Once upon a time in a land far away there lived a little girl called Rachel. Rachel was out walking by herself in the woods when she heard someone singing. The songs were so joyful and beautiful her ears drank them down and begged her to seek out this delicious singer in the wood. She crept up to a small clearing and peeked through the undergrowth expecting to see a woman singing. However, the clearing was empty, empty but for the biggest fairy toadstool she had ever seen. At first she thought the toadstool was singing, but as she looked more carefully she noticed a stone perched right at the apex of the toadstool.
Rachel watched and listened to the song until at last she could not contain her curiosity anymore, she stepped out from the undergrowth and asked politely who was the one singing such beautiful songs?
But at once there was silence in the grove. Rachel was undeterred and walked up to the stone perched on top of the toadstool. She gazed down upon the stone, which looked so common to her eye, and considered if indeed the wonderful singing came from such a humble stone?
“Please don’t be shy,” pleaded Rachel, “I thought your song was ever so beautiful, please sing for me again, I want to be friends with you.”
The stone rattled slightly and to Rachel’s astonishment the stone spoke to her in a shy almost girlish voice, “Really? You liked my singing?”
Rachel nodded vigorously and assured the stone that the songs were the finest she had ever heard and wished she could sing half as beautifully as she could. The stone sung some more and Rachel asked the stone why it could sing.
The stone explained that she was once a Royal Opera singer, none other than the Lady Jethina, but a witch jealous of her talents had kidnapped her, turned her into a stone and had thrown her down upon the forest as she flew over it one night. Since then she’d been singing to the animals. A kind deer had taken her to his fairy circle where the fairies tried to break the curse. Alas there was little the fairies could do.
Rachel felt sorry for poor Jethina and asked her if there was anything she could do to lift the curse.
Jethina explained that the fairies discovered that only way the curse could be lifted was if her one true love sang a duet with her. Then the stone would grow big and she could then break out of it. Alas, how could she ever find her one true love, Henry, who was the son of the Earl, while she was in the forest?
Rachel had an idea, what if she took Jethina out of the forest and back to her village, there she could sing? Her singing would bring travellers from all over, and one of them might know the Earl’s son and tell him to come to the village to find her.
Jethina cried out with panic, “But little girl, I am cursed! The villagers will surely toss me down the well if they heard a singing rock!”
But Rachel had a plan, “What if I pretend to sing, but really it is you? I could wear you around my neck as a necklace and when you see Henry, the Earl’s son, I can sing a duet with him and set you free!”
Jethina was impressed by the cunning of Rachel’s plan and consented to Rachel making a necklace out of grass and reeds to suspend the enchanted stone around her neck.
Rachel ran to the centre of her village, stood atop a cart, and gave Jethina’s stone a gentle nudge. Thus Spurred, Jethina began to sing a glorious and powerful song about the majesty of creation. Rachel mouthed along as though she herself was singing and all who watched the performance never suspected, even for a moment, that it was in fact the stone singing and not youthful Rachel.
The beauty of Jethina’s singing brought the bustle of the village to halt and all could not help but be moved to watch and dance to the powerful voice they thought belonged to Rachel. As word spread of this miraculously gifted peasant girl travellers started coming to the village lavishing her with gifts of silk, perfume, and silver. With the money Rachel bought her family out of serfdom, and she quickly found all the young bachelors of the village offering her their hands in marriage.
Rachel turned them all down, now dressed in fine silk clothes, and no longer working in the fields, she only accepted visits from the noble ladies who washed and perfumed her hair while she “sang”. She believed she deserved a suitor as least as fine as these noble ladies and she would wait for a better offer than from a common farmer.
Thinking about these noble suitors inspired Rachel to suggest to Jethina that they needed to leave the village and go to the royal city as there would be more people there and it would be more likely that Henry would visit there eventually. Rachel’s eyes glowed as she retold the stories of the wealth and splendour of the capital city the ladies had put into her head. Surely she would find a rich nobleman of her own to marry there? She could ascend to the nobility thanks to the talent of Jethina’s singing.
The night before they were to leave for the royal city a panic seized Rachel, she collected a purse of silver coins and hurried out into the village. Rachel woke the sleeping blacksmith and gave him the silver coins and instructed him fashion a silver pendant to hold her enchanted singing stone. The following morning Rachel took Jethina’s stone to the blacksmith explaining that if they were to travel to the royal city she needed to look her best and not be bound by common grass and reeds. Jethina agreed even as the silver talons of the pendant clasped around her.
The necklace finished they set out for the royal city in the new carriage Rachel had bought for herself. Rachel made a show of singing in every village they passed through and so when they arrived in the royal city they brought a great entourage of fans. Rachel was a sensation, and masses of people thronged to listen to the young girl who sang so beautifully. Noble ladies invited her to court and paraded her before all the noble men at a sumptuous ball. Rachel was revelling in her fame and fortune when a tall handsome man with a commanding stature entered the court. Clearly a man of excellent breeding and high rank Rachel moved instinctively towards him, hoping he would noticed her.
All at once Jethina started singing ecstatically, the song was a romantic duet about a woman seeking her lost lover, Rachel realised at once that this must be Henry, the son of the Earl. She quickly began pretending to be singing to him, and he gasped in astonishment at her and the powerful voice emanating from around her. Rachel was beside herself when Henry looked intensely into her eyes and started to sing back to her. She couldn’t believe such a powerful, talented, and wealthy man was looking at her with eyes full of desire. She felt the silver pendant around her neck begin to rattle, that, she reckoned, must have been the curse beginning to lift! Quickly she reached up and clasped the two halves of the pendant closed around the stone instantly silencing Jethina and sealing her off from her lover’s song. Thus the magical binding remained intact.
Rachel laughed off her sudden breaking off of song and offered her hand to Henry, who eagerly kissed it and guided her to his table. All evening Henry asked her where she had learned to sing like that, Rachel made up stories about practising for hours alone in the woods and being tutored by fairies. Henry said that the voice reminded him of a lady he used to know, a lady with hair the colour of roses, and eyes of sapphire, but she had gone missing some time ago. He said that for two long years he had been searching for this lady, refusing to give up on her and take another suitor. Rachel took Henry’s hands, looked sorrowfully into his eyes, and told him that perhaps it was time to let go of this other lady and find someone else. Sullenly the heart broken man nodded. At the end of the evening he asked if Rachel would come back visit him in his castle so he could hear her sing again. Gleefully, Rachel agreed.
That night Rachel lay on her bed dreaming of her future married to an Earl’s son when she remembered Jethina trapped inside her silver cage. She gently opened the pendant and immediately out poured Jethina’s lamentations.
“You tricked me!” cried the stone, “you have trapped me in silver and it won’t allow my curse to be broken!”
“Oh you wicked jealous rock!” retorted Rachel, “Don’t you dare get between me and my happiness. Henry is already falling in love with me. He is over you, he is mine now, you will have to accept this.”
“But you promised! You promised you would help me find my true love to break my curse!”
“I didn’t promise you anything!” hissed Rachel.
“But your fame, your reputation, it’s all because of me.”
“Ha!” spat Rachel, “you presume too much. I had the courage to put myself out there, I made all the decisions, you were just along for the ride. I don’t owe you anything you silly little rock.”
“Then I will refuse to sing for you! People will know that you can’t sing.”
“I am going to meet Henry in his castle, if he proposes to me, I will feign an illness until we are wed, then once we are wed it will be too late.”
The stone let out a wail of grief, and if it were not pure stone, it would have split asunder and an ocean of tears flowed out from it. Rachel snapped the pendant shut so as not to hear Jethina’s wailing, and continued making her plans for visiting Henry.
A few days later Rachel was alone with Henry in his castle, when he invited her to sing with him, she declined saying she had caught a cold. He bid her to sit down and told her he had been thinking about her and what she had said, he produced a golden necklace and offered it to her saying it used to be his grandmother’s most treasured possession. Flattered Rachel forgot about the silver necklace around her neck and when Henry hesitated he asked her about the silver necklace. Eager to receive the golden necklace she hurried pulled at the one around her neck and tossed it away.
Rachel closed her eyes as he gently put his arms around her neck to place the golden chain when she felt something gold fall into her lap. She looked down and opened her eyes to see Henry had dropped the necklace and wasn’t looking at her. She followed his gaze and there standing before them was a gorgeous tall woman with fiery red hair and sapphire blue eyes. The stone had sprung loose from its silver bindings when it struck the floor, and Jethina was at last free of her curse.
When Henry learned of all that had happened he clasped both of his mighty hands around Rachel’s throat ready to drag her to the window and toss her out onto the rocks below, but Jethina stopped him.
“No my love, do not spoil your soul by taking her life, instead, tell her how generous I would have been to her if she had kept her promise to me.”
Henry explained how Jethina had always been charitable to those who were helpful and kind, how she donated most of her earnings into helping the poor, but hard working and honest, folk to break their bonds of serfdom.
Rachel smiled with relief, “So you’re going to let me go?”
Jethina shook her head, “No. We shall take everything you earned through my singing and restore you to serfdom. You have tasted luxury, and now it will make your poverty all the more unbearable. You will spend your days in regret for your shameless conduct and breaking your word, for truly, none that lie, covet, scheme, or deceive shall ever prosper in God’s domain.”
Jethina and Henry married and ruled their lands with honour and charity, while Rachel spent the rest of her days gnashing her teeth in fury blaming everyone but herself for her situation.