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The White Wolf
by [?]

Once upon a time there was a king who had three daughters; they were all beautiful, but the youngest was the fairest of the three. Now it happened that one day their father had to set out for a tour in a distant part of his kingdom. Before he left, his youngest daughter made him promise to bring her back a wreath of wild flowers. When the king was ready to return to his palace, he bethought himself that he would like to take home presents to each of his three daughters; so he went into a jeweller’s shop and bought a beautiful necklace for the eldest princess; then he went to a rich merchant’s and bought a dress embroidered in gold and silver thread for the second princess, but in none of the flower shops nor in the market could he find the wreath of wild flowers that his youngest daughter had set her heart on. So he had to set out on his homeward way without it. Now his journey led him through a thick forest. While he was still about four miles distant from his palace, he noticed a white wolf squatting on the roadside, and, behold! on the head of the wolf, there was a wreath of wild flowers.

Then the king called to the coachman, and ordered him to get down from his seat and fetch him the wreath from the wolf’s head. But the wolf heard the order and said: ‘My lord and king, I will let you have the wreath, but I must have something in return.’

‘What do you want?’ answered the king. ‘I will gladly give you rich treasure in exchange for it.’

‘I do not want rich treasure,’ replied the wolf. ‘Only promise to give me the first thing that meets you on your way to your castle. In three days I shall come and fetch it.’

And the king thought to himself: ‘I am still a good long way from home, I am sure to meet a wild animal or a bird on the road, it will be quite safe to promise.’ So he consented, and carried the wreath away with him. But all along the road he met no living creature till he turned into the palace gates, where his youngest daughter was waiting to welcome him home.

That evening the king was very sad, remembering his promise; and when he told the queen what had happened, she too shed bitter tears. And the youngest princess asked them why they both looked so sad, and why they wept. Then her father told her what a price he would have to pay for the wreath of wild flowers he had brought home to her, for in three days a white wolf would come and claim her and carry her away, and they would never see her again. But the queen thought and thought, and at last she hit upon a plan.

There was in the palace a servant maid the same age and the same height as the princess, and the queen dressed her up in a beautiful dress belonging to her daughter, and determined to give her to the white wolf, who would never know the difference.

On the third day the wolf strode into the palace yard and up the great stairs, to the room where the king and queen were seated.

‘I have come to claim your promise,’ he said. ‘Give me your youngest daughter.’

Then they led the servant maid up to him, and he said to her: ‘You must mount on my back, and I will take you to my castle.’ And with these words he swung her on to his back and left the palace.

When they reached the place where he had met the king and given him the wreath of wild flowers, he stopped, and told her to dismount that they might rest a little.