Woman spinning flax
A Woman Spinning Flax, drawing by François Bonvin,1861

Today I’ve got another tale from the Grimms, “The Hurds.” It’s from the second edition of their Children’s and Household Tales. This time, beauty does not win the day. Neither does cleverness actually- just plain old hard work.

Once upon a time there was a girl who was beautiful, but lazy and negligent. When she had to spin she was so ill-tempered that if there was a little knot in the flax, she at once pulled out a whole heap of it and scattered it about on the ground beside her. She had a servant who was industrious, and who gathered together the discarded flax, cleaned it, spun it well, and had a beautiful dress woven out of it for herself.

A young man had courted the lazy girl, and the wedding was about to take place. On the eve of the wedding, the industrious girl was dancing merrily about in her beautiful dress, and the bride said,

Ach, wat kann das Mäken springen
in minen Slickerlingen!
Ah, how that girl can jump about,
in my hurds!

The bridegroom heard this, and asked the bride what she meant by it. So she told him that the girl was wearing a dress made from the flax which she had thrown away. When the bridegroom heard this, and saw how lazy she was, and how industrious the poor girl was, he gave her up and went to the other girl, and chose her as his wife.

Of course, the groom wasn’t a prince, so apparently he could marry who he wanted. He definitely made the better choice. At the same time, I’m glad I wasn’t chosen for my “industrious” before I got married – I’d probably still be single.

Looking at the bride’s exclamation, I bet it rhymes in the German, making the story a bit amusing too.

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.

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