Mother Water Green
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Real name

Vert‐d’Eau, Water Green, Water‐Green

First appearance

Le magasin pittoresque, vol. 19, no. 52 (Dec. 1851)

Original publisher

Magasin Pittoresque

Created by

Émile Souvestre


Charlotte, a young woman who is overwhelmed by all her tasks, summons the fairy Water Green who then appears before her. Mother Water Green is described as “ugly, old, and wrinkled” and “clad entirely in a frog skin, the head of which served as a hood” and she was “supporting herself on her staff of holly.” Ten dwarfs emerge from her cloak and diligently finish all of Charlotte’s chores. Water Green then decides to give the ten dwarfs to Charlotte as a gift: “[A]s you cannot carry them about with you without being accused of witchcraft, I will order each of them to make himself very little and to hide in your ten fingers ….” With the ten dwarfs hidden in her fingers, Charlotte was thereafter able to complete her chores and attain goals in life.

Public domain literary appearances

  • “Les dix travailleurs de la mère Vert‐d’Eau,” by Émile Souvestre, Le magasin pittoresque, vol. 19, no. 52, Dec. 1851. (Internet Archive)
    • Reprinted in Au coin du feu, nouvelle édition, by Émile Souvestre, 1856. (Google Books)
  • “The Ten Little Dwarfs,” translated by Sophie Dorsey, St. Nicholas, vol. 1, no. 2, Dec. 1873. (Internet Archive)
  • “Mother Water‐Green’s Workmen,” translated by Alice Wood, The Christian Union, vol. 10, no. 23, 9 Dec. 1874. Abridged translation. (Google Books)
  • Os dez anõezinhos da Tia Verde‐Água, by Ana de Castro Osório, 1897. Originally published in Portugal, the text is in the public domain in the country of origin but not the illustrations, as illustrator Tomás Leal da Câmara has not yet been dead seventy years.
  • “The Ten Little Workmen,” translated by E. D., Chatterbox, no. 21 (new series), 1901. (Google Books)
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