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(c) 2002 by Rosemary Lake, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED, in Once Upon a Time When the Princess Rescued the Prince (13 Fairy Tales) available in paperback and ebook from http://www.rosemarylake.com

Free sample excerpt from

The Flying Turnips

    Once there was a poor little girl named Nora who lived all alone with her mean stepfather, in a lighthouse tower on a tiny island. Her stepfather made her spend all her time digging in the vegetable garden that he had planted round the tower. No matter what went wrong, he always said it was Nora's fault, and punished her and made her work harder.

    One day the stepfather said, “We need more vegetables. I want you to plant a bed of turnips on top of the tower.”

    “On top of the tower?” said Nora. “But there is no dirt up there.”

    “Here, take this basket and carry some dirt up the ladder, then. It will keep you out of mischief.”

    So the little girl had to climb up and down the tower a hundred times, carrying up basketfuls of dirt, till she had made a bed for the turnips. Then she had to smooth the dirt and plant the turnip seeds. When she had finished planting the whole bed, her stepfather ordered: “Make another bed, and then another, so the turnips will come ripe at different times.” So Nora had it all to do over again, and again.

    Still, there was one good thing. The ladder, which went up the outside of the tower, was so weak and shaky that her stepfather didn't dare climb it himself. So all the time she was working on the top of the tower, Nora felt free. She had the seagulls for company, and she could look over to the mainland where there were beautiful woods and meadows, and when she felt tired she could be still and rest, between the clouds and the waves.

    So Nora spent a lot of time caring for the turnips, and they grew very well. But when the turnips in the first bed were nearly ready to dig and eat, one morning when she climbed to the roof of the tower she found the whole first bed empty. There was nothing there but holes in the dirt.

    “Where are the turnips?” her stepfather demanded when she came down empty-handed.

    “I don't know,” said Nora.

    So her stepfather spanked her. “Someone has stolen my turnips,” he said, “and I'm sure it must be your fault in some way. Now you must row to the mainland and find the turnips and have the thieves arrested.”

    Nora was glad to take their little boat and row to the mainland, so as to get away from her stepfather for a while. On the mainland she searched all day through woods and fields and meadows, but never saw a trace of the stolen turnips.

    Just as the sun was going down, Nora came to a tiny lake hidden far out in the woods. In the lake was an island, and on the island was a tiny house, with bright cozy light shining from all the windows. A pretty rowboat was tied to the bank of the lake, so she rowed over toward the island.




The tale of stolen magic treasures retrieved by a magic stick has many versions, all over Europe. The lighthouse vs. mainland motif and the stepfather are mine, as are most of the details. His left foot is my Bowdlerization of a modern joke. The turnips are Russian.