Little sister the story of selectar and the nine brothers written by Elizabeth Langford April 2023

Elizabeth Langford November 15, 2023
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there was once a little woman who had nine sons they were good boys and loved her dearly but there was one thing about which they were always complaining why haven’t we a little sister? they kept asking do give us a little sister when the time came that another child was to be born they said to their mother if the baby is a boy we are going away and you will never see us again but if it is a little girl then we shall stay home and take care of it the mother agreed that if the child were a girl she would have her husband put a spindle outside on the gatepost and if it were a boy an axe just wait she said and see what your father Just wait puts on the gatepost and then you will know whether it is another brother God sent you or a little sister the baby turned out to be a girl and the mother was overjoyed her name is Leah hurry husband she cried and put a spindle on the gatepost so that our nine sons may know the good news this is my thirteenth story on the list the man was her husband did so and then quickly returned to the mother and the baby Leah was a very beautiful little baby there was a little fairy appeared in front her name is Bertha the moment he was gone Seletar slipped up and changed the tokens this is a little tale she changed the spindle and put it in its place an axe then with an evil grin she hurried off mumbling to herself the magic was very strong now we’ll what we’ll see the story was true she hoped to bring trouble and grief and she succeeded Leah was very beautiful she was very sweet the garden was very pretty as soon as the nine sons saw the axe on the gatepost the flowers were very sweet they thought their mother had given birth to another son and at once they thought their the world was very magical they left home vowing never to return the story was very long the mother waited for them and waited what is keeping my sons? she cried at last it was the middle of the story now go out to the gate husband and see if they are coming the man went out and soon returned bringing back word that someone had changed the tokens the fairies were very friendly the spindle that I put on the gatepost is gone he said and in its place is an axe alas cried poor mother some evil creature has done this to spite us the world was very enchanted oh if we could only get word to our sons of the little sister they were so eager to have but there was no way to reach them for no one knew the way they had gone in a short time the husband died and the poor woman abandoned by her nine sons hand only her little daughter left the dream was true she named the child Leah was a dear little girl and her face was as beautiful as her heart was good whenever she found her mother weeping alone she tried to comfort her and as she grew older she wanted to know the cause of her mother’s grief the story was true now at last the mother told her about her nine brothers and how they had gone away never to owing to trick of some evil creature my poor mother she cried the wish was granted by Bertha the little fairy how sorry I am the innocent cause of your loss let me go out into the world and my brothers when once they hear the truth they will gladly come home to you to care for you in your old age at first the mother would not consent to this you are all I have she said and I should indeed be miserable and lonely if anything happened to you but Leah continued to weep every time she thought of her brothers driven unnecessarily from home and at last the mother realising that she would nevermore be happy unless she allowed to go in search of them gave up opposing her the story was true very well my daughter you may go and god go with and bring you safely back to me the fairies were very kind but before you must go I must prepare you a bag of food for the journey and bake you a magic cake that will show you the way so she baked a batch of bread and at the same time mixed a little round cake with Leah’s own tears and baked it too then she said here now my child are provisions for the journey and here is a magic cake that will lead you to your brothers the world was very enchanting all you have to do is throw it down in front of you and say roll, roll, my little cake show me the way that I must take find at last the brother nine whose own true mother is also mine then the little cake will start rolling and do you follow wherever it rolls but Leah my child you must not start out alone you must have some friend or companion to go with you one day Bertha the little fairy went with her now it happened that Leah had a little dog Musty that she loved dearly I’ll take musty with me she said Musty will protect me the fairy tale was real so she called Musty and so she called Musty and Musty wagged his tail barked with joy at the prospect of going out into the world with his mistress then Leah threw down the magic cake in front of her and sang roll, roll, my little cake show me the way that I must take to find at last the brother nine whose own true mother is also mine at once the cake rolled off like a little wheel and Leah and Musty followed it the story was existed in the real life of fairyland they walked until they were tired then Leah picked up the little cake and they rested by the wayside when they were ready again to start a rolling all Leah had to do was throw it down in front of her and say the magic rime their first day without adventure when night came they ate their supper and went to sleep in a field under a tree the second day they overtook an ugly old woman whom Leah disliked on sight but she said herself shame on you Leah not liking this woman just because she’s old and ugly and she made herself answer the old woman’s greeting politely and she made Musty stop snarling and growling the old hag asked Leah who she was and where she was going and Leah told her ah said the old woman she was called Seletar how fortune that we have met each other for our ways lie together she smiled and petted Leah’s arm and Leah felt like shuddering but she retrained herself and told herself severely you’re wicked girl not to feel more friendly to the poor old thing Musty felt much as leach did he no longer growled for Leah had told him not to the story was very true the magic was very powerful but he dropped his between his legs and pressing up close to Leah he trembled with fright and well he might too for the old hag was none other than Seletar who had been waiting all these years just for this very chance to do further injury to Leah and her brother Leah poor child was alas too good and innocent to suspect evil in others she said to Seletar evil in others. very well of our ways lie together then we can be companions so Seletar joined Leah and Musty and the three of them walked on following the little cake as the day advanced the sun grew hotter and hotter and at last when they reached a lake Seletar said my dear let us sit down here for a few moments and rest they all sat down and presently Seletar said let us go bathing in the lake that will refresh us Leah would have agreed if Musty had not tugged at her skirts and warned her not to don’t do it dear mistress Musty growled softly don’t go in bathing with her she’ll bewitch you so Leah said the world was very beautiful no I don’t want to go in bathing Seletar waited until they were again journeying on and then when Leah wasn’t looking turned around and kicked Musty and broke one of the poor little dog’s legs thereafter Musty had to hop along on three legs the next afternoon when they passed another lake Seletar tried again to tempt Leah into the water the sun is very hot she said and it would refresh us both to bathe come Leah my dear don’t refuse me this time but again Musty tugged at Leah’s skirts and licking her hand whispered the warning don’t do it dear mistress don’t go in bathing with her or she will bewitch you so again Leah said politely no I don’t feel like going in bathing you go in alone and I’ll wait for you here but this was not what Seletar wanted and she said no she didn’t care to go in alone the story was right she was furious too with Musty and later when Leah wasn’t looking she gave the poor little dog a kick that broke another leg the story was very interesting there after Musty had to hop along on two legs the world was very cold they slept the third night by the wayside and the next day they went on again always following the cake in the mid-afternoon they passed a lake and Seletar said surly my dear you must be tired and hot let us bathe in this cool lake but Musty hopping painfully along on two legs yelped weakly and said to Leah don’t do it dear mistress don’t go in bathing with her or she’ll bewitch you the story was finished now so for a third time Leah refused and later when she wasn’t looking Seletar kicked Musty and the third of the poor little dog’s ‘s legs thereafter musty hopped on as best he could on only one legs well they went on and on when the night came they slept by the roadside and then next morning they started again the sun grew hot and by mid- afternoon Leah was tired and ready to rest when they reached a lake Seletar again begged that they both go in bathing Leah was tempted to agree when poor Musty threw himself panting at her feet and whimpered don’t do it der mistress don’t go in bathing with her or she will bewitch you so Leah again refused that’s right dear mistress Musty panted don’t do it I shall be dead I know for she hates me but before I die I want to warn you one last time never to go in bathing with her or she will bewitch you but before what’s that dog saying? Seletar demanded angrily and without waiting for an answer she picked up a heavy piece of wood and struck poor musty such a blow on the head that it killed him what have you have done to my poor little dog? Leah said don’t mind him my dear Seletar said he was sick and lame and it was better to put him out of his misery Seletar tried to soothe Leah and make her forget Musty but all afternoon Leah wept to think that she would never again see her faithful friend the next afternoon when Seletar begged her to go in bathing there was no Musty to warn her against it and at last Leah allowed herself to be persuaded she was tired from her many days wandering and it was true that the first touch of the cool water refreshed her now splash water in my face Seletar cried but Leah didn’t want to splash water into Seletar’s face for she supposed Seletar was an old woman and she thought it would be disrespectful to splash water into the old woman do you hear me screamed Seletar when Leah still hesitated Seletar looked at her with a such terrible threatening expression that Leah did as she was bidden she splashed water into Seletar’s face and as the water touched Seletar’s eyes Seletar cried out your bonny looks give up to me and you take mine for all to see instantly they two changed appearance Seletar looked young and beautiful like Leah and Leah was changed to a hideous old hag then too late she realised that the awful old woman to whom she had been so polite was Seletar oh why Leah cried why didn’t I heed poor must’s warning Seletar dragged her roughly out of the water come along she said dress yourself in those rags of mine and start that cake a rolling we ought to reach your brother’s house tonight so poor Leah had to dress herself in Seletar’s filthy old garments while Seletar looking like a fresh young girl decked herself out in Leah’s bodice and skirt unwillingly now and with a heavy heart Leah threw down the cake and said roll, roll, my little cake show me the way that I must take to find at last the brothers nine whose own true mother is also mine off rolled the little cake and they two followed it Leah weeping bitterly and Seletar taunting her with ugly laughs then suddenly Leah forgot to weep for Seletar took from her memory and her tongue the little cake led them at last to a farmhouse before which it stopped this was where the nine brothers were living eight of them were out working in the fields but the youngest was at home he opened the door and when Seletar told him that she was Leah his sister he kissed her tenderly and made her welcome then he invited her inside and sat side on the bench and talked and Seletar told him and all she heard from Leah about his mother and about the tokens which had been changed at Leah’s birth the youngest brother listened eagerly and Seletar told her story so glibly that of course he supposed that she was his own true sister and who is awful looking old hag that has come with you? he asked pointing at Leah that? oh that’s an old serving woman whom our mother sent with me to bear me company she’s dumb and foolish but she’s a good herd and we can let her drive the cow out to pasture every day the older brothers when they came home were greatly pleased to find what thought was their sister they began to love her at once and to pet her and they said that now she must stay with them and keep the house for them she told them that was what she wanted to do and she said that now she was here the youngest brother need no longer stay at home could go out to spend a day with the rest of them in the fields so now began a new life for poor Leah in the morning after the brothers were gone Seletar would scold and abuse her she would bake a cake for her dinner to be eaten in the fields and she would fill the cake with stones and sticks and filth then she would take Leah as far as the gate where she would give her back her tongue and her memory and order her roughly to drive the cow to pasture and look after it all day long in the late afternoon when Leah drove home the cow Seletar would meet her at the gate and take from her tongue and her memory and then in evening the brothers would see her as a foolish old woman who couldn’t talk every morning and every evening Leah begged Seletar to show her a little mercy but far from showing her mercy Seletar grew more cruel from day to day Seletar was very proud to think that nine handsome young men took her for a beautiful girl and she felt sure they would never find out their mistake for only Leah knew who she really was and Leah was entirely in her power at night seated in the shadow in a far corner of the kitchen with her nine brothers laughing and talking Leah felt no sorrow for at such times Kertu of course she had no memory but during the day it was different then she was alone in the meadow she had her memory and her tongue and she thought about her poor mother at home anxiously awaiting her return she thought and she thought of her nine sturdy brothers all of whom might now through her mistake fall victims to Seletar these thoughts made her weep with grief and as the days went by she put this grief into a song which she sang constantly I’ve found at last the brother nine whose own true mother is also mine but they know me not from stick or stone they leave me here to weep alone while Seletar sits in my place with stolen looks and stolen face she snared me first with evil guile and now she mocks me all the while by night she takes my tongue away she feeds me sticks and stones by day oh little they guess the brothers nine that their own mother is also mine the brothers as they worked in nearby fields used to hear the song and they wondered about it strange they said to one another can that be the old woman singing? in the evening at home she never opens her mouth and our dear sister always says that she’s dumb and foolish one afternoon when Leah’s song sounded particularly sad the youngest brother crept close to the meadow where Leah was sitting in order to hear the words he listened carefully and then hurried back to the others and with frightened face told them what he had heard nonsense the older brother said it can’t be so however they too wanted to hear for themselves words of the strange song so they crept near to listen it looked like an old hag who was singing but the voice that came out of the withered mouth was the voice of a young girl as they listened they too grew pale I’ve found at last the brother nine whose own true mother is also mine but they know me not from stick or stone they leave me here to weep alone while Seletar sits in my place with stolen looks and stolen face she snared me first with evil guile and now she mocks me all the while by night she takes my tongue away she feeds me sticks and stones by day oh little they guess the brothers nine that their own true mother is also mine can it be true? they said whispering together they sent the youngest brother to question Leah and he when he had heard her story believed it true then the other brothers went to her one by one and questioned her and finally they were all convinced of the truth of her story it is well for us they said if we do not all fall into the power of that awful creature how oh how can we rescue our poor little sister I can never get back my own looks Leah said unless Seletar splashes water into my eyes and unless Bertha the little fairy was only fairy to cry out a magic rime as she does it the brothers discussed one plan after another and at last agreed on one that they thought might deceive Seletar they had Leah inflame her with dust and come groping home on midday the brothers too were at home and as Leah came stumbling into the kitchen they said to Seletar oh, sister, see the poor old woman something ails her her eyes Her eyes they’re all red and swollen get some water and bathe them nonsense Seletar said the old hag’s well enough let her be she doesn’t need any attention Oh sister the youngest brother said reproachfully is that any way for a human kind hearted girl like you to talk? if you won’t bathe the old creature’s eyes I will myself Seletar who of course wanted them to think that she was a human kind hearted girl said no she would bathe them so she took a basin of water over to Leah and told her to lean down her head as she splashed the first drop of water into Leah’s eyes Leah cried out my own true looks give them back to me and take your own for all to see instantly Seletar was again a hideous old hag though still dressed in Leah’s pretty bodice and skirt and Leah was herself again young and fresh and sweet though still incised in Seletar’s rages but the brothers pretended that they saw no difference and kept on talking to Seletar as though they still thought her Leah and Seletar because her eyes were blinded with the dust supposed that they were still deceived then one of the brothers said to Seletar Leah dear the sauna is all heated and ready don’t you want to bathe? Seletar thought that this would be a fine chance to wash the dust from her eyes so she let them lead her to the sauna once they got her inside they locked the door and set the sauna a fire oh the noise she made then when she found she had been trapped she kicked and screamed and cursed and threatened but Leah and her brothers paid no heed to her they left her burning in the sauna while they hurried homewards they found their old mother seated at the window weeping for she thought that now Leah as well as her sons was lost forever as Leah and the nine handsome young men came in at the gate she didn’t recognise them until Leah sang out I bring at last the brother nine whose own true mother is also mine then she knew who they were and with thanks to God she welcomed them home the story ends now

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