Once there was a widow queen that had a beautiful daughter. The daughter was betrothed to a prince who lived in a kingdom a great deal off. When the time came that the daughter had to leave, the queen gave her everything that she would need and much more. The meaning of more here is that there was almost nothing left in the treasury once the girl set of for her journey. The widow also gave her daughter a maid who was to wait on the girl. The queen also gave both of them a horse. Now the princess’ horse was no ordinary horse, it was a talking horse, whose name was Falada.
On the day that the princess was to leave, her mother took a knife and cut her fingers until she bled. She then let three drops of blood fall on a snow-white handkerchief. She then gave it to her daughter, and told her that she would find use of this handkerchief in her journey to come. With these words the mother and daughter said farewell. The girl put the handkerchief in her dress and set of with her maid.
After a distance the princess felt thirsty and asked her maid in waiting to get some water from the stream near by into her golden cup so that she could have a drink. The maid rudely replied that she no longer planned to be the princess’ maid and that if she was thirsty to go and get water herself. The princess was so thirsty that she got off her horse, kneeled down by the brook and drank. As she did so she murmured, “What am I supposed to do?”
The drops of blood replied, “If your mother only knew, Her heart would surely break in two."
Unfortunately the girl was a humble creature and said nothing about the behaviour of her maid. So she mounted her horse and the two rode on. Since it was such a warm day the girl soon felt thirsty again. She had already forgotten of her maid’s rudeness and she asked if the maid could please fetch some water for her. The maid replied more boorishly then before that she no longer planned to be the princess’ maid and that if she was thirsty to go and get water herself. Again the princess got off her horse, kneeled down by the brook and drank. Again she murmured “What am I supposed to do?”
Again the drops of blood replied, “If your mother only knew, Her heart would surely break in two."
As the girl drank the handkerchief fell out of her dress. The princess did not notice this but the maid did. The maid knew that without this blessing that her mother had given her the girl was feeble and weak. When the princess tried to get back onto Falada the maid told her that she was support to ride her mount and that she would ride Falada. She also commanded her to take off her royal robes and to put on her own common ones. Then she made her swear that she would not tell anyone what had happened, and that if she did she would be killed on the spot. Though the real princess had promised not to say anything there was still someone who could reveal the real princess. The horse Falada had heard everything, and saw everything also.
The two maidens went on, the waiting-maid on Falada and the princess on the lesser horse. When they arrived at the palace yard there was a great crowd to meet them. The prince stepped forward and took the impostor off her horse in belief that she was to be his bride. The real princess was left standing without a clue what to do. The King noticed her and asked the impostor who she was, for he was charmed by her beauty.
The impostor replied, “She was my lady in waiting during the ride, but she is an idle and lazy girl. If you would, sir, give her some task to do each day? Something that isn’t easy, so that we can break her bad ways.” The only work that the old king could think of was for the princess to help the boy that herds the geese.
Now that the impostor had the princess, or the goose girl as everyone called her now out of the way she stated plotting on how to get rid of the horse. She asked the prince if he could grant her a favour, “Behead the horse that I rode upon here for he is wild and dangerous.” The prince willingly agreed, but the truth was that the impostor was worried that the horse would spill out her secret. The horse was doomed to die.
When the real princess heard of this she started to cry bitterly. She then went to the slaughterer and promised him a piece of gold if he would hang the head of Falada over the large city gate. She passed under it every morning and wished to be able to see her beloved horse’s face when she was going to herd the geese. The slather did as the little goose girl asked him to do.
The next morning when she and the boy passed under the gate, she whispered softly, "Oh! Falada, 'tis you hang there." The horse replied, " 'Tis you; pass under, Princess fair: If your mother only knew, Her heart would surely break in two."
When the boy and princess reached the grazing grounds, the princess untied her hair so that she could comb it. Her hair was the colour of pure gold, so the boy had a desire to pull a bit out so that he could admire it anytime. The princess noticed that he was up to something and so she said, "Wind, wind, gently sway, Blow the boy’s hat away; Let him chase o'er field and would Till my locks of ruddy gold, Now astray and hanging down, Be combed and plaited in a crown."
A gust of wind blew the boy’s hat of his head, and he ran to retrieve it. When he finally caught it and got back to the place were the geese were graving the princess was done combing her hair. Now the chance of taking any hair was gone.
The next morning when she and the boy passed under the gate again, she again whispered softly, "Oh! Falada, 'tis you hang there." Again the horse replied, " 'Tis you; pass under, Princess fair: If your mother only knew, Her heart would surely break in two."
Again boy and princess reached the grazing grounds; the princess untied her hair so that she could comb it. The boy desired to have a handful of her beautiful golden hair, but once more she uttered, "Wind, wind, gently sway, Blow the boy’s hat away; Let him chase o'er field and wold Till my locks of ruddy gold, Now astray and hanging down, Be combed and plaited in a crown."
Yet again a gust of wind blew the boy’s hat of his head, and he ran to retrieve it. When he got back with his hat on his head, the princess had finished combing her hair and he no longer could grab a handful. Now the boy was very mad.
He stomped off once his job was done to find the king. When he did find the king he yelled, “I cannot work with that girl! Her magic is driving me out of my mind.”
“What magic is that may I ask is that?” the king asked. So the boy told of how when the two of them where walking under the gate and the girl would say" 'Oh! Falada, 'tis you hang there'; And the head replies: “Tis you; pass under, Princess fair: If your mother only knew, Her heart would surely break in two.”
The boy also told the king about whenever he tried to get a handful of her golden hair that she would say a spell and the next thing he knew his hat was flying of his head. The king told the goose boy to go attend his duty the next day as he would any day.
So the next day the king found himself under the gate with the princess saying her greeting to the horse as she always does. Then he found himself behind a bush when the goose boy tried to get a lock of hair and the princess said he spell to get some peace. He saw how the boy went to chase his hat and how the princess combed her beautiful golden hair. The king observed, and then he returned to the palace without anyone noticing that he was gone.
When the two cam home the old King called the goose girl aside. He asked her why she acted so different from other commoners. She answered. “I may not tell you your highness. I have sworn that I would tell no one. If I do I will surly lose my life.” The king gave her no rest, but she refused to tell him.
“If you will not tell me then maybe you will tell you story to the iron stove over there.” The king finally said and left. The princess tiptoed to the stove and started to tell it her ad story. She was the daughter of a king, yet she was confined to be a goose girl, because of a horrid maid. “If my mother only knew Her heart would surely break in two.”
The king was standing behind the stove, and listening to every word the girl said. When the girl was finished he came back into the room and ordered for her to be dressed in royal garments. When she put them on she looked even lovelier then ever. Then the king summoned his son, and told him that his bride was an impostor, and how the impostor had come be. The prince rejoiced, for the impostor was cabby, and unkind.
A great banquet was prepared to which everyone was invited, including the impostor. The princess sat on one side of the prince, and the impostor on the other. The impostor did not recognise the lovely being on the other side of the prince. When everyone was feed the King asked the impostor to help solve a tricky situation that had come up in court. He told a variation of the story in which the impostor was the criminal.
“Why,” the maiden exclaimed when she heard the tale, “the punishment is simple and just. She deserves to be put stark naked into a barrel lined with sharp nails, which should be dragged by two white horses up and down the street till she is dead.”
The prince nodded and then replied, “Yes, that is just. You have given yourself you punishment, now off with you to serve the punishment for your crime.” When the sentence was carried out the prince married the princess, and they lived happily ever after, ruling over the kingdom, with kindness and justness.