As you may know, I am currently taking a break, but wanted to share some of my earliest posts with you, that you may have missed.
This story was a fairy tale that I wrote back in April.
All the best 🙂
Once upon a time.
I do love those old-fashioned starts to stories, don’t you? They remind me of the fairy tales of my youth. Nothing is more likely to make me want to read on than hearing that lovely phrase. It takes me back.
Once again, I am a young lad sitting at the feet of my Granddad looking up at his worn but kindly face.
The tales he told me were not original; they were from an old book that his Grandfather had read to him. Tales of dark forests and wolves, of princesses trapped in towers with long golden hair.
This story is a bit like that, only it is original. It is a story about two lives that ran in parallel and then a momentous event sent those two lives off in different directions.
So here we go.
Once upon a time, there lived two sisters.
They had been born in a little cottage at the edge of a great forest that was the hunting preserve of the Duke and his family.
For many years their lives ran in parallel. Their father was a woodcutter and their Mother was an apothecary. She gathered herbs from the woods and the glades and made tonics and balms to help the poor folk of the nearby village. They did not have any doctors to tend the sick so their Mother used to do all she could with her medicinal concoctions. Their Mother also used to brew ale to serve to thirsty passers-by. She taught her two daughters all she knew about brewing ale and other potions.
One terrible day their Father was killed when the limb of an Oak tree fell on him. They sometimes call this tree ‘the Widowmaker’, and this day it lived up to its name.
The lives of the two sisters continued to run in parallel, or at least they appeared to. The Mother became bitter to the world and became withdrawn and one of the sisters started to become so too.
The other sister remained the same, sad for the loss of her Father, but she did not blame the world at large for it. This sister continued to go to church and prayed for her Fathers soul and for her Mother and sister too. Her Mother and Sister refused to go to church any more. They no longer believed in faith and hope.
Outwardly the two sisters looked very similar too. As they grew older they both grew more and more beautiful. One Sister had light brown hair with a hint of golden highlights. The other had blond hair with some brown low lights. One sister had rosy red cheeks and pink lips. The other had Rose red lips and pink blushed cheeks. Inwardly one continued down her dark and bitter path. She left the brewing of ale to the other sister and began learning more about potions from her Mother. They gathered different herbs from the woods and glades, berries of the Nightshade, fly agaric, Henbane and Aconite. Her Mother taught her dark forgotten lore and ritual when the other sister went to church and prayed.
Not long after that their Mother’s health deteriorated, she had never gotten over the death of her husband, such a good and kind man. The world had lost all interest for her once he had gone from it.
She died that winter and the two sisters buried her in the garden next to their Father.
It was not long after that their two lived diverged dramatically.
The Duke’s young son came to hunt in the forest and passing the cottage saw the sign outside that meant they provided ale to passers-by.
He was tall with broad shoulders and long shapely legs. He looked very handsome astride his horse. He called out.
“Hallo? Can I have some Ale?”
At his call, the two sisters came out of the house. He was taken aback at the sight of these two beautiful maidens. He would have ridden this way more often if he had known that these lovely girls lived here. He vowed to do so in future.
And he did, very regularly. The two sisters both fell madly in love with this handsome young man.
They each tried to be the one who took him his Ale and had even fought each other, rolling around on the floor. They had never fought with each other before. They had always been quite close.
After several visits, it began to be clear that the handsome man preferred the sister who had not become bitter of life. She smiled more and laughed at his jokes. The other sister looked on with hatred in her eyes for her happy-go-lucky sister who spent so much time praying.
That night she performed an evil ritual, casting a curse on her sister. When the sisters awoke the next morning they were no longer alike. The sunnier sister was now ugly and decrepit. Her hair was lank and thin, her nose hooked and her chin was covered in warts.
“Now let us see which of us he wants.” Laughed the wicked sister, who still looked beautiful, but had a hard look in her eyes.
When the other sister saw herself in the mirror she cried and cried. “What has happened to me? Oh Lord have mercy.” She cried out.
Outside there was a clap of thunder, but the sky was clear. An Angel had heard her prayer.
Nothing appeared to be different. One sister was beautiful but had a heart full of bitterness and hatred. The other looked ugly and twisted but had a pure and loving heart.
Later that day the handsome young man rode up to the cottage to see the two charming young maidens. He never could tell which one he preferred, they were both so beautiful.
As the two girls emerged from the cottage he was taken aback. One was so ugly! However, he could see into her eyes and there was goodness and kindness there. The other sister who was outwardly beautiful had a cold, hard and evil look in her eyes, for all of her beauty.
Oh, how the wicked sister screamed when the handsome young man lifted up her ugly sister onto his horse and rode away.
The Young man and the ugly sister married. No one could understand why this handsome man could love such an ugly woman, but then he could see her heart, and it was truly beautiful.
They lived happily ever after.
Unlike the Wicked sister, who lived and died alone. For all her beauty no one could stand the cold hateful look in her eyes.
Like all good old-fashioned tales, there is a moral to it. Two in fact.
Firstly, no matter how parallel two lives may start out, they sometimes end very differently.
Secondly, never judge a person by their outward appearance. They could be ugly but have a good heart, or beautiful but be full of hatred.
Copyright: Kristian Fogarty 19/April/2018