Today’s story is from Denmark and was told by Benjamin Thorpe in Yule-Tide Stories, 1888. “The Girl Clad in Mouse-Skin” is similar to Maid Maleen from the Grimms, but has a few differences.
Once there was a nobleman who had a daughter he loved very much. There was a war going on in the land and the nobleman had a room built into a hill and took his daughter there, along with her dog. He left her provisions for seven years, telling here that if he did not come back for her by then he was surely dead and she should leave the room on her own. She spent her time spinning and sewing beautiful dresses with silver and gold embroidery, but after seven long years, the food ran out and no one came. She began to dig herself out, but it was a long, difficult job. Her food was gone, but the hill was full of mice, her little dog killed many each day. She skinned and roasted them, ate the meat, and gave the bones to her little dog. She stitched all the skins together, and made herself a cloak which was so large that she could quite wrap her self up in it.
Finally she left the hill, with the mouse skin coat over her dress. At the first house she came to, she learned her father had died a hero and that a young lord now ruled the land. The lord was soon to be married and she was told she could find work at the manor house, so she went there directly. She worked at menial jobs and no one recognized her because the hood of the cloak covered her face.
The day before the wedding the bride sent for her, and asked her to do a her a great favor. The bride asked her to take her place during the wedding and marry the young lord rather than herself. The bride-to-be was in love with another man and planned to elope with him, but couldn’t if she married the lord. They young woman agreed.
The next day the young woman took the bride’s place and she and the young lord were married. The lord put a ring on her finger and they drove home. When they got home, the two women traded places again, but as the lord was dancing with the woman he didn’t actually marry, she didn’t have the ring. The heroine of our story refused to give it up, saying it belonged to the hand that was given away at the altar. I’m not sure why the other woman didn’t just run away during the wedding, it was the perfect time to take off.
Eventually the young lord discovers the deception and learned that the young lady he married was actually the daughter of the former lord. Everyone was amazed at her tale. Everyone had revered her father, who had died driving the enemy from the country, and they all agreed that the estate belonged to her. Her sadness turned to joy. She gave the other woman land and money so she could marry the man she wanted to. All were happy and the young lord danced with his true bride, to whom he had been wedded in the church, and given the ring.
I love the happy ending and the young woman who takes care of herself, first seven years alone and then on her own once she leaves the hill. And I ‘m going to go ahead and assume that she and the young lord truly do fall in love and live happily ever after. The idea of eating the mice and sewing a coat from their little furs is kinda gross though.
Thursday’s Tales is a weekly event here at Carol’s Notebook. Fairy tales, folktales, tall tales, even re-tellings, I love them all. Feel free to join in.