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by Mary Ansell, Copyright © 2001

This is the story belonging to the Red-Gold Dragon that was too shy to be told, until it was reassured by the purring of the cat:

Once upon a time there were three sisters. When the eldest was twenty-one, their fairy godmother appeared to them and said, "As you know, I have three wishes to divide among you. The time has come for each of you to make your wish."

The first sister, although she was quite good-looking, was concerned about her freckles, the shape of her nose, and other imperfections in her appearance. She wished to be beautiful, and immediately her complexion cleared, her nose assumed an elegant shape, and she was as beautiful as the day.

The second sister, who loved to read books about knightly valour, and was ashamed because she was afraid to grasp a stinging nettle, wished to be brave, which she instantly became.

The third sister, who had rather a hasty temper and sometimes said nasty things which she afterwards regretted, wished to be kind. And from that time on, she was never angry, and she was never anything but kind.

It was not long after this that a sea monster anchored itself across the harbour of the town, and swore that it would devour every ship that passed unless the townsfolk fed him a maiden a day.

On the first day, the beautiful sister volunteered herself, for she was also vain, and was sure that the sea monster would succumb to her charms and be willing to do her behests. However, when she went out to the end of the rocky point and called sweetly to the monster, it came greedily towards her and took her in its jaws, for monsters have different ideas of beauty than people do. But when it tasted the face cream which she had lavishly smeared on, it wrinkled up its nose in disgust and spat her out. She returned home safely, but the thought of the monster's ignominious treatment of her stamped a perpetual scowl on her face, which made her look quite ugly.

On the second day, the brave sister volunteered herself, for she was also foolhardy, and didn't care whether the sea monster ate her or not. However, she had taken to wearing a hair shirt and holding a nettle in each hand to show her courage, and when the monster took her in its jaws, it spat her out because she was so prickly. After her friends had recovered from their relief at her escape, they began to tease her about being so unpalatable to the monster. Although she was invincible in the face of physical danger, she was very touchy when it came to verbal jeers, and soon became a veritable coward, afraid to go out into the street for fear someone might see her and make fun of her.

On the third day, the kind sister volunteered herself, for she could not bear to think of anyone else suffering when she might do instead. She also felt sorry for the poor sea monster, who, because of the inedibility of her sisters, had had nothing to eat for two days. With the help of the local fishermen, she discovered the types of fish and seaweed that the monster liked best to eat and prepared a delectable brew for him. When she offered him the food, he said that was the first time anyone had ever been kind to him. After he had eaten his meal, the sea monster told her that because of her kindness, he would not eat her, and that she had saved the town. Then he swam off to haunt the next town up the coast.

The town did great honour to the kind sister for getting rid of the monster. She tried to share the credit with her older sisters, since they had volunteered themselves first, but in spite of all she could do, her eldest sister was unanimously considered ugly, and her second sister cowardly. However, not only was the kind sister acknowledged to be kind, there were some who thought her brave, and others who thought her beautiful.

The moral of the story is: Be kind, and Fate will be kind to you.

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