Taming a Shrewish Wife

folktales of Aarne-Thompson-Uther type 900

reminiscent of
The Taming of the Shrew
by William Shakespeare

selected and edited by

D. L. Ashliman

© 1999-2013


  1. Cannetella (Italy, Giambattista Basile).

  2. The Crumb in the Beard (Italy).

  3. King Thrushbeard (Germany, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm).

  4. Haaken Grizzlebeard (Norway, Peter Christen Asbjørnsen and Jørgen Moe).

  5. Greyfoot (Denmark).

  6. Peter Redhat (Denmark, Evald Tang Kristensen).

  7. The Haughty Princess (Ireland, Patrick Kennedy).

  8. The Hunchback (Spain, Fernan Caballero).

  9. Links to related sites.

Return to D. L. Ashliman's folktexts, a library of folktales, folklore, fairy tales, and mythology.


Italy, Giambattista Basile, Il Pentamerone

There was once upon a time a king who reigned over a country called Bello Puojo, He was very rich and powerful, and had everything in the world he could desire except a child. But at last, after he had been married for many years, and was quite an old man, his wife Renzolla presented him with a fine daughter, whom they called Cannetella.

She grew up into a beautiful girl, and was as tall and straight as a young fir tree. When she was eighteen years old her father called her to him and said, "You are of an age now, my daughter, to marry and settle down; but as I love you more than anything else in the world, and desire nothing but your happiness, I am determined to leave the choice of a husband to yourself. Choose a man after your own heart, and you are sure to satisfy me."

Cannetella thanked her father very much for his kindness and consideration, but told him that she had not the slightest wish to marry, and was quite determined to remain single.

The king, who felt himself growing old and feeble, and longed to see an heir to the throne before he died, was very unhappy at her words, and begged her earnestly not to disappoint him.

When Cannetella saw that the king had set his heart on her marriage, she said, "Very well, dear father, I will marry to please you, for I do not wish to appear ungrateful for all your love and kindness; but you must find me a husband handsomer, cleverer, and more charming than anyone else in the world."

The king was overjoyed by her words, and from early in the morning till late at night he sat at the window and looked carefully at all the passers-by, in the hopes of finding a son-in-law among them.

One day, seeing a very good-looking man crossing the street, the king called his daughter and said, "Come quickly, dear Cannetella, and look at this man, for I think he might suit you as a husband."

They called the young man into the palace, and set a sumptuous feast before him, with every sort of delicacy you can imagine. In the middle of the meal the youth let an almond fall out of his mouth, which, however, he picked up again very quickly and hid under the tablecloth.

When the feast was over the stranger went away, and the king asked Cannetella, "Well, what did you think of the youth?"

"I think he was a clumsy wretch," replied Cannetella. "Fancy a man of his age letting an almond fall out of his mouth!"

When the king heard her answer he returned to his watch at the window, and shortly afterwards a very handsome young man passed by. The king instantly called his daughter to come and see what she thought of the newcomer.

"Call him in," said Cannetella, "that we may see him close."

Another splendid feast was prepared, and when the stranger had eaten and drunk as much as he was able, and had taken his departure, the king asked Cannetella how she liked him.

"Not at all," replied his daughter; "what could you do with a man who requires at least two servants to help him on with his cloak, because he is too awkward to put it on properly himself?"

"If that's all you have against him," said the king, "I see how the land lies. You are determined not to have a husband at all; but marry someone you shall, for I do not mean my name and house to die out."

"Well, then, my dear parent," said Cannetella, "I must tell you at once that you had better not count upon me, for I never mean to marry unless I can find a man with a gold head and gold teeth."

The king was very angry at finding his daughter so obstinate; but as he always gave the girl her own way in everything, he issued a proclamation to the effect that any man with a gold head and gold teeth might come forward and claim the princess as his bride, and the kingdom of Bello Puojo as a wedding gift.

Now the king had a deadly enemy called Scioravante, who was a very powerful magician. No sooner had this man heard of the proclamation than he summoned his attendant spirits and commanded them to gild his head and teeth. The spirits said, at first, that the task was beyond their powers, and suggested that a pair of golden horns attached to his forehead would both be easier to make and more comfortable to wear; but Scioravante would allow no compromise, and insisted on having a head and teeth made of the finest gold. When it was fixed on his shoulders he went for a stroll in front of the palace. And the king, seeing the very man he was in search of, called his daughter, and said. "Just look out of the window, and you will find exactly what you want."

Then, as Scioravante was hurrying past, the king shouted out to him, "Just stop a minute, brother, and don't be in such desperate haste. If you will step in here you shall have my daughter for a wife, and I will send attendants with her, and as many horses and servants as you wish."

"A thousand thanks," returned Scioravante; "I shall be delighted to marry your daughter, but it is quite unnecessary to send anyone to accompany her. Give me a horse and I will carry off the princess in front of my saddle, and will bring her to my own kingdom, where there is no lack of courtiers or servants, or, indeed, of anything your daughter can desire."

At first the king was very much against Cannetella's departing in this fashion; but finally Scioravante got his way, and placing the princess before him on his horse, he set out for his own country.

Towards evening he dismounted, and entering a stable he placed Cannetella in the same stall as his horse, and said to her, "Now listen to what I have to say. I am going to my home now, and that is a seven years' journey from here; you must wait for me in this stable, and never move from the spot, or let yourself be seen by a living soul. If you disobey my commands, it will be the worse for you."

The princess answered meekly, "Sir, I am your servant, and will do exactly as you bid me; but I should like to know what I am to live on till you come back?"

"You can take what the horses leave," was Scioravante's reply.

When the magician had left her Cannetella felt very miserable, and bitterly cursed the day she was born. She spent all her time weeping and bemoaning the cruel fate that had driven her from a palace into a stable, from soft down cushions to a bed of straw, and from the dainties of her father's table to the food that the horses left.

She led this wretched life for a few months, and during that time she never saw who fed and watered the horses, for it was all done by invisible hands.

One day, when she was more than usually unhappy, she perceived a little crack in the wall, through which she could see a beautiful garden, with all manner of delicious fruits and flowers growing in it. The sight and smell of such delicacies were too much for poor Cannetella, and she said to herself, "I will slip quietly out, and pick a few oranges and grapes, and I don't care what happens. Who is there to tell my husband what I do? And even if he should hear of my disobedience, he cannot make my life more miserable than it is already."

So she slipped out and refreshed her poor, starved body with the fruit she plucked in the garden.

But a short time afterwards her husband returned unexpectedly, and one of the horses instantly told him that Cannetella had gone into the garden, in his absence, and had stolen some oranges and grapes.

Scioravante was furious when he heard this, and seizing a huge knife from his pocket he threatened to kill his wife for her disobedience. But Cannetella threw herself at his feet and implored him to spare her life, saying that hunger drove even the wolf from the wood. At last she succeeded in so far softening her husband's heart that he said, "I will forgive you this time, and spare your life; but if you disobey me again, and I hear, on my return, that you have as much as moved out of the stall, I will certainly kill you. So, beware; for I am going away once more, and shall be absent for seven years."

With these words he took his departure, and Cannetella burst into a flood of tears, and, wringing her hands, she moaned, "Why was I ever born to such a hard fate? Oh! father, how miserable you have made your poor daughter! But, why should I blame my father? For I have only myself to thank for all my sufferings. I got the cursed head of gold, and it has brought all this misery on me. I am indeed punished for not doing as my father wished!"

When a year had gone by, it chanced, one day, that the king's cooper passed the stables where Cannetella was kept prisoner. She recognised the man, and called him to come in. At first he did not know the poor princess, and could not make out who it was that called him by name. But when he heard Cannetella's tale of woe, he hid her in a big empty barrel he had with him, partly because he was sorry for the poor girl, and, even more, because he wished to gain the king's favor. Then he slung the barrel on a mule's back, and in this way the princess was carried to her own home. They arrived at the palace about four o'clock in the morning, and the cooper knocked loudly at the door. When the servants came in haste and saw only the cooper standing at the gate, they were very indignant, and scolded him soundly for coming at such an hour and waking them all out of their sleep.

The king hearing the noise and the cause of it, sent for the cooper, for he felt certain the man must have some important business, to have come and disturbed the whole palace at such an early hour.

The cooper asked permission to unload his mule, and Cannetella crept out of the barrel. At first the king refused to believe that it was really his daughter, for she had changed so terribly in a few years, and had grown so thin and pale, that it was pitiful to see her. At last the princess showed her father a mole she had on her light arm, and then he saw that the poor girl was indeed his long-lost Cannetella. He kissed her a thousand times, and instantly had the choicest food and drink set before her.

After she had satisfied her hunger, the king said to her, "Who would have thought, my dear daughter, to have found you in such a state? What, may I ask, has brought you to this pass?"

Cannetella replied, "That wicked man with the gold head and teeth treated me worse than a dog, and many a time, since I left you, have I longed to die. But I couldn't tell you all that I have suffered, for you would never believe me. It is enough that I am once more with you, and I shall never leave you again, for I would rather be a slave in your house than queen in any other."

In the meantime Scioravante had returned to the stables, and one of the horses told him that Cannetella had been taken away by a cooper in a barrel.

When the wicked magician heard this he was beside himself with rage, and, hastening to the kingdom of Bello Puojo, he went straight to an old woman who lived exactly opposite the royal palace, and said to her, "If you will let me see the king's daughter, I will give you whatever reward you like to ask for."

The woman demanded a hundred ducats of gold, and Scioravante counted them out of his purse and gave them to her without a murmur. Then the old woman led him to the roof of the house, where he could see Cannetella combing out her long hair in a room in the top story of the palace.

The princess happened to look out of the window, and when she saw her husband gazing at her, she got such a fright that she flew downstairs to the king, and said, " My lord and father, unless you shut me up instantly in a room with seven iron doors, I am lost."

"If that's all," said the king, "it shall be done at once." And he gave orders for the doors to be closed on the spot.

When Scioravante saw this he returned to the old woman, and said, "I will give you whatever you like if you will go into the palace, hide under the princess's bed, and slip this little piece of paper beneath her pillow, saying, as you do so, "May everyone in the palace, except the princess, fall into a sound sleep." "

The old woman demanded another hundred golden ducats, and then proceeded to carry out the magician's wishes. No sooner had she slipped the piece of paper under Cannetella's pillow, than all the people in the palace fell fast asleep, and only the princess remained awake.

Then Scioravante hurried to the seven doors and opened them one after the other. Cannetella screamed with terror when she saw her husband, but no one came to her help, for all in the palace lay as if they were dead. The magician seized her in the bed on which she lay, and was going to carry her off with him, when the little piece of paper which the old woman had placed under her pillow fell on the floor.

In an instant all the people in the palace woke up, and as Cannetella was still screaming for help, they rushed to her rescue. They seized Scioravante and put him to death; so he was caught in the trap which he had laid for the princess -- and, as is so often the case in this world, the biter himself was bit.

The Crumb in the Beard


There was once a king who had a daughter whose name was Stella. She was indescribably beautiful, but was so whimsical and hard to please that she drove her father to despair.

There had been princes and kings who had sought her in marriage, but she had found defects in them all and would have none of them. She kept advancing in years, and her father began to despair of knowing to whom he should leave his crown. So he summoned his council, and discussed the matter, and was advised to give a great banquet, to which he should invite all the princes and kings of the surrounding countries, for, as they said, there cannot fail to be among so many, someone who should please the princess, who was to hide behind a door, so that she could examine them all as she pleased.

When the kind heard this advice, he gave the order necessary for the banquet, and then called his daughter, and said, "Listen, my little Stella, I have thought to do so and so, to see if I can find anyone to please you. Behold, my daughter, my hair is white, and I must have someone to leave my crown to."

Stella bowed her head, saying that she would take care to please him.

Princes and kings then began to arrive at the court, and when it was time for the banquet, they all seated themselves at the table. You can imagine what sort of a banquet that was, and how the hall was adorned: Gold and silver shone from all their necks. In the four corners of the room were four fountains, which continually sent forth wine and the most exquisite perfumes.

While the gentlemen were eating, Stella was behind a door, as has been said, and one of her maids, who was nearby, pointed out to her now this one, now that one. "See, your majesty, what a handsome youth that is there."

"Yes, but he has too large a nose."

"And the one near your father?"

"He has eyes that look like saucers."

"And that other at the head of the table?"

"He has too large a mouth. He looks as if he liked to eat."

In short, she found fault with all but one, who, she said, pleased her, but that he must be a very dirty fellow, for he had a crumb on his beard after eating. The youth heard her say this, and swore vengeance. You must know that he was the son of the King of the Green Hill, and the handsomest youth that could be seen.

When the banquet was finished and the guests had departed, the king called Stella and asked, "What news have you, my child?"

She replied, that the only one who pleased her was the one with the crumb in his beard, but that she believed him to be a dirty fellow and did not want him.

"Take care, my daughter, you will repent it," answered her father, and turned away.

You must know that Stella's chamber looked into a courtyard into which opened the shop of a baker. One night, while she was preparing to retire, she heard, in the room where they sifted the meal, someone singing so well and with so much grace that it went to her heart. She ran to the window and listened until he finished. Then she began to ask her maid who the person with the beautiful voice could be, saying she would like to know.

"Leave it to me, your majesty," said the maid. "I will inform you tomorrow."

Stella could not wait for the next day; and, indeed, early the next day she learned that the one who sang was the sifter. That evening she heard him sing again, and stood by the window until everything became quiet. But that voice had so touched her heart that she told her maid that the next day she would try and see who had that fine voice. In the morning she placed herself by the window, and soon saw the youth come forth. She was enchanted his beauty as soon as she saw him, and fell desperately in love with him.

Now you must know that this was none other than the prince who was at the banquet, and whom Stella had called "dirty." So he had disguised himself in such a way that she could not recognize him, and was meanwhile preparing his revenge. After he had seen her once or twice he began to take off his had and salute her. She smiled at him, and appeared at the window every moment. Then they began to exchange words, and in the evening he sang under her window.

In short, they began to make love in good earnest, and when he learned that she was free, he began to talk about marrying her. She consented at once, but asked him what he had to live on.

"I haven't a penny," said he. "The little I earn is hardly enough to feed me."

Stella encourage him, saying she would give him all the money and things he wanted.

To punish Stella for her pride, her father and the prince's father had an understanding, and pretended not to know about this love affair, and let her carry away from palace all she owned. During the day Stella did nothing but make a great bundle of clothes, of silver, and of money, and at night the disguised prince came under the balcony, and she threw it down to him.

Things went on in this manner some time, and finally one evening he said to her, "Listen. The time has come to elope."

Stella could not wait for the hour, and the next night she quietly tied a cord about her and let herself down from the window. The prince aided her to the ground, and then took her arm and hastened away. He led her a long ways to another city, where he turned down a street and opened the first door he met. They went down a long passage. Finally they reached a little door, which he opened, and they found themselves in a hole of a place which had only one window, high up. The furniture consisted of a straw bed, a bench, and a dirty table. You can imagine that when Stella saw herself in this place she thought she should die.

When the prince saw her so amazed, he said, "What is the matter? Does the house not please you? Do you not know that I am a poor man? Have you been deceived?"

"What have you done with all the things I gave you?"

"Oh, I had many debts, and I have paid them, and then I have done with the rest what seemed good to me. You must make up your mind to work and gain your bread as I have done. You must know that I am a porter of the king of this city, and I often go and work at the palace. Tomorrow, they have told me, the washing is to be done, so you must rise early and go with me there. I will set you to work with the other women, and when it is time for them to go home to dinner, you will say that you are not hungry, and while you are alone, steal two shirts, conceal them under your skirt, and carry them home to me."

Poor Stella wept bitterly, saying it was impossible for her to do that.

But her husband replied, "Do what I say, or I shall beat you."

The next morning her husband rose with the dawn, and made her get up, too. He had bought her a striped skirt and a pair of coarse shoes, which he made her put on, and then took her to the palace with him, conducted her to the laundry and left her, after he had introduced her as his wife, saying that she should remember what awaited her at home.

Meanwhile poor Stella did as her husband had commanded, and stole the shirts.

As she was leaving the palace, she met the king, who said, "Pretty girl, you are the porter's wife, are you not?" Then he asked her what she had under her skirt, and shook her until the shirts dropped out, and the king cried, "See there! The porter's wife is a thief. She has stolen some shirts."

Poor Stella ran home in tears, and her husband followed her when he had put on his disqu8ise again. When he reached home Stella told him all that had happened and begged him not to send her to the palace again. But he told her that the next day they were to bake, and she must go into the kitchen and help, and steal a piece of dough. Everything happened as on the previous day. Stella's theft was discovered, and when her husband returned he found her crying like a condemned soul, and swearing that she had rather be killed than go the palace again. He told her, however, that the king's son was to be married the next day, and that there was to be a great banquet, and she must go into the kitchen and wash the dishes. He added that when she had the chance she must steal a pot of broth and hide it about her so that no one should see it.

She had to do as she was told, and had scarcely concealed the pot when the king's son came into the kitchen and told his wife she must come to the ball that had followed the banquet. She did not wish to go, but he took her by the arm and led her into the midst of the festival. Imagine how the poor woman felt at the ball, dressed as she was, and with the pot of broth! The king began to poke his sword at her in jest, until he hit the pot, and all the broth ran on the floor. Then all began to jeer her and laugh, until poor Stella fainted away from shame, and they had to go and get some vinegar to revive her.

At last the king's mother came forward and said, "Enough. You have revenged yourself sufficiently." Then turning to Stella, "Know that this is your mother, and that he has done this to correct your pride and to be avenged on you for calling him dirty."

Then she took her by the arm and led her to another room, where her maids dressed her as a queen. her father and mother then appeared and kissed and embraced her. Her husband begged her pardon for what he had done, and they made peace and always lived in harmony. From that day on she was never haughty, and had learned to her cost that pride is the greatest fault.

King Thrushbeard


A king had a daughter who was beautiful beyond all measure, but at the same time so proud and arrogant that no suitor was good enough for her. She rejected one after the other, ridiculing them as well.

Once the king sponsored a great feast and invited from far and near all the men wanting to get married. They were all placed in a row according to their rank and standing. First came the kings, then the grand dukes, then the princes, the earls, the barons, and the aristocracy. Then the king's daughter was led through the ranks, but she objected to something about each one. One was too fat: "The wine barrel," she said. Another was too tall: "Thin and tall, no good at all." The third was too short: "Short and thick is never quick." The fourth was too pale: "As pale as death." The fifth too red: "A prize rooster." The sixth was not straight enough: "Green wood, dried behind the stove."

And thus she had some objection to each one, but she ridiculed especially one good king who stood at the very top of the row, and whose chin had grown a little crooked. "Look!" she cried out, laughing, "He has a chin like a thrush's beak." And from that time he was called Thrushbeard.

Now the old king, seeing that his daughter did nothing but ridicule the people, making fun of all the suitors who were gathered there, became very angry, and he swore that she should have for her husband the very first beggar to come to his door.

A few days later a minstrel came and sang beneath the window, trying to earn a small handout.

When the king heard him he said, "Let him come up."

So the minstrel, in his dirty, ragged clothes, came in and sang before the king and his daughter, and when he was finished he asked for a small gift.

The king said, "I liked your song so much that I will give you my daughter for a wife."

The king's daughter took fright, but the king said, "I have taken an oath to give you to the very first beggar, and I will keep it."

Her protests did not help. The priest was called in, and she had to marry the minstrel at once. After that had happened the king said, "It is not proper for you, a beggar's wife, to stay in my palace any longer. All you can do now is to go away with your husband."

The beggar led her out by the hand, and she had to leave with him, walking on foot.

They came to a large forest, and she asked, "Who owns this beautiful forest?"

"It belongs to King Thrushbeard. If you had taken him, it would be yours."

"Oh, I am a miserable thing;
If only I'd taken the Thrushbeard King."

Afterwards they crossed a meadow, and she asked again, "Who owns this beautiful green meadow?"

"It belongs to king Thrushbeard. If you had taken him, it would be yours."

"Oh, I am a miserable thing;
If only I'd taken the Thrushbeard King."

Then they walked through a large town, and she asked again, "Who owns this beautiful large town?"

"It belongs to king Thrushbeard. If you had taken him, it would be yours."

"Oh, I am a miserable thing;
If only I'd taken the Thrushbeard King."

"I do not like you to always be wishing for another husband," said the minstrel. "Am I not good enough for you?"

At last they came to a very little hut, and she said, "Oh goodness. What a small house. Who owns this miserable tiny hut?"

The minstrel answered, "This is my house and yours, where we shall live together."

She had to stoop in order to get in the low door.

"Where are the servants?" said the king's daughter.

"What servants?" answered the beggar. "You must do for yourself what you want to have done. Now make a fire at once, put some water on to boil, so you can cook me something to eat. I am very tired."

But the king's daughter knew nothing about lighting fires or cooking, and the beggar had to lend a hand himself to get anything done at all. When they had finished their scanty meal they went to bed. But he made her get up very early the next morning in order to do the housework.

For a few days they lived in this way, as well as they could, but they finally came to the end of their provisions.

Then the man said, "Wife, we cannot go on any longer eating and drinking here and earning nothing. You must weave baskets." He went out, cut some willows, and brought them home. Then she began to weave baskets, but the hard willows cut into her delicate hands.

"I see that this will not do," said the man. "You had better spin. Perhaps you can do that better." She sat down and tried to spin, but the hard thread soon cut into her soft fingers until they bled.

"See," said the man. "You are not good for any sort of work. I made a bad bargain with you. Now I will try to start a business with pots and earthenware. You must sit in the marketplace and sell them."

"Oh!" she thought. "If people from my father's kingdom come to the market and see me sitting there selling things, how they will ridicule me!"

But her protests did not help. She had to do what her husband demanded, unless she wanted to die of hunger.

At first it went well. People bought the woman's wares because she was beautiful, and they paid her whatever she asked. Many even gave her the money and let her keep the pots. So they lived on what she earned as long as it lasted. Then the husband bought a lot of new pottery. She sat down with this at the corner of the marketplace and set it around her for sale. But suddenly there came a drunken hussar galloping along, and he rode right into the pots, breaking them into a thousand pieces. She began to cry, and was so afraid that she did not know what to do.

"Oh! What will happen to me?" she cried. "What will my husband say about this?" She ran home and told him of the misfortune.

"Who would sit at the corner of the marketplace with earthenware?" said the man. "Now stop crying. I see very well that you are not fit for any ordinary work. Now I was at our king's palace and asked if they couldn't use a kitchen maid. They promised me to take you. In return you will get free food."

The king's daughter now became a kitchen maid, and had to be available to the cook, and to do the dirtiest work. In each of her pockets she fastened a little jar, in which she took home her share of the leftovers. And this is what they lived on.

It happened that the wedding of the king's eldest son was to be celebrated, so the poor woman went up and stood near the door of the hall to look on. When all the lights were lit, and people, each more beautiful than the other, entered, and all was full of pomp and splendor, she thought about her plight with a sad heart, and cursed the pride and haughtiness which had humbled her and brought her to such great poverty.

The smell of the delicious dishes which were being taken in and out reached her, and now and then the servants threw her a few scraps, which she put in her jar to take home.

Then suddenly the king's son entered, clothed in velvet and silk, with gold chains around his neck. When he saw the beautiful woman standing by the door he took her by the hand and wanted danced with her. But she refused and took fright, for she saw that he was King Thrushbeard, the suitor whom she had rejected with scorn.

Her struggles did not help. He pulled her into the hall. But the string that tied up her pockets broke, and the pots fell to the floor. The soup ran out, and the scraps flew everywhere. When the people saw this, everyone laughed and ridiculed her. She was so ashamed that she would rather have been a thousand fathoms beneath the ground. She jumped out the door and wanted to run away, but a man overtook her on the stairs and brought her back. And when she looked at him, it was King Thrushbeard again.

He said to her kindly, "Don't be afraid. I and the minstrel who has been living with you in that miserable hut are one and the same. For the love of you I disguised myself. And I was also the hussar who broke your pottery to pieces. All this was done to humble your proud spirit and to punish you for the arrogance with which you ridiculed me."

Then she cried bitterly and said, "I was terribly wrong, and am not worthy to be your wife."

But he said, "Be comforted. The evil days are past. Now we will celebrate our wedding."

Then the maids-in-waiting came and dressed her in the most splendid clothing, and her father and his whole court came and wished her happiness in her marriage with King Thrushbeard, and their true happiness began only now.

I wish that you and I had been there as well.

Haaken Grizzlebeard


Once upon a time there was a princess who was so haughty and proud that no suitor was good enough for her. She made fun of them all, and sent them about their business, one after the other. But in spite of this, new suitors kept on coming to the palace, for she was a beauty, the wicked hussy!

One day a prince came to woo her, and his name was Haaken Grizzlebeard. The first night he was there, the princess commanded the king's jester to cut off the ears of one of the prince's horses, and to slit the jaws of the other up to the ears. The next day when the prince went out for a ride, the princess stood on the porch and watched him.

"Well!" she cried,"I never saw the like of this in all my life; the sharp north wind that blows here has taken the ears off one of your horses, while the other stood by gaping at what was going on until his jaws split right up to his ears."

With that she broke into a roar of laughter, ran in, slammed the door, and let him drive off.

He returned home; but as he went, he thought to himself that he would pay her off one day. After a bit, he put on a great beard of moss, threw a large fur cloak over his clothes, and dressed himself up like a beggar. He went to a goldsmith and bought a golden spinning wheel, and sat down with it under the princess's window and began to file away at his spinning wheel, and to turn it this way and that, for it wasn't quite in order, and besides, it did not have a stand.

So when the princess got up in the morning, she came to the window and opened it, and asked the beggar if he would sell his golden spinning wheel.

"No, it isn't for sale," said Haaken Grizzlebeard; "but if I may sleep outside your bedroom door tonight, I'll give it you."

The princess thought that that was a good bargain; there could be no danger in letting him sleep outside her door.

So she got the wheel and that night Haaken Grizzlebeard lay down outside her bedroom. But as the night wore on he began to freeze.

"Huttetuttetuttetu! It is so cold; let me in," he cried.

"I think that you're out of your mind," said the princess.

"Oh, Huttetuttetuttetu! It is so bitter cold, please let me in," said Haaken Grizzlebeard again.

"Be quiet! Hold your tongue!" said the princess. "If my father were to know that there was a man in the house, I should be in serious trouble."

"Oh, Huttetuttetuttetu! I'm almost frozen to death. Just let me come inside and lie on the floor," said Haaken Grizzlebeard.

There was nothing she could do about it. She had to let him in, and when he was inside, he lay on the ground and fell sound asleep.

Some time afterward, Haaken came again with the stand to the spinning wheel and sat down under the princess's window, and began to file at it, for it was not quite in order. When she heard him filing, she opened the window and began to talk to him, and to ask what he had.

"Oh, only the stand to that spinning wheel which your royal highness bought. I thought that because you had the wheel you might like to have the stand as well."

"What do you want for it?" asked the princess. It was not for sale any more than the wheel had been, but she might have it if she would let him sleep on the floor of her bedroom the next night.

She agreed, but only if he would to be sure to lie still, and not to shiver and call out "huttetu," or any such stuff. Haaken Grizzlebeard promised fair enough, but as the night wore on he began to shiver and shake, and to ask whether he might not come nearer, and lie on the floor alongside the princess's bed.

She couldn't do anything about it; she had to let him, or the king would hear the noise he was making. So Haaken Grizzlebeard lay alongside the princess's bed, and fell sound asleep.

It was a long while before Haaken Grizzlebeard came again, this time with him a golden yarn reel, and he sat down and began to file away at it under the princess's window. Then came the old story over again. When the princess heard what was going on, she came to the window and asked him how he was, and whether he would sell the golden yarn reel?

"It is not to be had for money; but I'll give it to you for nothing, if you'll let me sleep in your bedroom tonight, with my head on your bedstead."

She agreed, but only if he would give his word to be quiet and make no noise. He said he would do his best to be still; but as the night wore on he again began to shiver and shake until his teeth chattered.

"Huttetuttetuttetu! It is so bitter cold! Do let me get into bed and warm myself a little," said Haaken Grizzlebeard.

"Get into bed!" said the princess; "why, you must be out of your mind."

"Huttetuttetuttetu!" said Haaken; "do let me get into bed. Huttetuttetuttetu!"

"Hush! Hush! For God's sake, be quiet!" said the princess. "If father knows there is a man in here, I shall be in serious trouble. I'm sure he'll kill me on the spot."

"Huttetuttetuttetu! Let me get into bed," said Haaken Grizzlebeard, who kept on shivering so that the whole room shook. Well, there was nothing she could do about it. She had to let him get into bed. He slept soundly and gently, but a little while later the princess gave birth to a child. The king grew so wild with rage that he very nearly made an end of both mother and baby.

Just after this happened, Haaken Grizzlebeard came tramping that way once more, as if by chance, and took his seat down in the kitchen, like any other beggar.

When the princess came out and saw him, she cried, "Ah, God have mercy on me, for the bad luck you have brought me. Father is ready to fly into a rage. Let me go home with you."

"You're too well bred to follow me," said Haaken, "for I have nothing but a log hut to live in; and I don't know how I would ever feed you, for it's all I can do just to find food for myself."

"I don't care how you get it, or whether you get it at all," she said; "only let me be with you, for if I stay here any longer, my father will surely kill me."

So she got permission to go with the beggar, as she called him, and they walked a long, long way, even though she was not a good walker. When she left her father's land and entered into another, she asked whose it was?

"Oh! This is Haaken Grizzlebeard's, if you must know," he said.

"Indeed!" said the princess. "I could have married him if I had wanted to, and then I would not have had to walk about like a beggar's wife."

They came to grand castles, and woods, and parks, and when she asked whose they were, the beggar's answer was always the same, "Oh! They are Haaken Grizzlebeard's." The princess was very sad that she had not chosen the man who had such broad lands. Last of all they came to a palace, where he said he was known, and where he thought he could get work for her, so that they might have something to live on. He built a cabin at the edge of the woods for them to live in. Every day he went to the king's palace, as he said, to chop wood and draw water for the cook, and when he came back he brought a few scraps of food; but they did not go very far.

One day, when he came home from the palace, he said, "Tomorrow I will stay at home and look after the baby, but you must get ready to go to the palace, for the prince said you were to come and try your hand at baking."

"Bake!" said the princess; "I can't bake, for I never did such a thing in my life."

"Well, you must go," said Haaken, "since the prince has said it. If you can't bake, you can learn; you have only got to look how the rest bake; and as you leave, you must steal some bread for me."

"I can't steal," said the princess.

"You can learn that too," said Haaken; "you know that we are very short of food. But take care that the prince doesn't see you, for he has eyes everywhere."

When she was on her way, Haaken ran by a shortcut and reached the palace long before her, and took off his rags and beard, and put on his princely robes.

The princess took her turn in the bakehouse, and did as Haaken had asked her, for she stole bread until her pockets were crammed full. That evening, when she was about to go home, the prince said, "We don't know very much about this old vagabond woman. I think we'd best see if she is taking anything away with her."

He thrust his hand into all her pockets, and felt her all over, and when he found the bread, he became very angry, and raised a great stir.

She began to moan and cry, and said, "The beggar made me do it, and I couldn't help it."

"Well," said the prince at last, "it ought to have gone hard with you; but for the beggar's sake I will forgive you this time."

When she was on her way home, he took off his robes, put on his skin cloak, and his false beard, and reached the cabin before her. When she came home, he was busy tending the baby.

"You made me go against my own conscience. Today was the first time I ever stole, and it will be the last;" and with that she told him how it had gone with her, and what the prince had said.

A few days later, Haaken Grizzlebeard came home in the evening and said, "Tomorrow I will stay at home and tend the baby, for they are going to kill a pig at the palace, and you must help them make sausages."

"I make sausages!" said the princess; "I can't do any such thing. I have eaten sausages often enough, but I have never made one in my life."

But there was nothing that she could do about it; the prince had said it, and she had to go. As for not knowing how, she only had to do what the others did, and at the same time Haaken asked her to steal some sausages for him.

"No, I can't steal," she said; "you know how it went last time."

"Well, you can learn to steal. Who knows? You may have better luck this time," said Haaken Grizzlebeard.

When she was on her way, Haaken ran by a shortcut, reached the palace long before her, took off his skin cloak and false beard, and stood in the kitchen with his royal robes as she came in. So the princess stood by when the pig was killed. She made sausages with the others, and she did as Haaken had told her to, and stuffed her pockets full of sausages. That evening, when she was about to go home, the prince said, "This beggar's wife was long fingered last time; we had better see that she isn't carrying anything off."

So he began to thrust his hands into her pockets, and when he found the sausages he was again very angry, and made a great to do, threatening to send for the constable and have her thrown into jail.

"Oh, God bless your royal highness; do let me off! The beggar made me do it," she said, and cried bitterly.

"Well," said Haaken,"you ought to be punished for it; but for the beggar's sake I forgive you."

When she was gone, he changed his clothes again, ran by the shortcut, and when she reached the cabin, there he was before her. She told him the whole story, and swore it was the last time he would get her to do such a thing.

Now a little later the man came home from the palace and said, "Our prince is going to be married, but the bride is sick, so the tailor can't measure her for her wedding gown. The prince wants you to go to the palace and be measured instead of the bride; for he says that you are just the same height and shape. But after you have been measured, don't just leave. You can stand about, and when the tailor cuts out the gown, you can pick up the largest scraps, and bring them home for a vest for me."

"No, I can't steal," she said; "besides, you know how it went last time."

"You can learn then," said Haaken, "and you may have better luck this time."

She thought it bad, but still she went and did as she was told. She stood by while the tailor was cutting out the gown, and she swept up all the biggest scraps, and stuffed them into her pockets; and when she was on her way out, the prince said, "We may as well see if this old girl has not been long fingered this time too."

So he began to feel and search her pockets, and when he found the pieces he became very angry, and began to stamp and scold furiously, while she cried and said, "Please forgive me; the beggar made me do it, and I couldn't help it."

"Well, you ought to be punished for it," said Haaken; "but for the beggar's sake I forgive you."

So it went now just as it had gone before, and when she got back to the cabin, the beggar was there before her. "Oh, Heaven help me," she said; "you will be the death of me by making me wicked. The prince was so angry that he threatened me both with the constable and jail."

One evening, some time later, Haaken came home to the cabin and said, "The prince wants you to go up to the palace and stand in for the bride, for the bride is still sick in bed. He won't put off the wedding, and he says, that you are so like her, that no one could tell one from the other; so tomorrow you must get ready to go to the palace."

"I think that you are out of your mind, both you and the prince," she said. "Do you think I look fit to stand in the bride's place? Look at me! Can any beggar's wench look worse than I?"

"Well, the prince said you were to go, and so you have to go," said Haaken Grizzlebeard.

There was nothing that she could do about it. She had to go; and when she reached the palace, they dressed her out so finely that no princess ever looked so beautiful.

The bridal procession went to church, where she stood in for the bride, and when they came back, there was dancing and merriment in the palace. But just as she was dancing with the prince, she saw a gleam of light through the window, and behold, the cabin at the edge of the woods was all one bright flame.

"Oh! The beggar, and the baby, and the cabin," she screamed out, and was just about to faint.

"Here is the beggar, and there is the baby, and so let the cabin burn away," said Haaken Grizzlebeard.

She recognized him again, and then the joy and celebration began for real. Since that time, I have heard nothing more about them.



There was once a king of England whose daughter was very famous. She was the most beautiful princess ever seen or heard of. But she had one great fault -- namely, that she was haughty and proud. Of course she had many suitors, but all were refused, and as she possessed a sharp tongue, she moreover scorned them, giving nicknames to everyone who was bold enough to woo her.

At that time there was a young prince in Denmark. The fame of her beauty had reached him, and he sent word, asking for her hand in marriage. The princess answered, however, that she would rather earn her bread by spinning all her life than marry such a poor and miserable prince. The messengers were obliged to return with this unfavorable response.

The young prince had determined, however, that he would win her. He dispatched fresh messengers with letters, and sent her a gift consisting of six beautiful horses, white as milk, with pink muzzles, gold shoes, and scarlet rugs. Such horses had never been seen in England before, hence the king put in a good word for the Danish prince: He who could send such a gift of betrothal must by all means be considered her equal.

But the beautiful princess ordered the grooms to cut off the manes and tails of the six steeds, to soil them with dirt, and turn them over to the messengers, whom she instructed to tell the prince that rather than be married to him would she sit in the street and sell earthenware.

When the messengers returned, relating all that the princess had said and done, the Danish king became so incensed that he wanted to put to sea with all his ships and revenge this insult. His son asked him, however, to desist from any such action; he wished to attempt once more, by fair means. If he were unsuccessful, he would himself know how to take revenge. To this his father assented.

The prince now built a ship, so beautiful and costly that its like had never been. The gunwale was artistically carved with all sorts of animals; deer, dragons, and lions were seen jumping about, and the stem and stern were richly gilded. The masts were mounted with gold, the sails made of silk, every second canvas being red, and the remainder white. This ship was manned with the handsomest lads in the country, and the prince gave them a letter to the king of England and his proud daughter, the princess, asking her to accept him, and receive the ship as his gift of betrothment.

The gorgeous ship rapidly crossed the sea and stopped immediately outside of the royal palace. It commanded general attention, no one having seen such a magnificent vessel before. The couriers landed and delivered their message. Now the king used his best efforts to persuade his daughter. A suitor so wealthy and munificent, so true and devoted as this prince, certainly deserved a favorable answer.

The princess graciously listened to his entreaties, feigning an intention to think the matter over until the next day. But at night she gave orders to sink the ship, and in the morning she told the couriers to return as best they could; that she would rather beg her food at the doors than call their poor fellow of a Danish prince her husband.

The couriers returned to Denmark with this disdainful answer, and with the tidings of the fate of the king's ship, which was now, with its gilded masts and its silken sails, at the bottom of the sea. Upon hearing this, the king at once determined to man his fleet and take a bloody revenge. The prince dissuaded him, however, vowing solemnly that he would make the haughty princess repent the disdain with which she had treated him.

Upon this he left Denmark quite alone, and reached England, no one knowing him. Disguised, as he was, in an old hat, dingy clothes, and wooden shoes, he arrived at the palace towards evening and asked the herdsman for a bite of bread and a couch. He obtained both, and during the night kept company with the cows in the stable. The next morning the beggar -- Greyfoot, so he called himself -- sought and obtained permission to help in driving the cattle to their watering place. The latter happened to be situated exactly outside of the windows occupied by the princess. Greyfoot now opened a bundle which he had brought with him, and produced a golden spindle which he proceeded to use in driving forth the cows.

The princess, who was standing at one of the windows, saw the spindle, and taking at once a great fancy to it, she sent some one down to inquire whether the beggar were willing to sell it. Greyfoot answered that he did not care to sell it for money; the price he asked was permission to sleep outside of her door the following night.

"No," said the princess; she could not think of such a price.

"Very well," answered Greyfoot; "that settles the matter, and I keep my spindle."

The princess had taken it into her head, however, that she must possess the beggar's treasure, but as she did not like any one to know that such a poor-looking man was admitted to the palace, she sent a secret message by one of her maids, telling him to come late at night, and to be gone early in the morning. This he did.

When the princess looked out of the window the next morning, she noticed Greyfoot chasing the cows with a golden reel, and at once sent one of her maids down to inquire whether it could be bought.

"Yes," said Greyfoot, "and the price is the same as yesterday."

When the princess heard this she was not a little astonished by the audacity of the beggar, but as the treasure could be obtained in no other way, she assented, and everything passed as on the previous night.

The third morning Greyfoot drove the cattle to the watering place, as usual, but this time he was using a weaver's shuttle of pure gold.

She sent for him, and when he appeared in her presence she said, "Now, Greyfoot, how much do you ask for this treasure of yours? Will you take a hundred dollars for it?"

"No," answered Greyfoot, "it cannot be bought for money. If you will permit me to sleep inside the door of your room tonight, you may have it."

"I think you are mad," said the princess. "No, I cannot hear of any such price. But I am willing to pay you two hundred dollars."

"No," said Greyfoot again; "it must be as I say. If you want the shuttle, you must pay the price which I ask. Otherwise, I will keep the treasure myself."

The princess looked at her maids, and they looked back at her, and all looked at the magnificent shuttle. She must possess it, whispered the maids. They would sit in a circle around her, keeping guard the whole night.

Finally the princess told Greyfoot that he might come late at night; they would let him in. He must be careful, however, and tell no one, since they were all running a great risk. When it grew late, and the princess was about to fall asleep, the maids were all sitting around her, each one holding a lighted candle in her hands.

Greyfoot entered, and quietly stretched himself on a rug near the door. But as the maids were not accustomed to much waking, one by one they became drowsy, and very soon everyone in the room was soundly asleep. As the ladies had rested little during the two previous nights, it was no wonder that the sun did not wake them very early the next morning.

The king, who was accustomed to see his daughter at the breakfast table, became alarmed when she did not appear as usual, and hastened to her rooms. Imagine his surprise when he found, outside of her door an old hat and a pair of well-worn wooden shoes. Opening the door quietly, he stole into the room. There the princess was, fast asleep, with all her maids; and so was Greyfoot, on the rug inside the door.

Usually the king was a very amicable and quiet man, but when this spectacle met his eyes he became angry. He controlled himself, however, and called his daughter's name aloud. She awoke, and so did the maids, who at once escaped in all directions.

But the king turned to his daughter and said, "I now see what kind of company you prefer, and although it is in my power to let this fellow hang and have you buried alive, I will allow you to keep each other. The minister shall unite you in marriage, whereupon you will both be sent away. I will never bear the sight of you again."

The king left them, and shortly afterwards the minister appeared with two witnesses. The haughty princess was married to Greyfoot, the beggar. Then the couple were at liberty to go whither they desired.

When they passed the barn door Greyfoot turned to the princess, saying, "We cannot walk on the highroad in this style; you must change your clothes before we depart!"

So they paid a visit to the herdsman's wife, who gave the princess -- now Greyfoot's wife -- a gown of linsey-woolsey, a woolen jacket, a cape, and a pair of heavy shoes.

"That fits better," said Greyfoot, and they walked away.

At first they walked each on his own side of the road, without speaking; but in a little while the princess raised her eyes to look at the man who was now her rightful husband. To her astonishment she observed that he was neither old nor ugly, but really a handsome young man, in spite of his old and dingy clothes.

Being not accustomed to walk very far, especially with such heavy footwear, the princess soon felt exhausted, and said, "Dear Greyfoot, do not walk so fast!"

"No," he returned, "as I have now been burdened with you, I suppose I cannot leave you on the open road."

So he entered the next house and hired an old carriage, the bottom of which was covered with straw. They now drove on, until at length they arrived at a seaport. Greyfoot immediately sought and obtained passage for himself and his wife, as servants, and the princess felt much relieved when at last they were out of her father's domains, although she had no idea of their destination.

The voyage ended in Denmark, and when they had safely landed, Greyfoot proceeded to rent a small hut in the neighborhood of the royal palace. It consisted of only one little room with a stone floor and an open fireplace, where she must prepare their frugal meals. In a little while Greyfoot went out, and returned with an old spinning wheel and a large bundle of tow, of the meanest quality.

"While you work with this," he said, " I must try to find some occupation, as best I can. Neither of us can afford to be idle."

Thus time passed slowly and quietly. Greyfoot had secured work at the palace as a woodcutter, and returned every evening with a loaf of bread and a few pennies. His wife was spinning until her fingertips were scorched, and her knees shaking under her.

One evening Greyfoot brought home a wheelbarrow filled with earthenware. This he had bought on credit, he said, and she was in duty bound to go to town the next day and sell the things. She of course made no objections. The next day Greyfoot went to his work, as usual, and his wife set out for the town with her earthenware. But when she had just managed to sell a few of them, a troop of stately knights came galloping down the street. One of the horses became wild and rushed in among her articles, which went into a thousand pieces under the heavy hoofs which trampled upon them. The riders pursued their way; but the poor princess returned to the hut, and, sitting down, wept bitterly.

In the evening, when Greyfoot returned, she told him of her misfortune. "Now we are utterly unfortunate," said he, "for I have no money with which to pay for these articles. You will now have to sew a wallet, go from door to door, and beg for victuals and pennies, until our debts have been paid."

The princess did as he bid her, and was glad that her husband did not scold her for her ill fortune. She begged at everyone's door, bringing home, at length, several pieces of bread and some pennies.

"That will not bring us very far," said Greyfoot, when the princess had displayed the contents of the wallet. "I have now found a good place for you at the palace. They are preparing for a wedding, and tomorrow you are to lend a hand in the kitchen. Do your best and make yourself useful; maybe they will keep you and pay you good wages. Tomorrow you will obtain your meals and twenty pennies."

The next morning, before Greyfoot's wife went away, her husband said, " Today I must stay at home; I have felt an illness coming upon me, so I will rest and try to get better."

She burst into tears, and told him that when he was ill she could not think of leaving him. When he answered, however, that she was expected, and necessarily must go, she kissed him good-bye, hoping that he would soon feel better, and promising to return as speedily as possible.

"The haughty princess" spent the whole day among the pots and pans in the royal kitchen. When she returned to the hut, Greyfoot told her that he felt better, and further related how an order had been issued announcing that the Prince of Denmark was to be married to a Russian princess. Her costly bridal gown had arrived, but the princess herself, having been detained by wind and waves, was unable to arrive in due time for the ceremony, and on the following day every girl and woman was to present herself at the palace and be measured. She who filled the measure would be selected as the bride's deputy. "And you," concluded Greyfoot, "you must put in an appearance. If you are fortunate, your wages may be sufficient for paying our debts."

In the morning Greyfoot declared that he felt worse than on the day before, but would not keep her from going. She hesitated, but as he insisted, she threw her arms around him, kissed him, and left.

The royal measurer was busy among the many women assembled in the courtyard, and it seemed impossible to find anyone who was the right measure. But when at length he reached Greyfoot's wife, he declared that she was the very person they wanted. Now she was taken into the palace, and attired in the gorgeous gown, the bridal veil, and a pair of exquisite slippers. When finally the crown was placed on her head, everyone declared that the real princess could hardly be prettier. In a little while a beautiful carriage drawn by six milk-white horses was seen at the door, and Greyfoot's wife was asked to enter. The prince was already seated in the carriage; she had never seen him, but remembered having heard of him in past days.

They drove along the road until they came to Greyfoot's hut. Seeing already at a distance that it was afire, the poor woman in the carriage uttered a piercing shriek, and cried, "My husband! save him, for heaven's sake! He was ill when I left him, and may not have escaped."

The prince now spoke to her for the first time, and said, "If that ugly woodcutter is your husband, you had better leave him; he is no husband for you."

But she answered, "He is my husband, and was always good and kind to me. How could I leave him? Even if you offered me the place which I am now occupying for your real bride, I would refuse it, and gladly return to the hut where I have lived the happiest part of my life!"

The prince smilingly answered, "You are my real bride, and kept your word when you said that rather than marry me would you earn your bread by spinning, or by selling earthenware, or beg for it at the doors."

Now she recognized him, and throwing her arms around him, she said that her sufferings had been of great benefit to her, and that she would now stay with him forever.

Thus "the haughty princess of England" became queen of Denmark. This happened so long ago, however, that hardly any one remembers having seen her. But the story is true, nevertheless.

Peter Redhat


There was once a princess, yonder in England, who was so beautiful that none might compare to her, and she actually had it printed in the papers but at the same time she was so haughty that she scarcely recognized herself.

The king, here in Denmark, had a son, who also had a good opinion of himself, and it occurred to him to set forth and sue for the princess's hand. So he took ship and set sail with a great retinue. When he reached London, he went to the castle and told the king of his intentions. The king said he had no objection, save that the princess must have a free hand in the matter, and so they called her. But when the prince made his proposal, she threw back her head, and said she no more wished to have any dealings with him than with her father's blacking-brush or blacking. And with that he was at liberty to march off.

Now he decided that he would play a trick on her in payment for her answer. So he went back to his ship, and had his things brought ashore and placed in a room which he had hired, and instructed his people to sail home and tell his father he would not be back for the present.

Then he told his servant to go to town, find the shabbiest vagabond to be met with, and change clothes with him. The servant went up and down the streets, and there saw many a poor devil; but it was his task to find the most wretched-looking of all.

At last he heard voices in a cellar and went down. There sat a fellow called Peter Redhat, and he was the raggedest the servant had seen thus far. The servant asked whether he would change clothes with him. But Peter Redhat grew furious, because he thought the other wished to make a fool of him. Yet he was quite in earnest, and so the change was made. Peter had an enormously large, broad-brimmed hat, known throughout the city; and this the servant obtained as well. Back he went to the prince with these clothes, and all was satisfactory.

In the meantime the prince had visited a goldsmith, and had ordered a golden distaff, a golden spindle, and a golden yarn-reel, and when they were ready he put on Peter Redhat's clothes and went with his golden distaff to the king's garden. There he sat down and began to spin beneath the princess's windows.

When she awoke and saw Peter Redhat sitting there, spinning with a golden distaff, she sent down one of her maids to him, with the princess's compliments, to ask whether she could not buy the distaff from him.

Yes, it could be done, but he wished to speak to her himself.

She did not much care to do so, yet she had never seen anything quite so handsome as the distaff, and she wanted it so much that she made up her mind to go down to Peter. Then she asked him what he asked for the distaff.

All he wanted was permission to sit in her room for a night. The princess was half inclined to be angry, and turned on her heel with the words: "No! Fie, for shame, that such a pig should sit in my room! That cannot be."

But that was the only way she could obtain the distaff, said he, for he would not sell it for money.

The princess looked at the distaff, and her wish to possess it grew stronger, and the longer she looked the more she wanted it; till she felt that she simply could not go on living without the distaff. So she discussed with her ladies-in-waiting whether the matter might be arranged. They decided that it might, if he were willing to promise to remain seated in one and the same place, and they remained on guard in the room overnight.

So she received the distaff, and at evening Peter Redhat came and sat him down on a chair near a little table. There he sat all night long, and did not move from the spot. In the morning he had to leave, so he went down and took his golden spindle. The princess slept late, and when she awoke she saw Peter Redhat sitting in the garden, reeling the yarn that he had spun the day before.

When the princess saw the spindle she sent down one of her maids, with her compliments, to ask whether she could not buy the spindle from him.

Yes, the princess could buy it, but he wished to talk to her himself. So she came down to him, for she wanted the spindle very much, and it seemed to her that it must be joined to the distaff.

"What does it cost?" she asked him.

It cost no more than the permission to sit over-night by the side of her bed. "Fie, for shame! Peter Redhat sitting beside my bed," cried she, "that would never do!"

But she could get the spindle no other way. So she went in to her ladies-in-waiting, and asked whether they did not think that he might be allowed to sit beside her bed, if all twelve of them sat there too, and three or four lights were placed on the table, because she had such a desire to obtain the spindle. And they decided that if they put the table, with five lights on it, close to the bed, and then stationed themselves around the table, close to the bed, it might answer.

So she got the spindle, and Peter Redhat came that evening and sat down in a chair beside the bed in which she lay. But the princess did not sleep much that night, because Peter Redhat sat there and looked at her the whole night through.

When day dawned he had to leave again, and this time he went home and took the golden bobbin, for now he had to wind the yarn that he had reeled the day before. The princess slept somewhat late; but when she awoke and came to the window, there sat Peter Redhat, diligently winding yarn. She at once fell in love with the bobbin, for she had never yet seen one so beautiful, and if she could obtain it she would have the complete spinning-set.

She sent down one of her ladies, with her compliments, to ask whether she could not buy the bobbin.

Yes, surely she could buy the bobbin, but he himself wished to talk to her. So she had to come down to Peter for the third time. "What does the bobbin cost?" she asked him.

No more than permission to lie at the foot of the princess's bed that night.

Fie, for shame, that Peter Redhat should lie at the foot of her bed! That could never be! And she grew angry.

But there was no other way of getting the bobbin, and so she consulted her ladies-in-waiting about it. They thought that if she placed twelve chairs along the sides of the bed, and one of them were to sit on each chair with a lighted candle, it might be done, for, of course, they knew what the princess wanted.

The princess received the bobbin, and at evening, when she had gone to bed, Peter Redhat came. She lay as close as she could to the wall, and he was ordered to lie as closely as lie could against the foot of the bed. Then he began to undress, and he flung one garment here and another there, and his big red hat he threw in front of the door. Then he lay down and at once began to snore, so that the walls shook.

Now the ladies-in-waiting had been on guard for two nights in succession and, one after another, they fell asleep, and the candles fell from their hands, and went out and at last there was only a single light left burning -- all the other ladies were sleeping.

Then the princess said that since he was sleeping so very soundly, the light might be put out, if only the ladies would be ready to come should she call them.

But the ladies were not called, and all of them slept so very late, right into the next forenoon, that the king himself came to wake his daughter. But when he opened the door he could not get in, because of Peter's hat, which he first had to shove aside. The king recognized the hat at once, and became furiously angry.

Peter Redhat had to get up, into his clothes and be off as soon as possible; and then came his daughter's turn. She was banished from the country and had to leave that very day So she had to make the best of it and see that she got away. Some money was given her, but it was far too little, since she now had to look out for herself, and was not used to traveling alone. When she drove off, Peter Redhat sat up behind, and when she stopped at an inn to remain overnight, Peter Redhat stopped there too. She saw to it that she had the best of everything, but Peter Redhat lived as simply as possible.

On the following day she drove on, and so it went for several days; while Peter always saw to it that he kept pace with her. In the course of time the princess's money came to an end, and she had to go a-foot.

Peter took a couple of good sandwiches with him and when the princess started out, he started out at the same time. He passed her and said good-day, but she did not answer him, and would not even glance at the side of the road on which he walked. In the evening they reached an inn, and she was given the best room, while Peter had to be satisfied with one less than second-best.

On the following day he passed her again, and when he said good-day to her, she was at last able to look around and thank him. Then he asked her whether she would not like to have a sandwich.

Yes, she would, for her money was going fast; soon she would be unable to pay for a night's lodging. Then Peter said he would pay for her. They came to an inn and left it again the following morning. Then he told her that he could not keep on paying her way because his money was also coming to an end. They came to a river and had to cross, and Peter paid for both. When they had crossed, it was evening, and again they had to look for a place where they might spend the night.

They were in the prince's own country by this time, and they came to a forest close to his father's castle. Now the princess had to thank God that she had Peter Redhat; for there was no one else upon whom she could lean, and they found a tiny hut in the woods, where they stayed.

"What shall we do now? We have not a single shilling left!" She did not know what to suggest.

"Then there is nothing left for us to do," said he, "but wander about and beg; for, of course, we cannot steal."

So they agreed to meet at the hut once or twice a day. She made a little bag to hold meal, and grits and bread-crusts, and then they separated and each went his way for the day.

Of course the prince went home to the castle, and brought back a large purse of gold in his pocket; but she wandered about and gathered such scraps as the people gave her, and in the evening they met in the hut. He asked her what she had taken in, and she showed him: a few pieces of bread, a little meal and grits, and a few bits of meat.

"Oh," said he, "you do not bring back much when you go a-begging! Just see what I have!"

And he drew the big purse with all the money in it from his pocket, and said that it was what he had collected that day.

"But it would be best for us to take service somewhere."

Yes, she was willing, was her answer.

"Well, what work can you do?" he asked her.

She would prefer to find a place as a seamstress.

He did not know whether she could manage to get a place as a seamstress, but he did know where they would take her in to wash dishes. The fact was that the following day there was to be a great banquet at court, because the prince had returned and, to judge by what the people said, there would be a wedding.

Then he made her believe that he had found employment at the castle as a wood-chopper, and so he would be able to have her out in the kitchen.

"But could you not arrange to bring me a pot of soup at dinner-time from what is left on the table?"

"Yes, but how am I to manage to carry it to you without attracting attention?" said she.

"You can tie a cord around your waist, under your apron, and hang the pot on it."

She thought she could manage this, and he told her which way to go in order to meet him.

In the morning she went up to the castle and began her work. They gave her a pair of old kettles to scour, and she nearly scoured them to pieces; but the prince had told the cook in advance that a girl would put in an appearance at a certain time, and that he was to give her plenty to do, but she was not to be otherwise molested, and they were not to push, beat or handle her ungently.

When the court had eaten dinner, the kitchen-maid asked permission to go to town for a while; and filling a little pot with soup and meat, she tied it under her apron, and started out to find Peter Redhat.

She had to pass several doors at which guards were standing, who invited her to come in and dance with them; for on that day whoever wished to was allowed to enter the great hall and dance.

But she excused herself, saying that she had no time to spare. At last she saw the door through which Peter had told her to pass, and there someone seized her, and dragged her into the hall where the banquet was in progress. The prince came up at once, and led her out to dance, and she had to yield, willy-nilly. But she did not recognize him, for he was wearing his princely clothes.

The music began, and the prince danced with her so lustily that the dumplings and scraps fairly rolled all around the floor. Everyone wanted to know whose they were, because a number of others were also dancing. But she at once admitted that she was guilty. She had a sweetheart, she said, who was employed in the castle, and she had been on her way to him with a little pot of soup.

Then the king asked her which way she had been told to take. Her sweetheart had told her she should pass through the door at the right-hand side of the castle gate.

Then the king asked her again whether she would recognize the man again if she saw him.

Indeed she would recognize him, for they had traveled many miles together.

"Then pick him out," said the king, "for here are all the people who are employed in the castle."

No, he was not among them, said she. But the king kept on talking to her, and meanwhile the prince stole out of the room, put on the old clothes he had worn while they had been together, went outside and walked past the window at which she stood.

Then she pointed him out and said: "That is my sweetheart walking there."

Thereupon he came in to them, and the king himself could hardly recognize him as he now appeared.

He said to the princess: "Do you not think it might have been better for you had you taken the king's son out of Denmark, of whom you made so much fun?"

"Ah, do not speak of it," said she, "I have trouble enough as it is."

"Yes, but if he is still willing to take you, do you think he would be good enough for you?"

"It would be wonderful, no doubt, but that opportunity will never recur."

"And yet it might," said he, "if you promise me that you will never again be ruled by arrogance and haughtiness."

Then he told his father and guests that this was the princess for whose sake he had traveled to England; and that he had played a trick upon her because she had been so arrogant when he had sought her out the first time, and had not been willing to so much as look at him. But now he was convinced that she had changed, and that the time had come when she should know who he really was, and be raised from her low estate.

So they brought her garments, and he laid aside Peter Redhat's rags, and the wedding was held at once. Since he was the crown-prince of the land, he became king after his father's death and she, as was no more than right, became queen. But her parents always held a grudge against him because he had humiliated her.

The Haughty Princess


There was once a very worthy king, whose daughter was the greatest beauty that could be seen far or near, but she was as proud as Lucifer, and no king or prince would she agree to marry. Her father was tired out at last, and invited every king and prince, and duke, and earl that he knew or didn't know to come to his court to give her one trial more. They all came, and next day after breakfast they stood in a row in the lawn, and the princess walked along in the front of them to make her choice. One was fat, and says she, "I won't have you, Beer-barrel!" One was tall and thin, and to him she said, "I won't have you, Ramrod!" To a white-faced man she said, "I won't have you, Pale Death!" and to a red-cheeked man she said, "I won't have you, Cockscomb!"

She stopped a little before the last of all, for he was a fine man in face and form. She wanted to find some defect in him, but he had nothing remarkable but a ring of brown curling hair under his chin. She admired him a little, and then carried it off with, "I won't have you, Whiskers!"

So all went away, and the king was so vexed he said to her, "Now to punish your impedence, I'll give you to the first beggar man or singing sthronshuch [lazy thing] that calls." And, as sure as the hearth-money, a fellow all over rags, and hair that came to his shoulders, and a bushy red beard all over his face, came next morning, and began to sing before the parlor window.

When the song was over, the hall door was opened, the singer asked in, the priest brought, and the princess married to Beardy. She roared and she bawled, but her father didn't mind her. "There," says he to the bridegroom," is five guineas for you. Take your wife out of my sight, and never let me lay eyes on you or her again."

Off he led her, and dismal enough she was. The only thing that gave her relief was the tones of her husband's voice and his genteel manners.

"Whose wood is this?" said she, as they were going through one.

"It belongs to the king you called Whiskers yesterday." He gave her the same answer about meadows and cornfields, and at last a fine city.

"Ah, what a fool I was!" said she to herself. "He was a fine man, and I might have him for a husband." At last they were coming up to a poor cabin. "Why are you bringing me here?" says the poor lady.

"This was my house," said he, "and now it's yours." She began to cry, but she was tired and hungry, and went in with him. Ovoch! There was neither a table laid out, nor a fire burning, and she was obliged to help her husband to light it, and boil their dinner, and clean up the place after; and next day he made her put on a stuff gown and a cotton handkerchief. When she had her house redded up, and no business to keep her employed, he brought home sallies [willows], peeled them, and showed her how to make baskets. But the hard twigs bruised her delicate fingers, and she began to cry. Well, then he asked her to mend their clothes, but the needle drew blood from her fingers, and she cried again.

He couldn't bear to see her tears, so he bought a creel of earthenware, and sent her to the market to sell them. This was the hardest trial of all, but she looked so handsome and sorrowful, and had such a nice air about her, that all her pans, and jugs, and plates, and dishes were gone before noon, and the only mark of her old pride she showed was a slap she gave a buckeen across the face when he axed her to go in an' take share of a quart.

Well, her husband was so glad, he sent her with another creel the next day; but faith! her luck was after deserting her. A drunken huntsman came up riding, and his beast got in among her ware, and made brishe [broken pieces] of every mother's son of 'em. She went home cryin', and her husband wasn't at all pleased. "I see," said he, "you're not fit for business. Come along, I'll get you a kitchen maid's place in the palace. I know the cook."

So the poor thing was obliged to stifle her pride once more. She was kept very busy, and the footman and the butler would be very impudent about looking for a kiss, but she let a screech out of her the first attempt was made, and the cook gave the fellow such a lambasting with the besom that he made no second offer. She went home to her husband every night, and she carried broken victuals wrapped in papers in her side pockets.

A week after she got service there was great bustle in the kitchen. The king was going to be married, but no one knew who the bride was to be. Well, in the evening the cook filled the princess's pockets with cold meat and puddings, and, says she, "Before you go, let us have a look at the great doings in the big parlor." So they came near the door to get a peep, and who should come out but the king himself, as handsome as you please, and no other but King Whiskers himself.

"Your handsome helper must pay for her peeping," said he to the cook, "and dance a jig with me." Whether she would or no, he held her hand and brought her into the parlor. The fiddlers struck up, and away went him with her. But they hadn't danced two steps when the meat and the puddens flew out of her pockets. Everyone roared out, and she flew to the door, crying piteously. But she was soon caught by the king, and taken into the back parlor. "Don't you know me, my darling?" said he. "I'm both King Whiskers, your husband the ballad singer, and the drunken huntsman. Your father knew me well enough when he gave you to me, and all was to drive your pride out of you."

Well, she didn't know how she was with fright, and shame, and joy. Love was uppermost anyhow, for she laid her head on her husband's breast and cried like a child. The maids-of-honor soon had her away and dressed her as fine as hands and pins could do it; and there were her mother and father, too; and while the company were wondering what end of the handsome girl and the king, he and his queen, who they didn't know in her fine clothes, and the other king and queen, came in, and such rejoicings and fine doings as there was, none of us will ever see, any way.

The Hunchback


Once upon a time there was a certain king who had an only daughter, whom he greatly wished to see married; but the girl had been completely spoilt, and was very self-willed: she would not marry. If her father had wished her to keep single, then she would have determined to marry at once.

One day, as she came out of church, she met a beggar, very old, ugly, hunchbacked, and so persevering, that she was annoyed and would not give him any alms. The poor man, in order to revenge himself, put a flea on her; the princess, who had never seen one of these nasty little insects before, took it to the palace with her, and put it into a small bottle; she fed it with drops of milk, so that it became too fat for its prison. Then the princess ordered it to be killed, dried its skin, and out of it had a small drum made and put into a bracelet.

One day when her father came in to urge her to marry, she replied that she would only marry the man who could tell what the little drum in her bracelet was made of.

"Very well," said her father, "let it be so; but on my faith as a king, and an old Christian, I swear that you shall marry the person who ascertains it, let him be who he may."

Proclamation was accordingly made that the princess was ready to marry whoever could tell what the drum in her bracelet was made of; and from all the four parts of the world came kings, princes, dukes, counts, and gentlemen of good estate, and all to see the flea's skin, though not one could say what it was.

The most extraordinary thing about it was, that whenever it was struck, the sound the little drum gave forth was similar to that uttered by beggars when they solicit alms. Then the king ordered that everybody, rich or poor, who came should be allowed to see the drum in order to try and ascertain what it was made of.

Among the princes who came there happened to be one who was very handsome, and for whom the princess took a desperate liking; so, when she was in her balcony and saw him passing, she cried out:

A flea's skin
My bracelet is in.
The prince did not hear her voice; but she was heard by the horrible old beggar to whom she had denied alms. The old fellow at once comprehended what the words she said signified, for he was very cunning; so he at once entered the palace and said that he had come to see what was in the bracelet of the king's daughter.

Scarcely had he seen it, than he said:

A flea's skin
The bracelet is in!
There was no escape from it: the princess would have objected, but she was given by her father to the dirty old beggar, for he had guessed the enigma she herself had insisted upon.

"Go away at once with your husband," said the king, "and I do not wish you ever again to remember that you have a father."

Weeping and ashamed, the princess had to go off with the hunchback, and they traveled farther and farther, until they came to a river through which they had to wade.

"Take me on your shoulders and carry me across the river, because that is my wife's duty," said the old man to her.

The princess did what her husband commanded; but when they were in the middle of the stream, she began shaking herself in order to shake him off, and he began falling off in fragments, first his head, then his arms and legs, and at last, all but his hump, which remained stuck fast on the princess's shoulders.

When she had crossed the river, she inquired the way; and whenever she spoke the hump on her back mimicked her voice and repeated what she said, as if, instead of a hump on her back, she had an echoing stone there. Some of the folks she met laughed, and others were angry, thinking that she was mocking them, so that at last there was nothing to be done but to pretend to be mute.

In this state she went on her way begging, until she arrived at a city that belonged to the prince for whom she had taken so great a liking. She went to the palace to ask them to employ her, and she was taken on as a maidservant.

The prince saw her, and was so struck with her beauty that he said: "That girl has such a beautiful face that if she were not a hunchback and mute, I would marry her."

The prince's marriage with a foreign princess was much talked about, so the pain and jealousy of the hunchback, who became every day more enamoured of the heir to the kingdom, may be well imagined. At last the matrimonial contract was arranged with another princess, who was as upright as a dart and as talkative as a magpie. The prince went forth with a grand retinue to bring her home, and great preparations were made in the palace for the wedding.

The supposed mute had to fry some cakes; and as she was frying them she said to her hump: "Dear little hump, would you like a nice little cake?"

The hump, which was that of an old man very fond of sweet things, replied that it would like it.

"Then look into my pocket," said she.

The hump made a leap off her back to her pocket, when the princess, who was already prepared with the tongs in her hand, seized the hump and popped it into the boiling oil, where it quickly melted into a lump of lard.

As soon as the princess found herself freed from the hump, she went to her room, and dressed, and adorned herself with a robe of green and gold.

When the prince arrived he was delighted to see the mute girl without her hump, and so well and magnificently attired.

The bride, who noticed this, said:

Behold the mute in her new array
Upon her mistress's bridal day!
To which the princess haughtily replied:
And then behold the shamelessness
Of her who'd be master before she's mistress.
As soon as the prince found that the mute could speak, and that there was no trace left of her hump, he gave up the other princess and married her, and they had many children, and lived happily ever afterwards.

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Revised June 8, 2013.