Once upon a time, there was a beautiful milk maid. Her mother was an honest, kind, hardworking woman and brought up her daughter instinctively, with the same values. Because of this, the Milkmaid was not overtly aware of her beauty, nor was any importance placed upon it. The mother and daughter worked together harmoniously and loved each other dearly. One day, the cows stopped producing milk. ‘They’re starving, there’s no way they will be ready for milking soon.’, the mother said, ‘And there’s no money left, I don’t know what we’ll do.’. The milk maid was heartbroken to see her mother so defeated and vowed to try and find a way to solve their problems. ‘We can’t just give up, there must be a way.’ she impressed on her mother, ‘I’ll find the money.’. ‘Without milk, there’s no money to be had. We can’t even sell the cows in this sorry state. They’ll die.’ And with that, her mother began to cry. The milk maid was determined, there was no changing her mind. She wrapped her arms tightly around her mother, trying to console her ‘I promise I’ll fix this.’, she whispered gently. Despite her mother’s concerns, they bid farewell, ‘Please take care of yourself!’, the mother exclaimed as she watched her daughter walk out into the unknown to find new opportunities and riches. Her heart swelled with pride.
Along the quiet, dusty road, the milk maid was spotted by a magpie. The magpie adored anything that glistened and found himself mesmerised by the image of the milk maid, glimmering brightly in the sunlight. She radiated beauty and he was consumed with desire – intent on capturing her radiance all for himself. He could think of nothing else and swooped down beside her. He circled her head, the sound of his wings flapping in the air, ‘You are ugly. You are useless, you are nothing.’, he squawked. The milk maid felt a sudden pain in her chest but her determination was stronger. She took a deep breath. The magpie had what he wanted and was thrilled with his new found radiance. He settled and watched it shimmer all around him as the milk maid carried on with her journey, along the dusty road.
The shimmer seemed so small and insignificant once sat in his nest and the magpie was left dissatisfied, desiring more. He left the safety and now mild discomfort of his nest and roamed the skies to search out the milk maid once again. He felt with intensity, upon seeing her. His jealousy and greed urged him on as he reached her side and squawked directly into her ears, ‘You are ugly. You are useless. You are nothing!’ The pain was so much stronger the second time and pulsed throughout her body. The milk maid clutched at her chest and needed to take several breaths this time, before being able to continue. Again, the magpie stole yet more of her shimmer and retreated to the treetops above, proud of his newly acquired treasure.
The milk maid was finally approaching the market and could see the hustle and bustle ahead of her. Feeling utterly exhausted and full of anxiety, she decided to sit for a moment. The magpie had continued to watch her from up high and noticing her fatigue, decided it was the perfect opportunity to steal the shimmer in its entirety. Oh, what a chance, what a prize! He swooped in for a final attack, ‘You are UGLY! You are USELESS! You are NOTHING!’ He squawked again and again at the milk maid, tirelessly flapping furiously all around her. The milk maid screamed and flailed before collapsing in absolute agony; her heart unable to endure any further torture. The magpie was utterly ecstatic! He had so much shimmer that he glittered! He was now the most wonderous thing he had ever seen and he was delirious in the sensation. He wrapped the shimmer all around him, impervious to the plight of the milk maid, and took it all back to his nest in the treetops above.
The milk maid remained lifeless on the ground and a crowd from the market soon gathered around her when they feared she was dead. They were astonished at her beauty as she revealed her face when finally beginning to stir. A handsome farmer had joined the crowd and fell in love with the milk maid at first sight, ‘I’ve never seen anything so beautiful.’ he admitted quietly. ‘You’re mistaken.’ replied the weak milk maid, ‘I am ugly. I am useless. I am nothing.’ The handsome farmer was shocked, having expected such a beauty to be egotistical and boastful. The crowd gasped in unison as the milk maid stood and staggered on to the market.
‘Dear girl let us help you.’, ‘Please sit, take a bite.’ ‘Slow down, rest your head’, cried the sellers and buyers alike but still, the milk maid would not listen; unworthy of their kindness with a trampled sense of self. The handsome farmer watched on and could not understand, ‘She’s as strong as she is beautiful.’ he observed, ‘Not at all assured.’.
Unwilling to give up on the Milk maid, the handsome farmer – undeterred by his embarrassment, approached her again. ‘What happened, what has you so down?’ he enquired. ‘My mother needs me’, croaked the milk maid, ‘but I am ugly. I am useless. I am nothing.’. A tear quickly made its journey from her left eye to her cheek. The pair had come to a stretch of water and the milk maid looked in on her reflection. She saw ugliness, uselessness. Nothingness. Her right eye copied its counterpart,
The handsome farmer was perplexed at the milk maid’s answer. Was she in fact, blind? Did her eyes deceive her? Just then, he recalled a trade that he had made previously with a market seller. ‘I was given this in exchange for ten bags of cow feed’ said the handsome farmer as he opened up an ornate pouch, from which he pulled a magic looking glass. ‘I was told this glass helps to see..’, but the milk maid interrupted, ‘I can see just fine…’ ‘No, you see what is of mind’ said the handsome farmer, ‘just look and see for the best.’
The milk maid, too sad and weary to argue, looked through the glass and reflected on her reflection. This time, with the help of the magic looking glass, she saw through clear eyes and most importantly, a clear mind. ‘That’s me.’ she said and instantly began to shimmer.
A squawk in the distance.
‘I’m me, I’m beautiful!’, exclaimed the milkmaid. Her confidence grew as the pain in her heart faded. She glistened as sunshine cascaded down upon her.
Squawk, Squawk, in the distance.
The handsome farmer had fallen head over heels in love with the milk maid ‘I adore you.’ he admitted bashfully, with an open heart. ‘How do I thank you? I can never repay you.’ replied the milk maid. The handsome farmer smiled, ‘Your new found sight is payment enough.’ The milk maid wasn’t listening, she was full of vigour and determination. She stood, stronger than ever, ‘I’m sorry, our cows are starving, I’ve got to go!’ The milk maid’s courage was growing now too. She strode past the farmer and into the market. ‘But wait!’, yelled the handsome farmer, trailing behind her.
‘Why hello, good day to you!’, beamed the milk maid as she passed sellers and buyers alike. She smiled and waved and grew that little bit taller. She was bound by her love and duty to her mother and would not be deterred. The magpie – still watching from the trees above, had enough shimmer to shine a thousand stars and despite his thievery, felt content enough to sleep. Unfortunately for him, his greed outweighed the strength of his nest and it soon gave way. The shimmer of the milk-maid was far too much for his wings to withstand and he tumbled from the treetops to his murky, underwater grave.
It was the splash in the water that slowed the milk maid’s pace as she turned to follow the sound. ‘Please, please a minute!’ cried the exhausted farmer, ‘I can feed your cows!’. This revelation slowed her further, ‘I can’t take more from you; you have given so much to me already.’, professed the milk maid. ‘I’d give you everything I have if you’d be my Wife.’ admitted the Farmer. He finally took her hand in his. The milk maid, exuding beauty and courage and strength, looked up at the Farmer and smiled.
At that very moment, all of the shimmer and sparkle that had been stolen by the magpie began to trickle down from the treetops overhead and settle over the milk maid. She was more beautiful and courageous and stronger than ever before and the market people soon began to congregate to see where this bright, glistening light was radiating from.
The milk maid’s fame grew throughout the land and with that, her wealth. Soon she had set up a business selling scarecrows to farmers all over. Her scarecrows were so utterly fabulous that they became as famous as the shimmering milk maid herself. Everyone wanted one and as such, magpies like the avarice kind in this tale became all but extinct. The milk maid was not only beautiful, honest, kind and hardworking but successful too. And happy.
She never did take the handsome farmer’s cow feed, nor did she forget how he gifted her with self-worth. The cows at home were fatter than ever and producing more milk than they could have dreamed of. Her Mother rejoiced in these happy times and in particularly, at the joining in matrimony of her daughter the milk maid and the handsome Farmer.
And they all lived happily ever after.