The Pink Fairy Book
Catherine and Her Destiny
Long ago there lived a rich merchant who, besides possessing more treasures than any
king in the world, had in his great hall three chairs, one of silver, one of gold, and one of
diamonds. But his greatest treasure of all was his only daughter, who was called
One day Catherine was sitting in her own room when suddenly the door flew open, and in
came a tall and beautiful woman holding in her hands a little wheel.
'Catherine,' she said, going up to the girl, 'which would you rather have-a happy youth or
a happy old age?'
Catherine was so taken by surprise that she did not know what to answer, and the lady
repeated again, 'Which would you rather have-a happy youth or a happy old age?'
Then Catherine thought to herself, 'If I say a happy youth, then I shall have to suffer all
the rest of my life. No, I would bear trouble now, and have something better to look
forward to.' So she looked up and replied, 'Give me a happy old age.'
'So be it,' said the lady, and turned her wheel as she spoke, vanishing the next moment as
suddenly as she had come.
Now this beautiful lady was the Destiny of poor Catherine.
Only a few days after this the merchant heard the news that all his finest ships, laden with
the richest merchandise, had been sunk in a storm, and he was left a beggar. The shock
was too much for him. He took to his bed, and in a short time he was dead of his
So poor Catherine was left alone in the world without a penny or a creature to help her.
But she was a brave girl and full of spirit, and soon made up her mind that the best thing
she could do was to go to the nearest town and become a servant. She lost no time in
getting herself ready, and did not take long over her journey; and as she was passing
down the chief street of the town a noble lady saw her out of the window, and, struck by
her sad face, said to her: 'Where are you going all alone, my pretty girl?'
'Ah, my lady, I am very poor, and must go to service to earn my bread.'
'I will take you into my service,' said she; and Catherine served her well.
Some time after her mistress said to Catherine, 'I am obliged to go out for a long while,
and must lock the house door, so that no thieves shall get in.'
So she went away, and Catherine took her work and sat down at the window. Suddenly
the door burst open, and in came her Destiny.
'Oh! so here you are, Catherine! Did you really think I was going to leave you in peace?'
And as she spoke she walked to the linen press where Catherine's mistress kept all her