King Grisly-Beard

King Grisly-Beard

A great king of a land  far away in the East  had a daughter who wasvery beautiful, but so  proud, and  haughty, and  conceited, that  noneof  the princes who came to ask her in  marriage was good enough forher, and  she only made sport of them.

Once upon a time the  king held a great feast,  and asked thither allher suitors; and they all sat in a row, ranged according to theirrank—kings, and princes, and dukes,  and earls, and counts,  and barons,and  knights. Then the princess came  in, and as  she passed by  themshe had  something spiteful to say to every one. The first  was too fat:«He’s as round as  a tub,» said she. The  next was too  tall: «What amaypole!» said she.  The next was too short: «What a dumpling!» saidshe. The fourth was too  pale, and she called him «Wallface.»  The fifthwas too  red, so she called  him «Coxcomb.» The sixth was not  straightenough; so she  said he was like  a green stick, that had been laid todry over a baker’s oven. And thus  she had some joke to crack upon everyone: but she laughed more than all at  a good king who was there.  «Lookat him,» said she;  «his beard is like  an old mop; he shall be calledGrisly-beard.» So the king got the nickname of Grisly-beard.

But the old king was very angry when he saw how his daughter behaved,and how she  ill-treated  all  his  guests; and  he  vowed  that,willing  or unwilling, she should marry  the first man, be  he prince orbeggar,  that came to the door.

Two days after there came by a travelling fiddler, who began to playunder the window and beg alms;  and when the king heard  him, he said,«Let  him come in.» So they brought in a dirty-looking fellow; and whenhe had  sung before the king and the  princess, he begged a  boon. Thenthe king  said, «You have sung so well, that I  will give you mydaughter for your  wife.» The princess begged and prayed; but the  kingsaid, «I have sworn to  give you to the first comer, and I will keep myword.» So words and tears  were of no avail; the parson was sent for,and she was married to the  fiddler. When this was over the king said,«Now get ready to go—you must not  stay here—you must travel on withyour husband.»

Then the fiddler went his way, and  took her with him, and they sooncame to a great wood. «Pray,»  said she, «whose is  this wood?» «Itbelongs  to King Grisly-beard,»  answered he;  «hadst  thou taken  him,all  had  been thine.» «Ah! unlucky  wretch that  I am!» sighed  she;«would  that I  had married King Grisly-beard!» Next  they came to  somefine meadows.  «Whose are these  beautiful  green  meadows?»  said she.«They  belong  to  King Grisly-beard, hadst thou taken him, they had allbeen thine.» «Ah! unlucky wretch that I am!» said she; «would that I hadmarried King Grisly-beard!»

Then they came to a great city. «Whose is this noble city?» said she.«It belongs to  King Grisly-beard;  hadst  thou taken  him,  it had  allbeen thine.» «Ah! wretch  that I am!»  sighed she;  «why did I  notmarry  King Grisly-beard?» «That  is no  business  of mine,»  said thefiddler:  «why should you wish for another husband? Am not I good enoughfor you?»

At last they came to a small cottage. «What a paltry place!» said she;«to whom does that little dirty hole belong?» Then the fiddler said,«That  is your and my house, where we are to live.» «Where are yourservants?» cried she. «What do we want with servants?»  said he; «youmust do for  yourself whatever is to be done.  Now make the fire, andput on water and cook  my supper, for I  am very  tired.» But theprincess knew  nothing of  making fires and cooking, and the fiddler wasforced to help her. When they  had eaten a very scanty meal they wentto bed; but the fiddler called her  up very early in  the morning toclean the  house. Thus they  lived for  two days: and when they  hadeaten up  all there was in  the cottage, the  man said, «Wife, we can’tgo on thus, spending money and earning nothing.  You must learn  toweave  baskets.» Then  he  went out  and cut  willows,  and brought themhome, and she  began to weave; but  it made her fingers  very sore. «Isee this work won’t do,» said he: «try and spin; perhaps you will dothat better.» So she  sat down and tried to  spin; but the threads  cuther tender fingers till the blood  ran. «See now,» said the fiddler,«you are good for  nothing; you  can do  no work: what  a bargain  Ihave  got! However, I’ll try and set up a trade in pots and pans, andyou shall stand in the market and sell them.» «Alas!»  sighed she, «ifany of my  father’s court should pass  by and see  me standing  in themarket,  how they  will laugh at me!»

But her husband did not care for that, and said she must work, if shedid not wish to die of hunger. At first the trade went well; for manypeople, seeing such a beautiful woman, went to buy her wares, and paidtheir money without thinking of taking away the goods.  They lived onthis as long  as it lasted; and then her  husband bought a fresh lot  ofware, and she  sat herself down with it in  the corner of the  market;but a drunken  soldier soon came by,  and rode his  horse against  herstall, and  broke all  her goods into a thousand pieces. Then she beganto cry, and knew not what  to do. «Ah! what will become of me?» saidshe; «what will my husband say?» So she ran home and told him all. «Whowould have thought you would have been so silly,» said he, «as to putan earthenware stall in the corner of  the market, where everybodypasses? but let us have no more crying; I see  you are not fit for thissort of work, so I  have been to the king’s  palace, and asked if theydid not want a kitchen-maid; and they say they will take you, and thereyou will have plenty to eat.»

Thus the princess became a kitchen-maid, and helped the cook to do allthe dirtiest work; but she was allowed to carry home some of the meatthat was left, and on this they lived.

She had not been there  long before she heard  that the king’s eldestson was passing by, going to  be married; and she went  to one of thewindows and looked out. Everything was ready,  and all the pomp andbrightness  of the court was  there. Then she  bitterly grieved for  thepride and  folly which had brought her so low. And  the servants gaveher some of the  rich meats, which she put into her basket to take home.

All on a sudden, as  she was going out, in  came the king’s son ingolden clothes; and when he saw a beautiful woman at the door, he tookher by the hand, and said she should  be his partner in  the dance; butshe  trembled for fear, for she saw that it was King Grisly-beard, whowas making  sport of her. However, he kept fast hold, and  led her in;and the cover of  the basket came  off, so  that the  meats  in it  fellabout.  Then  everybody laughed and jeered at her; and she was soabashed, that she wished herself a thousand feet deep in the earth. Shesprang to the door to run away; but on the steps  King Grisly-beardovertook her,  and brought  her back  and said, «Fear me not! I am thefiddler who has lived with you in the hut.  I brought you there becauseI really loved  you. I am also the soldier  that overset your stall. Ihave  done all this only to  cure you of your  silly pride, and to showyou the folly  of your ill-treatment of me. Now all  is over: you havelearnt wisdom, and it is time to hold our marriage feast.»

Then the chamberlains came and brought  her the most beautiful robes;and her father and his whole court  were there already, and welcomed herhome on her marriage.  Joy was in  every face  and every heart.  Thefeast  was grand; they danced and sang; all were merry; and I only wishthat you  and I had been of the party.