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Tuesday, February 28, 2012


by Michael Monks 
Goose Girl fountain during Mainstrasse's Mardi Gras
The Goose Girl fountain is an iconic Mainstrasse structure and one of Covington's most recognizable features, but the story behind it is one of deception and murder. Well, not the statue, but the Goose Girl. February honors "Tell a Fairy Tale Day" according to the Kenton County Public Library which encourages readers to check out a book of fairy tales. From the Library's Facebook page:
What is your favorite fairy tale? One of ours is the story of the Goose Girl by The Brothers Grimm. The story of the Goose Girl was the inspiration for the iconic fountain located in Mainstrasse.
But have you ever read the story of the Goose Girl? It involves a princess-to-be (the Goose Girl) and a maid that steals the princess's identity. In typical original Grimm fashion, it's full of violence and brutal deaths. Nothing like the short description on the Mainstrasse website:
The farmer took the goose girl to the king and told the whole truth. The prince and the real princess were married and lived happily with their geese the rest of their days. The fake princess was imprisoned. 
It really wasn't that simple. The Goose Girl was all set to marry a prince but en route to her new life as a princess, she was betrayed by her maiden who was tired of taking GG's crap. Instead, she would take the Goose Girl's future
Deprived of the magical protection of her mother's handkerchief and blood, the princess is defenseless when the maid makes her change places, including their horses and dresses. She is also forced to take an oath not to speak of the switch. When they reach their destination, the maid continues the charade, going so far as to have the horse Falada butchered, for fear he would reveal the secret. In addition, she informs the king that the princess is merely a peasant girl procured for the journey and now unneeded. He puts the princess to work.
Stole her identity, stole her man, and even butchered girlfriend's horse! But this is a fairy tale after all and so there must be a happy ending and revenge is a dish best served cold-hearted. When the Goose Girl's true identity is revealed to the King, he tricks the former maid into deciding her own punishment. Just to clear up any confusion, it wasn't life without parole:
At the head of the table sat the bridegroom with the king's daughter on one side of him, and the chambermaid on the other. However, the chambermaid was deceived, for she did not recognize the princess in her dazzling attire. After they had eaten and drunk, and were in a good mood, the old king asked the chambermaid as a riddle, what punishment a person deserved who had deceived her master in such and such a manner, then told the whole story, asking finally, "What sentence does such a person deserve?"
The false bride said, "She deserves no better fate than to be stripped stark naked, and put in a barrel that is studded inside with sharp nails. Two white horses should be hitched to it, and they should drag her along through one street after another, until she is dead."
"You are the one," said the old king, "and you have pronounced your own sentence. Thus shall it be done to you."
And so she was. Stripped naked and placed in a barrell full of nails and rolled to her death. You won't see that scene in any future Disney productions. But you will if you go back and read original fairy tales, which you can do this month or any time at the Kenton County Public Library.

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