my baby boy doing well?”
The boy did not quite know how to respond, but finally said yes.
At night, the duck transformed back into the queen. She entered the castle, fed her baby boy, and tucked him back into bed. Then she left the castle and turned back into a duck. This went on for three days.
On the third day, the duck said to the serving boy, “Tell the king to wave his sword over my head three times, and I will be restored to my former self.” The serving boy obeyed. The king did as she requested and she was restored to him, alive, beautiful, and whole. He hid her inside the castle and bided his time.
That Sunday, the baby son was christened. At the party afterward, the king asked his impostor wife and mother-in-law, “What should I do with someone who throws another out the window to his or her death?”
Not suspecting a thing, both women responded, “You should put that person in a barrel studded with sharp nails on the inside. Then you should roll that barrel down into the water.”
The king said, “You have just pronounced your own death sentence. Let the deed be done just as you have said.”
Afterward, the king brought his wife out of hiding and he and she and their wee little one lived happily ever after.”
- Click here to read Chapter 3 of 3 – Frogs and newts or gold coins
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