Sacred Texts  Household Tales Index  Previous: The Golden Goose  Next: The Wolf And The Fox 

      There was once upon a time a King who had a wife with golden hair, and
 she was so beautiful that her equal was not to be found on earth. It came to
 pass that she lay ill, and as she felt that she must soon die, she called the
 King and said, "If thou wishest to marry again after my death, take no one who
 is not quite as beautiful as I am, and who has not just such golden hair as I
 have: this thou must promise me." And after the King had promised her this she
 closed her eyes and died.
      For a long time the King could not be comforted, and had no thought of
 taking another wife. At length his councillors said, "There is no help for it,
 the King must marry again, that we may have a Queen." And now messengers were
 sent about far and wide, to seek a bride who equalled the late Queen in
 beauty. In the whole world, however, none was found, and even if one had been
 found, still there would have been no one who had such golden hair. So the
 messengers came home as they went.
      Now the King had a daughter, who was just as beautiful as her dead
 mother, and had the same golden hair. When she was grown up, the King looked
 at her one day, and saw that in every respect she was like his late wife, and
 suddenly felt a violent love for her. Then he spake to his councillors, "I
 will marry my daughter, for she is the counterpart of my late wife, otherwise
 I can find no bride who resembles her." When the councillors heard that, they
 were shocked, and said, "God has forbidden a father to marry his daughter, no
 good can come from such a crime, and the kingdom will be involved in the
      The daughter was still more shocked when she became aware of her father's
 resolution, but hoped to turn him from his design. Then she said to him,
 "Before I fulfil your wish, I must have three dresses, one as golden as the
 sun, one as silvery as the moon, and one as bright as the stars; besides this,
 I wish for a mantle of a thousand different kinds of fur and hair joined
 together, and one of every kind of animal in your kingdom must give a bit of
 his skin for it." But she thought, "To get that will be quite impossible, and
 thus I shall divert my father from his wicked intentions." The King, however,
 did not give it up, and the cleverest maidens in his kingdom had to weave the
 three dresses, one as golden as the sun, one as silvery as the moon, and one
 as bright as the stars, and his huntsmen had to catch one of every kind of
 animal in the whole of his kingdom, and take from it a piece of its skin, and
 out of these was made a mantle of a thousand different kinds of fur. At
 length, when all was ready, the King caused the mantle to be brought, spread
 it out before her, and said, "The wedding shall be to-morrow."
      When, therefore, the King's daughter saw that there was no longer any
 hope of turning her father's heart, she resolved to run away from him. In the
 night whilst every one was asleep, she got up, and took three different things
 from her treasures, a golden ring, a golden spinning-wheel, and a golden
 reel. The three dresses of the sun, moon, and stars she put into a nutshell,
 put on her mantle of all kinds of fur, and blackened her face and hands with
 soot. Then she commended herself to God, and went away, and walked the whole
 night until she reached a great forest. And as she was tired, she got into a
 hollow tree, and fell asleep.
      The sun rose, and she slept on, and she was still sleeping when it was
 full day. Then it so happened that the King to whom this forest belonged, was
 hunting in it. When his dogs came to the tree, they snuffed, and ran barking
 round about it. The King said to the huntsmen, "Just see what kind of wild
 beast has hidden itself in there." The huntsmen obeyed his order, and when
 they came back they said, "A wondrous beast is lying in the hollow tree; we
 have never before seen one like it. Its skin is fur of a thousand different
 kinds, but it is lying asleep." Said the King, "See if you can catch it alive,
 and then fasten it on the carriage, and we will take it with us." When the
 huntsmen laid hold of the maiden, she awoke full of terror, and cried to them,
 "I am a poor child, deserted by father and mother; have pity on me, and take
 me with you." Then said they "Allerleirauh, thou wilt be useful in the
 kitchen, come with us, and thou canst sweep up the ashes." So they put her in
 the carriage, and took her home to the royal palace. There they pointed out to
 her a closet under the stairs, where no daylight entered, and said, "Hairy
 animal, there canst thou live and sleep." Then she was sent into the kitchen,
 and there she carried wood and water, swept the hearth, plucked the fowls,
 picked the vegetables, raked the ashes, and did all the dirty work.
      Allerleirauh lived there for a long time in great wretchedness. Alas,
 fair princess, what is to become of thee now! It happened, however, that one
 day a feast was held in the palace, and she said to the cook, "May I go up -
 stairs for a while, and look on? I will place myself outside the door." The
 cook answered, "Yes, go, but you must be back here in half-an-hour to
 sweep the hearth." Then she took her oil-lamp, went into her den, put off
 her fur-dress, and washed the soot off her face and hands, so that her full
 beauty once more came to light. And she opened the nut, and took out her dress
 which shone like the sun, and when she had done that she went up to the
 festival, and every one made way for her, for no one knew her, and thought no
 otherwise than that she was a king's daughter. The King came to meet her, gave
 his hand to her, and danced with her, and thought in his heart, "My eyes have
 never yet seen any one so beautiful!" When the dance was over she curtsied,
 and when the King looked round again she had vanished, and none knew whither.
 The guards who stood outside the palace were called and questioned, but no one
 had seen her.
      She had, however, run into her little den, had quickly taken off her
 dress, made her face and hands black again, put on the fur-mantle, and again
 was Allerleirauh. And now when she went into the kitchen, and was about to get
 her work and sweep up the ashes, the cook said, "Leave that alone till
 morning, and make me the soup for the King; I, too, will go upstairs awhile,
 and take a look; but let no hairs fall in, or in future thou shalt have
 nothing to eat." So the cook went away, and Allerleirauh made the soup for the
 King, and made bread soup and the best she could, and when it was ready she
 fetched her golden ring from her little den and put it in the bowl in which
 the soup was served. When the dancing was over, the King had his soup brought
 and ate it, and he liked it so much that it seemed to him he had never tasted
 better. But when he came to the bottom of the bowl, he saw a golden ring
 lying, and could not conceive how it could have got there. Then he ordered the
 cook to appear before him. The cook was terrified when he heard the order, and
 said to Allerleirauh, "Thou hast certainly let a hair fall into the soup, and
 if thou hast, thou shalt be beaten for it." When he came before the King the
 latter asked who had made the soup? The cook replied, "I made it." But the
 King said, "That is not true, for it was much better than usual, and cooked
 differently." He answered, "I must acknowledge that I did not make it, it was
 made by the rough animal." The King said, "Go and bid it come up here."
      When Allerleirauh came, the King said, "Who art thou?" "I am a poor girl
 who no longer has any father or mother." He asked further, "Of what use art
 thou in my palace?" She answered, "I am good for nothing but to have boots
 thrown at my head." He continued, "Where didst thou get the ring which was in
 the soup?" She answered, "I know nothing about the ring." So the King could
 learn nothing, and had to send her away again.
      After a while, there was another festival, and then, as before,
 Allerleirauh begged the cook for leave to go and look on. He answered, "Yes,
 but come back again in half-an-hour, and make the King the bread soup
 which he so much likes." Then she ran into her den, washed herself quickly,
 and took out of the nut the dress which was as silvery as the moon, and put it
 on. Then she went up and was like a princess, and the King stepped forward to
 meet her, and rejoiced to see her once more, and as the dance was just
 beginning they danced it together. But when it was at end, she again
 disappeared so quickly that the King could not observe where she went. She,
 however, sprang into her den, and once more made herself a hairy animal, and
 went into the kitchen to prepare the bread soup. When the cook had gone
 upstairs, she fetched the little golden spinning-wheel, and put it in the
 bowl so that the soup covered it. Then it was taken to the King, who ate it,
 and liked it as much as before, and had the cook brought, who this time
 likewise was forced to confess that Allerleirauh had prepared the soup.
 Allerleirauh again came before the King, but she answered that she was good
 for nothing else but to have boots thrown at her head, and that she knew
 nothing at all about the little golden spinning-wheel.
      When, for the third time, the King held a festival, all happened just as
 it had done before. The cook said, "Faith, rough-skin, thou art a witch, and
 always puttest something in the soup which makes it so good that the King
 likes it better than that which I cook," but as she begged so hard, he let her
 go up at the appointed time. And now she put on the dress which shone like the
 stars, and thus entered the hall. Again the King danced with the beautiful
 maiden, and thought that she never yet had been so beautiful. And whilst she
 was dancing, he contrived, without her noticing it, to slip a golden ring on
 her finger, and he had given orders that the dance should last a very long
 time. When it was ended, he wanted to hold her fast by her hands, but she tore
 herself loose, and sprang away so quickly through the crowd that she vanished
 from his sight. She ran as fast as she could into her den beneath the stairs,
 but as she had been too long and had stayed more than half-an-hour she
 could not take off her pretty dress, but only threw over it her fur-mantle,
 and in her haste she did not make herself quite black, but one finger remained
 white. Then Allerleirauh ran into the kitchen, and cooked the bread soup for
 the King, and as the cook was away, put her golden reel into it. When the King
 found the reel at the bottom of it, he caused Allerleirauh to be summoned, and
 then he espied the white finger, and saw the ring which he had put on it
 during the dance. Then he grasped her by the hand, and held her fast, and when
 she wanted to release herself and run away, her fur-mantle opened a little,
 and the star-dress shone forth. The King clutched the mantle and tore it
 off. Then her golden hair shone forth, and she stood there in full splendour,
 and could not longer hide herself. And when she had washed the soot and ashes
 from her face, she was more beautiful than any one who had ever been seen on
 earth. But the King said, "Thou art my dear bride, and we will never more part
 from each other." Thereupon the marriage was solemnized, and they lived
 happily until their death.