There once was a beautiful princess who was so full of herself that she always rejected her suitors and made fun of them. The King held a big feast where all the marriageable men were lined up, but the princess made fun of each and every one of them. One king had a peaked chin and she stated that he had “a chin like a thrush’s beak.” So everyone began calling him King Thrushbeard.
But her father was so upset with her that he said he would give her to the first beggar who came to his door. A few days later, a ragged ballad-singer came by. When he was finished singing for the King, he asked for a small reward and the King gave him the princess.
So the princess was married to the ballad-singer and the King sent them away. They went through a wood, a meadow and a town, and the princess asked each time who they belong to, and the ballad-singer replied that they belonged to King Thrushbeard, and they could have been hers.
They arrived at the ballad-singer’s small house. He had no servants, so the princess had to do the cooking and cleaning, things she had never done before. When their food ran out, the ballad-singer said she should make baskets. But the twigs were too hard, so the ballad-singer said she should try spinning. But the thread cut her fingers, so the ballad-singer said she should sell some earthenware pots he had in town.
The first day, people bought her pots because she was so beautiful, and they lived on that money for some time. When that ran out, the ballad-singer got more pots for her to sell. But a drunken soldier rode by and smashed all of her pots.
So the ballad-singer took her back to her father’s castle to be a kitchen maid. She kept little pots in her pockets for the leftover food which she took home to her husband.
One night there was a banquet and she stood to the side watching all the finely dressed people. There King Thrushbeard saw her and took her hand and took her to the dance floor, where all her little pots fell and food was scattered on the floor and everyone laughed at her.
The princess ran off, but King Thrushbeard caught her and explained that he had disguised himself as a ballad-singer, and as a soldier to knock her down a peg. And then everything was happy.
So, the two of them lived as man and wife for, a several weeks at least, but she never noticed he wore a disguise? Or was she too distraught to look at her husband? And what sort of kingdom did Thrushbeard have that he could play beggar for weeks without anything happening?
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