Hello and welcome to Fairy Tale Friday. Are you sitting comfortably? Good. Then I’ll begin.
This week we look at a tale from Romania. It was collected by Arthur and Albert Schott and published in Walachische Maehrchen in 1845. I can find no information about Arthur and Albert Schott and these German (one presumes brothers but could be father and son I suppose) came to write a book in German about Romanian fairy tales. If someone out there knows, please be in touch. The story is called "Die Kaiserstochter im Schweinstall,"which translates to The Emperor's Daughter in the Pig Stall.
It begins as so many of these tales do, with a lecherous father. We also have the daughter and her helper (in this case a non-magical nurse) stalling by asking for silver, gold and diamond dresses. In other tales these are simply the colours of the gowns, but here she really means made out of the precious metal. A gown literally made of gold. This is part of a plan to stall him by bankrupting her father so they cannot be married. It fails. So she asks for the grossest thing she can think of—a dress made entirely of louse pelts and trimmed with flea pelts. He does it and she has to go ahead with the wedding. In nearly every other story, she runs away before this part, but here she gets married to her father. On their wedding night she escapes by asking to go outside for some fresh air. He does not trust her and much like the Little Red Riding Hood story you can read HERE he ties a string to her to be able to reel her back in. She sneaks out, puts on all three gowns (the silver, gold and diamonds) which must have been incredibly heavy and put the dress of fleas and lice over them all. It must have been so bulky. Then her faithful nurse tied the string to an old billy goat, and she makes her escape.
The prince is not nearly as unkind or abusive as he is in other tales, I am happy to say. He initially tries to shoot her in the forest when out hunting, but instead brings her home and lets her dwell in the pigsty. She manages to keep all of her fancy dresses clean under her lice pelt dress so that when the time comes to appear at an event, she looks clean and presentable. He slips a ring on her finger, which becomes the identifying object instead of a lost slipper. Because she appears to be quiet and well-behaved, the kitchen maid reluctantly allows her to warm herself by the fire. This allows her to slip the ring in her true love’s milk so he will come and find her. It ends with him finding her clad in the diamond dress in the pigsty. Soon after, there is a wedding. Although isn’t she technically still married to her father since she actually went through with it at the beginning of the story? Was it annulled? Maybe a marriage to your father is not truly considered a valid union. The story doesn’t say.
The Emperor's Daughter in the Pig Stall
An emperor, whose wife had died, came upon the horrible idea to marry his daughter. However, she refused, and in this she was supported by her nurse with whom she confided all the secrets of her heart. When the emperor again brought his proposal to her, she declared -- following the old woman's advice -- that she would accept if she could have a beautiful silver dress. The emperor quickly had such a dress made and brought it to his daughter himself, hoping that now she would cease hesitating. But the princess, again coached by her nurse, this time demanded a beautiful golden dress, that would have to be ten times more valuable than the silver one. The emperor immediately ordered the master goldsmiths in his capital city to make such a dress, taking as much gold as they needed from his treasury. When it was finished, he joyfully took it to the princess, but found her as resistant as before. Now she demanded a beautiful diamond dress that was worth ten thousand times more than the golden one. "Such a dress," the nurse had said, "will cost more than his treasury contains, and that will be the end of his proposals."
The emperor was astonished at this monstrous requirement, but in order to achieve his goal he depleted his treasury, and what was still needed he forcefully took from his subjects. Thus he collected enough wealth to have a diamond dress made than cost ten thousand times what the golden one had cost.
The princess was startled when he brought it to her and asked for one day to think things through. The emperor granted her this, and she discussed the situation with her nurse, who advised her to demand a dress that he certainly would not be able to have made: one made entirely of louse pelts, and trimmed with flea pelts.
When the emperor heard the princess's latest wish, he became angry, but said nothing. Instead he issued the order to have such a dress made. It took an entire year to collect all the pelts and hides for this dress, and yet another year before they were all sewn together. Then emperor brought the dress to his daughter, and this time the princess -- following the old woman's advice -- let the marriage between herself and her father take place.
That evening, after entering the bridal chamber with him, she asked for permission to step outside for a moment. He refused, for he did not trust her and thought that she wanted to escape from him. She gave him a piece of string, tying one end around her own left hand, and told him that if she did not come back in time, he would only have to pull her in.
So the hateful father finally agreed, and the princess slipped out the door, where her nurse was standing ready with an old bill goat, and they quickly tied the string around its horns. Then the princess put on all her dresses -- first the one of diamonds, over that the one of gold, then the silver one, and over them all the disgusting one that the emperor had just had made. Then she fled.
Meanwhile the emperor waited impatiently, finally pulling gently on the string. Outside the billy goat pulled back. The emperor finally pulled hard, but the billy goat would not be outdone in such a tug-of-war. Finally the emperor, filled with rage, jumped up and went to the door. To his astonishment, instead of his charming daughter he found there a shaggy black billy goat, which rudely attacked him with its horns. The emperor retreated into the bridal chamber, and called for his people, who -- led by the nurse -- came to him. The emperor vented his anger with a storm of curse words. He told of his adventure and ordered that the billy goat be taken away.
The nurse began to shriek, "See here, you tyrannical father, see what you have caused? God has punished you because of your wicked marriage. He has transformed your daughter into this terrible horned monster!"
With these and many other words, the cunning nurse convinced the deceived ruler that the just anger of God had caused this miracle. Filled with shame, he said nothing more about the matter.
Meanwhile the princess fled into a great forest, where -- since the season was right -- she lived from berries and nuts that she found in the bushes.
Now it happened that the prince of the kingdom to which these woods belonged was hunting there. Evening was approaching when the prince, accompanied by just one servant, pursued a wild boar into a deep thicket. To his great astonishment he saw there an unusual forest creature. Not knowing what to make of it, he aimed an arrow at it. When he saw that it was not moving, he climbed the tree and captured the unknown animal alive.
With great clamour the forest creature was led through the city to the palace. There, because of its disgusting fur, it was turned over to the swineherd, who locked it in his worst pig stall, above which was a chicken coop. Thus the unknown forest creature's fur became even filthier. From the scraps that they brought it to eat, it would take only berries and nuts from the forest.
Soon afterward there was a glorious festival in the city. The son of a well-known gentleman was getting married. All the beautiful and important people were gathered there: maidens, ladies, and gentlemen, whatever their names.
When evening came the princess, pulled off her disgusting garb, revealing the silver dress beneath it, left the pig stall, and went to the wedding. The prince, who was also there, saw her and danced with her; and because he found her so extraordinarily beautiful that he gave her a valuable ring, after having spoken with her, and in the end having danced only with her.
Morning approached, and the unknown beauty disappeared from the hall without anyone observing where she went. The princess had put her stall garb back on and was peacefully asleep in the pig stall.
On the second evening she again appeared at the wedding, this time in her golden dress. The prince, who had been looking for her, was very happy to see her, and did not leave her side, for he wanted to know who this exceptionally wealthy gleaming beauty was. However, although he watched her carefully, trying to prevent her from escaping again, she took advantage of an opportune moment and slipped away. Before anyone noticed her absence, she was again hidden beneath her filthy garb in the pig stall.
On the third evening the mysterious maiden once again appeared at the wedding. Her glorious diamond dress astonished everyone. The prince thought that a maiden wearing such an incalculably costly dress must be of high nobility, but he was a thousand times more impressed by her personal beauty. He happily conversed with her alone, but to his dismay she would not tell him who she was or where she came from.
As morning approached, she again slipped away from the hall so cunningly that neither the prince nor anyone else noticed her leave.
The wedding was now over, and the prince had no hope of seeing his mysterious beloved again. This made him seriously ill. The princess sat in her pig stall, but not as calmly as earlier, for she too had fallen in love. A few days passed, and the prince, almost dying of longing, did not leave his bed. Then one of his friends came to visit him, and he ordered breakfast for the prince.
The strange forest creature appeared to be quiet and well-behaved, so they let it run about freely. On this morning it had gone to the kitchen to warm itself by the fire, for it was cold in the stall. Reluctantly the kitchen maid had allowed this, and the forest creature was cowering next to the stove. When milk was placed on the fire, the forest creature asked who it was for. Learning that it was for the prince, she secretly pulled from her finger the ring that the prince had given her at the wedding and dropped it into the pot. After warming herself, she crept back to the pig stall, put on her diamond dress, and was once again the most beautiful princess.
Meanwhile the prince was eating breakfast with his friend, and he was shocked almost to death to discover at the bottom of the milk pot the ring that he had given to his beloved mysterious stranger. He immediately summoned the kitchen maid who had prepared his breakfast, but she swore that she did not know how the ring came to be in the pot. The prince investigated further: Who else had been in the kitchen. Finally the girl admitted, after resisting for a long time, that the ugly forest creature had been there warming itself by the fire.
The prince and his friend immediately went to the stall where the disgusting forest creature was kept. He opened the door and looked inside, then took three steps back in joyful surprise. There sat his beautiful and beloved mysterious stranger, dressed in her glorious gown.
She stepped out and said, "I am the one, my prince!"
Answering his questions as to how she had come to this horrible place, she told him her story, which astonished everyone. Then the prince tenderly took his beloved princess into his arms. Soon thereafter, to the pleasure of the entire court, a magnificent wedding brought this story to a happy end.
That’s all for this week. Stay tuned next week for the tale of a Cinder Blower.