Once upon a time, there was a Queen. She had a lovely daughter. The Queen had kept a maid to attend to her daughter. The maid was very jealous of the Princess and always dreamed of herself being the Princess and having the Princess as her maid. The Princess was to marry a Prince from the neighboring kingdom. The Queen ordered the maid to pack all the valuables and treasures and go with the Princess to the neighboring kingdom. The Princess had a horse named Falada. It was a talking horse and the Princess loved it very much.
As the Princess mounted Falada to start on her journey, the Queen gave her a kerchief with three blood drops on it.
“My dear child!” she said, “Take good care of yourself. Keep this kerchief safely and it will help you during your journey!”
“I will, mother!” said the Princess.
The Princess and the maid started on their way. After traveling some distance, the Princess felt thirsty.
“Get me some water, please!” she told the maid.
“Get down and drink as much as you want! Do not order me around! I am not your servant anymore!” the maid said arrogantly.
The poor Princess alighted from her horse and went to the stream to drink water. As she bent down to drink water, the kerchief with the three drops of blood given by her mother fell into the stream and floated away. The maid saw this. She was now convinced that the Princess was completely helpless.
“Now, I will make you pay!” she said and dismounted. She forced the Princess to exchange her dress and horse. She also forced the Princess to promise not to tell anybody that she was the real Princess. But the faithful horse Falada had seen everything.
When they arrived at the Castle of the neighbouring kingdom, the Prince was eagerly awaiting the arrived of his bride-to-be. He saw the maid in the Princess’^ clothing. He mistook her to be the Princess and said:
“Welcome, my dear! I am so happy to see you!”
“Me too, my handsome Prince!” said the wicked maid. When she dismounted the horse, she pointed to the Princess and said: “Give my maid some work to do”.
“She could help the boy named Conrad who looks after the Geese!” said the Prince.
Then the evil maid turned to Falada. She was afraid that Falada knew everything and would reveal her secret. She smiled and said. “This horse troubled me a lot during the journey. It deserves to be put to death!”
“I will have its head cut off at once,” said the Prince, who wanted to please his wife-to-be.
When the real Princess heard this, she felt very sad. She could not bear the thought of any harm coming to Falada. She asked the stable lad to spare Falada, but he said he had to fulfill the Prince’s order.
“At least, put his head in the archway. That way, I will be able to see my favorite horse every day!” she pleaded.
The stable lad agreed and nailed Falada’s head in the archway. Everyday when the real Princess passed the archway, she would talk to Falada. She would say “Oh, my dear Falada, how sad to see you like this!”
Falada would say “Oh, my dear Princess, how sad to see you like this. If your mother knew, her heart would break!”
Everyday, the Princess had to tend the geese along with the boy named Conrad. One day, the King heard her talking to Falada. He learn about the real Princess, through the loyal Falada. He was furious with the maid trying to be a Princess. He wanted to teach her a lesson. He said:
“Fear not, my dear Princess! Now I know the truth. I will see that your maid is punished!”
The King gave a big party on the following day. The real Princess, dressed in beautiful clothes sat on one side of the Prince and the false Princess sat on the other side. She could not recognize the real Princess in her beautiful clothes. After the party, the King asked the false Princess:
“I shall ask you a riddle. What does a person deserve who has deceived her mistress?”
“Such a person deserves to be put to death, O King!” said the maid.
“So, be it!” said the King”. You have chosen your own punishment!”
The King ordered his men to take away the maid and put her to death. The Prince then married the real Princess and they lived happily ever after.