Once upon a time there was a widow who lived with her two daughters. The elder daughter - Hilda - was the spitting image of her mother both in appearance and in character. People would often mistake them for each other. They were both equally spiteful and haughty.
The younger daughter - Charlotte - took after her father. She was modest and well-behaved and on top of that she was the most beautiful girl in the country. This drove her mother crazy and she hated Charlotte as intensely as she loved Hilda. She made the girl work from morning until long into the evening and would make her eat her meals alone in the kitchen.
One of the many duties that Charlotte had to do was to fetch water twice a day from a spring which was half an hour’s walk from their house. One day the poor girl was at the spring rinsing the water jug when suddenly an old lady came up to her and begged for some water to drink.
“Of course, ma’am,” Charlotte replied and filled the jug with water from the cleanest part of the spring. Then the girl lifted the jug for the old woman to help her drink more easily.
Charlotte didn’t know that she was talking to a fairy who had taken the form of an old woman. When she had quenched her thirst, the fairy godmother spoke: “I have never seen a girl like you - you are both kind-hearted and polite, but also very beautiful. You deserve to be gifted for this - so from now on every time you open your mouth to speak a flower or a precious stone will fall out of your mouth.”
When she arrived home her mother started scolding her having taken bringing water. “Please, mother, forgive me, please do,” Charlotte said quietly and two roses, two rubies and two diamonds fell from her mouth.
“My child! What is happening? Are those diamonds that just came out of your mouth?” It was the first time she had referred to Charlotte as her child. “How did this even happen? Tell me everything!” her mother said. And so the girl told her all about the old woman who had asked her for water and who had then bestowed that gift upon her.
“If what you are saying is true, then your sister should go to the spring as well.” Then she called the elder daughter, “Hildaaaaaaaa! Come here at once and look what’s coming out of your sister’s mouth! Wouldn’t you like to have the same gift as her? You should go to the spring and wait until some old woman asks you for water.”
“Are you sure you want me to work?” the spoiled girl asked arrogantly. “Am I sure? I am telling you that you are going to that spring and you are giving that woman water and that’s my final word! Now go and get the best jug we have and go...no, run to the spring!” yelled her mother.
Hilda took a silver jug and set off for the spring in a most unwilling manner. Just as she arrived at the place a beautifully dressed young woman came out of the woods and approached the elder sister. “Can I have some water, please? “ It was the same fairy, who had appeared to Charlotte, but this time she had disguised herself as a princess.
“Say what?” Hilda answered as rudely as she could. “Listen, madam, if you believe that I came all the way to this stupid spring so that your highness could drink, you are wrong. If you want some water, get it yourself!
“You are not a very polite young girl, are you?” replied the fairy peacefully. “You don’t deserve flowers and diamonds, but snakes and frogs to fall out of your mouth when you speak. So shall it be!” The fairy cast her spell and went back into the woods.
Hilda went home and her mother started asking her questions. “Did you see the fairy? Did she cast the same spell on you as she did on your sister? Answer immediately!” “No, she didn’t,” replied Hilda angrily and two frogs and a snake fell of her mouth.
“What is that? This is your sister’s fault! I will get her now and she will get what she deserves.” She ran to find Charlotte but the girl escaped into the woods, where she sat and cried.
Suddenly Charlotte heard the noise of horse’s hooves coming her way and a moment later the person making the noise appeared. It was the prince. He asked the girl what she was doing alone in the woods and why she was crying. “My mother chased me out of the house so I hid here,” Charlotte explained. As the girl was speaking, sapphires, emeralds, rubies, diamonds and a few flowers fell out of her mouth.
The prince fell in love with her gentle voice, lovely face and beautiful looks. He was amazed by her gift and so he proposed to her. She agreed to become a princess and everyone lived happily ever after.
Everyone besides the elder daughter, who turned out to be so impossible to live with that her own mother drove her out of the house and she wandered in woods, spreading snakes and frogs wherever she went. So you see, although it can be troublesome at times to be kind and polite, it can also bring you good when you least expect it, and it can worth more than all the diamonds in the world.