There were once two sisters, both the daughters of a poor cobbler. One sister was very pretty, the prettiest girl in all the land, and her name was Aurora. The other was very ugly, uglier than the ogres that ate wandering travelers, and her name was Aria. These two sisters were the best of friends, and neither of them wanted anything to do with the other children of the town, for they only wanted to befriend Aurora for her looks and Aria they despised.
However, it came to be that the girls grew to be young women, and Aurora became tired of her sister’s presence. “Your ugly face gives me pain,” Aurora said one night, “and you are as boring as wood. I will go make pretty friends and we will flirt with the boys in town. It is too bad that you are too ugly to join us.”
Aria locked herself in her room and cried for hours after this, for Aurora was her only friend, and she loved her. A mouse crept into the room while she was crying and said, “Aria, why do you cry?”
“My sister has called me ugly,” she replied, “and said that I am boring.”
“I think that you are beautiful,” the mouse replied. “And not at all boring.”
“But you are just a mouse, what do you know of such things?”
“I know much. Can you sing for me?” Aria nodded and dried her tears, and she sung for the little mouse. “You have a beautiful voice, my dear Aria, but could you match it with an instrument?” the little mouse asked.
“My father has a flute,” Aria said.
“Then go fetch it,” the mouse said. Aria did as she was told, but when she blew into the flute it produced so horrible a screech that the mouse had to cover its ears.
“See, I’m good at nothing,” Aria said, and she began to cry again.
“Don’t cry, my dear Aria,” the mouse said. “I will come back tomorrow and bring you a better instrument, and I will teach you to play it, and then no one will be able to say that you are boring.” Aria said goodbye to the mouse and went to bed, still saddened over her sister’s insult.
“I am going out to flirt with boys,” Aurora said the next morning. “It is too bad that you are too ugly to join us. Thomas is going to buy me flowers,” and she flounced out the door and left her sister behind. Again, Aria locked herself in her room and began to cry.
“Aria, why do you cry?” the mouse asked when he’d crept in once more.
“My sister has called me ugly, and said that a boy is going to buy her flowers. No boy will ever buy me flowers.”
“I would buy you flowers, if I were a real boy,” the mouse said. “But for now, all I have for you is this harp. Would you play it, please?” the mouse asked. Aria took the harp and began playing, and it produced the most wonderful sound. From his workshop, her father heard, and he came up to see where this beautiful sound came from.
“Daughter, who knew you could play music so beautifully!” he said.
“And she can sing!” said the mouse.
“Oh daughter, won’t you play with me?” the man asked. “Not since your mother passed have I played music with another.”
“Yes, Father,” Aria said, and as her father played his flute she sang and played her harp, and it was a fun song that set the mouse to dancing, which caused both the father and Aria to fall about laughing.
The next minute, the door opened, and Aurora called that she was home. “I must go great my beautiful daughter,” her father said, and he kissed Aria on the forehead and left the room. This saddened Aria, so the mouse began dancing again, which did cheer her.
“I played music and sang with him, yet his favorite is still Aurora,” Aria said. “Nothing will ever match her beauty.”
“Do not fret,” the mouse said. “Tomorrow I will come back and teach you to cook. If it is your father’s love you want, good food will surely earn it.” Aria said goodbye to the mouse and went to bed.
“I am going out to flirt with boys,” Aurora said the next morning. “It is too bad that you are too ugly to join us. David is going to buy me a new dress. It will be green, like my eyes,” and she flounced out the door. Again, Aria ran and locked herself in her room and began to cry.
“Again, dear Aria, why do you cry?” the mouse asked.
“A boy is going to buy my sister a dress to match her eyes. No boy will ever buy such things for me,” she said.
“Cry not,” the mouse said, “for what do dresses matter with a voice such as yours?” And the mouse crawled into her hand and laid in her palm a flower, a tiny blue flower that matched her eyes.
“Oh, thank you, Mr. Mouse, that is so very sweet of you,” Aria said.
“And now you shall learn to cook! Quick, we must run to the market and buy ingredients for dinner. It will be the finest meal your father has ever eaten!”
“But the girls will make fun of me if I go into town,” Aria replied.
“You cannot fear such silly girls,” the mouse said. “If any of them make fun of you, I shall jump out and scare them.” And so the pair of them went to town and bought the things for their dinner. One girl did tease Aria, but she was so startled when the mouse jumped out at her that she spread the word that Aria was guarded by a fierce beast, and so the mean girls avoided her and she was happy.
“Daughter, what is all this?” the father asked when he came in from work to see a full table.
“I baked you dinner, Father, for I love you.”
“Thank you, daughter. And will you play for me while I eat?”
“I shall!” And so Aria played on her harp and sang while the mouse rested on her shoulder and her father ate.
“I declare, this is the best meal I’ve ever eaten! Where did you learn to cook like this?” But just as he asked this, Aurora walked in in her new green dress, and so their father became distracted and Aria took her harp back into her room.
“Still he loves her more, though I cooked him a fabulous meal and played and sang for him,” Aria said.
“Do not fret,” the mouse said, “for tomorrow I shall come back and teach you to sew, and you will sew such pretty things that they shall outshine any dress that your sister wears.”
And so it was that every day the mouse came and taught Aria some new skill, for each morning Aurora would brag of her plans and Aria would grow sad, then the mouse would show up and she would be happy again. He taught her to dance, to garden, to make a fire, to mend a wound, to make a doll, to fix a roof, to skin a rabbit, to paint, to clean a house, to help her father in his shop, to manage money, to calm a horse, and to make a crying baby smile.
After all of this, Aurora came to breakfast and said, ““I am going out to flirt with boys. It is too bad that you are too ugly to join us. William promised me a kiss.”
Aria ran up to her room and locked it, but she did not cry, for the mouse was already there. She told the mouse what her sister had said, and cried, “Oh, if only a boy would promise me a kiss! I shall never be pretty enough for that!”
“You could kiss me instead,” the mouse said.
“But you are just a mouse! Oh, but you are my dearest friend. Very well, Mr. Mouse, crawl into my hand,” she said. The mouse did as he was told and Aria brought him up to her mouth and kissed him on the head. In an instant, he transformed into a man, and since he was very naked she turned away and hid her eyes. When she turned back he was gone, and she cried for the loss of her friend.
The next morning, Aurora said, “I am going out to flirt with boys, it is too bad-” and she was then interrupted by a knock on the door. Aurora said, “It must be Logan, ready to take me on my walk!” but instead it was an old man who wished to speak to their father. Their father was brought forth from his workshop and the old man introduced himself.
“I have two sons who I need to marry. Both have large farms, and both are very wealthy. I heard that you have two beautiful daughters eligible for marriage, and I have come to meet them.”
“You are mistaken,” the cobbler said. “I have two daughters, but only one of them is beautiful.”
“Nonetheless, may my sons and I come in?” the old man asked. The cobbler agreed and the three men came in. One son was tall, strong, and very handsome. The other was fat, short, and smelled of pigs. Both of them smiled at the girls.
“I am Wilson,” said the fat son.
“And I am Gregory,” said the handsome son.
“I will marry you, Gregory,” Aurora said, going to his side. “Wilson, if you shall have my ugly sister, both of you will have found your brides, and no longer shall we want for husbands.”
“Wait just a second,” Gregory said. “Before I chose you as my wife, can you sing?”
“No,” Aurora said. “Of course not, but I’m beautiful.”
“Oh. Can you play an instrument?”
“No, but I’m beautiful.”
“Hmm. Can you cook? Sew? Dance? Make a fire? Skin a rabbit? Fix a roof? Make a crying baby smile? Mend a wound? Manage money? Clean a house?” Gregory asked.
“No,” Aurora said. “Why would I need to do any of that when I am beautiful?”
Gregory turned to Aria. “And you?”
“I can do all of those things, sir.”
“And can you calm a horse?”
“And make a doll?”
“Aria, it would be a pleasure if you would be my wife,” Gregory said.
“No, sir, you are far too handsome for me. Marry my sister instead. You will have beautiful children.”
“It is you that I chose,” he replied, “and my name is Gregory, not sir.” He bent down and whispered, “And you may also call me Mr. Mouse.” Aria’s eyes widened at this, and she accepted his proposal. This upset Aurora greatly, for she was the beautiful sister, and so she deserved the handsome husband.
“I will not marry this ugly man,” Aurora said, stomping her foot. Wilson lowered his head at this, for it saddened him to be shamed so, and he had not the time to shed a tear before an old woman appeared in the room.
“Grandmother,” the cobbler said, “what business do you have with us?”
“It is your daughter that I’ve come for,” the old woman said. She turned to Aurora and spit at her. “You shame your beautiful, for your insides are rotten. You’ve been blessed with a pretty face, yet you throw this gift away and act like a pig. Well, a pig you shall become, and not until you can secure the kiss of one who loves you will you be freed.” And the old woman disappeared in a puff of smoke, and behind she left a squealing pig where Aurora had been.
“Oh, my poor daughter, my beautiful daughter,” the cobbler said, starting to cry. “Now I will have to build a pen for her!”
“That was the same witch who turned me into a mouse,” Gregory whispered to Aria. “There may be a hope to save her.”
“Oh please, won’t someone kiss me,” Aurora squealed from her place on the ground. “I can’t bear to live as a pig for a single second longer. I am uglier than a frog, uglier than my sister.”
“Aurora,” Aria said, getting down on her knees. “We had been the best of friends. Why did that change?”
“Because, Sister, I wronged you, and now I shall forever live as a pig. Wilson, won’t you kiss me?”
“I love you not, little pig,” Wilson said, for he was still not over her insult.
“Oh, Sister, I am sorry for calling you ugly, and you too, Wilson. Truly, I am the ugly one, and forever shall I stay like this. It is time I go outside and live in the mud, where pigs belong.”
“Wait, Sister,” Aria said, “though you have made me cry many times, I accept your apology. You will always be my sister, and I love you.” Aria kissed the little pig on her snout, and a human girl she was once again. The cobbler gave her his coat to hide her nakedness, and once she had put on a proper dress she agreed to marry Wilson.
Side-by-side the sisters lived, and together they raised their families. Each day they’d have lunch together and talk about their day, and again they were best friends, and lived happily ever after.