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  1. The Three Spinning Women
  2. Beanstalk Climbing

The Three Spinning Women

There was once a poor woman who had a beautiful daughter. They lived near a hotel. Every morning after the last stroke of seven the mother exclaimed: "And seven have passed!" By that he meant that her daughter had already swallowed seven platefuls of soup.

One day the king's son came to that part of the country and stopped in the hotel. He went to the window and saw the beautiful girl and fell in love with her. The next morning, when seven o'clock came while he was at the window, he heard the the old woman say. "And seven have passed!"

He wanted to know what these words meant and asked the hostess to explain. The hostess's replied, "They are poor in that family; they have only the work of the young girl to feed them. I guess that what her mother says means that by seven o'clock in the morning her daughter has already spun seven spindles."

A few moments later he went over to the old woman and asked for her daughter in marriage. The mother said that it would be difficult, but the prince listened to nothing, and within an hour he married the young girl.

A few years later, the prince had to go away and fight enemies. Before leaving, he left three rooms full of hemp for her to spin. After he left, his wife, who did not even know how to hold the spindle in her hands, spent her days crying.

One day she saw three old women passing by. They greeted her and asked her why she grieved, and she told it to them.

who go saluted and asked him the cause of his sadness, she told them. "Don't torment yourself any more. We'll do it instead of you. In one hour all your hemp will be spun. In return we want to be invited to dinner when your husband returns. You have to call us aunts then. Then, when your husband asks you to go and get us, go to the stairway and shout: "Aunt Persi, Auth Sophie, Aunt Cruci, the time has come!" And we shall appear.

Then the queen took the old women to the three rooms, each in her own room, and they were spinning, spinning and spinning fast. In one hour everything was spun and the three old women disappeared.

Shortly after her husband returned from the war and praised her for all the hard spinning work.

The queen told him: "I have three old aunts who would like to dine with us once. Can I invite them?"

"Certainly, go and get them today."

"There's no need to run," said the beautiful queen; and, from the stairway she called "Aunt Persi, Aunt Sophie, Aunt Cruci, the time has come!"

Suddenly they heard a loud noise and three improbably ugly women appeared. One of them had eyelashes that reached to her knees. One had lips that reached her waist. The arms of the third were so long that they were sweeping the floor,. The king and queen were horrified at the sight of them.

Towards the end of the dinner one of the three aunts said: "Sire, it surprises you to see how ugly we are. So allow us to tell how we have become like this. If I have long eyelashes it's because I spend all my evenings spinning."

"My lips have become so thick and sagging," said the second, "because while spinning I put my fingers to my lips to wet them and twine the thread better."

"My arms have become so long after turning the spindle with force," said the third. "The same thing could happen to your wife if she should go on spinning."

The king decided that his beautiful queen would never have to work again in her life, and she lived long and was very happy at doing nothing.

[From Menton, in Andrews (No. 23)]

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Beanstalk Climbing

A poor farmer complained one day of his misfortunes. A beggar who passed said to him: "Hey, friend. Why are you complaining?"

"It is because I am almost starving; I barely earn enough to buy bread for my wife and me. I have asked the Lord for a better forture, but He seems to be too high up to hear me.

"Take comfort. Here is a bean to plant near your hearth. It will grow so tall that you will come to heaven if you climb it all the way. Goodbye!" The beggar disappeared at once.

Although he did not quite trust his bean would be that marvellous, he planted it. Two days later it sprouted and grew as high as the fireplace, and eventually grew so high that he lost sight of it in the sky. The farmer climbed the stalk. The stems of the leaves served him as rungs of a ladder. After long hours of climbing came to a lovely plain filled with many different flowers. He followed a path that led him to a stately house. Holy Pierre lived there.

The farmer knocked on the door.

"Quiet! Quiet, please! Who is there? The door is always open." Holy Pierre appeared in the doorway and asked the farmer why he had come there.

"I have come to find out how I could get from the Lord a small house on a hill, with a small sum of money to help me if I should get ill.

"Nothing more? You can go home again. Your wish is fulfillled."

After thanking holy Pierre the farmer got down again. He found his wife rejoicing wildly in front of a beautiful house. In the yard were many fowls pecking. But blind ambition seized the farmer's wife. A happy farm life on a hill was not good enough for her. She forced her husband to climb into the sky again. He did, and came to holy Pierre.

"There you are again. What did you miss, since you have come back? Didn't your house and treasure suit you?

"I got all that, and I would be happy about it all too, thank you. But my wife has forced me to come back to ask for a castle with big treasures and with many servants.

"You want it; you shall have it. But I fear it will be the ruin of you two."

The farmer climbed down again and strove to get through the crowds of servants who blocked a magnificent lounge. He hardly dared to raise his eyes towards his beautiful mate, for she was sumpteously dressed and covered with diamonds, throning in the middle of careed-seekers and attendants eager to fulfil her slightest desire.

But she was not content with her position. "Return to the Lord and ask him to make me a queen.

"I cannot. I have been up there twice already. It is enough. I fear holy Pierre could push med down from the sky if I come there again.

"Go. If I don't become a queen, I will leave you. It seems you would rather let me die than to please me. Oh, what misfortune!"

The large-hearted farmer climbed the beanstalk a third time. Holy Pierre looked strangely austere this time, but he gave the farmer what he asked for this time too.

When he came down to earth again, he found himself surrounded by guards and soldiers. Foreign ambassadors came to the castle every day with presents for him, asking a little good will from him.

But the queen was not perfectly happy. Something was missing still. This time she forced her husband to climb the beanstalk and ask for a pope's title for his wife. The man had to obey her, even though he was the king. He nearly fainted when he saw the looks of holy Pierre, but explained nevertheless.

"You wretched fellow," cried the saint. "How dare you ask me such a thing? I have warned you before, and I'm not going to grant all future desires. You wife wants to be a pope, you say? OK. But that's it."

The new title was not enough for the woman. This time she wanted to be God. Her husband climbed the beanstalk again. As soon as he told why he had come, he was thrown out, fell from the sky and got very bruised when he landed. In front of their hut was his wife in the poor clothes she had wore before.

The bean was broken by a dreadful lightning that nearly knocked down the small cottage.

[Carnoy 2:13]

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