There was once a girl who was idle and would not spin, and
let her mother say what she would, she could not bring her
At last the mother was once so overcome with anger
and impatience, that she beat her, at which the girl began
to weep loudly.
Now at this very moment the queen drove by,
and when she heard the weeping she stopped her carriage, went
into the house and asked the mother why she was beating her
daughter so that the cries could be heard out on the road.
the woman was ashamed to reveal the laziness of her daughter
and said, I cannot get her to leave off spinning.
on spinning for ever and ever, and I am poor, and cannot
procure the flax.
Then answered the queen,
there is nothing that I like better to hear
than spinning, and I am never happier than when the wheels are
Let me have your daughter with me in the palace.
I have flax enough, and there she shall spin as much as she likes.
The mother was heartily satisfied with this, and the queen
took the girl with her.
When they had arrived at the palace,
she led her up into three rooms which were filled from the
bottom to the top with the finest flax.
Now spin me this flax,
said she, and when you have done it, you shall have my eldest
son for a husband, even if you are poor.
I care not for that,
your untiring industry is dowry enough.
The girl was secretly
terrified, for she could not have spun the flax, no, not if
she had lived till she was three hundred years old, and had
sat at it every day from morning till night.
When therefore she
was alone, she began to weep, and sat thus for three days
without moving a finger.
On the third day came the queen, and
when she saw that nothing had yet been spun, she was surprised,
but the girl excused herself by saying that she had not been able
to begin because of her great distress at leaving her mother’s
The queen was satisfied with this, but said when she was
going away, tomorrow you must begin to work.
When the girl was alone again, she did not know what to do, and
in her distress went to the window.
Then she saw three women coming towards her, the first of whom had a broad flat foot, the
second had such a great underlip that it hung down over her chin,
and the third had a broad thumb.
They remained standing before the window, looked up, and asked the girl what was amiss with
She complained of her trouble, and then they offered her their help and said, if you will invite us to the wedding, not be ashamed of us, and will call us your aunts, and likewise
will place us at your table, we will spin up the flax for you,
and that in a very short time.
With all my heart, she replied, do but come in and begin the work at once.
Then she let in the three strange women, and cleared a place in the first room,
where they seated themselves and began their spinning.
drew the thread and trod the wheel, the other whetted the thread,
the third twisted it, and struck the table
with her finger, and as often as she struck it, a skein of
thread fell to the ground that was spun in the finest manner
The girl concealed the three spinners from the queen,
and showed her whenever she came the great quantity of spun
thread, until the latter could not praise her enough.
When the first room was empty she went to the second, and at last to
the third, and that too was quickly cleared.
Then the three women took leave and said to the girl, do not forget what you have
promised us – it will make your fortune.
When the maiden showed the queen the empty rooms, and the great
heap of yarn, she gave orders for the wedding, and the bridegroom
rejoiced that he was to have such a clever and industrious wife,
and praised her mightily.
I have three aunts, said the girl,
and as they have been very kind to me, I should not like to
forget them in my good fortune, allow me to invite them to the
wedding, and let them sit with us at table.
The queen and the bridegroom said, why should we not allow that.
Therefore when the feast began, the three women entered in strange apparel, and
the bride said, welcome, dear aunts.
Ah, said the bridegroom,
how do you come by these odious friends.
Thereupon he went to the one with the broad flat foot, and said, how do you come by
such a broad foot.
By treading, she answered, by treading.
Then the bridegroom went to the second, and said, how do you come by
your falling lip.
By licking, she answered, by licking.
Then he asked the third, how do you come by your broad thumb.
By twisting the thread, she answered, by twisting the thread.
On this the king’s son was alarmed and said, neither now nor ever
shall my beautiful bride touch a spinning-wheel.
And thus she got rid of the hateful flax-spinning.