Spindle, Shuttle, and Needle
ONCE upon a time there lived a girl who lost her father
and mother when she was quite a tiny child. Her godmother
lived all alone in a little cottage at the far end
of the village, and there she earned her living by spinning,
weaving, and sewing. The old woman took the little orphan
home with her and brought her up in good, pious, industrious
When the girl was fifteen years old her godmother fell
ill, and calling the child to her bedside she said: "My dear
daughter, I feel that my end is near. I leave you my cottage,
which will, at least, shelter you, and also my spindle,
my weaver's shuttle, and my needle, with which to earn your
Then she laid her hands on the girl's head, blessed her, and
added: "Mind and be good, and then all will go well with
you." With that she closed her eyes for the last time, and
when she was carried to her grave the girl walked behind
her coffin weeping bitterly and paid her all the last honors.
After this the girl lived all alone in the little cottage. She
worked hard, spinning, weaving, and sewing, and her old
godmother's blessing seemed to prosper all she did. The flax
seemed to spread and increase; and when she wove a carpet
or a piece of linen, or made a shirt, she was sure to find a
customer who paid her well, so that not only did she feel
no want herself, but she was able to help those who did.
Now, it happened that about this time the King's son was
making a tour through the entire country to look out for
a bride. He could not marry a poor woman and he did not
wish for a rich one.
"She shall be my wife," said he, "who is at once the poorest
and the richest."
When he reached the village where the girl lived he inquired
who was the richest and who the poorest woman in
it. The richest was named first; the poorest, he was told, was
a young girl who lived alone in a little cottage at the far
end of the village.
The rich girl sat at her door dressed in all her best clothes,
and when the King's son came near she got up, went to meet
him, and made him a low courtesy. He looked well at her,
said nothing, but rode on farther.
When he reached the poor girl's house he did not find her
at her door, for she was at work in her room. The Prince
reined in his horse, looked in at the window through which
the sun was shining brightly, and saw the girl sitting at her
wheel busily spinning away.
"JUST AS IT HAD COME TO THE END OF THE GOLDEN THREAD IT
REACHED THE KING'S SON"
She looked up, and when she saw the King's son gazing in
at her she blushed red all over, cast down her eyes, and spun
on. Whether the thread was quite as even as usual I really
cannot say, but she went on spinning till the King's son had
ridden off. Then she stepped to the window and opened the
lattice, saying, "The room is so hot," but she looked after him
as long as she could see the white plumes of his hat.
Then she sat down to her work once more and spun on, and
as she did so an old saying, which she had often heard her
godmother repeat while at work, came into her head, and she
began to sing:
"Spindle, spindle, go and see
If my love will come to me."
Lo and behold! the spindle leaped from her hand and rushed
out of the room, and when she had sufficiently recovered
from her surprise to look after it she saw it dancing merrily
through the fields, dragging a long golden thread after it, and
soon it was lost to sight.
The girl, having lost her spindle, took up the shuttle and,
seating herself at her loom, began to weave. Meantime the
spindle danced on and on, and just as it had come to the end
of the golden thread it reached the King's son.
"What do I see?" he cried. "This spindle seems to wish
to point out the way to me." So he turned his horse's head
and rode back beside the golden thread.
Meantime the girl sat weaving and sang:
"Shuttle, weave both web and woof;
Bring my love beneath my roof."
The shuttle instantly escaped from her hand and with one
bound was out at the door. On the threshold it began weaving
the loveliest carpet that was ever seen. Roses and lilies
bloomed on both sides, and in the center a thicket seemed to
grow with rabbits and hares running through it, stags and
fawns peeping through the branches, while on the topmost
boughs sat birds of brilliant plumage and so lifelike one
almost expected to hear them sing. The shuttle flew from side
to side and the carpet seemed almost to grow of itself.
As the shuttle had run away the girl sat down to sew. She
took her needle and sang:
"Needle, needle, stitch away;
Make my chamber bright and gay."
And the needle promptly slipped from her fingers and flew
about the room like lightning. You would have thought invisible
spirits were at work, for in next to no time the table
and benches were covered with green cloth, the chairs with
velvet, and elegant silk curtains hung before the windows.
The needle had barely put in its last stitch when the girl,
glancing at the window, spied the white-plumed hat of the
King's son, who was being led back by the spindle with the
He dismounted and walked over the carpet into the house,
and when he entered the room there stood the girl blushing
like any rose. "You are the poorest and yet the richest,"
said he. "Come with me—you shall be my bride."
She said nothing but she held out her hand. Then he kissed
her and led her out, lifted her on his horse, and took her to
his royal palace, where the wedding was celebrated with great
The spindle, the shuttle, and the needle were carefully placed
in the treasury and were always held in the very highest