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The Curse of the Seven Children

A king and a queen have six children, all of them sons. The queen is pregnant with their seventh child when the king must head off to fight in a war. He desperately wants a daughter – so badly, in fact, that he says that the next child born must be a daughter or all seven children will be cursed.

He arranges with the queen to have a specific weapon out of the castle window so that he can see from the battlefield if the child the queen bears is a son or a daughter. If it is a son, a lance should be hung out the window. If it is a daughter, a distaff should be hung out the window.

The queen bears a daughter, Diana, and the queen and everyone else rejoices. The queen gives orders for a distaff to be hung out the window, but the servants mistake her orders and a lance is hung out the window instead. The king sees this sign, and, upon his return to the castle, he curses all seven of his sons. He lays this curse before the servants can greet him and congratulate him for the birth of his daughter.

Due to the curse he has laid on his sons, they all disappear. Diana stays and grows into a beautiful woman. She notices that her mother is always crying, so she finally asks her mother why this is so. Her mother tells her the story, and Diana decides that she will go out into the world and search for her brothers.

Diana meets an old man who she tells about her quest, and he tells her that to find them, she must not speak a word for seven years, seven months, seven weeks, seven hours, and seven minutes. She decides to try, so she writes down the day and hour on a piece of paper, so she will know when she can speak again.

Diana finds her way to a castle, and, using hand gestures, manages to ask for shelter. She ends up being taken before the king of the castle, who falls in love with her. He marries her despite the wishes of his mother. The king’s mother hates Diana. When the king leaves for war, the queen mother has a box prison built and places Diana in it. Because Diana is expecting a child, the queen mother uses that as an excuse to write to the king and tell him that Diana has died in the process of childbirth.

The queen mother hoped that placing Diana in the box would kill her, but a kitchen scullion heard a lamentation coming from behind the wall and took care of her and her child until the day came that Diana could speak again. Once the specified time was up, she told the scullion everything that had happened. The scullion removed her from the hole and took her to see the king, who was delighted his wife still lived.

After hearing the story, the king invited the nobles of his realm to a feast. The servants laid six extra plates, and Diana’s brothers walked into the hall and asked what reward should be given to a sister who had done so much for her brothers. That evoked a different question from the king – what should be done to the mother who had done such a devious thing to her son’s wife? It was decided that the queen-mother should be burned alive and fried with oil in the public square.

When that was done, the youths informed Diana of who they were, and they told her that the man she had met that night at the beginning of her quest was a magician. He had told the brothers where to find her, and, after a warm reunion, they go off to meet their parents together. The parents receive their children gladly, and they all live happily ever after.

Sites Consulted
http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/type0451.html#crane




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