THE PRINCESS IN DISGUISE. 261
The king had no sooner given his promise, than she closed her eyes and died.
For a long time he refused to be comforted, and thought it was impossible he could ever take another wife. At length, his counsellors came to him and said : " A king should not remain unmarried ; we ought to have a queen."
So he at last consented, and then messengers were sent far and wide to find a bride whose beauty should equal that of the dead queen. But none was to be found in the whole world; for even when equally beautiful, they had not golden hair.
So the messengers returned without obtaining what they sought.
Now the king had a daughter who was quite as beautiful as her dead mother, and had also golden hair. She had all this while been growing up, and very soon the king noticed how exactly she resembled her dead mother. So he sent for his counsellors, and said to them : "I will marry my daughter, she is the image of my dead wife, and no other bride can be found to enable me to keep my promise to her."
When the counsellors heard this, they were dreadfully shocked, and said: " It is forbidden for a father to marry his daughter; nothing but evil could spring from such a sin, and the kingdom will be ruined."
When the king's daughter heard of her father's proposition, she was greatly alarmed, the more so as she saw how resolved he was to carry out his intention. She hoped, however, to be able to save him and herself from such ruin and disgrace, so she said to him: " Before I consent to your wish, I shall require three things—a dress as golden as the sun, another as silvery as the moon, and a third as glittering as the stars; and besides this, I shall require a mantle made of a thousand skins of rough fur sewn together, and every animal in the kingdom must give a piece of his skin towards it."
" Ah," she thought, " I have asked for impossibilities, and I hope I shall be able to make my father give up his wicked intentions."
; The king, however, was not to be diverted from his purpose. All the most skilful young women in the kingdom were employed to weave the three dresses, one to be as golden as the sun, another as silvery as the moon, and the third as glittering as the stars. He sent hunters into the forest to kill the wild animals and bring home