The Listening King
The king went away with a shrewd smile upon his face. The next day he sent for the three sisters to come to the palace. They were very much frightened.
"Well," said the king to the eldest girl, "do you want to marry the royal baker?"
"Yes, your majesty," she replied. "I have no objections."
The king turned to her sister.
"How is it with you?" he asked. "What do you say to marrying the royal meatcook?"
"I'll be most happy to marry him, your majesty," she answered.
The youngest girl was blushing like a rose and her heart was thumping so that she could scarcely breathe. The king smiled as he noticed her fair head bowed upon her breast.
"Would you like to marry the listening king?" he asked her gently.
"Yes, your majesty," she responded, so low that the king could hardly hear her.
"Very well," said the king. "I'll have all these weddings celebrated at once."
Thus it happened that the two eldest sisters got their wishes and married the royal baker and the royal meatcook, while the youngest one wedded the listening king himself. The others were very angry at her luck and their hearts were filled with envy.
"Why didn't we wish to be queens or at least princesses?" one asked the other. "It would have been just as easy to have had our wishes granted!"
"Why didn't we! Why didn't we! How stupid we were!" cried the other.
They passed the time in plotting against their youngest sister, the queen.
A year flew by and twin sons were born to the royal pair. They had gold stars on their foreheads. The whole kingdom was filled with rejoicing. As for the listening king, he was so happy that he forgot to listen at people's doors.
The only persons in the whole country who were not happy were the two jealous sisters. They stole the tiny babies out of the palace and threw them into the river.
"Trouble has at last come to our listening king," said the wise men, when the loss was discovered.
The basket in which the twins had been placed floated away down the stream. It was found by a miller.