Perrault's Fairy Tales
Perrault's Fairy Tales
by Charles Perrault
Illustrated By Gustave Dore
One day an old woman came and begged for a drink
Once upon a time
there lived a widow with two daughters. The elder was often
mistaken for her mother, so like her was she both in nature and
in looks; parent and child being so disagreeable and arrogant
that no one could live with them.
The younger girl, who took after her father in the gentleness
and sweetness of her disposition, was also one of the prettiest
girls imaginable. The mother doted on the elder daughter
naturally enough, since she resembled her so closely-and
disliked the younger one as intensely. She made the latter live
in the kitchen and work hard from morning till night.
One of the poor child's many duties was to go twice a day
and draw water from a spring a good half-mile away, bringing
it back in a large pitcher. One day when she was at the spring
an old woman came up and begged for a drink.
"Why, certainly, good mother,"the pretty lass replied.
Rinsing her pitcher, she drew some water from the cleanest
part of the spring and handed it to the dame, lifting up the jug
so that she might drink the more easily.
Now this old woman was a fairy, who had taken the form
of a poor village dame to see just how far the girl's good nature
would go. "You are so pretty,"she said, when she had finished
drinking, "and so polite, that I am determined to bestow a
gift upon you. This is the boon I grant you: with every word
that you utter there shall fall from your mouth either a flower
or a precious stone."
When the girl reached home she was scolded by her mother
for being so long in coming back from the spring.
"I am sorry to have been so long, mother,"said the poor
As she spoke these words there fell from her mouth three
roses, three pearls, and three diamonds.
"What's this?"cried her mother; "did I see pearls and
diamonds dropping out of your mouth? What does this mean,
dear daughter?"(This was the first time she had ever
addressed her daughter affectionately.)
The poor child told a simple tale of what had happened, and
in speaking scattered diamonds right and left.
"Really,"said her mother, "I must send my own child
there. Come here, Fanchon; look what comes out of your
sister's mouth whenever she speaks! Wouldn't you like to be
able to do the same? All you have to do is to go and draw some
water at the spring, and when a poor woman asks you for a
drink, give it her very nicely."
"Oh, indeed!"replied the ill-mannered girl; "don't you
wish you may see me going there!"
"I tell you that you are to go,"said her mother, "and to go
Very sulkily the girl went out taking with her the best silver
flagon in the house. No sooner had she reached the spring than
she saw a lady, magnificently attired, who came towards her
from the forest, and asked for a drink. This was the same fairy
who had appeared to her sister, masquerading now as a
princess in order to see how far this girl's ill-nature would carry
"Do you think I have come here just to get you a drink?"said
the loutish damsel, arrogantly. "I suppose you think I brought
a silver flagon here specially for that purpose it's so likely,
isn't it? Drink from the spring, if you want to!"
"You are not very polite,"said the fairy, displaying no sign
of anger. "Well, in return for your lack of courtesy I decree
that for every word you utter a snake or a toad shall drop out
of your mouth."
The moment her mother caught sight of her coming back
she cried out, "Well, daughter?"
"Well, mother?"replied the rude girl. As she spoke a viper
and a toad were spat out of her mouth.
"Gracious heavens!"cried her mother; "what do I see?
Her sister is the cause of this, and I will make her pay for it!"
Off she ran to thrash the poor child, but the latter fled away
and hid in the forest nearby. The king's son met her on his
way home from hunting, and noticing how pretty she was
inquired what she was doing all alone, and what she was
"Alas, sir,"she cried; "my mother has driven me from
As she spoke the prince saw four or five pearls and as many
diamonds fall from her mouth. He begged her to tell him how
this came about, and she told him the whole story.
The king's son fell in love with her, and reflecting that such
a gift as had been bestowed upon her was worth more than any
dowry which another maiden might bring him, he took her to
the palace of his royal father, and there married her.
As for the sister, she made herself so hateful that even her
mother drove her out of the house. Nowhere could the
wretched girl find anyone who would take her in, and at last
she lay down in the forest and died.
Diamonds and rubies may
Work some wonders in their way;
But a gentle word is worth
More than all the gems on earth.
Though-when otherwise inclined-
It's a trouble to be kind,
Often it will bring you good
When you'd scarce believe it could.
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The text for "Perrault's Fairy Tales", by Charles Perrault (1628-1703) were first published in France in 1687.
The illustrations are by Gustave Dore(1832-1883) which where first published in 1862 by Hetzel in Paris.