Annika’s True Love
Once upon a time in Northern Sweden there lived a poor fair maiden named Annika. She had long dark hair and green eyes that were as deep as the ocean, she wore an old sweater and long baggy hand-me-down pants covered by an art apron stained with paint most of the time. She lived in a small house with her step-mother. Although family is valued in Sweden, her step-mother thought of her more like a waste of money and food, and only stayed with her because Annika she reminded her of her late husband. Annika and her step-mother were struggling to make money by selling Annika’s beautiful art. She painted images of the Viking’s carved rocks, and replicas of other famous Swedish artists.
One day, while Annika was walking home from the Lutheran church, a rich man, named Sven, saw Annika and instantly fell deeply in love with her beauty. Any woman would be honoured to be the rich and handsome Sven’s wife, so he was shocked when Annika rejected his sudden proposal. She honestly thought he was selfish and greedy and only loved her for her looks not her personality. His fancy money and all the things he could buy did not impress her, she didn’t care about money, and she cared more about happiness. Besides, she secretly loved a poor fisherman, (which is a popular sport in Sweden) named Sebastian, and snuck out to see him almost everyday. Even though she did not have much food, she gave some to him every time she saw him. She never told her Step-Mother about Sebastian because she feared her step-mother would stop her from seeing him because she shared her food with him. Sebastian gave her fish, but her step-mother usually ate most of it and left only a little for Annika.
When her step-mother heard she rejected Sven’s proposal she scolded her.
“Silly girl!” exclaimed her step-mother, “We could have used his money! Why on earth would you say no?! He’s handsome and rich, any girl would be lucky to marry him!”
“But you do not understand, he is selfish and I do not love him. And he does not have true love for me, just for my looks. How do I know if he likes me for me? ” Annika cried.
“Nonsense, I’ll have the wedding next week!” and with that Annika ran out of the house. She ran all the way to a small farm and sat there staring at the sheep, thinking about what to do. A look of despair covered her face and she slowly and silently began to cry. Her step-mother was probably talking to Sven right now. She sat there almost an hour until something strange happened. One sheep slowly came up to her, and tilted its head slightly as if to say “What’s wrong?”
Annika wiped away tears and said, “I cannot marry my true love.”
Then to her surprise the sheep said, “Nonsense! Run to him! Marry him now!”
Annika replied with shock “But I cannot afford a wedding dress!”
The sheep said “Go home and on your bed you will find the most beautiful dress you have ever seen”
Annika, who thought she was going crazy, slowly said “My step-mother has arranged me to marry someone else”
The sheep smiled and said, “Run away with your true love! Who is he?”
Annika, thinking of sweet, caring Sebastian replied “Just a poor man, Sebastian. But we are to poor to live a happy life together and run away.”
“Ahhhh,” said the sheep “Along with the dress on your bed you will find a magical basket that will refill itself with food and water, and whatever you need. Run to the outskirts of Stockholm, find the perfect house and buy it. There you can plan your wedding. Good luck!” and with that the sheep walked away. Annika sat there for a while until she finally got up, and ran to her house.
Sven, who was taking an evening walk after arranging the wedding with Annika’s step-mom, had heard the whole thing and was furious. He killed Sebastian with the stab of a sharp sword then ran away leaving Sebastian lying lifeless on the floor of Sebastian’s house.
Meanwhile, Annika ran into her room to find a beautiful unique wedding dress that flowed with the colours of her country. And next to it a rather large basket filled with bread and water and hundreds of kronor. Annika smiled and tears of joy slid down her cheeks as she snuck out of the house leaving her step-mother planning her wedding to marry Sven.
As Annika teeth chattered of coldness (because they lived in Northern Sweden it was cold) as she stepped up to the door step of Sebastian’s house. She hesitated to knock on his door, thinking of how to ask him to run away with her, and then lightly knocked on the door of his small cottage. She waited a few minutes before knocking again, louder.
“Sebastian?” she yelled looking through his window.
She knocked one more time, as loud as she could before bursting in his house. She was very worried, and then she saw him, lying, dead on the floor. She thought to herself “No, this can’t be happening” as she shook him. She checked his pulse as her eyes swelled with tears. No pulse, he wasn’t breathing, he was dead, but Annika could not accept that.
“Wake up!” she screamed as she tears flowed from her eyes, “Please!”
Three tears silently fell from her cheeks and onto Sebastian. They went deeper than his wound, and touched the core of his heart. With one loud breath, he woke up, staring into Annika’s eyes and whispered “You saved me,”
“No,” Annika said “You saved me”
And Annika and Sebastian ran away together and got married in front of authorities, and lived off Annika’s magic basket. They followed the sheep’s instructions and went to the outskirts of Stockholm and bought a beautiful large house where they had three children. Sven was never to be seen again, some people say he was humiliated and hid away in a dark cave to hide his face. Others say he was crushed in an avalanche. Annika and Sebastian lived happily ever after.