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Main > English folktales > Fairy tale "Kate Crackernuts"

Kate Crackernuts

The second night passed in much the same way. The prince rose at midnight and rode away to the green hill and the fairy's ball, and Kate went with him, gathering nuts as they rode through the forest. This time, she did not watch the prince as closely, for she knew what he would do -- dance and dance all night long with the fairies. Instead, she watched a fairy baby play with a wand. Then, she overheard one of the fairies say, "Three strokes of that wand would make Kate's sick sister as pretty as ever she was." So Kate rolled nuts to the fairy baby till the baby set down the wand in order to crawl after the nuts. Then Kate quickly picked up the wand and wrapped it in her apron. At cockcrow she and the prince rode home as before.

When the castle servants came in the next morning, they again found Kate sitting at the fireside cracking nuts.

"You are still here -- again!" they cried. Motioning to the Prince, asleep in his bed, they said, "Hast the Prince had another good night?"

"Yes, another good night," said she.

As soon as the castle servants left, Kate removed the linen that covered her sister's sheep's head. With the fairy baby's wand, she touched her sister's head lightly three times. At once the nasty sheep's head fell off, and Anne was her own pretty self again. The two princesses were both delighted. And so were the castle attendants, who noted that the sick sister had been cured, and what's more, that she was remarkably lovely to look at besides. Plus the prince seemed no worse, and the young girl hadn't disappeared for two nights straight. So Kate was asked to stay yet a third night with the prince. She agreed, but only if she should marry the sick prince.

All went on as on the first two nights. This time the fairy baby was playing with a basket of barley, and Kate heard one of the fairies say, "Three sips of barley soup would make the sick prince as well as ever he was.

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