Monday, June 2, 2008

Grimm's Fairy Tale 130: One-Eye, Two-Eyes and Three Eyes or Tree with the Golden Apples

The Tree with the Golden Apples, Gustav Klimt

This fairy tale illustrates that beauty really is in the eye (or eyes) of the beholder.
Little One-Eye, Little Two-Eyes and Little Three-Eyes

There was once a woman who had three daughters; the oldest was named Little One-Eye, because she had a single eye in the middle of her forehead. The middle child was named Little Two-Eyes, because she had two eyes like other people. The youngest was named Little Three-Eyes, because she had three eyes and her third eye was in the center of her forehead. But because Little Two-Eyes did not look any differently from other human children, her sisters and mother did not like her. They said to her “You with your two eyes are not any better than the common folk; you are not one of us.” They pushed her around and gave her ugly rags to wear and nothing to eat except leftovers and crumbs. They inflicted misery on the poor child in every way imaginable.

Now it happened that Little Two-Eyes went out into the field and tended the goat. But she was very hungry because her sisters did not give her enough to eat. She sat down at the edge of the field and began to cry so pitifully that two streams flowed from her eyes. And when she looked up in misery, there stood a woman beside her and asked “Little Two-Eyes, why are you crying?” Little Two-Eyes answered “Should I not cry? Because I have two eyes like other people, my mother and sisters can’t stand me, they push me from one corner to the next, give me old rags to wear and nothing to eat besides leftover scraps. That is why I am starving.” The wise woman said “Little Two-Eyes, dry your face. I will tell you something so you will hunger no more. Speak to your goat and say

“Little goat bleat”
Deck little table so neat.”

When you say this a neatly laid table will stand before you with the most wonderful food and you can eat as much as you desire. And when you are satisfied and don’t need the table anymore, say

“Little goat neigh”
Take little table away.”

And before your very eyes the table will vanish.” With that, the Wise Woman departed. Little Two-Eyes thought “I must see if what she said is true, because I am starving so,” and she said

“Little goat bleat”
Deck little table so neat”

She had hardly spoken the words when a table appeared covered with a white cloth. On it lay a plate with knife and fork and a silver spoon and the most wonderful food. The steam rose from the plate, spreading a wonderful aroma. Everything was still warm as if it had just left the kitchen. Little Two-Eyes said the shortest prayer that she knew “Dear God, be our Guest always. Amen”. She ate heartily and enjoyed the food. And when she was satisfied, she spoke as the Wise Woman had instructed her:

“Little goat neigh”
Take little table away”

No sooner said than the little table and everything on it vanished at once. “This is a nice way to keep house,” Little Two-Eyes thought and was quite content and happy.

In the evening, when she came home with her goat and found her little bowl with the food her sisters had left, she did not touch a single morsel. The next day she drove her goat out to the meadow and left the few crumbs in the bowl she had been given. The first and second time, the sisters did not notice but when it happened again they said “Something is not right with Little Two-Eyes, she always leaves her food untouched and before she ate everything we gave her. She must have found some other means.” To uncover the truth it was decided that Little One-Eye would accompany Little Two-Eyes when she drove the goat to the meadow. She would watch her very carefully and see what she did and whether someone brought her food and drink. As Little Two-Eyes prepared to leave, Little One-Eye approached her and said “I will go with you to the field and see the goat is well-tended and is driven into the rich grass.”
But Little Two-Eyes understood what Little One-Eye really meant and drove the goat up into the high grass and said “Come, Little One-Eye, we shall sit down and I will sing you a song.” Little One-Eye sat down and was tired from her such physical exertion and the heat of the sun and Little Two-Eyes sang sweetly

“Little One-Eye, are you awake?
Little One-Eye, are you asleep?”

And Little One-Eye shut her eye and fell asleep. And when Little Two-Eyes saw that Little One-Eye slept and could not see anything, she said

“Little goat bleat,
Deck little table so neat,”

And she sat down at the table, ate and drank until she was full. Then she called again

“Little goat neigh,
Take little table away.”

And everything vanished in that moment. Little Two-Eyes awoke Little One-Eye and said “Little One-Eye, you wanted to stand watch but you fell asleep. That goat could have roamed the entire world in the time you slept. Let’s go home now.” They went home and Little Two-Eyes once more left her little bowl untouched. Little One-Eye could not tell her mother why she did not eat and to excuse herself said “I fell asleep out there.”

The next day the mother said to Little Three-Eyes “This time you go along and watch whether Little Two-Eyes eats anything and whether someone brings food and drink. She must be eating and drinking in secret.” Little Three-Eyes approached Little Two-Eyes and said “I will go with you to the field and see the goat is well-tended and is driven into the rich grass.”
But Little Two-Eyes understood what Little Three-Eyes really meant and drove the goat up into the high grass and said “Come, Little Three-Eyes, we shall sit down and I will sing you a song.” Little Three-Eyes sat down and was tired from her unusual exertion and the heat of the sun and Little Two-Eyes sang sweetly

Little Three-Eyes, are you awake?

But now instead of singing
Little Three-Eyes, are you asleep?”

She sang imprudently
Little Two-Eyes, are you asleep”

And continued to sing

Little Three-Eyes are you awake?
Little Two-Eyes are you asleep?

And Little Three-Eyes shut her two eyes and fell asleep. But the third eye did not fall asleep because it was not lulled to sleep by the spell. Little Three-Eyes closed the eye, but only as a ruse to pretend that she slept. But her third eye squinted a bit and could see everything clearly. And when Little Two-Eyes thought that Little Three-Eyes was asleep, she recited her spell

“Little goat bleat”
Deck little table so neat”

She ate and drank to her heart’s desire and then dismissed the table again

“Little goat neigh,
Take little table away”

But Little Three-Eyes had seen everything. Little Two-Eyes came and woke her and said “Oh, Little Three-Eyes, you fell asleep? You are a good guard! Come, we shall go home.” And when they went home, Little Two-Eyes did not eat anything and Little Three-Eyes went to her mother and said “I now know why the proud thing does not eat: when she is out with the goat she says

“Little goat bleat,”
Deck little table so neat,”

And then a little table stands before her covered with the best food, much better than we have. And when she is satisfied she says

“Little goat neigh,
Take little table away,”

And everything vanishes again; I saw everything quite clearly. Two-Eyes can work magic with her singing and my two eyes fell asleep. But the one eye on my forehead, happily that one stayed awake.” The jealous mother turned to Little Two-Eyes in rage “So, you want to have it better than we do? Your appetite shall dry up!” She took a slaughtering knife and ran it through the goat’s heart, and it fell dead.

When Little Two-Eyes saw what had happened, she was filled with sadness, went out to the field, sat down at the edge of the meadow and cried bitter tears. At once the Wise Woman appeared beside her and said “Little Two-Eyes, why are you crying?” “Should I not cry?” she answered. “The goat, which laid the table so beautifully every day when I spoke your spell has been slaughtered by my mother. Now I must suffer hunger and sorrow .” The Wise Woman spoke “Little Two-Eyes, I will give you good advice. Ask your sisters to give you the entrails of the slaughtered goat and bury them in the earth before your house door. That will bring you luck.” She vanished and Little Two-Eyes went home and said to here sisters “Dear sisters, give me something from my goat. I’m not asking for any of the good parts, only give me the entrails.” The sisters laughed and said “You can have them, if you want them.” And following the advice of the Wise Woman, Little Two-Eyes took the entrails and buried them in the peace and quiet of the night right before the house door.

The next morning, when they all awoke and stepped out the front door, there stood a beautiful and glorious tree. It had leaves of sliver and fruits of gold hanging between the leaves. There was nothing more beautiful than the tree or more delicious than its fruits in all the world. But they did not know how the tree had come there during the night. Only Little Two-Eyes noticed that it had grown from the entrails of the goat; for it stood exactly where she had buried them in the earth. The mother spoke to Little One-Eye “Climb up my child and break off some fruit from the tree.” Little One-Eye climbed up but when she wanted to grasp one of the golden apples, the branch slipped away from her hands. This happened each time and she could not break off a single apple, try as she may. The mother then said “Little Three-Eyes, you climb up. With your three eyes, you can see better than Little One-Eye.” Little One-Eye slipped down and Little Three-Eyes climbed up. But Little Three-Eyes was not any more skilled and though she tried her best, the golden apples always slipped away. Finally, her mother became impatient and climbed the tree herself. But she had just as much success grasping the fruit as Little One-Eye and Little Three-Eyes and always slapped the empty air. Then Little Two-Eyes spoke “Let me climb up and maybe it will be different with me.” The sisters called to her “You with your two eyes, what can you do!” But Little Two-Eyes climbed up and the golden apples did not slide away from her but rather fell into her hands and she could pick one after another and fill her entire apron. She climbed down from the tree and the mother took them from her. But instead of treating Little Two-Eyes better, the mother, Little One-Eye and Little Three-Eyes only became jealous that she alone could pick the apples. They treated her even more harshly than before.

It happened that they were all together standing around the tree, when a young knight rode by. “Quickly, Little Two-Eyes,” the sisters cried, “creep underneath the barrel, so that we don’t have to be ashamed of you.” And they quickly pushed Little Two-Eyes into a barrel, which stood next to the tree and also pushed underneath the golden apples, which she had broken off. When the knight approached, they saw he was a handsome man who stopped in amazement at the beautiful tree full of gold and silver and said to the two sisters “To whom does this beautiful tree belong? Whoever gives me a branch could request his heart's desire.” Little One-Eye and Little Three-Eyes replied that the tree belonged to them and they would break off a branch. Both tried their best but they could not break off the branches and the fruits slipped away each time. The knight said “It is strange that the tree belongs to you and you don’t have the power to break off anything.” They persisted and said the tree was their property. As they spoke Little Two-Eyes rolled a few golden apples from underneath the barrel, so that they landed at the feet of the knight. Little Two-Eyes was angry that Little One-Eye and Little Three-Eyes did not tell the truth. When the knight saw the apples, he was amazed and asked from where they came. Little One-Eye and Little Three-Eyes replied, they did have one other sister, but they had to keep her hidden because she had only two eyes, just like other people. The knight demanded to see her and called “Little Two-Eyes come forth.” Little Two-Eyes emerged confidently from underneath the barrel and the knight was amazed by her beauty and said “You, Little Two-Eyes, are certainly able to break off a branch.” “Yes,” Little Two-Eyes replied. “That I can do, because the tree belongs to me.” And she climbed up and with ease broke off a branch with fine silver leaves and golden fruits and gave it to the knight. The knight spoke “Little Two-Eyes, what should I give you for this?” “Oh,” replied Little Two-Eyes “I suffer hunger and thirst, grief and want, from early in the morning ‘til late at night. If you could take me with you and free me from this fate, I would be happy.” The knight lifted Little Two-Eyes onto his horse and brought her home to has father’s castle. He gave her beautiful clothes, food and drink as much as she desired. Because he loved her so, he had their union blessed and the wedding was celebrated in great joy.

As Little Two-Eyes was taken away by the handsome knight, her two sisters envied her happiness. “Ha!” they said. “Even though she has married the young knight, the wonderful tree still belongs to us!” “Even if we can’t break off any of the fruits, everyone will stand before it in amazement; who knows where our wheat shall blossom tomorrow!” But the next morning the tree had vanished and their hopes along with it. As Little Two-Eyes gazed out of her window, there stood the tree in its full glory. It had followed her to her new home.

Little Two-Eyes lived a long time in happiness. Once, two poor women came to the castle and begged for alms. Little Two-Eyes looked into their faces and recognized her sisters Little One-Eye and Little Three-Eyes. They had fallen into such poverty that they were forced to wander and beg bread before doors of noble houses. But Little Two-Eyes welcomed them and cared for them and they were sorry that they had done such evil to their sister in their youth.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very interesting indeed!
Isn't it bear resemblance to the fairy tale: The ugly duckling: