Old-woman’s Skin

Old Woman's Skin

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A king had three daughters. One day, he decided to go to a fair and, before leaving, he asked his daughters which presents they would like to get from the fair. The oldest one asked for a colourful handkerchief, the middle one asked for a pair of boots and the youngest one asked for a package of salt. Since the others disliked their younger sister, they said in private to their father: “She wants the salt to salt your meat after killing you!”. “Ah, really? Well, then I will kick her out of my house!”, and thus he did. 

The girl was kicked out of her house, with the old servant and a sack full of golden coins. The girl was very beautiful and many young men would often stare at her, hit on her and bother her a lot. One day the girl and the servant passed by a village where the funeral of an old lady was taking place and the servant came up with an idea. She spoke with the mortician and asked him: “How much should I give you to get the old-woman’s skin?”. The man initially did not want to deal with the request, but eventually accepted it, being the offer very good. So, he took a knife and skinned the corpse, preserving the face, the hair and the nails. After that, the leather was tanned and the nurse sewed it on a soft cloth. Finally the girl entered and started walking, eating and doing everything with that special dress on. The men stopped bothering her immediately! If you had found yourself nearby, you would have been surprised at the sight of this old woman with a brisk pace and a sweet sweet voice.

One day the girl, who got the nickname “Rotten-Eyes”, met a prince and they started to have a  pleasant chat. The prince found the woman very nice and smart, and invited her to his palace, because he wanted to introduce her to his parents, the king and the queen. They liked her witty conversation and politeness so much that they asked her to stay and live with them. The girl accepted the offer with gratitude, and would often entertain her hosts. One day the queen told Rotten-Eyes: “ It is a pity that you cannot do many things, because of your old eyes!”. And our girl said: “That is true… When I was younger I used to spin so well!”. The queen replied: “Maybe you are still able to do it, I will give you some linen and you can try!”. So Rotten-Eyes took the linen and during the night, after taking off the old-woman skin, she started spinning the textile. The following day she brought the queen an amazing linen blouse, and the queen was very impressed. She could not believe that such an old person would be able to do it! She challenged her again, giving her some cotton to make a shirt.  And again, when the girl was alone in her bedroom, she sewed the most beautiful shirt ever, and impressed the royal family once more. The prince, though, thought that there must be a trick, so the following night he went behind the girl’s bedroom door, peaked from the key-hole and saw Rotten-Eyes removing her skin-dress. Imagine how big a surprise it was to discover that the old lady was in fact a young beautiful girl! He immediately opened the door and hugged her, asking: “Who are you in reality? And why did you dress up like that?”. So, she told him the whole story and the prince became even happier, finding out that she had a noble origin as well. He asked her to marry him, and after she accepted the proposal, they communicated it to his parents, who were very happy for them. 

Their marriage took place very soon, and many kings and queens from the nearby territories were invited. Among them there was also the girl’s father, who did not recognize her, though. For  lunch a very rich banquet had been set, but the bride had asked the cooks to prepare her father’s food separately, without salt, with the exception of the roasted meat. The waiters started serving the starters, the soups and the boiled meals, and everybody liked the food a lot. Just the girl’s father was disappointed and, after having a bite, did not eat at all. Finally, when the roasted meat was served, he enjoyed it, and even asked for extra portions. At that moment her daughter asked him: “Do you know why this is good, whereas the rest was not? Because there is salt! Do you now understand its importance? That is why your daughter asked you salt, when you went to the fair, and her sisters just misled you…”.

Her father then recognised her, hugged her and asked her forgiveness, and once home he  punished the other two evil daughters.

Tags: fairytale; princess; salt; corpse; spinning.

Question: Why does the prince want to introduce Rotten-Eyes to their parents?

  1. Because he wants to marry her
  2. Because she is very nice and smart and wants his parents to meet her
  3. Because she is good at spinning and wants her to become her mother’s tailor

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