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Age Rating 8 Plus.
King grisly beard.
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A great king of a land far away in the East had a daughter who was very
beautiful, but so proud, and haughty, and conceited, that none of the
princes who came to ask her in marriage was good enough for her, and she
only made sport of them.
Once upon a time the king held a great feast, and asked thither all
her suitors; and they all sat in a row, ranged according to their
rank--kings, and princes, and dukes, and earls, and counts, and barons,
and knights. Then the princess came in, and as she passed by them she
had something spiteful to say to every one. The first was too fat: 'He's
as round as a tub,' said she. The next was too tall: 'What a maypole!'
said she. The next was too short: 'What a dumpling!' said she. The
fourth was too pale, and she called him 'Wallface.' The fifth was too
red, so she called him 'Coxcomb.' The sixth was not straight enough;
so she said he was like a green stick, that had been laid to dry over
a baker's oven. And thus she had some joke to crack upon every one: but
she laughed more than all at a good king who was there. 'Look at
him,' said she; 'his beard is like an old mop; he shall be called
Grisly-beard.' So the king got the nickname of Grisly-beard.
But the old king was very angry when he saw how his daughter behaved,
and how she ill-treated all his guests; and he vowed that, willing or
unwilling, she should marry the first man, be he prince or beggar, that
came to the door.
Two days after there came by a travelling fiddler, who began to play
under the window and beg alms; and when the king heard him, he said,
'Let him come in.' So they brought in a dirty-looking fellow; and when
he had sung before the king and the princess, he begged a boon. Then the
king said, 'You have sung so well, that I will give you my daughter for
your wife.' The princess begged and prayed; but the king said, 'I have
sworn to give you to the first comer, and I will keep my word.' So words
and tears were of no avail; the parson was sent for, and she was married
to the fiddler. When this was over the king said, 'Now get ready to
go--you must not stay here--you must travel on with your husband.'
Then the fiddler went his way, and took her with him, and they soon came
to a great wood. 'Pray,' said she, 'whose is this wood?' 'It belongs
to King Grisly-beard,' answered he; 'hadst thou taken him, all had been
thine.' 'Ah! unlucky wretch that I am!' sighed she; 'would that I had
married King Grisly-beard!' Next they came to some fine meadows. 'Whose
are these beautiful green meadows?' said she. 'They belong to King
Grisly-beard, hadst thou taken him, they had all been thine.' 'Ah!
unlucky wretch that I am!' said she; 'would that I had married King
Then they came to a great city. 'Whose is this noble city?' said she.
'It belongs to King Grisly-beard; hadst thou taken him, it had all been
thine.' 'Ah! wretch that I am!' sighed she; 'why did I not marry King
Grisly-beard?' 'That is no business of mine,' said the fiddler: 'why
should you wish for another husband? Am not I good enough for you?'
At last they came to a small cottage. 'What a paltry place!' said she;
'to whom does that little dirty hole belong?' Then the fiddler said,
'That is your and my house, where we are to live.' 'Where are your
servants?' cried she. 'What do we want with servants?' said he; 'you
must do for yourself whatever is to be done. Now make the fire, and put
on water and cook my supper, for I am very tired.
' But the princess knew
nothing of making fires and cooking, and the fiddler was forced to help
her. When they had eaten a very scanty meal they went to bed; but the
fiddler called her up very early in the morning to clean the house. Thus
they lived for two days: and when they had eaten up all there was in the
cottage, the man said, 'Wife, we can't go on thus, spending money and
earning nothing. You must learn to weave baskets.' Then he went out and
cut willows, and brought them home, and she began to weave; but it made
her fingers very sore. 'I see this work won't do,' said he: 'try and
spin; perhaps you will do that better.' So she sat down and tried to
spin; but the threads cut her tender fingers till the blood ran. 'See
now,' said the fiddler, 'you are good for nothing; you can do no work:
what a bargain I have got! However, I'll try and set up a trade in pots
and pans, and you shall stand in the market and sell them.' 'Alas!'
sighed she, 'if any of my father's court should pass by and see me
standing in the market, how they will laugh at me!'