The Story Finder

Voices in Fairy Tales

by Michelle Tocher

Story finder - Curly

Click the image above to fetch a new random story.

Underworld Maiden

In the house where I live, I serve an old grey-bearded man. I am not allowed to speak. Only the old man can speak, and his grandmother, whose snoring can be heard throughout the countryside. But the rest of us must remain silent.

Not even the oxen are allowed to bellow as they pull the plow.

I dream, sometimes, that in the world above us, the birds sing and the streams gurgle. But I have never heard those sounds.

I make the old man’s meals in silence, and when he is finished eating, I am given the scraps. Tonight he has arrived with a young man who is very handsome. We eat the scraps together and he looks at me from across the table. His eyes are soft and sad. Like me, he is not allowed to speak.

He has come to serve the old man, and I know what he will be made to do. Tomorrow he will be told to cut enough grass to feed the horse. It will seem easy to him because he doesn’t know the horse is always hungry. It takes twenty men constantly mowing grass to keep the horse fed for one day. Then it takes another twenty men to clean the stall!

I must speak with this sweet fellow. I hope my whispers will be heard.

Maiden in the Underworld in The Grateful Prince, Violet Fairy Book. Picture by Odilon Redon.

underworld maiden