|Earth and her moon. (photo by NASA)|
Once upon a time, there lived a beautiful queen, with three daughters as lovely as herself. Alas, when they were not yet come of age, the queen took sick. Knowing that she would die soon, she called her husband, the King, to her. She made him promise that if sought a second wife, he would ask her to try on his first queen's gown. Then she "asked the king to marry no one whom the clothes will not fit", and died. The sad years passed, and, one day, the king's youngest daughter, Xylomarie, wandered into her dead mother's chamber. A notion entered her head to put on her mother's gown. It fitted her perfectly. She stepped out into the hallway just as the King was passing. When he saw the young maiden wearing his first Queen's gown, he demanded that she marry him, though he could see that it was his own daughter. The maiden, taking fright and thinking to delay the inevitable, asked for a special gown. It was to replicate "the sky with stars", she said, and must be accurate in every detail. One week later, her father presented her with a silk gown of midnight black. Embroidered upon it, in shimmering colors was the sun, stars and planets. They seemed to swirl away into the depths of the skirt, and when the girl put the dress on, she felt that she might fly into the sky. But she said that she would not marry her father until he provided her with a second dress, this one representing "the ground with flowers". Two days later the King brought a dress to his daughter. It was of browns and golds and greens, varying in texture from soft velvet to rough burlap. For so is the ground, though it be covered with flowers. The oranges and yellows, reds and blue, violets and lavenders of the blossoms seemed to burst out of the folds of the gown,and when Xylomarie had put it on, she felt as though she were going to bloom herself. But she still would not marry her father. Now she demanded a dress like "the sea with fishes". The next day her father brought her a gown that flowed and swirled, in shades of blues and greens and creamy whites. When she put it on, she felt that she might be swept out to sea in the gown, so she changed clothes again. Meanwhile, a friendly workman, at the castle to repair the drains, has been watching the amazing dresses. He now offered Xylomarie a gift of his own. It was a "wooden sheath" and it fitted her body perfectly. So Xylomarie disguised herself in this strange dress, and taking her three magical gowns, she ran away. She trudged "from mountain to mountain" and finally found herself deep in a forest. She lay down, in her sheath, and slept. It happened that the prince of a neighboring kingdom was out hunting next morning, and captured a strange beast where it lay. The creature appeared to be half tree-half tree half animal, so the prince took it home as a curiosity. There he attempted to feed the creature horses' food. She did not eat it. Next he tried feeding it with bird's food, but she would not eat it. At length, the animal said that she would like some bread and soup. So they knew that it ate human food. Now Xylomarie passed her days banging around the palace inside her wooden sheath. While watching "the Queen cooking, she is hit with a gridiron by the Queen" who calls her Wooden Mary. The next day, "the Queen bakes, and Wooden Mary brings the faggots; the Queen hits her with the furnace besom". And the next day while the Queen is sewing, Wooden Mary manages to snarl the thread, so the Queen hits her with the bobbins. Now Xylomarie runs away to cry in the stable. There she sees the prince departing for a wedding ceremony at the neighboring castle. She quickly changes into her dress of stars and follows him. She slips into the wedding party, and the prince dances with her. When he asks her name, all she will say is,"Grillville". After a while, the prince falls asleep, and Xylomarie steals his ring. Then she rides away. The next week, she is in the stable when she sees the prince departing for another wedding. So she changes into her dress of flowers and follows him. When she has slipped into the wedding party, the prince recognizes her as the girl in the gown of stars, and asks her to dance. But when he asks her name, all she will say is,"Besom Town". Later, the prince falls asleep, and now she steals his "watch and chain". Then she rides away again. A week later, Xylomarie is in the stable, and she watches the prince depart for a third wedding. Now she changes into her dress of the sea, and follows him. Again she sneaks into the wedding party, and again the prince dances with her. When he asks where she has come from, all she will tell him is "Bobbin Town". When he dozes off, Xylomarie steals his watch key. Then she rides away. Now the prince is heartbroken because he has fallen in love with this strange girl, who cannot be found. He becomes weaker and weaker, and his mother, the Queen, orders the cook to bake his favorite bread. But Xylomarie dances around the cook and drives her to distraction, so the woman throws some dough at the Wooden Mary to keep her quiet. And that is when Xylomarie hides the ring, the watch and chain, and the watch key in her little loaves. She slips these into the oven and pushes cook's loaves right into the center where they will burn. Sure enough, when cook goes to take out the loaves, the only ones that are not burt black are the odd shaped loaves made by Wooden Mary. Not daring to keep the prince waiting any longer, cook sends these loaves to the prince. But Xylomarie cannot resist sneaking upstairs to watch. And sure enough, the prince eats the loaves and discovers his articles therein. When Wooden Mary is heard clattering around on the stairs, she is brought before the prince, who commands that the wooden sheath be broken open. And that is when he sees a beautiful maiden, wearing a dress of blues and greens and cream whites, swirling with fishes from all of the seven seas. He asks if she will be his wife, and they live happily ever after.
From Cox, M. R. (1893/2011)