Friday, March 4, 2011
There once lived a brother and sister who loved each other with all their hearts. Their mother was dead and they lived with their stepmother who not only was not kind to them but seemed to go out of her way to be cruel to them. The pair loved to play beside a lake that was just outside of their home. One day their stepmother say them singing and playing a game with their friends and became infuriated. Since she understood witchcraft, she put a spell on the brother and sister turning the girl into a lamb and the boy into a fish.
After some time had passed, strangers arrived at the castle and the stepmother decided that this was a good time to do away with the girl. She ordered the cook to kill the lamb and serve it for dinner. But as the cook was sharpening his knife, he heard the lamb talking to the fish in the lake outside the window. The cook took another sheep and used it for the dinner; he sent the lamb and this fish to a good woman and told her all he had learned.
This woman immediately suspected that the lamb might be the little girl and took it to a wise woman who pronounced a blessing over the lamb and the fish, restoring them to their human form. She took them both into a great forest, where they lived alone, but were contented and happy.
Certainly one of the tamer fairy tales I've read but it does bring up a couple of questions for me. Just where are the fathers in these stories and why do they marry such awful women? And why are the "bad guys" always stepmothers? Given the mortality rate at the time these stories were originally told, there were an awfully lot of stepmothers. I can only guess that the tellers of these stories needed to put someone into close proximity to the innocents who has no deep affection for them. What do you think?