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Toads and Diamonds by Charles Perrault

The following is the complete text of Charles Perrault's Toads and Diamonds. The various books, short stories and poems we offer are presented free of charge with absolutely no advertising as a public service from Internet Accuracy Project.

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NOTE: These classic literary works are presented as they originally appeared in print. As such, they sometimes contain typographical errors, and often utilize unconventional, older, obsolete or intentionally incorrect spelling and/or punctuation conventions.

Toads and Diamonds by Charles Perrault


by Charles Perrault

There was once a widow who had two daughters. The eldest was so much like her mother in temper and face that to have seen the one was to have seen the other. They were both so disagreeable and proud, that it was impossible to live with them. The youngest, who was the very picture of her father in her kindly and polite ways, was as beautiful a girl as one could see. As we are naturally fond of those who resemble us, the mother doted on her eldest daughter, while for the younger she had a most violent aversion and made her take her meals in the kitchen and work hard all day. Among other things that she was obliged to do, this poor child was forced to go twice a day to fetch water from a place a mile or more from the house, and carry back a large jug filled to the brim. As she was standing one day by this spring, a poor woman came up to her and asked the girl for some water to drink.

"Certainly, my good woman," she replied, and the beautiful girl at once stooped and rinsed out the jug. Then, filling it with water from the clearest part of the spring, she held it up to the woman, continuing to support the jug, that she might drink with great comfort.

Having drunk, the woman said to her, "You are so beautiful, so good and kind, that I cannot refrain from conferring a gift upon you." For she was really a fairy, who had taken the form of a poor village woman, in order to see how far the girl's kind-heartedness would go. "This gift I make you," continued the fairy, "that with every word you speak, either a flower or a jewel will fall from your mouth."

The girl had no sooner reached home than her mother began scolding her for being so late. "I am sorry, mother," said she, "to have been out so long," and as she spoke, there fell from her mouth six roses, two pearls, and two large diamonds.

"What do I see?" exclaimed her mother. "Pearls and diamonds seem to be dropping from her mouth! How is this, my daughter?"--It was the first time she had ever called her daughter. The poor child related in all simplicity what had happened, letting fall quantities of diamonds in the course of her narrative. "I must certainly send my other daughter there," said the mother. "Look, Fanchon, see what falls from your sister's mouth when she speaks! Would you not be glad to receive a similar gift? All you have to do is to go and fetch water from the spring and if an old woman asks you for some to drink, to give it to her nicely and politely."

"I should like to see myself going to the spring," answered the rude, cross girl.

"I insist on your going, rejoined the mother, and that at once."

The eldest girl went off, still grumbling; with her she took the handsomest silver tankard she could find in the house.

She had no sooner arrived at the spring, than she saw a lady magnificently dressed walking towards her from the woods, who approached and asked and asked for some water to drink. It was the same fairy who had appeared to her sister, but she had now had put on the air and apparel of a princess, as she wished to see how far this girl's rudeness would go.

"Do you think I came here just to draw water for you?" answered the arrogant and unmannerly girl; "I have, of course, brought this silver tankard for you to drink from, and all I have to say is--drink from it if you like."

"You are scarcely polite," said the fairy, without losing her temper; "however, as you are so disobliging, I confer this gift upon you, that with every word you speak a snake or a toad shall fall from your mouth."

Directly, her mother caught sight of her, and called out, "Well, my daughter?"

"Well, my mother!" replied the ill-tempered girl, throwing out of her mouth two vipers and a toad.

"Mercy!" cried the mother, "what do I see? This is her sister's doing, but she will pay for it," and, so saying, she ran towards the younger girl with the intent to beat her. The poor child fled from the house, and went to hide herself in the neighboring forest.

The King's son, who was returning from hunting, met her, and seeing how beautiful she was, asked her what she was doing there all alone, and why she was crying.

"Alas! sir, my mother has driven me from home."

The King's son, seeing five or six pearls and as many diamonds falling from her mouth as she spoke, asked her to explain how this was, and she told him the whole story. The King's son fell in love with her; and, thinking that such a gift as she possessed was worth more than any ordinary dower brought by another, carried her off to his father's palace, and there married her.

As for her sister, she made herself so hated that her own mother drove her from the house. The miserable girl, having wandered about in vain trying to find someone who would take her in, crept away into a corner of the woods and there died.

~~~~~~~ THE END ~~~~~~~

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