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 you
wish 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 you 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, this cannot go on. 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
to be 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 spoke 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 peltry joined together, and one of every kind of animal in your
kingdom must give a piece of his skin for it. For 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 tomorrow.
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. 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 placed 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 sniffed, 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 to 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, you will be useful in the kitchen, come with us, and you can 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 you can 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 you now. It happened, however, that one day a
feast was held in the palace, and she said to the cook, may I go upstairs 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 dress of
fur, 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 run into her little den, however, there quickly taken off
her dress, made her face and hands black again, put on the mantle of fur, and again was
Allerleirauh. And now when she went into the kitchen, and was about to get to 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 you shall 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, you have certainly let a hair fall into the
soup, and if you have, you shall 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 hairy animal. The king said, go and bid it come up here.
When Allerleirauh came, the king said, who are you. I am a poor girl
who no longer has any father or mother. He asked further, of what use are you in my
palace. She answered, I am good for nothing but to have boots thrown at my head. He
continued, where did you 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 ended, 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, fur-skin, you are a witch, and always put
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 mantle of fur, 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 mantle of fur 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 splendor, and could no longer hide herself.
And when she had washed the soot and ashes from her face, she was more beautiful than
anyone who had ever been seen on earth. But the king said, you are my dear bride, and we
will never more part from each other. Thereupon the marriage was solemnized, and they
lived happily until their death.