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Main > English folktales > Fairy tale "Kate Crackernuts"

Kate Crackernuts

She pulled and pulled but try as she might, it would not budge.

The queen felt entirely satisfied and she returned home with poor Princess Anne trailing behind, her sheep's head bowed low.

The servants at the palace were horrified at the terrible event that had befallen poor Princess Anne. And none was more horrified than the queen's own daughter, Kate.

"Anne, Anne!" Kate moaned to her half-sister, "whatever shall we do?" She tried everything she could think of to get the sheep's head off, but it was firmly fixed onto Anne, like her own skin. "How did this happen to you?" she cried. But whenever poor Anne tried to tell Kate, nothing but "Baa, baa!" came from her mouth.

"Well, we can't let you be seen like this," Kate decided. She took a fine linen cloth and wrapped it around her sister's head. "We must go and try to get help." Kate took her sister by the hand and they left the castle.

They went on, and they went on and on and on, till at last they came to a castle. Kate knocked at the castle door and asked for a night's lodging for herself and her poor sick sister. The servant who answered the door said that that would be impossible, as this was the home of a king who had two sons, and the younger prince was sickening away to death, and no one could find out what ailed him, so they could not possibly entertain visitors that evening.

Kate begged the servant, saying that she of all people understood how terrible that can be because her own dear sister was also quite sick. Besides, she and her sister were so very tired and so truly needed a place to spend the night. The servant sighed, and disappeared for a while. When he returned he said that Kate and her sister could indeed spend one night at the castle, but only on one condition. The servant explained that the curious thing about the illness of the young prince was that whoever watched him at night was never seen again.

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