Monday, July 14, 2014

European: The Dirty Shepherdess

This story is part of the Lang's European Fairy Tales I unit. Story source: The Green Fairy Book by Andrew Lang, illustrated by H. J. Ford (1892).




The Dirty Shepherdess
(a French tale)

Once upon a time, there lived a King who had two daughters, and he loved them with all his heart. When they grew up, he was suddenly seized with a wish to know if they, on their part, truly loved him, and he made up his mind that he would give his kingdom to whichever best proved her devotion.

So he called the elder Princess and said to her, 'How much do you love me?'

'As the apple of my eye!' answered she.

'Ah!' exclaimed the King, kissing her tenderly as he spoke; 'you are indeed a good daughter.'

Then he sent for the younger, and asked her how much she loved him.

'I look upon you, my father,' she answered, 'as I look upon salt in my food.'

But the King did not like her words, and ordered her to quit the court, and never again to appear before him. The poor Princess went sadly up to her room and began to cry, but when she was reminded of her father's commands, she dried her eyes and made a bundle of her jewels and her best dresses and hurriedly left the castle where she was born.

She walked straight along the road in front of her, without knowing very well where she was going or what was to become of her for she had never been shown how to work, and all she had learnt consisted of a few household rules and receipts of dishes which her mother had taught her long ago. And as she was afraid that no housewife would want to engage a girl with such a pretty face, she determined to make herself as ugly as she could.

She therefore took off the dress that she was wearing and put on some horrible old rags belonging to a beggar, all torn and covered with mud. After that she smeared mud all over her hands and face and shook her hair into a great tangle. Having thus changed her appearance, she went about offering herself as a goose-girl or shepherdess. But the farmers' wives would have nothing to say to such a dirty maiden and sent her away with a morsel of bread for charity's sake.

After walking for a great many days without being able to find any work, she came to a large farm where they were in want of a shepherdess and engaged her gladly.

One day when she was keeping her sheep in a lonely tract of land, she suddenly felt a wish to dress herself in her robes of splendour. She washed herself carefully in the stream and, as she always carried her bundle with her, it was easy to shake off her rags and transform herself in a few moments into a great lady.

The King's son, who had lost his way out hunting, perceived this lovely damsel a long way off and wished to look at her closer. But as soon as the girl saw what he was at, she fled into the wood as swiftly as a bird. The Prince ran after her, but as he was running, he caught his foot in the root of a tree and fell, and when he got up again, she was nowhere to be seen.

When she was quite safe, she put on her rags again and smeared over her face and hands. However the young Prince, who was both hot and thirsty, found his way to the farm to ask for a drink of cider, and he inquired the name of the beautiful lady that kept the sheep. At this, everyone began to laugh, for they said that the shepherdess was one of the ugliest and dirtiest creatures under the sun.

The Prince thought some witchcraft must be at work, and he hastened away before the return of the shepherdess, who became that evening the butt of everybody's jests.


(600 words)






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