There was once upon a time a King who had a wife with golden hair, and she was so beautiful that you couldn’t find anyone like her in the world. It happened that she fell ill, and when she felt that she must soon die, she sent for the King, and said, ‘If you want to marry after my death, make no one queen unless she is just as beautiful as I am, and has just such golden hair as I have. Promise me this.’ After the King had promised her this, she closed her eyes and died. For a long time the King was not to be comforted, and he did not even think of taking a second wife. At last his councillors said, ‘The King _must_ marry again, so that we may have a queen.’So messengers were sent far and wide to seek for a bride equal to the late Queen in beauty. But there was no one in the wide world, and if there had been she could not have had such golden hair. Then the messengers came home again, not having been able to find a queen. Now, the King had a daughter, who was just as beautiful as her dead mother, and had just such golden hair. One day when she had grown up, her father looked at her, and saw that she was exactly like her mother, so he said to his councillors, ‘I will marry my daughter to one of you, and she shall be queen, for she is exactly like her dead mother, and when I die her husband shall be king.’ But when the Princess heard of her father’s decision, she was not at all pleased, and said to him, ‘Before I do your bidding, I must have three dresses; one as golden as the sun, one as silver as the moon, and one as shining as the stars. Besides these, I want a cloak made of a thousand different kinds of skin; every animal in your kingdom must give a bit of his skin to it.’ But she thought to herself, ‘This will be quite impossible, and I shall not have to marry someone I do not care for.’ The King, however, was not to be turned from his purpose, and he commanded the most skilled maidens in his kingdom to weave the three dresses, one as golden as the sun, and one as silver as the moon, and one as shining as the stars; and he gave orders to all his huntsmen to catch one of every kind of beast in the kingdom, and to get a bit of its skin to make the cloak of a thousand pieces of fur. At last, when all was ready, the King commanded the cloak to be brought to him, and he spread it out before the Princess, and said, ‘Tomorrow shall be your wedding-day.’ When the Princess saw that there was no morehope of changing her father’s resolution, she determined to flee away. In the night, when everyone else was sleeping, she got up and took three things from her treasures, a gold ring, a little gold spinning-wheel, and a gold reel; she put the sun, moon, and star dresses in a nut-shell, drew on the cloak of many skins, and made her face and hands black with soot. Then she commended herself to God, and went out and travelled the whole night till she came to a large forest. And as she was very much tired she sat down inside a hollow tree and fell asleep. The sun rose and she still slept on and on, although it was nearly noon. Now, it happened that the king to whom this wood belonged was hunting in it. When his dogs came to the tree, they sniffed, and ran round and round it, barking. The King said to the huntsmen, ‘See what sort of a wild beast is in there.’ The huntsmen went in, and then came back and said, ‘In the hollow treethere lies a wonderful animal that we don’t know, and we have never seen one like it; its skin is made of a thousand pieces of fur; but it is lying down asleep.’ The King said, ‘See if you cancatch it alive, and then fasten it to the cart, and we will take it with us.’ When the huntsmen seized the maiden, she awoke and was frightened, and cried out to them, ‘I am a poor child,
forsaken by father and mother; take pity on me, and let me go with you.’ Then they said to her, ‘Many-furred Creature, you can work in the kitchen; come with us and sweep the ashes together.’ So they put her in the cart and they went back to the palace. There they showed her a tiny room under the stairs, where no daylight came, and said to her, ‘Many-furred Creature, you can live and sleep here.’ Then she was sent into the kitchen, where she carried wood and water, poked the fire, washed vegetables, plucked fowls, swept up the ashes, and did all the dirty work.