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Main > Czechoslovak folktale > Fairy tale "The Three Golden Hairs: The Story of a Charcoal-Burner's Son Who Married a Princess"

The Three Golden Hairs: The Story of a Charcoal-Burner's Son Who Married a Princess

Both she and her daughter were much taken with the handsome youth and gazed at him with tender eyes. As for Plavachek he fell instantly in love with the princess and was delighted to marry her.

Some days after the wedding the king returned and when he heard what had happened he flew into a violent rage at the queen.

“But,” protested the queen, “you yourself ordered me to have him married to our daughter before you came back. Here is your letter.”

The king took the letter and examined it carefully. The handwriting, the seal, the paper—all were his own.

He called his son-in-law and questioned him.

Plavachek related how he had lost his way in the forest and spent the night with his godmother.

“What does your godmother look like?” the king asked.

Plavachek described her.

From the description the king recognized her as the same old woman who had promised the princess to the charcoal-burner’s son twenty years before.

He looked at Plavachek thoughtfully and at last he said:

“What’s done can’t be undone. However, young man, you can’t expect to be my son-in-law for nothing. If you want my daughter you must bring me for dowry three of the golden hairs of old Grandfather Knowitall.”

He thought to himself that this would be an impossible task and so would be a good way to get rid of an undesirable son-in-law.

Plavachek took leave of his bride and started off. He didn’t know which way to go. Who would know? Everybody talked about old Grandfather Knowitall, but nobody seemed to know where to find him. Yet Plavachek had a Fate for a godmother, so it wasn’t likely that he would miss the right road.

He traveled long and far, going over wooded hills and desert plains and crossing deep rivers. He came at last to a black sea.

There he saw a boat and an old ferryman.

“God bless you, old ferryman!” he said.

“May God grant that prayer, young traveler! Where are you going?”

“I’m going to old Grandfather Knowitall to get three of his golden hairs.”

“Oho! I have long been hunting for just such a messenger as you!

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