As I mentioned on my previous post, Diamonds and Toads is another fairy tale I chose to include in Apprentice of Magic.
Most people are familiar with the Charles Perrault version–and if that name sounds familiar it’s because he also recorded Puss in Boots and Cinderella. It goes a little something like this:
Once upon a time there was a really cross/mean widow who had two daughters. The eldest was equally as cross/mean as the mother, but the youngest, beautiful daughter took after her deceased father, who was sweet tempered.
Anywho, the mother favored the shrewish daughter because she was similar to her, and as a result the youngest daughter got stuck with most of the chores, one of them being she had to draw water from a fountain twice a day.
One day an old woman approached the younger daughter when she was at at the fountain, and asked her for a drink. The daughter obligingly used her pitcher to give the woman a drink, and SURPRISE (or not because this is a fairy tale) the old woman was actually a fairy. This fairy gives the daughter the “gift” of every time she spoke, a flower or jewel would fall from her lips.
The girl returns home where her mother scolds her for dawdling but, lo and behold, when the youngest daughter apologizes jewels fall from her lips. The cross widow is astonished and orders her daughter to tell her what happened. Once the entire tale is told, the widow bids her older, shrewish daughter to go to the fountain as well and to act kindly.
The shrewish daughter protests, but the mother kicks her out anyway. The elder daughter reluctantly goes to the well where she finds…a beautiful princess. The princess was really the fairy in disguise #surprisednotsurprised who asks the daughter to give her water.
The shrewish daughter insults the the princess/fairy and implies the princess/fairy is a brat, though she does tell her she can use the pitcher if she likes. (Though it seems that she does not offer to draw the water for her.)
In response, the fairy calmly bestows a gift upon the eldest daughter: that every time she speaks a toad or snake will drop from her lips.
The eldest rushes home and tattles to her mother (while dropping a toad and viper from her mouth.) The mother decides this is the youngest daughter’s fault (because…reasons) and banishes her from the house.
A king finds the youngest daughter, crying, and bids her to tell him what’s wrong. She explains–dropping jewels the whole time–and miraculously the King’s son, who happens to be with him, falls in love with her jewels–I MEAN HER! He totally fell in love with her! In the span of a single conversation. Yep.
Since the girl could drop jewels with a word, they decided it didn’t matter that she’s a peasant, and she’s taken off to the palace where she weds her prince. The shrewish older daughter, however, continues to act so spiteful the window banishes her from the house as well, and eventually she starves and dies.
And…er…Happily Ever After??
So I decided to mix up this story a bit in Apprentice of Magic. I knew I wanted to make the oldest daughter good, because as a kid I never really understood why it was such a bad thing that she spoke toads and snakes. (I made a toad farm every summer as a kid, and I was fascinated with amphibians and reptiles in general.)
Moreover, I knew as a law-abiding adult who pays taxes, that miraculously producing bucketfuls of gems would also be a gigantic pain because of the logistics of selling them, and being taxed for them. (Not to mention the mysterious ability would likely be questioned by officials, who would muck up the girl’s daily life. And does anyone really think the prince fell in love with the youngest daughter because he heard how she was kind to a fairy one time??)
So instead, the tale worked perfectly into Apprentice of Magic as a teaching moment–not for the girls, but Angelique.
In fairy tales, enchantresses, fairies, and the like usually run around, tossing out curses and granting boons without actually talking to their victims. Frankly, that’s a horrible way to grant magical gifts. So I wanted Angelique to learn discernment. And thus, my plan for Diamonds and Toads was born.
Thanks for reading, Champions! I hope you have a lovely week.