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Rose Tree


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This gruesome fairytale (analogous to the Grimms' ‘The Juniper Tree’) was collected in Devonshire by Baring-Gould in the 1860s. A pretty little girl is murdered by her stepmother, who cooks her heart and liver and serves them to the child's father; she is then buried by a rose tree, where her little brother weeps for her daily. In the spring a white bird appears among the roses, sweetly singing:My wicked mother slew me,My dear father ate me,My little brother whom I loveSits below, and I sing above,Stick, stock, stone dead.

The bird's song so charms various craftsmen that she gets from them a fine pair of shoes, a gold watch and chain, and a millstone. Carrying these, she lures the family out of the house one by one and drops the watch and chain on her father, the shoes on her brother—and the millstone on her stepmother.

Text in Henderson, 1866: 314–17;Jacobs, 1894/1968: 13–16;and Philip, 1992: 143–6, who adds references for some Yorkshire variants.


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