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The Story Finder

Voices in Fairy Tales

by Michelle Tocher

Story finder - Curly

Click the image above to fetch a new random story.

Armless African Maiden

After my mother died, every time my father looked at me, he wept. He said he looked so much like my mother. I hoped that his grief would pass, but it made me anxious. I became thin. I asked him why he cried, and he told me again how much I looked like my mother. He could not rid himself of the anguish. He wanted to lie with me. I was horrified. No!

Later, he asked me again, and I refused. I said I would rather die than sleep with him. “You would rather die?”

“Yes.”

He sharpened his knife and took me far away, into a forest in a strange land. He demanded again that I lie with him. Oh, Father! Never! Never! Once again, I refused. He cut off my arms and left me to die.

I bled in an extraordinary way. All night I writhed in acute pain on the cold ground. When the sun rose, I sat up, tormented by my wounds. I was hungry and thirsty but I had no hands to grasp anything. I moved myself by rolling, and at last I found support from something that helped me to stand.

My clothes were stiff with blood. I could not be recognized. I had become a thing. But I survived, as you will see. I thrived.

Armless African Maiden in A Father Cuts off His Daughter’s Hands, The World and the Word. Vintage illustration.

How does this father see his daughter in relation to himself? What are the ‘sins of the father’ here? What is the essential sin?