The White Bride and the Black One

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The White Bride and the Black One is a German fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm, tale number 135. It is Aarne-Thompson type 403A.[1] Other tales of this type include The Three Little Men in the Wood, Brother and Sister, Bushy Bride, and The Enchanted Wreath.

Synopsis[edit]

A woman, her daughter, and her stepdaughter were cutting fodder when the Lord came up to them and asked the way to the village. The woman and the daughter refused, and the stepdaughter offered to show him. So the woman and daughter became as black and ugly as sin, but the stepdaughter was offered three wishes. She chose to be beautiful, to have an ever-full purse of gold, and to go to Heaven when she died. Her stepmother and stepsister hated her for her good fortune.

Her brother Reginer, a coachman to the king, asked for a portrait of her, and hung it in his room. The king saw it and resolved to marry no other. Her brother sent for her, and the stepmother and stepsister came too. The stepmother enchanted the coachman so he was half-blind, and the bride so she was half-deaf. When her brother spoke to her, she could not hear, so the stepmother told her to give her stepsister her gown and hood, and then to look out the window, while they were passing over a bridge, so the stepmother could push her out. The king was horrified by the black bride, and threw her brother into a snakepit, but the stepmother persuaded him to marry her.

A white duck came to the kitchen and told the kitchen boy to light the fire, so she could warm herself, and then asked after her brother Reginer and the black bride. After a few days of this, the kitchen boy told the king. The king came and cut off the duck's head, which transformed her back into a beautiful woman. The king freed her brother from the snake pit and asked the stepmother what ought to be done to someone who had done - and he related the entire story of what she had done to his true bride. She said that person should be stripped naked and put in a barrel studded with nails, and a horse should drag it off. So the king had that done to her and the black bride, and married the white bride.

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