TOADS AND DIAMONDS
by Charles Perrault
There was once a widow who had two daughters. The
eldest was so much like her mother in temper and face
that to have seen the one was to have seen the other.
They were both so disagreeable and proud, that it
was impossible to live with them. The youngest, who
was the very picture of her father in her kindly and
polite ways, was as beautiful a girl as one could see.
As we are naturally fond of those who resemble us,
the mother doted on her eldest daughter, while for
the younger she had a most violent aversion and
made her take her meals in the kitchen and work
hard all day. Among other things that she was obliged
to do, this poor child was forced to go twice a day
to fetch water from a place a mile or more from the
house, and carry back a large jug filled to the brim.
As she was standing one day by this spring, a poor
woman came up to her and asked the girl for some
water to drink.
"Certainly, my good woman," she replied, and the
beautiful girl at once stooped and rinsed out the
jug. Then, filling it with water from the clearest
part of the spring, she held it up to the woman,
continuing to support the jug, that she might drink
with great comfort.
Having drunk, the woman said to her, "You are so
beautiful, so good and kind, that I cannot refrain
from conferring a gift upon you." For she was
really a fairy, who had taken the form of a poor
village woman, in order to see how far the girl's
kind-heartedness would go. "This gift I make you,"
continued the fairy, "that with every word you
speak, either a flower or a jewel will fall from
The girl had no sooner reached home than her mother
began scolding her for being so late. "I am sorry,
mother," said she, "to have been out so long,"
and as she spoke, there fell from her mouth six
roses, two pearls, and two large diamonds.
"What do I see?" exclaimed her mother. "Pearls and
diamonds seem to be dropping from her mouth! How
is this, my daughter?"--It was the first time she
had ever called her daughter. The poor child related
in all simplicity what had happened, letting fall
quantities of diamonds in the course of her
narrative. "I must certainly send my other daughter
there," said the mother. "Look, Fanchon, see what
falls from your sister's mouth when she speaks!
Would you not be glad to receive a similar gift?
All you have to do is to go and fetch water from
the spring and if an old woman asks you for some
to drink, to give it to her nicely and politely."
"I should like to see myself going to the spring,"
answered the rude, cross girl.
"I insist on your going, rejoined the mother,
and that at once."
The eldest girl went off, still grumbling; with
her she took the handsomest silver tankard she
could find in the house.
She had no sooner arrived at the spring, than
she saw a lady magnificently dressed walking
towards her from the woods, who approached and
asked and asked for some water to drink. It
was the same fairy who had appeared to her
sister, but she had now had put on the air
and apparel of a princess, as she wished to
see how far this girl's rudeness would go.
"Do you think I came here just to draw water
for you?" answered the arrogant and unmannerly
girl; "I have, of course, brought this silver
tankard for you to drink from, and all I have
to say is--drink from it if you like."
"You are scarcely polite," said the fairy,
without losing her temper; "however, as you are
so disobliging, I confer this gift upon you,
that with every word you speak a snake or a toad
shall fall from your mouth."
Directly, her mother caught sight of her, and
called out, "Well, my daughter?"
"Well, my mother!" replied the ill-tempered girl,
throwing out of her mouth two vipers and a toad.
"Mercy!" cried the mother, "what do I see? This is
her sister's doing, but she will pay for it," and, so
saying, she ran towards the younger girl with the
intent to beat her. The poor child fled from the
house, and went to hide herself in the neighboring
The King's son, who was returning from hunting,
met her, and seeing how beautiful she was, asked
her what she was doing there all alone, and why she
"Alas! sir, my mother has driven me from home."
The King's son, seeing five or six pearls and as
many diamonds falling from her mouth as she spoke,
asked her to explain how this was, and she told him
the whole story. The King's son fell in love with
her; and, thinking that such a gift as she possessed
was worth more than any ordinary dower brought by
another, carried her off to his father's palace, and
there married her.
As for her sister, she made herself so hated that
her own mother drove her from the house. The miserable
girl, having wandered about in vain trying to find
someone who would take her in, crept away into a corner
of the woods and there died.
~~~~~~~ THE END ~~~~~~~