Grimm’s Grimmest – The Goose Maid

An old queen prepares her daughter for her upcoming wedding, gathering everything proper for the dowry of a royal princess before her wedding to a neighboring prince.

She gives her a waiting gentlewoman to serve as an escort, each to ride a horse for the journey. The princess’ horse was named Falada, and he could speak.

When the princess goes to leave, the old queen cuts her own fingers so that they bleed, blood falling on a white cloth in three drops. She gives the cloth to her daughter, bidding her take care of it because she would need it on her journey.

Traveling for a time, the princess grows thirsty. She calls to the waiting woman for her service, but the waiting woman denies her help and says that she does not want to be the princess’ servant. So the princess goes and drinks water from the stream.

The princess sighs and the drops of blood – hidden in her bodice – replies, “If your mother only knew, her heart would surely break in two.” The princess and the waiting woman continue traveling, and the princess grows thirsty once again.

Forgetting the waiting woman’s previous cruel words, the princess asks her once again to fetch some water. The waiting woman once again replies by saying that if the princess is thirsty then she should get it herself.

The princess drinks from the watercourse with her hands, unknowingly losing the cloth with the drops of blood on it in the stream. Deprived of some sort of magical protection through the cloth with her mother’s blood, the princess is defenseless when the waiting woman switches places with the princess as the royal bride.

When they reach the royal castle, the king’s son hastens to meet them. He lifts the waiting woman from her horse, thinking that she is his wife. The real princess is left alone. But the old king sees her in the yard, noticing her beauty and grace.

He asks the bride who it is standing in the courtyard. The waiting woman simply tells him that she is a maid and that she should be given work. But the old king does not have any work for her, but there is a boy that keeps the geese that she may help.

Soon after the false bride (the waiting woman) tells the prince to send for the knacker to chop the head from her horse, Falada, fearing that the horse might tell the truth about her. The real princess overhears, bargaining with the knacker to mount Falada’s head on the gate so she could see him again and again.

Early next morning, she drives out the geese with the goose herder, sadly greeting Falada’s head and Falada’s head repeats the same words previously spoken by the drops of blood.

Combing her hair out in the open field outside of town, the goose herder tries to steal some of her golden locks. But the real princess charms the wind, blowing the boy’s hat far enough that when he returns she is finished.

The boy goes to the old king and declares that he will no longer herd geese with her because of the strange things that happen when she is around. The old king asks him to do it once more, watching them herd the geese himself.

When they return, the old king asks the princess to tell her story. She explains that she cannot because of an oath that she took (the waiting woman had her swear not to tell anyone the truth to the heavens). The old king suggests that she tell her troubled woes to the iron stove and eavesdrops when she does.

The princess tells the entire story, including the conspiring waiting woman. Learning the truth, the old king gives her lovely garments befitting her station and brings her to the prince’s attention.

The princess and the waiting-maid are present at a fine dinner, although the waiting-maid does not recognize the princess in her new finery. The king tells the princess’s story without naming any names and asks the waiting-maid what the appropriate punishment would be.

The waiting-maid answers that such a person should be put naked into a barrel lined with nails, which should be dragged by horses from street to street until the person is dead. The sentence is carried out on her, and the prince marries the true princess.

The Goose Maid is another false bride plot, turning a good-hearted princess into a common goose girl. Her waiting woman’s trickery is discovered, manipulating her into sentencing herself to a brutal punishment.

The Brothers Grimm did not leave much to the imagination when describing the punishments dealt to the villainous characters of their tales. The Goose Maid is just another tale with a brutal punishment that completely overtakes the happy ending. And I must say, the tales of horror keep coming.

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~ by nicmarray on February 14, 2010.

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