|Drawings by Lois Lenski.|
"There was once upon a time a widow who had two daughters. The older was so much like her in face and humor that whoever looked upon the daughter saw the mother." Alas, the pair of them were as ugly in temper as in feature, and together they doubled the misery of the younger sister. She was "the very picture of her father," a kind and handsome man. She was bullied by her mother, and made to take her meals alone in the kitchen, after drudging all day. "Among other things, the child was forced twice a day to draw water about a mile and a half from the house, and bring home a pitcher of it." Now, one day, as the girl reached the well, she saw a raggedy old woman there. This lady begged her to dip us some water so she could quench her thirst, and the girl replied, "Oh, yes, with all my heart, Goody.'; and rinsing the pitcher she took ups some water from the clearest place of the fountain and gave it to her, holding up the pitcher all the while that she might drink the water." When the woman had finished, she smiled and patted the girl's face. "You are so very pretty, my dear, so good and so mannerly, that I cannot help giving you a gift' — for this was a fairy, who had taken the form of a poor country woman to see how far the civility and good manners of this pretty girl would go." The gift was to be a "a jewel or a flower" for every word that the girl spoke! This gentle girl thanked the goodwife, and returned home. There, "her mother scolded her for staying so long at the fountain." No matter how softly the child tried to explain what had delayed her, the mother ranted and raved. Then, all of a sudden, the woman stopped. She had just realized that "two roses, two pearls and two large diamonds" had tumbled out of her daughter's mouth. "How happens this, my child?" she asked, "calling her child for the first time." So the girl told her, and now the woman said," In good faith, I must send your sister thither. Come, Fanny! Look what comes out of your sister's mouth when she speaks! Would you not be glad, my dear, to have the same gift given to you? You have nothing else to do but draw water out of the fountain, and when a certain poor woman asks you to let her drink, to give it to her very civilly.' 'It would be a fine sight indeed', said this ill-bred minx, 'to see me go to draw water!" But her mother commanded her to go, so with a sigh and a grumble, off she went. When she got to the fountain, she saw a finely dressed dame. This person came near her and begged that the girl dip some water for her. Now this young lady drew out her mother's best silver tankard, which she had brought for the purpose, and said, "I am come hither to serve you with water, pray? I suppose the silver tankard was brought purely for your ladyship, was it? However, you may drink out of it, if you fancy." This was how the "proud, saucy maid" spoke to her elder. The dame, who was of course the same fairy, testing "how far this girl's rudeness would go", answered, "You are not over and above mannerly.' without putting herself in a passion." Then she gave that girl a gift, worthy of the maid's character. "At every word you speak, there shall come out of your mouth a snake or a toad." And the girl ran home, crying. When her mother asked what was the matter, she said, "Well, Mother!' and two vipers and two toads" jumped out of her mouth. Now both hussies turned on the younger sister, who protested loudly, all the while spitting diamonds. Her sister screeched toads and their mother pure verbal venom. They beat the girl until she ran away, and hid herself in the forest. It happened, that "the king's son, returning from hunting, met her, and seeing her so very pretty, asked her what she did there alone, and why she cried. 'Alas, sir! My mother has turned me out of doors!" And as she spoke, "five or six pearls, and as many diamonds" came out of her mouth. the more she spoke, the deeper the love the prince felt for her. Soon he said that he loved her, and would rescue her from her wicked family. Then "he conducted her to the palace of his father and married her. As for her sister, the gift of the fairy remained with her for the rest of her life."
From: Candlelight Stories, selected and edited by Hutchinson, V.S. (1927). Drawings by Lois Lenski.
Notes: A story contained in The Classic Fairy Tales, by Iona and Peter Opie, (1974) is identified as being called Diamonds and Toads in the first known manuscript of it, in the Pentamerone, 1634, as Les Doie Pizzele or The Two Cakes . It was included in Charles Perrault's Mother Goose Tales, (1695). In that version, the sisters are born of different mothers. Perrault included the story again in hist 1729 Tales of Past Times, under the title The Fairy.
Montessori Connection: Fundamental Needs of People: Water
1. Read this story and notice where the fairy appears. (At the fountain.)
2. Think about why she would appear there?
3. Think about where you and your family go to get water to drink, to cook with, and to wash with.
4. Imagine that you could not go there for some reason. Maybe there has been an earthquake and your pipes are broken, or maybe you just turn the faucet and nothing happens.
5. Write a paragraph explaining where else you might find clean water to use.
6. Learn about how people used to get their drinking water, before they had plumbing in their homes:Drinking-water: Webster's Timeline History, 1839 - 2007 or A History of the World in 6 Glasses.
7. Learn that clean water is a precious resource and that many children in the world do not have access to it. Blue Planet Run: The Race to Provide Safe Drinking Water to the World
8. Learn how you can try and help: Drinking Water Quality : Taking Responsibility Coloring Book