Once upon a time there was a girl called Mary. She lived in a house by the woods with her stepmother and step sister. Although the stepmother gave Mary a roof over her head, food, and clothing, she gave no love to the girl. However, she loved Helen, her own daughter, dearly, and she took such care of her that it was as if she were a porcelain doll. All the house chores were always left for Mary to do. She had to wash, sew, cook, tidy up, and take care of the garden. But her stepmother was never satisfied. Mary was much prettier than her stepsister, so the stepmother didn’t look forward to the day when suitors would come. She worried they would want Mary instead of her beloved daughter, and there was no way she could let that happen! She pondered long into the nights, day after day, until one day she came up with a plan. One evening in the middle of a cold winter she sent Mary out to pick violets.
“But mom, it’s freezing out there! Where am I to find violets now?” Mary couldn’t hide her surprise. Normally she would have gone out for anything in the world for her stepmother, but this time she knew it was impossible.
“How dare you talk back, you good-for-nothing? Go, I don’t want to see your face here anymore! And don’t you even think about coming back without those flowers!” shouted the stepmother at Mary. She threw a winter coat at her and locked the door behind her.
“Oh dear, what in the world will I do now?” Mary sighed. The snow was nearly up to her knees, and she was shivering in the biting wind. As she wandered through the cold forest, it occurred…