What Came of Picking Flowers

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What came of picking Flowers is a Portuguese fairy tale. Andrew Lang included it in The Grey Fairy Book.


A woman had three daughters. One day, one picked a pink carnation and vanished. The next day, the second, searching for her sister, picked a rose and vanished. The third day, the third picked some jessamine and vanished. The woman bewailed this so long that her son, just a boy when his sisters vanished, grew up to be a man. He asked what had happened, and his mother told him of his sisters. He asked for her blessing and set out to find them.

He found three big boys fighting over their inheritance: boots with which the wearer could wish himself anywhere, a key that opened every lock, and an invisibility cap. The son said he would throw a stone and whoever got it first would have all three. He threw it and stole the things, wishing himself where his oldest sister was. He found himself before a strong castle on a mountain. His key unlocked all the doors. He found his sister richly dressed, and having only one unhappiness: her husband was under a curse until a man who could not die, died. Her husband returned; the son put on his cap, and a bird flew in and became a man. He was angry that she had hidden someone from him, but the son took off his cap, and their resemblance convinced him that they were indeed brother and sister. He gave him a feather that would let him call on him, the King of the Birds.

The next day, he saw his second sister, whose only trouble was the spell that kept her husband half his day a fish. Her husband, the king of the fish, gave him a scale to call on him.

The next day, he saw his youngest sister, who had been carried off by a monster, and was weeping and thin from its cruelty, because she had refused to marry it. Her brother asked her to say she would marry it, if it told her how it could die. When she did, it told her that an iron casket at the bottom of the sea, had a white dove, and the dove's egg, dashed against its head, would kill it. The brother had the king of the fishes bring him the box, used the key to open it, had the king of the birds bring him the dove after it flew off, and carried off the egg. The youngest sister asked the monster to lay its head in her lap. Her brother smashed the egg on its head, and it died.

His two brothers-in-law resumed their shape, and they sent for their mother-in-law. The treasures of the monster made the youngest sister rich all her life.

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