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Main > Dutch folktales > Fairy tale "The woman with three hundred and sixty-six children"

The woman with three hundred and sixty-six children

But the fine lady, in her mansion, cared nothing for the beggar woman's words. Why should she? She had her lordly husband, who was a count, and he owned thousands of acres. Besides, she possessed vast riches. In her great house, were ten men-servants and thirty-one maid-servants, together with her rich furniture, and fine clothes and jewels. The lofty brick church, to which she went on Sundays, was hung with the coats of arms of her famous ancestors. The stone floor, with its great slabs, was so grandly carved with the crests and heraldry of her family, that to walk over these was like climbing a mountain, or tramping across a ploughed field. Common folks had to be careful, lest they should stumble over the bosses and knobs of the carved tombs. A long train of her servants, and tenants on the farms followed her, when she went to worship. Inside the church, the lord and lady sat, in high seats, on velvet cushions and under a canopy.

By the time summer had come, according to the fashion in all good Dutch families, all sorts of pretty baby clothes were made ready. There were soft, warm, swaddling bands, tiny socks, and long white linen dresses. A baptismal blanket, covered with silk, was made for the christening, and daintily embroidered. Plenty of lace, and pink and blue ribbons—pink for a girl and blue for a boy—were kept at hand. And, because there might be twins, a double set of garments was provided, besides baby bathtubs and all sorts of nice things for the little stranger or strangers—whether one or two—to come. Even the names were chosen—one for a boy and the other for a girl. Would it be Wilhelm or Wilhelmina?

It was real fun to think over the names, but it was hard to choose out of so many. At last, the Countess crossed off all but forty-six; or the following; nearly every girl's name ending in je, as in our "Polly," "Sallie."

Girls Boys

Magtel Catharyna Gerrit Gysbert

Nelletje Alida Cornelis Jausze

Zelia Annatje Volkert Myndert

Jannetje Christina Kilian Adrian

Zara Katrina Johannes Joachim

Marytje Bethje Petrus Arendt

Willemtje Eva Barent Dirck

Geertruy Dirkje Wessel Nikolaas

Petronella Mayken Hendrik Staats

Margrieta Hilleke Teunis Gozen

Josina Bethy Wouter Willemtje

Japik Evert

But before the sun set on the expected day, it was neither one boy nor one girl, nor both; nor were all the forty-six names chosen sufficient; for the beggar woman's wish had come true, in a way not expected.

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