THE ORANGE FAIRY BOOK - online childrens book

A Collection of Illustrated classic fairy tales for children by Andrew Lang

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stepsister had been. But it was only when some­one was watching her that she did her work; at other times the cow-house was dirty, and the cows ill-fed and beaten, so that they kicked over the pail, and tried to butt her; and everyone said they had never seen such thin cows or such poor milk. As for the cats, she chased them away, and ill-treated them, so that they had not even the spirit to chase the rats and mice, which nowa­days ran about everywhere. And when the sparrows came to beg for some corn, they fared no better than the cows and the cats, for the girl threw her shoes at them, till they flew in a fright to the woods, and took shelter amongst the trees.
Months passed in this manner, when, one day, the mis­tress called the girl to her.
'All that I have given you to do you have done ill,' said she, 'yet will I give you another chance. For though you cannot tend cows, or divide the grain from the chaff, there may be other things that you can do better. Therefore take this sieve to the well, and fill it with water, and see that you bring it back without spilling a single drop.'
The girl took the sieve and carried it to the well as her sister had done; but no little birds came to help her, and after dipping it in the well two or three times she brought it back empty.
'I thought as much,' said the old woman angrily; 'she that is useless in one thing is useless in another.'
Perhaps the mistress may have thought that the girl had learnt a lesson, but, if she did, she was quite mis­taken, as the work was no better done than before. By-and-by she sent for her again, and gave her maid the black and the white yarn to wash in the river; but there was no one to tell her the secret by which the black would turn white, and the white black; so she brought them back as they were. This time the old woman
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