Storytime Friday: East of the Sun and West of the Moon, Part 1
Lets all give a shout, it’s time to start another story! Gather round, and hear the tale called “East of the Sun and West of the Moon”
East of the Sun and West of the Moon: Part 1
There was once in a small valley in Norway a poor farmer who had many children. The farmer worked hard but he could barely afford to keep his family fed and clothed. All of his daughters were pretty and his sons were handsome but the prettiest one of all was his youngest girl. She was almost too lovely, though she hardly knew it. Life as a farmer’s child had kept her from becoming proud. She was used to going to bed hungry and she had never worn a dress in her life that hadn’t already been worn out by her four older sisters. She was not neglected or mistreated, for her family all loved her. There simply wasn’t enough to go around.
One Thursday evening in autumn a powerful storm blew into the valley. The sky grew very dark, and the whole family huddled inside their tiny wooden cabin and tried to keep the fire lit as rain began to pour, the wind began to howl, and lighting flashed while thunder roared like an angry giant. The wind blew the rain against the sides of the house until the walls began to creak. The farmer was beginning to worry about wind when suddenly someone knocked three times on the door, so loud that he could be heard over the wind and the rain. The whole family looked to the door; who could be out on such a terrible night? “It must be some poor soul who got caught in the storm,” said the farmer’s wife who was a kind woman. “Let him in quick, before he catches his death of cold.”
The farmer opened up the door as quick as he could and there, in the midst of the howling wind and rolling thunder, stood a great white bear.
The farmer was so shocked that for a moment he could not move. His muscles were completely frozen. Before he could regain control over his body the bear looked him in the eyes with a benevolent expression and said “Good evening.”
“Good evening” replied the farmer, who knew his manners well. It always pays to be polite to talking bears.”
“I’ll get right to business,” replied the bear “I’m here to ask for your youngest daughter’s hand in marriage. I will take her off to live with me in a beautiful palace. In return I will make you and your family just as rich as you are now poor.”
The farmer was surprised to hear this, to say the least. Still a talking bear must surely be magic and he knew the bear would be true to his word. Still this was his youngest daughter, who he loved as much as any of his children. “That is an interesting offer, Mr. Bear.” said the farmer. “I’ll tell you what; come back in a week and I’ll have an answer for you.” The bear nodded, and lumbered off into the stormy night, disappearing into the darkness.
Well, this was an interesting development. The farmer went back into the house and explained what had occurred. Everyone was astonished, but no one more so than the youngest daughter. She certainly didn’t want to marry a bear and leave her family behind. And that was that.
Or it would have been, except that her family very much wanted to be rich. They weren’t heartless, mind you; but the bear had said she would be kept in a beautiful palace so they knew she would be safe and comfortable. She’d certainly have better food and clothes than they could give her. So all week long they talked it over with her. They told her how rich she would become, how they would be much better off, and how excellent it would be for her to have a fine palace to live in. Slowly they began to change her mind until Thursday came again and she agreed to marry the bear. So she washed and mended the few raggedy clothes she had and made herself look as pretty as she could. She didn’t have any luggage to bring with her, because she didn’t own anything besides the clothes on her back.
That evening was calm and the stars shone bright. There came a knock at the door and when the farmer opened it the white bear was there, standing tall and proud in the moonlight. It was time to go.
End of Part 1