A Story From: Belgium
Read Time: ["6 to 10mins"]
For Ages: 5 to 7yrs., 8 to 10yrs.
Carrie the First and Carrie the Second ~ Folktale Stories for Kids
Everyone in the village was surprised when a mother gave her second daughter the same name as the first -- both were named Carrie. From then on, the older daughter went by the name of Carrie the First, and the younger daughter was Carrie the Second. Ever since Carrie the First had been a little girl she had the kind of face everyone seemed to love. People flocked around the child with big smiles. But Carrie the Second's face was pock-marked face and horrid, and her hair was wild and stringy. Everyone seemed to stay away from that child.
The two sisters played together all day long. Carrie the First knew how good and kind her little sister really was, and she loved her with all her heart. One year the children's mother died. Their father hired the girls' old nurse, Nellie, to move into the house and look after both of the children.
Nellie couldn't help but notice how everyone rushed around Carrie the First and shunned the younger one, Carrie the Second. All everyone seemed to cared about was Carrie the First's perfect curls, smooth skin and sweet face. No one paid any mind to Carrie the Second! Nellie wondered if it was about time someone did something to even things up.
One day a shepherd passed the house with his flock of sheep. He noticed the charming Carrie the First standing at the gate. Three of his white lambs ran up to the girl and she stroked them. He smiled and gave Carrie the First the smallest lamb as a present. Just then Carrie the Second came out to the gate, too. The shepherd found this child so repulsive that as soon as he saw her, he quickly rushed off with his two lambs hurrying after him. But Carrie the First tied a pink ribbon round the lamb's neck and put the end in her sister's hand. "The lamb is as much yours as it is mine," she said. And Carrie the Second was comforted.
Another time, an organ-grinder came to the village. As he turned the handle of his hurdy-gurdy, a monkey danced to the music. When the music man caught sight of Carrie the First, he played his most beautiful tunes and the monkey threw her a kiss. But the moment Carrie the Second came running up too, the organ-grinder stopped playing. The monkey hid under his master's coat. But Carrie the First said to her sister, "I'll sing you a beautiful song and we'll dance together." And Carrie the Second was comforted.
A little while after that, a peddler came to the house with lots of pretty things in his pack. When he saw Carrie the First, he spread out all his best wares for her to see. He presented her a bright ribbon and a silk handkerchief with a grand gesture. But when Carrie the Second wanted to look at all the treasures, too, the man quickly put everything away and hurried off. The younger Carrie had that kind of effect on people! But Blonde Carrie gave her poor little sister the silk handkerchief. She said, "That's for you. I'll keep the ribbon." And Brunette Carrie was comforted.
Nellie, the nurse, noticed all that happened. It enraged her that everyone was making such a fuss over Carrie the First, and treating Carrie the Second so badly. She declared, "No more! I will not allow this to go on!"
One day, Nellie went to the well where Carrie the Second was sitting, and pulled up a pail of water. She carried it to their cottage, then fetched another. And another. She went back and forth, fetching water until Carrie the Second said, "Nellie! Why are you carrying so much water into the house?"
The nurse answered, "If you must know, I will tell you. Early tomorrow morning I am going to hang the big pot over the fire and throw herbs and roots into it. As soon as the water is warm - but not too warm, of course - I will put your big sister into the pot. When she comes out she will look just as you do. Then no one will love her any better than you."
That night when both children were in bed, Carrie the Second whispered to her sister, "Wake up, my sister. There's something I must tell you."
Carrie the First awoke, and her younger sister went on. "I was sitting by the well today, and Nellie began to carry pail after pail of water to the kitchen. When I asked her why she was doing it, she said early tomorrow morning she's going to prepare a bath for you that will make you as ugly as me. That must never happen! We must run away together before dawn - before Nellie wakes up!"
So the children left the house at cock-crow. But before they set off, Carrie the Second said to her slippers under the bed, "When Nellie wakes up, you must answer instead of me."
The sun rose and as the first beams shone into her room Nellie woke up and said, "Carrie the Second, are you awake?"
"Yes," said the slippers, "I'm in the kitchen lighting the fire."
But nothing stirred in the house. After some time, Nellie jumped out of bed and went to the kitchen. The fire was not lit and the pot was not on the hearth. There was no sign of the two little girls. Nellie became scared.
"Oh dear!" she fretted. "What shall I say to my master when he finds the children gone? I must hurry after them and fetch them back." She put on a bright shawl and rushed out of the cottage.
Carrie the First looked round and saw something sparkling in the sun. "I think I see Nellie's bright shawl behind us," she said with fear. "We must run faster!"
The girls ran through the woods. Soon they reached a dark lake. There was no way to get across to the other side! Carrie the Second cried, "Oh, no! Now I see Nellie's bright shawl sparkling in the sun, too. It looks closer than ever!"
Just then, a swan came gliding over the dark water. When the swan reached the shore, Carrie the First called out:
"Oh, swan so fair and white
Won't you help us in our plight?
On your back please let us ride
And carry us to the other side."
The children climbed onto the back of the swan, and the swan carried them away. But when they reached the middle of the lake, the swan said:
"Both of you together weigh a ton
I cannot carry more than one.
If I do, we're all undone!"
"Then farewell, dear sister!" cried Carrie the Second. In an instant, she slipped into the lake.
Carrie the First called and called after her little sister, but she had already disappeared into the dark waters. She wept bitterly for she thought surely her sister would be drowned, and all on account of her. The swan went on and brought the sobbing child to the other side of the lake. However, what the older girl did not know was that the waves did no harm to Carrie the Second. Instead, the waves sang to her:
"We will gently rock you, rock you
Softly, softly here and there
Your face and hair we'll wash you, wash you
'Til you're fairest of the fair."
Carrie the First sat on the shore and she cried and cried. All at once, the waves washed up her younger sister at her feet safe and sound. But she was no longer the old Carrie the Second! Now her cheeks were as pink as wild roses, her lips as red as cherries and her dark hair fell in soft waves about her shoulders and shone like silk. Carrie the Second was now as lovely as could be! No one could have been happier than her big sister, Carrie the First.
The sun's rays made a bridge over the lake. Hand in hand, the children crossed the bridge over the lake to the other side. They found Nellie waiting there. You can imagine how glad was the nurse to find both girls! And what's more, she could hardly believe her eyes when she saw how Carrie the Second had changed!
"Nellie," said Carrie the First, "My sister was ready to lay down her life for me, so I could live. But the lake kept her safe and washed away how she used to look -- see her now!"
"So Nellie," said Carrie the Second, "You don't need to make a bath anymore to make my big sister ugly."
"What was I even thinking?" said Nellie. She felt very ashamed of herself and promised never to do such a thing again. "The whole matter is silly, anyway," said Nellie, "with all this fuss over looks. Who cares, anyway? The two of you don't."
"Nope," they said, and took each other's hand.
"Now come along home then," said Nellie. "Your father will be looking for us."
And so the girls skipped home, together.
Question 1: How were the two sisters able to love each another when everyone else favored one over the other?
Question 2: Tell about someone who you love even though that person is not perfect. Why do you love that person?
WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!
The story, "Blond Carrie and Black Carrie," from Fairy Tales from Many Lands, edited by H. Herda (Franklin Watts, Inc.: New York, 1956) pp. 31-37. Copyright not renewed.
Retold by Elaine L. Lindy. ©1999. All rights reserved.