nce upon a time, there lived a king and queen who had no children–the fact of which made the queen most melancholy.
To fill the halls with laughter, the courtyards with play, they adopted a wee girl to raise as their own. One day, the queen happened upon her daughter playing with a beggar girl. Aghast, she tried to break up the friends–only to have the beggar girl insist her mother knew how she could conceive a child of her own.
Intrigued, the queen approached the child’s mother, who quickly refuted the claims. Yet something in her eyes told a different story. So the queen offered a bit of refreshment. After a few glasses of the good stuff, the woman’s “I know not of which you speak” became a slurred “wash yourself in two pails of water before going to bed, then pour the water under your bed. The next morning, you’ll find two flowers sprouted–one fair, one rare. Eat the beautiful one. But do not, under any circumstances, eat the other.“
The queen did everything just as she was told . . . until it came came to eating the flowers. You see, the lovely flower was such a tasty morsel, she couldn’t help but eat the other.
So it was, approximately nine months later, the queen gave birth to a girl–a rather frightful girl, who clutched a wooden spoon in one hand, and rode upon a goat.
As you might imagine, giving birth to such was something of shock, to say the least. Thankfully, her alarm was short lived, for she also gave birth to a girl who was fair and full of grace.
Years passed, and it never ceased to amaze how such a winsome princess could possibly be related to the girl known as Tatterhood (for the tattered hood she wore over her unruly hair). Yet related they were; not only that, but for all their differences, they were the best of friends.
One Christmas Eve, not long before the girls reached adulthood, a great clamor filled the gallery. Tatterhood inquired after the commotion. To which her mother explained, “Trolls. Every seven years, they ramble into town, causing all manner of shenanigans . . .”
Well, Tatterhood would have none of that. Instructing her mother to keep the doors and windows firmly fastened, she headed out to fend off the troublemakers. But her lovely sister worried something fierce. She had to know her sister was OK. So she peeked her head from the window–and just as she did, a troll flashed by and snatched it from her shoulders, replacing it with a calf’s head.
The trolls laughed and carried on. They thought they’d won. But they, like many others, underestimated Tatterhood. She took her sister’s hand and together they set sail to the isle of the trolls. A fierce battle ensued, but Tatterhood came through victorious. She rescued (and somehow managed to restore) her sister’s lovely head, and they escaped to a distant kingdom.
Where, as it happened, the widowed king found himself most smitten with the lovely princess. No sooner had they stepped from the ship, then he asked for her hand in marriage. Alas, the lovely princess refused to marry before Tatterhood. The king took one look at Tatterhood, shuddered, and knew he faced quite the conundrum. So he did the first thing that came to mind: he turned to his son and begged him to marry the unfortunate sister. Being a good, dutiful son, he agreed.
On the day of the double wedding, the king, his son, and the lovely princess stepped from the castle gates adorned in their regal finery. Tatterhood, on the other hand, trotted up on her trusty goat, dressed in her customary rags, with nary a hair in place. Her groom hung his head in misery.
“Why so sad, my love?” she asked.
“Why are you riding goat?” he replied.
“Why it’s no goat, it’s a magnificent steed!” she said, and poof; it was so.
On an on it went. “Why the rags?” Poof! It’s a resplendent gown. “Why the spoon?” Poof! It’s a fan. “Why the hood?” Poof! It’s a golden crown. “Why you so ugly?” Poof! She’s the most beautiful bride in all the land.
Suddenly, he wasn’t sad at all. The wedding party boarded the wedding coach to the cathedral, where they married, and lived quite happily ever after.
So goes the Norwegian fairy tale Tatterhood (as told by me, naturally; officially, its part of a collection by Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe).
Why are you telling us an obscure fairy tale, you ask? Because Sunday, February 26, is National Tell a Fairy Tale Day–and I thought I’d get this party started.
With that, I hope the days ahead are full of the best sort of adventure. I hope you remember things are not always as they seem. I hope if you get in a pickle and lose your head, you recover quickly. I hope you find time to get lost in a fantastical story or two–and maybe, just maybe, write one all your own.
Happy weekend, my friends!
PS – If you’ve been around for any length of time, you no doubt recognize a Daily Drop Cap, by Jessica Hische. They’ve popped up before, no doubt they’ll pop up again. But if you haven’t checked out her website lately, I must encourage you to do so–especially if you’ve a heart for hand-lettering, illustration, and design.