The Rose Tree

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This is an Anglish wending of the folk tale, The Rose Tree, as written in English Fairy Tales by Joseph Jacobs. The tale is akin to The Juniper Tree as written by The Brothers Grimm.

This reading is made of words only of Old English and otherwise unknown springs. Went by Wordwork.

The Writ[edit]

A drawing of the bird singing to the brother, by John D. Batten.

There was once upon a time a good man who had two children: a girl by a first wife, and a boy by the other. The girl was as white as milk, and her lips were like chirses. Her hair was like golden silk, and it hung to the ground. Her brother loved her dearly, but her wicked stepmother hated her. "Child," said the stepmother one day, "go to the greenmonger's and buy me a pound of candles." She gave her the gold; and the little girl went, bought the candles, and started on her way back. There was a stile to over. She put down the candles whilst she got over the stile. Up came a dog and ran off with the candles.

She went back to the greenmonger's, and she got another bundle. She came to the stile, set down the candles, and went to climb over. Up came the dog and ran off with the candles.

She went eft to the greenmonger's, and she got a third bundle; and all the same befell. Then she came to her stepmother weeping, for she had spent all the gold and had lost three bundles of candles.

The stepmother was mad, but she put on not to mind the loss. She said to the child: "Come, lay your head on my lap that I may comb your hair." So the little one laid her head in the woman's lap, who went on to comb the yellow silken hair. And when she combed the hair fell over her knees, and unwound right down to the ground.

Then her stepmother hated her more for the fairness of her hair; so she said to her, "I cannot cleave your hair on my knee, fetch a step of wood." So she fetched it. Then said the stepmother, "I cannot cleave your hair with a comb, fetch me an axe." So she fetched it.

"Now," said the wicked woman, "lay your head down on the step whilst I cleave your hair."

Well! she laid down her little golden head without fear; and whist! down came the axe, and it was off. So the mother wiped the axe and laughed.

Then she numb the heart and liver of the little girl, and she hot potted them and brought them into the house for evening meal. The husband sipped them and shook his head. He said they smacked so weirdly. She gave some to the little boy, but he would not eat. She sought to make him, but he withheld, and ran out into the grove, and numb up his little sister, and put her in a box, and buried the box under a rose-tree; and every day he went to the tree and wept till his tears ran down on the box.

One day the rose-tree blossomed. It was spring, and there among the blossoms was a white bird; and it sang, and sang, and sang, like an errandghost out of heaven. Away it flew, and it went to a cobbler's shop, and sat itself on a tree hard by; and thus it sang:

"My wicked mother slew me,
My dear father ate me,
My little brother whom I love
Sits below, and I sing above
⁠Stick, stock, stone dead."

"Sing once more that sheen song," said the shoe-maker.
"If you will first give me those little red shoes you are making." The cobbler gave the shoes, and the bird sang the song; then flew to a tree in front of the watchmaker's, and sang:

"My wicked mother slew me,
My dear father ate me,
My little brother whom I love
Sits below, and I sing above
⁠Stick, stock, stone dead."

"Oh, the fair song! sing it eft, sweet bird," said the watchmaker. "If you will give me first that gold watch and lench in your hand." The hirstwright gave the watch and lench. The bird numb it in one foot, the shoes in the other, and, after having eft-sung the song, flew away to where three millers were picking a millstone. The bird sat on a tree and sang:

"My wicked mother slew me,
My dear father ate me,
My little brother whom I love
Sits below, and I sing above
⁠Stick!"

Then one of the men put down his tool and looked up from his work,

⁠"Stock!"

Then the twithe miller's man laid aside his tool and looked up,

⁠"Stone!"

Then the third miller's man laid down his tool and looked up,

⁠"Dead!"

Then all three yelled out with one shout: "Oh, what a sheen song! Sing it, sweet bird, eft." "If you will put the millstone about my neck," said the bird. The men did what the bird wished and away to the tree it flew with the millstone about its neck, the red shoes in one foot, and the gold watch and lench in the other. It sang the song and then flew home. It rattled the millstone upon the eaves of the house, and the stepmother said: "It thunders." Then the little boy ran out to see the thunder, and down dropped the red shoes at his feet. It rattled the millstone upon the eaves of the house once more, and the stepmother said again: "It thunders." Then the father ran out and down fell the lench about his neck.

In ran father and son, laughing and saying, "See, what swell things the thunder has brought us!" Then the bird rattled the millstone upon the eaves of the house a third time; and the stepmother said: "It thunders eft, perhaps the thunder has brought something for me," and she ran out; but the breath she stepped outside the door, down fell the millstone on her head; and so she fell.