'The Three Aunts
"Well never mind, child," said the old woman, "If you'll call me Aunt on the happiest day of your life, I'll spin this flax for you, and so you may just go away and lie down to sleep."
is a Norwegian Fairy Tale
collected by Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jorgen Moe
A girl had to go into service, where the queen liked her so much that the other servants, envious, claimed she had said she could spin a pound of flax in a day, and the queen insisted that she actually do it, even though she couldn't spin. An old woman came and did it for her in exchange for being an Honorary Aunt
on her wedding. The servants claimed she said she could weave it in a day, and the queen insisted, but another old woman helped her. The servants claimed she could sew it up in a day, and the queen insisted again, but another old woman helped her.
The queen was pleased with her skill and had her marry the prince because she would not need to hire women to do such work. The three old women came to the wedding feast and are, by daylight, hideously ugly, but the girl called them each Auntie, and they got to sit at the feast. The prince asked why his pretty bride had such ugly aunts, and they explained they had been as pretty as her once, but their endless spinning, weaving, and sewing had ruined their looks. The prince promptly forbade her to do these things ever again.
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