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          One upon a time, a very long time ago, there was a widow woman who had three daughters.  She thought that she would always be able to feed and take care of her daughters, because when her husband had died, he had left her with a long leather bag filled with gold and silver.
          But not long after he died, an old hag came by, begging for food.  And when the widow, being a kind-hearted soul, let her into the cottage for some breakfast, the old hag stole the long leather bag, and ran away with it!  Quick as a wink, she ran out of the entire country, and no one was able to find her.
          After that, the poor widow had a terrible time raising her three daughters.  Some days, they barely had enough food to eat, or wood to warm their cottage.
          When the girls were grown, they took pity on their mother, because she had to work very hard.   "Mother," the oldest one said, "it's not fair that we should be sitting here and doing nothing to help you.  I'm a grown woman now, and I can take care of myself.  Bake me a loaf of bread, and I'll go away to seek my fortune.   If you haven't heard from me within a year, you'll know that I am safe, and living well."
          So her mother baked her a delicious big loaf of bread.  "You may have half of it with my blessing," she told her daughter, "and leave the other half for your sisters and me to eat, or take the entire thing without my blessing."
          The eldest girl was greedy, and wanted the entire loaf of bread for herself.  "I'll take it all without your blessing," she said, and set off down the long road.
          The girl traveled for months, through lands so strange that only the poets sang of them by the fire.  Then finally she came upon a little house in the woods.  And being tired of her journey, she knocked on the door.
          An old hag lived in that cottage, and she invited the girl in.  "Tell me, child, where are you going?" the hag asked.
          "I'm off to find my fortune," the girl replied.
          The hag smiled.   "How would you like to stay here with me?" she asked.  "I could use a maid, since I'm getting so old."
          The girl thought about it for a moment.  "What would I have to do?" she asked.
          "Well," said the hag, "you will have to wash and dress me, and clean my house.  But whatever you do, you must not look up the chimney!"

          That seemed simple enough, so the girl agreed.
          That night, she slept in a bed for the first time in months.  And the next day, she washed and dressed the hag even before she fixed her own breakfast.  But when the hag went out, her curiosity became too strong to ignore.  She just had to peek inside that fireplace!

          Imagine her surprise when she saw her own mother's long leather bag of gold and silver!  And it was still full, because the old hag was a witch!
          She quickly pulled the bag out of the chimney, and threw it over her back.  Then she ran out of the cottage and back down the road as fast as she could.

          She hadn't gone far when she met a shaggy old horse grazing in a field.  When he saw her, he called out, "Please, won't you rub me?  I haven't been rubbed for seven years!"
          But the girl was in too much of a hurry to stop for a mere horse.  She hit the horse with a stick to get rid of him, and kept on running.

          A little further down the road, she met a raggedy sheep in the meadow.  "Shear me?" the sheep begged.  "Please shear me!  I haven't had my wooly coat trimmed in seven years!"
          But the girl thought that it would take too long to shear the sheep, and she was eager to get the long leather bag of money home!  She didn't even stop, she just threw a rock at the sheep and chased it away.
          In the next field, she saw a big goat chained to a tree.  "Oh, change my tether, please!" the goat cried.  "It hasn't been changed for seven years!"
          The selfish girl grabbed another stone, and threw it at the goat to hush him up.  Then she kept running down the road.
          Night was just falling when she came to a broken-down old mill.  "Please," the mill begged her, "won't you turn my millstones?  They haven't been turned for seven years!"

          But the girl wouldn't listen, because turning the millstones would be too much hard work.  And she was very tired.   Instead, she went into the mill and laid down behind the door, with the bag under her head for a pillow, and fell fast asleep.
          When the old hag came home that night, she saw that the girl was gone.  So she quickly ran to the fireplace, to see if her long leather bag of gold and silver was still there.
          The girl had stolen her bag of money!  Furious, she set off down the road as fast as she could, chasing the girl.
          Before long, she reached the shaggy horse.  "Horse of mine," she said, "have you seen a girl run by with a long leather bag on her shoulder?"

          The horse was still angry because the girl had been so selfish.  So he said, "Yes, she passed by here only a few hours ago."
          The hag ran on, and came to the meadow where the raggedy sheep was grazing.  "Sheep of mine," she said, "have you seen a girl run by with a long leather bag on her shoulder?"
          The sheep was still angry because the girl had thrown stones at him.  So he said, "Yes, she came by here only a while ago."
          On ran the ugly old hag, until she reached the big goat chained to the tree.  "Goat of mine, have you seen a girl run by with a long leather bag on her shoulder?" she asked.
          The goat still thought that the girl had been mean, to run right by without helping him.  So he said, "Yes, she just went by a little bit ago."
          Finally the old hag reached the broken-down old mill.  "Mill of mine," she said, "have you seen a girl run by with a long leather bag on her shoulder?"
          The mill still thought that the girl was lazy, because she wouldn't turn its millstones.  So it told the hag, "Yes, I have.  She's sleeping inside, behind the door."
          The hag went into the mill, and found the girl sleeping on the floor.  "I'll teach you to steal from me!" she cried, and struck the girl with a magical white rod.  The girl instantly turned into a big stone.
          The hag picked up her long leather bag of gold and silver, and took it back home.

           A year passed after the oldest daughter left home.  And because she hadn't come back, the second daughter went to her mother.  "My sister must be doing well," she said, "or she would have come home by now.  It's not fair that I should be sitting here, not helping you, when I could be off making my fortune, too."
          "Very well," the mother said, "you may go, and I'll bake you a big, delicious loaf of bread to take on your way.  Will you take half of it with my blessing, and leave the other half for your youngest sister and me, or will you take all of it without my blessing?"

          The second girl was greedy, too, and wanted the entire loaf of bread for herself.  "The road will be long, and I might get hungry.  I'll take it all without your blessing," she said, and set off down the long road.
          The girl traveled for months, through lands so strange that only the poets sang of them by the fire.  Then finally she came upon a little house in the woods.  And being tired of her journey, she knocked on the door.
          An old hag lived in that cottage, and she invited the girl in.  "Tell me, child, where are you going?" the hag asked.
          "I'm off to find my fortune," the girl replied.
          The hag smiled.   "How would you like to stay here with me?" she asked.  "I could use a maid, since I'm getting so old."
          The girl thought about it for a moment.  "What would I have to do?" she asked.
          "Well," said the hag, "you will have to wash and dress me, and clean my house.  But whatever you do, you must not look up the chimney!"

          That seemed simple enough, so the girl agreed.
          That night, she slept in a bed for the first time in months.  And the next day, she washed and dressed the hag even before she fixed her own breakfast.  But when the hag went out, she couldn't resist any longer.  She just had to peek inside that fireplace!

          Imagine her surprise when she saw her own mother's long leather bag of gold and silver!  And it was still full, because the old hag was a witch!
          She quickly pulled the bag out of the chimney, and threw it over her back.  Then she ran out of the cottage and back down the road as fast as she could.

          She hadn't gone far when she met a shaggy old horse grazing in a field.  When he saw her, he called out, "Please, won't you rub me?  I haven't been rubbed for eight years!"
          But the girl was in too much of a hurry to stop for a mere horse.  She hit the horse with a stick to get rid of him, and kept on running.

          A little further down the road, she met a raggedy sheep in the meadow.  "Shear me?" the sheep begged.  "Please shear me!  I haven't had my wooly coat trimmed in eight years!"
          But the girl thought that it would take too long to shear the sheep, and she was eager to get the long leather bag of money home!  She didn't even stop, she just threw a rock at the sheep and chased it away.
          In the next field, she saw a big goat chained to a tree.  "Oh, change my tether, please!" the goat cried.  "It hasn't been changed for eight years!"
          The selfish girl grabbed another stone, and threw it at the goat to hush him up.  Then she kept running down the road.
          Night was just falling when she came to a broken-down old mill.  "Please," the mill begged her, "won't you turn my millstones?  They haven't been turned for eight years!"

          But the girl wouldn't listen, because turning the millstones would be too much hard work.  And she was very tired.   Instead, she went into the mill and laid down behind the door, with the bag under her head for a pillow, and fell fast asleep.
          When the old hag came home that night, she saw that the girl was gone.  So she quickly ran to the fireplace, to see if her long leather bag of gold and silver was still there.
          The girl had stolen her bag of money!  Furious, she set off down the road as fast as she could, chasing the girl.
          Before long, she reached the shaggy horse.  "Horse of mine," she said, "have you seen a girl run by with a long leather bag on her shoulder?"

          The horse was still angry because the girl had been so selfish.  So he said, "Yes, she passed by here only a few hours ago."
          The hag ran on, and came to the meadow where the raggedy sheep was grazing.  "Sheep of mine," she said, "have you seen a girl run by with a long leather bag on her shoulder?"
          The sheep was still angry because the girl had thrown stones at him.  So he said, "Yes, she came by here only a while ago."
          On ran the ugly old hag, until she reached the big goat chained to the tree.  "Goat of mine, have you seen a girl run by with a long leather bag on her shoulder?" she asked.
          The goat still thought that the girl had been mean, to run right by without helping him.  So he said, "Yes, she just went by a little bit ago."
          Finally the old hag reached the broken-down old mill.  "Mill of mine," she said, "have you seen a girl run by with a long leather bag on her shoulder?"
          The mill still thought that the girl was lazy, because she wouldn't turn its millstones.  So it told the hag, "Yes, I have.  She's sleeping inside, behind the door."
          The hag went into the mill, and found the girl sleeping on the floor.  "I'll teach you to steal from me!" she cried, and struck the girl with a magical white rod.  The girl instantly turned into a big stone.
          The hag picked up her long leather bag of gold and silver, and took it back home.

           A year passed after the second daughter left home.  And because she hadn't come back, the youngest daughter went to her mother.  "My sisters must both be doing well," she said, "or they would have come home by now.  It's not fair that I should be sitting here, not helping you, when I could be off making my fortune, too."
          "Very well," the mother said, "you may go, and I'll bake you a big, delicious loaf of bread to take on your way.  Will you take half of it with my blessing, and leave the other half for me to eat, or will you take all of it without my blessing?"

          But the youngest girl was sweet and caring, and she loved her mother very much.  "I'll take half of the bread, and your blessing," she said, and set off down the long road.
          The girl traveled for months, through lands so strange that only the poets sang of them by the fire.  Then finally she came upon a little house in the woods.  And being tired of her journey, she knocked on the door.
          An old hag lived in that cottage, and she invited the girl in.  "Tell me, child, where are you going?" the hag asked.
          "I'm off to find my fortune," the girl replied.
          The hag smiled.   "How would you like to stay here with me?" she asked.  "I could use a maid, since I'm getting so old."
          The girl thought about it for a moment.  "What would I have to do?" she asked.
          "Well," said the hag, "you will have to wash and dress me, and clean my house.  But whatever you do, you must not look up the chimney!"

          That seemed simple enough, so the girl agreed.
          That night, she slept in a bed for the first time in months.  And the next day, she washed and dressed the hag even before she fixed her own breakfast.  But when the hag went out, she just had to peek inside that fireplace!

          Imagine her surprise when she saw her own mother's long leather bag of gold and silver!  And it was still full, because the old hag was a witch!
          She quickly pulled the bag out of the chimney, and threw it over her back.  Then she ran out of the cottage and back down the road as fast as she could.

          She hadn't gone far when she met a shaggy old horse grazing in a field.  When he saw her, he called out, "Please, won't you rub me?  I haven't been rubbed for nine years!"
          "Oh, you poor thing!" the girl cried.  "Of course I will rub you!"  So she set down her long leather bag of gold, and rubbed the horse from head to tail.  Then she patted his nose, picked up her bag, and hurried on her way again.

          A little further down the road, she met a raggedy sheep in the meadow.  "Shear me?" the sheep begged.  "Please shear me!  I haven't had my wooly coat trimmed in nine years!"
          "That's terrible!" the girl said.  "Of course I will shear you!"  So she set her long leather bag down, picked up a rusty pair of scissors, and sheared the sheep.   "That should make you feel better!" she said, scratching its ears.   Then she picked up her bag and hurried on her way again.
          In the next field, she saw a big goat chained to a tree.  "Oh, change my tether, please!" the goat cried.  "It hasn't been changed for nine years now!"
          "You poor thing!" the girl cried.  "You must be starving, with no fresh grass nearby!   Of course I will change your tether!"  And she even gathered up a big pile of leaves and vines for the goat, for a midnight snack.  Then she picked up her long leather bag again, threw it over her shoulder, and hurried down the road.

          Night was just falling when she came to a broken-down old mill.  "Please," the mill begged her, "won't you turn my millstones?  They haven't been turned for nine years!"
          The girl felt sorry for the mill.  Even though she was very tired, she found some scattered grain, and set it in the millstones, and turned the stones to make some fresh flour.  Then she laid down inside the mill, beside two big white rocks, and laid her head down on the bag.   Within moments, she was fast asleep.
          When the old hag came home that night, she saw that the girl was gone.  So she quickly ran to the fireplace, to see if her long leather bag of gold and silver was still there.
          The girl had stolen her bag of money!  Furious, she set off down the road as fast as she could, chasing the girl.
          Before long, she reached the shaggy horse.  "Horse of mine," she said, "have you seen a girl run by with a long leather bag on her shoulder?"

          But the horse was grateful to the girl, because she had given him a long rub, and brushed out his long shaggy coat.  So he said, "I have better things to do than watch for your girls all day.  Go look somewhere else!"
          The hag ran on, and came to the meadow where the raggedy sheep was grazing.  "Sheep of mine," she said, "have you seen a girl run by with a long leather bag on her shoulder?"
          But the sheep was grateful to the girl, because she'd trimmed his long, matted wool, and scratched his ears.  So he said, "I don't have time to watch for your girls.  She's not here, go look somewhere else."
          On ran the ugly old hag, until she reached the big goat chained to the tree.  "Goat of mine, have you seen a girl run by with a long leather bag on her shoulder?" she asked.
          But the goat was still munching on his big pile of leaves.  He liked the girl a lot, and didn't want the old hag to hurt her.  So he said, "No, I haven't seen her.  Now go away and search somewhere else!"
          Finally the old hag reached the broken-down old mill.  "Mill of mine," she said, "have you seen a girl run by with a long leather bag on her shoulder?"
          The mill said, "Come closer and whisper to me.  Then I will tell you."
          The hag was afraid that she'd never get her long leather bag of gold and silver back, so she went closer to whisper to the mill.  But the mill was grateful to the girl, because she'd taken the time to turn its millstones.  So the mill dragged the old hag under its wheels and ground her up.
          The old hag had dropped her magical white rod. The mill woke up the girl, and told her to pick up the white rod, and strike the two white stones behind the door.  So she did, and up jumped her two older sisters!  They were very ready to go home again!
          The youngest girl thanked the mill for helping them.  Then she picked up the long leather bag, threw it over her shoulder, and the three girls headed down the road.
          They traveled for a long time, but finally they reached their own land.  Their mother had been lonely and sad all the time they were gone.  She was so glad to see them that she stopped crying, and took the bag from the youngest sister, and had fine foods and drinks brought, and fresh new clothes for her daughters.

          And they all lived happily and well from that day on.

 

Legend adaptation by:  Jo Grant