The Widow and Her Two Daughters, Madame Leprince de Beaumont
The Widow and Her Two Daughters
Madame Leprince de Beaumont
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The Widow and Her Two Daughters is a fairy tale by Madame Leprince de Beaumont. One day an old woman comes to Widow's house and asks for a place to stay. One one the daughters treats her nicely, but the other does not.

The Widow and Her Two Daughters

Madame Leprince de Beaumont

Once upon a time there was a Widow, a very worthy woman, who had two daughters, both of whom were very amiable; the eldest was named Blanche, the second Vermeille. They had been given these names because the first had the fairest complexion in the world, and the second cheeks and lips as red as vermilion or the finest coral.

One day the good Widow, sitting at her door spinning, saw a poor old woman, who could with difficulty walk, even with the aid of a stick. “You seem very tired,” said the good Widow to the old creature; “sit down a moment and rest,” and immediately desired her daughter to place a chair for her. They both rose directly, but Vermeille ran quicker than her sister and brought the chair. “Will you take something to drink?” said the good woman to the old one.

“With all my heart,” replied she; “I could even eat something, if you could give me a morsel to refresh me.”

“I will give you all in my power,” said the good Widow: “but I am poor, and it will not be much.” At the same time she told her daughters to attend on the old woman, who placed herself at the table; and the good Widow told her eldest daughter to go and gather some plums from a tree which the young girl had planted herself, and of which she was very fond.

Blanche, instead of obeying her mother cheerfully, murmured against this order, and said to herself, “It was not for this old greedy creature that I have taken so much care of my plum-tree.” She dared not refuse, however, to gather some of the plums; but she did so with an ill grace, and unwillingly.

“And you, Vermeille,” said the good woman to her second daughter, “you have no fruit to give this good lady, for your grapes are not yet ripe.”

“True,” said Vermeille, “but I hear my hen cluck; she has just laid an egg, and if madame will like to eat it warm I will give it her with all my heart.”

At the same time, without awaiting the reply of the old woman, she ran to fetch her egg; but at the same moment that she presented it to the stranger she disappeared, and they saw in her place a beautiful lady, who said to the mother, “I am about to reward your two daughters according to their deserts. The eldest shall become a great Queen, the second a farmer’s wife.” At the same time striking the cottage with her stick, it disappeared, and they saw in its place a pretty farm. “There is your lot,” said she to Vermeille. “I know that I have given to each that which she will like best.”

The Fairy departed as she uttered these words, and the mother, as well as her two daughters, remained struck with astonishment. They entered the farmhouse, and were charmed with the style of the furniture. The chairs were only of wood, but they were so polished that they could see themselves reflected in them as in a mirror. The bed-linen was white as snow.

In the farmyard there were twenty rams and as many sheep, four oxen, four cows, and in the poultry-yard all kinds of fowls, hens, ducks, pigeons, &c. There was also a pretty garden, filled with fruits and flowers. Blanche saw without envy the present which had been made to her sister, and revelled in the delightful anticipations of being a Queen. Suddenly she heard hunters passing, and going to the door to see them, she appeared so beautiful in the eyes of the King, who was returning from the chase, that he resolved immediately to marry her.

Blanche having become Queen, said to her sister Vermeille, “I will not have you remain a farmer; come with me, sister, and I will give you in marriage to a great lord.”

“I am much obliged, sister,” replied Vermeille, “but I am accustomed to the country, and wish to remain there.”

For the first few months Queen Blanche was so much occupied with balls, fine clothes, and plays, that she thought of nothing else. But she soon became accustomed to such things, and they amused her no longer; on the contrary, she became very miserable.

All the ladies of the Court paid her great respect in her presence, but she knew that they did not like her, and that they said amongst themselves, “Look at this little peasant, how she assumes the fine lady: the King had a very low taste to choose such a wife.”

This kind of conversation made the King reflect. He began to think he had done wrong in marrying Blanche, and as his love for her declined he neglected her, and passed his time with the handsomest ladies of his Court.

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