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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.

Water Lily

My sisters and I spun gold flax for an old woman who made us work from dawn to dusk. We had never seen a man. The old woman warned us that the sheen would go out of our flax and terrible things would happen if we ever laid eyes on a man.

Well, I did lay eyes on a man. He came to our hut one day when the old woman had gone away. My sisters huddled in the house while I went out and sat on the porch with him. We spoke together, and we understood one another so well that before he rose to go, we had fallen deeply in love.

He came to take me away one night, and we tried to escape the old woman’s hut. But she rode after us and hit me with a magic whirling ball. I flew off the horse, landed in the river, and turned into a water lily.

Today, a full year later, my beloved has returned to the bridge. I can hear him above me, weeping and saying that he would give anything to see me alive again.

I sing to him:

Alas! bewitched and all forsaken,
‘Tis I must lie for ever here!
My beloved no thought has taken
To free his bride, that was so dear.

He leads his horse off the bridge, ties it at the riverbank, and returns to listen. I sing. At last he sees me floating on the water under the bridge. Does he recognize his true love in a yellow water-lily, half hidden by broad leaves? He seems very puzzled. Flowers do not sing. He remains crouched under the bridge, hoping to hear more.

I continue to sing to him, but he doesn’t understand the song. How sad that his ears are closed to the song of flowers and the speech of birds!

The Water Lily in The Water Lily, Blue Fairy Book. Picture by Alphonse Mucha.

Water Lily