The Story Finder

Voices in Fairy Tales

by Michelle Tocher

Story finder - Curly

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Girl Who Shades Her Beauty

My father lost his wealth, and he was so disappointed in himself that he became ill and died. My mother and I spent months grieving, unable to take pleasure in anything.

Then one morning my mother looked at me in a strange way, as if she had seen me for the first time. She said that if our father were alive, he would be glad to see how lovely I had become. But now that there were only the two of us left in the world, she feared some harm would come to me. She said I must focus on my work, and she set out to teach me every skill she had so I would never have time to think about myself.

A few years later, during a very wet spring, my mother caught a cold. In the beginning we didn’t pay much attention to it, but she gradually grew more and more ill.

One day she called her me to her bedside. She was very anxious about dying and leaving me alone in the world. “You must care for yourself now,” she said, “as there will be no one to care for you.”

How would I do that? I had not been taught to care for myself. Then my mother told me to fetch a wooden helmet from the room next door. She wanted me to put it on my head. I thought she must be delirious, but she was very firm. I put it on my head, and she said to pull it low over my brows so that it would throw the whole of my face into a shadow. I was too beautiful, she said, and she feared for me. But if I wore the wooden helmet, I could go safely through any crowd. No one would twice at me.

With her heart at rest, she lay back in her bed and died.

Girl Who Shades Her Beauty, The Maiden with the Wooden Helmet, Violet Fairy Book. Illustration by H.J. Ford.