The Three Fairies
They often pulled the same prank on the woodcutter's son. The bad fairy would tell him of a gold-filled treasure chest:
"Within the forest a treasure chest you will find and inside more gold than you will ever be able to spend. In the forest vast, the toadstool it is under will wilt over it after a day, so be fast."
What the woodcutter's son did not know was the bad fairy had fashioned a crude treasure chest from paper, filling it with chips of wood painted gold to resemble coins. Both her and the awful fairy laughed and joked at how he would be searching and searching only to find a sodden mess of paper and wood. Hungry, thirsty, and tired, after three days the woodcutter's son realized he had been the victim of their cruel prank. So he went to the knot in the oak to confront them both. But he saw the good fairy instead.
"Fairy, where are your sisters? They have done me an injustice and I will make them pay. And as I know your history, my vengeance I will have and, yes, I will have my way."
The good fairy shook her head, bidding him entry into the tree.
"For years I have seen these two play horrid pranks on you, poor woodcutter's son." She passed him a small cup of elderberry wine. "But you will get no revenge on my sisters—they are too powerful and more likely to render you into a toad with their might than let you get an upper hand on them."
The woodcutter's son nearly left before she continued, "However, I do believe you deserve some happiness."
He turned around, and then stopped. "What do you mean?"
"In the castle near here lives a beautiful princess who, at the moment has no reliable suitor. In fact, there is a quest for the man who can find the key that will unlock the door to her chamber. Rumor has it the princess escaped her chamber once and entertained the affections of a handsome young man. Her father caught her and, thinking she had committed a sinful act with him, locked the princess away until one who was truly worthy would come and unlock the door to free her from her prison."
The woodcutter's son imagined the sight of the young woman in bed with the young man, how soft and pale her skin would be, and how slender her body, with full breasts and pert nipples, and child-bearing hips he could hold as she straddled him. Then, once he dragged himself from the thought, he laughed, thinking that the good fairy was trying to trick him just as her two sisters had done so many times before.
"Why should I believe you?"
"My sisters are bad. I am not. I am merely giving you a chance to believe that a good fairy like me exists."
The woodcutter's son smiled, pondering where a key that would unlock the princess's door would be. As the good fairy had not given him any clues, he searched for it in the same forest as he had looked for the treasure chest, but found nothing until he saw a knot in one of the trees. Something hung from the knot, shining in the sun. Running toward the object, the woodcutter's son saw that it was indeed a golden key. He took it, wondering why it would be there of all places. But he did not wonder for long. He ran to the castle with thoughts of how beautiful the princess must be before jumping up the winding staircase to her room. The woodcutter's son took a moment to stare through the keyhole. The princess was indeed beautiful, with long flowing tresses and a body many men would only find naked before them in their wildest dreams. Sliding the key into the keyhole, the woodcutter's son opened the door.
"What is such a lowly male doing in my bedchamber?" the princess asked, pulling the covers over her nakedness as the woodcutter's son clenched the key in his palm.
"I have come to free you, princess," he said, all of a sudden uninterested in saving her. "But if you insist, I'll leave you here locked up forever." As the princess reached for the key, he shut the door behind him, locked it, and ran out of the castle and into the woods again. He thought of how beautiful the princess was, but also how ungrateful she acted when he could have freed her. He also thought of the good fairy and how kind and generous she had been to him despite how bad her sisters were. It was then that the woodcutter's son realized how lovely the good fairy was. When he reached the fairies' oak, the good fairy was standing there, amazed at his return.
"What made you come back?" she asked as he held the golden key out to her.
"You left me the key. You gave me the chance to free the princess in the hope I would have a good life as a prince. But she was not worthy of being freed. Yet you are worthy of my love, that is, if you will have me, good fairy."
The good fairy blushed, held out her arms to him, and accepted his offer. Shortly thereafter, they were happily married in the fairy realm and the good fairy's sisters never played pranks on the woodcutter's son ever again.