|From Audubon Society Beginner Guide:|
Rocks and Minerals (1982)
Once upon a time, in France, there was "a widow who had two daughters. The elder was so like her mother in temper and face that to have seen one was to have seen the other. They were both so disagreeable and proud that it was impossible to live with them. The younger, who was the exact portrait of her father, in her kindly and polite ways, was as beautiful a girl as one could see." This widow was so bitter that the very sight of the younger girl seemed to incite her. By the time she was a young lady, she was a servant in all but name. "Among other things that she was obliged to do, this poor child was forced to go twice a day to fetch water from a place a mile or more from the house and carry back a large jug filled to the brim. It happened one day that when she got to the fountain, an old woman leaned against it. She asked the girl to giver her a drink of water and the girl said, "Certainly, my good woman." And the old one smiled and nodded to herself. The girl rinsed her water jug clean, filled it from the most sparkling part of the fountain, and held it gently while the dame drank her fill. That's when the old woman said, "You are so beautiful, so good and kind, that I cannot refrain from conferring a gift upon you. ' For she was really a fairy, who had taken the form of a poor village woman. 'The gift I make you,' continued the fairy,' [is] that with every word you speak, either a flower or a precious stone will fall from your mouth." Thus did it happen when the girl got home. Her mother, angered over the extra time the girl had taken, berated her. When her younger daughter spoke in her own defense, "there fell from her mouth six roses, two pearls, and two large diamonds." My, but her stepmother was surprised! She made the child tell her what had happened, and, learning of the old woman at the well, devised a plan. Now she called her older daughter, whose name was Fanchon. "See what falls from your sister's mouth when she speaks! Would you not be glad to receive a similar gift? All you have to do is go and fetch water from the spring and if an old woman asks you for some to drink, to give it to her, nicely and politely." Well. The elder cared not at all for a walk to the spring, much less an encounter with an old woman. Her mother insisted that she go, however, and gave her no peace until she did. Off went Franchon, and "she had no sooner arrived at the spring than she saw a lady magnificently dressed , walking toward her from the wood, who approached and asked her for some water to drink." It was the fairy, only disguised as a noblewoman. When this apparition asked the young lady for a drink, what do you think she replied? "I have, of course, brought this silver bottle on purpose for you to drink from, and all I have to say is — drink from it if you like!' 'You are scarcely polite,' said the fairy, without losing her temper; 'however, as you are so disobliging, I confer this gift upon you, that with every word you speak, a snake or a toad shall fall from your mouth." The fairy disappeared and the girl returned home. "Directly the mother caught sight of her she called out, 'Well, my daughter?' 'Well, my mother,' replied the ill-tempered girl, throwing out as she spoke two vipers and a toad. 'Alack!' cried the mother,'What do I see? This is your sister's doing, but I will pay her out for it.' And so saying, she ran towards the younger with intent to beat her." But the girl fled from her, and ran until she was deep in the forest. It happened that the son of the King was out hunting in that very forest. When he came upon the crying girl and asked her troubles, she replied, "Alas! sir, my mother has driven me from home.' The King's son, seeing five or six pearls and as many diamonds falling from her mouth as she spoke, asked her to explain how this was. " This the girl did, and, in the telling, revealed herself to be of such a pure nature that the King's son fell in love with her. The dowry she produced even as she spoke was "worth more than any ordinary dowry brought by another". Therefore he took her home to his mother and father, and they were married the same day. "As for her sister, she made herself so hated that her own mother drover her from the house. The miserable girl, having gone about in vain trying to find someone who would take her in, crept away into the corner of a wood and there died."
Perrault, Charles 1697
Notes: The motif of one daughter spitting gems and the other repulsive animals as they speak, as payment for behavior, is repeated in The Talking Eggs. (San Souci, R.) That book also has a Baba Yaga motif. Here we do have a fairy and water, but they do not, I think, add up to a "water spirit". More likely they are an illustration of the fact that without indoor plumbing, one had to draw water from a well in order to drink. Elderly ladies probably did have to linger about wells waiting until someone helped them.
Montessori Connection: 6-12: Geology/Formation of Diamonds
1. Read the story and write down what comes out of each girl's mouth after they meet the fairy.
2. Learn where diamonds really come from. Crystal and Gem (DK Eyewitness Books) or Precious Stones by FRANK B. WADE, B.S.
3. Learn why they are so beautiful and special.
4. Plan a trip to a museum or gem show where you can see real diamonds.