|The Furpelt Cloak|
|Summary:||The First Men tale of the woman in the furpelt cloak.|
|Date:||25 May 2012|
|Related Logs:||The Frey Courtship|
(Adapted from the Brothers Grimm story, "Furrypelts")
Once upon a time, in a time of the First Men, there was a widowed Lord and his beautiful daughter. They lived in a castle that overlooked a great forest, and they were quite happy. When the daughter was of age, her father said that it was time for her to marry. He would not live forever, and as his only child, it was up to her to marry a find Lord to take his place. A tournament was held in hopes of finding a Knight worthy enough for his daughter's hand. Prospects came from across all the lands, for the girl's beauty was unsurpassed and her father's lands were filled with riches. Many competed for her hand, but it was a lowly Knight that won. His father was disgusted by such a champion, as common as dirt and poorer still. Unsatisfied by the prospective groom, he announced that the common Knight would become captain of his guards while the secondary champion would instead marry his daughter.
This Lord was more the father's liking with good breeding and wealth. His daughter, however, saw no good in his heart. She said she would only marry the man if he accepted her challenges as he accepted her fathers. She asked that he bring her three gowns — one as gold as the sun, one as silver as the moon, and one bright as stars. She then went on to ask that he also bring her a hooded cloak made from a hundred pelts, from each animal in their kingdom.
The Lord was not one to turn away from a challenge, so he sought out the best seamstresses to fashion his betrothed the gowns she sought. It was an old woman from the eastern shores who, having seen the sun rise so beautifully over the Narrow Sea, crafted a gown as gold as the sun. A young maiden of the North with deft hands and a love for the night was in charge of the moon-colored gown. It was a blind woman, however, who created the one as bright as the stars, for she had often dreamt of their beauty.
In answer to the furpelt cloak, the Lord sent his huntsmen and knights to scour his betrothed's kingdom for one of each of the furred animals. A hundred pelts were gathered, and they were sewn together in a beautiful cloak with matching hood for his soon-to-be Lady wife.
She was distraught when the four gifts were presented to her, and she knew then that her Lord would stop at nothing to claim her as his wife. In a fit of desperation, on the night before she was destined to marry her husband, she stole away into the night disguised in her furpelt cloak with her three gowns. She went into the woods, and there found a hollowed tree to hide all the gifts save for the cloak. That she wore, and she blackened her hands and face with dirt.
When the groom found his bride gone, the lowly Knight who was now the captain of the Lord father's guard was sent with a handful of his trusted men to hunt the woods and find the lost bride. They hunted her for many nights, but it was the Knight that found her hiding in the hollowed tree covered in her furpelt cloak. She begged him not to take her back.
"He is unkind," she said.
"He is your husband," he said.
"He will not love me as you would have done."
"I am not your husband," he said.
But, because of the affection the Knight had for the Lady, he smuggled her back into the castle and had her work in the kitchens as a scullery maid. None would find her there, he promised. They all were looking for her beyond these walls. Covered in dirt and with matted hair, she was unrecognizable in what had been her home. Her life was wretched then — oh, what the beautiful maiden had become! All she had left was the furpelt cloak, and it brought her some comfort
One day, a ball was held at the castle in hopes of finding the slighted Lord a new bride in the Lord father's land. She wished desperately to go to the ball, to just peek inside at the glitter and beauty. "May I go up, I promise just to peek?" She asked the cook.
"Just go, but remember you must be back to clean the ashes," the cook said.
And so, with a little oil lamp to guide her, she snuck out of the castle and back to that old hollowed tree. She tossed aside her furpelt cloak and washed herself of the dirt and ash, revealing her beauty once more. She dressed in the gown that shone like the stars, and returned to the castle to attend the ball. So long she had been in hiding that none recognized her. When the Lord laid his eyes upon her, he felt his heart swell with love and affection. He came to her and offered his hand to dance, and while they twirled about the dance floor, he realized that this woman would become his Lady wife.
When the dance was over, she slipped away as mysteriously as she had came. She went back to the woods, dirtied herself once more with dirt and muck, and swathed herself in the furpelt cloak. She returned to the castle, and to the kitchens. It was days before she saw the Lord again, who was now searching high and low for the beautiful woman in the star-bright gown. She brought him his meal, and while she curtsied and turned to leave, the Lord stopped her.
"I know your face," he said to her, capturing her arm before she could go. "Look at me!"
She stood stalk still as he looked her over, and she could see the desperation in his eyes. He began to clean the dirt and ash from her face, and soon he saw the beautiful Lady from the ball underneath all the grime. She knew he did not recognize her as the Lord father's daughter. All he saw was the lowly scullery maid who had become a beautiful woman. It was then she realized she loved him.
They were soon married, and their happiness was the greatest ever told.
Or at least, that is now the story goes… If I had it my way, I would tell it far different…