The stone maiden
Let me tell you a story, although it’s a sad tale. The saddest. This is a story that breaks the heart.When I heard it for the first time, I broke down and sobbed.
Well, there once lived in Brno a beautiful girl whose name was Johanka. She was an orphan, alone in the world, and so one of the town councillors took her into his household. For several years she worked in his home as a maidservant. The councillor treated her reasonably well, but she fared much worse with his wife. The wife was a terrible woman. She would hound Johanka wherever she went. Non-stop it was: go there, do that, bring that here. And nothing was ever good enough.
When the councillor died, the woman decided that she didn’t want the unhappy girl in her household any longer. So she picked out a groom for her. Of course, this man was a stinky old fellow, so hideously ugly the other girls crossed the street to avoid him. Johanka refused to marry this groom, even though she knew her life would be made a living hell as a consequence. She was in love with the boy next door. But what could a poor orphan ever have to offer?
The young man’s mother, that is to say Jo’s potential mother-in-law, loathed Johanka just as much as the councillor’s widow. Both women hatched a plan to accuse the young girl of witchcraft. The former councillor had not just up and died for no reason… Johanka had bewitched him. They went to the men of council with their accusation. And being men, they reacted as you might expect, how else? They sent out soldiers to apprehend Johanka. They caught her just as she was drawing water from the well. Johanka listened to their accusations, certain that she would be tortured into confession. Realising her terrible predicament, she jumped into the well and drowned.
Today, they call her the stone maiden, because Johanka’s young neighbour had a statue made in her memory, which can be seen in that very building to this day.