The Golden Slipper
There was once upon a time an old man and an old woman, and the old man had a daughter, and the old woman had a daughter. And the old woman said to the old man, “Go and buy a heifer, that thy daughter may have something to look after!” So the old man went to the fair and bought a heifer.
Now the old woman spoiled her own daughter, but was always snapping at the old man’s daughter. Yet the old man’s daughter was a good, hard-working girl, while as for the old woman’s daughter, she was but an idle slut. She did nothing but sit down all day with her hands in her lap. One day the old woman said to the old man’s daughter, “Look now, thou daughter of a dog, go and drive out the heifer to graze! Here thou hast two bundles of flax. See that thou unravel it, and reel it, and bleach it, and bring it home all ready in the evening!” Then the girl took the flax and drove the heifer out to graze.
So the heifer began to graze, but the girl sat down and began to weep. And the heifer said to her, “Tell me, dear little maiden, wherefore dost thou weep?”––“Alas! why should I not weep? My stepmother has given me this flax and bidden me unravel it, and reel it, and bleach it, and bring it back as cloth in the evening.”––“Grieve not, maiden!” said the heifer, “it will all turn out well. Lie down to sleep!”––So she lay down to sleep, and when she awoke the flax was all unravelled and reeled and spun into fine cloth, and bleached. Then she drove the heifer home and gave the cloth to her stepmother. The old woman took it and hid it away, that nobody might know that the old man’s daughter had brought it to her.
The next day she said to her own daughter, “Dear little daughter, drive the heifer out to graze, and here is a little piece of flax for thee, unravel it and reel it, or unravel it not and reel it not as thou likest best, but bring it home with thee.” Then she drove the heifer out to graze, and threw herself down in the grass, and slept the whole day, and did not even take the trouble to go and moisten the flax in the cooling stream.