|Brother and Sister|
|Once upon a time, there were a brother and sister who led a miserable existence indeed. After their mother's death, their father had remarried and the new stepmother was a very wicked woman. To the children's great sorrow, after a time their father also died. Now the woman and her almost-grown daughter had free reign to torment the children, making them work from sun-up to sun-down and rewarding them with harsh words, beatings, and dry breadcrust for their supper. Even the family dog got better teatment. Finally, they couldn't take it any longer and they ran away.
They soon found themselves deep in the forest and Brother got very, very thirsty. "I hope we soon find a well or a stream," he said to Sister, "I really need a drink of water." But the stepmother, who was well versed in the dark arts, had gotten wind of their plan and was way ahead of them.
When they finally came to a well, the boy bent over the water to take a long drink, but the girl was able to hear a voice in the water which said "Whoever drinks from me shall be turned into a lion," whereupon she begged her brother not to take a drink lest he turn into a wild beast and rip her to shreds.
The boy decided to bear his thirst until they'd find another source of water. When they came to a small stream, the boy bent down to drink, but the girl again heard a voice, faint over the sound of the running water: "Whoever drinks from me shall be turned into a wolf." The girl warned her brother not to take that drink lest he turn into a wolf and devour her. He agreed but his thirst was by now almost unbearable. Finally, they came to another well. The boy again set to drink as the girl heard the voice, "Whoever drinks from me shall be turned into a fawn." She tried to warn the boy but too late ... the water touched his lips and where a moment before there had been a young boy now stood an adorable fawn. The girl cried bitterly, even the fawn shed some tears, but there wasn't a thing they could do. She took her garter, beautifully woven with golden threat, the last thing that remained her from her mother. This she placed around his neck. She then fashioned a rope from soft vines so she could lead her brother the fawn.
For a long time they wandered through the forest, but finally they came to a small cottage, all abandonded. A sturdy little building, there was even a key to the door. This is where the two decided to stay, the fawn resting on a bed of soft mosses while the girl went out to gather roots and herbs, berries and nuts for her meals, and bringing back fragrant grasses and young shoots for her brother. At night, she layed her head on the soft fur of the fawn and slept soundly, far away from the horror they had left behind. If it hadn't been for the fact that she really missed her brother in his human form, they would both have been very content.
Time passed, it might have been several years. Then one day, they heard a horn; the king's men blowing for the hunt. The fawn got all excitet and begged his sister to let him go out, and he begged and begged until she finally relented. She told him to be very, very careful, and reminded him how totally alone she would be out here, in the forest, if anything happened to him. And the door would be locked behind him to protect her against the hunters. She would open it only after he had identified himself to her. All day long she worried herself sick, but as the sun had set, she heard his voice at the door, "Dear Sister, please let me in." The little deer told of his exciting day, how the king and his men had noticed him and tried to catch him but he had been too quick for them and always got away.
The next morning, they again heard the horns and cries of the hunters and again the fawn begged his sister to be let out. As the king and his men saw that the fawn with the golden collar was back, they were very curious and tried to follow him. Even though they chased him all day, he kept getting away except at sundown, one of the hunters managed to wound him in the foot and so slowed him down. The man was able to folow him and saw and heard how he gained entrance to the cottage. All this he remembered carefully and later related to the king. Who decided that there would have to be another hunt the next day, they would try to catch up with the fawn, but no-one was to hurt the animal.
Sister was naturally very upset as she saw Brother's bleeding foot. She cleaned it carefully and applied healing herbs. Luckily, it was not a serious wound, the next morning it was all but forgotten and Brother again got very antsy to be let out and join the hunt. The girl cried and said, "Those men will kill you, and I'll be here, all alone in this world. No, I'm not going to let you out today."
The fawn got so sad, he told her he would just die right here and there if he couldn't go, so she finally opened the door for him.
The hunters chased him all day but not a hair on his hide was hurt. As evening fell, the king asked to be led to the cottage. As he stood before the door, he knocked gently and said "Dear Sister, let me in."
The girl was naturally quite upset as not her brother the fawn but a handsome young man entered her cottage. The king, however, was so taken with her grace and beauty that he asked her to follow him to his castle and be his dear wife. She agreed but declared she would not leave the cottage lest the fawn would be allowed to accompany her. This the king agreed to, gladly; the fawn would live with her and be kept well for as long as he lived. So Sister again put the leash on the Brother's collar and led him out of the cottage.
Soon thereafter, a wedding was held at the castle and the young couple lived in quiet happiness, the fawn playing in the court gardens, lacking nothing. Until one day, the wicked stepmother got wind of what had transpired. That, of course, made her spitting mad; all along she had assumed that wild animals had ripped the girl apart and the fawn had fallen prey to hunters. Her own daughter, ugly as sin and with only one eye to boot, cried and stomped her foot and insisted that by rights it should have been her, to sit next to the king as his queen. Her mother scolded her to pipe down, she was working on a plan. Her time would come.
So it happened that after a time, a prince was born to the royal couple. The king was out on a hunt at the time. Wicked old stepmother entered the castle and bewitched everyone to see her and her ugly daughter as a couple of the queen's ladies in waiting. She went to the still exhausted queen and told her that a bath had been prepared for her with healing herbs and grasses, this would help her get her strength back quickly. The ugly daughter herself carried the young queen to the bath but as the queen was in her tub, they ran out and locked the door. They had prepared such a huge fire in the bathroom chimney that the queen soon choked to death in the ensuing steam.
That done, the old woman bade her daughter to slip into the queen's nightgown and cap and lay herself down in her bed. She was able to make the girl look somewhat like the queen, but it was not within her power to do anything about the missing eye. So she advised the girl to lay on her bad side should anyone enter and hide her face in the pillows. Soon thereafter, the king returned home and went to visit his queen. The fake Lady-in-Waiting, however, warned him not to open the bedcurtains as the queen was still weak and light would just bother her. So the king merely peeked between the curtains, greeted the woman he thought was his queen and then left, none the wiser.
In the middle of the night, however, the nurse that watched over the newborn babe in the nursery was witness to a strange sight: The (real) queen entered the room, took her child to her breast to feed him, then put him back down to sleep. She went to the corner where the fawn was resting on silken cushions, gently stroked his fur and then disappeared out the door, all without having uttered a single word. The next morning, the nurse asked the night watchmen whether they had seen anyone in the corridor. They had not. This was repeated for several nights, but the nurse was a bit frightened and never told anyone what she saw.
|Page and background set created in October 2000 by Val Gra|
| One night, the queen was about to leave the room, when she finally spoke "How is my child, how is my fawn? I will return twice and then nevermore."
This was too much for the nurse, she finally went to tell the king all about what was going on at night in the nursery. He himself stayed in there that night and watched as the woman took care of the baby, stroked the fawn, and then said, "How is my child, how is my fawn? I will return once and then nevermore."
The king was too awed to speak to her, but he also spent the next night in the nursery, when he heard the queen say, "How is my child, how is my fawn? I will return ... nevermore."
| Then the king could not contain himself any longer, jumped up and said, "You cannot be anyone but my dear wife."
She replied that this was indeed so. And somewhere, somehow, a goddess took pity upon the young mother and there she stood before her husband, rosy cheeked and alive. He made her tell him what had happened to her. Thus the stepmother and her daughter were imprisoned and finally executed. Their death lifted the spell off the brother, he was returned to his human form...
...and they all lived happily ever after.