182 THE THREE SPINNING FAIRIES.
The queen accepted the excuse, but as she left the room she said in a pointed manner, " You had better begin to-morrow morning to work."
When the young girl found herself alone, and knew that she was quite unable even to begin this task, she rose in her trouble and walked to the window. As she stood looking out mournfully, she saw three strange-looking women coming towards her. One had a broad flat foot, the second such a large under lip that it hung over the chin, and the third had an enormous thumb.
These three women placed themselves before the window, looked up at the maiden, and asked her what was the matter. She was in such trouble that she could not help telling them all about it, and they immediately offered to assist her. " You must first promise," said one, " that we shall be invited to your wedding, and allowed to sit at your table, and you must agree to call us your cousins, without being ashamed of us. If you will do this, we will come in and spin your flax in a very short time."
" I promise, with all my heart," said the girl. " So come and set to work at once." She opened the window as she spoke, and let the three strange-looking women into the first flax chamber, where they seated themselves and quickly commenced spinning. .
The first turned the wheel and drew out the thread, another moistened it, while the third twisted it with her finger on the table, \nd, as she twisted, there fell on the ground skein after skein vof the finest spun flax.
The queen came every day, as usual, to see how the work was getting on; but the maiden took care to hide the three spinners, and showed her, each time, so many skeins of the finest thread, that she went away quite astonished.
When the first room was empty they went to the second, and at last to the third, till all the flax was spun into beautiful thread, and the maiden's task was finished.
Then the three women ba,de her farewell, saying, " Don't forget what you have promised, for it will bring you good fortune."
When the queen came and saw the empty rooms, and the quantity of skeins of thread, she was delighted, and fixed the day on which the marriage was to take place.
The prince, who had seen the maiden, and heard how clever and industrious she was, felt overjoyed at the prospect of such a