Once deep down in the underground kitchen of a great palace a little sculger toiled for all she was worth day after day after day. The sculger, being the lowest servant possible, didn’t even have a name. The cook ordered her about with ‘Here, you!’ or ‘Hurry up with that, you!’ The sculger, up early to build the fire, up late to sweep the ashes, hardly had time to think. But think she did every night for up to three full minutes before she fell exhausted on her straw to sleep.
O twig, she would think, one day perhaps if I work long and hard enough I‘ll be allowed to go outside and look at the sky. I really would like to see it just once before I die.
The little sculger confided in her twig. She had found it among the kindling scraps one morning and had hidden it away in her smock pocket until she was able to shelter it out of sight in a wall crack next to her straw bed. She sang to it three minute songs and told it three minute stories before she slept, no longer able to keep her eyes open.
One morning Her Most Glorious Eminence, the Queen, descended unannounced to the kitchen. The cook nearly fainted. The little sculger, standing by the oven, tried to wish herself invisible.
‘Cook, what is that little bit there?’ said the Queen, pointing a finger burdened with jewelry at the sculger.
‘It’s the sculger is all it is, Your Most Glorious Eminence,’ said the cook.
‘Have it approach me,’ ordered the Queen.
The cook’s fierce glance caused the little sculger to shuffle forward a few feet, head bowed.
‘Hmm, have it cleaned more often, cook, and no excuses!’ said the Queen, and she turned and ascended the stairs without another word.
The cook, who normally never moved from her position standing by the table ordering the sculger to bring her this or that or the other, fetched a bucket of water and dumped it on the sculger.
‘There, that’s done then,’ she said before resuming her position by the table and calling out her next order.
At the end of the day, the little sculger wept her despair to the twig for three full minutes, then fell asleep. The twig shivered, lurched, began to glisten in the night. It became supple. It became a golden serpent. It twined around the sleeping sculger’s wrist.
The little sculger opened her eyes in the morning. How green and soft was the grass! How lovely the stream and the flowers! How sweet the perfect little cottage! And yes, how heavenly blue was the sky!