A szamárbőr királyfi története ruhákon keresztül elmesélve elevenedik meg.
Once upon a time there was a king and a queen. They were beautiful and rich, had everything they needed – but for one thing, a child. Aching and languishing,
the queen never stopped yearning for a child – until her wish was fulfilled. However, what she gave birth to was not a human infant but a donkey foal. When the king first laid his eyes upon him, he said: “He is my son, no matter what he looks like. When I die, he shall have my crown and throne.”
So they raised the donkey foal. He grew and grew, and his ears were getting longer and longer. He was talented, could even talk, and he was taught all there was to know in the world. One day the king gave orders for all mirrors to be removed from the palace, nay, from the entire world, for he did not want his dear son to catch sight of himself and fall into despair. So it came
to pass that the prince was already quite grown, and still hadn’t seen himself.
He was a cheerful donkey, who was particularly fond of music, and so one day he called upon a famous musician.
“Teach me your art,” he asked him. “I’d like to play the violin like you do.”
“My Prince,” the musician said reluctantly, “your hands are not cut out for the job; they’re somewhat large, and I fear you couldn’t hold the bow.”
But the donkey insisted he wanted to learn the art of violin playing. He practised patiently, and eventually played as beautifully as his teacher. One day, out for a walk, the prince came to a spring, and caught sight of the donkey ears in the mirror of the water. He grew so despondent he ran away from home. He told no one he was leaving, taking only his trusty servant with him.
They wandered high and low, crossing the Carpathians and the Elbe, until they came to a distant land, which was ruled by an old king, who had a divinely beautiful daughter.
The prince sat down outside the palace gate, and started playing his violin with his forelegs, so beguilingly that the gatekeeper soon let him in.As he entered the palace, everyone started to laugh at him. At lunch, the master of ceremonies wanted to sit the donkey at the servants’ table, which he wasn’t very keen to do.
“I’m no ordinary beast but a distinguished donkey, and I want to sit by the king’s table,” he said.
The king had a good laugh at this, but liked a good joke, and told him:
“All right, donkey, suit yourself, come and sit at my table.”
The prince went over there, and waited to be seated. The king asked him:
“How do you like my daughter, donkey?”
The donkey turned towards the princess, and nodded in approval:
“I like her very much, she is so beautiful, unlike anyone I have ever seen.”
“Then do sit next to her,” the king said.
“Just what I wished for,” the donkey said, and sat by the princess. He went on to live in the king’s court, walking about, playing his violin, and being so kind in general that everyone grew to like him. But then one day, he sadly realized he wanted to return home. However, the king was not all that keen on letting him go.
“What bothers you, my donkey? You have worn a long face for some time.
Tell me what you want, and I’ll give you anything it is in my power to give.
Do you want half of the realm?”
“I don’t,” said the donkey.
“Perhaps my daughter for your wife?”
“I do, I do,” the donkey said merrily, happy his deepest wish was to be granted.
They immediately had a marriage ceremony, and when the night fell, the newlyweds were led into their bedroom. The king wanted to know if the donkey continued to be at his most polite in the nuptial bed, and ordered a servant to hide in the room. Soon the bridegroom entered, bolted the door, looked around, and when he was assured they were on their own, he shed his donkey skin; lo and behold, there stood a charming prince before the amazed princess!
“Now you can learn who I am, and rest assured I am not unworthy of you,” he said.
The princess was delighted to have such a good-looking man for her husband; she fell in love with him head over heels, and kissed him. The next day, at the crack of dawn, the prince donned the donkey skin again.
Hardly had he slipped it on, the old king knocked on the door. He turned to his daughter, and asked in a low voice:
“You’re not sad, are you, about the shape of your husband?”
“Of course I’m not sad, Father,” she replied. “I have grown to love him like the best-looking lad in the world, and I’ll stay with him till my last breath.”
The king was astonished but the servant soon told him everything.
“This can’t be true!” the king said.
“If you don’t believe me, my king, why don’t you hide yourself here tonight, and see for yourself. And you know what, my king? You might want to steel his hide and throw in the fire, so he will have to show himself in his true form.”
“That’s good advice,” the king said, and that evening sneaked into the couple’s bedroom. By the light of the moon he saw a good-looking young man lie on the bed, and the skin of the donkey cast on the floor. He picked it up, had a fire lit in the courtyard, and threw the hide in the flames. The king wanted to see what the young man would do when he couldn’t find the donkey skin, so he stayed up all night, spying on them. At the crack of dawn, the prince wanted to put on his skin, but couldn’t find it.
“I must be gone,” he mumbled sadly, “this instant.”
But as soon as he stepped out of the room, the king confronted him.
“Where’s the hurry, my dear son? What is on your mind?” he asked him.
“Stay, I won’t let such a fetching lad to leave. I want you to have half the realm, and you’ll have the whole when I’m gone.”
“All’s well that ends well,” said the youth.
The king gave him half his realm, and passed away a year later, leaving him the other half as well. Time went on, one year followed another, until a mission came with news of Donkeyskin’s father having died, and the country unanimously demanding he be the new king. So he assumed that throne as well, and ruled in two countries, living in sunny happiness with his wife ever after.