THE PRINCESS AND THE RAGGED BALLAD-SINGER
When the old King saw that his daughter only made fun of all her fine suitors, he was very angry. “By my beard,” he swore, “the first beggar who comes to the door shall be her husband!”
Only a few days later a strolling ballad-singer took his stand under one of the castle windows and sang his best in hope of alms. When the King heard him, he said: “Let the fellow come up here.” So the beggar was brought in, ragged, stooping, with wild hair, and whiskers that almost hid his face. He sang to the King and the Princess all the ballads he knew and then held out his torn hat for coppers, or perhaps a bit of silver.
The King said: “Your song has pleased me so much that I will give you instead of money this daughter of mine for your wife.”
The Princess cried out in disgust and dismay. But the King said: “I have sworn by my beard that you, too proud for royal suitors, should marry the first beggar who came to the door. That oath cannot be broken.”
This king could be very stern when he chose, and the tears of his daughter did not move him. The court chaplain was called in and the Princess and the beggar were married then and there.
And then, although his daughter clung to his knees, the King shook her off. “Now you are a beggar-woman, and beggar-women do not live in palaces. Go hence with your husband.”
Illustration from From The Story “King Hawksbeak”
Once Upon a Time.
Edited by Katharine Lee Bates.
Illustrated by Margaret Evans Price.
Rand McNally & Company: Chicago & New York. 1921.