Gateway to the Classics: For the Children's Hour by Carolyn S. Bailey
For the Children's Hour by  Carolyn S. Bailey

The Spindle, Needle and Shuttle

O NCE upon a time there lived a little girl who was quite, quite alone; for her grandmother and her father and her mother were all gone to heaven. She lived in a poor little cottage, and all that she owned in the world was a spindle, a needle and a shuttle. Still, she was a happy little girl, spinning and sewing busily from morning till night. Her flax never gave out, and as soon as she had woven a piece of cloth and stitched it into a little shirt some one always came to buy it. Now, it happened about this time that the prince came riding into town to find a little girl who was fit to be a princess.

"She must be good, and rich, and industrious," said the prince.

Up and down the streets he rode, and all the mothers dressed their little girls in their best clothes and set them out upon the doorsteps, but the prince would have none of them for a princess. And he rode on and on until he came at last near the cottage where lived the little girl, the spindle, the needle and the shuttle.

The little girl was not watching for the prince. She had never so much as thought of being a princess, and she was busily spinning and singing as the threads went in and out:

"Spindle, spindle, run away;

Fetch me some one home to-day."

All at once the spindle jumped from off her hands and rushed out of the house. She watched it from the door, but it went running and dancing quite merrily across the fields, trailing behind it a bright gold thread, until she could see it no longer. So she took up her shuttle, having no spindle.

Now, the spindle kept on its way, and just as the thread was all unwound it overtook the prince.

"What is this?" said the prince. "This must be the golden thread that will lead me to the princess." So he picked up the spindle and followed the trail of golden thread.

The little girl kept on busily working and singing as her fingers flew:

"Shuttle, shuttle, weave for me

Carpets fine as fine can be."

In a minute the shuttle jumped from her hands and ran to the door, but on the door-sill it stopped and began to weave the most beautiful carpet all over the floor. In the center of the carpet, on a gold ground, was a green creeping-plant, and around it were pink roses and white lilies scattered. Hares and rabbits seemed to be running upon it; stags and deer stood beneath the leaves, and there were wonderful birds of all colors flying about. The shuttle danced here and there, and the carpet grew of itself.

The little girl watched it, but she knew she must not be idle; so she took up her needle, having now no spindle or shuttle, and she began to sew a fine seam, singing as she sewed:

"Needle, needle, while you shine,

Make the house look neat and fine."

Just then the needle sprang from her fingers and flew about the room as quick as lightning. It was as if the fairies were at work, for beautiful curtains were hung at the windows of the poor little house, the old chairs were quickly covered with fine, green velvet and the walls were hung with pink damask. When the last stitch was finished the little girl saw the nodding, white plume in the prince's hat as he rode up to the door, for he had carefully followed the golden thread all the way. He jumped from his horse and stepped in upon the beautiful carpet. As soon as he entered he saw the little girl, who looked as sweet as a flower in her old, old dress.

"Oh," said the prince, as he looked around at the work the spindle, the shuttle and the needle had done, "you are good, and industrious, and rich! Will you come with me and be a princess?"

The little girl said she would. So the prince took her hand, and lifted her up behind him in the saddle and she rode off to the palace to be a princess.

— Adapted from Grimm by
Carolyn Sherwin Bailey

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