Toads and Diamonds French folktale

There was once on a time a widow who had two daughters. The eldest was so much like her in the face and humour that whoever looked on the daughter saw the mother. They were both so disagreeable and so proud that there was no living with them.

The youngest was like her father for courtesy and sweetness of temper, and she was beautiful too. Her mother doted on her eldest daughter, who was like her, and much disliked the youngest. She made her eat in the kitchen and work a lot. Among other things, this poor child was forced twice a day to draw water above a mile and a-half off the house, and bring home a pitcher full of it.

One day, as she was at this fountain, there came to her a poor woman, who begged of her to let her drink.

"Oh, yes," said this pretty little girl. At once she rinsed the pitcher, took up some water from the clearest place of the fountain, and gave it to the woman, holding up the pitcher all the while, that she might drink the easier.

The good woman, having drunk, said to her, "You are so very pretty, my dear, so good and so mannerly, that I cannot help giving you a gift."

For this was a fairy, who had taken the form of a poor country woman to see how far the civility and good manners of this pretty girl would go. "I will give you for a gift that there shall come out of your mouth either a flower or a jewel at every word you speak,."

When this pretty girl came home, her mother scolded her for staying so long at the fountain.

"I beg your pardon, mamma," said the poor girl, "for not making more haste." And in speaking these words there came out of her mouth two roses, two pearls, and two diamonds

"What is it I see there?" said the mother, quite astonished. "I think I see pearls and diamonds come out of the girl's mouth! How can this happen, child?"

This was the first time she had ever called her child.

The lovely girl told her frankly all the matter, not without dropping out large numbers of diamonds while she spoke.

"I must send my child there," cried the mother, "Come here, Fanny; look what comes out of thy sister's mouth when she speaks. Wouldn't you be glad to have the same gift? You have nothing else to do but go and draw water out of the fountain, and when a certain poor woman asks you to let her drink, to give it to her very civilly."

"It would indeed be a very fine sight," said this ill-bred minx, "to see me draw water."

"You shall go, hussy!" said the mother; "and this minute."

So away she went, but grumbling all the way, taking with her the best silver tankard in the house.

She was no sooner at the fountain than she saw coming out of the wood a lady most gloriously dressed. The lady came up to her and asked to drink. This was, you must know, the very fairy who appeared to her sister, but now had taken the air and dress of a princess to see how far this girl's rudeness would go.

"Am I here," said the proud, saucy one, "to serve you with water? Anyway, help yourself. You may drink out of the silver tankard if you want to."

"You are not over and above mannerly," answered the fairy. "Since you are so little service-minded, I give you for a gift that at every word you speak there shall come out of your mouth a snake or a toad."

As soon as her mother saw her coming she cried out, "Well, daughter?"

"Well, mother?" answered the pert hussy, throwing out of her mouth two vipers and two toads.

"Oh! mercy," cried the mother; "what is it I see? Oh! it is your wretch of a sister who has caused all this! But she shall pay for it"; and at once she ran to beat her. The poor child fled away from her and went to hide herself in the forest, not far from there.

The king's son, who was on his return from hunting, met her, and seeing her so very pretty, asked her what she did there alone and why she cried.

"Alas, sir, my mamma has turned me out of doors."

The king's son, who saw five or six pearls and as many diamonds come out of her mouth, wanted her to tell him how that happened. She told him the whole story. The king's son fell in love with her, and after considering that such a gift was worth more than any marriage portion, he took her to the palace of the king, his father, and married her there.

As for the sister, she made herself so much hated that her own mother turned her off. After wandering about for a good while she went to a corner of the wood, and there she died.