Jung showed that fairy tales concern individuation. This tale is relevant in many ways to the process of Jungian therapy.
Once on a time there was a king and a queen who had no children, and that gave the queen much grief; she scarce had one happy hour. She was always bewailing and bemoaning herself, and saying how dull and lonesome it was in the palace.
‘If we had children there’d be life enough,’ she said.
Wherever she went in all her realm she found God’s blessing in children, even in the vilest hut; and wherever she came she heard the Goodies scolding the bairns, and saying how they had done that and that wrong. All this the queen heard, and thought it would be so nice to do as other women did. At last the king and queen took into their palace a stranger lassie to rear up, that they might have her always with them, to love her if she did well, and scold her if she did wrong, like their own child.
So one day the little lassie whom they had taken as their own, ran down into the palace-yard, and was playing with a gold apple. Just then an old beggar wife came by, who had a little girl with her, and it wasn’t long before the little lassie and the beggar’s bairn were great friends, and began to play together, and to toss the gold apple about between them. When the queen saw this, as she sat at a window in the palace, she tapped on the pane for her foster-daughter to come up. She went at once, but the beggar girl went up too; and as they went into the queen’s bower, each held the other by the hand. Then the queen began to scold the little lady, and to say, ‘You ought to be above running about and playing with a tattered beggar’s brat.’ And so she wanted to drive the lassie downstairs.
‘If the queen only knew my mother’s power, she’d not drive me out,’ said the little lassie; and when the queen asked what she meant more plainly, she told her how her mother could get her children if she chose. The queen wouldn’t believe it, but the lassie held her own, and said every word of it was true, and bade the queen only to try and make her mother do it. So the queen sent the lassie down to fetch up her mother.
‘Do you know what your daughter says?’ asked the queen of the old woman, as soon as ever she came into the room.
No; the beggar wife knew nothing about it.
‘Well, she says you can get me children if you will,’ answered the queen.
‘Queens shouldn’t listen to beggar lassies’ silly stories,’ said the old wife, and strode out of the room.
Then the queen got angry, and wanted again to drive out the little lassie; but she declared it was true every word that she had said.
‘Let the queen only give my mother a drop to drink,’ said the lassie. ‘When she gets merry she’ll soon find out a way to help you.’
The queen was ready to try this; so the beggar wife was fetched up again once more, and treated both with wine and mead as much as she chose; and so it was not long before her tongue began to wag. Then the queen came out again with the same question she had asked before.
‘One way to help you perhaps I know,’ said the beggar wife. ‘Your Majesty must make them bring in two pails of water some evening before you go to bed. In each of them you must wash yourself, and afterwards throw away the water under the bed. When you look under the bed next morning, two flowers will have sprung up, one fair and one ugly. The fair one you must eat, the ugly one you must let stand; but mind you don’t forget the last.’
That was what the beggar wife said.
Yes; the queen did what the beggar wife advised her to do. She had the water brought up in two pails, washed herself in them, and emptied them under the bed; and lo! when she looked under the bed next morning, there stood two flowers. One was ugly and foul, and had black leaves; but the other was so bright and fair, and lovely, she had never seen its like; so she ate it up at once. But the pretty flower tasted so sweet, that she couldn’t help herself. She ate the other up too, for, she thought, ‘It can’t hurt or help one much either way, I’ll be bound.’
Well, sure enough, after a while the queen was brought to bed. First of all, she had a girl who had a wooden spoon in her hand, and rode upon a goat; loathly and ugly she was, and the very moment she came into the world she bawled out ‘Mamma.’
‘If I’m your mamma,’ said the queen, ‘God give me grace to mend my ways.’
‘Oh, don’t be sorry,’ said the girl, who rode on the goat, ‘for one will soon come after me who is better looking.’
So, after a while, the queen had another girl, who was so fair and sweet, no one had ever set eyes on such a lovely child, and with her you may fancy the queen was very pleased. The elder twin they called ‘Tatterhood,’ because she was always so ugly and ragged, and because she had a hood which hung about her ears in tatters. The queen could scarce bear to look at her, and the nurses tried to shut her up in a room by herself, but it was all no good; where the younger twin was, there she must also be, and no one could ever keep them apart.