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
councilors 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 equaled 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 councilors, 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 councilors 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 ruin.
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 fulfill 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