A Fairy Tale from the French Alps:
Fairy Sisters Want to Marry
Once there lived two brothers who were twins, Each was as beautiful and handsome as the day itself. They were proud and courageous. No one was their equal in all the kingdom. One evening as they were returning home from the annual market, they had to traverse an immense forest. It was the summer month of July and almost nine o’clock in the evening. The moon was full. Suddenly the two brothers could hear bright, ringing laughter coming from within the bushes. They pulled on the reins of their horses and stopped. “Listen, brother, do you hear that sound!” the older one asked.
“Yes, it sounds like the laughter of a young maid, a bright, cheerful sound.”
In that very moment two young beauties emerged from behind the bush. They were dressed in gold and silk and were as lovely as angels. “Good evening, young gallants!” their voices rang out like bells.
“Good evening, young maidens!” was the reply.
“We are not maidens. We are fairies and twin sisters. You are twin brothers. If you marry us, we will make you as rich as the sea and will give you many children, who are as beautiful, strong and brave as you yourselves are.”
The older brother said “Let’s marry. I will take the older twin.”
“Yes, let’s marry. I will take the younger one,” the younger brother said.
“Good,” both fairy sisters replied. “We will marry tomorrow morning, bright and early. Now go home but at daybreak you must already be standing at the church door facing the forest. Make sure that you neither eat nor drink in the meantime. If you do, a great misfortune will befall us.”
“Fairy sisters, your words shall be followed!” And the twin brothers rushed home. They did not talk; they went to bed without eating or drinking. At two in the morning they got up and silently left the house. “Quickly, quickly! We have just enough time to reach the church at the edge of the forest.”
On the way, the twins passed a corn field. The corn was almost ripe. Without thinking, the younger brother picked an ear, took a kernel and pressed it between his teeth to see if it was completely dry.
Before day broke the two stood before the church at the edge of the forest. The doors were open, the altar was decorated and the candles were lit. Both fairies were waiting. They were dressed as beautiful brides , each wearing a white dress and veil, a wreath of flowers on her head and a fragent posy tied into her belt.
“My friend,” the younger of the two fairies said sadly, “You forgot that you weren’t supposed to eat or drink. Now you have caused a great misfortune to befall us. By marrying you, I would have become a woman like all others. But now I must remain a fay forever.”
With that the younger of the two fairy twins left the church and her groom never saw her again. The priest read the mass for the older twins. Then the younger brother spoke to the couple “Fare thee well! I am going far away and shall enter a monastery as a monk. Tell my father and my mother they will never see me again.” And with these words he departed, while his older brother took his bride home to his parents.
In the evening before they went to bed, she said to her husband “Listen! If you love me then pay heed. Never call me fey or crazy. If you do a great misfortune will befall us.”
“Dear wife, don’t worry, I will never call you fey or crazy.”
For seven years they lived happily as man and wife. They were as rich as the vast ocean, lived in a castle and had seven children.
One day the husband went to the annual market and the wife stayed behind to act on his behalf. It was mid-July. The weather was beautiful, the grain was almost ripe. The lady of the castle looked out and gazed at the heavens. “You man servants and maid servants, up and out!” she cried. “Quickly cut the grain! A storm and hail will soon be here!”
“But lady, what are you thinking? It is the most wonderful weather in the world and the grain isn’t even ripe.”
“Do what I say, quickly! Hurry, hurry!”
The farm hands followed her orders. They were still working when the master of the house returned from market. “Wife, what are the workers doing?” he asked.
“They are doing what I ordered them to do!” the wife replied.
“But look, wife, the cut grain isn’t even ripe. You must be crazy!”
As soon as these words were spoken, the wife got up and left. In the same evening, hail and storm ravaged the entire land. Despite it all, the fay returned to the castle every morning. She entered the room of her seven children, and while crying combed their hair with a golden comb. “You must never tell your father, that I come every morning at dawn to your room and comb your hair with a beautiful golden comb. A great misfortune will happen if you do.” The children replied “Mother, we will never tell!”
But the father was amazed at the beautifully combed hair of his children. Every morning he asked “Who combed your hair so beautifully, my little ones?” And his children always said “It was the servant girl.”
But the father remained skeptical. One evening when he went to bed he hid himself in the room of his seven children. When dawn broke their mother came and while crying, combed their hair with a golden comb. The man lost control “My poor wife,” he called. “O come home, I beg you, come!”
But she vanished as fast as lightening. From then on neither the husband or his children ever saw her again.
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