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Voices in Fairy Tales

by Michelle Tocher

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Mother Who Makes a Changeling Laugh

Themes: Exposure | Humor | Recovery

The baby in my cradle is not mine! He has a large head and huge, staring eyes. He won’t move. He just eats and drinks. My neighbor says, “Make him laugh, and then you’ll see who he is. Do something that will amuse him. For example, boil water in a couple of eggshells. That will make him laugh!”

I go home and I do just that. I pick up the changeling and I put him down where he can see what I’m doing at the hearth. Then I carefully cut an egg in two halves. I pour water into them, and set them to boil over the fire, as if I intend to boil tiny eggs in the egg pots.

His big goggle-eyes get bigger and bigger, and at last he bursts into laughter. “I am as old as the Wester Forest,” he says, “but never yet have I seen anyone boil anything in an eggshell!” The elves hear him laughing and they come trooping in with my baby. They return my child and carry the changeling away, and oh, my, I have never had so much happy commotion in my house!

The Mother who Makes a Changeling Laugh in The Elves, Third Story, Grimms. Illustration by Arthur Rackham.

Mother Who Makes a Changeling Laugh