The Violet Fairy Book
The Child Who Came From An Egg
Once upon a time there lived a queen whose heart was sore because she had no children.
She was sad enough when her husband was at home with her, but when he was away she
would see nobody, but sat and wept all day long.
Now it happened that a war broke out with the king of a neighbouring country, and the
queen was left in the palace alone.
She was so unhappy that she felt as if the walls would stifle her, so she wandered out into
the garden, and threw herself down on a grassy bank, under the shade of a lime tree. She
had been there for some time, when a rustle among the leaves caused her to look up, and
she saw an old woman limping on her crutches towards the stream that flowed through
When she had quenched her thirst, she came straight up to the queen, and said to her: 'Do
not take it evil, noble lady, that I dare to speak to you, and do not be afraid of me, for it
may be that I shall bring you good luck.'
The queen looked at her doubtfully, and answered: 'You do not seem as if you had been
very lucky yourself, or to have much good fortune to spare for anyone else.'
'Under rough bark lies smooth wood and sweet kernel,' replied the old woman. 'Let me
see your hand, that I may read the future.'
The queen held out her hand, and the old woman examined its lines closely. Then she
said, 'Your heart is heavy with two sorrows, one old and one new. The new sorrow is for
your husband, who is fighting far away from you; but, believe me, he is well, and will
soon bring you joyful news. But your other sorrow is much older than this. Your
happiness is spoilt because you have no children.' At these words the queen became
scarlet, and tried to draw away her hand, but the old woman said:
'Have a little patience, for there are some things I want to see more clearly.'
'But who are you?' asked the queen, 'for you seem to be able to read my heart.'
'Never mind my name,' answered she, 'but rejoice that it is permitted to me to show you a
way to lessen your grief. You must, however, promise to do exactly what I tell you, if any
good is to come of it.'
'Oh, I will obey you exactly,' cried the queen, 'and if you can help me you shall have in
return anything you ask for.'
The old woman stood thinking for a little: then she drew something from the folds of her
dress, and, undoing a number of wrappings, brought out a tiny basket made of birch-bark.
She held it out to the queen, saying, 'In the basket you will find a bird's egg. This you
must be careful to keep in a warm place for three months, when it will turn into a doll.
Lay the doll in a basket lined with soft wool, and leave it alone, for it will not need any
food, and by-and-by you will find it has grown to be the size of a baby. Then you will
have a baby of your own, and you must put it by the side of the other child, and bring
your husband to see his son and daughter. The boy you will bring up yourself, but you