(Illustration Tatjana Hauptmann, Das Grosse Maerchenbuch, Diogenes Verlag)
Grimm’s Fairy Tale No. 65:
There once lived a king, whose wife had golden hair. She was so beautiful that her equal could not be found in all the world. When she lay ill and knew she would soon die, she called the king and said to him
“When you wish to marry again after my death, do not choose anyone who is not as beautiful as I am and who does not have golden hair like I have; this you must promise me.” When the king had promised it to her, she closed her eyes and died.
For a long time the king was inconsolable and didn’t think about taking a second wife. But finally one of his advisors spoke “Nothing else can be done. The king must marry again so that we have a queen.” Messengers were now sent out far and wide to find a bride who equaled the beauty of the dead queen. But no one in the entire world could be found. Even if she could have been found, there was no one who had such beautiful hair. The messengers returned without having accomplished anything.
Now the king had a daughter who was as beautiful as her dead mother and also had beautiful golden hair. When she was grown, the king gazed upon her and saw that she was similar to his deceased wife in every way and suddenly felt a burning love for her.
He spoke to his advisors “I will marry my daughter because she is the image of my deceased wife and otherwise I will not be able to find a bride her equal.”
When the advisors heard this, they were terrified and said “God has forbidden that a father marry his daughter. Nothing good can spring from this sin and the kingdom shall fall into ruin.” The daughter was even more terrified when she heard the decision of her father. But she held out hope that he would be dissuaded from his intent. She said to him “Before I fulfill your wish, I must first have three dresses. One, as golden as the sun. One as silver as the moon. And one that shines like the stars. Moreover I shall require a coat made from thousands of little pieces of fur and pelt. Every animal in your kingdom must provide a piece of his hide.” She thought to herself “It is quite impossible to do this and I will then bring my father away from his evil thoughts.” But the king did not relent and the cleverest maidens in his kingdom had to weave three dresses: one as golden as the sun, another as silver as the moon and another as shiny as the stars. His hunters had to catch all the animals in his entire kingdom and have a piece of their hide pulled off; from this, a coat was made from the thousands of little pieces of their rough skins. Finally it was all finished. The king had his servants bring him the coat, spread it before his daughter and said “Tomorrow will be the wedding.”
When the king’s daughter saw there was no more hope of turning her father’s heart, she decided to flee. In the night when everyone slept, she got up and took three things from her treasures: a golden ring, a golden spinning wheel and a golden bobbin; she placed the three dresses of the sun, moon and stars into a nutshell, put on the coat made of many hides and blackened her face and hands with soot. Then she commended herself to God and went out. She walked the entire night until she came to an enormous forest. And because she was tired, she crawled into a hollow tree trunk and fell asleep.
The sun went up and she kept on sleeping. She was still sleeping and half the day had passed. Now it happened that the king who owned the forest was hunting there. When his hounds came running up to the tree, they sniffed around it and barked. The king said to his hunters “Go see, what kind of wild animal is hidden there.” The hunters followed the command and when they returned they said “A strange animal is lying in the hollow tree, the likes of which we have never seen before. There are thousands of pieces of fur on his skin. But the animal itself is lying there sleeping.”
The king said “See if you can catch it alive. Then tie it to the wagon and bring it along.” When the hunters touched the maiden, she awoke full of fear and called out “I am a poor child, abandoned by my father and mother. Have pity on me and take me with you.” They replied “A l l e r l e I r a u h, you are good enough for the kitchen. Come along, you can sweep the ashes.” So they placed her on the wagon and drove home to the king’s castle. Once there they gave her a little stall under the stairs where the light of day did not penetrate. They said “You rough little animal, here you can live and sleep.” When she was sent into the kitchen, she had to carry wood and water, make the fire and pluck the feathers from the fowl, prepare the vegetables, sweep the ash and do every manner of lowly work.
For a long time Allerleirauh lived quite pitifully. Oh, you beautiful king’s daughter, what shall become of you! But it happened that a festival was celebrated in the castle. She spoke to the cook “May I go up and watch a little while? I will stand outside the door.” The cook replied “Yes, go ahead, but you must return in a half-hour and carry out the ashes.” She took her little oil lamp, went into her little stall and took off her coat of fur and washed the soot from her face and hands so that her full beauty came to light again. Then she opened up the nutshell and pulled out her dress, the one that shone like the sun. And when she had done all this, she went up to the celebration and all moved out of her way because no one knew her. Everyone thought that she was a king’s daughter. The king approached her, extended his hand out toward hers, and danced with her. He thought deep in his heart “I have never seen one more beautiful.” When the dance was over, they both bowed. When the king looked around, she had vanished. No one knew where she had gone. The guards standing before the castle, were called and questioned, but no one had seen her.
She had run back to her little stall, quickly removed her dress and blackened her face and hands. She put on her coat of pelts and fur again and once more she was Allerleirauh. When she returned to the kitchen and resumed her work of gathering up the ash, the cook said “Leave it be until morning. Cook me now a soup for the king, I want to go upstairs and watch a while.” But make sure you don’t let a single hair fall into the soup. If you do, you shan’t receive any more to eat!”
The cook left and Allerleirauh cooked the soup for the king and made a bread soup, as good as she could. When she was finished, she took from her little stall the golden ring and placed it in the bowl, in which the soup was prepared. When the dance was over, the king had his soup brought to him and ate it. It tasted so good he thought no one had ever made such good soup. But when he got to the bottom of the bowl, he saw a golden ring lying there and could not understand how it came to rest there. He commanded the cook to come before him. The cook was terrified when he heard the order and spoke to Allerleirauh “You must have let a hair fall into the soup. If it’s true, you shall be beaten.” When he came before the king, he asked who had cooked the soup. The cook replied “I cooked it.” But the king answered “That is not true, because it was a different kind and cooked much better than usual. The cook replied “I must admit I did not cook it, instead the rough little animal did it.” The king answered “Go and bring it to me.”
When Allerleirauh came, the king asked “Who are you?”
“I am a poor child, who no longer has a father or mother.”
He asked further “Why are you in my castle?”
The girl replied “I have no skills except for boots to be thrown at my head.”
He asked further “Where did you get the ring, which was in the soup?”
She replied “I know nothing about the ring.” So the king could not find out anything and sent the girl away again.
Some time passed and there was another celebration. Allerleirauh asked the cook as before for permission to gaze on the festivities. He replied “Yes, but come back again in a half hour’s time and cook a bread soup for the king, which he likes to eat.” She ran to her little stall, washed herself quickly and took the dress out of the nutshell, the one that was as silver as the moon, and put it on. Then she went up to the ball and looked like a king’s daughter. The king approached and was happy to see her again and because a dance was just starting, they danced together. But when the dance was over, she disappeared again so quickly that the king could not notice where she went. She jumped back into her little stall, turned herself into the rough little animal and went into the kitchen to cook bread soup. When the king was upstairs, the girl fetched the golden spinning wheel and placed it in the bowl so that the soup covered it. This was then brought to the king, who ate it and it tasted as good as before. He had the cook brought before him and he had to admit that Allerleirauh had cooked the soup. Allerleirauh came once again before the king but she answered, she was only there so that boots could be thrown at her head and that she knew nothing of the little golden spinning wheel.
When the king prepared a feast for the third time, the same thing happened. The cook spoke “You are a witch, a rough little animal who always puts something in the soup so that it tastes so good and the king likes it better than what I cook.” But because the girl requested it, the cook gave her permission to watch the celebration for a certain amount of time. Now the child pulled on the dress that shone like the stars and entered the hall. The king danced again with the beautiful maiden and thought she had never been more beautiful. While they danced, he placed on her finger the golden ring, without her noticing it and he ordered the dance to be quite long. When it was over, he wanted to hold onto her hand firmly, but she tore loose and ran quickly among the guests and vanished before his eyes. She ran as fast as she could back to her little stall under the stairs and because she had stayed too long, far longer than half an hour, she could not take off the dress. Instead she threw the fur coat over it. In her haste, she could not entirely blacken herself. One finger remained white. Allerleirauh ran into the kitchen and cooked the king a bread soup and placed the golden bobbin in the bowl when the cook was gone. When the king saw the bobbin lying in the bottom of the bowl, he had Allerleirauh called. He saw the white skin on her finger and the ring he had placed there during the dance. He seized the hand and held it fast. When the maid wanted to free herself and jump away, the fur coat opened a bit and the dress of stars shone out. The king grabbed the coat and pulled it off. Her golden tresses now fell out and she stood there in full splendor and could no longer hide herself. When the soot and ash had been washed from her face, she was more beautiful than anyone else on earth. The king said “You are my dear bride and we shall never more leave each other.” The wedding was then celebrated and they lived happily until their death.