Mother Holle

Mother Holle's daughters standing by a well.
Appstore badge

Mother Holle

Brothers Grimm, adapted by Stories Aloud

Once upon a time, there lived a mother with her two daughters. One daughter was beautiful and hard-working and the other daughter was ugly and lazy.  

The mother definitely loved the lazy girl best because she was her real daughter. The beautiful girl was only her step daughter and so she treated her harshly.

She made her do all the housework and she was made to sit by a well at the bottom of the garden, to spin until her fingers were all blistered.

One day, while spinning, she dropped her spindle into the well! She was so worried; she knew she’d be in trouble. But she ran home to tell her mother.

“You stupid girl! You can’t have been concentrating! You dropped it in, so you can fetch it out!”

The poor girl went back to the well, not knowing what to do. It was such a deep well, she couldn’t just reach in. So, she took off her cloak and jumped in!

Then nothing. She remembers nothing…until… she awoke in beautiful meadow!

“Where am I?”

She was surrounded by the most dazzling flowers she had ever seen and she could feel the warm sunshine on her skin. She walked through the meadow and, for the first time in years, smiled to herself.

She stopped suddenly as she was very surprised to see a bakery in the middle of the meadow! But then she heard something…

She couldn’t hear very well so she went inside.

“Take us out, take us out or, alas, we shall burn!”

 She looked around but there was no one to be seen.

“Take us out! We were baked long ago!”

“Baked?”  she thought.

She looked into the oven and saw some delicious buns.

“Hello?” she called to the baker.

“Your buns are done.  They may burn!  Hello?”

 But there was no one there.

So, she opened the oven door and carefully took all the buns out.

She continued her journey and once again heard a voice that seemed to come from nowhere.

“Shake me, shake me!”

She looked everywhere but there wasn’t anyone around.

“My apples are ripe and ready to drop!”

“No,” she thought, “Could it be?”  She walked over the to apple tree and looked up at its beautiful ripe red apples.

“Shake me shake me,” the tree said again.

“This is a strange place,” she thought.

So, she wrapped her arms around the tree and started to shake, and shake, and shake.

The apples fell down like rain—a few hitting her head, but she didn’t mind.

When she was sure that all the apples were down, she carefully gathered them all together and left them near the tree.

As she left the meadow, she found herself on a small path and she came across a little house! She walked through the gate and listened for a voice. But his place didn’t have a voice.

So she was about to carry on, when suddenly an old woman with a large nose and large teeth opened the door and pointed her crooked walking stick at her.

The girl was so started and terrified by the look of the woman, that she started running back towards the gate.

“What are you afraid of my dear? Don’t run so quickly. Stay here with me and, if you do the housework for me, I will make you very happy. Mind you, you must make my bed the way I like it. You must fluff up the duvet so hard each morning that feathers fly all over the room. You do this for me, and I will make you happy. For I am Mother Holle.”

The girl didn’t know what to say. She didn’t know this woman, but she was lost and the woman spoke so kindly to her. So, she decided to stay.

She was used to hard work and took care to do things just the way Mother Holle liked. And every morning, she shook the duvet till it looked like it had been snowing in the room.

In return, Mother Holle cooked her meat and potatoes everyday!

After a while, the beautiful girl started to grow unhappy. At first, she didn’t know why. Then she realised that she just really wanted to go home. Even though things were much nicer here than at home; she was homesick.

So, she went to Mother Holle and said: “I am so homesick and though I am so happy here with you, I wish to return home.”

 Mother Holle said “I am pleased that you want to go back to your own people, you have been so good to me. I will take you home myself.”

Then she led the girl through the garden of the house to a large gate that she hadn’t seen before.

After saying ‘thank you’ and ‘goodbye’, she passed through the gateway and as she did, she was showered in gold!

Gold fell from above and covered her whole body. This is your reward,” said Mother Holle, handing her the spindle that she had dropped in the well.

Then… she was gone, so was the gate.

The girl looked around, and she knew immediately where she was. She had returned to her old world, not far from her stepmother’s house. She ran down the lane and through the courtyard and towards the house. She could hear the family cock singing:


Your golden daughter’s come back to you.”

She ran inside to where her step-mother and sister were making tea. They could barely believe their eyes, not just that she had come home, but that she was covered in glittering, dazzling gold!

They welcomed her (and her gold) and then they listened to her story; about falling in the well; about the strange beautiful land; about Mother Holle and the golden gate.

The step-mother listened very carefully and started making a plan.

First thing in the morning, she took her ugly, lazy daughter down to the well. She told her to throw her spindle into the well, and then jumped in after it.

Like her sister, she awoke in a beautiful meadow. She started walking and came across the bakery.

She could hear a voice saying: “Take us out! Take us out! We shall burn!”

She could see the buns in the oven. And that they were ready. But she had more important things on her mind.

“Do you think I’m going to get my hands all dirty for you?”

And with that she left.

Then she came across the tree, who was saying: “Shake me, shake me!”

But she answered, “What if one of the apples fell on my head?”

And she passed on.

At last, she came to Mother Holle’s House. She knew all about her large nose and large teeth and so was unafraid when the old woman opened the door.

She immediately took the job that she was offered and started working.

The first day, she did very well and tried to please the old woman. She was thinking of all the gold she would get in return.

The next day, however, she began to get bored. And the following days she was really quite lazy. She would stay in bed late and never made the woman’s bed properly.

Mother Holle soon got tired of her and told her that she should go. The lazy girl was delighted. She had never worked so hard in her life. But it was worth is for all that gold.

Mother Holle led her—just as she had her sister—to the gate hidden in the garden and said goodbye.

The lazy girl held her breath as she passed through the gate, but instead of gold falling from above, a great bucketful of goo came pouring over her.

She was furious!

She stomped home, dripping goo everywhere. She stank.

As she passed the cock, it sang:


Your dirty daughter’s come back to you.”

She didn’t even look at her mother as she pushed past her to the washroom. She scrubbed and scrubbed, but couldn’t get the goo off, not as long as she lived!

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.