Once upon a time an old woman lived with her beautiful daughter in a cottage by a wood.
One morning she threw open the windows to let in the sun, pulled the covers from her sleeping daughter and bade her dress herself for today she would meet her future husband.
“Who is he?” the girl asked. “You shall see”, replied the old woman. “Once you have eaten your bread and milk and chopped logs for the fire we will watch for him.” So the girl washed her face, braided her hair, ate her breakfast and chopped the logs. In her dreams her husband was tall and strong and dressed in fine garments. She waited for him to walk towards her home.
Quite soon a young man from the village strolled by. The girl had seen him nearly every day of her life and knew that he was considered to be simple. She could not contain her amazement when her mother called out to him, “Young fellow, come here. I have a task for you. When it is completed I may let you marry my daughter.”
The young man approached the two women. His face was kind, the corners of his eyes crinkled when he smiled and when he spoke his voice was soft and caring, “How may I help you dear Madam?”
“I am not as young as I once was”, exclaimed the mother. “Take these coins, go to the market for me and bring back a fine green cabbage”. “Certainly, said the young man, paying equal attention to the old grey-haired woman and the beautiful girl.
He was absent for most of the day but, as the shadows of the trees in the wood stretched almost to the cottage door, he appeared with the last rays of the sun surrounding his head with a comforting glow. With a low bow to the waiting pair, he placed a knotted kerchief by the hearth and bade them goodnight.
As the beautiful young untied the knots she let out a peel of laughter. “Why he is as stupid as he looks. He can’t even fetch a cabbage, this is a lettuce.” The old woman did not laugh. She nodded wisely and bade the girl run off to bed, “for tomorrow you will marry. He has passed my test. A wife should always be be of sharper mind than her spouse”.