King Thrushbeard

King Thrushbeard
Grimm’s Fairy Tales
(ideal for first Grade)

King Thrushbeard
King Thrushbeard

A king had a daughter who was beautiful beyond all measure,
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.

Once the king made a great feast 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 daughter was
led through the ranks, but to each one she had some objection
to make. One was too fat, the wine-barrel, she said. Another
was too tall, long and thin has little in. The third was too
short, short and thick is never quick. 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 each 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.
Look, she cried and laughed, he has a chin like a thrush’s
beak. And from that time he got the name of king thrushbeard.

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 beggar that came to his doors.

A few days afterwards a fiddler came and sang beneath the
windows, trying to earn a few pennies. 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.

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 forest
she asked, to whom does that beautiful forest 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.

Afterwards they came to a meadow, 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, 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,
tiny hovel belong. The fiddler answered, that is my house and
yours, where we shall live together.

She had to stoop in order to go in at the low door. Where are
the servants, said the king’s daughter. What servants, 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, 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 must make baskets. He went out, cut some
willows, and brought them home. Then she began to make baskets,
but the tough willows wounded her delicate hands.

I see that this will not do, said the man. You had better spin,
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 pots and earthenware. You must sit in the
market-place and sell the ware. Alas, thought she, if any of
the people from my father’s kingdom come to the market and see
me sitting there, selling, how they will mock me. But it was
of no use, she had to yield unless she chose to die of hunger.
For the first time she succeeded well, for the people were glad
to buy the woman’s wares because she was good-looking, and
they paid her what she asked. Many even gave her the money and
left the pots with her as well. So they lived on what she had
earned as long as it lasted, then the husband bought a lot of
new crockery. With this she sat down at the corner of the
market-place, and set it out round about her ready for sale.
But suddenly there came a drunken hussar galloping along, and
he rode right amongst the pots so that they were all broken into
a thousand bits. She began
to weep, and did now know what to do for fear. Alas, what will
happen to me, cried she. What will my husband say to this.
She ran home and told him of the misfortune. Who would seat
herself at a corner of the market-place with crockery, said
the man. Leave off crying, I see very well that you cannot
do any ordinary work, so I have been to our king’s palace and
have asked whether they cannot find a place for a kitchen-maid,
and they have promised me to take you. In that way you will
get your food for nothing.

The king’s daughter was now a kitchen-maid, and had to be at
the cook’s beck and call, and do the dirtiest work. In both her
pockets she fastened a little jar, in which she took home her
share of the leavings, and upon this they lived.

It happened that the wedding of the king’s eldest son was to be
celebrated, so the poor woman went up and placed herself by
the door of the hall to look on. When all the candles were lit,
and people, each more beautiful than the other, entered, and
all was full of pomp and splendor, she thought of her lot with
a sad heart, and cursed the pride and haughtiness which had
humbled her and brought her to so great poverty.

The smell of the delicious dishes which were being taken in
and out reached her, and now and then the servants threw her
a few morsels of them. These she put in her jars to take home.

All at once the king’s son entered, clothed in velvet and silk,
with gold chains about his neck. And when he saw the
beautiful woman standing by the door he seized her by the hand,
and would have danced with her. But she refused and shrank
with fear, for she saw that it was king thrushbeard, her
suitor whom she had driven away with scorn. Her struggles
were of no avail, he drew her into the hall. But the string
by which her pockets were hung broke, the pots fell down, the
soup ran out, and the scraps were scattered all about. And
when the people saw it, there arose general laughter and
derision, and she was so ashamed that she would rather have
been a thousand fathoms below the ground. She sprang to the
door and would have run away, but on the stairs a man caught
her and brought her back. And when she looked at him it was
king thrushbeard again. He said to her kindly, do not be
afraid, I and the fiddler who has been living with you in that
wretched hovel are one. For love of you I disguised myself
so. And I also was the hussar who rode through your crockery.
This was all done to humble your proud spirit, and to punish
you for the insolence with which you mocked me.

Then she wept bitterly and said, I have done great wrong, and
am not worthy to be your wife. But he said, be comforted,
the evil days are past. Now we will celebrate our wedding.
Then the maids-in-waiting came and put on her the most splendid
clothing, and her father and his whole court came and wished
her happiness in her marriage with king thrushbeard, and
the joy now began in earnest. I wish you and I had been there
too.

The Poor Miller’s Boy and the Cat
In a certain mill lived an old miller who had neither wife nor child,
and three apprentices served under him. As they had been with him
several years, he one day said to them, “I am old, and want to sit
behind the stove. Go out, and whichsoever of you brings me the best
horse home, to him will I give the mill, and in return for it he
shall take care of me till my death.”

The third of the boys, however, was the dunce, who was looked on as
foolish by the others, they begrudged the mill to him, and afterwards
he would not even have it. Then all three went out together, and
when they came to the village, the two said to stupid Hans, “You may
just as well stay here, as long as you live you will never get a
horse.” Hans, however, went with them, and when it was night they
came to a cave in which they lay down to sleep. The two smart ones
waited until Hans had fallen asleep, then they got up, and went away
leaving him where he was. And they thought they had done a very
clever thing, but it was certain to turn out ill for them.

When the sun rose, and Hans woke up, he was lying in a deep cavern.
He looked around on every side and exclaimed, “Oh, heavens, where am
I?” Then he got up and clambered out of the cave, went into the
forest, and thought, “Here I am quite alone and deserted, how shall I
obtain a horse now?” Whilst he was thus walking full of thought, he
met a small tabby-cat which said quite kindly, “Hans, where are you
going?” “Alas, you can not help me.” “I well know your desire,” said
the cat. “You wish to have a beautiful horse. Come with me, and be
my faithful servant for seven years long, and then I will give you
one more beautiful than any you have ever seen in your whole life.”
“Well, this is a strange cat,” thought Hans, “But I am determined to
see if she is telling the truth.”

So she took him with her into her enchanted castle, where there were
nothing but kittens who were her servants. They leapt nimbly
upstairs and downstairs, and were merry and happy. In the evening
when they sat down to dinner, three of them had to make music. One
played the bass viol, the other the fiddle, and the third put the
trumpet to his lips, and blew out his cheeks as much as he possibly
could. When they had dined, the table was carried away, and the cat
said, “Now, Hans, come and dance with me.” “No,” said he, “I won’t
dance with a pussy cat. I have never done that yet.” “Then take him
to bed,” said she to the cats. So one of them lighted him to his
bed-room, one pulled his shoes off, one his stockings, and at last
one of them blew out the candle. Next morning they returned and
helped him out of bed, one put his stockings on for him, one tied his
garters, one brought his shoes, one washed him, and one dried his
face with her tail. “That feels very soft,” said Hans.

He, however, had to serve the cat, and chop some wood every day, and
to do that, he had an axe of silver, and the wedge and saw were of
silver and the mallet of copper. So he chopped the wood small,
stayed there in the house and had good meat and drink, but never saw
anyone but the tabby-cat and her servants. Once she said to him, “Go
and mow my meadow, and dry the grass,” and gave him a scythe of
silver, and a whetstone of gold, but bade him deliver them up again
carefully. So Hans went thither, and did what he was bidden, and
when he had finished the work, he carried the scythe, whetstone, and
hay to the house, and asked if it was not yet time for her to give
him his reward. “No,” said the cat, “you must first do something
more for me of the same kind. There is timber of silver, carpenter’s
axe, square, and everything that is needful, all of silver – with
these build me a small house.” Then Hans built the small house, and
said that he had now done everything, and still he had no horse.

Nevertheless the seven years had gone by with him as if they were six
months. The cat asked him if he would like to see her horses. “Yes,”
said Hans. Then she opened the door of the small house, and when she
had opened it, there stood twelve horses, – such horses, so bright
and shining, that his heart rejoiced at the sight of them. And now
she gave him to eat and drink, and said, “Go home, I will not give
you your horse now, but in three days, time I will follow you and
bring it.” So Hans set out, and she showed him the way to the mill.

She, however, had never once given him a new coat, and he had been
obliged to keep on his dirty old smock, which he had brought with
him, and which during the seven years had everywhere become too small
for him. When he reached home, the two other apprentices were there
again as well, and each of them certainly had brought a horse with
him, but one of them was a blind one, and the other lame. They asked
Hans where his horse was. “It will follow me in three days, time.”
Then they laughed and said, “Indeed, stupid Hans, where will you get
a horse?” “It will be a fine one.” Hans went into the parlor, but the
miller said he should not sit down to table, for he was so ragged and
torn, that they would all be ashamed of him if any one came in. So
they gave him a mouthful of food outside, and at night, when they
went to rest, the two others would not let him have a bed, and at
last he was forced to creep into the goose-house, and lie down on a
little hard straw.

In the morning when he awoke, the three days had passed, and a coach
came with six horses and they shone so bright that it was delightful
to see them – and a servant brought a seventh as well, which was for
the poor miller’s boy. And a magnificent princess alighted from the
coach and went into the mill, and this princess was the little
tabby-cat whom poor Hans had served for seven years. She asked the
miller where the miller’s boy and dunce was. Then the miller said,
“We cannot have him here in the mill, for he is so ragged, he is
lying in the goose-house.” Then the king’s daughter said that they
were to bring him immediately. So they brought him out, and he had
to hold his little smock together to cover himself. The servants
unpacked splendid garments, and washed him and dressed him, and when
that was done, no king could have looked more handsome. Then the
maiden desired to see the horses which the other apprentices had
brought home with them, and one of them was blind and the other lame.
So she ordered the servant to bring the seventh horse, and when the
miller saw it, he said that such a horse as that had never yet
entered his yard. “And that is for the third miller’s boy,” said she.
“Then he must have the mill,” said the miller, but the king’s
daughter said that the horse was there, and that he was to keep his
mill as well, and took her faithful Hans and set him in the coach,
and drove away with him.

They first drove to the little house which he had built with the
silver tools, and behold it was a great castle, and everything inside
it was of silver and gold, and then she married him, and he was rich,
so rich that he had enough for all the rest of his life. After this,
let no one ever say that anyone who is silly can never become a
person of importance.

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