“The Cruel Sister” Summary


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The Cruel Sister

A knight pays court to the elder of two sisters but actually loves the younger, who is much the more beautiful. The elder sister is jealous of her younger sister and leads her down to the water, ostensibly to watch for the return of their father’s ships, but actually to give her the opportunity to push her in. The elder sister leaves the younger sister to drown, despite her pleading. The corpse floats away and eventually reaches a mill dam where it is seen by the miller’s son and is brought to land by the miller. A harper who is passing by makes a harp from her breast bone and strings it with her hair. He brings the harp into the hall of her father, the king, where it plays alone. The harp identifies itself as the younger sister by referring to her father and mother, her brother and her lover, and it finally curses the elder sister, now called Helen.