A KING had a daughter who was beautiful beyond all measure,2 but so proud and haughty withal that no suitor was good enough for her. She sent away one after the other, and ridiculed them as well.3
Once the King made a gre
at feast4 and invited thereto, from far and near, all the young men likely to marry. They were all marshalled 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 gentry. Then the King's daughter5 was led through the ranks, but to every one she had some objection6 to make; one was too fat, "The wine-cask," she said. Another was too tall, "Long and thin has little in."7 The third was too short, "Short and thick is never quick."8 The fourth was too pale, "As pale as death." The fifth too red, "A fighting-cock." The sixth was not straight enough, "A green log dried behind the stove."
So she had something to say against every one, but she made herself especially merry over a good king who stood quite high up in the row, and whose chin had grown a little crooked. "Well," she cried and laughed, "he has a chin like a thrush's beak!"9 and from that time he got the name of King Thrushbeard.10
But the old King, when he saw that his daugher did nothing but mock the people, and despised all the suitors who were gathered there, was very angry, and swore that she should have for her husband the very first beggar11 that came to his doors.
A few days afterwards a fiddler12 came and sang beneath the windows, trying to earn a small alms. When the King heard him he said, "Let him come up." So the fiddler came in, in his dirty, ragged clothes, and sang before the King and his daughter, and when he had ended he asked for a trifling gift. The King said, "Your song has pleased me so well that I will give you my daughter there, to wife."
The King's daughter shuddered, but the King said, "I have taken an oath to give you to the very first beggar-man, and I will keep it." All she could say was in vain; the priest was brought, and she had to let herself be wedded to the fiddler on the spot. When that was done the King said, "Now it is not proper for you, a beggar-woman, to stay any longer in my palace, you may just go away with your husband."13
The beggar-man led her out by the hand, and she was obliged to walk away on foot with him. When they came to a large forest14 she asked, "To whom does that beautiful forest belong?" "It belongs to King Thrushbeard;15 if you had taken him, it would have been yours." "Ah, unhappy girl that I am,16 if I had but taken King Thrushbeard!"
Afterwards they came to a meadow,17 and she asked again, "To whom does this beautiful green meadow belong?" "It belongs to King Thrushbeard; if you had taken him, it would have been yours." "Ah, unhappy girl that I am, if I had but taken King Thrushbeard!"
Then they came to a large town,18 and she asked again, "To whom does this fine large town belong?" "It belongs to King Thrushbeard; if you had taken him, it would have been yours." "Ah, unhappy girl that I am, if I had but taken King Thrushbeard!"
"It does not please me," said the fiddler, "to hear you always wishing for another husband; 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; to whom does this miserable, mean hovel19 belong?" The fiddler answered, "That is my house and yours, where we shall live together."20
She had to stoop in order to go in at the low door. "Where are the servants?" said the King's daughter. "What servants?"21 answered the beggar-man; "you must yourself do what you wish to have done. Just make a fire at once, and set on water to cook my supper, I am quite tired." But the King's daughter knew nothing about lighting fires or cooking,22 and the beggar-man had to lend a hand himself to get anything fairly done. When they had finished their scanty meal they went to bed; but he forced her to get up quite early in the morning in order to look after the house.
For a few days they lived in this way as well as might be, and came to the end of all their provisions. Then the man said, "Wife, we cannot go on any longer eating and drinking here and earning nothing. You weave23 baskets." He went out, cut some willows, and brought them home. Then she began to weave, but the tough willows24 wounded her delicate hands.
"I see that this will not do," said the man; "you had better spin,25 perhaps you can do that better." She sat
down and tried to spin, but the hard thread soon cut her soft fingers so that the blood ran down. "See," said the man, "you are fit for no sort of work; I have made a bad bargain with you. Now I will try to make a business with