The Speaking Grapes, The Smiling Apple, And The Musical Apricot
There was once a king who had three daughters. One day the king was going to the market, and asked his daughters, “What shall I bring you from the market, my dear daughters?”
“A golden dress, my dear father,” said the eldest.
“A silver dress for me, father dear,” said the second.
The third thought a moment then said, “Speaking grapes, a smiling apple and a musical apricot for me.”
“Very well, my daughters,” said the king with a laugh. At the market, he bought the dresses for his two elder daughters, but, no matter how hard he tried and how many people he asked, he could not find speaking grapes, a smiling apple and a musical apricot. This made him sad, for his youngest daughter was his favourite, and he had failed to get what she wished for.
On his way home, it happened that the royal carriage stuck fast in mud. His horses, the best for miles around, were unable to drag the carriage out. As the king started to give up hope, a dirty, filthy pig came up the road.
It stopped and looked at the king. “King,” it grunted, “give me your youngest daughter, and I will help you out of the mud.”
The king, anxious to get home and anxious for his horses, did not stop to think what he was promising, and consented. The pig gave the carriage a mighty push with his snout, and the carriage and horses moved out of the mud.
It was only when he arrived home and saw his daughters, did the king realise what he had done. He handed the dresses to the two daughters, and was sadder than ever for not only had he brought nothing for his favourite daughter, but he had promised her to an unclean animal.
A short time later, the pig arrived in the courtyard, dragging a wheelbarrow after it. “King! I have come for your daughter.”
Desperate to save his daughter, the king had a peasant girl dressed in rich garments, and sent her down to be seated in the wheelbarrow.
The pig grunted. “This is not your daughter, King.” It tipped her out of the barrow.
Realising he had no choice, the king sent his daughter down, but had her dressed in rags, hoping this would not please the pig. But, on seeing her, the pig grunted in joy, seized the girl, placed her in the wheelbarrow and left.
The father could do nothing but weep that his careless promise had brought his favourite daughter to such a fate.
The pig went on his way with the sobbing girl, until it finally stopped before a dirty pig-sty. “Get out, girl, and go into your new home.”
Still weeping, the girl did as she was told. The pig offered her some corn that it had in a trough, and also some old straw for a resting place. Exhausted after her uncomfortable journey, the girl finally fell asleep.
She slept so soundly, she did not wake until the middle of the following day. On awakening, she looked around, and sat up in astonishment. No longer was she lying on old straw in a pig-sty, but in a bed of white silk in a fairy-like palace. As she stared, maids appeared, awaiting her orders, and bringing her beautiful dresses to choose from.
Enchanted and speechless, the girl allowed herself to be dressed, before being escorted by the maids to her breakfast in a splendid hall, where a young man greeted her with great affection.
“I am your husband, if you will accept me, and whatever you see here belongs to you.”
Still bewildered, she managed to eat but remained silent.
After breakfast, the young man led her into a beautiful garden. Not knowing if she was dreaming or if any of it was real, she could barely bring herself to answer his many questions.
They came to a part of the garden which was laid out as an orchard; the bunches of grapes began to speak. “Our beautiful queen, pluck some of us.” She stared. Looking around, she saw the apples smiling at her, and heard the apricots’ melodic silvery tune.
“You see, my dear,” said the young man, “here you have what you wished for, that which your father could not obtain. I will tell you that once I was a monarch, but I was bewitched into a pig. I had to remain in that state until a girl wished for speaking grapes, a smiling apple and a musical apricot. You are the girl, and I have been delivered. You can be mine forever, but only if I please you.”
The girl could not deny that she was enchanted with the youth, and the royal splendour, and consented. Then they went to carry the news to her father, and to tell him of their happiness.
Reminiscent of ‘Beauty and the Beast’, I love the simplicity of this tale, and that the father tries to ‘save’ his daughter. I wonder what the prince had done to warrant such a bewitchment that could only be broken by so specific a set of conditions. The part I find most appealing – the young man doesn’t just assume that his new bride will be his; instead he leaves the choice to her by saying “if you will accept me”, and “only if I please you” … What a refreshing change!