This little fairy tale was a strange one. I love the quirky fairy tales from Hans Christian Andersen. This fairy tale centres around a Portuguese duck who really appreciates herself. She does act a little superior to others. One day, she comes across a songbird who is injured after being chased by a cat. She finds an injured songbird back to health, because that’s a nice thing to do! Everything seems okay for a while, but the Portuguese duck seems to be getting quite irritated by others around her. After a while, the duck gets frustrated with the beautiful songbird. She believes the songbird is insulting her, so she bites its head off. How charming, hey?
The Last Pearl is a quirky little tale involving angels. A newborn’s good angel talks with the house’s guardian spirit about the last pearl. The reason why they need the last pearl is to complete a necklace of blessings for the child. A nice idea, right? Both the good angel and the house’s guardian go on a search for the last pearl. It turns out that the last pearl is a tear that belongs to sorrow.
Next Fairy Tale- In The Duck-Yard
The Travelling Companion centres around a character named Johannes. He’s feeling awful because his dad has just died. Johannes dreams of his father being alive. He dreams that he has introduced him to a beautiful maiden, naming this maiden as his soon to be bride. Johannes takes his inheritance and goes to travel the world. He spends the night in a church and gives some money to a gang who want to throw a dead man’s body into the street due to the man dying before repaying his debts. It’s all pretty dark!
After all of this drama, a stranger asks if he can travel with Johannes. Johannes is a wonderful guy so he agrees. As they travel the stranger picks up some strange things, including a bundle of branches, a sword and a pair of wings from a dead swan. They soon reach a kingdom where the princess is beautiful but demanding. In order to marry the princess, three questions have to be answered correctly. If the questions are answered wrong, then their heads will be chopped off. Johannes recognises the girl from his dream and is determined to get the questions right.
The stranger puts on the swan wings that night which make him invisible. He follows the princess as she flies on black wings to visit a trill. The troll advises the princess to think of a mundane thing like her shoes and ask Johannes what it is she’s thinking of. The stranger sends that message back to Johannes and Johannes answers correctly. There’s another visit to the troll and because of the stranger, Johannes gets the question right. On the third night, the troll flies back to the palace and think of the troll’s head. When the troll leaves, the stranger beheads the troll, wraps it up and gives it to Johannes to give to the princess.
Johannes gets to marry the princess although the stranger tells him that she’s still evil. On their wedding night, Johannes is advised to dunk her underwater to disenchant her. This breaks the spell! The stranger tells Johannes that he must leave now, he drops the bombshell that he is the spirit of the dead man whose corpse Johannes had protected. Yay for Johannes! Johannes and the princess rule the kingdom and this one was a happily ever after!
Next Fairy Tale- The Last Pearl
This week’s fairy tale is also known as She Was No Good. It centres around a town where there’s an alcoholic washerwoman. The mayor of the town is constantly complaining that she is no good. Her son hears this and tells his mum and her friend Maren, who is a poor lady. The son always brings his mum drink on the job. She’s clearly not the best employee ;), Maren tells the family that the mayor’s youngest brother has died. The washerwoman takes this news badly, because she once loved the mayor’s son’s brother but was told not to pursue him because they were from completely different social statuses. The washerwoman married another man, and although they were well off at first, they soon ran out of money and ended up living in poverty.
Not long after, the washerwoman dies. The mayor reveals that his brother left her (and her son) a huge sum of money. The boy is told that he’ll be put in a good home and it wasn’t such a bad thing that his mother died because she wasn’t that good a person! (Charming!) This of course, upsets the boy. He goes to Maren and asks if his mother really was good for nothing. Maren insists that his mother was a good person and he feels better about himself and (her!) Bless him!
Next Fairy Tale- The Travelling Companion
This week’s fairy tale was a very short story about a snail and a rose tree. The basic premise of the story is that the snail makes a decision to stay inside his house instead of giving himself to the world. The snail believes that is what the rose tree/bush does when it opens up and blossoms. It gives a part of itself to the outside world to enjoy. The snail wants to curl up and hide itself from the world. Don’t we all, sometimes?
Next Fairy Tale- She Was Good For Nothing
This week’s fairy tale is the well known The Wild Swans. It centres around a king who has eleven sons and one daugher, named Elisa. The king marries an evil queen (don’t they always?) who sends Elisa to live with peasants. She curses the boys so that they become wild swans.
When Elisa turns fifteen, she returns to the palace. The queen is still pretty evil and kisses three toads, putting them into Elisa’s bath in order to turn her into a lazy, ugly and evil girl. However, dear Elisa is so pure that the spells don’t affect her. The toads turn into poppies. The queen’s next plan is to smear her with dirt and walnut juice to turn her black. Elisa’s father does not recognise her, so she leaves the palace.
Elisa wanders into the forest and bathes in a pool until she turns back to her recognisable self. Elisa meets a woman who tells her that there are eleven swans bathing nearby. Elisa finds them and realises they are her swan brothers who turn back into boys at midnight. They explain to her that they are swans during the day and humans at night. They live across the sea in another land, and so they weave a basket so they can bring Elisa with them.
During a dream, a fairy comes to Elisa and explains how she could break the curse on her brothers. She has to pick nettles and knit eleven shirts from the fibers. The catch is that Elisa must not speak a word during the task otherwise it’ll kill all eleven of her brothers. Poor Elisa’s hands burn as she is stung by the nettles.
Elisa hears dogs and hunters. They come towards her, bringing the king. He decides to bring her with him to the palace. As Elisa can’t talk during the task, she says nothing. The king marries her (Wait, what?!) and she continues her task of weaving shirts, working at night. Elisa has to sneak out for more material, and the archbishop becomes suspicious. The king starts to spy on Elisa. He’s convinced she’s a witch so is condemned to burn at the stake. She just finishes the last shirt as she’s being brought to the stake. Her brothers fly over the crowd and Elisa throws the shirts up at them.
The eleven swans turn back into humans, except for the youngest brother, who still has a swan’s wing instead of an arm as Elisa didn’t have time to finish the sleeve. Elisa can now talk, so she protests her innocence. Her brothers can now back up her story. The king realises he was wrong!
Next Fairy Tale- The Snail and The Rose Tree
The Snowman is another Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale that I hadn’t come across before. It was another incredibly quirky tale which I’m coming to expect from Hans Christian Andersen.
It centres around a snowman in the yard who it talking to a dog about human life. The snowman is obsessed with talking about the stove inside. Over time, the snowman melts and the dog notices a poker inside him that is making the snowman stay upright. The dog realises that’s why the snowman was so interested in the stove!
Next Fairy Tale- The Wild Swans