Little One-Eye, Two-Eyes and Three-Eyes

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Once upon a time there was a Woman, who had three daughters, the eldest of whom was named One-Eye, because she had but a single eye, and that placed in the middle of her forehead; the second was called Two-Eyes, because she was like ordinary people; and the third, Three-Eyes, because she had three eyes, and one of them in the centre of her forehead, like her eldest sister. But, because her second sister looked normal, she was looked down upon by her sisters, and despised by her mother. “You are no better than common folk,” they would say to her; “you do not belong to us”; and then they would push her about, give her uncomfortable clothes and nothing to eat but their left-overs and would insult her as often as possible.

Once it happened that Two-Eyes had to go into the forest to tend the goat; and she went very hungry, because her sisters had given her very little to eat that morning. She sat down upon a hillock, and cried so much that her tears flowed almost like rivers out of her eyes! By and by she looked up and saw a Woman standing by, who asked, “Why are you weeping, Two-Eyes?” “Because I have two eyes like ordinary people,” replied the maiden, “and therefore my mother and sisters dislike me, push me into corners, throw me their old clothes, and give me nothing to eat but what they have left-over. To-day they have given me so little that I am still hungry.” “Dry your eyes, then, now,” said the wise Woman; “I will tell you something which shall prevent you from being hungry again. You must say to your goat:

“‘Little kid, milk

Table, appear!’

“and immediately a nicely filled table will stand before you, with delicate food upon it, of which you can eat as much as you please. And when you are satisfied, and have done with the table, you must say:

“‘Little kid, milk

Table, depart!’

“and it will disappear directly.”

With these words the wise Woman went away, and little Two-Eyes thought to herself she would try at once if what the Woman said were true, for she felt very hungry indeed.

“Little kid, milk

Table, appear!”

said the maiden, and immediately a table covered with a white cloth stood before her, with a knife and fork, and silver spoon; and the most delicate dishes were ranged in order upon it, and everything as warm as if they had been just taken away from the fire. Two-Eyes said a short grace, and then began to eat; and when she had finished she pronounced the words which the wise Woman had told her:

“Little kid, milk

Table, depart!”

and directly the table and all that was on it quickly disappeared. “This is great,” said the maiden, delighted with herself and at evening she went home with her goat, and found an dish her sisters had left her filled with their rotten left-overs. She did not touch it and the next morning she went off again without taking the tiny breakfast which was left out for her. The first and second time she did this the sisters thought nothing of it; but when she did the same the third morning they became curious, and they said, “All is not right with Two-Eyes, for she has left her meals twice, and has touched nothing of what was left for her; she must have found some other way of living.” So they determined that One-Eye should go with the maiden when she drove the goat to the meadow and pay attention to what passed, and observe whether any one brought her to eat or to drink.

When Two-Eyes, therefore, was about to set off, One-Eye told her she was going with her to see whether she took proper care of the goat and fed her sufficiently. Two-Eyes, however, guessed what her sister was up to and drove the goat where the grass was finest, and then said, “Come, One-Eye, let us sit down, and I will sing to you.” So One-Eye sat down, for she was quite tired with her unusual walk and the heat of the sun.

“Are you awake or asleep, One-Eye?

Are you awake or asleep?”

sang Two-Eyes, until her sister really went to sleep. As soon as she was quite sound, the maiden had her table out, and ate and drank all she needed; and by the time One-Eye woke again the table had disappeared, and the maiden said to her sister, “Come, we will go home now; while you have been sleeping the goat might have run about all over the world.” So they went home, and after Two-Eyes had left her meal untouched, the mother iasked One-Eye what she had seen, and she had to confess that she had been asleep.

The following morning the mother told Three-Eyes that she must go out and watch Two-Eyes, and see who brought her food, for it was certain that some one must. So Three-Eyes told her sister that she was going to go with her that morning to see if she took care of the goat and fed her well; but Two-Eyes saw through her plan and drove the goat again to the best feeding-place. Then she asked her sister to sit down and she would sing to her, and Three-Eyes did so, for she was very tired with her long walk in the heat of the sun. Then Two-Eyes began to sing as before:

“Are you awake, Three-Eyes?”

but, instead of continuing as she should have done,

“Are you asleep, Three-Eyes?”

she said by mistake,

“Are you asleep, Two-Eyes?”

and so went on singing:

“Are you awake, Three-Eyes?”

“Are you asleep, Two-Eyes?”

By and by Three-Eyes closed two of her eyes, and went to sleep with them; but the third eye, which was not spoken to, kept open. Three-Eyes, however, sneakily shut it too, and pretended to be asleep, while she was really watching; and soon Two-Eyes, thinking all safe, repeated the words:

“Little kid, milk

Table, appear!”

and as soon as she was satisfied she said the old words:

“Little kid, milk

Table, depart!”

Three-Eyes watched all these proceedings; and presently Two-Eyes came and awoke her, saying, “Ah, sister! you are a good watcher, but come, let us go home now.” When they reached home Two-Eyes again ate nothing; and her sister told her mother she knew now why the Two-Eyes would not eat their food. “When she is out in the meadow,” said her sister, “she says:

“‘Little kid, milk

Table, appear!’

“and, directly, a table comes up laid out with meat and wine, and everything of the best, much better than we have; and as soon as she has had enough she says:

“‘Little kid, milk

Table, depart!’

“and all goes away directly, as I clearly saw. Certainly she did put to sleep two of my eyes, but the one in the middle of my forehead luckily kept awake!”

“Do you dare to have better things than us?” cried the jealous mother; “then you shall lose the chance” and so saying, she took and killed the goat.

As soon as Two-Eyes saw this she went out, very sorrowful, to the old spot and sat down where she had sat before to weep bitterly. All at once the wise Woman stood in front of her again, and asked why she was crying. “Must I not cry,” replied she, “when the goat which used to provide me every day with a dinner, as you promised, has been killed by my mother, and I am again suffering hunger and thirst?”

“Two-Eyes,” said the wise Woman, “I will give you a piece of advice. Beg your sisters to give you the leftovers of the goat, and bury them in the earth before the house door, and you will do well.” So saying, she disappeared, and Two-Eyes went home, and said to her sisters, “Dear sisters, do give me some part of the goat. I want nothing else—let me have something of it.” The sisters laughed and readily gave it to her; and she buried them secretly before the entrance of the door, as the wise Woman had bidden her.

The following morning they found in front of the house a wonderfully beautiful tree, with leaves of silver and fruits of gold hanging from the boughs, than which nothing more splendid could be seen in the world. The two elder sisters were quite ignorant how the tree came where it stood; but Two-Eyes thought that it was produced by the goat, for it stood on the exact spot where she had buried it. As soon as the mother saw it she told One-Eye to break off some of the fruit. One-Eye went up to the tree, and pulled a branch toward her, to pluck off the fruit; but the branch flew back again directly out of her hands; and so it did every time she took hold of it, till she was forced to give up, for she could not obtain a single golden apple in spite of all her attempts.

Then the mother said to Three-Eyes, “Do you climb up, for you can see better with your three eyes than your sister with her one.” Three-Eyes, however, was not more lucky than her sister, for the golden apples flew back as soon as she touched them. At last the mother got so impatient that she climbed the tree herself; but she met with no more success than either of her daughters, and grasped the air only when she thought she had the fruit. Two-Eyes now thought she would try, and said to her sisters, “Let me get up, perhaps I may be successful.”

“Oh, you are very likely indeed,” said they, “with your two eyes: you will see well, no doubt!” So Two-Eyes climbed the tree, and directly she touched the boughs the golden apples fell into her hands, so that she plucked them as fast as she could, and filled her apron before she went down. Her mother took them of her, but returned her no thanks; and the two sisters, instead of treating Two-Eyes better than they had done, were only the more jealous of her, because she alone could gather the fruit—in fact, they treated her worse.

One morning, not long after the springing up of the apple-tree, the three sisters were all standing together beneath it, when in the distance a young Knight was seen riding toward them.

“Make haste, Two-Eyes!” exclaimed the two elder sisters; “make haste, and creep out of our way, that we may not be ashamed of you”; and so saying, they put over her in great haste an empty cask which stood near, and which covered the golden apples as well, which she had just been plucking. Soon the Knight came up to the tree, and the sisters saw he was a very handsome man, for he stopped to admire the fine silver leaves and golden fruit, and presently asked to whom the tree belonged, for he should like to have a branch off it. One-Eye and Three-Eyes replied that the tree belonged to them; and they tried to pluck a branch off for the Knight. They had their trouble for nothing, however, for the branch and fruit flew back as soon as they touched them.

“This is very wonderful.” cried the Knight, “that this tree should belong to you, and yet you cannot pluck the fruit!” The sisters, however, maintained that it was theirs; but while they spoke Two-Eyes rolled a golden apple from underneath the cask, so that it traveled to the feet of the Knight, for she was angry, because her sisters had not spoken the truth.

When he saw the apple he was astonished, and asked where it came from; and One-Eye and Three-Eyes said they had another sister, but they dared not let her be seen, because she had only two eyes, like common people! The Knight, however, would see her, and called, “Two-Eyes, come here!” and soon she made her appearance from under the cask. The Knight was bewildered at her great beauty, and said, “You, Two-Eyes, can surely break off a branch of this tree for me?”

“Yes,” she replied, “that I will, for it is my property”; and climbing up, she easily broke off a branch with silver leaves and golden fruit, which she handed to the Knight.

“What can I give you in return, Two-Eyes?” asked the Knight. “Alas! if you will take me with you I shall be happy, for now I suffer hunger and thirst, and am in trouble and grief from early morning to late evening; take me, and save me!”

Thereupon the Knight raised Two-Eyes upon his saddle, and took her home to his father’s castle. There he gave her beautiful clothes, and all she wished for to eat or to drink; and afterward, because his love for her had become so great, he married her, and a very happy wedding they had.

Her two sisters, meanwhile, were very jealous when Two-Eyes was carried off by the Knight; but they consoled themselves by saying, “The wonderful tree remains still for us; and even if we cannot get at the fruit, everybody that passes will stop to look at it, and then come and praise it to us. Who knows where our wheat may bloom?” The morning after this speech, however, the tree disappeared, and with it all their hopes; but when Two-Eyes that same day looked out of her chamber window, behold, the tree stood before it, and there remained!

For a long time after this occurrence Two-Eyes lived in the enjoyment of the greatest happiness; and one morning two poor women came to the palace and begged an alms. Two-Eyes, after looking narrowly at their faces, recognized her two sisters, One-Eye and Three-Eyes, who had become so poor that they were forced to wander about, begging their bread from day to day. Two-Eyes, however,  welcomed them, invited them in, and took care of them, till they both repented of their evil which they had done to their sister in the days of their childhood.

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Rating: 9.1/10 (32 votes cast)
Little One-Eye, Two-Eyes and Three-Eyes, 9.1 out of 10 based on 32 ratings - Total nr. of readings: 4,066 Copyright © The author [2014] All Rights Reserved. This story may not be reproduced without the express written permission of the author except for personal use.
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