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The

Black Bull

Written by Karen McCombie Illustrated by Eva DĂźnzinger

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Chapter 1 In a low, dark cottage by a cold, grey lake lived a washerwoman and her three daughters, Kirsten, Mairi and Flora. Every day was the same; the washerwoman and her girls scrubbed and washed, and washed and scrubbed. And every day, there were bitter wishes spoken. “Oh, how I wish I’d fine, strong sons instead of useless daughters!” the washerwoman would snap.

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“Oh, how I wish I could escape this place and have adventures!” Kirsten, the eldest, would sigh. “Oh, how I wish I could find myself a handsome husband!” Mairi, the middle daughter, would moan. Only the youngest daughter, Flora, stayed silent. But she had her own, quiet wish and it was a simple one – to be happy.

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So it went on until one day Kirsten cried, “This dull life isn’t for me!” She packed her few things and left, without a thought for her sisters. Her mother raged with anger. Mairi moaned with jealousy. Flora wept salt tears into the washtub. What would become of Kirsten?

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And then a passing shepherd gave them news of her. Kirsten had wandered for many a day, till she met a wise old woman, who listened as Kirsten spoke of her dreams of adventure. “Is this one coming now?� asked the wise old woman, pointing back along the road.

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Puzzled, Kirsten looked – and saw a splendid coach pulled by six white horses. Inside the coach was a rich lady who loved to roam far and wide, simply to see the wonders of the world. While the rich lady stopped to rest her horses, she asked the wise old woman where she might find a girl to be maid and companion on her travels. In the blink of an eye, Kirsten stepped into that fine carriage, and into her future.

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As soon as the tale was told, Mairi’s mind was made up. “This lonely life isn’t for me!” she cried, packing her few things and leaving, without a thought for her younger sister. Her mother raged with anger. Flora wept salt tears into the washtub. What would become of Mairi? And then a travelling tinsmith gave them news of her.

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Mairi had wandered for many a day, till she met a wise old woman. She told her of her dreams of a handsome husband. “Is this him now?� asked the wise woman, pointing back along the road.

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Puzzled, Mairi looked – and saw a prettily painted cart pulled by two strong horses. Driving the cart was a handsome farmer. Stopping to let his horses rest, the farmer asked the old woman where he might find himself a good wife. In the blink of an eye, Mairi stepped into that painted cart, and into her future.

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When Mairi’s tale was told, her mother raged with anger and Flora wept salt tears into the washtub. What would become of her, now that both her sisters were gone? One chilly morning, as dawn bloomed, Flora whispered, “This troubled life isn’t for me,” and kissed her mother goodbye as she slept.

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The Black Bull  
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