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p. 43


THIS is the familiar story of an ill-used younger sister. A countryman was taking game to market, and his two elder daughters asked him to bring them fine clothes, but the youngest asked him to bring her anything he got gratis. A shopkeeper offered him a kitten, which he brought to the youngest girl, who treated it kindly. On the two following Sundays, the elder sisters went to church to show off their fine clothes, leaving the younger one at home. She went into the garden, and a pied magpie settled on the fence, which the cat pursued, and on the first Sunday it dropped a gold brooch, and on the second two gold rings.

 As the third Sunday was wet, the two elder sisters stayed at home, but sent the youngest to church; so she adorned herself with her finery and set out, and at church she attracted general attention. When her sisters heard of it, they insisted p. 44 on knowing her secret; and they carried the kitten into the garden several times, to no purpose, for as they had always ill-treated it before, it only bit and scratched them. At last they killed it, and threw it among the rushes by the side of the lake.

 When the youngest sister missed the kitten, she went out weeping into the wood. Her sisters followed her, murdered her, and buried her under a heap of sand, covering the grave with reeds, and when they went home they told their father that she had been carried away by gipsies. A shepherd, passing that way made himself a flute, and it sang the maiden’s sorrowful end. When this reached the ears of the prince, he ordered the body to be exhumed and carried to his castle, and by direction of the flute, it was reanimated with water from the healing well in the prince’s court yard. The maiden immediately begged the life of her sisters, who were released. Her hand was then sought for in marriage by a young nobleman, whom she accepted. After this, she begged the prince to restore her kitten to life too with the healing water, and the two sisters were sent to fetch it; but the reed-bed by the lake gave way under their feet, and they both perished miserably; for neither they nor the kitten were ever p. 45 seen again. But the descendants of the youngest sister still bear a cat on their escutcheon.



p. 43

1 The commencement of this story reminds us of “Beauty and the Beast;” the second part is that of the “Magic Flute.”