The Story Finder

Voices in Fairy Tales

by Michelle Tocher

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A Lock of Fairy’s Hair

Themes: Loss | Protection

When the princess grew up, she was betrothed to a prince who lived a long way away. Before she set off on her journey, her mother packed up many costly things for her: jewels, gold, silver, trinkets, and fine dresses. She also gave her a waiting-maid to ride with her on her journey.

The old fairy who had been with her since infancy gave the princess two gifts. The first was a speaking horse named Falada. And the second gift was me. Just before the princess set forth, the fairy went into her bedchamber, took a little knife, and cut me from her hair. She put me into a locket and brought it to the princess. “Take care of it, dear child,” she said. “For it is a charm may be of use to you on the road.”

The princess placed me in her bosom, mounted her horse, and set off on her journey.

The maid was a mistress of the dark arts. Whenever they passed a stream, the princess became thirsty. Her maid refused to dismount and fetch her a cup of water. She said, “If you are thirsty, get off yourself, and stoop down by the water and drink. I won’t be your waiting-maid any longer.”

The princess knelt over the little brook and drank like an animal. She was so frightened by the maid that she dared not bring out her golden cup. She wept and said, “Alas! what will become of me?”

And I answered,

Alas! alas! if thy mother knew it,
Sadly, sadly, would she rue it.

I knew she would lose me to the stream, and I knew that when she did, the princess would lose her power to that evil waiting maid.

A Lock of Fairy’s Hair in The Goose Girl, Grimms. Painting by Egon Schiele.

Three Drops of Blood on a Handkerchief