He came to the household looking for a wife. All three daughters, he soon found, were equally enchanting in their looks, conversation and moral brilliance. Their father was willing to offer an equal dowry to each, irrespective of age, and the trousseau of one was precisely as elegant and extensive as that of both the others. There seemed to be no rational way to decide between the three.

Their father suggested, therefore, that each of them should make and serve the man a meal, taking their turns on three consecutive evenings, so that he might know them better, and learn which girl might suit him best. The man agreed to this eagerly, because he truly wished to marry, and felt that his spouse must surely be amongst those three sparkling sisters (who could not really be quite so alike as they seemed).

On the first night, the eldest prepared a wonderful banquet for him, which was so fresh and so fragrant that his senses were almost satiated before he ever tasted it. Each item was cooked and seasoned to perfection, and complemented by a warm red wine, unfamiliar to him, but quite exceptional. The desserts were as sweet and light and charming as the girl herself (which is to say, entirely), and the girl served him with great dedication and gentleness, filling his glass with a white wine the colour of sunlight. After his meal the two talked long into the night, and his heart was so full that he felt sure that the eldest was to be his bride.

But on the next night, the middle daughter created a meal for him that was no less perfect than that her sister had prepared. Indeed, he thought that perhaps the table decorations were a touch more elegant, and the design of the girlís dress a touch more refined. And as she served him the red wine, he was startled to find a stream of garnets (very large, and deep in colour) flowing into his glass. When it came to dessert, he was a little less surprised when the delicate confections were accompanied by a poured glass of topaz. Her conversation afterwards lacked nothing that her sisterís had possessed, and she listened to all he said with a fervid interest. His heart that night was less sure.

On the third night, he was served by the youngest girl. Her cooking, if it were possible, surpassed that of her sisters, and she served him with such child-like sweetness that his heart was deeply touched. About her there was not the slightest taint of any vulgarity, and the meal she had prepared was flavoursome in the extreme, with no weight or heaviness to its textures. And the red wine she poured became a stream of perfect rubies as it fell, and the crystalline sugar fantasies she served him finally came with a gobletís worth of flawless diamonds. And after dinner, she listened to him talk, agreeing adoringly with every word he said. Her perfect figure seemed etched upon his eyelids as he tried to sleep that night, though he did sleep at last.

The following morning seemed to be the first day of spring for the stranger. He rose joyfully, anticipating his happy married life, with a creature that he felt sure he would be able to love faithfully. He dressed, and breakfasted with the family, and looked fondly at all three daughters, whose hair sparkled in the morning sun. As he prepared to leave, he thanked their father for his great hospitality, and congratulated him on the transcendent charms of all three girls. He also announced his choice, and was married to the eldest within a week. He was a rich man, after all, and fond of wine.

 Site by Sian Hogan. Last updated on 1st June by Sian.