The Grey Fairy Book
The White Wolf
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
'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.