The Many Furred Creature
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
councilors 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
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
councilors: "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 some one I do not
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: "To-morrow shall be your wedding day."
When the Princess saw that there was no more hope 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 traveled
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 tree there 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 can catch
it alive, and then fasten it to the cart and we will take it
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 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.
So the Many-furred Creature lived for a long time in great
poverty. Ah, beautiful king's daughter, what is going to
befall you now?
It happened once when a great feast was being held in the
palace that she said to the cook: "Can I go upstairs for a
little bit and look on? I will stand outside the doors." The
cook replied: "Yes, you can go up, but in half an hour you
must be back here to sweep up the ashes." Then she took
her little oil lamp and went into her little room, drew off her
fur cloak, and washed off the soot from her face and hands,
so that her beauty shone forth, and it was as if one sunbeam
after another were coming out of a black cloud. Then
she opened the nut and took out the dress as golden as the
sun. And when she had done this she went up to the feast,
and everyone stepped out of her way, for nobody knew her,
and they thought she must be a king's daughter. But the
King came toward her and gave her his hand, and danced
with her, thinking to himself, "My eyes have never beheld
anyone so fair!" When the dance was ended she courtesied
to him, and when the King looked around she had disappeared,
no one knew whither. The guards who were standing
before the palace were called and questioned, but no one had
She had run to her little room and had quickly taken off
her dress, made her face and hands black, put on the fur
cloak, and was once more the Many-furred Creature. When
she came into the kitchen and was setting about her work
of sweeping the ashes together the cook said to her: "Let
that wait till to-morrow, and just cook the King's soup for
me. I want to have a little peep at the company upstairs.
But be sure that you do not let a hair fall into it, otherwise
you will get nothing to eat in future!" So the cook went
away, and the Many-furred Creature cooked the soup for the
King. She made a bread soup as well as she possibly could,
and when it was done she fetched her gold ring from her
little room and laid it in the tureen in which the soup was
to be served up.
When the dance was ended the King had his soup brought
to him and ate it, and it was so good that he thought he
had never tasted such soup in his life. But when he came
to the bottom of the dish he saw a gold ring lying there,
and he could not imagine how it got in. Then he commanded
the cook to be brought before him. The cook was terrified
when he heard the command and said to the Many-furred
Creature: "You must have let a hair fall into the soup, and
if you have you deserve a good beating!"
When he came before the King, the King asked who had
cooked the soup. The cook answered: "I cooked it." But
the King said: "That's not true, for it was quite different and
much better soup than you have ever cooked." Then the cook
said: "I must confess. I did not cook the soup; the Many-furred
Creature did." "Let her be brought before me," said
When the Many-furred Creature came the King asked her
who she was. "I am a poor child without father or mother."
Then he asked her: "What do you do in my palace?" "I am
of no use except to have boots thrown at my head." "How
did you get the ring which was in the soup?" he asked. "I
know nothing at all about the ring," she answered. So the
King could find out nothing and was obliged to send her away.
After a time there was another feast, and the Many-furred
Creature begged the cook again to let her go and look on.
He answered: "Yes, but come back again in half an hour
and cook the King the bread soup that he likes so much."
So she ran away to her little room, washed herself quickly,
took out of the nut the dress as silver as the moon and put
it on. Then she went upstairs looking just like a king's
daughter, and the King came toward her, delighted to see her
again, and as the dance had just begun, they danced together.
But when the dance was ended she disappeared again so
quickly that the King could not see which way she went.
She ran to her little room and changed herself once more
into the Many-furred Creature, and went into the kitchen to
cook the bread soup. When the cook was upstairs she
fetched the golden spinning wheel and put it in the dish, so
that the soup was poured over it. It was brought to the
King, who ate it and liked it as much as the last time. He
had the cook sent to him, and again he had to confess that
the Many-furred Creature had cooked the soup. Then the
Many-furred Creature came before the King, but she said
again that she was of no use except to have boots thrown
at her head, and that she knew nothing at all of the golden
When the King had a feast for the third time things did
not turn out quite the same as they had before. The cook
said: "You must be a witch, Many-furred Creature, for you
always put something in the soup, so that it is much better
and tastes nicer to the King than any that I cook." But
because she begged hard he let her go up for the third time.
Now she put on the dress as shining as the stars and stepped
into the hall in it.
The King danced again with the beautiful maiden, and
thought she had never looked so beautiful. And while he
was dancing he put a gold ring on her finger without her
seeing it, and he commanded that the dance should last longer
than usual. When it was finished he wanted to keep her
hands in his, but she broke from him and sprang so quickly
away among the people that she vanished from his sight.
She ran as fast as she could to her little room under the
stairs, but because she had stayed too long beyond the half
hour she could not stop to take off the beautiful dress, but
only threw the fur cloak over it, and in her haste did not
make herself quite black with the soot, one finger remaining
The Many-furred Creature now ran into the kitchen, cooked
the King's bread soup, and when the cook had gone she laid
the golden reel in the dish. When the King found the reel
at the bottom, he had the Many-furred Creature brought to
him, and then he saw the white finger and the ring which
he had put on her hand in the dance. Then he took her
hand and held her tightly, and as she was trying to get
away she undid the fur cloak a little bit and the star dress
shone out. The King seized the cloak and tore it off her.
Her golden hair came down, and she stood there in her full
splendor and could not hide herself away any more. And
when the soot and ashes had been washed from her face she
looked more beautiful than anyone in the world. But the
King said: "You are my dear bride and we will never be
separated from each other." So the wedding was celebrated
and they lived happily ever after.