There was once a girl who was lazy and would not spin, and her mother could not persuade her to it, do what she would. At last the mother became angry and out of patience, and gave her a good beating, so that she cried out loudly. At that moment the Queen was going by; as she heard the crying, she stopped; and, going into the house, she asked the mother why she was beating her daughter, so that every one outside in the street could hear her cries. The woman was ashamed to tell of her daughter's laziness, so she said, "I cannot stop her from spinning; she is for ever at it, and I am poor and cannot furnish her with flax enough." Then the Queen answered, "I like nothing better than the sound of the spinning-wheel, and always feel happy when I hear its humming; let me take your daughter with me to the castle - I have plenty of flax, she shall spin there to her heart's content." The mother was only too glad of the offer, and the Queen took the girl with her.
When they reached the castle the Queen showed her three rooms which were filled with the finest flax as full as they could hold.
"Now you can spin me this flax," said she, "and when you can show it me all done you shall have my eldest son for bridegroom; you may be poor, but I make nothing of that - your industry is dowry enough." The girl was inwardly terrified, for she could not have spun the flax, even if she were to live to be a hundred years old, and were to sit spinning every day of her life from morning to evening. And when she found herself alone she began to weep, and sat so for three days without putting her hand to it. On the third day the Queen came, and when she saw that nothing had been done of the spinning she was much surprised; but the girl excused herself by saying that she had not been able to begin because of the distress she was in at leaving her home and her mother. The excuse contented the Queen, who said, however, as she went away, "Tomorrow you must begin to work."
When the girl found herself alone again she could not tell how to help herself or what to do, and in her perplexity she went and gazed out of the window. There she saw three women passing by, and the first of them had a broad flat foot, the second had a big under-lip that hung down over her chin, and the third had a remarkably broad thumb. They all of them stopped in front of the window, and called out to know what it was that the girl wanted. She told them all her need, and they promised her their help, and said, "Then will you invite us to your wedding, and not be ashamed of us, and call us your cousins, and let us sit at your table; if you will promise this, we will finish off your flax-spinning in a very short time."
"With all my heart," answered the girl; "only come in now, and begin at once."
Then these same women came in, and she cleared a space in the first room for them to sit and carry on their spinning. The first one drew out the thread and moved the treddle that turned the wheel, the second moistened the thread, the third twisted it, and rapped with her finger on the table, and as often as she rapped a heap of yarn fell to the ground, and it was most beautifully spun. But the girl hid the three spinsters out of the Queen's sight, and only showed her, as often as she came, the heaps of well-spun yarn; and there was no end to the praises she received. When the first room was empty they went on to the second, and then to the third, so that at last all was finished. Then the three women took their leave, saying to the girl, "Do not forget what you have promised, and it will be all the better for you."
So when the girl took the Queen and showed her the empty rooms, and the great heaps of yarn, the wedding was at once arranged, and the bridegroom rejoiced that he should have so clever and diligent a wife, and praised her exceedingly.
"I have three cousins," said the girl, "and as they have shown me a great deal of kindness, I would not wish to forget them in my good fortune; may I be allowed to invite them to the wedding, and to ask them to sit at the table with us?" The Queen and the bridegroom said at once, "There is no reason against it."
So when the feast began in came the three spinsters in strange guise, and the bride said, "Dear cousins, you are welcome."
"Oh," said the bridegroom, "how come you to have such dreadfully ugly relations?" And then he went up to the first spinster and said, "How is it that you have such a broad flat foot?"
"With treading," answered she, "with treading." Then he went up to the second and said, "How is it that you have such a great hanging lip?"
"With licking," answered she, "with licking."
Then he asked the third, "How is it that you have such a broad thumb?"
"With twisting thread," answered she, "with twisting thread." Then the bridegroom said that from that time forward his beautiful bride should never touch a spinning-wheel. And so she escaped that tiresome flax-spinning.
A fost odata o fata frumoasa si buna, dar care avea un defect: ura munca. Si nu era chip ca mama acesteia sa o determine sa toarca putin, in ciuda reprosurilor continue.
Intr-o zi, mama, exasperata de faptul ca nu isi putea convinge fiica sa munceasca, ii trase o palma, incat aceasta vazu stele verzi in plina zi.
Cum era de asteptat, fata izbucni in plans. In acel moment trecea pe acolo regina, in caleasca sa regala. Regina, care era renumita pentru bunatatea ei, auzind plansetul fetei, porunci vizitiului sa se opreasca si, coborand din caleasca, intra in casa sa vada ce se intampla.
Mama, incercand sa ascunda adevaratele cauze, raspunse:
- Fiica mea plange pentru ca eu sunt saraca si nu ii pot da inul necesar pentru a toarce.
- Este pacat ca aceasta tanara frumoasa nu isi poate satisface dorintele, replica regina. Mie imi place mult sa aud zgomotul furcii de tors, asa ca va rog sa ma lasati sa o iau la palat, unde va putea toarce cat vrea, pentru ca am atata in, cat sa toarca multi ani.
Atat mama, cat si fiica ramasera mute de uimire, iar regina, luand aceasta liniste drept o aprobare, ii porunci tinerei sa o urmeze. Aceasta nu cuteza sa o refuze si urca in caleasca; apoi se indreptara catre palat. Nici nu ajunsera bine, ca regina o conduse pe protejata sa in camere pline pana in tavan cu in, spunandu-i:
- Cand vei termina de tors tot acest in, am sa te casatoresc cu fiul meu cel mare. Nu conteaza ca esti saraca, pentru ca intotdeauna am considerat ca femeia muncitoare are deja cel mai bun har pe care si l-ar dori sotul ei. Biata fata nu mai avu ce sa zica. Stia doar ca nu ar fi terminat de tors niciodata si ca atunci regina, tradata, ar fi pedepsit-o. Pe de alta parte, era acolo asa de mult in, ca doar vazandu-l isi pierdea curajul si recunostea in sinea ei ca, daca ar fi trait si o suta de ani, tot nu ar fi putut termina de tors tot inul. Sarmana fata incepu sa planga disperata si timp de trei zile nu fu in stare sa-si inceapa munca. Dupa aceste trei zile, veni regina, vrand sa vada cat muncise. Vazand ca nu facuse absolut nimic, se mira:
- Nu-mi pot uita mama, se scuza tanara. Aceasta durere ma impiedica sa muncesc.
Aceasta scuza o multumi pe regina, care ii adresa fetei cuvinte de mangaiere, rugand-o totodata sa inceapa cat mai repede posibil sa toarca.
Ramasa singura, fata se indrepta spre fereastra, de unde observa trei femei cu un aspect neobisnuit. Una dintre ele avea buza inferioara atat de mare si lasata, incat ii acoperea barbia. Alta avea degetul mare de la mana dreapta foarte mare si turtit, incat parea o laba de lup. Si cea de-a treia avea un picior foarte turtit si lat incat ti se facea mila.
Cand femeile ajunsera in dreptul ferestrei, se oprira vazand ca tanara avea ochii plini de lacrimi. Una dintre ele o intreba de ce este atat de amarata. Tanara le povesti tot si, cand termina, una dintre cele deformate ii spuse:
- Noi suntem iscusite in ceea ce priveste torsul si vom face noi treaba in locul tau; dar mai intai trebuie sa ne promiti ca ne vei invita la nunta ta, ne vei prezenta ca verisoarele tale, nu iti va fi rusine cu noi si ne vei aseza la masa.
- Am sa o fac cu multa placere! exclama fata. Intrati si incepeti cat mai repede!
Le ajuta sa intre pe fereastra si, cand ajunsera inauntru, le arata gramada imensa de in. Cele trei femei incepura sa munceasca. Prima uda inul cu buza sa enorma; a doua il rasucea, proptindu-l pe masa cu degetul mare; si a treia il intindea si invartea roata cu enormul sau picior. Astfel cele trei torcatoare aveau un spor incredibil.
Cand regina intra sa verifice progresul muncii, torcatoarele se ascundeau in spatele gramezii de in, in timp ce lenesa arata treaba facuta, obtinand admiratia reginei.
Cand fu tors tot inul ce umplea prima camera, trecura la a doua, si apoi la a treia, incat terminara de tors inul in mai putin timp decat fusese calculat.
Cand regina vazu ca treaba era gata, se bucura foarte tare si, plina de entuziasm, fixa ziua nuntii fetei cu fiul sau.
Iar printul, nu numai ca nu avu nimic de obiectat in privinta casatoriei cu ea, ci, atras de frumusetea fetei, care pe deasupra mai era si harnica, vru sa grabeasca nunta.
- As dori sa te rog ceva, ii spuse fata.
Am trei verisoare pe care le iubesc mult si mi-ar face placere sa vina la nunta.
Si printul, si regina acceptara incantati de aceasta rugaminte si, cand veni ziua nuntii, aparura cele trei torcatoare foarte frumos imbracate, dar fara sa-si poata ascunde defectele, care atrasera atentia tuturor.
Mirele, neputandu-si stapani curiozitatea, se indrepta catre una dintre ele si o intreba:
- De ce ai un picior atat de mare si lat?
- S-a facut asa de cat am pedalat la roata de tors, raspunse torcatoarea.
Si, indreptandu-se catre a doua, intreba:
- Si tu, de ce ai buza atat de cazuta?
- De cat am inmuiat inul, replica ea.
- Si tu de ce ai degetul mare atat de turtit? o intreba pe a treia.
- Pentru ca rasucesc incontinuu inul.
Printul, speriat, jura ca pe viitor sotia sa nu va mai vedea furca de tors, deoarece nu dorea pentru nimic in lume sa i se deformeze draguta consoarta.