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King Thrushbeard

2006-07-13 22:40

  A King had a daughter who was very pretty, but proud and arrogant. One day the King gave a party and invited many men who were eager to marry her. The Princess should choose a bridegroom from among them.

  But she found fault with every one of them. And one suitor, a King, she mocked especially for he had a crooked chin. “Ah,” said the Princess. “He's got a chin like the beak of a thrush!” And since then he was called Thrushbeard.

  But the King was very annoyed with his daughter's arrogance and promised, “You will marry the first beggar that comes to the castle!” Soon afterwards a musician sang beneath a window of the castle, and at once the King insisted that the Princess should marry him.

  The musician took his Princess away. As they went through a great forest she asked, “Whose forest is this?”

  “It belongs to King Thrushbeard. If you'd married him, it would be yours!” She said regretfully, “Oh, silly me! If I'd only married King Thrushbeard!”

  At last they came to a small, shabby house. “That's our house,” said the musician. “Make a fire and start cooking my dinner!” But the Princess had no idea about cooking and her husband had to help her. From now on she led a terrible life. She had to work hard, and her soft hands became rough and chapped.

  “You're of no use for any work,” said her husband angrily. “I will make some pots and you can sell them at the market.” People liked buying the pots and jugs from the stall of the pretty woman. But then one day a drunken soldier rode his horse right through her display of pottery.

  Everything broke into a thousand pieces. And the Princess was afraid her husband would be very angry with her, and she didn't dare to go home for a long time. But when she went home at last her husband had gone.

  Now the Princess lived alone and poor in the little house. And with every day she became more miserable.

  Then one day a man invited her to a feast at the palace. She thought he had taken pity on her and she agreed. She took a large pot and a leather bag with her for any leftovers she might take back from the party. She threw a thin coat over her tatty clothes and the man took her to the palace. There were many, many dishes of magnificent food at the feast. The poor Princess went into the kitchen and filled her pot with some soup and her bag with some crusts of bread and leftover meat. She was just about to leave when one of the guests asked her to dance with him. She refused at first but the guests made her dance with him. The pot that she had hidden underneath her coat fell to the floor and there was soup everywhere. And the bread and the leftovers fell out as well. All the guests laughed at her. The Princess was so ashamed that she wanted to disappear. Quickly she ran to the door.

  On the stairs she was caught by the man who had invited her to the feast. He led her back into the ballroom. He noticed that she took a good look at him but paid no attention. The longer the Princess looked at him, the surer she was that he was King Thrushbeard. And she was right. The man said, “Yes, I'm the Thrushbeard you laughed at. And the musician. And I was also the drunken soldier that broke all your pottery in the market. But I did it to make you nicer. I wanted you to be more humble and punish you for mocking me. But now we'll celebrate our wedding properly.”

  The Princess's father and the entire princely household were invited. She received the most beautiful dresses and jewellery as is only proper for a marriage to a King.

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