The Story Finder

Voices in Fairy Tales

by Michelle Tocher

Story finder - Curly

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Queen Who Eats a Plant to Conceive

I cannot give my husband a child, and now he has gone away. If I have a child by the time he returns, he said, he will love me “beyond measure,” but if I do not, he will part with me forever.

I won’t be having a child with him away, now, will I? Unless he wishes me to be unfaithful to him, and then I can expect some more dire consequence.

A wise woman has directed me to a little bush that grows beneath the oak in the garden. It has brown leaves with long spikes and has produced three little buds. I am to eat the middle one, and then, in six months, I will bring a daughter into the world. The wise woman says I must give her to a nurse immediately and put the child and her nurse in a secluded room in the castle. Neither I nor the king will be able to see our daughter until she is fourteen, unless we wish to be overcome by sorrow and misfortune.

I can’t reach the buds without being pricked by the spikes. Nor can I have a daughter without losing a daughter.

The Queen Who Eats a Plant to Conceive in The Princess in the Chest, Pink Fairy Book. Painting by Edward Okun.

 Queen Who Eats a Plant to Conceive