The Girl With No Hands and other tales
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He didn't mean the apple tree, but our daughter, who was just then standing behind the mill sweeping the yard. The miller's daughter was a beautiful and pious girl, and she lived the three years worshipping God and without sin. When the time was up and the day came when the evil one was to get her, she washed herself clean and drew a circle around herself with chalk. The devil appeared very early in the morning, but he could not approach her. He spoke angrily to the miller, "Keep water away from her, so she cannot wash herself any more.
Otherwise I have no power over her. The miller was frightened and did what he was told.
The next morning the devil returned, but she had wept into her hands, and they were entirely clean. Thus he still could not approach her, and he spoke angrily to the miller, "Chop off her hands. Otherwise I cannot get to her. Then the evil one threatened him, saying, "If you do not do it, then you will be mine, and I will take you yourself. This frightened the father, and he promised to obey him. Then he went to the girl and said, "My child, if I do not chop off both of your hands, then the devil will take me away, and in my fear I have promised him to do this. Help me in my need, and forgive me of the evil that I am going to do to you.
She answered, "Dear father, do with me what you will. I am your child," and with that she stretched forth both hands and let her father chop them off. The devil came a third time, but she had wept so long and so much onto the stumps, that they were entirely clean. Then he had to give up, for he had lost all claim to her.
The miller spoke to her, "I have gained great wealth through you. I shall take care of you in splendor as long as you live.
But she answered, "I cannot remain here. I will go away. Compassionate people will give me as much as I need. Then she had her mutilated arms tied to her back, and at sunrise she set forth, walking the entire day until it was night. She came to a royal garden, and by the light of the moon she saw that inside there were trees full of beautiful fruit.
But she could not get inside, for there it was surrounded by water. Having walked the entire day without eating a bite, she was suffering from hunger, and she thought, "Oh, if only I were inside the garden so I could eat of those fruits. Otherwise I shall perish. Then she kneeled down and, crying out to God the Lord, she prayed. Suddenly an angel appeared. He closed a head gate, so that the moat dried up, and she could walk through. She entered the garden, and the angel went with her. She saw a fruit tree with beautiful pears, but they had all been counted.
She stepped up to the tree and ate from it with her mouth, enough to satisfy her hunger, but no more. The gardener saw it happen, but because the angel was standing by her he was afraid and thought that the girl was a spirit. He said nothing and did not dare to call out nor to speak to the spirit. After she had eaten the pear she was full, and she went and lay down in the brush.
The king who owned this garden came the next morning. He counted the fruit and saw that one of the pears was missing. He asked the gardener what had happened to it. It was not lying under the tree, but had somehow disappeared. The gardener answered, "Last night a spirit came here. It had no hands and ate one of the pears with its mouth. The king said, "How did the spirit get across the water? And where did it go after it had eaten the pear? The gardener answered, "Someone dressed in snow-white came from heaven and closed the head gate so the spirit could walk through the moat.
Because it must have been an angel I was afraid, and I asked no questions, and I did not call out. After the spirit had eaten the pear it went away again. After it was dark the king entered the garden, bringing a priest with him who was to talk to the spirit.
The Girl With No Hands and Other Tales | Angela Slatter | First Edition
All three sat down under the tree and kept watch. At midnight the girl came creeping out of the brush, stepped up to the tree, and again ate off a pear with her mouth. An angel dressed in white was standing next to her. The priest walked up to them and said, "Have you come from God, or from the world? Are you a spirit or a human?
She answered, "I am not a spirit, but a poor human who has been abandoned by everyone except God. He took her home with him to his royal castle, and because she was so beautiful and pure he loved her with all his heart, had silver hands made for her, and took her as his wife. After a year the king had to go out into the battlefield, and he left the young queen in the care of his mother, saying, "If she has a child, support her and take good care of her, and immediately send me the news in a letter.
She gave birth to a beautiful son. The old mother quickly wrote this in a letter, giving the joyful news to the king.
The Girl With No Hands and other tales
Now on the way the messenger stopped at a brook to rest. Tired from his long journey, he fell asleep.
Then the devil came to him. He still wanted to harm the pious queen, and he took the letter, putting in its place one that stated that the queen had brought a changeling into the world. When the king read this letter he was frightened and saddened, but nevertheless he wrote an answer that they should take good care of the queen until his return. The messenger returned with this letter, but he rested at the same place, and again fell asleep. The devil came again and placed a different letter in his bag. This letter said that they should kill the queen with her child. The old mother was terribly frightened when she received this letter.
She could not believe it, and wrote to the king again, but she got back the same answer, because each time the devil substituted a false letter.
And the last letter even stated that they should keep the queen's tongue and eyes as proof. The old mother lamented that such innocent blood was to be shed, and in the night she had a doe killed, cut out its tongue and eyes, and had them put aside. Then she said to the queen, "I cannot have you killed as the king has ordered, but you can no longer stay here.
Go out into the wide world with your child, and never come back. The old mother tied the queen's child onto her back, and the poor woman went away with weeping eyes. She came to a great, wild forest where she got onto her knees and prayed to God.
Then the angel of the Lord appeared to her and led her to a small house. On it was a small sign with the words, "Here anyone can live free. A snow-white virgin came from the house and said, "Welcome, Queen," then led her inside. She untied the small boy from her back, held him to her breast so he could drink, and then laid him in a beautiful made-up bed. She stayed in this house for seven years, and was well taken care of.
And through the grace of God and her own piety her chopped-off hands grew back.
The king finally came back home from the battlefield, and the first thing he wanted to do was to see his wife and their child. Then the old mother began to weep, saying, "You wicked man, why did you write to me that I was to put two innocent souls to death," and she showed him the two letters that the evil one had counterfeited.
Then she continued to speak, "I did what you ordered," and showed him as proof the eyes and the tongue.